Friday, September 28, 2018

"From Salvation" Part 2

"From Salvation"

Part 2

     When we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God changes the very essence and being of who we most deeply are.  To live "from salvation" and in the power of its grace, we must know such Truth to be true.

     "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.  Old things are passed away.  Behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17).

     The "old" and the "new" involve...

     Before Christ, we were "alienated from the life of God."  Now we are "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 4:18; 1:6).
     Before Christ, we were condemned.  Now we are forgiven (John 3:18; I John 2:12).
     Before Christ, we were "without God."  How He lives within us, through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:12; I Corinthians 3:16).
     Before Christ, we were "servants of sin."  Now we are "servants to God" (Romans 6:17; 22).
     Before Christ, we were darkness.  Now we are "light in the Lord" (Ephesians 5:8).

    The list could go on, including the Apostle Paul's command that calls us to decisively affirm the fundamental change that happens in the very heart of all who believe: "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).  We have "passed from death unto life" in the part of us that is the very heart of us: "So then with the mind, I myself serve the law of God.  But with the flesh, the law of sin" (John 5:22; Romans 7:22).

    Some aspects of our being, however, presently remain the same in our initial conversion.  The members and faculties we inherited from Adam, while becoming the "purchased possession" of God, nevertheless do not experience His direct presence as does the innermost temple of our spirit (Ephesians 1:14).  Our flesh remains our flesh, to the degree that Paul wrote, "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin" (Romans 8:10).  The Apostle also confessed, "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18).  Thus, we can and do sometimes think, speak, act, and relate as who we were without Christ.  We can walk in the flesh despite the fact that our innermost being is "in the spirit" (Romans 8:9).  Our doing does not yet always correspond to our being.  "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25).  We can be transformed swans, but still perceive ourselves and act as if we are ugly ducklings.

    The Christian life, as constituted in our present existence, involves our human faculties and members progressively becoming the accurate representation of our innermost Christ-inhabited spirits.  We must know who we most deeply are in order to make choices to live accordingly.  Again, as Paul mandated, we must account as true that we are "alive from the dead" rather than being still dominated by servitude to sin.  Who we were is not who we are.  But we can still live amid the tombs of spiritual and moral death if we fail to walk in the light of truth and reality.  May our Lord illuminate us to Himself first and foremost, but also to ourselves as birthed and inhabited by the Spirit of the risen Lord Jesus.  Believers are new creatures, as enlivened by the indwelling presence of the eternal God.  The knowledge and affirmation of such Truth enables us to progressively live from salvation, and from so heart and life changing a Savior…

"The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
(Romans 8:2)
"I will walk in Thy truth… I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living."
(Psalm 86:11; 116:9)

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

Thursday, September 27, 2018

"From Salvation"

"From Salvation"

     While we do not work for our salvation, we do work from it.

     "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us...We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:10).

     God provides salvation in the Lord Jesus as a free gift to all who trust in His redeeming work on our behalf.  "By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves.  It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).  With our Savior comes the Holy Spirit, who enters our hearts when we believe to establish our innermost spiritual being as "the habitation of God" (Ephesians 2:22).  He changes who and what we most deeply are, and then begins the lifelong process of progressively conforming the entirety of our being to the spiritual and moral image of Christ.

    "If any man be in Christ, He is a new creature.  Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17).
    "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

    Upon this basis of a gift freely received and maintained by God, we then seek to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).  We trust His promises, submit ourselves to Him, and rejoice in the blessed grace that we are "His workmanship" rather than our own.  This leads to countless acts of self sacrifice for God and others as the love of Christ in us motivates and enables His quality of life to be revealed through us.  None of us are perfect in response to such working, and we will sometimes require our Lord's forgiveness and cleansing for the restoration of our walk with Him (I John 1:9).  The relationship remains secure, however, as eternally maintained by our great High Priest the Lord Jesus, who "ever liveth to make intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25).  God's grace enables us to act and react in ways that would not be possible apart from His presence and faithful involvement.  The Apostle Paul serves as a prime example of such a life, and we close with His testimony of the grace that freely justifies us, and then progressively and persistently transforms us into likeness to our Savior.  Yes, we work from His salvation …

"By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
(I Corinthians 15:10)
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."
(Romans 8:28-29)

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"Children's Children"

"Children's Children"

     Before I became a grandparent, I snickered at the bumper sticker that offers the thrilling possibility - to both the hearer and the communicator! - "Let me tell you about my grandchildren."

    I don't have one of those bumper stickers yet, but after twelve years of being a grandfather, I fully understand the sentiment.  So, allow me to share a few thoughts with you about my grandchildren that reflect our Heavenly Father's loving devotion to us, and our response.

     Jackson, our first grandchild, is now twelve.  When he was five, after spending the weekend with us, he walked up to me as he left to go home.  He stuck out his hand, in which he held a quarter.  "Granddaddy," he said, "I want you to have this."  Jackson uttered the words with such sincerity and feeling that the moment remains one of the most blessed experiences of my life.  It was just a quarter, which doesn't buy much these days.  However, it remains one one of my most treasured possessions and reminds me of how we richly bless our Heavenly Father when we offer Him ourselves and our possessions to be used for His glory and the blessing of others.  We may not think we are much, or have much to offer Him, but in our Lord's  sight, the devotion of our heart means more than can imagine.  "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4).

    Our granddaughter Emma is 11.  Among her many gifts, she is very athletic.  She runs like the wind, and over the years I've taken she and Jackson to a particular playground where one of our favorite activities is to do time trials around the field.  One day about a year ago, Emma and I went to the playground by ourselves.  I got my stopwatch ready, and Emma was off!  Midway through her first run, I shouted at her from about a hundred yards, "Go, Emma, go!  You're doing great!"  I'll never forget her response.  I could see the smile on her face, and she began to pump her arms over her head in unmitigated joy.  Joy that became my joy as well.  In that very moment, the thought occurred to me, "This is how the Lord feels when we rejoice in Him and the blessings He provides."  He rejoices even more.  "He will rejoice over thee with joy" (Zephaniah 3:17).

    Ewan and I have a special and personal connection.  He's two, and is slightly on the shy side (of course, with Davis blood running through his veins, that's not likely to continue!).  Allow me to preface what I want to share with you about Ewan: until a few months ago, I had never performed a fist bump in my life.  However, as we were saying goodbye to Ewan one day after spending time with him, his shyness led him to a bit of a reserved response.  For some reason, I stuck out my fist, which led Ewan to a pretty quick and enthusiastic response.  We did the bump, which has subsequently become our personal form of greetings and farewells.  It also reminds me of how personal our Lord is with each of us as we trust Him and walk with Him.  He numbers the very hairs of our head, as the Lord Jesus Christ declared (Matthew 10:30).  We matter that much to Him, and He works in each of us to form responses based on the principles of Scripture that apply to all.  However, He also specifically and personally works in each of us to make every bond unique to Him and ourselves.  I look forward to fist bumping with Ewan, just as I'm sure our Heavenly Father rejoices in the particular ways He works in each of us, and our individual response.

    Finally, Evelyn, named after my mother.  That in itself is enough to bless my heart beyond measure.  Evelyn was born in July, and any unbiased assessment will result in the opinion that she is the sweetest and most beautiful baby presently in existence!  At a family function recently, I held Evelyn until my right arm became numb.  That was fine with me.  I was reminded of times long ago, when holding our babies caused in me one of the most right and relaxed feelings I've ever known.  I've never been able to explain that, other than to remember that the Lord made our hearts to be His home.  When we trusted the Lord Jesus, the Spirit of God came to dwell within us, never to leave.  He loves being that near to us, and the sense of rest I've known in holding our babies originates in our Heavenly Father's own heart: "He will rest in His love" (Zephaniah 3:17).  Holding Evelyn reminded me of that, and overwhelmed my heart with the thought that we bring such feeling and sensibility to the heart of God.

    Well, you've let me tell you about my grandchildren!  Thank you, and any time you have an extra 10-12 hours, I have much more I could share!  Yes, I now understand those bumper stickers.  Wonder where I could get one…

"But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children's children."
(Psalm 103:17)

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"The Greatest Mystery of All"

"The Greatest Mystery of All"

      I have long maintained that the simplest truth of Scripture is its declaration that "there is one God" - unless that God exists in and as three distinct Personalities of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (I Timothy 2:5).

    "Thou art my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation" (Psalm 89:26).
    "Unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, o God, is forever and ever" (Hebrews 1:8).
    "But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?... Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God" (Acts 2:4-5).

    In this holy light, the simplest truth becomes infinitely complex beyond our complete understanding.  The very being and nature of God drives us to our knees and faces in wonder.  Little wonder then that His ways so often challenge our understanding and and discomfit our senses and emotions.

    "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).

    The mystery of God involves both who He is and what He does.  How can He exist as both Oneness and Plurality?  Why does He act as He does?  Any believer who does not allow a place in heart and mind for such ineffable mystery fails to think clearly about that which transcends our thoughts.  Regarding God's omnipresence, the Psalmist acknowledged, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!  It is high, I cannot attain unto it!" (Psalm 139:6).  We could say that same about everything regarding our Lord's infinite being and way.  However, the one aspect of such glory that should most greatly astound us involves the most personal of truths for every one of us.

   "For as the Heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him" (Psalm 103:11).

   God's grace and mercy, personally bestowed upon us, should comprise the greatest mystery of all.  "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!"  We should each shake our heads and bow our hearts in frequent bewilderment regarding the measure of mercy we have personally known.  Indeed, we all do well to join the Apostle Paul in perceiving ourselves as the "chief" of sinners (I Timothy 1:15).  Nothing should more raise questions regarding God and His ways than the fact that He saved a wretch like me.  "Too wonderful" indeed!  Amid the mysteries of God's being and way, the measure of mercy, the infinite measure of mercy personally bestowed upon us, must be paramount in our hearts and minds. Remembrance of Calvary and its Christ will maintain our wonder regarding such a freely given gift, provided to us through so high a cost.  As Paul testified, "I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20; emphasis added).

"And as He entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when He saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger." 
(Luke 17:12-18)

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

Monday, September 24, 2018

"The Fool's Way"

"The Fool's Way"

    By definition, the fool does not know he is a fool.  "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes" (Proverbs 12:15).

    Moreover, even the wise sometimes act foolishly without knowing it.  Solomon, possessed of an abundance of God given wisdom, nevertheless succumbed to temptations that should have been obvious to one so blessed with the light of God: "And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.  And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods" (I Kings 11:6-8).

    No excuse exists for the waywardness of fools, or for the wise who act foolishly.  The light of God fills the world as the greatest of all influences.  "The true light lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9).  The greatest foolishness of all may actually be our failure to know when we are acting foolishly.  We therefore require our Lord's ongoing illumination to keep us from the way of the fool, and to inform us when we have wandered down such a path without knowing it.  "For Thou art my light, o Lord, and the Lord will lighten my darkness" (II Samuel 22:29).

    In and of ourselves, the default position of humanity is foolishness.  "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have every one turned to His own way" (Isaiah 53:6).  Believers do well to acknowledge this truth about our flesh, which will remain susceptible to deception throughout our present lifetime.  Thankfully, the light of God inhabits our spirits through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  We also possess the gift of the Bible, God's lamp of Truth, and Christians illuminate each other as we walk together with our Lord.  The fact remains, however, that the fool's way still beckons us, and still hides its true nature to the degree that the wisest among us can sometimes treads its dark paths without realizing their waywardness.  Avoiding foolishness requires that we remember this clear and present danger that is far more present than it is clear.  Solomon's father David discovered such truth about himself, and offered a prayer we do well to frequently echo in order to avoid the fool's way, and also to know when we are stumbling thereupon…

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

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

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Saturday Songs -36- "This I Know"

Friends: each Saturday (or Sunday!)  this year, we are sending the lyrics and a recorded version of one of our songs.   This one references the statement of the Lord Jesus Christ to Nicodemus regarding the new birth: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).  In other words, God's working and our response are as mysterious as the origin and destiny of the wind.  When we can figure that out, perhaps we can then address the whys and wherefores of the new birth.  Until then  Thanks, Glen.  Oh yes, there's a brief glitch on the recording just before the song begins.  Sorry about that.

“This I Know”

I don’t know where the wind comes from
or where it blows.
I don’t know how God works
in the soul.

But this I know: He is the Maker of the wind,
the Redeemer of the soul, this I know.

I can’t see why He so loves me
but I believe.
For on the cross of Calvary,
He died for me.

Yes, I believe He is the Maker of the wind,
the Redeemer of the soul, this I know..

Yes, I believe He is the Maker of the wind,
the Redeemer of the soul, this I know

Friday, September 21, 2018

“The Origin of Consciousness”

"The Origin of Consciousness"


    Did an unconscious universe really evolve mere matter into a conscious and self aware being, namely, humanity?

    "I think" (I Corinthians 4:9).

   In any discussion with an atheist or even an agnostic, this is a pertinent and vital issue to raise.  Is our consciousness real as we all perceive it?  Or is it composed of nothing more than atoms arranged in a self replicating, but temporary order that will cease to exist when we die?  Are we deluded to think that we are something more than matter?  Are our hearts and minds merely things rather than transcendent realities that form personality?  When we think, believe, and choose, do we function as complex machines, or as beings who exist as something more than physical substance?  Any answer other than the complex machine response translates the consideration into the spiritual realm declared by the Bible to be the heart of truth and reality:

    "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job 33:4).

   Of course, modern atheists aggressively counter this proposal.  One wonders why, since their view of consciousness does not really allow for anyone to possess freedom of thought, understanding, and analysis.  We are all merely machines according to this view.  Our opinions are merely chemical and electrical movements of atomic and sub-atomic particles in our brains.  We are the products of our environment and the genetic material inherited from our ancestors.  I cannot be other than what I happen to be, as ordained by natural processes rather than a conscious, supernatural Being.  There should be no argument or animosity because without real consciousness, we are all merely devices without design or chosen determinations.  No one actually chooses thoughts or beliefs because no real freedom of thought or choice exists.  The atheist nevertheless often argues his point with those who differ, and often with much passionate antagonism.  Thus, he does not live by his own perspectives and beliefs.

   Bible believing Christians know and affirm the obvious reality.  We are conscious, as created and illuminated by our Maker, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Our capacity for thought, emotion, and choice exists as something far more than merely physical substance.  We are more than matter.  We are personal rather than programmed.  Moreover, we make free determinations regarding how we will think about God, ourselves, other people, the world, and the quality of life we should live.  This renders us as responsible agents who reap the consequences of our choices, as truth and justice rightly decree.  A conscious Creator made conscious human beings in His image, a major portion of which involves our capacity for self awareness, but even more importantly, for God awareness.  This constitutes such obvious reality that it should require no discussion.  It does, however, and believers can confidently affirm the Truth that  everyone intuitively knows, and by which all live.  Yes, a conscious God made a genuinely consciousness humanity.

"The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations."
(Psalm 33:11)
"The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man."
(Psalm 94:11)
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."
(Psalm 14:1)

Weekly Memory Verse
   For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
(Ephesians 2:18)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

“A Hard Answer”

"A Hard Answer"

    Presently, God determines and allows challenges to come our way as the administration of His loving devotion and wisdom in our lives.

    "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him" (Proverbs 13:24).
    "Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now have I kept Thy Word" (Psalm 113:67).

    No born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ would consistently walk with our Heavenly Father apart from difficulty.  Our flesh is too prone to distraction and pride, even as the Apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh "lest I should be exalted above measure" (II Corinthians 12:7).  The Lord loves us enough to hurt us when and as necessary, or to allow enemies a lengthened, but measured leash that grants them opportunity to damage without destroying us (see the Book of Job).  The love of God permeates such hardship no less than it graces the blessings of the pleasant gifts He provides.  It doesn't feel like it, of course, and the Lord's rod of either determined or allowed pain calls us to the challenging remembrance and affirmation of His perfect way in our lives.  "Thou hast showed Thy people hard things" (Psalm 60:3).

    There are times in life when we may inadvertently plead with God to stop loving us.  Our grieved plea for deliverance from necessary "hard things" is understandable because of our limited capacity to see and interpret our Lord's love.  Our Father, however, cannot respond to our pleas without deviating from His very nature and being.  This He will not do.  "I am the Lord.  I change not" (Malachi 3:6).  We long for the bestowal of efficient grace whereby "this poor man cried and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all His troubles" (Psalm 34:6).  As with Paul, however, sometimes the wisdom of love decrees a lingering thorn and sufficient grace whereby we endure and even spiritually thrive as we trust God.   In our bewilderment, we will ask a grieving "Why?" as did the Psalmist quite frequently, and even more significantly, as did the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary (Matthew 27:46).  The answer will always be the same.  And it will always to us be a hard answer in the midst of "hard things."  The answer will be love, the love that must always act according to the best interests and welfare of its recipient.  Our Father will not stop loving us.  And we must not stop trusting Him when He will not and cannot deviate from His devotion and perfectly applied wisdom...

"Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth."
(Hebrews 12:6)
"Thou He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."
(Job 13:15)

Weekly Memory Verse
   For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
(Ephesians 2:18)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

“From Calamity To Calm”

"From Calamity To Calm"

    Job was both righteous and rich.  Greatly blessed of God, and justified by Him in the limited manner known by Old Testament saints, Job seemed to have all.  

    "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.  And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east" (Job 1:1-3).

   Something was missing in Job.  Righteous and rich, the man of God nevertheless did not have rest.  He was not a man at peace, even before his trial began.  

   "For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.  I was not in safety, neither had I rest" (Job 3:25-26).

    It is possible to know the Lord and to be greatly blessed by Him, but nevertheless to be governed by fear and insecurity rather than peace.  Like the Israelites of old, we may be delivered from Egypt, but fail to enter God's promised rest whereby a consistent and growing assurance fills our hearts (Hebrews 4:9).  Believers can be destined for Heaven without realizing that the Lord of Heaven has already come to us.  This was clearly the case with fearful Job, who become faithful Job after his grievous suffering and realization of God's all encompassing presence, governance, and provision.  "Before I had heard of Thee with the hearing of mine ear, but now mine eye seeth thee" (Job 42:5).  Again, Job possessed righteousness and riches before his trial, but no rest.  The Lord was not content with His servant's lack of peace, and thus worked through great calamity to form a consistently tranquil heart in Job.

    The Lord is not content with any son or daughter in Christ who has not realized His provision of peace.  Like Job, this may explain why we experience some of the trials that arrive at our doorstep.  The intriguing truth is that pleasant times and the peace of God are not always the companions we might expect them to be.  The Apostle Paul confirms this in his well known mandate and promise to the Philippians:

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

    Note that the peace referenced by God "passeth all understanding."  This means that the peace of Christ is best realized and known where it seems it should not be, namely, in our difficulties, pains, and challenges.  Peace in pleasant times is understandable, or at least the earthly sense of calm that accompanies obvious blessing.  Conversely, peace in trouble almost seems like an oxymoron.  It is, except when we consider the spiritual peace provided through the presence and working of God on our behalf.  Job doubtless enjoyed his blessings before he suffered.  Only thereafter, however, did he know the Lord well enough to also know His peace.  Again, our troubles offer to us an experience of Christ's tranquility that can never be known or accessed in our pleasant times.  "This is my comfort in my affliction, for Thy Word hath quickened me" (Psalm 119:50.  Is God present enough, loving enough, involved enough, strong enough, and willing enough to reveal His peace in our pain?  Yes He is, but we must know and trust Him enough to discover, as did Job, that calamity paves the way to calm in the hearts of those who find the Prince of peace where it seems He could not be.

"Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee."
(Isaiah 26:3)

Weekly Memory Verse
   For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
(Ephesians 2:18)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"More Perfect"

"More Perfect"


    Ok, ok, I'm going to give to you as a gift of affection and appreciation the recipe for the most delicious cookie in the world!  They're Brown Sugar Cookies, and my recipe is adapted from the America's Test Kitchen version of the same.  

    I share this with you because in the secret that makes the cookies so amazing, a beautiful typology of the Lord Jesus Christ shines forth.  That secret is not the brown sugar, the dark brown sugar, necessary as it is, but rather browned butter.  Are you familiar with this version of God's gift to us?  If not, you must become knowledgable and skilled in making a perfect product - raw butter - even more perfect.  That sounds contradictory, I know, but trust me.  Browned butter results from applying heat to raw butter  in a pan until the butter solids become dark and take on a nutty aroma and flavor.  If you're not familiar with the process, check the Internet for any number of good videos that will help.  The technique is challenging because like caramel (another recipe I've passed along to you), one must be careful to neither overcook or undercook the butter.  It takes practice, but you'll get it if you brown enough butter (and make enough cookies!).

    Again, this reminds me of our Lord Jesus.  As God the Son, He was pristinely perfect in His Divine pre-Incarnation.  For our sakes, He took on humanity without relinquishing His divinity, becoming "God… manifest in the flesh" (I Timothy 3:16).  In this sense, He could "be made perfect" in His growth as a human being (Hebrews 5:9).  "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52).  Of course, we approach great mystery in this consideration. How can Perfection  become more perfect?   Regarding the God who became man, and the man who remains God, we must think in terms of what the Bible states even as it greatly challenges our understanding.  Most importantly, the sacrificial condescension of the Lord Jesus for our sakes must fill our hearts with loving devotion and grateful awe.  "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" (Phillippians 2:5-7).

    I would never have thought that raw butter, as perfect a food as exists, could become better.  Actually, I do not mean to suggest that browned butter supersedes the mother version in its taste and texture.  For its use in the cookie recipe, however, it is a must (there is a also bit of raw butter in the mix).  Of far more importance, how could the perfect Son of God become something greater than He is?  The answer lies in our redemption from sin.  According to God's own justice and righteousness, He could not save us by mere fiat.  He had to act, to identify, to live life as a man, and to die under the judgment fires of His Father's wrath against sin.  Thereby He became for us what He could not be apart from the Incarnation.  He became our crucified, risen, and ascended Savior.  No heat for Him, no hope for us.  The Perfect took on even greater perfection by becoming the sinless, human Son of God, and the Savior of all who believe…

"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
(Hebrews 2:14-15)

Here's the recipe:

Heat oven to 350.  If you have a convection feature in your oven, use it.  If not, no problem.

14 Tablespoons Butter
14 oz. Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 and 1/2 ounces all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Brown 10 tablespoons butter on medium high heat in pan until butter solids are quite dark (not black, but very dark brown. should take between 5-10 minutes); combine in bowl with remaining 4 tablespoons of raw butter; set aside and let cool 5-8 minutes.

Combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda

Combine 1/2 cup dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar in bowl.

Combine remainder of dark brown sugar and salt in separate bowl.

Combine dark brown sugar and salt with cooled butter; mix well.  Add vanilla, egg, and egg yolk, Mix well.

Add flour, mix well.

Roll dough into 24 balls; dip in brown and white sugar mixture (don't forget this!).  Place on cookie sheet, preferably lined with parchment paper (you can use aluminum foil, dull side up).

Cook for 7 minutes; Turn pan, cook for 7 more minutes.  Remove from oven, let cool in pan for 1 minute, then remove to wire rack or plate.

Take bite of cookie.  Fall to your knees in awe.

Weekly Memory Verse

    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).

Monday, September 17, 2018

Saturday Songs -35- "This Is Calvary"

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

Friends: each Saturday (or Monday!)  this year, we are sending the lyrics and a recorded version of one of our songs.   I wrote and arranged this one as simply as possible in order to direct all the attention to message rather than the music.  Calvary and Calvary's Christ speaks for itself.  Thanks, Glen

Saturday Songs


“This Is Calvary”

Sorrow and pain, Oh, sorrow and pain,
and a Lamb that was slain.
Sorrow and pain, Oh, sorrow and pain,
and a Lamb that was slain.

Oh this, oh this is Calvary.
This is the price that He paid
for you and me.
Sorrow and pain, Oh, sorrow and pain,
and a Lamb that was slain.

Thorns, nails and blood and a heart that was torn,
and a soul so alone, so alone.
The darkest of night every comfort aflight,
yes, a soul so alone, so alone.

Oh this, oh this is Calvary.
This is the price that He paid for you and me.
Sorrow and pain, Oh, sorrow and pain,
and a Lamb that was slain.

We can never repay the sad price of that day,
when our Savior gave all, He gave all.
We can choose to recall, and to our knees we can fall,
and give our thanks for the price that He paid.

Oh this, oh this is Calvary.
This is the price that He paid
for you and me.
Sorrow and pain, Oh, sorrow and pain,
and a Lamb that was slain.


    Human beings are hard-wired for addiction.

    "I beseech you, brethren, ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints" (I Corinthians 16:15).

    The issue, of course, lies in who and what we look to for fulfillment, satisfaction, and the sense of normalcy and well being.  The Bible calls us to find such contentment in devotion to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, and a life lived for His glory and the benefit of others.  All other addictions result in death and deception.  Only faith in Christ and the subsequent fruit of sacrifice for God and others provides a mastery that leads to life and genuine well being.  "I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go" (Isaiah 48:17).

    "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these" (Romans 5:1; Mark 12:30-31).

    "The house of Stephanas" to whom the Apostle Paul referred knew that service to God and people fills and fulfills the heart.  They "addicted themselves" to such a life of grace received and then dispensed, meaning they realized and embraced the controlling influence of the love of God in Christ Jesus.  They consistently and increasingly partook of such grace, discovering inward peace and a life enhancing experience of being led by something - Someone - apart from and transcendent of themselves.  They replaced their human tendencies for false worship with the Divine gift of the love of God, love for God, and love for people.  Indeed, everybody worships.  Every human heart addicts itself to something outside of itself that controls us rather than our controlling it.  One path leads to life.  "To live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21).  All others result in death.  "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil… Choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Deuteronomy 30:15; Joshua 24:15).

    Our brethren of old, the house of Stephanas, serve as a bright light of truth regarding the very nature of humanity.  We do not govern ourselves.  We choose our master, but our master then directs our life and being.  Again, choose you this day whom ye will serve.  We cannot escape the reality of addiction.  But only one such influence, the love of God in the Lord Jesus, results in life both now and forevermore…

"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)

Weekly Memory Verse
    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).