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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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A LIFE OF PRAISE

Richard SibbesRichard Sibbes:

The whole life of a Christian should be nothing but praises and thanks to God; we should neither eat nor sleep, but eat to God and sleep to God and work to God and talk to God, do all to His glory and praise.

 

 

Concern for Souls

James Montgomery BoiceQuoting James Montgomery Boice:

[T]he greatest periods of faithful expository preaching were inevitably accompanied by the highest levels of sensitivity to the presence of God in worship and the greatest measure of concern for the cure of souls.

The Puritans are a great example, though one could cite the Reformation period or the age of the evangelical awakening in England as well. The Puritans abounded in the production of expository material. We think of the monumental productions of men like Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), Richard Baxter (1615-l691), John Owen (1616-1683), Thomas Watson (d. l686), John Flavel (1627-1691), Jonathan Edwards (1702-1758), and that later Puritan Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892). These men produced material so serious in its nature and so weighty in its content that few contemporary pastors are even up to reading it. Yet common people followed these addresses in former times and were moved by them. Worship services were characterized by a powerful sense of God’s presence, and those who did such preaching and led such services were no less concerned with the individual problems, temptations, and growth of those under their care. Who in recent years has produced a work on pastoral counseling to equal Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor (1656)? Who has analyzed the movement of God in individual lives as well as did Jonathan Edwards in A Narrative of Surprising Conversions (1737) and Religious Affections (1746) or Archibald Alexander in his Thoughts on Religious Experience (1844)? Questions like these should shake us out of self-satisfied complacency and show that we are actually conducting our pastoral care, worship, and preaching at a seriously lower level. (The Foundation of Biblical Authority, London & Glasgow: Pickering & Inglis, 1979, pp.123-143)

A Life of Praise and Thanks

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! (1 Chronicles 16:8 ESV)

Richard SibbesRichard Sibbes:

The whole life of a Christian should be nothing but praises and thanks to God; we should neither eat nor sleep, but eat to God and sleep to God and work to God and talk to God, do all to His glory and praise.

Richard Sibbes: Yet Another Grows

Richard Sibbes:

If believers decay in their first love, or in some other grace, yet another grace may grow and increase, such as humility, their broken heartedness; they sometimes seem not to grow in the branches when they may grow at the root; upon a check grace breaks out more; as we say, after a hard winter there usually follows a glorious spring.

Weakness and Truth

Richard SibbesRichard Sibbes:

As the strongest faith may be shaken, so the weakest, where truth is, is so far rooted that it will prevail. Weakness with watchfulness will stand, when strength with too much confidence fails. Weakness, with acknowledgement of it, is the fittest seat and subject for God to perfect His strength in; for consciousness of our infirmities drives us out of ourselves to Him, in whom our strength lies.

Temptation and Chocolate

ChocolateI am often tempted by the desire to have just one more piece of chocolate. I might also speak of temptation, as my inability to resist a delicious looking dessert. However, in such matters as these, modern man has trivialized the word “temptation” in our language and culture by referring to it as something that is naughty but not serious. The Bible always speaks of temptation as a very serious matter because it is the wish to oppose the moral law of God in act or attitude.

An extra piece of chocolate pie may really be a problem for me (sin of gluttony). Everyone who loves to watch the Food Channel, however, may see it only as a small temptation (or peccadillo) and certainly not the want to rebel against God. Richard Sibbes makes an important point when he writes, “Satan gives Adam an apple, and takes away Paradise. Therefore in all temptations let us consider not what he offers, but what we shall lose.” Temptation offers the illusion of happiness but its consequences yield only torment.

We all are tempted, but we should never treat temptation in a light or frivolous manner. Temptation is serious! Jesus told his disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) Once we yield to temptation, it grows in power. Another reason that makes this difficult is that we don’t want to discourage temptation completely. We want to play around its edges as a small boy plays with fire. We deceive ourselves into believing that we can play carelessly in the flames and not be burned.

Paul writes, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) If you honestly and firmly decide to do your best to avoid temptation and pray with all your heart for God’s deliverance, He is faithful to give you the means to stand against Satan’s clever devices.

If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit of God will help you resist the temptation to sin. However, if you are a Christian who does not daily strengthen himself in the disciplines of Christ – you will be weak when temptation comes upon you. “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:12-16 ESV)

Samuel at Gilgal

Paradoxes to Carnal Men

Richard SibbesRichard Sibbes:

The tenets of [the Christian life] seem paradoxes to carnal men; as first, that a Christian is the only freeman, and other men are slaves; that he is the only rich man, though never so poor in the world; that he is the only beautiful man, though outwardly never so deformed; that he is the only happy man in the midst of all his miseries.

We are only safe when we wisely make use of all good advantages that we have access to. By going out of God’s ways, we go out of His government, and so lose our good frame of mind, and find ourselves overspread quickly with a contrary disposition. When we draw near to Christ (James 4:8), in His ordinances, He draws near to us.

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