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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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The Bible is God’s Word

The Sovereignty of GodA.W. Pink:

To recognize that the Bible is God’s Word, and that its precepts are the precepts of the Almighty, will lead us to see what an awful thing it is to despise and ignore them. To receive the Bible as addressed to our own souls, given to us by the Creator Himself, will cause us to cry with the Psalmist, “Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies….Order my steps in Thy Word” (Psalm 119:36, 133). (Sovereignty of God)

 

The Problem with Trust

TrustDo you have difficulty with trusting people? Sometimes I do. Do you trust God in every circumstance of your life? If I look deep into my heart, I find that sometimes the answer is “No!”

You may define “trust” as a “firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing.” Are you trustworthy person?

I have always tried to be a trustworthy person who keeps his word to others. However, there have been times in my life when I failed in this regard. I don’t know about you, but I hate being fallible when it comes to promises. I know I cannot control every circumstance or the actions of other people. My will can be thwarted by nature, by other human beings, and by my own weaknesses – even when a promise is made with the best of intentions. A person may have character and ability and try to live a life of integrity, but promises should be made sparingly and vows to God even more so.

Conversely, we may be certain that God will keep His promises. The psalmist declares, “In God I have put my trust: I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (56:11) “Trust in Him at all times; you people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us.” (62:8) We may know people who put little trust in God, but how many people do you know who trust Him in excess? D. L. Moody wrote, “Trust in yourself and you are doomed to disappointment; trust in your friends and they will die and leave you; trust in money and you may have it taken from you; trust in reputation and some slanderous tongue may blast it; but trust in God, and you are never to be confounded in time or eternity.”

If you are really going to trust in God, you must be able to answer one question in the affirmative. “Do I believe that God is absolutely in control of the universe down to the smallest detail?” If you do not believe this, you can never trust Him. If you really believe in God’s sovereignty, then you can rest in His providential care. “In God I have put my trust: I will not be afraid.” (Psalm 56:11) “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2) Despite all circumstances, we may confidently place our trust in God. Only He knows what is best for us. Only He knows our deepest needs.

Samuel at Gilgal

SHARE YOUR FAVORITE BIBLE VERSE

BibleAs some of you already know, my favorite Bible verse is Psalm 63:1:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1 ESV)

I would like to read your favorite Bible verse! Please share it with me in the comments section of this article.

My Hope is Strong in Him

In the words of St. Augustine:

“How much Thou hast loved us, O good Father, Who hast spared not even Thine own son but delivered him up for us wicked people. How thou hast loved us, for whom He who thought it not robbery to be equal with Thee became obedient even unto the death of the cross, He who alone was free among the dead, having power to lay down his life and power to take it up again, for us he was to Thee both Victor and Victim. For us he was to Thee both Priest and Sacrifice, turning us from slaves into Thy sons being Thy Son and becoming a slave. Rightly is my hope strong in Him.”

Guilt and Sins are no Small Matter

Do you deny your love of sin? You know they are wrong but you excuse yourself based on what others are doing, or what you see on TV, or in movies. Are you neglecting your great and only salvation? How shall you escape the justice of natural consequences or the impending wrath of justice to come? According to Andrew Bonar:

“It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17: 11).

“There I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat” (Exod. 25: 22).

The crucified and risen Jesus, and nothing else, brings us nigh to God. The crucified and risen Jesus, apart from all besides, reconciles us to God. The crucified and risen Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. He has borne an awful testimony that the wages of sin is death, and has thus opened the way of salvation for the very chief of sinners, the very basest and vilest of men.

Reader! Have you ever felt this blood of Christ to be precious blood? Have you been convinced of sin, and convinced of righteousness? Have you ever felt God’s holy justice in requiring such a sacrifice, and His holy love in providing it, not sparing His only begotten Son? Have you ever felt the necessity for that blood being shed, and sprinkled upon your soul before you could be pardoned? It is the blood, and the blood alone, which maketh atonement for the soul. It was to this blood of Christ, seen by faith through the types of the ceremonial law, that David was looking in the Fifty-first Psalm, when, in bitterness for his guilt, he cried, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psa. 51. 7). Has the insupportable burden of sin ever thus fixed your eye upon that blood whence alone pardon and relief can come?

Or are you yet easy-minded about the state of your soul? Does your conscience tell you that it would make no material difference to you, if you were to be told that now there was to be no longer any access to the mercy-seat for you? Dear reader, think what you are doing. Is sin a fancy? Is the wrath of God a vain imagination? If these were matters of little consequence, if they were as small matters as you now think them, would God have given His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life? (“The Mercy Seat)

A Praying Heart

 

 

 

 

According to Bishop J. C. Ryle:

A right heart is a PRAYING heart. It has within it “the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba Father” (Rom. 8:15). Its daily feeling is, “Your face, Lord, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8). It is drawn by an habitual inclination to speak to God about spiritual things—weakly, feebly, and imperfectly perhaps—but speak it must. It finds it necessary to pour out itself before God, as before a friend, and to spread before Him all its needs and desires. It tells Him all its secrets. It keeps back nothing from Him. You might as well try to persuade a person to live without breathing, as to persuade the possessor of a right heart to live without praying.

The Purified Heart

Quoting J. C. Ryle:

A right heart is a PURIFIED heart (Acts 15:9; Matt. 5:8). It loves holiness, and hates sin. It strives daily to cleanse itself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit (2 Cor. 7:1). It abhors that which is evil, and cleaves to that which is good. It delights in the law of God, and has that law engraved on it, that it may not forget it (Psalm 119:11). It longs to keep the law more perfectly, and takes pleasure in those who love the law. It loves God and people. Its affections are set on things above. It never feels so light and happy as when it is most holy; and it looks forward to heaven with joy, as the place where perfect holiness will at length be attained.

A Right Heart

Quoting Bishop J. C. Ryle:

A right heart is a BROKEN and CONTRITE heart (Psalm 51:17). It is broken off from pride, self-conceit, and self-righteousness. Its former high thoughts of self are cracked, shattered, and shivered to atoms. It thinks itself guilty, unworthy, and corrupt. Its former stubbornness, heaviness, and insensibility have thawed, disappeared, and passed away. It no longer thinks lightly of offending God. It is tender, sensitive, and jealously fearful of running into sin (2 Kings 22:19). It is humble, lowly, and self-abased, and sees in itself no good thing.

Unhappiness

In the words of David Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.”

Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:5-6 ESV)

Do You Believe God?

Quoting R. C. Sproul:

“The issue of faith is not so much whether we believe in God, but whether we believe the God we believe in.” (Knowing Scripture, p.35)

Living With Joy and Happiness

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1 ESV)

Is it possible to find true happiness? In our culture there are many who claim to be bored, unhappy, depressed, and stressed out. When I feel out of sorts I always find much relief in the Psalms. Let’s take a look at Psalm I and see what we can find out about joy and happiness.

In verses 1 and 2 we are taught that a blessed or happy man “walks not in the counsel of the wicked”. In other words, he does not listen to sinners about how to live his life. He “stands [not] in the way of sinners”. He avoids places where sinners gather. He does not sit “in the seat of scoffers”. He does not ridicule those who try to live to the glory of God. The blessed man delights “in the law of the Lord”. He finds happiness in the Word of God. Therefore, “on his law he meditates day and night”. Think of a man reading and re-reading with a consistent focused interest. This is a habit; something he makes time for each day.

In verse 3 we are told that the happy man “is like a tree planted by streams of water”. We find here a beautiful description of the life of a man rooted in God’s Word. Such a tree “ yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither”. For, truly, the blessed man’s life is one of fruitfulness that brings blessings to him and others. Because his life is rooted in the Word of God, he is not much affected by the seasons of drought which bring unfavorable conditions to his life. “In all that he does, he prospers.”

We all know this is a general rule with exceptions according to God’s plans and purpose. We may not understand all that God is doing, but we must accept His Providence. In general, however, the holy life is a blessed life; a life accompanied by joy and happiness.

In verses 4 – 6, we find the present condition and future estate of the wicked: “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. . . .” Is not the representation of the unrighteous as “chaff that the wind drives away” also a good description of the “bored, unhappy, depressed, and stressed out” life that I have mentioned above; a life with no purpose or direction but lusting for self-gratification.

The joyful and happy life is the consequence of focused meditation on the Word of God and heeding the counsel of the Lord. If you wish to lead a joyful and happy life in God’s world, then you must live it in God’s way.

Trouble with Anxiety?

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:5-6 ESV)

Most of us have suffered from anxiety at one time or another. I can truly say from experience that anxiety has never helped solve any problem I have encountered and, most of the time, my anxieties were eventually proved wrong. Uncontrolled anxiety is counterproductive. It is like playing the same song in your head over and over and takes great will-power to stop the loop of negative thoughts.

Anxiety is unreasonable when it is distress over what is going to happen next. A little anxiety may be a positive thing, but what I am talking about here is overwhelming anxiety. Overwhelming anxiety produces insecurity, a sense of isolation, and a feeling of helplessness. It is a form of fear.

A Christian may feel very insecure, but in reality he is very secure. “Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” (Proverbs 3:25-26 ESV) A Christian may feel helpless, but in reality he has great help. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 ESV) Even though the Christian may feel isolated, the reality is that God is always at his side. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 ESV) The real remedy for anxiety is complete trust and confidence in God’s ability to deal with anything that threatens us. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 ESV) God has promised peace of mind to those who are willing to commit their anxieties to Him. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

My prescription for overly anxious people and myself – when I catch myself in this mode of thinking – is to commit your all to the Lord and ask that His Will may be done in you and through you. Secondly, commit yourself to Scripture study, especially the Psalms in time of trouble, and pray.

Remember that peace of mind does not depend on solving all the problems in the world. There are problems that we simply cannot fix. Trust God and resolve to persevere through troubled times. Things are never going to be absolutely perfect for us this side of the Kingdom of God, but any problem is easier to face with God.

Our Times are in God’s Hands

Finding peace is impossible unless you yield your life to the will of God. Our times are in His hand. We must accept this as best for us. Waves of trouble may come against you, but it will soon be over. By and by when you enter heaven’s gate, you will see in the light of His Divine presence that “all things” did “work together” for good – your eternal good and the eternal good of all who love God. Thomas Watson (1620-1686) writes:

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 ESV)

Here is a breast of consolation to the saints of God (in these sad times), in the midst of all that hard measure they may meet with; let the world frown, let men persecute and calumniate, (and it may be, think they do God service), here is sap in the vine, a strong cordial to take, all things are naked. They do nothing but what our Father sees. They make wounds, and then pour in vinegar; God writes down their cruelty, he sees what rods they use, and how hard they strike; and he that hath an eye to see, hath also an hand to punish; ‘I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people,’ not only with an eye of providence, but with an eye of pity. This was a great comfort to David in his affliction, and was like a golden shield in the hand of his faith, ‘My groaning is not hid from thee,’ Psalm 38.6. When I weep, Christ weeps in my tears, he bleeds in my wounds. There are two bloods will cry: the blood of souls, when they have been starved or poisoned, and the blood of saints. I do not mean saints without sanctity, titular saints, but such as have Christ engraven in their hearts, and the word copied out into their lives: it is dangerous meddling with their blood; if we spill their blood, it is no better than spilling Christ’s blood, for they are members of his body, ‘In all their afflictions he was afflicted.’ The people of God are precious to him. . . .

God being so infinite in wisdom; if things go cross in church or state, take heed of charging God with folly; do not censure but admire. All things are naked. There is not any thing that stirs in the world, but God hath a design in it, for the good of his church: he carries on his designs by men’s’ designs: all things are unveiled to the eye of providence. God is never at a stand: he knows when to deliver, and how to deliver.

David saith, ‘My times are in thy hand,’ Psalm 31.15. If our times were in our own hand, we would have deliverance too soon; if they were in our enemy’s hand, we should have deliverance too late: But my times are in thy hand; and God’s time is ever best. Every thing is beautiful in its season: when the mercy is ripe, we shall have it. It is true; we are now between the hammer and the anvil: we may fear we shall see the death of religion, before the birth of reformation. But do not cast away your anchor; God sees when the mercy will be in season. When his people are low enough, and the enemy high enough, then usually appears the church’s morning-star: let God alone to his time. (God’s Anatomy upon Man’s Heart)

Secrets of the Heart

God is so infinite in wisdom that all things are naked to His eyes. Nothing stirs in the world except God knows its intent, purpose, and eventual outcome. Thomas Watson (1620-1686) discusses what this means concerning men’s hearts:

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 ESV)

If the secrets of our hearts are unveiled and unmasked, walk as in the eye of God. Methinks that of Hagar should be a Christian’s motto, Thou God seest me. And David’s prospect should be ever in our eye, Psalm 16.8. ‘I have set the Lord always before me:’ some set their bags of money always before them, others set the fear of men always before them; but a wise Christian will set God, and judgment, and eternity always before him. If indeed God’s eye were at any time off from us, we might take the more liberty; but if all things be naked, and open to his eye, we cannot sin but in the face of our Judge. Oh then reverence this eye of God. . . .

The eye of God should be ever in our eye; this would be as a counter poison against sin: nor is it enough to prune sin, viz. to cut off the external acts, but kill the root. Crucify complexion sins; let not thy heart sit brooding upon sin. Again, let God’s omniscience deter thee from hiding sin. . . . Men think to walk in the dark, and to carry their sins under a canopy, that no eye shall see them: as those that have bad eyes think that the sky is ever cloudy, whereas the fault is not in the sky, but in their eyes; so when the prince of the world hath blinded men’s eyes, because there is darkness within, they think it is dark abroad too, and now the sky is cloudy, God cannot see: but remember, all things are naked: do not go about to hide sin: confess, confess, it is a work proper for the day. Confession doth that to the soul which the surgeon doth to the body; it opens a spiritual vein, and lets out the bad blood. The only way to make God not see sin, is to see it ourselves, but not with dry eyes; point every sin with a tear. . . .

It is a whetstone to duty. O thou Christian that art much in private, that settest hours apart for God, (a sign he hath set thee apart) thou sheddest many tears in thy closet: the world takes no notice; but remember, God’s eye is upon thee, thy prayers are registered, thy tears are bottled up, ‘and he that sees in secret will reward thee openly.’ How should this add wings to prayer, and oil to the flame of our devotion? (“God’s Anatomy upon Man’s Heart”)

Learning From Injuries

The vanity and sinfulness of the mind appears the utmost in the ungodly. Yet, they may entertain good thoughts, but their minds will not dwell upon them very long. Thomas Goodwin elaborates:

O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved. How long shall your wicked thoughts lodge within you? (Jeremiah 4:14 ESV)

A heart sanctified, and in whose affections true grace is en-kindled, out of all God’s dealings with him, out of the things he sees and hears, out of all the objects are put into the thoughts, he distilleth holy, and sweet, and useful meditations; and it naturally doth it, and ordinarily doth it, so far as it is sanctified. So our Savior Christ, all speeches of others which he heard, all accidents and occurrences, did still raise and occasion in him heavenly meditations, as we may see throughout the whole Gospels. When he came by a well, he speaks of the ‘water of life,’ John IV. &c. Many instances might be given. He in his thoughts translated the book of the creatures into the book of grace, and so did Adam’s heart in innocency. His philosophy might be truly termed divinity, because he saw God in all; all raised up his heart to thankfulness and praise. So now, in like manner, our minds, so far as they are sanctified, will do. As the philosopher’s stone turns all metals into gold, as the bee sucks honey out of every flower, and a good stomach sucks out some sweet and wholesome nourishment out of what it takes into itself; so doth a holy heart, so far as sanctified, convert and digest all into spiritual useful thoughts. This you may see, Ps. cvii. 43. That psalm gives many instances of God’s providence, and ‘wonderful works which he doth for the sons of men;’ as deliverances by sea; where men see his wonders; deliverance to captives, &c. : and still the foot of the song is, ‘0 that men would therefore praise the Lord for the wonderful works he doth for the sons of men.’ Now, after all these instances, he concludes, that though others pass over such occurrences with ordinary slight thought; yet says he, ‘The righteous shall see it, and rejoice,’ that is, extract comfortable thoughts out of all, which shall be matter of joy; and ‘whoso is wise will observe these things,’ that is; makes holy observations out of all these, and out of a principle of wisdom he understands God’s goodness in all, and so his heart is raised to thoughts of praise, and thankfulness; and obedience. Now, compare with this the 92d Psalm, made for the Sabbath, when, in imitation of God, who that day viewed his work; we are, on our Lord’s day, still to raise holy praiseful thoughts out of them to his glory, which he that penned that psalm then did, ver. 1, 2, and ver. 5, 6, ‘How great are thy works!’ &c. ‘A brutish man knows not, nor will a fool understand this;’ that is, he being a beast, and having no sanctified principle of wisdom in him, looks no further than a beast into all the works of God and occurrences of things; looks on all blessings as things provided for man’s delight by God; but he extracts seldom holy, spiritual, and useful thoughts out of all, he wants the art of doing it.

If injuries be offered us by others, what do our thoughts distill out of those wrong; but thoughts of revenge? We meditate how to requite it again. But see how naturally David’s mind distills other thoughts of Shimei’s cursing, 2 Sam. xvi. 11, ‘God hath bidden him,’ and it may prove a good sign of God’s favor, ‘God may requite good for it.’ When we see judgments befall other; severe thoughts of censure our minds are apt to raise against our brother, as Job’s friends did. But a godly man, whose mind is much sanctified, raises other thoughts out of it, Prov. xxi. 29, ‘wisely consider.’

So when outward mercies befall us, the next thoughts we are apt to have is to project ease by our wealth, ‘Thou hast goods for many years;’ and when judgments befall us, we are apt to be filled with thoughts of complaint, and fear; and cares how to wind out again. But what were the first thoughts Job had upon the news of the loss of all? God hath given, and the Lord hath taken, blessed be the Lord for all.

Such thoughts as these, which all opportunities hint unto, a good heart is apprehensive of; and doth naturally raise for its own use. So far barren as our thoughts are, so far vain. (“The Vanity of Thoughts”)

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