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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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OPENING HEAVEN’S GATES

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2 ESV)

Prayer may be described as our lifeline to God. If God desires us to pray without ceasing, (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV) then it is certain that prayer must be a top priority in our living the Christian life. In prayer, we not only bring our petitions to God, but we also seek His Will for guidance and wisdom in our daily lives. Prayer and worship help us to stop focusing on ourselves and focuses our thoughts on God who is the sovereign ruler of all. This ability to talk with God is a precious privilege and was purchased by the blood of Christ. If we are not praying, we are not communicating with our Father in heaven. A failure to communicate may mean our relationship to Him is in trouble.

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A LIFESTYLE OF FORGIVENESS

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

unforgivenessUnforgiveness can affect every facet of your personal life. It impacts the mind and spirit, and creates tension and anxiety. Most importantly, unforgiveness is the disobedience of God’s Word. (Matthew 6:15 ESV)

Unforgiveness may lock the mind in an ongoing stressful state. (“The Negative Effects of Unforgiveness on Mental Health”, Theravive April 28, 2014) Researchers report that people who tend to be unforgiving reported higher rates of heart disease, elevated blood pressure, stomach ulcers, arthritis, back problems, headaches, and chronic pain than those who reported they do not have this characteristic. (Feldman and Kravetz, “Grudge Match: Can Unforgiveness Be Bad For Our Health?Psychology Today 2013)

Unforgiveness is not a desirable characteristic for either the physical or spiritually healthy life. Jesus said:

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A NEW YEAR’S PRAYER

Samuel A CainO Mighty God,

Thank You for allowing us to see the beginning of another year. Thank You for the goodness of your grace. Thank you for more time to serve you and to glorify your Name. Thank you for more time to gain Gospel progress. Thank you for the grace that will allow us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Forgive us for the sins we have committed in the year past. Forgive us for any actions that have dishonored your Name. Forgive us for neglecting the things we should have done in your Name, but did not do. Forgive us for any thoughts that were contrary to the mind of Christ.

As we welcome in this New Year, give us the faith to master our fears of the unknown. Be our shepherd, Lord, and guide us with your Wisdom. We are blessed that You give us everything we need to follow You. We are blessed that You comfort us in our time of need. Continue reading

IDOLS

Jonathan EdwardsJonathan Edwards:

Many of those things that are worshipped as gods are idols made by their worshippers: mere stocks and stones that know nothing. They are indeed made with ears, but they hear not the prayers of them that cry to them. They have eyes, but they see not, etc. Psa. 115:5, 6. — Others, though not the work of men’s hands, yet are things without life. Thus, many worship the sun, moon, and stars, which though glorious creatures, yet are not capable of knowing anything of the wants and desires of those who pray to them. — Some worship certain kinds of animals, as the Egyptians were wont to worship bulls, which though not without life, yet are destitute of that reason whereby they would be capable of knowing the requests of their worshippers. Others worship devils instead of the true God. 1 Cor. 10:20, “but I say, that the things sermon_IdolFactorywhich the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils.” These, though beings of great power, have not knowledge necessary to capacitate them fully to understand the state, circumstances, necessities, and desires of those who pray to them. But the true God perfectly knows the circumstances of everyone that prays to him throughout the world. Though millions pray to him at once, in different parts of the world, it is no more difficult for him who is infinite in knowledge, to take notice of all than of one alone. God is so perfect in knowledge, that he does not need to be informed by us in order to have knowledge of our wants, for he know what things we need before we ask him. The worshippers of false gods were wont to lift their voices and cry aloud, lest their gods should fail of hearing them, as Elijah tauntingly bid the worshippers of Baal [to] do, 1 Kin. 18:27. But the true God hears the silent petitions of his people. He needs not that we should cry aloud: yea, he knows and perfectly understands when we only pray in our hearts, as Hannah did, 1 Sam. 1:13.

Ministers

Quoting Jonathan Edwards:

It is not only our great duty, but will be our greatest honor, to imitate Christ, and do the work that he has done, and so act as co-workers with him. The ministers of Christ should be persons of the same spirit that their Lord was of—the same spirit of humility and lowliness of heart; for the servant is not greater than his Lord.

They should be of the same spirit of heavenly mindedness, and contempt of the glory, wealth, and pleasures of this world. They should be of the same spirit of devotion and fervent love to God. They should follow the example of his prayerfulness; of whom we read from time to time of his retiring from the world, away from the noise and applause of the multitudes, into mountains and solitary places, for secret prayer, and holy converse with his Father.

Ministers should be persons of the same quiet, lamb like spirit that Christ was of, the same spirit of submission to God’s will, and patience under afflictions, and meekness towards men; of the same calmness and composure of spirit under reproaches and sufferings from the malignity of evil men; of the same spirit of forgiveness of injuries; of the same spirit of charity, of fervent love and extensive benevolence; the same disposition to pity the miserable, to weep with those that weep, to help men under their calamities of both soul and body, to hear and grant the requests of the needy, and relieve afflicted; the same spirit of condescension to the poor and lowly, tenderness and gentleness toward the weak, and great and effectual love to enemies.

They should also be of the same spirit of zeal, diligence, and self-denial for the glory of God, and advancement for his kingdom, and for the good of mankind; for which things sake Christ went though the greatest labors, and endured the most extreme sufferings. And in order to our imitating Christ in the work of the ministry, in any tolerable degree, we should not have our hearts weighed down, and time filled up with worldly affections, cares, and pursuits.

The duties of a minister that have been recommended are absolutely inconsistent with a mind much taken up with worldly profit, glory, amusements, and entertainments.

How the Spirit Makes Intercession for us

Quoting John Knox:

So that without the Spirit of God supporting our infirmities (mightily making intercession for us with unceasing groans, which cannot be expressed with tongue, Rom. 8:26), there is no hope that we can desire anything according to God’s will. I mean not that the Holy Ghost does mourn or pray, but that he stirs up our minds, giving unto us a desire or boldness to pray, and causes us to mourn when we are extracted or pulled therefrom. Which things to conceive, no strength of man suffices, neither is able of itself; but hereof it is plain, that such as understand not what they pray, or expound not or declare not the desire of their hearts clearly in God’s presence, and in time of prayer, to their possibility [as far as they are able], and do not expel vain cogitations from their minds, profit nothing in prayer.

An Irish Blessing

May God give you…

For every storm, a rainbow,

For every tear, a smile,

For every care, a promise,

And a blessing in each trial.

For every problem life sends,

A faithful friend to share,

For every sigh, a sweet song,

And an answer for each prayer.

 

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