Friday, October 31, 2014

"I Get To!"

(Thanks to Jay for inspiration on this one)

      When "I have to" becomes "I get to", responsibility blessedly transmutes into privilege in our attitudes and perspectives.

     "They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame of His name" (Acts 5:41).

    A dear friend unwaveringly responds to "How are you?" with "Better than I deserve!"  I have heard him respond in this way in times of great blessing and difficulty.  He speaks as a matter of both doctrine and awareness of his personal reception of God's grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.  My friend well knows the Biblical truth that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).  Moreover, he recognizes the corollary truth that "the soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20).  He also affirms in the most personal terms that God has graced him with much mercy and longsuffering grace of forgiveness and faithfulness.  In these clear thinking and appreciative terms, we must all join my friend in the confession, "Better than I deserve!"

   Translate this into the consideration of responsibility and privilege.  As referenced above, the disciples provide another vivid example of "I get to" regarding greatly challenging circumstances.  We normally do not rejoice when suffering shame, for any reason.  Our human sensibilities recoil, often because we do not believe ourselves to deserve the approbation of others.  "How dare they!"    Certainly, in particular instances, we not be worthy of the indignity, any more than the disciples should have suffered shame for honoring the King of glory.  When we recognize God's pervasive providence in our lives, however, a different perspective graces our sensibilities.  In real terms, we remember that we deserve a far greater and eternal despite, from a far greater Source who rather receives and accepts us through the Lord Jesus.  We also recognize that the Lord fits together all things in our lives for His glory and our good (I Peter 4:13; Romans 8:28).  In such light, the disciples thus viewed their trial as honored privilege in terms of God's truth rather than merely the cruelty of human injustice.  "We have to" became "We get to."

    Every challenge of life becomes privilege when viewed through the lens of Scripture and Scripture's wise, gracious, and involved God.  In this day, let us respond to the Holy Spirit's witness that calls us to view all things as privileged opportunity rather than onerous burden.  This is truth and reality, as revealed in the heart-transforming grace of our Father's presence and active involvement in every moment of our existence.  "Better than I deserve… I get to!"

"We ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure, which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye suffer."
(II Thessalonians 1:4-5)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous.  Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
(Hebrews 12:11).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

“Someone and Something”

       It is a wonderful thing to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," and thus to know more about God, His truth, and His loving involvement in our lives (II Peter 3:18).  It may also be just as wonderful to realize that there is much we cannot know.

    "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all thing words of this law" (Deuteronomy 29:29).

    A God we could fully understand would not, by definition, be the God of Scripture.  "How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33).  We can know much, of course, and our Lord calls us to expect and devote ourselves to an ever increasing discovery whereby "the path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18).   The infinite truth of an infinite God beckons us to come ever closer, to drink ever more deeply of the Water of life, and to realize that regardless of how much we have received, understood, assimilated, and applied of Divine glory and reality, an everlasting eternity awaits to fill our hearts with "those things which are revealed."

    In both this life and eternity, however, "secret things" exist that we either cannot know, or that we do not need to know.  God is God; we are not.  Thus, He must possess and consists of realities beyond our created capacities for knowledge, understanding, and experience.  Wonder enters the consideration here, that intellectual, emotional, and spiritual sensibility based upon the reception of brilliant Light that thrills us, while also overwhelming us with the awareness that Someone and Something exists beyond every possibility of imagination.   We've all experienced such magnitude of illumination, perhaps when gazing into a starry sky, or viewing the span of an ocean that seems to stretch beyond far horizons, or looking into the face of a newborn baby, or discovering some new truth about God in Scripture, or in the faithfulness of His love revealed in our lives.  Our breath escapes us in such moments.  We shake our heads in wonder.  We may shed a tear, and we may attempt to pray a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.  Whatever our response, the hearts of those who believe know that Someone and Something speak in a language that possesses no words, singing to us more beautifully than any melody and harmony we have ever heard with our ears.  This is wonder.  This is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who joyfully reveals as much in the Light He provides as in the Light He will not and cannot provide.

   Through the Son of God, the Spirit of God, the Word of God, the church of God, and the creation of God, we can know enough about our Lord Jesus to love, trust, obey, exemplify, and communicate Him to our particular sphere of influence for a lifetime.  We can also not know enough about Him for the same glorious purposes.  The Light of God beckons us with the Someone and Something it reveals, and keeps hidden.  We require both in order to rightly relate to the One who graces us with wonder in all…

"In Thy light shall we see light."
(Psalm 36:9)
"The light shineth in darkness."
(John 1:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous.  Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
(Hebrews 12:11).

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Nature? Creation!"

       When considering origins and the physical nature of the universe, many modern scientists exclude God from the discussion before ever it begins.  They suggest that the scientific method does not allow for the observation, measurement, and analysis of Divine involvement that constitutes "science."  Thus, they completely miss the main point, namely, that all things began and continue as the product of supernatural creation rather than merely the mindless and random process of nature.

    Frances shares an interesting analogy concerning the aforementioned exclusion.  "It's similar to my caring for a pregnant woman in Labor & Delivery, while all the while ignoring or disregarding the fact that a baby exists in her womb.  I could not begin to properly understand the needs of my patients, both mother and baby, nor the process of labor and birth that will result in a new child born into the world."  In similar manner, born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ believe that the attempt to understand creation apart from the Creator can only lead to a hapless and helpless wandering in the fog of deluded ignorance.  "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God" declares the Psalmist (Psalm 115:1).  Certainly the same can be said of those who maintain that creation can exist apart from the Creator.

    "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3).

    Believers hold various interpretative viewpoints regarding the "How?" of God's creative processes.  We all maintain, however, the "That!" of "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).  Indeed, failure to strongly affirm that "all things were made by Him" means that we deny the Word of God in its very first declaration of Truth.  Moreover, the Apostle John declares that our Savior, the Lord Jesus, is also our Creator.  We cannot and must not fail to determine in heart and declare in word that the God of the Bible is the Maker of all things.  This may seem obvious and even axiomatic.  In days like these, however, when darkness abounds and "evil men and seducers… wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived," we must joyfully and unashamedly declare that creation is creation (II Timothy 3:13).  

    Frances would be in for quite a surprise when the baby she ignored arrived in the miracle of childbirth.  Tragically, multitudes will experience even greater shock when discovering they have forfeited an eternity in the presence of their Maker in order to embrace a delusion so obviously false that no excuse exists for even the slightest hesitation of confidence that creation is creation.  Our blessed Lord, the great architect, engineer, and artist, made and sustains every atom of a universe more vast, complex, and beautiful than the aggregate heart and mind of humanity can ever imagine.  Let us then declare to both believer and unbeliever alike the truth that everybody knows deeply within.  Creation is creation!  We need not worry that we cannot explain every detail of our Lord's "How?"  Nor do we need to waste overmuch time responding to the nonsense of those who deny the obvious, which again, everybody knows regardless of surface bluster and denial…

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.  Day to day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their line is gone throughout all the earth, and their words to the end of the world."
(Psalm 119:1-4)
"The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and godhead, so that they are without excuse."
(Romans 1:20)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous.  Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
(Hebrews 12:11).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"A Place of Grace"

       Frances and I recently concluded a trip to south Tennessee and north Georgia where we visited dear friends and hiked in the Smokies for two days (referenced in Friday and Saturday's devotionals).  Words cannot express the blessedness of this time in our lives, particularly with our friends, but also in the beauty of God's creation as witnessed in the mountain vistas and autumnal foliage of Tennessee and Georgia.  

      "What an odd coincidence!"  Record this statement in the category of "What I Did Not Think" when discovering the supplementary gift of God I now report to you regarding our wonderful journey.  About a week before we left for the trip, the thought came to mind that this time of the year not only graces us with the hues and colors of fall foliage.  It is also the season of apple harvest.  Those of you in more northern locales of the United States know this far better than do I.  We live in the southern region of the United States, where our climate does not allow enough cold hours to successfully cultivate apple trees.  I love apples, as I've referenced in these messages over the years (particularly God's own favorite, the McIntosh.  Yes, Mike, it is God's favorite!).  I've always wanted to visit an orchard to pick apples, but I've never been in the apple-growing country at the right time of the year to do so.  It's been a lifelong dream, and as I arrive at the threshold of my 58th year this coming Wednesday, I didn't know if it would ever happen in this lifetime.

    I rejoice to report that it did!  Several days before our trip, I decided to repeat my autumn ritual of visiting the websites of apple orchards just to look at photographs of the trees at harvest time.  The first site, Mercier Orchards, looked like a great place (it is!).  I was amazed by the beauty of the produce and the multitude of apple products featured on the website.  "Hmm," I thought to myself, "I wonder where Mercier Orchards is?".  Again, remember that this was the first website I decided to view.  The answer came.  "In the mountains of Blue Ridge, Georgia."  Or, in terms pertinent to my heart, 76.3 miles from where we would be staying for several days with our dear friends Bryan and Peggy.  Moreover, this past weekend would be the last public apple picking opportunity of the season.  Odd coincidence?  I don't think so.

    We made our way to Mercier on the last day of our trip.  Even more wonderfully, our friends Bryan and Peggy joined us to make a blessing all the more blessed.  I don't have words to express what the experience meant to me.  It's like that when you stand in an orchard of apples that both whispers and shouts to your heart of a Love so graciously generous as to not only meet our needs, but fulfill many of our desires.  Indeed, as I gazed upon beautiful acres and acres of apple-laden trees, tasting and picking one variety after another, and as I  reveled in the experience with people so dear to my heart, I found it difficult to control my emotions.  I'm having that same difficulty as I write this account of a gift that our Heavenly Father chose to give from the abundance of His glorious heart.  

   I love the line from the old hymn that affirms, "Out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again!"  He does, and this past Saturday I stood, overwhelmed, as the undeserving recipient of such generosity in a place of grace that will be with me always.  I write no more, but will rather find another place whereupon I kneel to yet again offer thanks and praise to the One who "giveth and giveth and giveth again."

"Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thy heart."
(Psalm 37:4)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous.  Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
(Hebrews 12:11).

Monday, October 27, 2014


       Under the law of Moses, the high priests were "called" to fulfill their intercessory duties for the nation of Israel.  Conversely, God "glorified" His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to serve as the eternal high priest of all who receive His saving grace.

    "No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.  So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made a high priest, but He that said unto Him, Thou art My Son, today have I begotten Thee" (Hebrews 5:4-5).

    In order to serve as the One who "ever liveth to make intercession," our Savior had to take upon Himself the robe of our humanity, suffer the most ignominious fate as a man, and then "enter into His glory" through resurrection and ascension (Luke 24:26).  Mere calling would not have sufficed in qualifying the Lord Jesus for His redeeming role of serving as the "one mediator between God and men" (I Timothy 2:5).  Indeed, the sons of Aaron offered the blood of animals as the sacrifice for Israel, blood that had to be offered over and over again.  Christ offered Himself in a one time, perfectly satisfactory sacrifice adequate to "save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him" (Hebrews 7:25).  He then rose from the dead to eternally serve as the mediator whose priesthood in the Heavenlies assures our place forevermore in the presence of God.  "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24).

    A wounded, but glorified High Priest avails for all who join the hymnist in his joyous exultation of trusting in Christ alone, "Nothing in my hands I bring, only to Thy cross I cling!"  Nothing else would avail for lost sinners other than a living Savior who once passed through death, but now reigns in life forevermore.  Moreover, He does not merely sit upon His throne, but rather actively serves His high priestly role of mediation.  Yes, in this moment, we may "come unto God by Him" so long as we seek to come in no other way (Hebrews 7:25).  In times of faithfulness, we may come if we humbly realize and affirm that His faithfulness alone provides our access.  In times of unfaithfulness, we may come if we humbly realize and affirm the same glory of God's grace in Christ.  Our Father glorified His Son - through death, resurrection, and ascension - to serve for the provision and maintenance of our everlasting relationship and fellowship with Himself.  Such blessed truth humbles and encourages our hearts as we divert our gaze from anything and anyone other than our glorious High Priest who now appears - and avails - in the presence of God for us…

"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God."
(Hebrews 12:2)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous.  Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
(Hebrews 12:11).

Saturday, October 25, 2014

“Beautiful Scenes"

(For Tom, JJ, Willam, Erin, Bryan, Peggy, Ruth, Sheree, Barb, and Diane, with much gratitude.  Oh yes, and Stormy and Sheba!  Woof!)

     Having spent a week with dear Christian friends in Tennessee and Georgia, Frances and I feel like we've been to an incredible Bible conference.   And we have!
     "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments, as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion.   For there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life forevermore" (Psalm 133:1-3).

     We dwell together in the unity of God's grace and truth, as revealed in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The dew descends when believers gather around Him with hearts determined to love God and each other.  This leads to great refreshing, and thus to the Divine enabling whereby our Heavenly Father prepares us for the adventures and challenges of life to come.  Frances and I are no doubt more equipped to trust, obey, and submit ourselves to the Lord Jesus because of the time we've spent with beloved brothers and sisters in Christ.  This is "precious ointment" indeed, and the blessing of "life forevermore."

    We hiked in the Smoky Mountains during the few few days of our trip.  We journeyed into "the mountains of Zion" afterward as we considered the Lord Jesus together with our friends.  Beautiful scenes of God's creation presented their glories to our eyes and hearts in the Smokies.  Beautiful scenes of God's Son graced us even more in the blessed time we spent with those who showed us so much of the Lord Jesus.  How good and how pleasant, and how strengthening for the days to come that will shine ever more brightly because of the illuminations viewed together in the mountains of Zion.

"God… hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."
(Ephesians 2:4:6-7)

Friday, October 24, 2014

"Face To Face"

     I write on Thursday night, October 23rd from the home of two of our dearest Orange Moon friends, Bryan and Peggy Wheeler of Suwanee, Georgia.  They joined our mailing list in the early days of sending out the devotionals, and have been a constant source of love, encouragement, and example in the Lord Jesus Christ.  We had never met face to face until this afternoon, when they graciously welcomed us into their home during our visit to North Georgia.  We also had the blessing today of meeting other dear Orange Moon friends, Ruth and Sheree, whose face to face presence also blessed us immeasurably.

   This follows several nights in the home of other dearest of friends, Tom, JJ, William and Erin Webb of Maryville, Tennessee.  Former Mobilians, Tom, JJ and family have been blessings to us in countless ways (thanks again, Tom, for finding Emmie!), and like Bryan and Peggy, have recommended many of you to the Orange Moon devotionals.  I currently wear on my left wrist a rubber band bracelet beautifully designed for me by Erin (age 8), along with a rubber band ring on my right ring finger and two buckeyes in my pocket (given to me by Erin) to remind me to gratefully pray for the Webb family.  I will, and I do so even now.

   All this reminds me of a blessing that came my way when I trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ that I did not and could not anticipate.  God gave to me another family, "the whole family in Heaven and in earth" as the Spirit of God birthed my heart into the body of Christ (Ephesians 3:15).  I didn't know that along with countless other graces of salvation in Christ, our Heavenly Father would bless me with so many beloved brothers and sisters in Christ whose lives would bear such vibrant witness of His life.  Indeed, I have never seen the Lord Jesus face to face.  However, when I think of the dear ones whom I reference in this essay (along with so many of you), I'm not so sure that I can actually say that.  Our Lord shines through His people who see, receive, and assimilate His light, and then become the lamp of His light - "I am the light of the world… Ye are the light of the world" (John 8:12; Matthew 5:14).  In that sense, I have undoubtedly seen the face of our Savior, and I rejoice to report that it is sublimely beautiful!

   As JJ joyfully stated last night, "one day we will all be in Heaven together and there will be no parting."  Days like the last few cause me to long for such grace to come, when we shall together be with the Source of our love for God and for each other.   We shall see Him face to face, and we shall see Him in each other, face to face.  As the old hymn so beautifully proclaims, what a day that will be, and in this moment of joyous realization in Christ and His blessed family who have so blessed me, I know why the Apostle John pleaded with such urgency…

"Even so, come Lord Jesus!"
(Revelation 22:20)





Saturday, October 18, 2014

“The Faithfulness of Faithfulness” Conclusion FRIDAY


"The Faithfulness of Faithfulness"


       No one has ever trusted in the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and been disappointed for doing so.  And no one ever will.

Faithful and True

There is a Heart, so faithful and true.
It bears a scar for me and for you.
And we can know
for a lifetime through,

It's faithful and true, faithful and true.
faithful and true, faithful and true.

There is a grace that makes all things new,
born in that valley our Lord passed through,
where He was smitten 
for me and for you,

So faithful and true, faithful and true.
faithful and true, faithful and true.

Forever draws nigh, we'll see His face soon,
shining in glory, so lovely the view.
And the glad anthem
of our hearts will ensue,

So faithful and true, faithful and true.
faithful and true, faithful and true.

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

Weekly Memory Verse
     And the heavens shall praise Thy wonders, o Lord, Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.
(Psalm 89:5)

"The Faithfulness of Faithfulness" Part 4 THURSDAY


"The Faithfulness of Faithfulness"

Part 4

     When considering faithfulness, or any Biblical issue, we begin with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Having begun, we continue with Him as the sublime subject.  And of the end, well, there will never be a culmination of Christ, or of our discovery of His glorious character, nature, and way.  "This is life eternal, that we might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

   "I do always those things which please Him" declared our Lord regarding His Father, and His Father's will.  Thus, to know and understand faithfulness to God, we "look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).  Only in the light of His illumination can we begin to grow in our own trustworthiness to God and to people.  "In Thy light shall we see light" (Psalm 36:9).  His faithfulness serves as the Fount of our own devotion as the doctrine and personal knowledge of Christ first fills our hearts with enraptured wonder, and then motivates and empowers us to "walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6).  Indeed, whenever our interest and motivation for pleasing our Father seems to wane, a fresh gaze upon the Son renews and invigorates - "Consider Him… lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Hebrews 12:3).

    God made us for this, to know and rejoice in His Son, and to serve as His spiritual dwellingplace.  "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:6).  Thus, the fulfillment of our very being and existence requires Christ.  We "live through Him" (I John 4:9).  The Lord Jesus must faithfully execute His office if we are to faithfully fulfill God's reason for creating us.  This our Savior accomplishes perfectly and unceasingly - "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).  We are far from perfect and unceasing in our response, of course, but the growing knowledge of a faithful Christ elicits growing trust and devotion of faithful Christians.  Our spiritual enemies seek always to distract us from this Christ-centered source and sustenance of our walk with God, meaning that we must seek always to devote ourselves to the Apostle Peter's admonition: "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).

    Throughout a lifetime of continual temptation and challenge, the Son of God walked in perfect faithfulness to His Father through the power of the Holy Spirit.  "Tempted in all points like as we are," the Lord Jesus over and over and over triumphed in faithfulness (Hebrews 4:15).  He now dwells in us through the Holy Spirit to accomplish the same, providing His faithfulness as the source of our faithfulness.  God provides no other means of enabling, nor is any other means necessary.  We therefore do well to open our Bibles in the quest to know the faithful Lord Jesus.  We begin our days in confidence of His abiding presence and working on our behalf.  We experience the blessed, the difficult, and the mundane in the increasing awareness that Christ serves as the issue of all.  His faithfulness, our faithfulness - the faithfulness of Faithfulness - the bond and relationship cannot be severed, nor can it be overemphasized in our hearts and minds.  

"I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me."
(Philippians 4:13)

Weekly Memory Verse
     And the heavens shall praise Thy wonders, o Lord, Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.
(Psalm 89:5)

"The Faithfulfness of Faithfulness" Part 3 WEDNESDAY


"The Faithfulness of Faithfulness"

Part 3

   God often reveals His heart-transforming faithfulness by His personal working in our lives, leading us into circumstances and conditions that make necessary our trusting Him.  "In my distress, I cried unto the Lord" (Psalm 120:1).

    In our present existence, we discover God's trustworthiness as He fulfills the promises of His Word in the context of our particular experience.  The general principles of Scripture must become the personally believed and applied truths that meet us along the God-paved pathways upon which we journey in our walk with the Lord.  Recall the account of the woman at the well.  She encountered the Lord Jesus Christ in a heart and life-changing exchange, then returned to her fellow Samaritans with the testimony, "Come and see a man which told me all things that ever I did!" (John 4:29).  The Samaritans responded, spending several days with the Savior and listening to His words.  "Now we believe", they subsequently testified, "not for thy saying, for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world" (John 4:42).  Contact and communion with a faithful Christ led to personal faith in the Samaritans, and doubtless to the faithfulness that always accompanies genuine confidence in the Lord Jesus.

    The doctrine of God's faithfulness provides an essential element of knowing that we serve a perfectly faithful Lord.  We must avail ourselves of God's truth, however, if we are to know God's trustworthiness in a manner that affect our lives, and our growth into the spiritual and moral likeness of Christ.  We must "hear Him ourselves" in order that we may "know that is is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world."  The principle must become the personal, as it were.  Such living experience of a living Savior cannot fail to reveal God in so powerful a manner that we not only gratefully love Him.  We also reflect Him in our own character, nature, and way.  This is the promise we consider in this present series of messages, and the assurance that we cannot remember too much or too often…

"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)

Weekly Memory Verse
     And the heavens shall praise Thy wonders, o Lord, Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.
(Psalm 89:5)

"The Faithfulness of Faithfulness" Part 2 TUESDAY


"The Faithfulness of Faithfulness"

Part 2

   Scripture continually proclaims the faithfulness of God to all who will hear the affirmation and testimony of the Holy Spirit, the prophets, and the apostles.

   "Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth" (Isaiah 25:1).

   Consistent reading of Scripture keeps our hearts immersed in the atmosphere and environment of Divine trustworthiness.  Every mature believer will attest to times when discouragement seemed to overwhelm the heart, only to be refreshed by the "counsels of old" that renewed confidence in the God who "cannot lie", and whose "faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds" (Titus 1:2; Psalm 36:5).  I attempt to maintain as a primary purpose in reading the Bible the quest to discover and grow in the knowledge of our Heavenly Father's perfect integrity.  Thereby we know Him better, and thereby we become more like Him as the Faithfulness of the Lord Jesus elicits and empowers in us faithfulness to the Lord Jesus.  "Beholding as in glass the glory of the Lord Jesus, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).

   As the book of Revelation nears its end, the Lord Jesus is depicted in the blessed terms we presently consider: "I saw Heaven opened, and behold, a white horse.  And He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True" (Revelation 19:11).  He is, and every book, chapter, verse, sentence, and word of the Bible sings the anthem to our hearts that there is Someone to trust in this life and forevermore.  There is Someone to trust in this moment, and an open Bible leads us to the confidence in God that secures our hearts even as it transforms them into the image of Christ.

"God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ… the entrance of Thy words giveth light."
(II Corinthians 4:4; Psalm 119:130)

Weekly Memory Verse
     And the heavens shall praise Thy wonders, o Lord, Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.
(Psalm 89:5)

"The Faithfulness of Faithfulness" Part 1 MONDAY


"The Faithfulness of Faithfulness"

Part 1

   The title sounds redundant, of course.  In Biblical terms, however, the truth shines forth throughout the Word of God that our Lord's faithfulness always serves as the source, motivation, and power of our own faithfulness.  To the degree we discover, embrace, understand, and apply ourselves to the Scriptural revelation of God's trustworthy character and nature, we will reflect the same.

    "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).

    Our Lord will forever be who He is, and He will always act in accordance with His being.  "I am the Lord.  I change not… the Lord our God is righteous in all His works which He doeth" (Malachi 3:6; Daniel 9:14).  Of all the virtues for which we fall before our good and great Lord, none surpass the glory of His eternally unwavering steadfastness of nature and subsequent action.  There is Someone to trust in this life and forevermore, Someone who cannot be other than who He is, and who cannot do other than that which accords with His inviolable I AM.  We have no frame of reference for such perfection in anyone other than the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, nor do we need any other.  "Thou art God alone" declared the Psalmist who referenced an infinite number of Divine virtues in his affirmation, but who referred to none that should more thrill, fill, and fulfill our enraptured hearts.  "Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds!" declared David.  "Great is Thy faithfulness!" echoed Jeremiah (Psalm 36:5; Lamentations 3:23).

    In such light, we find our way to faithfulness, be it unto God and unto people.  As we gaze into His Word, as we pray, as we trust and submit ourselves to the Lord, and as we seek to love Him and others, we subsequently discover a glory of trustworthiness that not only illuminates us, but also spiritually assimilates within us through the working of the Holy Spirit.  "We are changed into the same image" promises the Apostle Paul regarding God's greatest gift to us, namely, to conform us to His own image (Romans 8:29).  Faithfulness, our faithfulness, proceeds from Faithfulness, His faithfulness.  Thus, all glory flows to the only One worthy of it, to "God, the faithful God" and the wellspring of all truth and trustworthiness.  Yes, there is Someone to trust in this life and forevermore.  Let us fall before Him even now in love, adoration, praise, and the faithfulness of giving unto our blessed Lord the glory due to His holy name…

"O Lord, Thou art my God.  I will exalt Thee, I will praise Thy name, for Thou hast done wonderful things.  Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth."
(Isaiah 25:1)    

Weekly Memory Verse
     And the heavens shall praise Thy wonders, o Lord, Thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.
(Psalm 89:5)

Dear Orange Moon Friends


I will be unable to send out the devotionals in the usual manner this week. So I am sending later tonight the entire week at once (in five separate installments) a series entitled "The Faithfulness of Faithfuless." I hope you will find it helpful, and we will be back to normal on Monday, October 27.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Table of Friends, Table of Enemies

(Thanks to my dear brother and friend Larry V. for inspiration on this one).

Table of Friends, Table of Enemies

     "Thou preparest a table in the presence of mine enemies" (Psalm 23:5).

    We all love eating with family and friends.  God blesses us with such occasions during our earthly lifetime, and many of our fondest memories involve the fellowship and togetherness that graces meals with those whom we love.

    David, however, suggests a table whereupon we partake not in the presence of those appealing to our hearts, but rather with "mine enemies."  In spiritual terms, God often feeds us in the company of troubling people, influences, experiences, and even the devil's agencies.  We often partake of Christ in discomfort rather than pleasure.  This should not surprise us, since we feed upon the One who suffered the shame, agony, forsakenness, and death of the cross of Calvary.  It remains difficult, however, because our natural inclination involves looking across the table to friendly rather than unfriendly faces.

    No seasoned believer will fail to affirm that many of our best meals graced us "in the presence of mine enemies".  In our challenges we discovered the Lord Jesus in ways we would never have experienced in the presence of friends.  Would we have found His capacity for comfort apart from discomfort?  Might His encouragement have been so blessed without feelings of despair?  Could His light have shined so brilliantly as in the night of our deepest darkness?  And would we know how much He loves us if He had not come to us and filled our broken heart with His heart, once pierced by a spear?  

    We give thanks for tables in the presence of friends, rejoicing in the many and obvious blessings of our life in Christ.  We give thanks also for tables in the presence of enemies, rejoicing in the holiness known with seemingly strange dinner companions.  We require both experiences of feasting upon the Bread of life, and both reveal to us glories of the Lord Jesus in particular measures of provision and sustenance.

"I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
(Philippians 4:12-13)

Weekly Memory Verse
   By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.
(Hebrews 10:14)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Realities of Rejoicing"

"Realities of Rejoicing"

     "Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).

     Is this command of Scripture possible to fulfill?  Did the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, "the Man of sorrows", always rejoice?

    First, let us address the latter question.  Yes, the Lord Jesus always rejoiced, even in those times of His greatest agony.  In order to understand this seeming enigma, we must realize that joy, as defined by Scripture, involves a different spiritual substance than we often consider.  While happy emotion often accompanies joy, it often does not.  James illuminates us with his mandate that we "count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations, knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience" (James 1:2-3).  Note that James does not call believers to "feel" it all joy when trials challenge us.  He rather calls us to "count" and to "know" that trouble has purpose, as determined or allowed by God.  We make a reasoned determination to believe that "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more eternal and exceeding weight of glory" (II Corinthians 4:17-18).  We may very well feel nothing as we believe, or we may even feel the very opposite of our affirmation.  As we trust and submit unto God in our trial, we nevertheless walk in joy, as defined by the God who "looketh on the heart" to behold realities of rejoicing far deeper than mere emotion.  The Lord Jesus accomplished this monumental challenge of faith throughout His earthly lifetime, particularly at Calvary where "for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2).  He felt sorrow, to an infinite degree, but He counted and knew joy in the faith that sees through blood and tears to the truth and faithfulness of God.

    No honest believer will affirm that we have always walked in the counting and knowing of true joy.  At times, we allow the feelings of sorrow to overwhelm our confidence that "all things work together for good to them that love God, and who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).  However, we must believe that rejoicing is always possible through Christ, and we must set the sails of our hearts to catch the wind of the Holy Spirit's working in us to "count it all joy".  In order to establish such confidence, we "look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).  He makes joy possible where joy seemingly cannot be.  "In the world ye shall have tribulation.  But be of good cheer - I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).  Indeed, if we look to ourselves as the basis of joy, hoping to have enough faith to rejoice always, we will either crash upon the rocks of hopelessness or delusion.  Our confidence is this - a faithful Christ dwells with and within us to enable rejoicing in times of light and glory, and in times of darkness and tribulation.  He is our joy, and He is our capacity to rejoice - "the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).  Thus, through Christ, we can always rejoice.  This we must believe as the foundation and preparation for times to come when our joy in sorrow will so greatly honor our blessed Lord.

    We will one day experience an existence of tearless joy, wherein feeling and affirmation will abundantly coexist in the perfection of God's glory.  This is not that day.  Presently, we rejoice in both happiness and in sadness as we realize the truth of joy as now experienced by faith.  Rejoice in the Lord always, commands Paul.  Count it all joy, commands James.  Our brothers unite to illuminate true joy, as presently constituted and experienced through Christ...  

"As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing."
(II Corinthians 6:10)

Weekly Memory Verse
   By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.
(Hebrews 10:14)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dread? Anticipation!

Dread?  Anticipation!     

      One of the most fascinating aspects of God's involvement in our lives involves His capacity to transform things we once dreaded into wonderful blessings.  We've all likely had the experience that causes us to wonder how fear and anxiety could have preceded gifts of such obvious grace.

    "I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.  They looked unto Him and were lightened" (Psalm 34:4-5).

    Our very faith began this way.  Anticipating the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ in terms of catastrophe, the disciples sought to prevent their Lord's death, then fled in fear when it happened.  "Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from Thee, Lord, this shall not be unto Thee… Then all the disciples forsook Him, and fled" (Matthew 16:22; 26:56).  The cross was indeed a terrible thing.  However, it led to the most glorious thing, namely, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and His redemptive capacity to "save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him" (Hebrews 7:25).  Dread dissolved as the disciples realized their Lord's death led to glories that could not have occurred apart from Calvary's sorrow, pain, forsakenness, and death.

    We all likely have scenarios that tempt us to fear the "What if?"  Regarding such challenge, we do well to remember that the worst thing that ever happened - the cross - served as the basis of our Lord's risen exaltation and His gift to us of eternal salvation.  All else pales in comparison to such transformation of dread into joy.  Thus, we do well to anticipate that "God is!" supplies the first answer to every "What if?"  The promise that came to Judah descends through the ages to us: "Fear not, nor be dismayed… the Lord will be with you" (II Chronicles 20:17).  So long as this promise remains true, every temptation to fear and dread actually provides opportunity for the confidence that our Lord awaits us in our challenges to either deliver us from them, or in them.

   Anxiety about the future calls us to the affirmation of the present - "Thou art my hope, o Lord God!" (Psalm 71:5).  Whence we go, we go not alone.  And where we go, Someone awaits to be all and more than we need in both blessing and difficulty.  Rather than dread, we anticipate in the confidence of faith in our faithful Lord…

"I cried unto Thee, o Lord, I said, Thou art my refuge and portion in the land of the living."
(Psalm 142:5).

Monday, October 13, 2014

Empty Hands, Full Hearts

     "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5).

      In the present tense, the Apostle Paul referred to our Savior as "the man Christ Jesus."  The Lord Jesus forever retains His humanity, albeit glorified humanity, in order to forever serve as the mediator between God and ourselves.  "He is able to save them to the uttermost that come to God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25).  Christ is the God who became man and remains man without relinquishing His Divinity.  Thereby we "come to God by Him" at the beginning our salvation, and we continue to make our approach forevermore through the person, merits, and work of our great mediatorial High Priest.

   "Through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father" (Ephesians 2:18).

   This truth bears great practical impact in the maintenance of our fellowship with God, protecting us from both pride and despair.  In times of faithfulness, we remember and continue to affirm the Lord Jesus as the source of our enabling - "Christ, the power of God" - and as our only means of access to God (I Corinthians 1:24).  Our own works do not provide such confidence in approaching the aptly entitled "throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16).  His works rather paved and keep paved our way to God.  Thus, we come always in humility, joining the hymn writer in his affirmation of grace: "Nothing in my hand I bring, only to Thy cross I cling!"

   In times of unfaithfulness, we may come no less and with no less assurance, so long as make our approach with the same affirmation of "only to Thy cross I cling."  Our spiritual enemies tempt us to believe otherwise, seeking to discourage our coming to God when we most need Him.  We do our Father nor ourselves any favors by wallowing in sin, seeking to punish ourselves in forgetfulness that Someone else has already borne the consequences of our unbelief and disobedience.  Thus, we may - and must - approach the throne of grace in those times when the temptation to discouragement and despair challenges us to hide in the trees, as it did Adam and Eve, from the only One who can help us (Genesis 3:8-10).  

    Our Mediator intercedes for us in this and in every moment.  So long as we come with a trusting, humble, and honest heart of faith in the Lord Jesus alone, we may approach our Heavenly Father in the confidence He will receive us.  Upon arrival at the throne of grace, we will find whatever our hearts may need, be it encouragement, humbling, or the change that only God can effect.  No other way exists to maintain our fellowship, nor is any other way necessary.  The remembrance and affirmation of such blessed truth keeps us coming with empty hands clinging to the Savior who fills our hearts as we rejoice in "one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

"We have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him."
(Ephesians 3:12)

Weekly Memory Verse
   By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.
(Hebrews 10:14)

Friday, October 10, 2014

"The Graciousness of Gratitude"

     "May I help you, ma'am?" began our brief time of encounter.   I suspect, however, that the dear lady's response will be with me for a lifetime.

     Passing through the cake mix aisle (a favorite venue of grocery stores!), I encountered a woman sitting in a motorized vehicle.  She gazed toward the top shelf of the mixes, and seemed as if she might attempt to reach for one.  I offered to help, seeing that it would be difficult for the woman to negotiate the distance between her vehicle and the mix.  A huge smile lit up her face as she responded, "Oh no, honey, I've got all my groceries.  I'm just looking to see what they have for next time!"  I wasn't prepared for the comments that followed.  "But thank you so much!  That is so sweet of you, praise the Lord, and you are so kind!"  I responded that she was more than welcome as she proceeded to express for several more moments her heartfelt and effusive appreciation.

    As I walked away, this sweet lady's graciousness of gratitude elicited my own similar offering, to the Lord.  "Praise You, Father, and thank You for such a gift and blessing!"  A thought occurred to me, one that we've expressed often in these messages, and that now graced my heart in vivid and beautiful confirmation.

    "The prayer of the upright is His delight" (Proverbs 15:8).

    Our Heavenly Father not only desires our communication with Him.  He delights in it!  Our offerings of thanksgiving may especially bless His heart when we express thanksgiving for the truth that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17).  In the wake of the special moments I spent with the lady, I considered how my very small offer of help had led to my very large feeling of joy as known by the woman's appreciation.  "So, Lord, this is how You feel when we express gratitude?"  Indeed, we may well bless Him as much or more than He blesses us when a simple "Thank You" finds its way from our hearts to the heart of God.

    David once wondered, "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?" Job amplified the thought: "What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him?" (Psalm 8:4; Job 7:17).  Indeed, how can our prayers mean so much to One so much greater than ourselves?  What "delight" can He possibly find in our offerings?  I do not know.  Of this I am sure, however: a dear lady revealed to me the gift of the graciousness of gratitude in a few brief moments filled with a brilliant magnitude of realization that our prayers mean far more to our Heavenly Father than we can possibly imagine…

"The Lord taketh pleasure in His people."
(Psalm 149:4)

Weekly Memory Verse
   The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 22:28)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"The Wellspring" Part 2

Part 2

     If we fail to grow into loving God for who He is, as opposed to the affection that results from merely enjoying His blessings, we will find it difficult to maintain devotion when His purposes lead us down paths of difficulty and apparent lack of Divine provision.

    "I have learned in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I am instructed to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need" (Philippians 4:11).

    How did the Apostle Paul "learn" such contentment?  The writer of Hebrews answers - "Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have, for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).  In this command and promise, our Lord declares the sufficiency of His person and presence.  We need not covet anything so long as we have Him.  We can be content with whatever, be it abounding plenty or challenging abasement, as long as the promise abides - "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."  Indeed, our Heavenly Father made our hearts for Himself, to be the "habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22).  Paul learned this truth in times of God's abundant provision, but even more, during the seasons when the Lord's generous and dynamic hand seemed perplexingly still.  "Why sleepest Thou, o Lord?" declared the same David who in other times exulted, "He that keepeth thee will not slumber" (Psalm 44:23; 121:4).  The answer: God is determined that we shall know not merely the power of His hand, but the fulfilling presence of His heart.  The greater grace of the latter is best known and learned when the seemingly suspended provision of the former beckons us to trust the heart of God when we cannot see His hand.

    Abraham learned this during the long season of waiting for the fulfillment of God's promised son Isaac.  Joseph found the heart of God in holes, prisons, and servitude.  David knew his Lord in the cave of hiding and darkness.  Daniel and the three young men discovered the sufficiency of God Himself in the den of lions and the fiery furnace.  Mary's heart, once overjoyed, but ultimately pierced by the sword of sorrow, discovered the presence of God in the upper room of the Spirit's indwelling far more than in the rooms where she once lived in the Lord Jesus' physical presence.  Paul suffered the loss all things, winning Christ in the process, and learning for his benefit and ours that contentment springs forth from the Wellspring of God Himself, regardless of His doings (Genesis 15-21; 37-50; I Samuel 22; Daniel 3 & 6; Luke 1&2; Acts 1&2; Philippians 3).

   Such truth provides the greatest challenge that will ever confront our hearts.  Is God Himself enough?  As with Paul, we must "learn" this truth of contentment as known in God alone.  And as with Paul, the lessons involve the classroom of challenge where the great Teacher reveals the sufficiency of Himself in abundance, but even more, in the suffering of need.  We will not be disappointed when we submit ourselves to the great lesson that proceeds from the heart of God and reveals the true contentment of our own hearts…

"He is thy life."
(Deuteronomy 30:20)

Weekly Memory Verse
   The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 22:28)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"The Wellspring"

(Thanks to Char for inspiration on this one)

     God does what He does because He is who He is.  His actions do not constitute His perfection, but rather, His perfection motivates and elicits His actions.

     "Thou art good, and doest good" (Psalm 119:68).

    When the Lord identified Himself to Moses, He declared, "I AM" (Exodus 3:14).  He affirmed His being and essence rather than His doing.  In the Psalmist's terms, righteousness originates His ways, and holiness His works.  Such Divine emphasis as revealed in Scripture calls us to a different response to God than we may sometimes consider.  While His works on our behalf supply eternally vital substance and provision to us, our Heavenly Father nevertheless calls us to come further and journey deeper than mere focus upon His doings.  "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).  God calls us to know Him in Christ, as revealed by His Spirit and His Word.

    "Who art Thou, Lord?" asked the Apostle Paul upon meeting the risen Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:5).  Paul continued to ask that question for the rest of his earthly life.  "That I may know Him" became the determined purpose of his existence (Philippians 3:10).  It must become ours as well.  As we "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," such emphasis increasingly clarifies and reorients our spiritual focus (II Peter 3:18).  We maintain fascination regarding God's doings - "O Lord, how great are Thy works!" (Psalm 92:5).  However, we more and more find our hearts directed to the wondrous Wellspring from which the streams of Divine goodness flow.  We find ourselves loving God for who He is in the rapture of His "I AM" eliciting our "You are!"  Indeed, our Lord's emphasis becomes our emphasis, and we begin to love even as we are loved.

"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, o God."
(Psalm 42:1)

Weekly Memory Verse
   The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 22:28)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Apples, Apple Products

       This being the apple season, our grandkids and I had a discussion over the weekend about this most wondrous of God's horticultural creations (especially McIntosh apples).  Our granddaughter Emma (age 7) informed me that she likes things that taste like apples (cookies, candy, cakes).  I misunderstood and responded, "Oh, I love apples too, Emma."  Jackson, her older brother (age 8), immediately chimed in.  "Emma doesn't like apples, Granddaddy" he said.  "She likes apple products."

    I found this amusing and also intriguing because their grandmother Frances (affectionately known by Jackson and Emma as "Grannie Frannie") shares the same proclivity regarding strawberries. She loves their flavor, but dislikes their texture, particularly all the little seeds that adorn the outside of the berries.  So, as with Emma and apples, Frances, uh, Grannie Frannie, loves strawberry products, but does not like strawberries.

    All this makes me think of believers and our relationship with God, albeit in reverse.  That is, our Heavenly Father always loves us, but He doesn't always love, as it were, our products.  My mother echoed this sentiment during the formative years of my childhood: "I always love you, Glen" she told me on more than one occasion.  "But I don't always like you."  By this, she meant that her love for my person was fixed and secure.  However, plenty of occasions arose for dislike of my doings (actions, words, attitudes).  I knew this was what she meant, and I knew she was completely justified in this dichotomy of permanent devotion and occasional distaste.

    The New Testament frequently delineates the difference between who we are and what we do.  United to the Lord Jesus spiritually, we are "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).  God's love for us therefore abides as secure and inviolable as His love for Christ.  "I have loved thee with an everlasting love" declared God to Israel, a devotion also directed in the New Testament to the church.  "I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:26).  The same acceptance, however, does not presently apply to our fruits.  God does not accept our every doing, nor would we want Him to so violate His integrity.  Works that proceed from His Spirit's motivation and enabling will abide forevermore as testaments of His grace as revealed through faith.  Conversely, those that originate in our flesh will not remain when passed through the judgment fires of testing.  He does not accept them now, nor will He ever do so.  "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire" (I Corinthians 3:15).

   To echo Jackson, human beings tend to focus on apple products rather than apples.   God, on the other hand, "looketh on the heart" (I Samuel 16:7).  Indeed, to the praise of His glorious grace, He looks into His trusting children and beholds the indwelling Spirit of Christ, as united to our own spirit (I Corinthians 6:17).  He loves us.  We must also praise and thank Him that He looks upon our fruits with both approval and rejection.  This no less constitutes His love than His acceptance of our person.  One day no difference will exist between our essence and its expression.  This is not that day, however, and I'm glad that Jack and Emma reminded me of a vital spiritual truth that fosters security in the love of God for us, but also seriousness in our love for Him.

"He hath made us accepted in the Beloved… We labor that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
(II Corinthians 5:9-10)

Weekly Memory Verse
   The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 22:28)

Monday, October 6, 2014

"The Very First Orange Moon Devotional?"

(From "The Woodcock Whirl", my elementary school newspaper, April 1965)

    "My grandfather has a farm.  I go to his farm every spring.  He has some chickens.  He lives in Atmore.  I like my grandfather's farm very much. 
- Glen Davis, Mrs. Wilburn's class, Grade 2.

    First, I know what you're all thinking.  "Wow, Glen was a much better writer back in those days!"  I concur, and only hope to one day regain lost glories of style, clarity, and content. :)

    The reason I suggest in the title of this message that my first literary foray may have constituted my first devotional involves the effect my grandfather's farm had - and still has - in my life.  I not only spent time in the spring on the farm, but also visited during the summers and Christmas seasons.  For many reasons, I look back on those times as spiritually formative, particularly because my paternal grandmother was a very religious woman.  A bit on the stern side in spiritual matters, she nevertheless showed me the love of Christ in ways an eight year old boy needed to see.  When I think of her, I realize she helped to form in me the truth of how serious a matter faith in God involves.  As we often suggest, salvation in the Lord Jesus provides the freest gift ever given.  It came to us, however, through the highest cost ever remitted - the sacrifice of the Savior - and thus must be received with the utmost seriousness if we are to genuinely avail ourselves of God's grace.  "Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28).

    The content of my 2nd grade essay does not speak of my grandmother, but rather of "my grandfather's farm."  I view this as an oversight (or perhaps a savage assault on my literary masterpiece by some ruthless elementary school editor!).  I seem to have been quite taken with the chickens (again, the editor must have slashed mention of the cows, whom I liked much better).  Most importantly, I affirm the affection for a special place that I still feel in my heart today.  I passed this on to my family, to whom mention of "the farm" refers only to the ten or so acres just outside Atmore, Alabama.  We all view my grandfather's (and grandmother's) farm as a gift from God to our family.  Long after my grandparents' passing, we often visited this place of my childhood that became a place of my own children's childhood.  Something awaited them there in the 1980s and 90s, just as it had for me in the 1960s.  I believe it to have been God, although I couldn't see it - Him - when penning my first essay.

    The words from so long ago feel very "devotional" to me.  I know the effect my grandparents, their farm, the chickens (and the cows!) had on me.  The Lord certainly met me there, and touched my heart in ways that led later in life to His entrance into my heart.  So, I'll consider my masterpiece as "Orange Moon No. 1."  And, for your sakes, I'll seek to return to those "lost glories" of better composition, even as I give thanks for more important glories that came to my heart and will forever remain through the grace of the Lord Jesus and His influence on my grandfather's (and grandmother's) farm.

"Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set."
(Proverbs 22:28)

Weekly Memory Verse
   The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Proverbs 22:28)

Friday, October 3, 2014

"None So Blind"

    Like many believers, science documentaries both fascinate and frustrate me.  It is wonderful to discover the glories of God's creative artistry and profound engineering.  It is wearisome and at times enraging, however, to hear people of intellect ignore or refuse to acknowledge the Maker of all things.

    "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).

   If our daughter Emmie, the artist in the family, held an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, I would have a difficult time suffering fools who propose that her work resulted from mindless forces of time, space, and energy rather than having originated in her beautiful heart. I wouldn't punch anybody in the nose, but I might be forced to make an announcement: "Attention please!  For all you lunatics here today who believe that my daughter's beautiful artistry somehow spontaneously generated from nothingness, I sincerely hope that an antidote will one day be developed to counteract the effects of the stupid pills you've been swallowing.  Until that day, listen up, lunatics!  MY DAUGHTER MADE ALL THIS!!!"

    I actually wouldn't be that disrespectful.  But I'd feel this way, just as I do when listening to those who cannot and will not see "His eternal power and godhead" in "the things which are made."  I want to scream at the television: "MY FATHER MADE ALL THIS!"  Indeed, it is difficult to witness the often willful ignorance of those who should know better.  It is even more difficult to see the art and labor of someone - Someone - you love ignored and disregarded.  As the saying goes, "There's none so blind as those who will not see."  

   A.W. Tozer once wrote that "modern man bows to examine the earth rather than worship its Creator."  There's nothing wrong with the examining, of course, so long as acknowledgement, praise, and adoration precede the science.  In fact, no true science can ensue when the examiner determines to ignore the art and the engineering.  Our Father made all this.  OUR FATHER MADE ALL THIS!  Creation is His masterpiece of beauty and technology.  To see with understanding elicits loving awe, gratitude, and devotion.  To see without seeing, well, none so blind…

"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."
(Psalm 14:1)
"Without Him was not anything made that was made."
(John 1:3)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
(Colossians 3:16)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

“From Above”

    One of my favorite experiences of childhood involved the building of a tri-level treehouse with my friends.  The first platform we constructed in the tall tree (which still stands after nearly a half century) did not satisfy our desire for a high perch from which to look out all over the world, or our world at least.  Neither did the second, but the third platform raised us as high as the tree would allow, nearly to the top.  From our new vantage point far above the ground, we gazed upon scenes of wonder, at least to eight year olds.  "There's our school!" shouted one boy excitedly, while others groaned at the reminder of the school's existence.  Another announced his view of Ladd Stadium, our city's football arena.  For me, the horizon seemed to offer the most exhilaration.  From our perch, we could see things not possible at ground level, thrilling things that seemed to offer adventure and perhaps the promise to little boys of days to come when we would go forth to discover the world out there.

   "The way of life is above to the wise" (Proverbs 15:24).

   In His Word, God offers to us the lofty vantage point of His "way of life."  The Bible calls us from the ground level view of our existence, as it were, unto the Heavenly perspective of truth.  We see that good things that happen are not merely the product of fortune, but rather of blessing from the Father from whom "every good gift and every perfect gift descends" (James 1:17).  We recognize the people in our particular sphere of influence as those ordained or allowed by God to provide opportunity to love and to be loved.  Troublesome circumstances and conditions shine a light, God's light, in the darkness as Scripture proclaims our Lord to be "a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).  We know life as not merely a passage from cradle to grave, but from conception to new birth to glory, "the hope of glory which is Christ in you" (Colossians 1:27).  Indeed, the Bible calls us to view God, ourselves, others, and every aspect of our existence with the view that can only be seen from Above, the Heavenly Above.

    As Moses ascended into Mount Sinai to meet God, coming forth with such glory shining in his face as to require a veil, so do born again believers ascend even higher to commune with our Father in His Word.  Therein we discover His view of life, truth, and reality, which becomes our view as we respond in faith and submission.  The glory of God illuminates us, with no veil necessary as come down and go forth to declare the grace and truth of the Lord Jesus.  Long ago, the lofty vantage point of a tall tree began to teach me that life, as viewed from Above, offers much  promise of days to come, and of the dynamic presence of God in this day wherein we may view our lives in the light of His life…

"In Thy light shall we see light."
(Psalm 36:9)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
(Colossians 3:16)