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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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AMUSING OURSELVES

J. R. Miller:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)

J. R. Miller

J. R. Miller

Amusements are proper, both as to kind and degree—just so far as they make us better Christians. Whenever they become hindrances to us in our Christian living or in our holy walk – they are harmful, however innocent they may be in themselves.

How do your amusements influence your spiritual life? They may be very pleasing to you. They may afford great gratification. But what is their effect on you, as a Christian? Are they hindering your love for Christ, and your growth in grace? We ought to be honest enough with ourselves, to answer these questions truthfully, and then act accordingly. (“In Green Pastures”)

BE PREPARED

J. R. MillerJ.R. Miller:

There is a large difference between worrying about possible future trials — and being prepared for them if they should come. The former we should never do — the latter we should always seek to do. If we do, we are always prepared for: emergencies; hard knocks; steep climbing; sore struggle and we get through life victoriously.

In moral and spiritual things, it is the same. It is our preparation which preserves us in all the final tests — the strength which lies behind what we need in ordinary encounters. Those who daily commune with God, breathing His life into their souls — become strong with that hidden strength that preserves them from falling in the day of trial. They have a “vessel” from which to refill the lamp when its little cup of oil is exhausted.

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Christmas: A Time To Glorify God

Quoting J. R. Miller:

There were two parts in the song the angels sang the night Jesus was born. The first part was an outburst of praise to God. “Glory to God in the highest!” God should always be put first. He should be first in our hearts, first in our love, first in our worship, first in our trust. It was fitting that the first note of the angels’ song should be to God. The great blessing of that night was God’s unspeakable gift to men, and to God—the highest honor should be raised. “Glory to God!” Before we begin our rejoicing at the Christmas time—we should bow reverently before God and praise him.

The second part of the angels’ song, referred to the meaning of Christmas to this world, to the blessings it would bring to His people, to the change and transformation it would work. “On earth peace, good-will toward men.”

What Is True Success?

J. R. Miller

People are very concerned with success. Some are consumed by the desire for it. They will neglect family to have more time to climb the ladder of their career. They must always drive as good or better cars than their friends or neighbors. They must always dress themselves and their children in the latest name-brand clothes.

It is not that wanting to be successful is inherently wrong; it is in discerning the right goals and assigning values to the various areas of our lives that we often make wrong choices. Christians, in particular, should remember the words of Paul: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) J. R. Miller (1840 – 1912) discusses this problem in the article below:

What is the true aim in life?

What should one, setting out to make his way through this world—take as the goal of all his living and striving?

‘Views of life’ differ widely. Many think they are in this world to make a career for themselves. They set out with some splendid vision of success in their mind—and they devote their life to the realizing of this vision. If they fail in this, they suppose they have failed in life. If they achieve their dream—they consider themselves, and are considered by others, as successful.

The world has no other standard of success:

• it may be the amassing of wealth;

• it may be the winning of power among men;

• it may be the triumph of a certain skill;

• or genius in art, in literature, in music, etc.

But whatever the definite object may be, it is purely an earthly ambition.

Applying this standard to life—but few men are really successful. Great men are as rare as lofty mountain peaks. Only a few win the high places; the mass remain in the low valleys. Only a few win honor, rise into fame, and achieve ‘distinction’; while the great multitude remain in obscurity—or go down in the dust of earthly defeat.

Is this the only standard of success in life? Do all men, except for the few who win earth’s prizes, really fail? Is there no other kind of success? The world’s answer gives no comfort to those who find themselves among the unhonored. . . .

The true test of life—is character. Everything else is extraneous, belonging only to the husk, which shall fall off in the day of ripening! Character is the kernel, the wheat—that which is true and enduring. Nothing else is worth while—except that which we can carry with us through death, and into eternity! “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

It is altogether possible that a man may fail of winning any earthly greatness, any distinction among men, anything that will immortalize him in this world’s calendars—and yet be richly and nobly successful in spiritual things, in character, in a ministry of usefulness, in things which shall abide—when mountains have crumbled into dust! It is possible for one to fall behind in the race for wealth and honor—and yet all the while to be building up in himself—an eternal fabric of beauty and strength!

What is the standard of success in the sphere of the unseen and the eternal? It is the doing of the will of God. He who does the will of God—makes his life radiant and beautiful, though in the world’s scale he is rated as having altogether failed in the battle. He who is true, just, humble, pure, pleasing God and living unselfishly—is the only man who really succeeds—while all others fail.

Really, there is no other final and infallible standard of living. One who writes his name highest in earth’s lists, and yet has not done God’s will—has failed, as God Himself looks at his career.

God had a purpose in our creation—and we only succeed, when our life carries out this purpose. The most radiant career, as it appears to men, means nothing—if it is not that for which God made us. We fail in life—if we do not realize God’s will for us.

We live worthily—only when we do what God sent us here to do. A splendid career in the sight of men—has no splendor in God’s sight!

Not the making of a fine worldly career, therefore—but the simple doing of God’s will—is the one true aim in living. Only thus can we achieve real success. If we do this, though we fail in the earthly race—we shall not fail in God’s sight. We may make no name among men, may raise for ourselves no monument of earthly glory—but if we please God by a life of obedience and humble service, and build up within us a character in which divine virtues shine, we shall have attained abiding success!

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