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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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CHRISTIAN, REJOICE!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4 ESV)

cranky christianHave you ever meet a cranky Christian? Of course you have. These are Christians who have allowed circumstances to rob them of their joy. Paul tells us that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22 ESV)

You should not confuse joy with happiness. Happiness is created by what happens to us. It is a product of circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is the result of our covenant relationship with God. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11 ESV) Christian joy is impossible without a loving relationship with God:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. This is why a Christian can have eternal joy. We should not worry about circumstances or what we have or don’t have in this world. Take joy in the eternal pleasure of knowing God and being one of His family. If you have been saved from your sins in order to spend eternity in His household, do you not have sufficient reason to be full of Joy?

Looking to Heaven

In the following article Jonathan Edwards waxes eloquently in his description of the blessings of Heaven:

There are many principles contrary to love that make this world like a tempestuous sea. Selfishness, and envy, and revenge, and jealousy, and kindred passions keep life on earth in a constant tumult, and make it a scene of confusion and uproar, where no quiet rest is to be enjoyed except in renouncing this world and looking to heaven.

But oh! what rest is there in that world which the God of peace and love fills with his own gracious presence, and in which the Lamb of God lives and reigns, filling it with the brightest and sweetest beams of his love; where there is nothing to disturb or offend, and no being or object to be seen that is not surrounded with perfect amiableness and sweetness; where the saints shall find and enjoy all that they love, and so be perfectly satisfied; where there is no enemy and no enmity; but perfect love in every heart and to every being; where there is perfect harmony among all the inhabitants, no one envying another, but everyone rejoicing in the happiness of every other; where all their love is humble and holy, and perfectly Christian, without the least carnality or impurity; where love is always mutual and reciprocated to the full; where there is no hypocrisy or dissembling, but perfect simplicity and sincerity; where there is no treachery, or unfaithfulness, or inconstancy, or jealousy in any form; where there is no clog or hindrance to the exercises or expressions of love, no imprudence or indecency in expressing it, and no influence of folly or indiscretion in any word or deed; where there is no separation wall, and no misunderstanding or strangeness, but full acquaintance and perfect intimacy in all; where there is no division through different opinions or interests, but where all in that glorious and loving society shall be most nearly and divinely related, and each shall belong to every other, and all shall enjoy each other in perfect prosperity and riches, and honor, without any sickness, or grief, or persecution, or sorrow, or any enemy to molest them, or any busybody to create jealousy or misunderstanding, or mar the perfect, and holy, and blessed peace that reigns in heaven!

And all this in the garden of God — in the paradise of love, where everything is filled with love and everything conspires to promote and kindle it, and keep up its flame, and nothing ever interrupts it, but everything has been fitted by an all wise God for its full enjoyment under the greatest advantages forever. . . And who can express the fullness and blessedness of this peace! What a calm is this! How sweet, and holy, and joyous! What a haven of rest to enter, after having passed through the storms and tempests of this world. . . .

And oh! What joy will there be, springing up in the hearts of the saints, after they have passed through their wearisome pilgrimage, to be brought to such a paradise as this! Here is joy unspeakable indeed, and full of glory — joy that is humble, holy, enrapturing, and divine in its perfection! Love is always a sweet principle; and especially divine love. Love, even on earth, is a spring of sweetness; but in heaven it shall become a stream, a river, an ocean!

All shall stand about the God of glory, who is the great fountain of love, opening, as it were, their very souls to be filled with those effusions of love that are poured forth from his fullness, just as the flowers on the earth, in the bright and joyous days of spring, open their bosoms to the sun, to be filled with his light and warmth, and to flourish in beauty and fragrancy under his cheering rays. Every saint in heaven is as a flower in that garden of God, and holy love is the fragrance and sweet odor that they all send forth, and with which they fill the bowers of that paradise above.

Every soul there is as a note in some concert of delightful music, that sweetly harmonizes with every other note, and all together blend in the most rapturous strains in praising God and the Lamb forever. . . And thus they will love, and reign in love, and in that godlike joy that is its blessed fruit, such as eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has ever entered into the heart of man in this world to conceive; and thus in the full sunlight of the throne, enraptured with joys that are forever increasing, and yet forever full, they shall live and reign with God and Christ forever and ever!

To Be More Like Christ

Charles Spurgeon typically read 6 books per week and could remember what he had read, and where, even years later. He once addressed an audience of 23,654 without a microphone or any mechanical amplification. In 1865, Spurgeon’s sermons sold 25,000 copies every week. They were translated into more than 20 languages. In the article below, Spurgeon teaches us that we must spend time reflecting on the grace of Christ:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. . . . (Ephesians 5:25 ESV)

What a golden example Christ gives to His disciples! Few masters could venture to say, “If you would practice my teaching, imitate my life;” but as the life of Jesus is the exact transcript of perfect virtue, He can point to Himself as the paragon of holiness, as well as the teacher of it. The Christian should take nothing short of Christ for his model. Under no circumstances ought we to be content unless we reflect the grace which was in Him. As a husband, the Christian is to look upon the portrait of Christ Jesus, and he is to paint according to that copy. The true Christian is to be such a husband as Christ was to His church. The love of a husband is special. The Lord Jesus cherishes for the church a peculiar affection, which is set upon her above the rest of mankind: “I pray for them, I pray not for the world.” The elect church is the favorite of heaven, the treasure of Christ, the crown of His head, the bracelet of His arm, the breastplate of His heart, the very centre and core of His love. A husband should love his wife with a constant love, for thus Jesus loves His church. He does not vary in His affection. He may change in His display of affection, but the affection itself is still the same. A husband should love his wife with an enduring love, for nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” A true husband loves his wife with a hearty love, fervent and intense. It is not mere lip-service. Ah! Beloved, what more could Christ have done in proof of His love than He has done? Jesus has a delighted love towards His spouse: He prizes her affection, and delights in her with sweet complacence. Believer, you wonder at Jesus’ love; you admire it-are you imitating it? In your domestic relationships is the rule and measure of your love-“even as Christ loved the church”? (Morning & Evening)

John Stott: To Encounter Christ

Quoting John Stott:

To encounter Christ is to touch reality and experience transcendence. He gives us a sense of self-worth or personal significance, because He assures us of God’s love for us. He sets us free from guilt because He died for us and from paralyzing fear because He reigns. He gives meaning to marriage and home, work and leisure, personhood and citizenship.

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