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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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In The House Of God

Quoting Matthew Henry:

Address thyself to the worship of God with a solemn pause, and take time to compose thyself for it, not going about it with precipitation, which is called hasting with the feet (Pro. 19:2). Keep thy thought from roving and wandering from the work; keep thy affections from running out towards wrong objects, for in the business of God’s house there is work enough for the whole man, and all too little to be employed… When we are in the house of God, we are in a special manner before God and in His presence, there where He has promised to meet His people, where His eye is upon us and ours ought to be unto Him.

Service And Worship

From the desk of Donald Whitney:

Worship empowers serving; serving expresses worship. Godliness requires a disciplined balance between the two. Those who can maintain service without regular personal and corporate worship are serving in the flesh. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been serving that way or how well others think they serve, they are not striving according to God’s power, as Paul did, but their own… At the same time, one measure of the authenticity of worship (again, both personal and corporate) is whether it results in a desire to serve… Therefore, we must maintain that to be Godly, we should discipline ourselves for both worship and service. To engage in one without the other is, in reality, to experience neither.

Christ Is Like A River

Quoting Jonathan Edwards:

“Christ is like a river in another respect. A river is continually flowing, there are fresh supplies of water coming from the fountain-head continually, so that a man may live by it, and be supplied with water all his life. So Christ is an ever-flowing fountain; he is continually supplying his people, and the fountain is not spent. They who live upon Christ, may have fresh supplies from him to all eternity; they may have an increase of blessedness that is new, and new still, and which never will come to an end.”

The Serious Worship Of God

Quoting Richard Baxter:

“Remember the perfections of that God whom you worship, that he is a Spirit, and therefore to be worshiped in spirit and truth; and that he is most great and terrible, and therefore to be worshiped with seriousness and reverence, and not to be dallied with, or served with toys or lifeless lip-service; and that he is most holy, pure, and jealous, and therefore to be purely worshiped; and that he is still present with you, and all things are naked and open to him with whom we have to do. The knowledge of God, and the remembrance of his all-seeing presence, are the most powerful means against hypocrisy.”

Making Your Own God

A. W. Tozer

From the writings of A. W. Tozer:

The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is–in itself a monstrous sin–and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness. Always this God will conform to the image of the one who created it and will be base or pure, cruel or kind, according to the moral state of the mind from which it emerges. (Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 4)

Where Do You Put Your Hope?

John Piper

From The Pleasures of God by John Piper:

“God is not displeased with the strength of a horse and the legs of a man as good things that He has made. He is displeased with those who hope in their horses and in their legs. He is displeased with the people who put their hope, for example, in missiles or in make-up, in tanks or tanning parlors, in bombs or body-building. God takes no pleasure in corporate efficiency or balanced budgets or welfare systems or new vaccines or education or eloquence or artistic excellence or legal processes, when these things are the treasure in which we hope, or the achievement in which we boast. Why? Because when we put our hope in horses and legs, then the horses and legs get the glory, not God.” (Piper, The Pleasures of God, 208)

James Montgomery Boice On Music And Theology

James Montgomery Boice

From the pen of James Montgomery Boice:

“The old hymns expressed the theology of the church in profound and perceptive ways and with winsome, memorable language. They lifted the worshiper’s thoughts to God and gave him striking words by which to remember God’s attributes. Today’s songs reflect our shallow or nonexistent theology and do almost nothing to elevate one’s thoughts about God.” (Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? p. 180)

E.M. Bounds On Prayer

E.M. Bounds

Quoting E.M. Bounds:

Natural ability and educational advantages do not figure as factors in this matter of prayer; but a capacity for faith, the power of a thorough consecration, the ability of self-littleness, an absolute losing of one’s self in God’s glory and an ever present and insatiable yearning and seeking after all the fullness of God.

Providence And Sin

B.H. Carroll

Doctor B. H. Carroll (1843-1914) served through the War for Southern Independence in the Confederacy and was severely wounded in the battle of Mansfield, Louisiana. He was converted in the summer of 1865 at a Methodist camp-meeting in Burleson County. He was married to Miss Ellen Bell and was ordained to the ministry soon after his marriage. He preached and taught school in Burleson County until the fall of 1869. In January, 1870, he was called as assistant pastor of the First Baptist Church, Waco, Texas, where he was pastor almost thirty years. In the following article, Dr. Carroll discusses providence and sin:

Once settle your mind on the idea of Providence and there is no such thing as chance, there is no such thing as luck, there is no such thing as fate. That this Providence “is not simply foreseeing but forseeing,” not simply looking ahead beforehand, but looking ahead for, or in order to, the accomplishment of its purposes and desires. . . .

With that definition clear before us, we may enlarge on one thought: All that is involved in the definition that has been given is applicable to moral creatures without interfering (how, I do not know, but yet without interfering) with their freedom of action and responsibility. . . .

Here let us squarely face the main difficulty; how about sinful actions? Now, while I will be brief on this point; I want to be very clear, endeavoring to show just how God’s providence, as defined, touches, bears upon the evil actions of men. I think I can make myself understood, and I will use certain terms suggested by Dr. Strong, of Rochester, in order to make it clear that God’s providence touches evil actions and the doers of them. . . .

Anyone who thoughtfully examines the events of his past life can call up some case where there had been a desire to do a wrong thing, and where there had been opportunity to do a wrong thing, and where, arguing from his past feelings upon such subjects, he would have said that as a human proposition, given that desire and that opportunity, the sin would have been committed, and yet he knows that notwithstanding a conjunction of both desire and opportunity, the evil was not done. . . .

To precisely that feature of Providence David refers in his prayer, “Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sin.” That is, “O Lord, when in a moment of weakness I am going astray, and when my powers of resistance to evil have been undermined and I am about to commit an awful offense, O God, prevent it! Keep me back. In some way keep me back from presumptuous sin.”

The thought is expressed in one of the prophets where God himself explains why His people had not committed certain heinous offenses: “Because I built up a hedge of thorns between you and that sin.” Now that hedge of thorns that God builds up between the one who desires to commit an offense prevents the sin. (“The Providence of God”)

Theology Made Simple By A. W. Tozer

A. W. Tozer

Aiden Wilson Tozer was born April 21, 1897 on a small farm in Western Pennsylvania, the third of six children. And although he would inspire millions with his preaching and writing, he was given very little education during his childhood. I share this quote from him because he states this in a simple manner and yet it is so profound:

He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is.

Church And State

Quoting R.C. Sproul:

In America, we have a long history of valuing the concept of the separation of church and state. This idea historically referred to a division of labors between the church and the civil magistrate. However, initially both the church and the state were seen as entities ordained by God and subject to His governance. In that sense, the state was considered to be an entity that was “under God.” What has happened in the past few decades is the obfuscation of this original distinction between church and state, so that today the language we hear of separation of church and state, when carefully exegeted, communicates the idea of the separation of the state from God. In this sense, it’s not merely that the state declares independence from the church, it also declares independence from God and presumes itself to rule with autonomy. (“Statism”, September 2008, Tabletalk, p. 7)

Watering Down The Gospel

John Newton

Quoting Church of England Pastor, preacher and writer, former slave trader John Newton (1725-1807):

“The Bible is the grand repository … It is the complete system of divine truth, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken, with impunity. Every attempt to disguise or soften any branch of this truth, in order to accommodate it to the prevailing taste around us, either to avoid the displeasure, or to court the favor of our fellow mortals, must be an affront to the majesty of God, and an act of treachery to men.” (The Works of John Newton)

Is Evil Outside Or Inside?

I remember many years ago seeing a movie which was forgettable but at its end a quote appeared on the screen saying, “That there is a devil there is no doubt, but is he trying to get in or is he trying to get out?” For some reason this quote has remained with me through the years. Perhaps this is because we are always looking outside of ourselves for the source of our problems. Dorothy L. Sayers (fiction mystery writer) comments on the human desire to relieve mankind of all responsibility for evil:

[The] doctrine of man leads naturally to the doctrine of sin. One of the really surprising things about the present bewilderment of humanity is that the Christian Church now finds herself called upon to proclaim the old and hated doctrine of sin as a gospel of cheer and encouragement. The final tendency of the modern philosophies—hailed in their day as a release from the burden of sinfulness—has been to bind man hard and fast in the chains of an iron determinism. The influences of heredity and environment, of glandular make-up and the control exercised by the unconscious, of economic necessity and the mechanics of biological development, have all been invoked to assure man that he is not responsible for his misfortunes and therefore not to be held guilty. Evil has been represented as something imposed upon him from without, not made by him from within. The dreadful conclusion follows inevitably, that as he is not responsible for evil, he cannot alter it; even though evolution and progress may offer some alleviation in the future, there is no hope for you and me, here and now.

I well remember how an aunt of mine, brought up in an old-fashioned liberalism, protested angrily against having continually to call herself a “miserable sinner” when reciting the Litany. To-day, if we could really be persuaded that we are miserable sinners—that the trouble is not outside us but inside us, and that therefore, by the grace of God we can do something to put it right, we should receive that message as the most hopeful and heartening thing that can be imagined. (“Creed or Chaos?”)

Charles Spurgeon On Worldly Influence

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

From the desk of Charles Spurgeon:

“So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” (Philippians 2:15)

I believe that one reason why the church at this present moment has so little influence over the world, is because the world has so much influence over the church! Nowadays, we hear professors pleading that they may do this, and do that—that they may live like worldlings. My sad answer to them, when they crave this liberty is, “Do it if you dare. It may not cost you much hurt, for you are so bad already. Your cravings show how rotten your hearts are. If you are hungering after such dogs food—go dogs, and eat the garbage!

Worldly amusements are fit food for pretenders and hypocrites. If you were God’s children, you would loathe the thought of the world’s evil joys. Your question would not be, “How far may we be like the world?” but your cry would be, “How can we get away from the world? How can we come out of it?”

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8) (Charles Spurgeon, “The Soul Winner“)

Charles Spurgeon On The Two Books

Charles Spurgeon

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

A book is the expression of the thoughts of the writer.

The book of ‘nature’ is an expression of the thoughts of God.

We have God’s ‘terrible’ thoughts in the thunder and lightning; God’s ‘loving’ thoughts in the sunshine and the balmy breeze; God’s ‘bounteous, prudent, careful’ thoughts in the waving harvest and in the ripening meadow. We have God’s ‘brilliant’ thoughts in the wondrous scenes which are beheld from mountain-top and valley; and we have God’s ‘most sweet and pleasant’ thoughts of beauty in the little flowers that blossom at our feet.

Now, God’s book of ‘grace’ is just like his book of nature; it is his thoughts written out.

This great book, the Bible, this most precious volume is the heart of God made legible; it is the gold of God’s love, beaten out into gold leaf, so that therewith our thoughts might be plated, and we also might have golden, good, and holy thoughts concerning Him. (Sermon: “Substitution”)

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