Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Present and Accounted For"

"Present and Accounted For"     
    Is there any matter in the lives of born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ in which God is not present, involved, and interested?  Does He leave some matters to us as if "You're on your own in this one, child!"

    "And 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).

    Our Lord is present and accounted for in every aspect of our existence.  It couldn't be otherwise since "in Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).  Of course, we don't know more than a small percentage of how He involves Himself or what He is doing in the many and varied venues.   In most cases, we don't need to know the how or the what.  We simply trust that nothing escapes our Heavenly Father's loving attention to the details that matter much more to Him than they do to us.  As the Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples, "The very hairs of your head are all numbered" (Matthew 10:30).  Even if we could count those hairs, I doubt that many of us would be interested enough to tally the numbers on an ongoing basis.  God, however, can and He does.  This confirms that He is far more interested in us than we are interested in ourselves.  Everything matters to Him.  Thus, when considering our Lord's involvement, "present and accounted for" constitutes His participation.  

   We frequently reference the importance of our showing up in regard to the responsibilities of life.  God always does.  We must embrace this truth of Scripture as a matter of confidence, principle, and doctrine.  As mentioned, this does not mean that we must figure out how He involves Himself in every detail.  Such awareness is far beyond our capacity of understanding.  However, many matters do call us to specifically affirm the working of God for us and in us.  The Bible speaks to such matters, and we will find many opportunities whereby we acknowledge and apply its truth.  We trust specific promises, obey pointed commands, rejoice in Biblically promised blessings, and seek the Lord in troubles wherein He promises to be a "very present help" (Psalm 46:1).  We cannot know all He is doing.  But we can know some as the Word of God illuminates the working of God.  "Lord, lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us" (Psalm 4:6).

    We will miss much of our Lord's involvement as we "see through a glass darkly" (I Corinthians 13:12).  But we do not have to miss all.  Responding to the Bible's clear declaration of God's universal presence and activity prepares us to see specifics we would otherwise miss of His working.  "The whole earth is full of His glory," including every path of life upon which we travel (Isaiah 6:3).  As we believe the universal - "all things" - we better know our Lord in the specifics…

"The Lord will do this thing He hath spoken."
(Isaiah 38:7)
"In all thy ways acknowledge Him."
(Proverbs 3:6)

Weekly Memory Verse 
     The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
(John 10:10)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"Fearing His Love"

"Fearing His Love"     
    Is it possible to love God without fearing Him?  The Bible plainly answers.

    "Fear God" (I Peter 2:17).
    "If ye love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).

   Clearly, loving the Lord means that we obey the command to fear Him.  Many years ago, the subject arose as I communicated with a young man concerning our walk with the Lord.  "Fear God?" he expressed quizzically.  "Oh, that's Old Testament!  I believe in the New Testament and its message of love and grace."  I responded that I most surely concurred with his determination to rejoice in the peace of God's deliverance from "the wrath to come" whereby we no longer fear Divine judgment (I Thessalonians 1:10).  However, I reminded the young man that the New Testament also plainly calls us to "fear God."  He seemed to have an answer for this also, one that I've often heard over the years from pulpits and other sources.  "Oh, the word fear in the New Testament doesn't mean being afraid.  It means reverential awe."  This is actually not the case, at least in the primary meaning of "phobeo," the Greek root word from which "fear" is translated.  The word means to "put to fright by terrifying, or be gripped by alarm."  We get our word "phobia" from it (as my Spellcheck just informed me!).  I shared this definition with the young man.  He didn't seem to believe me, which I understood because reconciling love and fear presents a difficult concept to our hearts and minds.  

   I proceeded to explain that I recognize the challenge we all face regarding the matter.  "However," I said, "we must not compromise God's truth by fudging or parsing the meaning of words.  Nor must we impart our own inclinations to the Word of God rather than submitting ourselves to its plainly stated Truth.  If we misdefine 'phobeo,' we open the door to doing the same with every other word of Scripture."  The young man glanced at me with a somewhat dejected look of resignation.  "I see what you're saying" he said.  "But I just don't get it.  "How can you love someone you're afraid of?"  

   That is the question, isn't it?  Why does the God who so loves us nevertheless command that we fear Him?  The answer lies in the Biblical meaning not only of fear, but of love.  Scripture plainly declares that our Heavenly Father's devotion to us means that He always acts in accordance with our  best interests.  When we require tendermercies and lovingkindness, He applies such grace in a manner that encourages, comforts, and soothes our needy hearts.  He shows "the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:7).  However, when we require His chastening, or when He must lead us along painful pathways for the fulfillment of His purposes and our callings, He does not hesitate in allowing or even administering His love in ways that do not seem like love.  "Thine arrows stick fast in me, and Thy hand presseth me sore" declared the David who so well knew the devoted lovingkindness of God (Psalm 38:2).  The same love that caresses, as it were, also chastens as it ministers to our best interests more than to our comfort and pleasures.

   In essence, to rightly know God means that we not only rejoice in His love.  We also fear it, and thereby fear Him.  The concept may be difficult, but it is absolutely necessary to embrace if we are to obey the Word of God and rightly perceive our Lord.  In our present lives, His love will often feel like piercing arrows and a heavy hand.  Failure to fear such Divine devotion to our best interests sets us up for failure to properly respond when the love of God pierces and presses.  Delivered from the wrath to come?  Yes, and let us rejoice with "joy unspeakable and full of glory" (I Peter 1:8).  But we are also delivered to the chastening that corrects, and the challenges that conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus.  This is the love of God as accompanied by the fear of God in all who rightly perceive His necessary way of administering both the pleasant and the painful according to His glory and our best interests.

"And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him, or whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?  For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. 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 12:5-11)

Weekly Memory Verse 
     The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
(John 10:10)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Dear Orange Moon Friends

Dear Friends,

In commemoration of Memorial Day in the United States, and in tribute to those who have sacrificed so much to provide and maintain our freedom, you'll find a video on the homepage of our website entitled, "To the Fallen." We must remember, not only on this day, but always that freedom is not free. It comes to us at great cost to those who have sworn to defend the Constitution with their very lives. Certainly this vividly reflects the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation and the spiritual liberty He provides.

"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).

You'll also find a song on the homepage called "Someone Had To Die" that bears the same theme. Here's the link:



(Friends: I recently wrote about the following characteristic of God in an edition of The Saturday Series.  This is more along the lines of His subsequent way and working in our lives, and in all things.  Glen).

  As allowed by God, Satan and his demonic minions relentlessly foist temptation, tribulation, and turmoil upon the human race.  

   "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).

   Even more, however, our Heavenly Father relentlessly works to overcome devilish challenges by His redeeming presence and involvement in the lives of those who trust and submit to Him.

   "As it is written, For Thy sake, we are killed all the day long.  We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Romans 8:36-37).

    In Eden, Satan tempted Adam and Eve.  They responded to the devil's lie, leading to death and a curse upon all creation.  While not responsible for Adam and Eve's sin, God nevertheless took advantage of the sad circumstance to enact His "eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 3:11).  Thereby, glories of grace and mercy came stream forth from the Lord's heart that would never have otherwise revealed.  "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20).  The glories forever proceed as the Spirit of God incessantly works to reveal the Light of the Lord Jesus in darkness.  Relentless.

   Joseph's jealous brethren threw him into a hole to kill him.  He ended up enslaved, which ultimately led to his becoming the redeemer and ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.  Tribulation led to the throne as God displayed in Joseph His ongoing capacity for restoration and redemption.  As Joseph told his brethren after he saved them from starvation, and then revealed God's wondrous way in his life and theirs, "Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good" (Genesis 50:20).  Relentless.

   Most vividly, God allowed the devil to throw every weapon in his evil arsenal against the Lord Jesus, leading to the turmoil of Calvary.  "The prince of this world cometh" declared the Lord, and Satan indeed came with savage assault (John 14:30).  Our Savior suffered untold agonies of sorrow, loss, pain, forsakenness and death as the devil unleashed his cruelties on the spirit, soul, and body of Christ.  The Prince of life died, an aberration impossible for us to understand, and forever beyond our capacity to feel.  However, the suffering and death of the cross gave way to the resurrection and victory of the empty tomb and the occupied Throne of heaven.  God raised His Son from the dead and installed Him as the Lord of all things.  He presently works to reveal the triumph, continually imparting the power of resurrection to all who see through their crosses to coming resurrections.  Relentless.

    Let the devil do what he will.  The tomb will remain empty, and the Throne occupied.  Our Father will further His ongoing purposes.  He will work mighty - and relentlessly - to overcome the greatest challenges, fill the emptiest voids, redeem the most lost of causes, and resurrect the seemingly deadest of conditions, circumstances, and situations.  He presently works in your life and mine, and as we see our enemies seemingly making inroads, let us remember that nothing they can do escapes God's constant working to redeem, resurrect, and restore.  Relentless

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

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

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

"God… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will."
(Ephesians 1:3; 11)

Weekly Memory Verse 
     The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
(John 10:10)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Saturday Series -16- "The Cheerful Giver"

(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 - 16

"The Cheerful Giver"     
  The reason Scripture teaches that "God loveth a cheerful giver" is because He is Himself a cheerful Giver (II Corinthians 9:7).  Indeed, He is the Cheerful Giver.  We should be most grateful for this truth because all things, including ourselves, depend on the Lord for their original and sustained existence.

   "By Him all things consist" (Colossians 1:17).
   "What has thou that thou didst not receive?" (I Corinthians 4:7).

   Generosity does not begin to describe this character trait of the Lord who loves to bless, provide, and bestow the bounty of His heart and hand upon creation.  Only one true Giver exists.  He provides from the resources that originate in Himself.  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights" (John 1:3; Psalm 24:1; James 1:17).  All others who give act as stewards of that which God first provides.  We serve as conveyors, and exert time, effort, and sacrifice (God-given and enabled).  The source, however, always remains The Cheerful Giver:  "For of Him, and through Him and to Him are all things" (Romans 11:36).  Thus, everything we have ever received, or ever will receive, came to us and comes to us from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Everything.  "He giveth to all life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25).  Generosity?  The word is not big enough.

   We must know and embrace this truth about our blessed Lord.  The hymnist did, and beautifully penned, "Out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again."  God loves to give, and to give, and to give again, in perpetuity.  This is who He is, and this is what He does.  In fact, our Father so loves to supply for the need of His creation that if it means the sacrifice of that which is most dear to Him, He will do it.  He did it.

    "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only beloved Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

    No words can describe the generosity that provides not only "life and breath and all things," but also gave the life and breath and totality of the Lord Jesus to the cross for the redemption of sinners.   Such sacrifice tells us more than anything about the wondrously generous heart of God.  It also confirms our Father's determination to provide for us in this day.  According to His perfect wisdom and application, we can be confident in His promise that "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).  The cross assures us of such goodness as the Cheerful Giver continually reveals the infinite generosity of His heart by the indescribable grace of His hand…

"He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
(Romans 8:32)

Weekly Memory Verse 

       And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True.

(Revelation 19:11)

Friday, May 26, 2017

“Farewell To a Friend"

"Farewell To a Friend"
   Several weeks ago, Frances and I said farewell to an old friend.  He served us well, and as we drove away never to see him again, we both felt grateful and a bit sad.


   We purchased our 2000 Toyota Corolla 16 years ago.  It had 13,000 miles on it at the time, and by the time it became a fading image in our rear view mirror, our friend had carried us on journeys that totaled more than 180,000 miles.  The car required few repairs over the years, and although we haven't felt comfortable to take it on road trips in quite awhile, it's been great for in town travel.  Most importantly, we estimate it carried us to nearly 4,000 services in the last decade and a half, never once breaking down when we were going to and fro.  I must admit that looking at the image above makes me sad yet again, but also grateful for a new friend, our 2016, yes, Toyota Corolla!  If the current edition serves us as well as the old, we will be more than grateful.

   I've often shared with you that my philosophy of life is simply, "Show up!"  If we arrive on time, ready, and prepared for our responsibilities, I have no doubt the Lord takes it from there.  He even works in us to help us prepare.  However, we do have a role, as led and enabled by the Holy Spirit.  We determine to be where the Lord would have us to be, when He would have us to be there.  He then empowers our faithfulness, and works mightily to fulfill His purposes in and through us.

   "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).

   As I took the last drive in the old Toyota, I decided to talk to it.  "I'm quite sure that cars have no heart and mind, but if you did, this is what I'd say: You always showed up, old friend.  You faithfully served us, and in so doing, you even more faithfully served the Lord and people.  For that I will be eternally grateful, and I really do thank you."  Of course, I then spoke to the One who does have a heart and mind.  I gave even more thanks in the realization that the car He provided so long ago served as His gift to us, and to the people to whom we are blessed to minister.  Indeed, our family was shocked when we finally traded cars because they know how I felt about the old Toyota.  The new model has a lot to live up to, and I hope it does.  I'm sure it will because I have every bit as much confidence that the Lord will enable our current Corolla to show up just as faithfully as did that little red car we last glimpsed in the rear view mirror as we drove away.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
(Romans 12:1)

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Together In the Valley"

"Together In the Valley"
   We all have times when we need the encouragement of others, particularly our brothers and sisters in Christ.  As Solomon declared, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver" (Proverbs 25:11).  Sometimes we are the one administering the encouragement, and interestingly, we may often find ourselves refreshed by our own refreshing of others.

    "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

    When tempted to discouragement, we do well to remember that we are not alone in the challenge.  Others hurt also, and the love and power of Christ makes possible our own cross becoming the basis for others to experience our Lord's risen life.  Thereby we who feel weary and downhearted serve as His means to strengthen and revitalize those who feel what we feel.  Perhaps we pray for others, remembering that suffering establishes a powerful basis of intercession in our hearts.  Or we speak a helpful word, or perform a kind act that aids another traveler along the way.  However the Lord may work, offering ourselves to Him for others in times of our own need constitutes a response to the love of the Lord Jesus that reflects His presence, character, and nature in us.  "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you" (II Corinthians 4:10-12).

   The challenge is great, namely, to realize that our difficulties of discouragement call us not only to look to Lord for help, but to also arise in the determination to help others.  Rather than sink into paralyzing self-centeredness, the Holy Spirit works in us to arise and see the needs of others.  This is the love of Christ that led Him to bear His cross for us, and that leads us to bear our cross for those in need.  Thereby our Heavenly Father ministers to us as we minister to others.  We all experience similar paths that sometimes include sojourns in the valley.  Thus, we may all help each other to look up and see trials as opportunity to encourage others to embrace by faith the triumph of the Lord Jesus.

"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."
(Philippians 2:4)
"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
(Galatians 6:2)

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"Proper Preparation"

"Proper Preparation"
    "Glen, proper preparation prevents poor performance!"  The words still ring in my ears nearly 40 years later, and still rankle.

    As a young man, I worked for a bank in which I had two primary responsibilities.  One day I was called from one of the tasks to the other, with little time for the aforementioned "proper preparation."  Things went poorly as a result, and my supervisor saw fit for the brief lecture I mentioned.  I'd be less than honest if I didn't admit that I wanted to punch him in the nose!  He hadn't given me adequate time or opportunity to prepare, but nevertheless thought I should have been ready to perform much better than I did.  Again, the words still echo uncomfortably in my mind, but in recent years I've realized that the truth my boss expressed is a good adage to embrace.  Certainly we must prepare, and as Coach Nick Saban of the University of Alabama frequently intones, "If we fail to plan, we plan to fail."

    "Prepare to meet thy God" (Amos 4:12).  Long ago, the Lord called His people Israel to be ready for direct encounter with Himself.  The message applies to all.  God made us, we belong to Him, and whether we know His saving grace or not, we will one day face Him directly.  The new birth through faith in Lord Jesus Christ prepares to be graciously received as a beloved son or daughter.  Thereby God saves us from "the wrath to come" (I Thessalonians 1:10).  Walking by faith in submission to God, as enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit, prepares us as redeemed believers to face our Heavenly Father at the judgment seat of Christ.  There the works of Christians will be evaluated, leading to either reward or loss (I Corinthians 3:13-15).  

    We do not know the time when such judgment will occur.  However, we do know the today in which we presently live.  Are we prepared as believers to face the blessings and challenges that will come our way?  Have we readied our hearts in response to the Holy Spirit's working therein?  What does it mean to do so?  Have we consciously sought the Lord's leadership, enabling, and provision for this day, even as the Lord Jesus commanded that we pray for our "daily bread"? (Matthew 6:11).  Proper spiritual preparation requires that we do so.  We walk in relationship and fellowship with God as His sons and daughters.  By definition, such a bond requires communication.  Thus, we do well to begin our days accordingly.  A reading of Scripture and prayerful response of loving faith and commitment go far in setting our hearts aright for the day that faces us.  Great amounts of time are not required because our preparation involves seeking the power of God rather than merely disciplining ourselves to do our best.  But we do need to seek, and prayerful preparation in the Scriptures readies us to meet our God along the pathways where He awaits us in this day.

    If I ever run into that supervisor again, I will yet again refrain from punching him in the nose! :)   I'll rather remind him and and thank him for his wise words from so long ago (and I won't bring up the context in which he said them!).  Proper preparation prevents poor performance.  This is true in every aspect of life, and especially in our fellowship with the Life of our lives.  Yes indeed, let us "prepare to meet thy God."

"The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD."
(Proverbs 16:1)

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

“The Companion of Our Hearts"

"The Companion of Our Hearts"

    Human companionship is a wonderful thing.  God made us for it, He would have us to enjoy it, and He greatly cares when our hearts feel bereft during times of painful challenge with people.  

   "These things I command you, that ye love one another" (John 15:17).
   "When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up" (Psalm 27:10).

   Such blessed truth notwithstanding, the fact remains that God made us first for fellowship with Himself.  "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).  The deepest place of our heart exists for Him.  In that holy place, we must join the Psalmist in his understanding and awareness: "My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him" (Psalm 62:5).  Indeed, we could lose family and friends, but if God remained, He would be enough to comfort and fill our hearts even as the tears fall from our faces.  "He is thy life" declared Moses regarding the truth that only One who can serve as our spirit's content and contentment (Deuteronomy 30:20).

   The fleeting nature of humanity requires that we embrace the truth we consider with all our hearts.  Again, we should greatly cherish and value our human bonds as gifts of God to our hearts.  We should seek out and devote ourselves to the company of others.  But we should not jeopardize our peace by seeking more of people than they can offer.  Nor should we put such impossible pressure on our loved ones.  Thus, we must build an altar in the depths of our being.  Or we must visit it often if the altar already stands.  "This is life eternal… Wait thou only upon God… He is thy life."  We must choose to believe in response to the Bible's plainly stated declaration that God Himself is the truest companion of our hearts.  In the deepest sense, He serves as the only companion thereof.  The High Priest alone can enter this holy of holies that resides in the innermost temple of our being.  Therein, as my wife Frances's life motto affirms, "Having Him, we have all."

   This is blessed, but hard truth.  Our flesh longs for other flesh to fulfill us, even as Adam hearkened to the voice of Eve rather than God (Genesis 3:17).  It is deep in the race of humanity to believe that we can fulfill each other.  Moreover, we presently "walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).  The altar we must build involves One we cannot see, hear, or touch.  We must build it nevertheless.  We must often visit the altar if it stands.  Yes, God made us to enjoy the fellowship and companionship of people.  But first and foremost, He made us to enjoy the fellowship and companionship of Himself.  This is the great truth of love that must be established in our hearts if we are to walk in the light of reality, and with the Life of our lives.  Concerning the fulfillment of our hearts, Christ only, Christ always, Christ forever.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Nothing else.

"To live is Christ."
(Philippians 1:21)
"There is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother."
(Proverbs 18:24)

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

Monday, May 22, 2017

"The Five Thousand"

The Five Thousand

    "And when it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto Him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.  He said, Bring them hither to Me. And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, He blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children" (Matthew 14:15-21).

   There was not enough food.  But there was enough Christ.

    More than enough, actually, even as the Apostle Paul later affirmed, "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world with end, Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21).  Yes, there is always enough Lord Jesus Christ for born again believers.  Whatever the need or challenge that must be faced and overcome, our Savior fulfills and more than fulfills the promise of His Word: "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).  Do we believe this?  In principle and doctrine, we likely do.  However, in practice and specific episodes when more than five thousand must be fed, as it were, and when we have but five loaves and two fish, may find daunting the challenge of faith.  

   Consider, for example, the present challenge(s) we face.  Whether internal or external, multitudes must eat, while we seem to possess only a bit of bread and the tiniest morsel of fish.  We do not have enough motivation.  Our dedication to God seems to wane.  Or we must love some fellow human being who tempts us to feel particularly unloving.  We may also seem to lack wisdom regarding perplexing paths of life that lie before us.  Perhaps outward needs of the physical or financial seem to overwhelm us with the temptation to uncertainty and fear.  How will we cope with the challenges?  There is simply not enough bread, nor are there adequate supplies of fish.  In outward, earthly terms, this is the fact and reality of the situation.  We do not have enough food to feed more than five thousand.

   However, as the disciples and the multitudes discovered on the that blessed day of need and provision so long ago, there is enough Lord Jesus Christ.  There is always more than enough Savior and supply for those who will see need as opportunity to realize our Lord's "exceeding, abundantly above all we ask or think" provision.  "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24).  Let us apply this truth to the aforementioned challenges we presently face, of whatever nature, measure, and extent.  As He did on that day long ago, our Lord would have us bring our too little to Him.  He would tell us to sit down.  He would call us to see by faith His blessing of our crumbs and morsels.  And then, He will amaze us as He does what He always does when we trust Him.  "This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles" (Psalm 34:6).  Indeed, no one has ever trusted in the Lord Jesus and been disappointed for doing so.  And no one ever will.  There is always more than enough of Him, and He always acts in God's perfect wisdom regarding the application of His abundant supply.  "The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 1:14).

   I often wonder how many women and children added to the five thousand men mentioned by Matthew.  One would suppose quite a few.  But it doesn't really matter, does it?  The salient factor was not the number of people, or the quantity of loaves and fish.  That which mattered was the Savior.  There was enough Lord Jesus Christ.  And there is enough Lord Jesus for the challenge we face in this day, and for the rest of our lives.  More than enough actually, again, to the degree and measure of "exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think."  So let us present our loaves and fish, rest our hearts in the Lord, see Him bless, and then discover yet again that no one has ever trusted in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus and been disappointed for doing so.  And no one ever will.  Because more than 5,000 must be fed, and there is not enough food.  But there is more than enough Lord Jesus Christ.

"God is faithful… Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds…  And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True."
(I Corinthians 1:9; Psalm 36:5; Revelation 19:11)

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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dear Orange Moon Friends

Dear Orange Moon Friends,

This Monday, Lord willing, we will send out the 5,000th Orange Moon devotional. As always, thank you so much for allowing us to send the messages to you, and we are most grateful for your fellowship and love in Christ.

With much gratitude,

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Saturday Series - 15 - "A Heart More Beautiful, More Mysterious"

(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 - 15

"A Heart More Beautiful, More Mysterious"     
  Apart from Biblical revelation, we would never conceive of an all-powerful being who created other beings with the freedom to rebel against Him.  Scripture teaches that one third of the angelic host and all of the human race misused their God-given freedom to disregard their Creator's rightful Lordship and possession, leading to untold misery and the failure to be who and what God made angels and people to be (Genesis 3:6; Revelation 12:4).

   Again, what would lead the Lord to create beings who are completely dependent on Him for existence, but who nevertheless turn away from the Life of their lives?   Moreover, in His foreknowledge, He knew that such rebellion would take place.  "His understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5).  Most wondrously, the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, God's beloved Son, would be required to redeem fallen creation.  Given these solemn facts and our Heavenly Father's perfect knowledge of them, why would He proceed to create despite the grave realities of sin, death, and hell that would ensue?

   I do not have the foggiest notion of an answer, nor have I encountered anyone who seems to have any more insight into this question that escorts us deep into the heart of God, but still leaves us nearly blind.  We do know the book of Revelation teaches that God created all things for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11).  However, this still leaves us in wonder: how can the creation of beings that would rebel against Him and cause the suffering of His Son lead to pleasure in the heart of God?  This is especially true when we consider that human beings also bring terrible grief to the their Maker: "And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them" (Genesis 6:7).  A great enigma thus lies before us in the Bible's declaration of God's sensibilities regarding creation.  As A.W. Tozer wrote, we must always "make room for mystery" when we consider the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  "His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 145:3).

    The question we ponder seems to speak of some glorious goodness that will always beckon us to come further, dive deeper, and fly higher into the glory of God.  Knowing that we cannot fully understand the heart and mind of God should thrill our souls.  Indeed, to the degree His light about Himself illuminates, it also blinds and bewilders.  As Job discovered in his sufferings, things exist that are "too wonderful for me!" (Job 42:3).  It is enough to know that when our Heavenly Father chose to make conscious beings, He determined freedom to be a necessary component of their being.  This confirms that God is not a tyrannical master, but rather a loving Father who seeks relationship and fellowship with the beings He made.  Perhaps this is as close to an answer as we can come, proclaiming a Heart more beautiful, more mysterious than eternity will allow us to fully know.  

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!"
(Romans 11:33)

Weekly Memory Verse 
  But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
(II Timothy 2:23)   

Friday, May 19, 2017

"The Eternal Voyage" Part 2

"The Eternal Voyage"   

Part 2
    One of the challenges of knowing God's everlasting, measureless love involves the truth that His care for us always involves our best interests.  This includes both gentleness and firmness, as necessary.

    "How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings" (Psalm 36:7).
    "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24).

      In our present life, we require the loving administration of blessing and buffeting.  God's lovingkindness confirms His devotion because we rightly understand that our Heavenly Father desires to please our hearts whenever possible.  "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).  Conversely, the challenges He applies or allows may cause us at times to wonder about His love.  We may not directly question God's devotion, but difficulty can tempt us with a nagging sense of doubt regarding His perfect and loving way.  This can paralyze our walk with the Lord in those troubled times when we most require knowing His dedication to our best interests.  Indeed, the David who affirmed God as "a very present help in trouble" nevertheless cried out in anguish during a particularly painful challenge. "Why standest Thou afar off, o Lord?  Why hidest Thyself in times of trouble?" (Psalm 46:1; 10:1).

   As mentioned in Part 1, we must avail ourselves of the spiritually nurturing gifts provided by God whereby we grow in the confidence of His love.  The Scriptures, prayer, fellowship with devoted believers, and expectation of our Lord's loving devotion serve to prepare for enjoyment of His blessings, and trusting Him in buffetings.  We will one day discover that the latter way was no less the measureless, timeless love of God than the former.  Presently, however, the Hand that bears the rod feels less loving than the Hand that provides pleasant bestowals of grace.  "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous" (Hebrews 12:11).

    The eternal, measureless love of God means by definition that He perfectly loves at all times.  He never in the smallest way swerves from being who He is, and doing what He does.  Thus, our Heavenly Father always does that which is best for us, in accordance with the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  When possible, He blesses in a manner that clearly confirms His devotion.  When necessary, He administers or allows buffeting that no less originates in His love, but may seem something less or something other.  "I have loved thee with an everlasting love" declared the Lord to Israel (Jeremiah 31:3).  Thus, when He graced Israel with abundant blessedness, or when He chastened the nation with necessary hardness (as in the present dispensation), all proceeds from God's love for His earthly people (Romans 11:11-36).  The same is true of His church, and we can and must trust our Father's heart when we cannot understand His hand.  Everlasting.  Measureless.  We continue our eternal voyage in the assurance of God's abiding character, nature, and way of committed love for His trusting children…

"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever."
(Hebrews 13:8)

Weekly Memory Verse
   But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
(II Timothy 2:23)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"The Eternal Voyage"

"The Eternal Voyage"   
    There are no dumb questions.  If we need to know something, it's silly to not ask someone else who may possess knowledge unknown to ourselves.  This is especially true in our relationship with God.

   "Call unto Me, and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" (Jeremiah 33:3).

   There are, however, questions that make no sense, based on logic and reason.  One such inquiry involves our Lord's affection and commitment to the human race, namely, how much does God love us?  The Bible reveals that this seemingly most important of all questions cannot possibly be answered.

   "I have loved thee with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3).
   "The love of Christ… passeth knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19).

   "How much?" dissolves in the prophet and the apostle's declarations of measureless Divine love.  Eternal and infinite comprise the transcendent realities of God's devotion to our hearts and well being.  We can increasingly know our Lord's love, and we should.  However, we will reach no shore that completes the journey of our voyage on the ocean of His goodness.  It matters now how far we've come.  The glory beckons us to sail further and rejoice in the wonder that God's heart is set upon us.  Thus, we do not seek to know the quantity of His love, but rather acknowledge that regardless of how far we have journeyed in knowing the love of Christ, the shoreless ocean offers further exploration of His sublime heart.

   This truth bears great practical significance for us.  Nothing will more motivate us to continue in our walk with God than the fact of His everlasting and knowledge-transcending love.  "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).  Our devotion to God is always the response to His devotion to us.  "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).  Thus, this day offers the possibility of greater knowledge of God's love, and greater love formed in us for Him and also for people.  An open Bible, a prayerful heart, fellowship with other believers, and an expectation that our Lord purposes to strengthen our awareness all serve to open our eyes to greater visions of Divine goodness.  Again, it matters not how far we've come.  The journey's just begun.  We will always feel this to be true, even in eternity as we better understand that while the question "How much?" is not a dumb inquiry, it is illogical and unanswerable.  Indeed, "much" has no place in this glory of the "measureless".

   Let us speak the truth in our hearts: "No matter how well I may or may not know the love of God, I must journey further, know more, understand better, and respond in greater reception, assimilation, and application."  This awareness and attitude prepares us in this day and forevermore for the eternal voyage upon the most beautiful of oceans.  No final destination awaits us, but rather a timeless and boundless journey into our Lord's indescribably beautiful heart.

"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment."
(Philippians 1:9)

Weekly Memory Verse
   But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
(II Timothy 2:23)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"In Heart"

"In Heart"     
   "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God far off? " (Jeremiah 23:23).

    The Lord is indeed a "God at hand," and in terms of the New Testament, a God in heart.

   "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory"  (Colossians 1:27).

   We exist to be "a habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22).  Not content to merely dwell with us, our Heavenly Father purposes to dwell within us, making our spirits His home.  Sin made this impossible - "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God" - but the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ received by faith makes actual the living presence of God in us - "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Isaiah 59:2; Galatians 4:6).  This constitutes the greatest gift of the redemption provided by our Lord, namely, the gift of Himself.  "He is thy life" (Deuteronomy 30:20).

   Long ago, Solomon wondered how God could dwell in an earthly temple.  "But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have builded?" (I Kings 8:27).  We should even more wonder that our spirits exist to serve as our Lord's home.  Moreover, it does not always appear or feel to be true, nor do we always live accordingly.  For the born again believer in Christ, however, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit abides regardless of our response to such grace.  "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).  The cost of this eternal presence?  The cross of Calvary, where the Lord Jesus cried out in brokenhearted loneliness, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?!" (Matthew 27:46).  To the degree our Savior suffered and died alone, we will forevermore live in the promised and inviolable presence of God.  The greatest suffering made possible the greatest gift.

    The mystery has been unveiled: "Christ in you, the hope of glory."  However, wonder remains, and always will.  Our Father loves us so much as to make us His home.  The building of this spiritual abode required the sacrifice of His Son to a cross more sorrowful than we will ever know.  The Lord Jesus died alone that we might never be alone.  Such truth must fortify our determination to avail ourselves of "so great salvation," particularly, the remembrance and affirmation of God with and within us (Hebrews 2:3).  We must seek to requite the love of God by loving Him in holy response, and by sharing in the gladness of our hearts as His dwelling place.  We will never begin to fully understand such wonder.  We can, however, seek to avail ourselves of the gift, the greatest gift.  In Christ, God gave us to us Himself.  He loved us to the degree He inhabited us when we believed.  And He paid the highest cost imaginable to make the gift possible.  The unveiled mystery actually elicits more astonished fascination and grateful devotion as the One whom the Heaven of heavens cannot hold becomes the very Life of our lives.

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!"
(Romans 11:33)

Weekly Memory Verse
   But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
(II Timothy 2:23)