Friday, June 7, 2019

"The Most Terrible Consequence"

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


"The Most Terrible Consequence"


     Why does God hate sin so much?  Why must we join Him with the same revulsion regarding unbelief and disobedience to Him?  Many Biblical answers address this question.  One, however, surely provides the primary reason our Father finds sin so reprehensible, and why we must share His view.

    "The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all… We did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God… My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Isaiah 53:4-6).

   Sin not only resulted in humanity torturing the Lord Jesus Christ to death on the cross of Calvary.  It also led God the Father to pour out the fury of His wrath on His eternally beloved Son.  Moreover, God abandoned His Son to suffer and die utterly alone for our sins.  "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).  Little wonder that our Father despises the sin that resulted in His acting completely contrary to His love for the Lord Jesus.  Indeed, we do well to consider the loving affirmations from Heaven that sounded at our Lord's baptism and transfiguration: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17; 17:5).  Then, ponder the wrath that descended upon our Savior as He died on the cross.  How could God not hate that which led Him to smite the Son He so loves?

    A further consideration takes the matter even further into both the light and the darkness of our Lord's suffering death at the hands of God and man.  "It hath pleased the Lord to bruise Him" (Isaiah 53:10).  How can such a thing be?  How can the Father who finds so much pleasure in His Son also have found pleasure in pouring out wrath upon Him?  The Apostle Paul provides a possible answer:

   "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21).

   Paul reveals that the Lord Jesus not only bore our sins on the cross.  He also became sin - "made to be sin."  What does this mean?  Only God knows.  Somehow the Lord Jesus became everything He was not as He suffered and died at Calvary.  Only thereby could His Father have been "pleased... to bruise Him."  Moreover, what did our Savior who so loves righteousness experience as He suffered not only the bearing of sin, but also the be-ing of it?  We will never know.  "He is... a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3).

   Why does God hate sin?  Why must we share His utter rejection of unbelief and disobedience?  Look no further than Calvary for the answer that most explains the horrors of sin, and its most terrible consequence…

"Christ died for our sins."
(I Corinthians 15:3)
"Ye that love the Lord, hate evil."
(Psalm 97:10)


Weekly Memory Verse
   "Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy and Thy truth's sake."
(Psalm 115:1)




  






















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Thursday, June 6, 2019

"Demolition"

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


"Demolition"


     We are currently having work done on our house that involves some significant demolition.  It is really something to see an exterior wall removed, and a portion of your home simply not there anymore.

    "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (II Timothy 3:16).

   "Reproof" and "correction" administered by the Word of God speak of spiritual demolition.  Throughout the born again believer's earthly lifetime, walking with our Lord involves the removal of things that do not correlate with the character and nature of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This includes patterns of thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, words, and faulty ways of relating to God and people.   We require our Heavenly Father's ongoing work to expose and remove anything that hinders our experience and expression of Christ's loving presence within us.  God called the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah not only "to build and to plant," but also "to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down" (Jeremiah 1:10).  The same process applies to Christians as the Holy Spirit works in us to demolish as well as to construct.  

   As difficult as it may be, we do well to consistently seek our Father's exposure and removal of fleshly distractions and deceptions that hinder the peace of our hearts and our calling to honor our Lord in every aspect of our life.  Another Old Testament saint, David, greatly helped us in this matter by including a prayer in the Psalms that should reflect our ongoing submission to the Lord's demolition:

    "Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Try me and know my ways, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24).  

    It may disturb us when our Heavenly Father must "root out… pull down… destroy… throw down."  However, the end result of such destruction is newness in Christ whereby the presence of His life that indwells us becomes known, experienced, and expressed to the glory of God, the blessing of others, and the joy of our hearts.

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


Weekly Memory Verse
   "Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy and Thy truth's sake."
(Psalm 115:1)




  






















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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

“The Best He Can"

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

(a repeat from 2011)


"The Best He Can"


     "I'm doing the best I can!"  We've all likely said it, responding to pressures from others or even from ourselves to do more or better.  Certainly it's true that we can only do what we can do, and no more.  Or is it? 

    "We shall live with Him by the power of God" (II Corinthians 13:4). 

    Rather than the best we can, God enables born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to do the best He can.  We trust in God's understanding and abilities rather than our own.  We see ourselves as branches of a Vine that that teems with the life of Christ Himself (John 15:5).  "My expectation is from Him" exulted the David who would never have slain Goliath had he merely lived by the paltry power of his own best (Psalm 62:5). 

   "Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee" (I Samuel 17:45-46).

     The best God could do against the giant was to deliver a mere stone slung by the mere hand of a mere boy directly into the forehead of the mighty Philistine champion.  He then led David to draw his sword, resulting in the removal of Goliath's head.  David clearly did God's best.  "For by Thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall" (Psalm 18:29). 

     What will God's best be for us in this day?  We don't know as yet, but we will as we trust and submit ourselves to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The living God dwells within us, and He loves to reveal His strength in our weakness (II Corinthians 12:9).  As did David, we must expect that this will be the case in the particular arenas of challenge where our own Goliaths await us.  We do not live by the best of our own wisdom, but by the wisdom of God.  We do not live by the best of our own willingness, but by the willingness of God.  We do not live by the best of our own planning, but by the planning of God.  And we do not live by the best of our own ability and strength, but "we shall live with Him by the power of God."  Such is the grace bestowed upon all who believe in the Lord Jesus, and such is the gift of a life lived not by the best we can, but by the best He can.

"We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead."
 (II Corinthians 1:9).


Weekly Memory Verse
   "Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy and Thy truth's sake."
(Psalm 115:1)




  






















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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

"A Place of Grace"

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


"A Place of Grace"

   God made the human heart to be a place of grace, as the Apostle John illustrates in his account of the Lord Jesus Christ purging the temple of moneychangers.

   "And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting.  And when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables, and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not My Father's house a house of merchandise" (John 2:13-16).

   No buying and selling can be tolerated in the temple of God, which now constitutes our trusting hearts in Christ. 

     "Ye are the temple of God… For by grace are ye saved by faith, and that not of yourselves.  It is the gift of God, and not of works, lest any man should boast… As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (I Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Colossians 2:6).  

    We forever exist as supplicants and recipients of God's giving.  His generosity transcends all understanding.  He loves to provide, supply, and bestow.  He loves for us to receive the innumerable expressions of His lavish liberality.  "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).  We cannot buy such favor and provision by bartering with our Heavenly Father.  His gifts are too expensive.  Our means are too meager.  Thus, we must seek the Lord's aggressive cleansing of our heart's inner temple regarding any notion of relating to God other than by the grace and truth of the Lord Jesus.  As the Apostle Paul writes in the passages mentioned above, the grace that began our relationship with God must serve as the same dynamic whereby we "walk… in Him."

   A beautiful aspect of such freely given favor involves the truth that grace received becomes grace assimilated in our hearts, and then grace disseminated through us to others.  "Freely ye have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8).  The Holy Spirit inhabits the inner temple of our spirits to initiate and progressively execute our becoming like the Lord Jesus.  His purely and perfectly unselfish disposition more and more shines forth within and through us as we "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).  Ongoing reception of freely given favor results in a love for God and humanity that can only occur in our hearts so filled that they overflow back to our Father and out toward others.  "We love Him because He first loved us… And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men" (I John 2:6; I Thessalonians 3:12).

   A place of grace.  Our hearts became such a holy venue when we believed as our Savior purged the temple of our hearts from any notion of buying or barter.  Let us continue as we began by realizing God's perpetual provision and our persistent need.  Thereby the Holy Spirit empowers the life of devotion to God and others that only results when the Lord Jesus drives the moneychangers from the innermost temple of our being…

"Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear."
(Hebrews 12:28)
"But 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
   "Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy and Thy truth's sake."
(Psalm 115:1)




  






















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Monday, June 3, 2019

"In Secret"

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


"In Secret"

   

   The mother of a dear friend went to be with our Lord last week.  Mrs. Plash was 90 years old, and lived a life of devotion to the Lord and to people.  I saw her rarely, but she had such an impact that I told my friend, "Whenever I saw your mother, it made me want to toe the line a little closer!"  I know she had that effect on a lot of people as through Christ, Mrs. Plash encouraged and challenged us to climb higher, dive deeper, and go further unto a life lived for the glory of God.

   "Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24).

   Her obituary mentioned another powerful aspect of Mrs. Plash's ongoing legacy, this regarding her devotion to seeking God in prayer for others: "Many never knew of her prayers for them."  I find that one of the most powerful statements about prayer I have ever heard, and one that calls us to the privacy regarding communion with our Heavenly Father commanded by the Lord Jesus:

   "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:6).

   Certainly there are times when it may be fine to mention to people that we are praying for them.  It can be a great encouragement to know that someone cares about us enough to name our names before the Throne of grace.  However, the preponderance of our praying should remain private.  A.W. Tozer once wrote that gaining a reputation for prayer can be one of the worst things that can happen to a believer.  Few can resist the temptation to pride and self importance that accompanies such notoriety.  Indeed, the reputation may originate in the pray-er frequently mentioning his or her communion with God that is best practiced "in secret."

   This was not the case with Mrs. Plash.  Allow me to repeat, "Many never knew of her prayers for them."  I find this completely, utterly sublime.  Even more, I find this to be yet another encouragement and challenge that blesses us by Mrs. Plash's legacy.  She prayed.  She prayed privately, thereby seeking His glory and the blessing of others in ways they never even knew.  Yet again, our dear sister makes me want to toe the line a little closer, this time to the Throne of grace to follow her example of private communion with God and intimate intercession for others.  

   A final point.  As I conclude, the thought occurs to me that I may be in trouble with Mrs. Plash.  She didn't want attention for her praying during her lifetime, and she may not be happy that I mention it now.  Uhoh!  I nevertheless take the chance, and will face the music with her when I see her in Heaven!  I find Mrs. Plash's  Christ-empowered legacy far too blessed to ignore.  "Many never knew of her prayers for them."  May we follow in the wake of our dear sister's influence, and the example she leaves of countless approaches to the Heavenly Throne where she secretly sought God's grace and mercy for those she loved.  

"Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy and Thy truth's sake."
(Psalm 115:1)

Weekly Memory Verse
   "Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy and Thy truth's sake."
(Psalm 115:1)




  






















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Friday, May 31, 2019

“Christ In Print. The Bible In Person”

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



"Christ In Print.  The Bible In Person"


   

   The Bible can be considered the Lord Jesus Christ in print form.  The Lord Jesus can be considered the Bible in personal form.

    "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life.  And they are they which testify of Me" (John 5:39).
    "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14).

   Genuine worship involves both spirit and truth (John 4:24).  We must know God through the Lord Jesus in both personal and doctrinal terms.  It is not enough to simply believe Biblical truths.  However, we cannot rightly relate to our Heavenly Father apart from those truths.  Thus, the living Word, Christ, and the written Word, the Bible, beckon us to journey on the parallel rails of reality.  As believers, we know Somebody and we believe something.  "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent… Thy Word is truth" (John 17:3; 17).

    Few understandings more provide sure and stable footing for our walk with the Lord.  God made us as creatures of both heart and mind.  Our knowledge of other conscious beings transcends mere factual knowledge.  When we say we know God or people, we suggest something far more than simply knowing about them.  We may not be able to define or explain it, but we realize that genuine relationship involves personal realities of the heart.  Conversely, our knowledge of others does involve truths and facts based on tangible things that form and sustain structure in our relationships.  This is particularly true regarding our fellowship with God.  We must know Him as the living Person He is.  He will not be satisfied otherwise.  However, we cannot genuinely know Him apart from the principled Truth of Scripture.  We will not be sanctified otherwise.  

   The Word in print and in Person.  Spirit and truth.  Heart and mind.  Parallel rails of reality.  However, we term it, the Light of God beckons us unto the realization that He must be known and His truth must be understood.  The Apostle Paul prayed accordingly, and we close with his intercession for the Ephesians…

"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
   "As it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
(I Corinthians 1:31)




  






















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Thursday, May 30, 2019

“The Two Edged Sword”

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



"The Two Edged Sword"


   

 How do we deal with temptation?  The Lord Jesus Christ provides both the model and the means whereby we discover the answer in personal and doctrinal terms.

   "And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto Him, If thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, and saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve" (Matthew 4:3-10).
   "Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10).

    In the wilderness temptation, the Lord Jesus Christ pulled the sword of the Spirit from the sheath of His heart, slashing and piercing each devilish enticement with "It is written."  The living Word, Christ, overcame by the written Word, the Scriptures.  Thereby He showed us the way of dealing with temptation.  We affirm the Word of God to counter challenges to our faith and faithfulness.  Consider, for example, the temptation to fear regarding material or financial matters.  Thoughts, emotions, and perhaps even physical sensations confront our peace of mind.  How might we respond, in light of our Lord's example?

   "It is written, My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus….  It is written, "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them It is written, Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Philippians 4:19; Matthew 6:26; 33).

   Such affirmation fortifies our hearts to walk in Truth and its blessed tranquility.  "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).  However, the Lord Jesus provides not only the example, but also the enabling for dealing with temptation.  "I am the way" He  declared (John 14:6).  The Spirit of Christ dwells in born again believers to empower us to "walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6).  Our capacity to "fight the good fight of faith" flows from the truth that "the Captain of our salvation" literally lives within us to empower us for the confrontations we face in our present earthly lives (I Timothy 6:12; Hebrews 2:10).  Thus, we trust Him to enable our execution of the way He showed us to overcome challenges.  We rely on the double edged sword of the living and the written Word, walking in the Spirit and the Truth of the Lord Jesus.

    We do well to hide the Scriptures in our hearts to enable our overcoming.  "Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee" (Psalm 119:11).  We also do well to remember and affirm the living Word that dwells within our hearts.  "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts" (Galatians 4:6).  Such a sharp and two-edged sword leads us to face every challenge with the confidence whereby through Christ, we walk in consistent and growing faithfulness…

"This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
(I John 5:4)
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 
(I Corinthians 10:13)

Weekly Memory Verse
   "As it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
(I Corinthians 1:31)




  






















5611

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"Young Men"

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



"Young Men"



    I am blessed to know a number of really fine young men, quite a few of which are on the mailing list for these devotionals.  I trust you all know who you are, and lest I omit someone worthy of mention, I'll refrain from naming names.  But again, you all know who you are.

   "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong and the Word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one" (I John 2:14).

   It is a wonderful thing for an older man to know younger men you seek to emulate.  I have long said about my son Noah that I want to be more like him.  I feel the same about so many others of his generation.  Certainly we elders (not elderly!) hope to provide some mentoring, based on experience.  However, when men of my generation can benefit from the example, encouragement, and exhortation of younger men, it adds a richness of blessing that fills our hearts with hope for days to come regarding God's purposes and work.  I feel that hope, again, based on so many I am blessed to know and who I also consider dear friends.

   The world grows darker in many ways, as Scripture prophesied of the days in which we live (II Timothy 3:1-5).  However, God's "true light" shines all the more brightly against the backdrop of increasing apostasy (John 1:9).  Based on the young men I know, much confidence fills my heart that they will acquit themselves well in the challenges to come.  Far more, they will honor the Lord they love, trust, obey, and seek to communicate to their world.  Godspeed, gentlemen, and thank you for the encouragement and challenge your strength and devotion to God and His Word provide to my heart.  I am forever grateful for all of you.

"The glory of young men is their strength… Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might."
(Proverbs 20:29; Ephesians 6:10)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "As it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
(I Corinthians 1:31)












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