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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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PRAYER MERCIES

Works of Jonathan EdwardsJonathan Edwards:

O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. (Psalm 65:2 ESV)

It is indeed a very wonderful thing, that so great a God should be so ready to hear our prayers, though we are so despicable and unworthy. That he should give free access at all times to everyone, should allow us to be importunate without esteeming it an indecent boldness, [and] should be so rich in mercy to them that call upon him: that worms of the dust should have such power with God by prayer, that he should do such great things in answer to their prayers, and should show himself, as it were, overcome by them. This is very wonderful, when we consider the distance between God and us, and how we have provoked him by our sins, and how unworthy we are of the least gracious notice. It cannot be from any need that God stands in of us, for our goodness extends not to him. Neither can it be from anything in us to incline the heart of God to us. It cannot be from any worthiness in our prayers, which are in themselves polluted things. But it is because God delights in mercy and condescension [“voluntary descent from one’s rank or dignity in relationship”]. He is herein infinitely distinguished from all other Gods. He is the great fountain of all good, from whom goodness flows as light from the sun. (“A Prayer-Hearing God”)

SLOW LEARNERS

philpotJoseph Charles Philpot (1802 – 1869):

“So Jesus said, Do you also still not understand?” (Matthew 15:16)

 What lessons we need day by day to teach us anything aright, and how it is for the most part, “line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” O, what slow learners!—what dull, forgetful scholars!—what ignoramuses!—what stupid blockheads!—what stubborn pupils! Surely no scholar at a school, old or young, could learn so little of natural things as we seem to have learned of spiritual things after so many years instruction—so many chapters read—so many sermons heard—so many prayers put up—so much talking about religion. How small, how weak is the amount of growth, compared with all we have read and heard and talked about! But it is a mercy that the Lord saves whom He will save—and that we are saved by free grace—and free grace alone!

AFRAID TO COME TO GOD?

Bishop J. C. RyleJ. C. Ryle:

Will you say that you are afraid to come to God? Your fear is needless. You shall not be cast out, if you will but come in the way of faith in Christ. Our God is not “austere man.” Our Father in heaven is full of mercy, love, and grace. I yield to none in desire to exalt the love, mercy, and tenderness of God the Father. I will not concede, for one moment, that what is called an Evangelical ministry will not magnify the mercy, love, and compassion of God the Father as much as any ministry on earth. We know that God is holy. We know He is just. We believe that He can be angry with them that go on still in sin. But we also believe that to those who draw near to Him in Christ Jesus, He is most merciful, most loving, and most tender, most compassionate. We tell you that the cross of Jesus Christ was the result and consequence of that love. The cross was not the cause and reason of God’s mercy, but the result and consequence of the everlasting love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, towards a poor, lost, and bankrupt world. Draw near in faith, dear reader, by that living way, Christ Jesus, to the Father. Think not for a moment–the unworthy thought shall never prove true–that so drawing near to God the Father by Christ, God the Father will not receive you. He will receive you gladly. As the father did to the prodigal son when he ran to meet him,–fell on his neck and kissed him,–so will God the Father do to that soul that draws near to Him in the name of Christ. (“Able to Save”)

Behind the Curtains: Salvation!

7-deadly-sinsAll human beings are born sinners and enemies of God. (Psalms 51:5, Ephesians 2:3) We merit nothing but God’s wrath. Sin is always at work in us bearing fruit for death. (Romans 7:5) Even if we deny our sinfulness, we simply deceive ourselves. (1 John 1:8) We must change in order to be reconciled to God, but it is not in our power to change.

Praise God! – He has chosen to have mercy on many sinners. He has promised to give us a new heart and spirit. (Ezekiel 36:26-27) Even though we were dead in our sins, God chose to love us. (Ephesians 2:4-5) From eternity, God has chosen for Himself a people; (Romans 8:30) a people born by the Will of God – not man. (John 1:13) Continue reading

Unforeseen Consequences

Quoting John Newton:

” I can hardly recollect a single plan of mine, of which I have not since seen reason to be satisfied, that had it taken place in season and circumstance just as I proposed, it would, humanly speaking, have proved my ruin; or at least it would have deprived me of the greater good the Lord had designed for me. We judge of things by their present appearances, but the Lord sees them in their consequences, if we could do so likewise we should be perfectly of His mind; but as we cannot, it is an unspeakable mercy that He will manage for us, whether we are pleased with His management or not; and it is spoken of as one of his heaviest judgments, when He gives any person or people up to the way of their own hearts, and to walk after their own counsels.”

Continental Congress Proclaims Day To Give Thanks

November 1, 1777

FORASMUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE:

That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole:

To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE:

That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth “in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”

And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.

God Came As A Little Child On Christmas

Bernard of Clairvaux, the main contributor to ...

Bernard of Clairvaux

From a sermon by Bernard of Clairvaux:

“When God emptied himself and took the form of a servant, he emptied himself only of majesty and power, not of goodness and mercy. For what does the Apostle say? ‘The goodness and humanity of God our Savior have appeared in our midst.’ God’s power had appeared already in creation, and his wisdom in the ordering of creation; but his goodness and mercy have appeared now in his humanity.

So what are you frightened of? Why are you trembling before the face of the Lord when he comes? God has come not to judge the world, but to save it! Do not run away; do not be afraid. God comes unarmed; he wants to save you , not to punish you. And lest you should say ‘I heard your voice and I hid myself,’ look-he is here, an infant with no voice. The cry of a baby is something to be pitied not to be frightened of. He is made a little child, the Virgin Mother has wrapped his tender limbs in swaddling bands; so why are you still quaking with fear? This tells you that God has come to save you, not to lose you; to rescue you, not to imprison you.

God is already fighting your two enemies, sin and death–the death of both body and soul. He has come to conquer both of them; so do not fear, he will save you from them. He has already conquered sin in his own person, in that he took our human nature upon himself without spot of sin. From this moment on he pursues your enemies and overtakes them, and will not return until he has overcome them both. He fights sin with his life, he attacks it with his word and example; and in his passion he binds it, yes, binds ‘the strong man and carries off his goods’. In the same way it is in his own person that he first conquers death when he rises as ‘the first fruits of those who sleep, the firstborn from the dead’. From now on he will conquer it in all of us as he raises up our mortal bodies, and death, the last enemy, will be destroyed.

In his rising he is clothed with honor, no longer wrapped in swaddling bands as at his birth. At his birth, in the wide embrace of his mercy, he judged no one; but at his resurrection he ties around his waist the girdle of righteousness which in some sense must define the embrace of his mercy. Henceforth we must be ready for judgment which will take place when we ourselves are raised. Today he has come to us as a little child, that before all else he might offer all people mercy; but in his resurrection he anticipates the final judgment when mercy must needs be balanced by the claims of righteousness.”

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