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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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Findings from the Time of Moses

Archaeology and the Bible:

More new and exciting archaeological research has been carried out by the British Egyptologist, David Rohl. Until a few years ago we only had archaeological evidence for the Patriarchal, Davidic and New Testament periods, but little to none for the Mosaic period. Yet one would expect much data on this period due to the cataclysmic events which occurred during that time. David Rohl (in A Test of Time) has given us a possible reason why, and it is rather simple. It seems that we have simply been off in our dates by almost 300 years! By redating the Pharaonic lists in Egypt he has been able to now identify the abandoned city of the Israelite slaves (called Avaris), the death pits from the tenth plague, and Joseph’s original tomb and home.

The Merneptah Stela

Archaeology and the Bible:

Confounding earlier skeptics, but confirming the Bible, an important discovery was made in Egypt in 1896. A tablet, called the Merneptah Stela, was found and it mentions Israel. Merneptah was the pharaoh who ruled Egypt from 1212-1202 B.C. The context of the stela indicates that Israel was a significant entity in the late 13th century B.C.

Egypt and the Famine

Archaeology and the Bible:

The Beni Hasan Tomb from the Abrahamic period, depicts Asiatics coming to Egypt during a famine, corresponding with the Biblical account of the plight of the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’.

Counting The Cost

If you are to be a true Christian, it will cost you your self–righteousness. All pride and conceit concerning your own goodness must be cast away. You must be content to go to heaven as a poor sinner saved only by free grace. To be a true Christian will cost you your sins. Are you willing to give up every bad habit and practice which is a sin in the eyes of God? J. C. Ryle reminds us of this struggle in the following:

I am not examining what it costs to save a Christian’s soul. I know well that it costs nothing less than the blood of the Son of God to provide an atonement and to redeem man from hell. The price paid for our redemption was nothing less than the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary. We “are bought with a price.” “Christ gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Tim. 2:6). But all this is wide of the question. The point I want to consider is another one altogether. It is what a man must be ready to give up if he wishes to be saved. It is the amount of sacrifice a man must submit to if he intends to serve Christ. It is in this sense that I raise the question: “What does it cost?” And I believe firmly that it is a most important one.

I grant freely that it costs little to be a mere outward Christian. A man has only got to attend a place of worship twice on Sunday and to be tolerably moral during the week, and he has gone as far as thousands around him ever go in religion. All this is cheap and easy work: it entails no self–denial or self–sacrifice. If this is saving Christianity and will take us to heaven when we die, we must alter the description of the way of life, and write, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to heaven!”

But it does cost something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are enemies to be overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, an Egypt to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, a race to be run. Conversion is not putting a man in an armchair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory. Hence arises the unspeakable importance of “counting the cost.” (Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots)

When The Holy Spirit Abides With Us

Charles H. Spurgeon

The Holy Spirit is able to work in us the deepest conviction and the truest repentance. All that is needed for godliness, He can give. Where we are blind, the Spirit gives us sight. The Holy Spirit works in us a wondrous change to bring us out of the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Please regard the following words of Charles H. Spurgeon:

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. (Haggai 2:4-5)

If the Spirit be with us, there will come multitudinous conversions. We cannot get at “the lapsed masses,” as they are pedantically called. We cannot stir the crass infidelity of the present age: no, we cannot, but He can. All things are possible with God. If you walk down to our bridges at a certain hour of the day you will see barges and vessels lying in the mud; and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot stir them. Wait until the tide comes in, and they will walk the water like things of life. The living flood accomplishes at once what no mortals can do. And so to-day our churches cannot stir. What shall we do? Oh, that the Holy Spirit would come with a flood-tide of His benign influences, as He will if we will but believe in Him; as He must if we will but cry unto Him; as He shall if we will cease to grieve Him. Everything will be even as the saints desire when the Lord of saints is with us. The hope of the continuance and increase of the church lies in the remaining of the Spirit with us. The hope of the salvation of London lies in the wonder-working Spirit. Let us bow our heads and worship the omnipotent Spirit who deigns to work in us, by us, and with us.

Then, brethren, if this should happen—and I see not why it should not—then we may expect to see the church put on her beautiful garments; then shall she begin to clear herself of the errors which now defile her; then shall she press to her bosom the truths which she now begins to forget; then will she go back to the pure fount of inspiration and drink from the Scriptures of truth; and then out of the midst of her shall flow no turbid streams, but rivers of living water. If the Holy Ghost will work among us we shall rejoice in the Lord and glory in the name of our God. . . .

If God is with us, why need we fear . . . .? If any say, “If you hold to these old-fashioned doctrines you will lose the educated, the wealthy, the influential,” we answer: But if we do not lose the godly and the presence of the Holy Ghost we are not in the least alarmed. If the Holy Ghost remaineth with us, there is a river the streams whereof make glad the city of God. Brethren, my heart leaps within me as I cry, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth is removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” (“The Abiding of the Spirit the Glory of the Church”)

Charles Spurgeon On The Quickened Church

Charles H. Spurgeon

The blessings of the Holy Spirit are needed in every church in every age. This need has become magnified in our day as church leaders tend to turn to packaged programs for drawing to and keeping people in the membership of the church. We have pushed aside the notion that the Holy Spirit builds the church. Charles Spurgeon comments on the work of the Holy Spirit:

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. (Haggai 2:4-5)

The Holy Spirit being with us, He can move the whole church to exercise its varied ministries. This is one of the things we want very much—that every member of the church should recognize that he is ordained to service. Everyone in Christ, man or woman, hath some testimony to bear, some warning to give, some deed to do in the name of the holy child Jesus; and if the Spirit of God be poured out upon our young men and our maidens, each one will be aroused to energetic service. Both small and great will be in earnest, and the result upon the slumbering masses of our population will surprise us all. Sometimes we lament that the churches are so dull. There is an old proverb which says of So-and-so, that he was “as sound asleep as a church.” I suppose there is nothing that can sleep so soundly as a church. But yet the Spirit of God still remaineth, and therefore churches go to be awakened. I mean that not only in part but as a whole, a church may be quickened. The dullest professor, the most slovenly believer, the most captious and useless member of a church, may yet be turned to good account. I see them like a stack of faggots, piled up, dead and dry. Oh for the fire! We will have a blaze out of them yet.

Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove, brood over the dark, disordered church as once thou didst over chaos, and order shall come out of confusion, and the darkness shall fly before the light. Only let the Spirit be with us, and we have all that is wanted for victory. Give us His presence, and everything else will come in its due season for the profitable service of the entire church. (“The Abiding of the Spirit, the Glory of the Church”)

Preaching In Dependence Upon The Holy Spirit

In this article, Charles H. Spurgeon reminds us of our daily dependence upon the work of the Holy Spirit. In particular, ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ should strongly depend upon the Holy Spirit in preparing to and preaching the Word of God. Spurgeon writes:

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. (Haggai 2:4-5)

God remembers His covenant and stands to His ancient promises. When the people came out of Egypt, the Lord was with them by His Spirit; hence He spoke to them by Moses, and through Moses He guided, and judged, and taught them. He was with them also by His Spirit in inspiring Bezaleel and Aholiab, as to the works of art which adorned the tabernacle. God always finds the workmen for His work, and by His Spirit fits them for it. The Spirit of God rested upon the elders who were ordained to relieve Moses of his great burden. The Lord was also with His people in the fiery cloudy pillar which was conspicuous in the midst of the camp. His presence was their glory and their defence. This is a type of the presence of the Spirit with the church. At the present day, if we hold the truth of God, if we live in obedience to His holy commands, if we are spiritually-minded, if we cry unto God in believing prayer, if we have faith in His covenant and in His Son, the Holy Spirit abides among us. The Holy Ghost descended upon the church at Pentecost, and He has never gone back again: there is no record of the Spirit’s return to heaven. He will abide with the true church evermore. This is our hope for the present struggle. The Spirit of God remains with us.

To what end, my brethren, is this Spirit with us? Let us think of this, that we may be encouraged at this time. The Spirit of God remains among you to aid and assist the ministry which He has already given. Oh, that the prayers of God’s people would always go up for God’s ministers that they may speak with a divine power and influence which none shall be able to gainsay! We look too much for clever men; we seek out fluent and flowery speakers; we sigh for men cultured and trained in all the knowledge of the heathen: nay, but if we sought more for unction, for divine authority, and for the power which doth hedge about the man of God, how much wiser should we be! Oh, that all of us who profess to preach the gospel would learn to speak in entire dependence upon the direction of the Holy Spirit, not daring to utter our own words, but even trembling lest we should do so, and committing ourselves to that secret influence without which nothing will be powerful upon the conscience or converting to the heart. (“The Abiding of the Spirit and the Glory of the Church”)

The Christian And Discouragement

It is easy to become discouraged in this present world whether you are a Christian or not. Sometimes Christians are discouraged by their own personal failures. This often happens when we evaluate our efforts to serve God, the church, and others as inadequate. Charles H. Spurgeon reminds us that our strength is in God’s Hands:

“Yet now be strong, O Zerubabbel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts: according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.” (Haggai 2:4-5)

By the mouth of His servant Haggai stern rebukes were uttered, and the whole people were aroused. . . .

The present times are, in many respects, similar to those of Haggai. History certainly repeats itself within the church of God as well as outside of it; and therefore the messages of God need to be repeated also. The words of some almost-forgotten prophet may be re-delivered by the watchman of the Lord in these present days, and be a timely word for the present emergency. We are not free from the worldliness which puts self first and God nowhere, else our various enterprises would be more abundantly supplied with the silver and the gold which are the Lord’s, but which even professing Christians reserve for themselves. When this selfish greed is conquered, then comes in a timorous depression. Among those who have escaped from worldliness there is apt to be too much despondency, and men labor feebly as for a cause which is doomed to failure. This last evil must be cured. . . .

To begin with, here is DISCOURAGEMENT FORBIDDEN. Discouragement comes readily enough to us poor mortals who are occupied in the work of God, seeing it is a work of faith, a work of difficulty, a work above our capacity, and a work much opposed.

Discouragement is very natural: it is a native of the soil of manhood. To believe is supernatural, faith is the work of the Spirit of God; to doubt is natural to fallen men; for we have within us an evil heart of unbelief. It is abominably wicked, I grant you; but still it is natural, because of the downward tendency of our depraved hearts. Discouragement towards good things is a weed that grows without sowing. To be faint-hearted and downcast happens to some of us when we are half drowned in this heavy atmosphere, and it also visits us on the wings of the east wind. It takes little to make some hands hang down: a word or a look will do it. I do not, therefore, excuse it; but the rather condemn myself for having a nature prone to such evil.

Discouragement may come and does come to us, as it did to these people, from a consideration of the great things which God deserves at our hands, and the small things which we are able to render. . . . Have you not felt the depressing weight of what is so surely true? Brethren, all that we do is little for our God; far too little for Him that loved us and gave Himself for us. For Him that poured out His soul unto death on our behalf the most splendid service, the most heroic self-denial, are all too little; and we feel it so. Alabaster boxes of precious ointment are too mean a gift. It does not occur to our fervent spirit to imagine that there can be any waste when our best boxes are broken and the perfume is poured out lavishly for Him. What we do fear is that our alabaster boxes are too few, and that our ointment is not precious enough. When we have done our utmost in declaring the glory of Jesus, we have felt that words are too poor and mean to set forth our adorable Lord. When we have prayed for His kingdom we have been disgusted with our own prayers; and all the efforts we have put forth in connection with any part of His service have seemed too few, too feeble for us to hope for acceptance. Thus have we been discouraged. The enemy has worked upon us by this means, yet he has made us argue very wrongly. Because we could not do much, we have half resolved to do nothing! Because what we did was so poor, we were inclined to quit the work altogether! This is evidently absurd and wicked. The enemy can use humility for his purpose as well as pride. Whether he makes us think too much or too little of our work, it is all the same to him as long as he can get us off from it. . . .

But, brethren, we must not allow this sense of littleness to hamper us; for God can bless our littleness, and use it for His glory. (Sermon: “The Abiding of the Spirit the Glory of the Church”)

Despising The Correction Of God

Asahel Nettleton

When you are afflicted by the divine hand of providence, are you made better or worse? If sickness and pain do not wean you from the world, and drive you to God, is it not because you have hardened your heart? This is the result of all the judgments of heaven and the calamities and miseries of human life. It is illustrated in the story of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Asahel Nettleton explains:

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

Allusion is made to the bullock which has repeatedly felt the galling yoke. At length his neck becomes hardened, and he can bear it without feeling or flinching. The sinner never hears a galling reproof without producing some effect. If his heart be not subdued, and changed, he becomes at length more hardened. The child who is often corrected, but not subdued, becomes more hardened. . . .

Because God is so good, etc. Thus despising the riches of divine goodness, and forbearance and longsuffering-not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth him to repentance, after his hardness and impenitent heart, and with a stiff neck, he perseveres in his course of rebellion, treasuring up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. O, the awful reckoning that awaits such offenders!

It is wholly impossible that a person should be frequently and faithfully admonished for his crimes, and yet experiences no alteration in his own condition. His rancorous pride will be augmented and his conscience becomes seared as with a hot iron. The earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

On this work the sinner may make rapid advances-he may acquire the faculty of silencing the remonstrances of his conscience, and with a stoical apathy, proudly boast that he is superior to the thunders of Sinai. He may resist the mild accents of mercy, and do despite to the spirit of grace. He may spurn the offers of a bleeding Savior. The darkened heavens-the rending rocks, and the quaking earth may have no effect-to all these he may render himself impervious. But the day cometh that shall burn as an oven. Then his stiff neck, and his stout heart will not exempt him from the terrors that shall thrill through the soul of every guilty culprit that shall stand at the judgment seat of Christ.

The Purpose Of God’s Peculiar People

Christ the Saviour (Pantokrator), a 6th-centur...

Saint Catherine's Monastery

Do you ever think very much about why Christ saved you? Christ wants us to become a distinct people set apart from the rest of the world. He desires a special people whom He is not ashamed to call His own. God desires a people through whom He can reveal Himself to the rest of the world. He has ordained a people to reflect His glory. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

God revealed Himself and increasingly unfolded the meaning of His covenantal purposes to the people of Israel. They were called to be a special people of God. God redeemed them from their slavery to Egypt and gave them His Law. The Law of God distinguished Israel from the other nations of the earth.

Through the distinguishing marks of His influence upon Israel, God was revealing Himself to the world. The purpose of Israel was to reveal God to the world. They revealed Him by their actions, their sacred writings and songs, and by their form of worship. Sin, however, prevented Israel from achieving its purpose.

The failures of Israel and its great leaders served to demonstrate the need for God’s grace, which would be fully revealed in Christ. God’s grace gives His people the power to be his peculiar people. We are redeemed and purified through Christ. We are God’s chosen people. We are called to reveal the character of God to this world, in our lives. Whatever we do and say is to reveal God’s moral goodness to the world.

The daily life of a Christian exerts an influence on those around him. This influence affects the eternal destiny of his family, friends and the ones he comes in contact with. Can you honestly say you are making a good impression for God?

As Christians, we can help others to make progress toward God through the example of our godly living. But, our lives can also have the opposite effect. We must exert a godly influence. God has blessed us with His wonderful grace and therefore, living godly lives is the least we can do for the Lord after all He has done for us. As faithful followers of Christ, our lives become the means by which others may know the Lord and follow Him.

A Thanksgiving Thought On Remembering God

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11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. 17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy)

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