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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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Draw Near to Christ

Quoting Richard Sibbes:

We are only safe when we wisely make use of all good advantages that we have access to. By going out of God’s ways we go out of His government, and so lose our good frame of mind, and find ourselves overspread quickly with a contrary disposition. When we draw near to Christ (James 4:8), in His ordinances, He draws near to us.

Let Us Choose To Endure By The Grace Of Christ

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15, ESV)

When was the last time you heard a sermon on renouncing ungodliness and worldly passions? When was the last time you were exhorted to live a self-controlled, upright, and godly life? Many church services sound like infomercials to me: “Just trust in Jesus Christ and you will immediately receive the blessings of health, wealth, and success.”

God, however, has not made such promises. Charlatan preachers, whose god is really Mammon, have manipulated their congregations by the use of Bible promises taken out of context. Christians should not expect to receive a “Get Out of Hard Times Free” card every time they face a crisis. God makes specific promises to give us peace within and joy and satisfaction in Him regardless of circumstances. Yet, there is no guarantee made that provides us with a problem-free existence. Christians must learn to deal with problems in their professions, families, and everyday lives. God allows these hard times to bring us to maturity as His children. To mature we must endure pressure. Only pressure can bring about the growth and maturity that God desires for us.

In the following verses, the Apostle James reminds us that even a crisis may have its purpose:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)

Trials are inevitable and please remember that the great majority of trials are not related to something you did wrong, but a time of trial is a good time to look at your own heart and motives. A crisis reveals the true character of our faith. As our faith is put to the test, endurance is produced in our lives.

Endurance may be described as someone under a tremendous load or burden who firmly chooses to continue to bear that burden. Endurance knows how to live under pressure. Our faith, as it is purified by trials, produces the ability to stick with something even when the pressure seems overwhelming.

Endurance is not passive resignation; “Well, what can I do? I guess I will just have to learn to live with it.” Endurance is facing the problems of life and continuing to move forward. You and I have seen people go through hell on earth and yet, we see time and time again many of those same people persist and endure until they emerge with stronger character, unyielding faith, and a greater confidence in God. When our time of trial may come, I pray that we will: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3 ESV)

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