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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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The New Year Begins

In the words of George Hodges:

The year begins; and all its pages are as blank… Let us begin it with high resolution; then let us take all its limitations, all its hindrances, its disappointments, its narrow and common-place conditions, and meet them as the Master did in Nazareth, with patience, with obedience, putting ourselves in cheerful subjection, serving our apprenticeship. Who knows what opportunity may come to us this year? Let us live in a great spirit, and then we shall be ready for a great occasion.

Growth In The Grace And Knowledge Of God

There are many people who think that if they attend church occasionally, read the Bible and declare they believe it from the first book to the last, that they are surely growing in Christian grace. Yet, we must be careful here because even demons have knowledge of these things and certainly are not growing in Christ. We all need a deeper knowledge of God which is granted by the Holy Spirit. To obtain this requires much prayer. We need to understand that our spiritual growth will not rise above our submission to the work of the Holy Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God are both necessary for our growth as Christians.

The better we know God, the more we will understand our own natures. A great problem is revealed by the Bible concerning our lives and the problem is us. John the Baptist said on one occasion: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 ESV) Does this not give us a clue to the primary object of our prayers? To truly grow in Christian Grace, our prayers should be filled with petitions that our focus on ourselves, our needs, our way, and our wants should decrease because we desire the increase of Christ in us. With this growth in Christian Sanctification also comes an awareness of the depth of our sins with an increasing desire to be fully repentant.

Repentance is agreeing with God’s view of our rebellion and sin. There should be godly sorrow. We do not see much godly sorrow in our present time. We should be conscious that the Bible teaches us that the closer we draw near to God, the more aware of our own sinfulness we should be. We should remember Isaiah, who when speaking to the Lord in the temple said, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5 ESV)

Any person in Scripture, who draws nearer to God, becomes more aware of their own sinfulness. Without repentance, we will never appreciate what Jesus Christ has done for us. We will be constantly tempted to believe that somehow we are worthy of God’s grace. If we earnestly desire to be nearer to God, we must be ready to face the secret evils in our hearts. Therefore, James writes: “’God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:6-10 ESV)

John Calvin believed that human beings could not know God or themselves without God’s gracious revelation of Himself in the Bible. Therefore, it is very difficult to be proud when our capacity to know is limited and dependent on God. This simple fact should inspire us all to humility.

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