Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. -2 Corinthians 5:8 (ESV)
It has been a while since I have posted anything in my blog. Perhaps I have been feeling a little sorry for myself and have avoided it with a “what’s the use” attitude. As my friends and associates know, I suffered a heart attack last year and have had a year of battling heart failure and now other health issues that may have arisen from the plethora of ‘specialists’ I have to see and the drugs they prescribe. I must confess it has left me a little angry with Hartford Healthcare and bitter with the medical field in general.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -1 Thes. 5:16-18 (ESV)
Somewhere along the way I strayed from the practice of giving thanks in all things. Not only must I be thankful for the things I find not so pleasant, but also remember the many things I have to be grateful for that I have learned and experienced along the way this year.
God has chosen to give me another year of life that did not seem like it might happen at the time. December 17, 2021 I was rushed to Hartford Hospital, had stents placed within my heart and spent a week there mostly in I.C.U. — not exactly getting a lot of optimism from the doctors. Mostly it was “I don’t know yet” or “I’m a little surprised you are still alive.” I’ve come some distance from that time and place and have had more time with my wife, filled with reminders of the things of greatest importance that have been obscured from my sight (in a spiritual sense). I also continue to work, being blessed to have the opportunity to do so because of the flexibility the museum has afforded me.
Sure, I have several challenges to deal with from day to day and a bevy of doctors I see to assist with those issues, but the alternative would be an absence from this life that God has not chosen to subject me to yet. The thought of my departure leaves me sad, but only in the sense that I would be away from my wife and friends. It is hard to think of letting go of earthly things and embrace only the precious things of God. One of those precious things is the fact that I will be in the presence of Jesus when that time comes and will see her and my closest friends (who are believers) again. I can only imagine how all consuming that will be. It is doubtful I will concern myself with any earthly things when I am in His presence. If anything, I will likely think of my loved ones here only with eager anticipation of the joy that they too will experience with Him. As the Apostle Paul was inspired to write so long ago, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). I must hang on to that fact and strive to replace that fear with faith.
“Unless the Lord had been my help, I would soon have dwelt in [the land where there is] silence. When I said, My foot is slipping, Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my [anxious] thoughts within me, Your comforts cheer and delight my soul!” -Psalm 94:17-19 AMPC
I was in a hospital Intensive Care unit for a week late last winter, surrounded by doctors and nurses trying to comfort me and alleviate my fears after a heart attack. What I knew at the time was that my fear didn’t need alleviating -as I knew God was with me and everything would turn out alright. In fact, I followed the command found in Scripture to give thanks in all things. What a difference that has made in my life as I mature in Jesus!
Please don’t think that I am saying I never worry or have anxiety in my life, because I do. However, it is far less than ever before in my life as I learn to accept His help along the way and repent of the sin of worry. The Lord is always willing to help; it is up to us to receive it.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation— Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life— Whom shall I dread?” -Psalms 27:1 AMP
“He will cover you with his wings; you will be safe in his care; his faithfulness will protect and defend you. You need not fear any dangers at night or sudden attacks during the day” -Psalm 91:4-5 GNT
For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. Psalm 18:28 ESV
It’s not hard for a Christian who is focused on study of God’s Word to see the darkness that covers both our land and the entire world right now. It seems insane to see some things once regarded as being very wrong become celebrated and defended. The hatred and anger we witness seems to worsen with each passing day. The path is dark and leads to destruction for many who cannot see what is ahead because they fail to seek the One who can shed some light on it.
I pray to God that I never forget to access the source of truth and guidance He provides.
Please forgive the brief hiatus from writing, as summer has taken its toll on my schedule. I want to return to Spurgeon’s Catechism for now to mine some more theological gems from it as derived from the pages of Scripture. (I hope to periodically return to the topic throughout the remaining days of summer, as well).
Charles Spurgeon, often called the “prince of preachers,” was a reformed preacher who is popular not just in reformed circles, but with other Bible teachers as well (who are not necessarily reformed). A couple of my favorite Calvary Chapel teachers love to cite his work when illustrating a fact or particular point of view from the Bible.
For this post, I would like to touch on the topic of what is God as derived from the Catechism. Spurgeon once again uses the pages of Scripture and the resources he had at hand to provide a biblical, concise answer to this question as provided in God’s precious word:
QUESTION: What is God? A. God is Spirit, (John 4:24) infinite, (Job 11:7) eternal, (Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17) and unchangeable (James 1:17) in his being, (Ezekiel 3:14) wisdom, power, (Psalms 147:5) holiness, (Revelation 4:8) justice, goodness and truth. (Ezekiel 34:6,7). John 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. Job 11:7 Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. 1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise,be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Ezekiel 3:14 So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me. Psalms 147:5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. Revelation 4:8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “ Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” Exodus 34:6,7 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
QUESTION: 5. Are there more Gods than one?No discussion of what God is is complete without understanding that God is one yet also three in persons. The Trinity has tripped up many people theologically as they are compelled to try fully understanding the makeup of the Sovereign Creator of the universe.
ANSWER: There is but one only (Deuteronomy 6:4), the living and true God (Jeremiah 10:10).
QUESTION: How many persons are there in the Godhead?
ANSWER: There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and glory (1 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19).
May God add His blessing to your understanding of His precious word More to follow in days to come -LORD willing.
Charles H. Spurgeon was a famous reformed preacher who lived from 1834-1892 and is often quoted by many modern day Bible teachers and preachers all over the world, lovingly referred to as the “prince of preachers.” Perhaps the most famous work attributed to him is “Morning and Evening,” a series of devotions still read by many all over the world on a daily basis. His Catechism, not unlike that of the London Baptists, Heidelberg or Westminster, is a concise, biblical-based rendering of doctrine which he and much of Christianity (myself included) still ascribe to today. (It is actually compiled from the Westminster and Baptist Catechisms). It is my intention to pick some highlights from his work to mention and hopefully give reason to devote some thought to.
What is the chief end of man (or men and women, for that matter)? We live in a culture of self-satisfaction where little thought is given to God. Many in Christianity are guilty of the same sinful behavior. We often go to the church which best fits our tastes, is convenient to our lifestyle and also offers as little interference to our day to day lives as possible. Perhaps we change churches because we don’t care for some personality of perhaps our musical tastes differ from that of the worship leader? If we search our hearts, we know the answer. Spurgeon’s answer to this is as usual straight from Scripture: the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever: Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 KJV). From the book of Psalms in the Old Testament we read this in Psalm 73:25-26 KJV: Whom have I in heaven but thee?And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.My flesh and my heart faileth: But God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
Spurgeon makes it clear that the Word of God contained in the Old and New Testaments is the only rule to direct us as to how we may glorify God and enjoy Him (Ephesians 2:20; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 1:3).
He goes on to explain that the Scriptures teach us what we are to believe concerning God and what duty He requires of us (2 Timothy 1:13; Ecclesiastes 12:13).
In my next post, we delve into more of the precious truths contained within this smaller Catechism.
I thought a short and sweet post would be in order to wish the American reader a happy and blessed 4th of July Holiday. Starting this week, I will be including a couple of posts discussing some highlights from “Spurgeon’s Catechism,” an interesting booklet I picked up at a nearby reformed church I am fond of while visiting one Sunday morning. I hope this will be of interest to you.
The Living Bible. Galatians 5:16-17: I advise you to obey only the Holy Spirit’s instructions. He will tell you where to go and what to do, and then you won’t always be doing the wrong things your evil nature wants you to. For we naturally love to do evil things that are just the opposite from the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do; and the good things we want to do when the Spirit has his way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires. These two forces within us are constantly fighting each other to win control over us, and our wishes are never free from their pressures.
As soon as we are saved by accepting Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. This gives us an edge we previously didn’t have in living a more righteous and godly life. The battle never stops, temptations to sin will come and go throughout our lives, but now we have the most valuable arsenal of weapons available to thwart the plans of the evil one.
Obviously, what is needed is constant prayer and meditation. Keep your eyes upon Jesus and the Holy Spirit will guide you in living a full and satisfying life in Christ.
Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” -Mark 7:15, 21-23 NIV
Many years ago, a popular comedian named Flip Wilson got a lot of mileage out of an old expression used as an excuse since before I can remember: the devil made me do it. As Christians, we know that humanity is a fallen race in a fallen world whose only hope for redemption is the blood of Jesus. Once we accept His wonderful gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. When that happens, what is inside comes out — and that certainly should be His precious love.
Father, thank you for allowing us to receive and make use of the conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit, helping us to grow ever closer to our Savior.
“Yes, I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit. For apart from me you can’t do a thing. -The Living Bible. John 15:5
Try as I might have sometimes, I was never able to accomplish anything of lasting value on my own without the aid of the Holy Spirit and goal of advancing His kingdom here on Earth. Things of eternal value are those which are of God and His will for my life.
Father, help me to focus on You and Your desire for my life as I work to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? -Mark 8:18 NRSV
I cannot begin to perceive the amount of patience Jesus has for us. The disciples did not start out to be selfless, compassionate men of great courage and devotion. They would eventually grow into such people — but not without the exceptional patience of our Lord and the guidance of our great Comforter, the Holy Spirit.