Tuesday, February 28, 2017

“More Than Enough Straw"

"More Than Enough Straw" 
   Every command of the New Testament comes with promise, the promise of God's leadership, motivation, and enabling to obey.

   "God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (II Corinthians 9:8).

   Unlike Pharaoh and his cruelty toward the Israelites of old, our Heavenly Father provides more than enough spiritual straw for His trusting children to make bricks of faith and faithfulness (Exodus 5:6-19).  We must be confident of His promises and submit ourselves to His working in order to experience the grace given that leads to commands obeyed.  Thus, we view Scriptural mandates not as onerous burdens, but as opportunities to experience our Lord's enabling to do that which we could never independently accomplish.  "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.  For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (I John 5:3-4).  Upon this basis, we must have an expectation to obey, not because of ourselves or our own dedication, but rather because of God and His dedication to providing everything necessary for the living of the Christian life.  

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

   In those matters of obedience that challenge us, we must realize that in some manner, our "knowledge of Him" is insufficient.  However, sin and failure tends to focus us on ourselves.  "Why am I like this?!  Why do I do that?!"  Such self-centeredness will never lead us into the enabling whereby we experience "the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith".  Only by looking to the Object of our faith can we find the straw to make bricks.  Christ serves as the source and provision for all things, including our faith and faithfulness.  We must better know Him and understand His truth in order to experience that grace already given that empowers obedience to God.  The writer of Hebrews plainly declares such blessed truth, and we close in the light of the Lord who serves as the Life of our lives…

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before 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 the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."
(Hebrews 12:1-3; emphasis added)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.
(Ephesians 4:31)

Monday, February 27, 2017

“Supplicants… Stewards"

"Supplicants… Stewards" 
   We shop at stores, markets, and even online to determine what businesses or people will sell us.  Conversely, we seek God in His Word "that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (I Corinthians 2:12).

   Everything our Lord provides, whether spiritual or physical, comes to us "Paid In Full" by the cost of our Savior's sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.  God could nothing for us where it not for the price of blood remitted by the Lord Jesus Christ.  This includes "life and breath and all things" along with our salvation (Acts 17:25).  Our Heavenly Father made us and redeemed us through Christ to live as His grateful supplicants who require ongoing provision, and as His faithful stewards who use the gifts given for God's glory, as led and enabled by the Holy Spirit.  "Freely ye have received, freely give" commanded the Lord Jesus of His disciples (Matthew 10:8).  Thus, we view ourselves as continually and undeservedly graced with God's goodness, and as seriously and vitally commissioned to do something with the gifts given.  The parable of the talents confirms this truth of our supplicant/steward identity and calling, or as we frequently suggest in these messages, life in Christ involves privileged responsibility (Matthew 25:14-30).

   The more we realize the infinite magnitude of God's generosity as provided through Christ, the more we will respond in gratitude and determination.  "Unsearchable riches" supply for every need of born again believers in Christ, as administered by our Heavenly Father's lovingkindness and perfect wisdom (Ephesians 3:8).  We do well to expect such freely given grace, and to expect that our Heavenly Father will lead us to use the gifts He gives in a manner that honors the Lord Jesus and blesses others.  Again, the includes the spiritual peace and fulfillment of our hearts, and also the natural and physical provisions required during our earthly lives.  All are "Paid In Full" by the blood of Christ, and all are to be received with the realization that gifts given are accompanied by responsibilities commissioned.  We wouldn't want it any other way, and in this day, our Father will provide for us as supplicants, and send us forth "as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (I Peter 4:10).

"And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation."
(II Corinthians 5:18)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.
(Ephesians 4:31)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Saturday Series - 3 "Faithful and True"

(Friends:  Most Saturdays for the duration of this year, I plan on sharing a message that relates to the character and nature of God, and our response thereunto.  I hope you will find it helpful, and as always, thanks for allowing us to send the devotionals to you.  Glen).

The Saturday Series - 3 

"Faithful and True"    
   When I think of the love of God in terms of character traits, I often ponder His faithfulness.

   "God is faithful" (I Corinthians 1:9).
    I am greatly blessed to know many trustworthy human beings, that is, people who consistently act in accordance with deeply held beliefs, convictions, and principles.  I count among that number those of you who read these messages, and be sure that your example provides both encouragement and challenge to my own heart.

   That being said, God only exists in and as perfect faithfulness.  Moreover, all genuine trustworthiness proceeds from this Fount of all goodness.  "The fruit of the Spirit is faith (the original Greek also strongly implies faithfulness in the translation).  In our present existence, God's perfection originates consistency and growth regarding every character trait, including faithfulness, to which He calls us.  Thus, Someone exists whose heart and word can be trusted with complete confidence and abandon.  God will always be perfectly faithful, even if it costs Him the life of His own Son.  Indeed, if ever we are tempted to wonder about our Lord's promises as declared in Scripture, we do well to remember Calvary.  There, the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament promises that required His sacrifice, sorrow, and suffering.  Perhaps more than any other act of God, the cross revealed the wondrous fidelity of One who "cannot lie" (Titus 1:2).  God will be true.  He will always be true to Himself, His Word, and His creation.  Nothing will keep Him from this holy and eternal resolve, and nothing must keep us from flinging our souls upon Him and His Word with complete confidence.  Yes, God is faithful.

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.

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.

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.

"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True."
(Revelation 19:11)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.
(Colossians 1:16)

Friday, February 24, 2017


    Of the many adjectives that describe the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, "relentless" frequently comes to mind.

   He is relentless in purpose.  "Eternal purpose in Christ Jesus" guides our Heavenly Father's actions as He works to "gather together in one all things in Christ" (Ephesians 3:11; 1:10).  He does not act arbitrarily, sentimentally, or impulsively, but rather according to determinations guided by His character and nature.  "The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works" (Psalm 145:17).  God is perfectly consistent in purpose, and thus in devotion to the glory of His Son and the well being of His creation.  Relentless in purpose.

   He is relentless in truth.  Truth constitutes the very being of God.  "I am… the truth" declared the Lord Jesus (John 14:6).  Thus, our Lord can only think, speak, act, and relate in reality as it actually exists.  "The Lord liveth in truth" (Jeremiah 4:2).  Journey into the heart of God and you'll find no trace of falsehood, insincerity, deception, or pretense.  He is who He is.  He is always who He is.  Every outward expression flows in precise accordance with inward reality.  Relentless in truth.

   He is relentless in power.  He is "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).  As the angel rhetorically asked Abraham, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14).  God can do all things that accord with His character and nature, even as a vast creation of beauty, complexity, and wonder proclaims in both the immense and infinitesimal.  Even more, our own lives reveal the power of God as we trust Him to act on our behalf, and as He does over and over and over again.  Relentless in power.

   He is relentless in grace.  "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20).  God loves to give, He loves to forgive, and He loves to grant undeserved goodness far more than we desire to receive it.  Indeed, "God loveth a cheerful giver" because He is a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 9:7).  We must know our Lord accordingly, and we must declare far and wide, and within our own hearts that the hymnist wrote truly when she penned, "Out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again".  Relentless in grace.

   He is relentless in mercy.  "He delighteth in mercy" exulted the prophet (Micah 7:18).  God loves to offer and bestow forgiveness, to the degree that He gave His beloved Son to a cross of suffering, forsakenness, and death in order to provide freely given pardon to all who believe.  He also continues to forgive and cleanse His trusting children in Christ for the maintenance of our fellowship with Him if we sin.  As the Apostle John wrote, "we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 2:1).  The Psalmist concurred - "Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee" (Psalm 86:5).  Relentless in mercy.

   He is relentless in involvement.  "God… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11).  Creation teems with the presence and working of its Creator.  We see so very little of His activity in relative terms, but the heart and hand of God works in all things nevertheless.  In the lives of believers, He works "all things together for good", and if we could see all the Lord's doings on our behalf, we would be overwhelmed by His moving upon, around, and within us (Romans 8:28).  Relentless in involvement.

   He is relentless in faithfulness.  "Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds" (Psalm 36:5).  Faithfulness constitutes my favorite aspect of the loving character and nature of God.  Indeed, somebody - Somebody - exists who can be trusted with all our hearts (Proverbs 3:5).  As we frequently suggest in these messages, no one has ever trusted in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and been disappointed in doing so.  And no one ever will.  A faithful Heart will always vindicate our faithful hearts as we choose to believe in the perfect trustworthiness of God.  Relentless in faithfulness.

   He is relentless in holiness.  As already mentioned, God is who He is.  He is always who He is.  He will always be who He is.  And He will always think, speak, act, and relate as who He is.  He is devoted to His own being, character, and nature.  "I am the Lord, I change not" (Malachi 3:6).  Such continuity comprises the foundation of His holiness, and the glorious truth that we shall find our Lord the same today as we did yesterday, and the same tomorrow as today.  Relentless in holiness.

   Finally, He is relentless in love.  The Lord forever dwells in His unselfish devotion to others.  "I have loved thee with an everlasting love" proclaimed God to Israel (Jeremiah 31:3).  He would say the same us who have become the very dwelling places of His sublime character: "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).  The term "shed abroad" means lavish bestowal of the Lord's unselfish goodness not only upon us, but within us.  Believers live our lives in not only the love of God, but in the immeasurable devotion of His heart to our hearts.  We must believe such truth, first because it is true, and then in order to experience the reality of the spiritual wonder in which we live.  Our Heavenly Father created and redeemed us to serve as the recipients of His ongoing determination to reveal the glory of His completely unselfish character, nature, and way.  "His love is perfected in us" (I John 4:12).  Eternity will not suffice for the full revelation of such glory, and this day offers new glimpses of the wonder that is our God.  Relentless in love.

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), and made us sit together in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."
(Ephesians 2:4-7)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.
(Colossians 1:16)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

“The Legacy of Grace”

"The Legacy of Grace"       
    It was just a small matter, both literally and figuratively.  But it seemed large in significance, and in the experience of the Lord's gracious involvement and generosity.

   I like red and green onions.  White and yellow are fine also (especially if the yellow are of the Vadalia variety).  During a visit to the grocery store yesterday, I determined to purchase some of my favorites.  I began by looking for green onions.  Upon finding them, I was surprised by the more 40% increase in their wintertime price ($1.38, as opposed to the 89 cents I paid last time I bought the onions).  I decided to buy them nevertheless, and for a moment thought I might just skip the red variety.  "Oh well", I thought to myself, "I'll splurge!"  The red onion shelf is located in a different part of the produce department at the store we frequent.  On the way over, I remembered the size of the red onions, and hoped that maybe they'd have a small one so I could make up for having paid more for the green ones.  I decided to pray accordingly.  "Lord, if You don't mind, I'd love to find a small red onion today."  Upon arriving at the shelf, I noticed the massive size of the onions, as usual.  Just one would have cost me the nearly the same as the green onions - except for the fact that a bag of smaller red onions normally sold in bulk had broken.  The store therefore offered them individually, and I was able to purchase a 28 cent version!  This made my total onion purchase for the day even less than I originally expected to pay.  Far more importantly, however, I experienced yet again the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father, and the joy of prayerfully trusting Him regarding matters that seem earthly, but actually provide opportunity to witness Heavenly realities.

   Consider the details of the matter.  Onions.  A price increase that led to hesitation, but then a decision.  Prayer for a single small onion in a store that doesn't sell single small onions.  A broken bag making smaller versions of the vegetable available on the very day I decide to buy onions, and on the very day I decide to ask the Lord for His provision of seemingly the most insignificant item.  I suppose some might call all this coincidence, but you and I know better.  Indeed, anyone who has walked with the Lord for any length of time knows that He is present and accounted for as we walk in faith and expectation.  I often wish I had kept a diary of such grace over the years to chronicle the many moments of Divine provision that coincidence could never explain.  In fact, this constitutes the reason I write this today.  I want to have a record, and I want to remember.  Moreover, I also hope this provides some encouragement for you in your expectant walk with our Heavenly Father.

   The Psalmist proclaimed, "I will remember the works of the Lord!" (Psalm 77:11).  I have forgotten so many of them, although I have no doubt the legacy of God's grace remains even when conscious recollection fades.  Such legacy doubtless reminded me yesterday to recall our Father's faithfulness, and to prayerfully act accordingly.  I hope to do so today as the same Lord will involve Himself in both small matters and large.  The onions are mighty tasty, by the way, and somehow, they feed far more than our bellies…

"O taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man that trusteth in Him."
(Psalm 34:8

Weekly Memory Verse 
   By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.
(Colossians 1:16)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

“The Easy Yoke, the Light Burden” Part 3

"The Easy Yoke, the Light Burden"   

Part 3
    "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

   Few more challenging truths present themselves on the pages of Scripture than the Lord's teaching that "rest unto your souls" depends on taking His yoke of meek and lowly submission to authority.  Our Savior exemplified such humility in His earthly life by respecting both His Father and the human authority structures delegated by God.

   "I come to do Thy will, o God" (Hebrews 10:7).
   "He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them (Joseph and Mary)" (Luke 2:51).

   We understand the rightness of submission to a God whose "way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31).  But to people, whose ways are not only imperfect, but sometimes completely wrong and misguided?  History is replete with the sad narratives of leaders who guided entire cultures into ruin.  Moreover, our personal experience confirms that the notion of "human leadership" is often an oxymoron.  Certainly exceptions exist, and it is always a wonderful blessing when an authority figure wisely and skillfully executes leadership.  The norm, however, seems to involve human misuse of authority as "the blind lead the blind" and "both fall into the ditch" (Matthew 15:14).  Still, our perfect Authority calls us to respect human authorities, to the degree that our submission to God can be directly measured by our submission to His delegated leaders.  He also declares that the peace of our hearts is at stake.  "Rest unto your souls…"

    Several Scriptural insights serve to help us regarding this challenging way of God in our lives.

1.  God Himself exists in a triune Being of equality, as exercised in a structure of authority.  As those originally created "in His image", we can expect that our lives will be structured accordingly (Genesis 1:26-27).

2.  The writer of Hebrews declares the Lord Jesus to be the most joyful Being in existence, based upon His love for the righteousness that directly involves respect for authority (Hebrews 1:8-9).  

3.  Our Lord serves as the model for our own lives, both in terms of inward attitude and outward behavior.  He also dwells within us to enable our response to authority.  "Walk even as He walked… God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (I John 2:6; Galatians 4:6).

4.  If the peace and joy of Christ Himself lies in the humility of His submission to the Father, we can expect - just as He declared - that the peace and joy of our own souls depends on our Christ-enabled submission.  "These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:11).

5.  This involves both the direct and delegated authority of God.  "Submit yourselves therefore to God… Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves" (James 4:7; Hebrews 13:17).

6.  While the practical outworking of such responsibility requires much wisdom and will raise many questions regarding our behavior, the inner attitude of our hearts involves a simple truth: we respect the office and position of human authority in our lives as God's delegated rule.  Our submission to Him will therefore be directly measured by our submission to human leadership.  "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake" (I Peter 2:13).

7.  We can trust God to take care of us when we determine to trust Him regarding both His direct and delegated rule.  Again, many practical questions arise in the light of this consideration.  We will be required to seek the Truth of Scripture and the leadership of the Holy Spirit as we walk out our calling of submission.  No questions arise, however, regarding the assurance that our Heavenly Father will keep our hearts in peace as we take upon ourselves the easy yoke and the light burden.  The peace is guaranteed as the position of humility is accepted and embraced.  The most joyful Person in the universe assures us of such truth and grace, by both the example of His life and the promise of His Word…

"The meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace."
(Psalm 37:11)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.
(Colossians 1:16)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

“The Easy Yoke, the Light Burden” Part 2

"The Easy Yoke, the Light Burden"   

Part 2
   Submission to a perfect God is understandable.  He will govern us according to our best interests even as He fulfills His larger purpose of glorifying and revealing His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Submitting ourselves to imperfect, but God-delegated human authorities, however, presents us with many challenges of understanding and response to the will of God.

    "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake" (I Peter 2:13).

   The New Testament addresses the role of authority and submission regarding numerous relationships in our lives, calling believers to exercise leadership with respect and kindness, and to honor and obey authority as the reflection of devotion to the Lordship of Christ.  The Apostle Paul went so far as to command that servants obey their masters "as unto Christ" (Ephesians 6:5).  Again, the challenge in this involves the fact that human authorities are not Christ.  And we know it.  The imperfections of our leaders in life manifest themselves, even in the best of those who serve as authority figures.  However, do we also know that these figures serve as God's delegated authority in our lives?  They do so imperfectly, but they nevertheless must be viewed in terms of our Heavenly Father placing them in our lives for the aforementioned larger purpose of our submission serving to reflect the Lord Jesus' devotion to His Father.  Furthermore, He made the various authority structures that govern creation and our human experience.  Our Lord is a God of authority, in Himself and in the things He made.  He hates anarchy, in both personal and corporate expression.  "By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers" (Colossians 1:16).

    The outworking of such truth in our lives raises many questions to be answered as we walk with the Lord in times of experiencing both good and bad leadership.  Certainly if an authority mandates that we disobey the clearly revealed, Biblical will of God, "we ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).  In most cases, however, this is not the challenge we face.  We rather encounter the challenge of responding to the more practical imperfections of those who lead us (or of seeking to deal with our own human weakness as leaders).  Again, we know that this is the reality of human authority and submission.  Again, however, do we know, remember, and affirm the truth of God's delegation of authority, namely, that He places us in the particular roles of "master" and "servant" we experience during our earthly lives?  Do we realize that our service to God can be measured by our service to people, "as unto Christ"?  Do we exercise authority as those who realize that we lead as servants to God?  These are the questions, the first questions, that must be answered rightly in our hearts and minds if we are to wear the easy yoke and bear the light burden of Christ's peace in our hearts as we serve, and as we lead.

"Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God, He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded... So after He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments, and was set down again, He said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call Me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."
(John 13:1-5; 12-15)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.
(Colossians 1:16)

Monday, February 20, 2017

“The Easy Yoke, the Light Burden”

"The Easy Yoke, the Light Burden"   
   All good leaders bear the heart of a servant.  This is especially true of our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

   "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

  The attempt to be more than we are and to govern our lives apart from the grace of God leads to an exhausted and burdened heart.  Thus, the Lord Jesus call us to the rest and peace of His yoke.  While equal with His Father in personhood and substance - "I and my Father are one" - our Savior nevertheless accepts His role of submission in the triune relationship that exists in the godhead - "My Father is greater than I" (John 10:30; 14:28).  He therefore lives in perfect peace, and calls us to learn the meekness and lowliness of His nature that will also still our hearts.  Indeed, if the Lord Jesus who is equal with God nevertheless submits Himself within the authority structure of the Trinity, how much more must created and lesser beings such as ourselves find peace in submission?

   The Holy Spirit who dwells within the heart of believers also takes His place in the hierarchy of God.  As the sent One of both the Father and the Son, the Spirit of God occupies His role of submission to the Father and the Son, even as He governs and empowers our lives (John 14:26; 16:7).  A ServantLeader, as it were.  Thus, we must expect that the tranquility of our hearts flows in direct relationship to the bearing the yoke of submission we see in God Himself.  Moreover, if we find ourselves in roles of leadership, we seek to view ourselves first as servants, and to guide those under us in the remembrance that we ourselves are under authority.  This is peace, the peace that originates in the very nature of God Himself.  And this is rest, the easing of burden that results when we accept our place in submission to God, and to the authority structures in which we live our lives.

"By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers."
(Colossians 1:16)
 "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.  And 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 2:5-11)
"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" (I Peter 2:13-15)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.
(Colossians 1:16)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Saturday Series - 2 “Personal and Propositional”

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…

(Friends:  Most Saturdays for the duration of this year, I plan on sharing a message that relates to the character and nature of God, and our response thereunto.  I hope you will find it helpful, and as always, thanks for allowing us to send the devotionals to you.  Glen).

The Saturday Series - 2 

"Personal and Propositional"    
   God exists as both a personal and propositional Being.

   "The LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name" (Exodus 33:17).
   "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God,and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).
   "The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple" (Psalm 119:130).

   God knows in personal terms.  He can be known personally.  He also exists in unalterable terms of Truth and reality.  Through Scripture, He communicates about Himself and His creation accordingly.  Thus, we must know Him in both living relationship and conceptual doctrine in order to ensure genuine response to God and His Truth.

   "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).

    I recently heard a gentleman on the radio who sought to defend the personal nature of God.  "Doctrine is important, but…".  Red flags immediately went up in my mind.  The  man went on to suggest notions that compromised Biblical teaching, particularly regarding the Divine nature.  Had he said, "Doctrine is important, and…", the flags might have remained lowered, and perhaps his commentary might also have been more accurate.  Worshipping God involves "spirit and truth", not spirit or truth.  God can be known, and He must.  However, He must be known as who He actually is.  This begins and continues in the light of Biblical revelation, as rightly coordinated in minds both personally illuminated and doctrinally educated.  "I am the Truth… Thy word is Truth" (John 14:6; 17:17).

   We must know God in the personal, living terms He seeks with human beings.  We must also understand His truth in order to lead us to such fellowship, and to ensure that that our relationship with Him is spiritually authentic.  His personal and propositional nature demands that we journey upon the parallel paths that lead from the Throne of Heaven, and to the Throne of Heaven.  Removing a foot from either path gravely imperils our walk with the Lord "in spirit and in truth".  Indeed, we must know Him by the Holy Spirit's enlivening of our hearts.  And we must understand His truth by the Bible's enlightening of our minds.

"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened."
(Ephesians 1:15-18)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46:1)

Friday, February 17, 2017

"Friend or Foe?"

"Friend or Foe?"   
   Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have friends that appear to be enemies.

   "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

   Our Lord is always with His trusting children in Christ.  But He is "very" with us in our challenges.  Thus, pain, difficulty, loss, and trouble of all sorts offer the knowledge and experience of our Lord's loving involvement that more pleasurable times cannot provide.  Of course, this is not to minimize the blessings of life, nor to suggest that God does not work through them.  He does, to the degree that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).  Our Lord loves to please us with bestowals of grace that foster and further a faithful walk with Him.  In this present lifetime, however, a trouble free walk would gravely damage our awareness of need for the Lord Jesus.  Moreover, the "very present help" that meets us in difficulty would have no place to rest in hearts free of care.  "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart" (Psalm 34:18).

   Presently, trouble serves as a friend that appears to be a foe.  It may in fact be an enemy.  However, anything that presses us to seek our Heavenly Father in a manner we would not have considered ultimately serves us.  The Apostle Paul testified accordingly: "I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (II Corinthians 12:10).  Let us acknowledge the challenging, but obvious Biblical truth.  None of us would have come to the Lord Jesus had our lives been pain free, and without trouble.  Nor will any of us continue to faithfully walk with Him apart from great challenge.  Thus, the adversity that seems like an adversary actually serves as an ally when we see it for what it is, namely, a God-determined or allowed difficulty that provides opportunity to know His "very present help in trouble".  This is the glory of the Gospel, and of the Gospel's Christ.  Our Savior is so good, so great, so present, and so involved in our lives that both friend and foe ultimately serve Him, and us...

"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies."
(Psalm 23:5)
"Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I have kept Thy word."
 (Psalm 119:67).

Weekly Memory Verse 
   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)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Working In, Working Out"

"Working In, Working Out"   
   "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).  Few promises of Scripture more prepare and enable born again believers to the life of faith and faithfulness to which our Heavenly Father calls us.  We must have confidence in our Lord's active involvement if we are to properly respond to Him, even as the Lord Jesus Christ described His earthly life: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17).  The indwelling Holy Spirit empowers us to "work out your own salvation" as the fruit of God working such grace in us (Philippians 2:12).

    Do we believe the promise?  Note that Paul does not qualify the fact of the Lord's working in us of a life that pleases Him.  God is acting accordingly.  Our experience, however, may ebb and flow in accordance with whether or not we trust the Word of God regarding the work of God.  Recall that during His ministry, the Lord Jesus found His own home country a place of distrust, and thus, of limited display of His power: "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (Matthew 13:58).  The same can be true in our lives if we do not believe the plainly stated truth of Scripture regarding the Holy Spirit's active working in us.  We are now the Lord's "home country", as it were, and the display of His ability to lead us to a life whereby we please our Father requires our trusting engagement and submission to His truth.

   The spirits of born again believers teem with the indwelling and abundant life of "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).  Our Lord is not merely sitting on a throne in our hearts.  He rather "walks" in us (II Corinthians 6:16).  The truth is true, regardless of whether we see or understand the freely given gift of such involvement.  We therefore do well to build an altar in our hearts if we have never done so, a place of grace whereupon we sacrifice ignorance and unbelief regarding the promise of God's working in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.  If we have already built the altar, we will at times need to return to remember and reaffirm the truth we have embraced.  The Lord Jesus promised "life more abundant" to all who believe (John 10:10).  He then suffered, died, rose again, returned to Heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to indwell the church with the power of God.  Such enabling to please our Father resides in all of us in a spiritual vibrancy and measure "exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).  No greater tragedy can occur than the failure to access such promise and power by faith.  God is working in us.  Nothing changes this blessed truth.  Our experience of such grace, however, requires our chosen confidence if it is to be said of us as it should, as it must: "He did many mighty works there because of their belief."

"By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
(I Corinthians 15:10)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   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)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"Your Father's Good Pleasure"

I The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…

"Your Father's Good Pleasure"   
   One of the great joys of life involves knowing that we possess the means and capacity to please our loved ones.  Their smiles and grateful response provide some of the best experiences of our lives, confirming the words of the Lord Jesus Christ - "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

   Our Savior not only spoke the words, but even more, lived in devotion to the true joy to our hearts.  He also died that we might know the living God in such personal terms that we find our pleasure in Him and in the gifts He gives.  Our Heavenly Father possesses the capacity to please His loved ones.  One of the great joys of His life involves administering His generosity, even as the Lord Jesus told His disciples: "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).  Thus, we realize that any sensibility of joy we find in giving originates in the One who "giveth to all life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25).  We must perceive our Lord in these terms in order to rightly relate to Him, and to trust Him in a manner that positions our hearts to receive and enjoy His gracious generosity.

   Of course, we must also be grateful that God administers His abundance in perfect wisdom.  Again, He gives that which elicits "true joy" in us.  Some gifts, while providing temporary happiness, might actually cause great harm to our spiritual well being.  Our Father purposes to conform us to the spiritual and moral image of the Lord Jesus because this alone constitutes genuine life, peace, and joy.  The writer of Hebrews declares our Savior to be "anointed with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows" (Hebrews 1:9).  Therefore, to the degree we grow in Christlikeness will be the degree to which we grow in genuine joy.  God's administration of His abundance flows with the current of this purpose, and is itself the most generous gift He freely gives to trusting hearts.  We thus expect our Father's pleasure in providing for us, but always in accordance with our best interests, namely, the Christlikeness that results from receiving God's perfectly administered grace.

   Whatever joy we find in receiving our Heavenly Father's provision pales in comparison to the joy He finds in giving.  Indeed, the truth that "It is more blessed to give than to receive" originates in the heart of God Himself.  This is who He is as the love that seeks to benefit of others rather than itself (I Corinthians 13:5).  Our own pleasure in pleasing loved ones begins in God.  We must know Him thusly in order to know Him rightly, and to respond in the reception that not only pleases us, but changes us.

"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God."
(I Corinthians 2:12)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   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)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"Quietness and Confidence"

"Quietness and Confidence"   
   Excitement can be a wonderful thing, as led, motivated, and tempered by the Holy Spirit.

   "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth" (Proverbs 28:7).

   Stirred emotions, however, can also lead us down paths of destruction.  This is especially true regarding spiritual matters.  Emotional stimulation can be a deceiver.  Our spiritual enemies are not above tempting us with deceptions about God and Truth that excite us while misleading us.  The carnal Corinthian believers were clearly thrilled by experiences that seemed valid, but which actually revealed their immaturity and ignorance (I Corinthians 14:12).  The Bible calls us to live "by faith" rather than by excitement (Roman 1:17).  Elation can accompany genuine spiritual experience of God and His ways.  However, this is not the norm.  Most of our Christian experience involves no feeling whatsoever.  Troubled emotions also frequently characterize our walk with the Lord.  This is exactly what we would expect in a life lived by faith in a God whose working in our lives so often occurs beyond the scope of our awareness and understanding.  Spiritual stability requires the capacity for reasoned, Biblically-based thought and decision.  "Let us watch and be sober" (I Thessalonians 5:6).  Excitement often does not coincide with such deliberation, and may in fact greatly hinder it.  Personally, I wouldn't enter a building designed by an architect who I knew to be greatly excited when he designed the blueprints for the structure.  Nor do I expect that my best moments of faith and faithfulness will occur when I'm thrilled rather than temperate.  "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength" (Isaiah 30:15).

   Certainly Heaven will often sound and resound with sounds of joyful elation, elicited by the goodness and greatness of God.  However, I also anticipate much quietness of contemplation among the saints in eternity.  Both aspects of our Lord's working in our hearts will be perfectly guided by the Holy Spirit.  Presently, we have our moments of genuine and beneficial excitement for which we give many thanks.  Moderation of emotion, however, will guide most of our walk with the Lord as the Holy Spirit leads us in the self-control that necessarily emphasizes thought rather than feeling.  Few truths more prepare us for the Christian life as it actually is, and for walking with our Lord in the peace not dependent on emotion, but on Truth.

"The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever."
(Isaiah 32:17)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   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)

Monday, February 13, 2017

"Sensory Deprivation"

"Sensory Deprivation"   
   Regarding spiritual realities, we lead a largely sensory deprived life.

   "We walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).

   Most of God's doings in the universe and in our lives take place without our awareness.  "In Him we live and move and have our being" declared the Apostle Paul of the infinite, eternal God whose existence is so vast that "the Heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee" (Acts 17:28; I Kings 8:27).  Moreover, the Lord "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11).  Creation teems with the presence and activity of the Creator as He "upholds all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3).  Again, however, we see so very little of God's infinite and intimate involvement, to the degree that even the most godly among us barely gaze upon the hem of His garment.

   Such relative blindness is necessary in our present existence.  Too much sight and sound would distract us from our Heavenly Father's primary purpose regarding our hearts, and more importantly, His heart.  Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ involves the revelation of His doings on our behalf, for which we rightly give thanks and rejoice.  However, walking with God far more unveils the character and nature of His being, and the transformation thereby of our own character and nature.  "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).  "Who art Thou, Lord?" asked Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus (Acts 22:18).  The rest of the man's life and eternity involved the answer to that wisest of all questions, including the transformation of his own heart to the degree that Saul of Tarsus became Paul of Christ.  The Apostle discovered much of God's mighty hand after his conversion.  He reported the blessed truth thereof.  However, Paul's life and writings tell us far more about who God is.  Our brother escorted us into the very heart the Lord Jesus, a journey into glories revealed not by sight and sound, but rather by the unseen Spirit of God.  

    Let us be sure that we understand this Divine emphasis that makes necessary the largely sensory deprived life of the Spirit.  The God and Father of the Lord Jesus calls us into His heart for the only fulfillment that exists for our hearts.  "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).  The holy venture and adventure requires that we see, hear, and touch only enough to join Paul in asking the question he still doubtless addresses to our infinite God.  "Who art Thou, Lord?"  Eternity will not suffice in fully providing the answer, but this day can shine a bit more light upon God's heart, and into our hearts as we walk by faith, not by sight.

"The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
(Proverbs 4:18)
"He (Moses) endured, as seeing Him who is invisible."
(Hebrews 11:27)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   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)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Saturday Series 1 "Goodness and Greatness In Creation"

(Friends: Today begins what I am calling "The Saturday Series".  Most Saturdays for the duration of this year, I plan on sharing a message that relates to the character and nature of God, and our response thereunto.  I hope you will find it helpful, and as always, thanks for allowing us to send the devotionals to you.  Glen).

The Saturday Series - 1 

"Goodness and Greatness In Creation"    
   In the first verse of the Bible, God's reveals a primary ability, namely, His creativity.  We also see by implication the primary truth of His character and nature, namely, of love.

   "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).
   "God is love" (I John 4:8).

   Scripture presupposes the existence of God in its first literary ray of light.  The writer makes no effort to affirm or defend the fact of the Maker.  Genesis rather speaks in its first statement to an action of God, namely, His origination of the physical universe.  Someone exists who is greater than creation.  In light of the vastness of the universe, along with its complexity and beauty, the Bible opens by revealing a Being of wondrous wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and power.  

   "His understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5).
   "How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33).
   "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).

   We will forever consider the indescribable creativity of the Maker of all things.  However, in the first verse of Genesis as amplified by the entirety of Scripture, we also see a display of winsome character beyond all imagining.  God made something other than Himself despite the fact that He is perfectly fulfilled in Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Acts 17:25).  He made angels, the universe, and human beings not because of need, but rather because of desire.  "Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11).  Moreover, God's finds His pleasure not in pleasing Himself, but rather in meeting the needs and fulfilling the desires of others.  "Charity (love) seeketh not her own" (I Corinthians 13:5).  Thus, God made something other than Himself for the pleasure of bestowing His goodness to others who exist for the reception, enjoyment, and revelation of His loving unselfishness.  

   Sin entered the angelic, universal, and human equations, thus injecting darkness and chaos into the reception of the Lord's goodness.  In the foreknowledge of His infinite understanding, God was well aware that this would happen.  Even more, He knew that the presence of sin in creation would ultimately require His Son to suffer and die as a part of creation.  He also knew that He would have to smite His Beloved with wrath and forsakenness in order to redeem creation from the ravages of unrighteousness.  He nevertheless chose to create.  No words can suffice to describe the character and heart of One who would purpose and execute such a determination.  As wondrous as it is to consider the power of God in creation, the love He exercised thereby surpasses such greatness.  Again, God chose to create in the full knowledge that doing so would lead to the savage murder of His beloved Son, and to His own execution of wrath upon the Lord Jesus for the benefit of those whom He made, and who rejected Him.  Thus, we see marvelous greatness as the Bible opens in Genesis 1:1.  But in the full light of Scripture, we see merciful goodness even more.

"The Lord is good to all, and His tendermercies are over all His works."
(Psalm 145:9)
"Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain."
(Acts 2:23)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46:1)