• 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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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

God’s Holiness

Sinclair B. FergusonSinclair B. Ferguson:

God’s holiness means He is separate from sin. But holiness in God also means wholeness. God’s holiness is His “God-ness.” It is His being God in all that it means for Him to be God. To meet God in His holiness, therefore, is to be altogether overwhelmed by the discovery that He is God, and not man.

Woven into the warp and woof of the New Testament‘s exposition of what it means for us to be holy is the great groundwork that the self-existent, thrice holy, triune God has — in Himself, by Himself and for Himself — committed Himself and all three Persons of His being to bringing about the holiness of His own people. This is the Father’s purpose, the Son’s purchase and the Spirit’s ministry.

Stomping on Jesus

Stomp on Jesus?Christopher White writes:

In early March, Ryan Rotela, a junior at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, refused to participate in a class exercise in which members of the class were instructed to write the name “JESUS” on a sheet of paper and then to stomp on it. When Rotela complained a few days later to university officials, he was informed he had been suspended from the class for not participating in the exercise.

In recent weeks this story has shocked the nation as reports of this story began to make its ways around local news networks and newspapers. The online website Mediate confirmed that the exercise that Rotela refused to participate in was, indeed, listed in the instructor edition of the college textbook: Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.

Continue reading this article here. . . .

When the Content of our Preaching is Weak

False ConvertWe must set before our congregations the scriptural distinctions between a true believer and a false believer. This type of preaching never harms the true child of God. The only thing that stands to be harmed by an inspection is the counterfeit. According to Al Martin:

[One] area where the content of our preaching is weak in specific application, is in the matter of presenting the whole Christ to the whole man. It is to be feared that we have returned to a Romish concept of faith in our day. We must never forget that one of the great issues which the Reformers brought into focus was that faith was something more than … a mere nodding of the head to the body of truth presented by the church as ‘the faith.’ The Reformers set forth the biblical concept that faith was ‘fiducia’. They made plain that saving faith involved trust, commitment, a trust and commitment involving the whole man with the truth which was believed and with the Christ who was the focus of that truth. The time has come when we need to spell this out clearly in categorical statements so that people will realize that a mere nodding of assent to the doctrines that they are exposed to is not the essence of saving faith. They need to be brought to the understanding that saving faith involves the commitment of the whole man to the whole Christ as Prophet, Priest and King, as He is set forth in the gospel. If this is done, we shall no longer hear all this talk about ‘believing’ but not ‘surrendering.’ Our evangelical circles are filled with evidences of unbiblical attempts to divide Christ as Savior and as Lord. Much of the deceptive heresy based on this concept of a divided Christ would be swept away by the dear preaching of the whole Christ to the whole man.

[Another] area of weakness is content. This is a very sensitive area, and one in which we are woefully weak in contemporary Reformed circles. The area to which I refer, is that of the necessity of setting forth the distinguishing traits of a true believer. Involved in this is the need for dearly stating the difference between the grounds of salvation and the assurance of salvation. I have found in my experience of moving in Reformed circles, that the moment a few people begin to do some scriptural self-examination, when they begin to obey II Corinthians 13:5 that men look upon this scriptural exercise as second cousin to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. People look upon doubt as the most terrible thing in the world. What we fail to realize is that doubts which are produced by honest self-examination in the light of the objective standard of the Word of God, may be the best thing that ever happened to some people. I have often said that doubts will never damn a man, but sinful presumption will. As long as the Scripture says again and again, ‘Let no man deceive you . . . let no man deceive himself . . . be not deceived,’ we dare not presume or lead others to presume that all is well. What are these exhortations for? If self-deception is not a very real possibility, then why is the Bible replete with exhortations against self-deception? All of these warnings become meaningless gibberish if they are merely talking about a hypothetical possibility. However, if people could come into the circle of the external church and be deceived under the ministry of the apostles, so that they felt it necessary to say, ‘Brethren, make your calling and election sure’, much more do we ourselves need to face up to the fact that we may have some deceived people coming into the professing church under our anemic ministries. When this conviction grips us, then we will cry out to them, exhorting them to make their calling and election sure, to examine and prove them selves whether they be in the faith. (“What is Wrong with Preaching Today?”)

Follow Christ

Don't Waste Your LifeJohn Piper:

“Don’t follow a defeated foe. Follow Christ. It is costly. You will be an exile in this age. But you will be free.”

“There is a warning. The path of God-exalting joy will cost you your life. Jesus said, “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” In other words, it is better to lose your life than to waste it. If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full. This is not a book about how to avoid a wounded life, but how to avoid a wasted life. Some of you will die in the service of Christ. That will not be a tragedy. Treasuring life above Christ is a tragedy.”

The Bible has never Failed

Robert E LeeRobert E. Lee:

“In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.”

Faith’s Work in Prayer

William GuthrieFaith assures the soul that what God has promised in His Word, He will provide and carry out. William Guthrie writes:

Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24 ESV)

Faith’s work in prayer is to take hold of the least meaning, may-be, or intimation from the Lord, and to lay hold of the least ground of hope of mercy; as a poor man takes hold of the least meaning of mercy from man. It was the exercise of the woman of Canaan in her prayer, when Christ upbraided her, saying, “What have I to do with thee? Should I give the children’s bread to dogs?” “Truth, Lord,” says she, “Thou hast given me some ground to expect help from Thee.” Truth, Lord, I acknowledge that I am a dog; but it is as true that dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” Whereupon Christ says unto her, “0 woman, great is thy faith. Thy faith hath taken hold of the least intimation, or may-be, as a ground of hope. Be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” And this reproves those who fret if they get not what dish of meat they please; or if it pleases them not – they cast it from them. But if thou knew what thou art, and how little thou deserve, thou wouldst bless God, that thou art not in hell already.

Faith’s work in prayer is to enjoin every praying faculty, or all that is within the soul, before God. For faith sets its Humble Prayerdesires in order. Faith makes it desire nothing but what God hath allowed in His Word and it will be nothing short of this. Again, it orders our zeal, so that it is not blind and preposterous: where faith rules it orders humility, so that the soul does not say in a sullen fit, “Lord, depart from me for I am a sinful man.” It orders sorrow for sin neither to be too little nor too great. It is faith’s work to make the soul sorrow heartily before God: on the other hand, it makes us guard against anxious sorrow. Then it orders hope that the soul may wait patiently for the answer or accomplishment of prayer. Thus, it is faith’s work to order all things within the soul, and put all things in a composed temper. So commanding is the grace of faith in a soul where it is, that it will let nothing be out of order.


Joseph HallJoseph Hall:

Sorrows, because they are lingering guests, I will entertain but moderately, knowing that the more they are made of the longer they will continue: and for pleasures, because they stay not, and do but call to drink at my door, I will use them as passengers with slight respect. He is his own best friend that makes the least of both of them.

George Washington on the US and the Bible

George WashingtonPresident George Washington:

“Of the many influences that have shaped the United States into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.”


Charles H. SpurgeonMany try to set up a kind of self-repentance and justify themselves in the sight of God. They say they have repented, or tried to repent. They say they have prayed, or tried to pray and still God has not saved them. Then they begin to blame God. However, they know this is wrong. Charles H. Spurgeon writes:

When a man does wrong, and yet will not confess it, how wrong he must be! Or when, having confessed it, he does not feel proper shame; or after feeling ashamed for a while he returns to the same evil like the dog to his vomit, how deep must the evil be in his moral nature, how terribly diseased he must be, inasmuch as he does not feel sin to be sin at all! When a man has done wrong and knows it, and stands with bitter repentance to confess the evil, why, you think hopefully of him; after all, there are good points about the man; there is a vitality in him that will throw out the disease. But when the villain, having perpetrated a grave and causeless offense, does not for a moment acknowledge he has done wrong, but continues calmly to perpetrate the offense again; ah, then, where is there any good in him? Is he not thoroughly bad? Now, you are like that.

If you were at all right with God, you would fall at your Father’s feet, and never rise until you were forgiven; your tears would flow day and night until you had the assurance of pardon. But since your heart seems to yourself to be made of hell-hardened steel, and to be like a millstone that feels nothing, then there is need for healing, and you seem the very man whom Christ came to save, for he came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance, not to save those who had no need for healing but to heal those like you, whose need is desperate indeed.

As if to prove your own need of healing, you are, according to your own statement, unable to pray. You have been trying to pray lately, and wished you could. You put yourself upon your knees, but your heart does not talk with God; a horrible dread comes over you, or else frivolous and vain thoughts distract you. “Oh,” you have said, “I would give a thousand pounds for one tear of repentance; I would be ready to pluck out my eyes if I could call upon God as the poor publican did, with ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ I once thought it the easiest thing in the world to pray, but now I find that a true prayer is beyond my power.” You do need healing indeed, possessed with a dumb devil, and all your other devils also, and unable to cry out for mercy; yours is a sad case. You need healing, and I cannot help repeating to you, “He healed them that had need of healing”; why should he not heal you? (Advice for Seekers)

In God’s Worship

Jeremiah BurroughsJeremiah Burroughs:

“In God’s worship, there must be nothing tendered up to God but what He has commanded. Whatsoever we meddle with in the worship of God must be what we have a warrant for out the Word of God. This speech of Moses‘ is upon the occasion of the judgment of God upon Aaron’s sons for offering strange fire. They offered fire that God had not commanded. Hence I say that all things in God’s worship must have a warrant out of God’s Word. It must be commanded; it’s not enough that it is not forbidden. I beseech you to observe it. It is not enough that a thing is not forbidden, and you cannot see what harm there is in it. But is must be commanded. I confess that in matters that are civil and natural this may be enough. If it is according to the rules of prudence and not forbidden in the Word, we may make use of this in civil and natural things. But when we come to matters of religion and the worship of God, we must either have a command, wherein God manifests His will, either by a direct command, or by comparing one with thing with another, or drawing consequences plainly from the words.” (Gospel Worship, p.10)

Faith is a Gift!

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

Jim McClarty helps us to understand the meaning of the words above.


Love One Another

Andrew MurrayBefore Christ promised the Holy Spirit, He gave a new commandment, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV) Andrew Murray writes:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love …” (Galatians 5:22 ESV)

When man sinned, why was it that he sinned? Selfishness triumphed – he sought self instead of God. And just look! Adam at once begins to accuse the woman of having led him astray. Love to God had gone; love to man was lost. Look again: of the first two children of Adam, the one becomes a murderer of his brother.

Does that not teach us that sin had robbed the world of love? Ah! What a proof the history of the world has been of love having been lost! There may have been beautiful examples of love even among the heathen, but only as a little remnant of what was lost. One of the worst things sin did for man was to make him selfish, for selfishness cannot love.

The Lord Jesus Christ came down from heaven as the Son of God’s love. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). God’s Son came to show what love is, and He lived a life of love here on earth in fellowship with His disciples, in compassion over the poor and miserable, in love even to His enemies. And, He died the death of love. And when He went back to heaven, whom did He send down? The Spirit of love, to come and banish selfishness, envy, and pride, and bring the love of God into the hearts of men. (“The fruit of the Spirit is love.”)

Spending too much Time looking in the Mirror

AtheismIn the pride of his face, the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” (Psalm 10:4 ESV)

Atheism is like spending too much time looking in the mirror; in the reflection, there is only room for one person – self. Life without God is the kingdom of self. I must admit here that I was an atheist for many years before becoming a Christian. I can testify that I once lived a life centered totally on myself and I am still a work in progress.

Let us take a moment to define “atheism”. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “atheism” as “Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God …” Disbelief in God is driven by the overwhelming desire to be personally in control and accountable to no one. It is a powerful motivation for suppressing the truth of God. (Romans 1:18) The natural (sinful) man prefers to set up his own standards of righteousness.

The sin of atheism is all bound up in the wickedness of irrational pride. We wish to be the center of all things. Therefore, as the center of my universe, I cannot tolerate a god more powerful than I am. A self-centered man cannot abide a deity to whom he is accountable. William E. Henley spoke of such a person when he penned the words, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”

Thus, the pride of life drives men to “suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:18-21) Atheism requires a cycle of censorship to support its self-assurance. The sin of pride is the impetus to deny any truth that supports the existence of God.

Therefore, atheism is not a morally neutral position. To deny God, is to deny the moral foundation of the rights and dignity of man. Think about this quote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn: “If I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men had forgotten God; that is why all this has happened.’”

In John Milton’s 17th-century epic poem, Paradise Lost, Satan attempts to seize control of heaven from God. Satan claims that the angels are “self-begot” (Evolution?) and he denies God’s authority as Creator over them. Because of his rebellion, Satan and his followers are cast down to hell. Here, Satan speaks that often quoted line: “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.” Is it, really? Atheism demands the answer, “Yes!” This viewpoint, however, has led to very unhappy consequences in Russia, China, and North Korea – among many other nations. For the individual, the consequences are reaped in this world and the next when men forget God.

Atheism will be humiliated and abandoned one day before the terrifying judgment of the one holy omnipotent God. His justice will demand that, “The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” (Isaiah 2:11)

Samuel at Gilgal

God is Sovereign

Trusting GodJerry Bridges:

God is sovereign over people. He will move their hearts to cause them to do His will, or He will restrain them from doing anything contrary to His will. But it is His will, His agenda for our lives, that God will guard, protect, and advance. We must learn to live by His agenda if we are to trust Him. (Trusting God, 1988, p. 71)

If God is not sovereign in the decisions and actions of other people as they affect us, then there is a whole major area of our lives where we cannot trust God; where we are left, so to speak, to fend for ourselves. (Trusting God, 1988, p. 58)

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