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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 Right Heart

Quoting Bishop J. C. Ryle:

A right heart is a BROKEN and CONTRITE heart (Psalm 51:17). It is broken off from pride, self-conceit, and self-righteousness. Its former high thoughts of self are cracked, shattered, and shivered to atoms. It thinks itself guilty, unworthy, and corrupt. Its former stubbornness, heaviness, and insensibility have thawed, disappeared, and passed away. It no longer thinks lightly of offending God. It is tender, sensitive, and jealously fearful of running into sin (2 Kings 22:19). It is humble, lowly, and self-abased, and sees in itself no good thing.

THE PATH OF SOLOMON

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. (Ecclesiastes 5:10-15 ESV)

In one respect, Ecclesiastes is the diary of a man of God who on many occasions finds himself desiring to experiment and experience (Ecclesiastes 1:17) the false happiness of the secular world. Each time he finds the experience unfulfilling. Why? The man of God can only find true happiness in doing everything to the glory of God. Robert G. Lee (1886-1974) shares his thoughts on the verses above:

Wisdom, the many things he knew, brought him not to the house of abiding happiness…brought him not that joy which is ever rich and abiding. Wine turned out to be a mocker, as it always does-mocking him with the shadow instead of the substance of good things, mocking him with the desert where it promised an oasis.

And wealth had no power to satisfy. Amid all his abundance there was a lack? Something that rested not and was not still, something that hungered and was not fed, something that was thirsty and found no satisfaction… Solomon built palaces. Solomon established great public works. Solomon increased the size and magnificence of his city. Solomon transported forests.

He did mighty things in the matter of building cities and other great public works. He accomplished such things as multitudes have expected to provide satisfaction for life’s labors. But when he had finished all his great works he looked out upon them and cried, “Vanity of vanities!”

“And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men…and his fame was in all nations round about.” (I Kings 4:30,31)

“But Solomon was building…He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon…And he made …Then he made…Solomon made…” (I Kings 7)

“And Solomon built Gezer, and Beth-horon the nether, and Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land, And all the cities of store that Solomon had, and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen, and that which Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.” (I Kings 9:17-19)

Which, moreover, brings us the willingness to obey the exhortation given in I Cor. 15:58, namely:

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (“Paths of Disappointment”)

Seeking Wealth To Find Happiness

In the article below, Robert G. Lee (1886-1974) reminds us that the journey to achieve great wealth may not yield the results we hope for:

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. (Ecclesiastes 5:10-15 ESV)

In these striking words we see that [Solomon] found the path of riches a disappointing path also. Finding bitterness in the path of wine, finding no peace in human wisdom alone, he turned to the path of riches, hoping therein to find the joy and the peace the human heart needs.

See how rich he was.

  • “Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold.” (I Kings 10:14)
  • “And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold, six hundred shekels of gold went to one target. And he made three hundred shields, of beaten gold; three pounds of gold went to one shield; and the, king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.” (I Kings 10:16,17)
  • “For the king had at sea a navy of Tarshish with the navy of Hiram: once every three years came the navy of Tarshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.” (I Kings 10:22)
  • “And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen; and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem.” (I Kings 10:26)
  • “So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.” (I Kings 10:23)

Yes, gifts poured into his coffers in a continuous stream so that he was able to hire men singers and women singers able to build himself and his wives gorgeous palaces able to enjoy all that money could provide. He was able at any time to pay a king’s ransom for a day of pleasure. He had riches till the end of his life. He never knew the pinch of poverty; never knew any anxiety about his daily bread. Yet, even in the security of his nest of wealth, he fully realized the futility of their values. “Vanity of vanities ! “

No man can buy a contented heart.

Money is powerless to furnish this. No man can purchase with riches a soul at peace with God. No man can pay in money the price of the hope of immortality and of a meeting in the Great Beyond. No man can find in riches the purchase price of God’s favor or the realization of eternal salvation.

Not even in this day does money guarantee health, or hold friends, or bring contentment! (“Paths of Disappointment”)

Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven. (Proverbs 23:4-5 ESV)

God’s Window Into The Heart

Thomas Watson

What one may call the “secret sins of the heart” are really no secret at all. God is always aware and easily sees into the heart of a man. Thomas Watson (1620 – 1686) explains below:

“But all Things are naked and open unto the Eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13)

‘What manner of persons ought we to be,’ 2 Peter 3.11. Hath God a window that opens into our hearts? Doth he make a critical descant upon our actions? Oh what holiness, what sincerity, what exemplary piety becomes us, being in such a presence! Were we to come before some great monarch, what solemn preparations would we make? Shall the eye of a king do so much, and not the eye of God? The king can only see the outside; there may be a treason within for ought he knows: but God hath a key for the heart, Jer. 17.10. ‘I the Lord search the heart;’ and will not this command reverence? In these days of solemn humiliation, God’s eye is principally upon the heart. God looks there most, where we look least; some have no heart at all; sin hath stolen away their heart; others have an heart too much, ‘An heart and an heart,’ Psalm 12.2. Others have hearts good for nothing, earthly hearts, like ‘Saul that was hid among the stuff,’ 1 Sam. 10.22. Some have angels’ tongues, but, as Nebuchadnezzar he had the heart of a beast given to him. Brethren, did our hearts stand where our faces do, this would be a day of blushing, we should be ashamed to look one upon another; remember, God hath a key for the heart.

When we come to these solemn duties, God asks that question, as Jehu did Jehonadab, 2 Kings 10.15. He saluted him, and said to him, ‘Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?’ and he said, ‘It is. If it be, give me thy hand: and he took him up into the chariot.’

This is God’s question. You come this day to humble yourselves and make atonement, ‘Is your heart right with me?’ If we can answer as he did, Lord, thou knowest it is; though I have much weakness, yet my heart is right, I have no false bias upon it; though I am not perfect, I hope I am sincere; then will God say, Give me your prayers, give me your tears, now ‘come up with me into the chariot.’ A tear from a bleeding heart is a precious perfume in heaven. Oh did we consider this all-seeing eye, we durst not bring so much strange fire into the Divine presence. We read of Ezekiel’s wheels, they had a wheel within a wheel. Thus God hath a thought within a thought: he comes between us and our thoughts.

The goddess Minerva, as the Poets feign, was drawn in such lively colors, that which way so ever one turned, still Minerva’s eye was upon him. Thus, turn which way you will, fall in love with any sin, still God looks upon you: he hath an eye in your heart. What manner of persons ought we to be?

How To Read The Bible, Part II

Do you find the Bible hard to read? Thomas Watson offers this advice to Christians:

14. Come to read it with an honest heart. [Luke 8:15] (a) Willing to know the entire and complete will of God (b) reading in order to be changed and made better by it [John 17:17].

15. Apply to yourself everything that you read, take every word as spoken to yourself. Its condemnation of sins as the condemnation of your own sin; the duty that it requires as the duty God would require from you [2 Kings 22:11].

16. Pay close attention to the commands of the Word as much as the promises. Think of how you need direction just as much as you need comfort.

17. Don’t get carried away with the minor details, rather make sure to pay closest attention to the great things [Hosea 8:12].

18. Compare yourself with the Word. How do you compare? Is your heart something of a transcript of it, or not?

19. Pay special attention to those passages that speak to your individual, particular and present situation. e.g. (a) Affliction — [Heb. 12:7, Isaiah 27:9, John 16:20, 2 Cor 4:17. (b) Sense of Christ’s presence and smile withdrawn — [Isaiah 54:8, Isaiah 57:16, Ps. 97:11] (c) Sin — [Gal 5:24, James 1:15, 1 Peter 2:11, Prov 7:10&22-23, Prov 22:14] (d) Unbelief — [Isaiah 26:3, 2 Sam 22:31, John 3:15, 1 John 5:10, John 3:36]

20. Pay special attention to the examples and lives of people in the Bible as living sermons. (a) Punishments [Nebuchadnezzar, Herod, Num 25:3-4&9, 1 Kings 14:9-10, Acts 5:5,10, 1 Cor 10:11, Jude 7] (b) mercies and deliverances [Daniel, Jeremiah, the 3 youths in the fiery furnace]

21. Don’t stop reading the Bible until you find your heart warmed. [Ps 119:93] Let it not only inform you but also inflame you [Jer 23:29, Luke 24:32].

22. Put into practice what you read [Ps 119:66, Ps 119:105, Deut 17:19].

23. Christ is for us Prophet, Priest and King. Make use of His office as a Prophet [Rev 5:5, John 8:12, Ps 119:102-103]. Get Christ not only to open the Scriptures up to you, but to open up your mind and understanding [Luke 24:45]

24. Make sure to put yourself under a true ministry of the Word, faithfully and thoroughly expounding the Word [Prov 8:34] be earnest and eager in waiting on it.

25. Pray that you will profit from reading [Isaiah 48:17, Ps 119:18, Nehemiah 9:20].

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