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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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LIGHT

There is no light, no knowledge, no wisdom, apart from God. All existence and all knowledge depend on God. If we have life, we live by Him. (Acts 17:28) If we have any knowledge, we know by Him. (Romans 11:36) We do not shed light on Him by the light we see. He is the origin, the source. If we have any measure of light, it is He who is shedding light on what we see, not we.

(John Piper, A Peculiar Glory, Crossway, 2016, p.160)

HOPE

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4 ESV)

Reading The BibleSeek for His Wisdom and you will also find hope for the future.

WHEN YOUR LIVER DOESN’T SHIVER AND THE FLEECE STAYS DRY!

Samuel A Cain“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV)

I must confess that I have borrowed the title and idea for this article from my pastor. However, I am sure he will forgive me for the liberty I have taken. I alone am responsible for the following article and its contents.

Most Christians would like to hear from God when they are about to make an important decision or going through tough times. We all want God to speak to us in some manner. Is this a scriptural practice for us today? Is it possible we are erring in asking for personal extra-biblical revelation? Are we asking for information the Bible does not offer? The historic Christian church has always asserted that God’s revelation to mankind is limited to the teachings of the Bible. The Bible contains all the spiritual truth that God intends to make known. The Westminster Confession of Faith tells us: Continue reading

WISDOM

BibleJ.C. Ryle:

“. . . Beware of being wise above that which is written. Beware of forming fanciful theories of your own, and then trying to make the Bible square with them. Beware of making selections from your Bible to suit your taste. Dare not to say, ‘I believe this verse, for I like it. I refuse that, for I cannot reconcile it with my views.’ Nay! But, O man, who art thou that replies against God? By what right do you talk in this way? Surely it were better to say, over every chapter in the word, ‘Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears.’ Ah! If men would do this, they would never deny the unquenchable fire.”

The Support of Providence

Charles H. Spurgeon

Charles H. Spurgeon

Charles H. Spurgeon:

The boundless stores of Providence are engaged for the support of the believer. Christ is our Joseph, who has granaries full of wheat; but He does not treat us as Joseph did the Egyptians, for He opens the door of His storehouse and bids us call all the good therein our own. He has entailed upon His estate of Providence a perpetual charge of a daily portion for us, and He has promised that one day we shall clearly perceive that the estate itself has been well-farmed on our behalf and has always been ours. The axle of the wheels of the chariot of Providence is Infinite Love, and Gracious Wisdom is the perpetual charioteer.

Wisdom

Bishop J. C. RyleJ.C. Ryle:

Let us learn wisdom from our Savior’s example. We are far too ready to “seek great things” in this world. Let us seek them not. To have a place, and a title, and a position in society, is not nearly as important as people think. It is a great sin to be covetous, and worldly, and proud, and carnal-minded. But it is no sin to be poor. It matters not so much, where we live, as what we are in the sight of God. Where are we going when we die? Shall we live forever in heaven? These are the main things to which we should attend.

Above all, let us daily strive to copy our Savior’s humility. Pride is the oldest and commonest of sins. Humility is the rarest and most beautiful of graces. For humility, let us labor. For humility, let us pray. Our knowledge may be scanty. Our faith may be weak. Our strength may be small. But if we are, disciples of Him who “lived in Nazareth,” let us at any rate be humble. (Expository Thoughts on Matthew)

The Two Best Lessons

Robert G. Lee

Robert G. Lee (1886-1974) helps us to understand wisdom and the heart in the excerpts below:

“Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

“I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly.” (Ecclesiastes 1:17)

Solomon knew everything as nearly as mortal man could know everything. His was no capsule brain capable of tidbits only. He was a scientist. He was a philosopher. He was a moralist and a historian. He was a publicist and a poet. He had a mind trained to observe…to meditate.

He had an imagination by which he interpreted the facts of history and built upon the premise of these facts the deductions of science. He walked familiarly through the fields of botany. “He spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall” (I Kings 4:33). He brought forth the treasures of the mine. He knew nature’s choir made up of the voices of birds, the wind in the boughs, and the sea on the shore. He interpreted the messages of the heavenly bodies. He sailed the seas. He knew the birds. He wrote parables from the fields and the forests. He gathered great wealth of gold and precious stones. He wrote and published books. He wrote thousands of imperishable proverbs. He interpreted human experience. He philosophized about divine revelation.

But with all this, he missed the one essential and found no rest for his heart. It is he, this great Solomon with all his glory, who, after roaming through all the realms of thought and imagination, of human wisdom and human knowledge, cried “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity!”

“And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly; I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit (Ecclesiastes 1:17).

Once, a man traveled a long way? A journey of many miles to interview a distinguished scholar. The butler ushered him in, upon the presentation of his card, into the study of the great scholar. He was cordially greeted. Before seating himself he asked this question of the noted scholar:

“Doctor, I have come a long way to ask you just one question. I observe that the walls of your room are filled with books. This room is literally lined with them from ceiling to floor. I suppose you have read them all. I know you have written many books. You have traveled the world over; you have held intimate converse with the world’s wisest men, its leaders of thought, and its creators of opinion. Tell me, if you will, after the years you have spent in study, out of the things you have learned, what is the one thing best worth knowing? “

The great scholar’s face flushed with emotion. He placed, with clumsy gentleness, both hands over the hands of his caller. And he said:

“My dear sir, out of all the things I have learned there are only two lessons best worth knowing. The first is, I am a great sinner. The second is, Jesus Christ is a great Savior. In the knowledge of these two facts as applied in my own personal experience lies all my happiness and all my hopes! “

Thus we learn in that man’s answer, in many ways, that men may know some things and not the best things-the things best worth knowing. Thus we see that men may treasure rags and throw away treasures. . . . (“Paths of Disappointment”)

Vanity And Human Wisdom

Human wisdom does not satisfy our real needs. We may know many wonderful things and not realize how many things we do not know. I could perhaps write down everything I know and it would produce a small book. If I could just make a list of the things I do not know; what a great library the pages would fill. The fact is that simple human knowledge does not answer the questions of our deepest needs. So what if we gain all this knowledge and do not learn the two things most worth knowing: 1) We are sinners in need of a Savior and 2) Jesus Christ is the only savior. Robert G. Lee helps us to find the rest needed in our hearts:

“Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

Thirty-seven times the word “vanity” occurs in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Moreover, vanity is the key word of the Book of Ecclesiastes; the keynote to its dirge like message.

“Vanity of vanities…All is vanity!” Now these words are not due to a fit of temporary depression. They are not given utterance because of some passing adverse circumstance. They were not born of the quick and passing bitterness begotten by the foul play of some friend who turned traitor. Subtle pride did not prompt this language of Solomon. They are, according to our judgment, the result of experience arrived at after mature and deliberate thought.

They are not the words of a man who walked a few paths, but the words of a man who walked many paths. Nor the words of one bored with the routine of some prosaic task. Nor the words of a man whose courage failed in some steep ascent of toil. Nor the words of one in prostrate rebellion against the tortures of some couch of pain.

Rather let us say that these are the words of one who sailed over many seas of human experience and made, with deliberate care, special notes and charts of his voyages. Words they are of one who drank of every cup and wrote a label for each. And in these words Solomon the wise, Solomon the rich, Solomon the mighty, has left the testimony that even a king could not find and cannot find genuine satisfaction in things finite, in things perishing, in things of the earth.

By what path shall I go to find the home of perfect happiness? Which road must I take to compass heart satisfaction? What must I do to find contentment? What must I do to have a “good time”? What must I do to be superior to the habitations in which I am domiciled? What must I do to have the merry heart within the stern war of things? What must I do to know the intoxication of pleasure without the dissipation of the soul’s finest resources . . . ?

But with all this, he missed the one essential and found no rest for his heart. It is he, this great Solomon with all his glory, who, after roaming through all the realms of thought and imagination, of human wisdom and human knowledge, cried “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity!” (“Paths of Disappointment”)

The Wise And The Scornful

Asahel Nettleton

Asahel Nettleton

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

The unwillingness of an individual to receive reproof concerning his actions or character is a good measure of his relationship with God and the state of his salvation. The man who has found peace with God is receptive to honest reproof when it is given with genuine love and concern. The unsaved sinner coldly rejects the kindest criticism. Asahel Nettleton writes on this topic:

Hence, the reasonable precaution of our Savior addressed to his disciples: Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. It is not the best policy to reprove offenders of every description, and on all occasions. Prudence and judgment ought ever to be exercised in the discharge of this duty. Otherwise, the well-meant endeavors of the man who undertakes the unwelcome task of a sensor, will meet with a sad recompense.

Few, when faithfully reminded of their offenses, will evince the placid temper of the pious David, who (doubtless in allusion to the plain, and pointed reproof administered to him by the prophet Nathan) exclaimed, Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil. Most persons, on the contrary, when closely pressed as he was, and to whose consciences their crimes are set home with a clearness which cannot be mistaken “Thou art the man,” will give free vent to their rage; and will not scruple to accost their reprover in the libertine language ascribed to the wicked by the Psalmist, With our tongues will we prevail; our lips are our own; who is Lord over us?

The spirit which is discerned in the disdainful carriage of individuals of this sort when reminded of their faults, is a striking comment on the just maxims of the wise man. He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Such is the difference which marks the demeanor of the righteous and the wicked when reminded of their faults. (“The Destruction of Hardened Sinners”)

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