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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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God’s Sovereignty

Quoting Darrin Brooker:

Regrettably, the sovereignty of God is an issue little talked about in our day. The truth of the matter is that many people are selective in the areas they think and believe God to be sovereign. Oftentimes, these same people will boldly assert that their ‘free choice’ was the causal agent of their conversion and not the effectual calling of the Holy Spirit in fulfilling God’s decree of election. It is essential that this error be pointed out as such because, simply put, if we do not regard God as the ‘determining’ cause of our salvation then we do not regard God as sovereign in all things. (Rom. 11:36) Jonathan Edwards once said that the sovereignty of God will be “the stumbling-block on which thousands fall and perish; and if we go on contending with God about his sovereignty, it will be our eternal ruin.” If we do not exalt God as sovereign, and sovereign in all things including the salvation of His people, then we knowingly usurp the glory due His name.

For the true believer, God’s sovereignty is the greatest of all comforts and not some antiquated, theoretical doctrine, as many would have it portrayed. We should feel secure in the fact that God chose a people unto salvation before the creation of the world; that He sent His Son to secure that salvation through His death on the cross; and that He sent His Spirit to effectually call and eternally seal those for whom Christ died, in order that none of them should be lost. (Eph. 1:3-14) Dear friends, what greater comfort could there be than knowing our salvation, from beginning to end, rests fully in the hands of Almighty God?

Part VII: George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior

At the age sixteen, George Washington wrote out by hand, 110 Rules of Civility. These are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. The rules have one major interest in common; a focus on other people rather than on our own self-interests which is so prevalent today. Some of his ideas may seem quaint to our modern minds but they are an excellent reminder of the importance of being a gentleman!

71 Gaze not on the marks or blemishes of others and ask not how they came. What you may speak in secret to your friend, deliver not before others.

72 Speak not in an unknown tongue in company but in your own language and that as those of quality do and not as the vulgar; sublime matters treat seriously-

73 Think before you speak; pronounce not imperfectly, nor bring out your words too hastily, but orderly and distinctly.

74 When another speaks, be attentive yourself; and disturb not the audience. If any hesitate in his words, help him not nor prompt him without desired; interrupt him not, nor answer him till his speech has ended.

75 In the midst of discourse [damaged manuscript] but if you perceive any stop because of [damaged manuscript]; to proceed: If a person of quality comes in while you’re conversing, it’s handsome to repeat what was said before.

76 While you are talking, point not with your finger at him of whom you discourse, nor approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.

77 Treat with men at fit times about business and whisper not in the company of others.

78 Make no comparisons and if any of the company be commended for any brave act of virtue, commend not another for the same.

79 Be not apt to relate news if you know not the truth thereof. In discoursing of things you have heard, name not your author always; a secret discover not.

80 Be not tedious in discourse or in reading unless you find the company pleased therewith.

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”)

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