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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.

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading

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.

 

A Letter From John Adams To Abigail Adams

Quoting John Adams:

When the Congress first met, Mr. Cushing made a motion that it should be opened with prayer…Mr. Samuel Adams arose and said he was no bigot, and could hear a prayer from a gentleman of piety and virtue, who was at the same time a friend to his country. He..had heard that Mr. Duche…deserved that character and therefore he moved that Mr. Duche…might be desired to read prayers to the Congress…After (he read several prayers), Mr. Duche, unexpected to everybody, struck out into an extemporary prayer, which filled the bosom of every man present. (Letter to Abigail Adams, October 16, 1774)

A Christmas Eve Prayer

A prayer by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild:

Eternal God, this holy night is radiant with the brilliance of your one true light. May that light illuminate our hearts and shine in our words and deeds. May the hope, the peace, the joy, and the love represented by the birth in Bethlehem this night fill our lives and become part of all that we say and do. May we share the divine life of your son Jesus Christ, even as he humbled himself to share our humanity. Amen.

Richard Baxter On The Pastor Prevailing With God

Richard Baxter

In the words of Richard Baxter:

“Our whole work must be carried on under a deep sense of our own insufficiency, and of our entire dependence on Christ . . . Prayer must carry on our work as well as preaching; he preacheth not heartily to his people, that prayeth not earnestly for them. If we prevail not with God to give them faith and repentance we shall never prevail with them to believe and repent.” (The Reformed Pastor, 122)

Discerning God’s Will For You

If you study the operations of the Holy Spirit, you will notice that He always guides us by sending us to the Word of God and His Providence. Between the two, they will lead us to the path we should choose. We can certainly say, in general, that after serious deliberation and earnest supplication, if our choice is not in accord with the Word of God or is impracticable, or immoral; it certainly is not the will of God for us. If our choice is in accord with the Word of God and allows us to go ahead while walking in holiness and honoring God, this may be perceived (at least to some degree) as a proper sign of His Will.

Let us take our employment as an example. Sometimes providence may begin to make our present jobs very uncomfortable. It may become unprofitable to us or make our continuance impractical. In such conditions we may certainly seek to alter our circumstances. Maybe in our present condition the work is easy and profitable. However, there are changes to be made which violate the Word of God. By this action, we know that this is a business in which we cannot continue our employment.

If we are offered employment in two places (I know this is a touchy issue considering the economy just now) we must seek to learn all we can about both businesses. After much prayer and considering biblically related issues, if we find that one of the businesses engages in unbiblical moral practices then the answer is obvious as to which job to take. If both chances of employment are evil, flee from them both as quickly as possible.

What if we are offered two good jobs that do not conflict with the God’s Word? In this case, we should choose the one where we can honor God most in our duty and achievements.

If we are to discern God’s Will for us in such areas of life, we must look away from riches and pleasures because they will deceive us and turn us from God’s good and perfect will. Always check your motives carefully.

After prayer, careful thought, and study of the Scriptures, if we find our way is still not clear to us – wait; wait upon the Lord in prayer. Ask God to hedge up the wrong way and in His providential care to make known the right path.

In general, we must put temptation out-of-the-way. We must use the Bible for our rule of action. We must be earnest with God and seek to saturate our minds with His Truth. We cannot seriously believe that the Holy Spirit will give us discernment of God’s Will, if we do not even study the Bible. This would be like trying to turn a flashlight on without batteries. Dear Christian, if you truly want the light of the Holy Spirit to shine on the decisions you must make; you must first be sure you are a Christian; consistently study the Bible; and be constant in prayer.

Prayer And The Ear Of The King By Charles Spurgeon

Charles H. Spurgeon

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

“It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, l will hear” (Isaiah 65:24).

Quick work this! The LORD hears us before we call and often answers us in the same speedy manner. Foreseeing our needs and our prayers, He so arranges providence that before the need actually arises He has supplied it, before the trial assails us He has armed us against it. This is the promptitude of omniscience, and we have often seen it exercised. Before we dreamed of the affliction which was coming, the strong consolation which was to sustain us under it had arrived. What a prayer-answering God we have! The second clause suggests the telephone. Though God be in heaven and we upon earth, yet He makes our word, like His own word, to travel very swiftly. When we pray aright we speak into the ear of God. Our gracious Mediator presents our petitions at once, and the great Father hears them and smiles upon them. Grand praying this! Who would not be much in prayer when he knows that he has the ear of the King of kings? This day I will pray in faith, not only believing that I shall be heard, but that I am heard; not only that I shall be answered, but that I have the answer already. Holy Spirit, help me in this! (Faith’s Checkbook)

D.A. Carson: “We Will Not Drift Toward Holiness!”

D. A. Carson

Quoting D.A. Carson:

People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. (Reflections, Christianity Today, 7-31-00)

Praying For Others Glorifies God

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)

All thinking Christians should agree that they would rather cling to the righteousness of Christ than their own. Therefore, all who are intimate with God in prayer soon learn the wisdom of dependence upon God’s power, wisdom, and love. Such men and women of prayer love to read and hear the Gospel. It is well established that what a man loves, he is. If you put a Bible in any man’s hand, and he lets his Bible lie unopened and unread: if it has no attraction to him then, mourn at what he has neglected and lost forever.

Yet, there are other men and women who know the joy and importance of praying and reading the Scriptures. You could not please them more than to ask them to pray for you. If they knew your need beforehand they will already be praying for you before you have the opportunity to ask. Even if you were their enemy, they will have prayed for you. To pray is a wonderful thing. It recognizes God’s goodness, His pure love, and submits to His good will. The true prayer closet and secret place of God and His saints is wherever the Holy Spirit has a man all to himself in the sanctuary of his heart. If you could see the man of secret prayer, you would not believe your eyes and ears. You would see him on his knees moving heaven and earth.

Since the beginning, it has been the people of low esteem in the eyes of others; the poor and the meek, and the down-trodden who have had secret power and privilege with God to prevail in prayer. What a wondrous privilege to be an intercessor before the throne of God bringing petitions on behalf of others. Such men and women bring glory and honor to God.

Hudson Taylor On Fasting

James Hudson Taylor

From the desk of Hudson Taylor:

“In Shansi I found Chinese Christians who were accustomed to spend time in fasting and prayer. They recognized that this fasting, which so many dislike, which requires faith in God, since it makes one feel weak and poorly, is really a Divinely appointed means of grace. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak creatures we are-dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon.”

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