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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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DAVID’S MEDICINE CABINET

Samuel A CainO LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. (Psalm 30:2 ESV)

I love the Psalms. The Psalms stir us to worship God more diligently. The Psalms teach us to rest in God alone as the only source of our true happiness and requirements. The Psalms offer guidance in times of affliction. In the Psalms, our innermost thoughts are revealed.

The Psalms encourage us to pray. We must lay our general needs and hope for relief from affliction before God in prayer. The Psalms also teach us to praise God and lift our hearts to Him. They are surely a means to comfort and strength. Continue reading

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Consider His Goodness

John Calvin:

“The whole world is a theatre for the display of the divine goodness, wisdom, justice, and power, but the Church is the orchestra, as it were—the most conspicuous part of it; and the nearer the approaches are that God makes to us, the more intimate and condescending the communication of his benefits, the more attentively are we called to consider them.” (Commentary on Psalms – Volume 5)

Have We Excluded Something Important From Worship?

Praise him with trumpet sound;

praise him with lute and harp!

Praise him with tambourine and dance;

praise him with strings and pipe!

Praise him with sounding cymbals;

praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!

Praise the LORD! (Psalm 150:3-6 ESV)

In the words of R. C. Sproul:

The visual impact of the furnishings and the buildings of both the Old Testament tabernacle and temple was awesome. The eyes were dazzled with a sense of the splendor of God.

Sound was vital to Old Testament worship. The choral compositions of the Psalms were moving to the Spirit. They were accompanied by the full harmony and rhythm supplied by the harp, the lyre, the flute, and trumpets. The piano and the organ are marvelous instruments, but they cannot produce the sounds that the other instruments provide. Hymns and choral anthems are greatly enhanced when they are supported with greater orchestration.

Old Testament worship involved all five senses. The element of touch is missing in most Protestant worship. Charismatic groups emphasize the laying on of hands, which meets a strong human need for a holy touch. Early Christian worship involved the placing of the pastor’s hands on each person with the pronouncement of the benediction. When congregations got too large for such personal attention, the act gave way to the symbolic gesture of the benediction spoken by the pastor with outstretched arms. This was a simulation of the laying on of hands, but the actual touch was lost.

Old Testament worship included taste and smell. The fragrance of burning incense gave a peculiar sense of a special aroma associated with the sweetness of God. One of the first gifts laid at the foot of the manger of Jesus was that of frankincense. Most Protestants reject incense without giving any substantive reason for its rejection.

Taste was central to the Old Testament feasts as well as the New Testament celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The injunction to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8) is rooted in the worship experience. The people of God “tasted the heavenly gift” (Heb. 6:4).

Perhaps we have stunted worship by excluding elements that God once included and deemed important.

Read more here. . . .

Professors Who Are Not Possessors

I suspect that the fact there are those who claim to have salvation and do not, is a problem in many congregations. I also suspect there are few pastors who can or will take the time to talk deeply and thoroughly to these professors about their spiritual condition. Charles Spurgeon, however, was a pastor who challenged his congregation’s easy assumptions about the condition of their souls. Thus I am challenged by Spurgeon’s words below:

My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words. (Psalm 119:139 ESV)

But what shall be done with such persons as live in the church, but are not of it having a name to live, but are dead? What shall be done with mere professors who are not possessors? What shall become of those who are only outwardly religious but inwardly are in the gall of bitterness? We answer, as good Calvin did once: “They shall walk in black, for they are unworthy.” They shall walk in black—the blackness of God’s destruction. They shall walk in black—the blackness of hopeless despair. They shall walk in black—the blackness of incomparable anguish. They shall walk in black—the blackness of damnation. They shall walk in black for ever, because they were found unworthy. O professors, search yourselves. O ministers, search yourselves.

O ye, who make a profession of religion now, put your hands within your hearts, and search your souls. You live in the sight of a rein-trying God. Oh! Try your own reins, and search your own hearts. It is not a matter of half-importance for which I plead, but a matter of double importance. I beseech you, examine and cross-examine your own souls, and see whether ye be in the path, for it will go ill with you if ye shall find at last that ye were in the church, but not of it, that ye make a profession of religion, but it was only a cloak for your hypocrisy—if ye should have entered into his courts below, and be shut out of the courts above. Remember, the higher the pinnacle of profession the direr your fall of destruction. Beggared kings, exile princes, crownless emperors, are always subjects of pity. Professor, what wilt thou think of thyself when thy robes are taken from thee, when thy crown of profession is taken from thy head, and thou standest the hiss of even vile men, the scoff of blasphemers, the jeer of those who, whatever they were, were not hypocrites, as thou art?

They will cry to thee, “Art thou become like one of us? Thou professor, thou high-flying man, art thou become like one of us?” And ye will hide your guilty heads in the dark pit of perdition, but all in vain, for you never will be able to avoid that hiss which shall ever greet you. “What! Thou!” the drunkard whom you told to drink no more will say “Art thou become like one of us?” And the harlot whom you scorned, and the young debauched man whom you warned, will stare you in the face, and say, “What! You! You who talked of religion. A pretty fellow you were! Art thou become one of us?” Oh! I think I hear them saying in hell, “Here’s a parson, come here; here’s a deacon; here’s a church member; here’s a man who has had the sacramental wine within his lips; here’s a man that has had the baptismal water on his garments.”

Ah! Take care. There are but a few names in Sardis who shall walk in white. Be ye of that few. May God give you grace that ye be not reprobates, but may be accepted of the Lord in that day! May he give you mercy, that when he severs the chaff from the wheat, you may abide as the good corn, and may not be swept away into unquenchable fire! The Lord in mercy bless this warning, and hear our supplication, for Christ’s sake. Amen. (“A Solemn Warning for All Churches”, February 24, 1856)

God Will Answer

Quoting Charles Spurgeon:

“He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him: He also will hear their cry, and will save them” (Psalm 145:19).

His own Spirit has wrought this desire in us, and therefore He will answer it. It is His own life within which prompts the cry, and therefore He will hear it. Those who fear Him are men under the holiest influence, and, therefore, their desire is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Like Daniel, they are men of desires, and the LORD will cause them to realize their aspirations.

Holy desires are grace in the blade, and the heavenly Husbandman will cultivate them till they come to the full corn in the ear. God-fearing men desire to be holy, to be useful, to be a blessing to others, and so to honor their LORD. They desire supplies for their need, help under burdens, guidance in perplexity, deliverance in distress; and sometimes this desire is so strong and their case so pressing that they cry out in agony like little children in pain, and then the LORD works most comprehensively and does all that is needful according to this Word — “and will save them.”

Yes, if we fear God, we have nothing else to fear; if we cry to the LORD, our salvation is certain.

Let the reader lay this text on his tongue and keep it in his mouth all the day, and it will be to him as “a wafer made with honey.” (Faith’s Checkbook)

Nothing Is Hid From God

Thomas Watson

What manner of men and women should we be? Does God have a window that opens into our hearts? He is absolutely aware of our thoughts and actions. Holiness, sincerity, and piety would become us, being in His presence! If you knew that you were about to be called into the presence of a great earthly king, would you not make solemn preparations? Are the eyes of a king better than the eyes of God? The king can only see and hear that which is outside the heart of a man. However, God has a key to every heart! Thomas Watson (1620-1686) provides us with additional thoughts on this subject:

“But all Things are naked and open unto the Eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13)

The clouds are no canopy; the night is no curtain to draw between, or intercept his knowledge: we cannot write our sins in so small or strange a character, but God can read, he hath a key for them. Indeed, we know not sometimes what to make of his providences, ‘His way is in the sanctuary,’ Ps. 77.13. We cannot read his handwriting; but he understands our hearts without a commentary: he is privy to all our treachery: we cannot climb so high but he sees us, we cannot dig so low but he takes notice. . . . Achan digs deep to hide his counsels, saying, ‘No eye shall see;’ he takes the Babylonish garment, and hides it in the earth, with the wedge of gold, but God unmasks his thievery, Josh. 7.12.

If there be any here, that when they should have been doing God’s work, have been by stealth hiding the Babylonish garment, making themselves rich, feathering their own nests; instead of driving in nails into God’s temple to fasten it, have been driving a wedge of gold into their chests, God sees it; let me tell you, all the gain you get, you may put in your eyes; nay, if you belong to God you must, and weep it out again. God hath a window that looks into your hearts. . . .

For the amplification, let us consider what the knowledge of God is; it is a most pure act by which he doth at one instant know himself in himself, and all things without himself, not only necessary, and contingent, but which shall ever be, after a most perfect, exquisite, and infallible manner. Out of this description we may gather two things. (1.) That there is no succession in God’s knowledge: our knowledge is from the effect to the cause; it is not so in God. (2.) Things that are not, have an objective being in his knowledge; Rom. 4.17, ‘He calls things that are not, as if they were;’ even these non entia have an idea in his knowledge. . . .’

He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see, Psalm 94.9? He that makes a watch, knows all the pins and wheels in it; and though these wheels move cross one to another, he knows the true and perfect motion of the watch, and the spring that sets these wheels a going; ‘He that formed the eye, shall he not see?’ Man may be compared to a spiritual watch. The affections are the wheels; the heart is the spring; the motion of this watch is false; the heart is deceitful; but God that made this watch knows the true motion of it (be it never so false) and the springs that sets the wheels a going. God knows us better than we know ourselves: he is as Ezekiel‘s wheels, full of eyes; and, as Augustine saith, he is all eye. (“God’s Anatomy Upon Man’s Heart”)

Shall The Preacher Not Suffer?

Quoting Charles Spurgeon:

May not severe discipline fall to the lot of some to qualify them for their office of under-shepherds? We cannot speak with consoling authority to an experience which we have never known. The suffering know those who have themselves suffered, and their smell is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed. The “word to the weary” is not learned except by an ear which has bled while the awl has fastened it to the door-post. “The complete pastor’s” life will be an epitome of the lives of his people, and they will turn to his preaching as men do to David’s Psalms, to see themselves and their sorrows, as in a mirror. Their needs will be the reason for his griefs. As to the Lord himself, perfect equipment for his work came only through suffering, so must it be to those who are called to follow him in binding up the broken-hearted, and loosing the prisoners. Souls still remain in our churches to whose deep and dark experience we shall never be able to minister till we also have been plunged in the abyss where all Jehovah’s waves roll over our heads. If this be the fact – and we are sure it is – then may we heartily welcome anything which will make us fitter channels of blessing. For the elect’s sake it shall be joy to endure all things. (“Laid Aside. Why?” Sword and Trowel May 1876)

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