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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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REFUGE IN HIS HOLINESS

A. W. TozerA. W. Tozer:

“We must hide our unholiness in the wounds of Christ as Moses hid himself in the cleft of the rock while the glory of God passed by. We must take refuge from God in God. Above all we must believe that God sees us perfect in His Son while He disciplines and chastens and purges us that we may be partakers of His holiness” (The Knowledge of the Holy, 107).

His Strength is Sufficient!

And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. (1 Kings 19:4-8 ESV)

Have you had first-hand experience of hopelessness? Have you walked through the valley of despair? I think that most of us have during some time in our lives. Long ago there was a man who was so full of despair that he prayed, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:4 ESV)

When you think of Elijah the prophet, you probably think of the man who could pray and stop the rain or start it; perhaps you think of the prophet who could call fire down from the sky to consume the king’s soldiers or an offering to God which had been drenched with water; perhaps you even think of the prophet who was carried to heaven by a whirlwind.

Yet, the distressed man calling out that anxious prayer in 1 Kings 19:4 is none other than Elijah. Basically, Elijah believes he has endured all he possibility can and he asks Elijah the Prophetthe LORD to take his life. He finds himself in the valley of despair and this is just one day after his great victory over the prophets of Baal. Instead of death, however, this becomes a teachable moment in the life of Elijah. 1 Kings 19:5-8 teaches us that God provides the strength we need in our weakest moments.

Isn’t this your way? You anxiously anticipate a crisis and begin doubting that you can handle it. However, when it is over you also wonder how you ever had the strength make it through that problem. But somehow, the strength was there. Whatever problem you may face in life, if God stands with you, His strength will be yours.

Think of Elijah, Moses, and other biblical characters; look at the cross and resurrection: God is there when we suffer. He heals our brokenness. God put the broken pieces back together for Elijah and God will do the same for you. As you live and journey with God, you will discover His strength is always sufficient when you are in need.

Samuel at Gilgal

Election-Day Advice from John Calvin

The following is an excerpt from John Calvin’s Sermons on Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 1:13), updated into modern English. The source of the following material is from American Vision. John Calvin writes:

Now we must also observe this saying of Moses: Choose ye men of wisdom and of good skill, men well-tried, that they may be set over you according to your tribes, even over thousands, over hundreds, and over fifties, as we shall see afterward. Hereby it is shown to us that when we have to elect men to hold public office, we must choose them with discretion and not take on the fly those who thrust themselves in first. Neither must they be taken for favor or for some vanity that appears good, but that God presides over the election and that such men may be selected as are known to be appropriate to exercise the estate to which they are called. And we must especially observe that which is rehearsed in Exodus 18 (as already mentioned): for there Jethro says that we must take men that are virtuous, fearing God, lovers of the truth, and haters of avarice. Who is he that speaks this? A poor pagan man, as I have said already. Yet God governs his tongue in such a way that we cannot have a better teacher than him when we are about to choose men to govern a people. First of all he requires men that are virtuous, such as are not effeminate, but have the capacity to be provided with such a charge, and have good zeal, courage, and magnanimity. . . .

Seeing then that such a lesson is told to us by a heathen man, I pray you what a shame shall it be that we which profess ourselves to be brought up in the law of God and in his Gospel, and have our ears so much beaten with it, should still be novices in the doctrine, or at least practice it so poorly among us? And yet for all that, if we do not use it to our profit, it is written to be kept to our great confusion and to make us inexcusable.

So then, let us weigh well this saying where Moses exhorts the people to choose men of understanding and wisdom, and proven men. For if we put a man in office upon nothing but hope, without good knowledge and experience of him, is it not a defiling of the seat of God and of justice? Indeed, God reserves to himself principality over all men, as he is also worthy to have, and yet notwithstanding he will be served by mortal men as by his ministers and officers. … Shall he that would not take a cowherd or a shepherd into his house upon bare hope, without knowledge or understanding of him what he is, shall he, I ask, go set a man in God’s seat, of whom he has no knowledge, and of whom he has no experience to judge what that man is? Now then, let us be well advised, when God gives this grace, or rather privilege, of electing men who govern (which is not common to all people), let us not abuse that gift of God in any way, or else we shall be amazed to see ourselves bereft thereof. And behold the reason why so many tyrannies have come into the world that the liberty was lost in all nations, that there is no more election, for which reason princes sell the offices of justice, and things are in confusion and it is a horror. And why has this come about but that when the people had the election in their hands, they abused it, and so were worthy that God should deprive them of the honor he had done them. For is it not as good as willfully provoking God’s wrath, and spiting him, when people having free election, who should choose men to serve God and to be his officers, instead make corrupt bargains in taverns, and even as it were in scorn and mockery of God, choose such as are most dissolute and out of bounds? Do you not see this is to pervert all order?

To be short, it should seem that we wish to expel God out of his seat when we set his enemies in it after that sort, and such as despise him, and such as seek nothing else but to tread his name and majesty under their feet. When this is how it is, is it any wonder that God sends such disorder into the world as we see? Now then, we could all the more stand to note well this doctrine, where it is said that when God gives a people liberty to elect officers, they must not abuse it, but must use discretion in choosing them. Yes, and for as much as we may often times be deceived, we must resort to God that he may give us prudence and govern us with his Holy Spirit, as though he had pointed out with his finger whom we ought to choose. And that is the cause why I said that elections shall never be well ordered except God preside over them by his Holy Spirit.

This article may be read in full at American Vision. . . .

 

Humility is a Grace

The following is by J. C. Ryle:

Humility may well be called the queen of the Christian graces. To know our own sinfulness and weakness and to feel our need of Christ is the start of saving religion.

Humility is a grace which has always been a distinguishing feature in the character of the holiest saints in every age. Abraham and Moses and Job and David and Daniel and Paul were all eminently humble men.

Above all, humility is a grace within the reach of every true Christian. All converted people should work to adorn with humility the doctrine they profess. If they can do nothing else, they can strive to be humble.

Do you want to know the root and spring of humility? One word describes it. The root of humility is right knowledge. The person who really knows himself and his own heart, who knows God and his infinite majesty, and holiness, who knows Christ and the price at which he was redeemed, that person will never be a proud person.

He will count himself, like Jacob, unworthy of the least of all God’s mercies. He will say of himself, like Job, “I am unworthy.” He will cry, like Paul, “I am the worst of sinners” He will consider others better than himself. (Philippians 2:3)

Ignorance–nothing but sheer ignorance, ignorance of self, of God, and of Christ–is the real secret of pride. From that miserable self-ignorance may we daily pray to be delivered. The wise person knows himself and will find nothing within to make him proud.

The Offensive Christ

The following is from Charles H. Spurgeon:

There are some who stumble at Christ because of his holiness.

He is too strict for them; they would like to be Christians, but they cannot renounce their sensual pleasures; they would like to be washed in his blood, but they desire still to roll in the mire of sin.

Willing enough the mass of men would be to receive Christ, if, after receiving him, they might continue in their drunkenness, their wantonness, and self-indulgence. But Christ lays the axe at the root of the tree; he tells them that these things must be given up, for “because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience,” and “without holiness no man can see the Lord.”

Human nature kicks at this.

“What! May I not enjoy one darling lust? May I not indulge myself at least now and then in these things? Must I altogether forsake my old habits and my old ways? Must I be made a new creature in Christ Jesus?”

These are terms too hard, conditions too severe, and so the human heart goes back to the flesh pots of Egypt, and clings to the garlic and the onions of the old estate of bondage, and will not be set free even though a greater than Moses lifts up the rod to part the sea, and promises to give to them a Canaan flowing with milk and honey.

Christ offends men because his gospel is intolerant of sin. (“Unbelievers stumbling; Believers rejoicing”)

Sin

From the pen of Joseph Alleine:

“Oh, better were it for you to die in a jail, in a ditch, in a dungeon, than to die in your sins. If death, as it will take away all your comforts, would take away all your sins too, it were some mitigation; but your sins will follow you when your friends leave you, and all your worldly enjoyments shake hands with you. Your sins will not die with you as a prisoner’s other debts will; but they will go to judgment with you there to be your accusers; and they will go to hell with you there to be your tormentors.”

Thomas Watson: Everything In Its Proper Place

Thomas Watson (1620-1686) discusses here the ungratefulness of men who oppose truth in God’s church:

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 ESV)

This nation is sick of a spiritual pleurisy, we begin to surfeit upon the bread of life; when God sees his mercies lying under table, and it is just with him to call to the enemy to take away. I heartily pray that plenty of ordinances doth not as much hurt in this city, as famine hath done in other places of the land; and if we once say, what is this manna? No wonder if we begin to say, who is this Moses? Oh what a sad change is there in our days! Those that once would have counted our feet beautiful that would have been ready to have pulled out their eyes for their minister, are now ready to pull out their minister’s eyes; and what is the quarrel? Even this, ‘Am I become your enemy because I tell yon the truth?’ If ministers would preach smooth things, make the way to heaven nearer than ever Christ made it, then they should be admired. (You have more people gaze at a Comet or blazing star, than at the sun.) But if they come to lay the ax of the law to the root of conscience; if they fall a hewing and cutting down men’s’ sins, ‘The land is not able to bear their words.’ If the prophet goes to tell king Asa of his great sin in joining with a wicked army; ‘Herein thou hast done foolishly.’ if he goes about to imprison his sin, he himself shall be imprisoned. ‘Then Asa was wroth with the Seer, and put him in a prison-house.’ This was Jerusalem’s sin, and it drew tears from Christ. . . .

Those that would annihilate the ministry, go to pull the stars out of Christ’s hand; and they will find it a work not feasible; it will fare with them as with the eagle, that going to fetch a piece of flesh from the altar, a coal sticking to the flesh, she burnt herself and the young ones in the nest. . . .

We act against God, when we act against that order and government which he hath set up in his church; God is the God of order, he hath set every thing in its proper sphere. . . .

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