Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Special of the Night (The Night?)... From the Orange Moon Cafe "As You Go"

I intended to send this out this morning as a Saturday offering, but forgot. Interestingly, the verse part of what follows, written several days ago, ends with "this night", so maybe….  These are the lyrics to a new song, which "coincidentally" was written just before a family member went through a very challenging trial in which the truth of what follows was richly confirmed.  Thanks, Glen.)

"As You Go"

I wait for you, My child,
wherever you may go.
I'll be there when you arrive,
I'll be with you as you go.

We live our life together,
you venture not alone.
Our hearts made one forever,
united in My Son.

I wait for you, My child,
I'll be with you as you go.

I made you for such grace,
to be My Spirit's home.
Oh, look into My face,
and with assurance know

that we'll always be together, 
you'll never be alone.
We'll be as one forever,
each other's love to know.

I wait for you, My child,
I'll be with you as you go.

Forever beckons to us,
as does this day, this hour.
My Spirit's peace imparts
the presence and the power

for you to journey with Me,
in darkness or in light.
I am in your heart forever,
and in this day, this night.

I wait for you, My child, 
I'll be with you as you ago…
I'll be with you as you go.

"The Lord thy God, He it is that shall to with thee."
(Deuteronomy 31:6)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
(John 7:24)

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Rains That Fall

     The writer David Needham provides one of my favorite illustrations of the Biblical truth that sometimes God delivers us from challenges, and sometimes He delivers us in our challenges.  Needham imagines a wheat farmer and a tomato farmer with neighboring fields.   Both farmers need the weather to cooperate for their crops to produce a successful harvest.  The wheat requires one more good, soaking rain.  The tomatoes, at the peak of their maturity and ready to be harvested, would be gravely damaged by heavy precipitation.  Both farmers are devout believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and both are challenged financially to the degree that the success or failure of their crop will determine whether they keep their home and their lands.  Most importantly, both pray fervently for God to provide for their particular need.

    Needham poignantly describes the outcome.  The wheat farmer and his family awaken in the middle of the night to hear the first tinkle of raindrops upon the tin roof of their home.  Could it be?  Has God sent the necessary showers?  The tomato farmer and his family ask the same question in their hearts, but with trepidation that a crop-killing rain seems at hand.  The rains do fall, to the great rejoicing of the wheat farmer and his family, but to their heartbrokenness of the other family.  Both pray, however, and both express faith with tears, albeit with greatly different emotion and outlook.  

    Five years pass by.  Needham depicts the breakfast scene of both families on the anniversary of that fateful night.  The wheat farmer, prosperous and successful, gathers his wife and children for prayer, recalling God's abundant provision of rain.  The tomato farmer does the same.  However, he no longer owns his farm, but rather serves as a tenant after losing ownership when the torrents destroyed his crops those five years ago.  The prayers of both men are very different, but also very similar.  The wheat farmer joyfully gives thanks for so great a deliverance from the disaster that would have ensued had the rains not come - "Family, do you know what day this is?  This is the fifth anniversary of the greatest crisis our family has ever gone through.  Do you remember that night we prayed?  And God heard our prayer, didn't He?… God has blessed us more than I ever dreamed!  He deserves not only our thanks, but also our lives.  Let's gather around the table and each one of us tell Him how much we love Him!"  

     The tomato farmer also joyfully gathers his family to offer gratitude in remembrance of that fateful night so long ago.  "O God, thank You, thank You for your grace and goodness!  At first that night seemed like such a catastrophe, and yet, o Father, how You have taught us things about Yourself!  You have opened the door to a knowledge of You through our suffering we would never have known in any other way.  God, you are so good!"

    Sometimes from the furnace.  Sometimes in the furnace.  Sometimes God removes the thorn with His hand.  Sometimes He provides grace with His heart.  Either way, He can be trusted.  "Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds!" (Psalm 36:5).  Indeed, we shall not be disappointed when we commit our way to Him, whether the rains fall when they seem so necessary, or when they apparently drown us in catastrophe.   "His way is perfect" declared David (II Samuel 22:30).  It will not always appear to be so, but it will always be so.  Let us remember and affirm so great a trustworthiness, and so great a power whereby God reveals His provision in perfect application of loving wisdom…

"He that believeth on Him shall not be confounded."
(I Peter 2:6)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
(John 7:24)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"My Grace, Sufficient"

     "My grace is sufficient for thee" (II Corinthians 12:9).

    A writer of old reverently declared this statement of old to possess an almost ludicrous nature.  "My grace" - an infinite and measureless glory - supplies for the Apostle Paul's need - a mere "thorn" of finite and temporal limit?  Imagine a thimble to be filled with the floods of Niagara, or the reservoirs of the Mississippi River, or the depths of the Pacific Ocean.  Such illustration pales in comparison to "My grace… sufficient for thee."

    Note the holy components of such assurance.  First, the promise is personal - "My."  The gifts of God all descend as graced by the person of God - "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19; emphasis added).  I will never forget the day many years ago when those last three words of Paul's affirmation of Divine supply seemed to  illuminate with the light of Heaven.  "By Christ Jesus" God supplies for our every need.  With the gift comes the Giver.  Our Father has nothing in His treasure chest of  grace that does not include His Son.  To this day, I do not understand the spiritual mechanics, as it were, of such Christ-graced provision.  I grow more convinced, however, that if we could see the things of the Spirit, we would behold the Son of the Father as the heart and essence of "every good gift and every perfect gift" (James 1:17).

    "Grace."  God promised to Paul His unmerited and unexpected favor rather than the removal of the thorn.  Indeed, better to live with pain, if the challenge offers opportunity to know the heart of our blessed Lord.  Difficulty makes far more likely our awareness of need and subsequent determination to "come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy, and to find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).  It would be wonderful if blessing alone kept us near to the throne.  This is not the case in our present existence, however.  "Before I was afflicted, I went astray.  But now I have kept Thy word" (Psalm 119:67).  Just as Paul, we require thorns for the purpose of realizing our desperate need for the Rose of Sharon and the beautiful grace of His heart.

    "Is."  The God of grace is also the God of truth.  He cannot lie, He cannot be other than who He is, and every promise He has ever made will be fulfilled in pristine perfection.  Yes, Somebody exists so trustworthy that Solomon beckons to "Trust the Lord with all thy heart" (Proverbs 3:5).  Such complete confidence cannot be placed in anyone less than all faithful.  Our Lord is, and His grace is sure to all who rest their hearts in the safe haven of Truth: "Thou art my hiding place and shield; I hope in Thy word" (Psalm 119:114).

   "Sufficient."  Recall that such assurance of provision speaks of life with a thorn.  Certainly grace would be sufficient without the prick, the blood, and the anguish, even as we shall experience in our Christ-secured eternity to come.  Our present knowledge and experience of grace, however, expands exponentially when God stills His hand and leaves our thorn.  He rather invites us into heart when pain must remain, revealing to us a sufficiency so great that we discover peace to "pass all understanding," joy to be "unspeakable and full of glory," power to be "exceeding, abundantly above," and the love of Christ to "pass knowledge" (Philippians 4:7; I Peter 1:8, Ephesians 3:20; Ephesians 3:19).   Only with our thorns can the limitless measure of God's grace begin to be known.

   "For."  Or, as the prophet invited, "Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat, yea come and by wine and milk without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1).  God bestows His grace upon "the poor in spirit," that is, those who hurt and who know they possess nothing in and of themselves with which to access the grace necessary to endure the thorn (Matthew 5:3).  Such provision is for us, that is, the abundant supply purchased by the blood and sacrifice of He who gave everything He had in order to freely give us everything we need.  Oh yes, the grace that flowed from our Savior's wounds is for you, and for me.

   Finally, "thee."  We return to the personal.  For you, and for me.  Our Heavenly Father is so personally attentive to us that He numbers the hairs of our heads (Matthew 10:30).  Think of it.  If you could do so, would you?  Not likely.  Few of us would care enough to keep a running tally concerning such apparent insignificance.  Our Father can, however, and He does. Thus, He is more interested in us than we are interested in ourselves.  Moreover, He is lovingly interested with an ardor and devotion that would burst our hearts if more than a modicum of its infinite measure became known to us.  "He hath set His love upon me" (Psalm 91:14).  Do not fail to absorb and apply David's personal testimony to yourself.  "Thee."  For you, and for me.

    "My grace is sufficient for thee."  This may constitute the greatest understatement of all time.  More importantly, it speaks of our particular thorn, and of the grace God offers with it.  May we avail ourselves of this freest of all gifts that came to us by the most expensive of all costs.  

"Our sufficiency is of God."
(II Corinthians 3:5)
"They which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ."
(Romans 5:17)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
(John 7:24)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Power, Love, and a Sound Mind

     Fear causes us to feel weak, self-centered, and mentally unstable.  God offers and provides Himself to us in times of temptation to trepidation.

    "God hath not given to us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:7).

    Power for weakness.  Love for self-centeredness.  Soundness of mind for instability.  The Holy Spirit reveals the characteristics of His disposition in us as we trust and submit ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.  "My strength is made perfect in weakness" declared the Savior to the Apostle Paul, and to all who share like faith with Paul (II Corinthians 12:9).  Therein God is glorified as indwelling life of Christ provided to believers as a free gift leads us to overcome the uncertainties of life in a fallen world.

    The sense of weakness elicited by fearful thoughts and emotions can either paralyze us, or cause us to run away from the challenges of life.  Faith in the Lord Jesus provides the enabling power whereby we arise to face difficulty with confidence and courage.  "He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings" (Psalm 40:2).  The heart of our Captain is brave, strong, and true.  He has faced every type of challenge we will ever encounter, and far more.  Thus, as we look to Him, no fear can overwhelm us because He assures us of His presence, involvement, and strength to overcome.  "By Thee I have run through a troop, and by my God I have leaped over a wall" (II Samuel 22:30).

    Fear also focuses us on ourselves, even in those times when our uncertainty may involves others such as our loved ones.  Close analysis of concern that overwhelms us always reveals the unholy fleshly trinity of "I, Me, and My" at the root of fearfulness.  When tempted to be afraid, opportunities for love always present themselves for our remembrance of the God of promise, and the promise of God.  "Father, how can the love of Christ lead and enable me to honor you and bless others in this challenge that causes me to feel uncertain, but which actually paves a path for loving you and loving others?"  This is the question of every hour of uncertainty.  There is something to do when fear knocks on the door of our hearts: "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee" (Psalm 56:3).  Such confidence delivers us from the black hole of selfishness, causing us rather to "shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:15).  Indeed, the believer who recognizes fearful thoughts and feelings as opportunity to trust the Faithful One wastes no time in paralysis or flight from fear, but rather arises to look upward and away to the glory of God and the needs of others.

    Finally, God grants to us in His Spirit a "sound mind."  At best, fear embraced and entertained shuts our brain down.  At worst, it leads to delusion and disastrous decision making.  Faith, conversely, keeps us in a place of spiritually rational thought and consideration, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit.  "The thoughts of the righteous are right" (Proverbs 12:5).  When we trust the Lord Jesus rather than yield to the temptations of fear and uncertainty, the Holy Spirit leads us in our thinking to rightly analyze and make good decisions about the challenges of life.  His thoughts become our thoughts, to the glory of God, the blessing of others, and our own joy of heart.  "In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Thy comforts delight my soul" (Psalm 94:19).

    The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit makes possible a life of peace, as provided by the Prince of peace.  Many challenges will confront us, and the way is not easy.  Such difficulty, however, must be viewed as opportunity for the experience of a dear Orange Moon friend who just wrote to me of being "at peace that is incomprehensible given what's going on!"  Amen, sister.  The Spirit of Peace.  The Prince of peace.  The God of peace.  "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose minds is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).

"Be careful for nothing, but by everything in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4:6-7)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
(John 7:24)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Reaping of Grace

     "Be not deceived.  God is not mocked.  For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.  But he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Galatians 6:7-8).

    We either sow to the flesh and reap the fruits of our own works, or we sow to the Spirit and reap the fruits of Christ's works.  

    Unbelief means that we attempt to go it on our own, so to speak, living in the delusion that we are not utterly dependent on God for "life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25).  Faith in the Lord Jesus, conversely, involves trusting in His redeeming work on our behalf, and in His realized working for our benefit.  Every true believer has experienced the former as the basis of our new birth and salvation.  The latter, however, requires a lifelong devotion to the faith and submission to God whereby we "labor according to His working" (Colossians 1:29).  Countless opportunities present themselves for determination to realize and affirm that "to live is Christ."  We "look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" as the author and finisher of this or that particular issue, challenge, responsibility, and relationship (Philippians 1:21; Hebrews 12:2).  We can go it on our own if we choose, but never is there valid reason for the sowing of independence that leads to the reaping of corruption.  God rather offers to us the reaping of Christ's sowing, and thus of the "life everlasting" that promises not only eternal duration of existence, but exquisite revelation of our Lord's working on our behalf.

    "Verily, verily I say unto you, except a corn (grain) of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.  But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24).

   The Lord Jesus is that grain of wheat, sown for us in death and raised for us in newness of life in order to bring forth much fruit in our lives.  Confidence in such Divine planting and harvesting produces the sowing of the Spirit rather than the flesh.  This day offers such grace in every venue of our lives.  Let us trust and submit ourselves to God as the sowing of faith that leads to the reaping of Christ's grace.  A bountiful harvest awaits, to the glory of God and the blessing of those in our lives who partake of the fruits planted and harvested in the garden of our hearts.

"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the ungodly.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law doth he meditate day and night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth for his fruit in his season.  His leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
(Psalm 1:1-3)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
(John 7:24)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sensations? Convictions!

     A friend recently asked me if I often sense the Lord's presence.  Frankly, I never think about the issue, although if I had to answer, I think I would say… well, again, I don't want to go there.

     I view the matter differently.  Namely, do I have the conviction of the Lord's presence?  Am I increasingly confident, regardless of sense, emotion, or appearance, that the promise of God concerning His presence is true?  "I am with you always… I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).  Such assurance more aligns with our current existence wherein "we walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).  The day will come when "face to face" shall characterize our fellowship with the Lord, and wherein our senses will perfectly and always apprehend His spiritual proximity.  This is not that day, however, and we do best to seek conviction and confidence rather than sight and sensation (I Corinthians 13:12).

    "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).

    Growing conviction regarding the Lord's promised Presence begins with consistent exposure of our hearts and minds to the Scriptures.  Therein we discover ongoing affirmation that God dwells not only with His trusting children, but within us through the Holy Spirit's internal abiding - "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16).  Let us recall, however, that the Bible depicts the Holy Spirit in terms of a dove, the disposition of Whom is gentle, quiet, and unobtrusive.  "Be ye… harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16).  Thus, we must expect His nature to characterize the experience of His presence.  This results in a largely unseen and unfelt walk with our Heavenly Father, which nevertheless increases in living reality because our hearts become more and more convinced by the Word of God that the Spirit of God abides with us to reveal and glorify the Son of God.  This elicits a far greater personal knowledge of our Lord than mere sensation could ever foster.

    Such emphasis also protects us from the reality that deceiving spirits exist in the world who ever seek to counterfeit God's reality and presence.  The sensation of God's presence in our awareness may be accurate at times, but it also may not.  The latter possibility should temper our search for spiritual experiences that may fill with thrill, as it were, but which later are discovered to have led us astray.  Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge illuminates us here.  "You may be a bit of undigested beef… a fragment of an underdone potato" said Scrooge to the spirit who visited him.  Of course, the phantasm was real in Dickens' tale, but Scrooges' skepticism regarding his own senses, based on their fickle nature and proneness to deception, illustrates the necessity of our devotion to conviction rather than sensation.  "Try (test) the spirits" (I John 4:1).

    I believe in a personal God who provides to His trusting children in Christ the gift of loving and vivid experience of Himself.  Nevertheless, I also recognize the current tendency to misread my own senses regarding the moving of the Holy Spirit in my heart and life.  I thus seek conviction and a growing confidence that regardless of sensation, emotion, and appearance, the Lord permanently abides within our hearts in loving and dynamic involvement.  A far safer path proceeds from such emphasis, and a far surer experience of God's grace, truth, and blessed presence.

"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."
(John 7:24)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
(John 7:24)

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Photography by Emmie Davis

    This is our beagle Sparrow.  She is sublimely beautiful, isn't she?  And she is sweeter than she is lovely.  I could write more, but I think her picture speaks more eloquently than I can write of the truth that God outdid Himself in this creature so wonderful in heart and in appearance.  He often outdoes Himself, of course, particularly in His working in our lives.  Or, as the Apostle Paul declared…

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.  Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen."
(Ephesians 3:20-21)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
(I John 3:2)

"A Cup Of Wrath, a Thorn Of Grace"

     The Lord Jesus Christ prayed thrice for the removal of a cup.  "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me" (Matthew 26:39).  His servant, the Apostle Paul, prayed thrice for the removal of a thorn.  "There was given to me a thorn in the flesh… for this thing I besought the Lord thrice that it might pass from Me" (II Corinthians 12:6-7).  Neither prayer was directly answered.

     God responded to Paul by granting not the extraction of the painful barb, but rather the extending of overcoming grace (II Corinthians 12:9).  He responded to His Son by granting not by the passing of the cup, but by its passing over the Lord Jesus as it poured out the wrath of God upon Him for our sins.  Indeed, the grace Paul received originated in the judgment his Lord suffered.  "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21).

    Could we speak with Paul today, would he tell us he would rather God had delivered him from the thorn?  Not likely.  Indeed, when prayers do not result in removal of pain but in reception of grace, a far greater bestowal descends from our Father in Heaven.  It rarely feels like this, but it always is like this.  The Apostle discovered his  Lord in ways he could never have experienced without the thorn.  Indeed, God removes thorns with His hand, as it were.  But He provides grace with His heart.  No, Paul would tell us that prayers seemingly unanswered actually lead to journeys into the sublime being of Christ unnavigable in any other way.

    In like manner, if we could ask the Lord Jesus today about His cup, would He tell us He would rather have avoided the sorrow, pain, and forsakenness?   Certainly not.  "Jesus… who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2).  Yes, if one by one by one every believer could ask the question, each would hear the same response: "It was worth it.  You were worth it."  Our hearts are precious enough to our Savior that He willingly accepted the fact of unanswered prayers and the terrible outcome that ensued when, for our sakes, His requests were answered with the sorrows of the cross.

    Sometimes the removal of thorns, sometimes the bestowal of grace.   All the time, perfectly applied provision for us purchased by painfully applied sorrow, pain, forsakenness, and death unto our Lord.  We remember and respect Paul for his example, but we remember and worship the Lord Jesus for His redemption.  A cup of wrath and a thorn of grace.  Both speak to us of so great a salvation, as freely provided by so great a Savior, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ.

"We did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed."
(Isaiah 53:4-5)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
(I John 3:2)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Leadership, With Fear

     One of the most important prayers we can pray for those in leadership is that God will impress His fear upon them.

    "Be wise therefore, o ye kings, be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, let He be angry and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little" (Psalm 2:10-12).

   Every position of human authority exists within and under the scope of God's rule.  Whether functioning well or poorly, leaders lead as stewards rather than as sovereigns.  At the very least, God allows their authority, and in many cases, He directly appoints and installs leaders.  "Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south, for God is the judge.  He setteth up one, and putteth down another" (Psalm 75:6-7).

   Most are not aware of their position under the Divine prerogative.  Nor are they aware of the accountability to God such stewardship involves.  He views with utmost seriousness the matter of leadership because human authorities reflect His place and position as "Lord of all" (Acts 10:36).  Moreover, leaders exercise authority over objects of God's love, namely, people.  Misuse of the position therefore places kings, judges, and authorities of every variety in a fearful place that warrants proper fearfulness of the Lord's keen oversight of those who exercise the authority given "from above" (John 19:11).

    Let us pray for the instruction of those who lead, however large or small the domain of authority.  Let us pray for the fear of God and the fearfulness of accountability to Him.  A bit of King David's request for "trembling" before the Lord seems especially in order just now for those who serve, whether knowingly or not, at the Lord's beckoning.  And let us not forget to include ourselves if He calls us to lead in any venue as the reflection of His rule, and the overseer of people whom He loves.

"Be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation."
(James 3:1)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
(I John 3:2)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Provision, Knowledge, Promise"

     "His divine power that given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue, whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises" (II Peter 1:3-4).

    Provision, knowledge, and promises - our Heavenly Father provides, then reveals Himself as the provider and the provision, and finally declares His faithfulness in applying His supply to all who trust Him through the Lord Jesus Christ.

     Before commanding Adam and Eve to fulfill their earthly responsibilities, the Lord assured them of the provision that made possible the implementation of His mandates: "I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed, to you it shall be for meat" (Genesis 1:29).  In the same manner, every command of Scripture directed to believers follows the "exceeding great and precious promises" that call us to trust not in our own abilities, but to "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10).  

    The calling to access God's enabling and strength presupposes our own recognition and sense of weakness.  No honest human heart can stand before the unscalable mountain of God's standard of faithfulness and believe itself capable of independently making the ascent.  "Without Me, ye can do nothing" declared the Lord Jesus (John 15:5).  Our Heavenly Father must provide strength for the journey if we are to have expectation of traversing the path of righteousness.  He also must reveal Himself to us as the hope of our hearts and of our hands.  "Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30).  Upon this basis of supply and illumination, He then promises to lead and enable us to fulfill His will.  "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

    Our calling involves exposing ourselves to the light that reveals God's provision and promises in order that we may believe.  "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).  We cannot believe promises of which we are not aware, nor can access provision apart from the faith that receives the benefits of "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8).  Thus, a Bible consistently opened, read, pondered, and remembered makes possible the confidence whereby we avail ourselves of "Christ, the power of God" (I Corinthians 1:24).  Provision for every contingency of "life and godliness" has been made.  The One who supplied is perfectly faithful.  His promises are true.  These truths provide the basis by which "exceeding great and precious promises" enable the "glory and virtue" we must seek and expect through "the knowledge of Him."

"We desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end, that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
(Hebrews 6:11-12)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
(I John 3:2)

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Spiritual Hypertrophy"

   "I will run the way of Thy commandments, when Thou shalt enlarge my heart" (Psalm 119:32).

    In 1899, Swedish neurologist Saloman Henschen discovered that many endurance athletes experience a phenomena in which the the left ventricle of the heart became hypertrophic, or larger in volume, due to the stresses placed upon the organ by long sessions of activity.  Known as "athletes heart," the enlargement is not dangerous, but rather indicates the conditioning of the heart through endurance activity.

    The Psalmist knew about such matters, albeit in spiritual terms, long before Dr. Henschen made his discovery.  Scripture also reverses the order.  Rather than "running the way of Thy commandments" resulting in an enlarged heart, spiritual hypertrophy leads to more determined running after our Lord, His glory, and His will.  In those who trust and submit themselves to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, God increases spiritual capacity for the purpose of enabling more earnest exercise to Him.  Again, "I will run… when Thou shalt enlarge."

    How might such internal heart expansion take place?  How do we receive, as it were, a spiritually bigger heart?  The answer lies in God's own heart, and in our growing discovery thereof.  "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).  That is, the better we know our Heavenly Father's disposition toward goodness, the more such glory shines upon, within, and through us.  Our own hearts grow as our see more clearly the vastness of God's heart.  A long eternity will not allow us to completely search out the reaches of "the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19).  Our journey into the heart of God will take forever, ever enlarging us as we venture into the wonder that is our God - "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 145:3).

    The best thing our Lord could do for us is to make us like Himself in character, nature, and way.  No grace compares with this wonder of knowing love not only directed toward us, but bestowed within us by God's indwelling presence.  "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).  His trusting children in Christ exist to serve as the temple of His goodness received, known, and expressed to others.  Such grace requires an increasingly enlarged heart, as experienced by our increasingly enlarged discovery of the good and great heart  of God...

"We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
(I John 3:2)
"Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."
(Hebrews 12:1-2)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "Beloved now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
(I John 3:2)

Friday, August 15, 2014

"Empty Hands, Clinging"

   "Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him" (Ephesians 3:11-12).

    So long as we come to God through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, we may always approach the throne so rightly termed "the throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16).

    In times of faithfulness, we must come to God not by our own merits, but by those of Christ.  In times of unfaithfulness, we still may come to God, so long as we approach with a repentant, trusting heart fixed upon the Lord Jesus atoning and high priestly work on our behalf.  Always by, through, and because of our Savior - nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.  Or, as the hymn writer so beautifully penned, "Nothing in my hands I bring, only to Thy cross I cling."

    Such breathtaking grace makes possible a life of consistent fellowship with God.  The same grace also motivates and empowers our response to His invitation that we walk with Him in faith and faithfulness.  Indeed, the more we avail ourselves of our "access with confidence by the faith of Him," the more the Holy Spirit convinces and empowers our hearts to trust and obey God.  "I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only" (Psalm 71:16).  "I will go" declares the Psalmist of his walk with God.  He also confesses, however, that the Lord's strength makes possible the journey, a strength that enables by focus upon the "Thine only" righteousness of God.

    We require the grace of the Lord Jesus for the living of our Christian lives no less than for the forgiveness and newness of life that began our relationship with God.  We keep our hands empty of our own merits, as it were, so they we may cling ever more securely to the cross of Christ.  Or, as the writer of Hebrews so beautifully described the availing of ourselves to the Power that enables our faith and faithfulness…

"Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith."
(Hebrews 12:1-2).
"By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly they they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
(I Corinthians 15:10)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
(Psalm 150:6)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

”Lovers of God, Lovers of People"

   "Who can understand his errors?  Cleanse Thou me from secret faults" (Psalm 19:12).

    The only person more mysterious to us than God may be ourselves.  We do not and cannot know who we are our what we are apart from the light of His Word, as personally applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

    Long ago in Eden, Adam plunged the human race into darkness regarding the eternal and internal realities that govern our very existence.  He hid from God in the trees of the garden that before provided food.  He hid from Eve by covering himself with the leaves of those same trees (Genesis 3:7-10).  In such flight from the relationships for which he existed, Adam lost himself in delusion and the denial of who and what he was.  His offspring are subsequently born in the same darkness, and thus possess no true self awareness until and unless the Spirit of Christ enters our hearts to redeem us from deception.

    Only God can reveal to us who we really are.  He does so by revealing to us who He really is.  "In Thy light shall we see light… This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (Psalm 36:9; John 17:3).  The illumination involves a process of discovery - "the path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18).  We begin life in the Light when we trust the Lord Jesus Christ.   His Spirit births a "new creature" enlivened and inhabited by God Himself Corinthians 5:17).  This spiritual neophyte, "created in righteousness and true holiness," comprises the very essence of our innermost being and selfhood (Ephesians 4:24).  We know little of such essence, however, at the outset of our relationship with God.  Growth must ensue, growth in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus that results in the proper knowledge of ourselves.  In His light, we see the light of who and what our Father created and birthed us to be, namely, His beloved children who exist to love Him and others in holy response to the grace and truth of Christ.  We increasingly come out of the trees of hiding from Him, as it were, and we subsequently relate to other people in loving relationship rather than alienation.

     The two great commands of Scripture tell us who we are by telling us what we are to do.  "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Mark 12:30-31).  Through Christ, we are lovers of God and lovers of people.  This reality of God and of ourselves as united with Him provides the foundation upon which we go forth to "walk in love" and to "walk in truth" (Ephesians 5:2; III John 1:4).  Mystery remains regarding the outworking of such truth, but the fact of it must be increasingly settled within our hearts by the Light in which we see light.

"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us."
(Romans 5:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
(Psalm 150:6)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dear Orange Moon Friends


You'll find a new piece of music on the homepage of our website (at the link below). I recently wrote music for the Lord's model prayer as included in Matthew 6. We recorded the song last week, and hope you find it a blessing.


Prospects and Promises

   The news challenges our confidence about the future concerning our families, our friends, our communities, our nation, and ourselves.  Fear sells, and the fear mongers possess modern tools to keep images and ideas of impending danger ever before us, 24/7.

   The Good News, conversely, comforts and encourages our confidence in the God who awaits us at every destination and contingency to come.  "God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:7).

   Who knows what awaits us in the future, whether personally or corporately?  Ah yes, there is Someone who knows!  "His understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5).  Moreover, the God who perfectly sees the future as clearly as the present promises to be with His trusting children come what may, and to be everything -and more -  we will need Him to be.  "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1-2).  

   Facing today and tomorrow apart from such Truth makes for an uncertain heart at best, and a fearful one at worst.  No need exists for such a dark life of trepidation.  Every troubling prospect offers the opportunity to embrace God's triumphant promises in Christ.  Does He know what is coming of both blessedness and challenge?  Yes.  Will He be with us in all, filling our blessings with glory, and our challenges with grace? Yes.  Thus, no need exists for dread because the Good News transcends any and all prospects of trouble.  As David declared, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee" (Psalm 56:3).  Troubling prospects?  Triumphant promises!  Our Heavenly Father offers hope and help in all things, calling us to overcome fear and the fear mongers in the assurance of His power, love, and sound mind.

I don't know what tomorrow holds,
but I know Who holds tomorrow
in the palm of His hand, His nail-pierced hand,
Yes, I know Who holds tomorrow.

And this is peace, this is peace.

I don't know how the road will bend,
but I know I will not go without my Friend.
For deep in my spirit, His Spirit lives,
and grace for each journey I've learned that He gives.

And this is peace, this is peace.

I know this, that wherever I go,
I'll find Him there for yes it's true, tomorrow He holds.
And though I can't tell the path that lies ahead of me,
I gaze into the darkness and the Way I plainly see.

And this is peace, this is peace.

"He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established, he shall not be afraid."
(Psalm 112:7-8)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
(Psalm 150:6)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Job - The Foreshadowing Part 15

    "So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning" (Job 42:12).  
    "Being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:8-11).

    The book of Job ends happily after the sad chronicle of heartbreak, loss, and pain.  Doubtless Job bore scars on his body and in his heart from the trial, particularly regarding the loss of his children.  He experienced vindication and blessing, however, because he faithfully overcame the devil's attempt to prod Job into cursing God to His face.  Thus, Job's "latter end" transcended by far the blessedness he had previously known (Job 42:11-17).

    We vividly behold the foreshadowing of the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ in Job's experience of bounty, loss, and the gain of greater bounty.  Glorious beyond words as God the Son before His human incarnation, our Savior shines even more brightly as the God who is man, and the man who is God.  The wounds of Calvary upon His glorified hands, feet, and side bear witness to the very essence of the Divine nature, character, and way: "God is love" (I John 4:8).  He overcame every temptation in a lifetime of ongoing challenge.  Thus, "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).  As with Job, His latter end is more blessed than His previous glory, a wondrous thing to suggest about an infinite Being - "Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh" (I Timothy 3:16).

   Had we known Job before his trial, we would have considered him a man greatly blessed.  After his trial, however, we would have been far more impressed by a man not only blessed, but also illuminated by an inner glory that only comes through great challenge.  As Job himself confessed to the Lord, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seethe Thee" (Job 42:5).    In similar manner, the Lord so glorious before His earthly life, death, and resurrection now thrills us far more because He will forever reign as the crucified, risen, and ascended Christ.  Yes, the glory of "the latter end" transcended Job's beginning, and in the mystery of godliness, it transcends even the glory of He who had no beginning.

"And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever."
(Revelation 5:11-14)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
(Psalm 150:6)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Job - The Foreshadowing Part 14

    "The Lord turned the captivity of Job when He prayed for His friends" (Job 42:10).  
    "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

    Both Job and the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for those responsible for much of their misery.  In Job's case, his friends, "miserable comforters" that they were, required intercession in order to escape the wrath of God for their foolish condemnation of a godly man (Job 16:2).  The Lord Jesus interceded both in prayer and in death for those who made no pretense to friendship.  "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Romans 5:7-10).

    Job foreshadowed such Divinely unselfish grace and mercy, as revealed in humanity.  The Lord Jesus fulfilled and perfectly exemplified it.  Now, His Spirit lives in us to "aftershadow", as it were, the same quality of character whereby God displays His loving heart in our particular sphere of influence.  "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32).  "He delighteth in mercy" declared the prophet Micah (Micah 7:18).  God loves to forgive - "joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth" (Luke 15:7).  Moreover, He loves to motivate and enable mercy in us, revealing the love of Christ not only to and for us, but within and through us.  "The love of God is shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).

    Mercy, of course, does not comprise our natural reaction to offense.  We rather mope and perhaps even strike back at others who wrong us.  The sad chronicle of human history, both corporately and personally, confirms unto this hour the foreign nature of mercy to the flow of our humanity.  Only the Spirit of God can motivate and enable the forgiveness that perhaps most glorifies and reveals the Lord Jesus in us.  Indeed, the same body of Christ that proclaims the forgiveness of God most confirms its reality by our practice thereof, as enabled by the indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus.  His delight becomes our delight when we recognize that the character of our Savior inhabits us for the love of mercy.  "Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us" (Ephesians 5:2).

   A final thought.   We cannot escape the fact that Job's trial ended "when he prayed for his friends."   Somehow the welfare of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had much to do with Job's sufferings, and with their end.  Obviously, these men knew little of God and His ways before the trial, and before they so savagely and unjustly attacked their friend.  Scripture does not record the aftermath of Job's intercession for his accusers, but we can only suppose that the episode must have been life changing to Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, even as it was to Job.  Certainly, the same effects of mercy will ensue in those for whom we pray rather than enact vengeance.  Indeed, ongoing difficulties in dealing with the wrongs of others call us to the same altar Job visited for his offenders.  Such trials will end for us as they did for Job, at least within our hearts from which the issues of life proceed, when we realize our blessed opportunity to serve as the aftershadowing of our merciful Savior.

"I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."
(Matthew 5:44-45)

Weekly Memory Verse
    And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
(II Thessalonians 3:5)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Job - The Foreshadowing Part 13

    Both Job and the Lord Jesus Christ experienced vindication, as affirmed by God.

   "The LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job" (Job 42:7-8).  "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it" (Acts 2:23-24).

    As Job's challenge nears its end, the Lord thrice references "My servant Job."  Conversely, Job's friends find themselves in the line of fire concerning the wrath of God.  Having savagely attacked Job's character and relationship with God, Elizphaz, Bildad, and Zophar now find themselves in dire need of their friends intercessory access to the Lord.  Their "folly" has drawn them near to judgment.  Only the prayers of the one they condemned as "the wicked man" can now save them (Job 15:20).

    The men who concluded that the Lord Jesus deserved condemnation subsequently required His intercession.  "This man is a sinner" they cried out in despite and rejection (John 9:24).  Even more, they acted in conjunction with their verdict by nailing the Lord Jesus to His cross where He suffered both Divine and human wrath.  "Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3:13).  God, however, accounted His Son's sacrifice as completely adequate for the fulfillment of His purposes, accounting our Savior as the redeemer of the very ones whose sins led to His sufferings at Calvary.  "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ… To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins" (Acts's 2:36; 10:43).  The very One rejected by humanity becomes humanity's sole hope for salvation.

    We look back on Job as a godly man who overcame his challenges through the Lord's grace and power, experiencing the vindication that led to far greater blessing after his sufferings than before.  "So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning" (Job 42:12).  We look presently on the Lord Jesus, trusting Him as the Holy One of God who saves us from our sins, and who leads and enables us in this moment and forevermore to live in the reality of God's living presence.  The Crucified is now the Crowned.  This is the great Vindication of the ages, foreshadowed by Job, but glorified in the risen and reigning Christ.

"God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
(Philippians 2:9-11)

Weekly Memory Verse
    And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
(II Thessalonians 3:5)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Foreshadowing - Job Part 12

    Both Job and the Lord Jesus Christ passed the particular tests of their faith and their faithfulness.  

   "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job 13:15).   
   "When He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously" (I Peter 2:23).

    Satan boasted to God that he could cause Job to curse the Lord to His face (Job 1:11; 2:5).  The devil failed in the attempt.  Job voiced significant complaint, of course, questioning the very fact of his existence: "Why died I not from the womb?  Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?" (Job 3:11).  The Lord severely rebuked His servant for such audacity: "Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" (Job 38:1-2).  Four chapters of Scripture follow with more of such chastening by the Lord, resulting in great repentance on Job's part: "I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6).  It remains true, however, that Job overcame the primary challenge of his ordeal.  He never cursed God to His face (in a message to come, we will consider the possible meaning of this interesting phrase).  Thus, the Lord triumphed, His word was confirmed, and the devil suffered yet another defeat at the hands of his Creator whom he so frequently, foolishly, and catastrophically challenges.

    We do not know whether the devil ever made a similar boast to God the Father about the Lord Jesus.  We know he tempted Him incessantly, both in the wilderness challenge recorded in Scripture, and in a lifetime wherein the Savior was "tempted in all points life as we are" (Hebrews 4:15).  Over and over again, our Lord trusted God in submission to His will: "I do always those things that please Him" (John 8:29).  This ultimately led to the hour just before the cross when He could have called twelve legions of angels to save Him (Matthew 26:53).  He did not do so, in obedience to God.  Thereafter, He entered Gethsemane, where He experienced temptation so severe as to draw bloody sweat from the Lord's holy pores.  He overcame, in obedience to God.  Finally, on the cross of Calvary when God poured out His wrath and then left His Son to die alone for our sakes, the Savior cried in agony, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).  In agony He cried.  Not in rebellion.  Thus, He overcame every trial and temptation to the resounding degree of obedience that "God raised Him from the dead, and set Him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and hath put all things under his feet" (Ephesians 1:20-22).

   I look forward to meeting Job in the heavenlies in order to thank him for his vivid foreshadowing of Christ, the lessons we learn from his trial, and his overcoming of the devil's challenge.  And, I look forward to seeing the Lord Jesus face to face in the heavenlies, but only for a brief moment before falling at His nail-pierced feet in gratitude, adoration, appreciation, and loving worship.  Our Savior overcame challenges far beyond any degree and magnitude of severity we will ever know, and a long eternity will not suffice to extol Him for the life He lived for us, and the death He died for us.

Over and Over and Over

Sometimes it seems that the enemy of our soul wins
over and over and over again.
But if we could see the truth much more clearly, my friend,
we'd see Christ triumph over death, hell, and sin
over and over and over again.

Over and over and over again.

The tomb is empty, the throne above occupied.
For Christ is risen again, from death glorified.
Oh remember when hot, stinging tears fill your eyes
the triumph He's shown so many times in our lives
over and over and over again.

Over and over and over again.

Forever draws nigh, we will be with Him there soon, my friend.
The trials of this life will be gone when we're with Him in Heaven.
Glories we'll see, majesty without end,
that sing the glad hymn, "Christ is risen again,"
over and over and over again.

Over and over and over again,
Over and over and over again.

"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place."
(II Corinthians 2:14)

Weekly Memory Verse
    And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
(II Thessalonians 3:5)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Foreshadowing - Job Part 11

    Both Job and the Lord Jesus Christ suffered accusation and rejection at the hands of those who should have been friends.    

    "Who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? (Job 4:7).
    "And one shall say unto Him, What are these wounds in Thine hands?  Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends… " (Zechariah 13:6).

    Job's friends, the "miserable comforters" that they were, could not fathom his sufferings apart from the certainty that his sins had found him out.  In no way was this the case.  Job rather suffered because God pointed out His servant's faithfulness to Satan, who took this as a cue to attack the man (Job 1:8).  Elizphaz, Bildad, and Zophar did not know this (anymore than did Job).  They thought Job needed to acknowledge and repent of his sins - "If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles" (Job 21:23).  One can only imagine the sorrow upon sorrow heaped upon Job by these who should have suffered with him rather than stoke the flames of the furnace in which Job's heart suffered.

    The Lord Jesus faced the same misunderstanding and despite from those even nearer to Him - "neither did His brethren believe in Him" (John 7:5).  I find this to be the most shocking verse in the Bible.  How could the Savior, perfect He was, live three decades without his brothers discovering who He was?   Even when His ministry began, the performance of miracles and teaching greater than all others did not convince them that their brother was the Son of God.  Add to this the largely negative response of Israel to the Lord's person and life, and as with Job, we can only imagine the deep pain of rejection our Lord experienced "in the house of My friends."

    We will also not escape being hurt sometimes by those near to us.  Nor will we escape injustice from those who should be friends.  Our loved ones are human beings, subject to the same devilish temptations that caused Job's friends and the Lord's own people to become mouthpieces for "the accuser of our brethren" (Revelation 12:10).  This does not excuse such behavior.  It does, however, explain it.  Thus, when the house of our friends becomes a place of unjust misunderstanding and accusation, we do well to recall the example of Job, who at the end of his trial prayed for those who had attacked him (Job 42:10).  We do even better to "consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself" (Hebrews 12:3).  The Lord Jesus died for those who accused and rejected Him, including those near and dear ones who possessed the most keenly painful sword because of their close proximity of heart.  Prayers and sacrifice will beckon us on similar heart-aching and breaking occasions, as will the love of Christ that calls us to the grace whereby we "walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6).  Yes, when the house of our friends becomes a place of unjust darkness rather than comforting light, the Friend that "sticketh closer than a brother" meets us as we remember that He knows far better than do we the challenge of such times (Proverbs 18:24).

"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." 
(John 1:11)

Weekly Memory Verse
    And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
(II Thessalonians 3:5)