“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. -Matthew 6:34 ESV
When I first stopped drinking and using other drugs, I repeatedly heard and thought about the phrase “one day at a time.” I clung to that as a strategy to survive in this new sober life. That same adjustment to attitude also worked for other things, such as quitting smoking.
Clearly, Jesus knew this attitude was essential in one’s faith, as it is discussed in more than one place in the gospels. Planning for tomorrow, whether it involves overcoming an addiction, battling illness, financial distress…whatever the issue, it is pointless. Living in today allows me to focus on what I know I have to deal with. God has never failed to provide for my needs in any given situation as He provided daily sustenance for His people in the wilderness in the form of manna (Exodus 16). It is important to note that they were instructed to take only what they could eat for that day. Again, the message is clear: we must trust God to give us what we need for each individual day. As it says in Lamentations, His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Have I learned to trust God enough to live in today?
In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. -Psalms 18:29-30 NLT
Not much more to say that these two verses from the 18th Psalm don’t clearly state. I have reached a place in my life with the potential for me to suffer serious anxiety — should I forget who the Lord of my life truly is. What a wonderful place to be at in one’s life when they get there! Do you look to the Lord for protection?
Father, please remind me always that the only true protection I have in my life does not come from man or his various inventions, but from you in your majestic and graceful glory. Amen.
As I sit here at my kitchen table drinking coffee on New Year’s morning 2023, I cannot help but be reminded of the year that has passed and the one that has begun. This year I seem to have a greater sense of hope as it begins from the ashes of a tumultous 2022 that I would love to forget much of but which is engrained in my memory. Rather than live in that particular past, I choose to look forward to what this year can bring. I am not thinking right now about material gains or even improved health (mine leaves much to be desired), but how I may better serve Christ in ministering to the needs of those around me. At the moment, I am focused on what really and truly matters.
There is a sense of freedom to be gained by leaving it all in God’s hands and finding a place within where I am confident that whatever happens in okay because God is sovereign and it is all part of His plan. Truly nothing happens that He does not allow in the first place.
Let us reflect for a moment on the well-known statement made in Lamentations: His mercies are new every morning. Just pondering that importance for a few moments can leave one awestruck. Here is Lamentations 3:23 quoted directly from the Bible:
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:23 NLT
Being renewed and becoming a new creature are explained and illustrated throughout the Bible. When we acknowledge receipt of our Savior Jesus Christ, we start to become transformed into the beings God intended us to be. Romans 12 says:
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. -Romans 12:2 NLT
How quickly we change or how much progress we make in this world toward that goal are directly dependent on how much prayer, meditation and study of God’s Word we are willing to undertake. I know that the more I put into practice those things, the better my life is (regardless of my present circumstances) as I strive to become more like Him each day. Are you making such effort? This is a question I must answer each day as I walk the road with Him. Happy New Year!
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.