Friday, March 29, 2019

"Helping With Hand or Heart"

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

"Helping With Hand or Heart"

     In practical terms, there are normally two ways we can help someone.  We either possess the means to do so ourselves, or if not, we can ask someone else who can and will act on the behalf of the person to whom we desire to provide assistance.  

    This is especially the case in prayerful terms. 

    "For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established" (Romans 1:9-11).

   At the time the Apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Romans, he had not been able to visit his fellow believers in Rome because of ministry obligations elsewhere (Romans 15:20-23).  Thus, he prayed for them, and wrote the epistle that serves as the doctrinal foundation of the New Testament.  Doubtless the prayers led to the letter as Paul sought the help of Another for his Roman brethren.  God responded by His Spirit'inspiration of the Apostle's words, said by the poet Samuel Coleridge to be "the profoundest writing in existence."  Paul could not go to directly help the Romans, as he desired.  He thus sought God's help, which resulted in the light of the Roman epistle illuminating not only the church in Rome, but the church in history.

   When we desire to help others, we do so, if possible.  "As we therefore have opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).  When such opportunity does not present itself to our hands, we nevertheless help with our hearts by seeking the aid of Another.  As with Paul and his letter to the Romans, the Lord may lead and enable us to do something we had not considered.  Or He may work in ways and means beyond our opportunity and ability.  How God helps is up to Him.  Our privileged responsibility involves seeking His working and provision for others through prayerful intercession.  In that sense, we can always help, whether by our willing hands, or by the prayers of our hearts that seek the aid of God's willing hands.

"God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you."
(I Samuel 12:23)
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men."
(I Timothy 2:1)

Weekly Memory Verse
    So He fed them according to the integrity of His heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of His hands."
 (Psalm 78:72).



Thursday, March 28, 2019

"Wonders Without Number"

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

"Wonders Without Number"

     Both Old Testament and New call us to seek and obtain as much understanding of God and His ways as possible.

    "With all thy getting, get understanding" (Proverbs 4:7).
    "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding of what the Lord's will is" (Ephesians 5:17).

   The Christian life involves growing knowledge of truth and reality in the light of Scripture, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit.  God's truth is infinite, and thus we will never fully understand all that can be learned and assimilated.   Thus, we seek always to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).  However, despite our need for the ongoing determination to "get understanding," much of our Lord's truth cannot be fully comprehended.  Some things call us not to knowledge, but rather to wonder.

   "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!   It is high, I cannot attain unto it!" (Psalm 39:6).

   Sometimes we see the most when we see the least.  Unattainable understanding about God and His ways tells us much about God and His ways.  This is especially important for a race of beings originally deceived by Satan's lie: "Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5).  The devil still tempts us to believe that we can and must comprehend more than we can fathom.  Again, we passionately seek to "get understanding."  We do so, however, in the awareness that an eternal God transcends by far our capacity for full understanding.  Moreover, we realize that wonder also fills our being with light when we see with our hearts more than with our minds.  "God… does great things past finding out, yea, and wonders without number" (Job 9:2; 10).  

   "The Light shineth in darkness" (John 1:5).  We can know much.  We can know more.  But we cannot know all.  Nor do we need to understand everything.  A long eternity stretches forth before born again believers wherein "wonders without number" will forever beckon us to "come and see My glory" (Isaiah 66:18).  Even with glorified minds, we will not be able to fully comprehend all that can be known.  We will, however, be better equipped for wonder, that is, the illuminating realization that we do not have to understand in order to know.  Indeed, we do well to reconcile our hearts to the need for enigma as well as explanation.  Thereby we see even as we do not see.

Look up into a  clear blue sky,
and let your heart be filled with light,
but as you ponder, realize that Someone more beautiful,
Someone more beautiful made the sky.

Set your gaze upon a starry night,
and let your heart be amazed by the lights
that in the darkness shine so bright,
for Someone so beautiful, Someone so beautiful made the lights.

Open the Scriptures, the book of light
and let your heart see the wondrous Christ
who on every page so clearly shines,
Someone so beautiful, Someone so beautiful,
the wondrous Christ.

("So Beautiful"  

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

"A Confident God"

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

"A Confident God"

     God possesses complete confidence in who He is, and what He can do.   Rightly so.

    "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh.  Is anything too hard for Me?" (Jeremiah 32:27).

    We must join the Lord in that confidence, remembering and affirming often that nothing is too hard for Him.  Little wonder that He identified Himself as "I AM" to Moses (Exodus 3:14).  God knows Himself, perfectly.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit possess complete knowledge of the Divine capability that governs their triune nature and transcendent willingness and power.  No uncertainty exists in our Lord.  Thus, God can be trusted without reserve, even as in our human experience we naturally follow those who give every indication they know where they are going (and will be able to get there).  As one man said to the Lord Jesus Christ who was so clearly knew Himself and His Divinely-enabled capacities: "I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest" (Luke 9:57).

   How confident is God regarding His ability?  One of the best indications involves His creation of angelic and human beings with freedom to either respond to Him in love, faith, and devotion, or reject Him in unbelief and rebellion.  Rather than make mindless machines that would obey Him without heart or volition, our Heavenly Father instead formed creatures that could and would disobey Him and thereby disrupt His creation.  Beginning with the angel Lucifer, and proceeding to Adam and his offspring, creatures used their freedom to make a complete and cataclysmic mess of things.  A lesser Creator would never have allowed such mutinous revolt, especially one with perfect foreknowledge of all things.  "His understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5).  God, however, knowing Himself and His capability with complete self-confidence, allowed the universe to divide into trillions of disjointed pieces seemingly without hope of ever fitting together.  The result: ""Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him" (Ephesians 1:9-10).

   Without a trace of arrogance, God nevertheless affirms Himself and His ability throughout the pages of Scripture, and in a creation that teems with evidence of a Creator possessed of unfathomable being and power.  To the degree we join our Lord by acknowledging who He is and what He can do, our lives will be characterized by the confidence (in Him) that graces us with peace, power, and purpose.  "I am and I can do" He declares.  "You are and You can" we must respond.  This is the faith that leads to faithfulness, based upon the God who perfectly knows Himself and always acts in accordance with such assurance.

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am Thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness." 
(Psalm 41:10)

Weekly Memory Verse
    So He fed them according to the integrity of His heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of His hands."
 (Psalm 78:72).



Tuesday, March 26, 2019

"Works In Progress"

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

"Works In Progress"

     Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are all works in progress, even as the Apostle Paul testified, "My brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

    More importantly, a Worker in progress incessantly acts in accordance with His grace and truth to change us into the spiritual and moral image of Christ.  "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Ephesians 2:10).  Apart from such Divine action upon and within us, we would have no hope for growth, any more than we had hope for spiritual birth apart from the Lord Jesus.  "Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28).

    The twin rails of God's working and our response of trusting submission lie before us in this day, and throughout our earthly lifetime.  God works in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure."  We "work out" that which He works in (Philippians 2:12-13).  We must have confidence in the former, and consecration to the latter.  Indeed, any notion of our performing even the tiniest act of faith and faithfulness apart from the indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus is folly: "Without Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).  However, any notion that the Christian life does not involve our decisively active engagement also leads us into futility.  "Now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8).  Certainly we acknowledge our complete hopelessness apart from Christ.  However, we also decisively affirm that we are not apart from Christ!  "I will dwell in them and walk in them" He promised (II Corinthians 6:16).  We must believe and submit ourselves to our Heavenly Father in the aforementioned confidence and consecration that expects His involved presence, and engages our active participation.  "When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face, my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek" (Psalm 27:8).

   The Worker is present, engaged, and active in all His trusting children in Christ.  "The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 1:4).   Remembrance and affirmation of such grace encourages our response of faith and submission.  "I will love Thee, o Lord my strength!" (Psalm 18:1).   Thereby the Spirit of God leads and enables us to fulfill our role of trusting devotion to the glory and will of God.  The twin rails of God's working in and our working out lie before us in this day.  May we journey thereupon as works in progress of the Worker in progress

"He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
(Philippians 1:6)
"Exercise thyself rather unto godliness."
(I Timothy 4:7)

Weekly Memory Verse
    So He fed them according to the integrity of His heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of His hands."
 (Psalm 78:72).



Monday, March 25, 2019

“Perfect Intention, Perfect Implementation"

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

"Perfect Intention, Perfect Implementation"

     "So He fed them according to the integrity of His heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of His hands" (Psalm 78:72).

     Perfect intention and perfect implementation characterized God's provision and guidance of Israel, as it does for all who trust the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Of course, as with Israel, our response to such gracious care is far from perfect.  In His wisdom, our Heavenly Father must deal with our detours from His prescribed path of "This is the way.  Walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21).  This leads to rerouting and sometimes chastening along the path of our lives, resulting in His wisdom being all the more wondrous as He provides and guides in alternate ways made necessary by our imperfections.  To us, however, such integrity of the Heart and skillfulness of the Hands may at times seem more bewildering than wondrous.  We easily forget how prone we are to complicate matters by our missteps, and how amazing that God will nevertheless "perfect that which concerneth me" (Psalm 138:8).

   We must establish as a fundamental and bedrock conviction, based on Biblical doctrine, that "as for God, His way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31).  We will be tempted often regarding this Truth, even as Satan cast aspersions on God's character and way in the first temptation.  "God doth know in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5).  The devil questioned God's integrity and skillfulness.  He deceived Eve into disbelieving that "they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing" (Psalm 34:10).  The same liar confronts us throughout our earthly lifetime, tempting us no less to forget, ignore, or disbelieve the pristine perfection of our Father's intentions and implementations.  Throughout the Psalms, David asked "Why?… How?… What?" regarding his Lord's ways and working.  Had God specially responded to the inquiries, His answers would often have been, "My perfection, David.  Your imperfections."

   Our Heavenly Father must deal with what is, as opposed to what should be.  He is able to do this, perfectly, and we must build an altar within our hearts whereby we determine to "trust the Lord with all thine heart" (Proverbs 3:5).  Indeed, isn't it interesting that Genesis 3:5 involves the devil telling Eve to not trust the Lord with all her heart, but Proverbs 3:5 tells us we can "trust in the Lord with all thine heart?"  Our God is wise enough and faithful enough to warrant such confidence.  May we be far more wise and faithful in the growing conviction that affirms "the integrity of His heart" and "the skillfulness of His hands."

"His understanding is infinite."
(Psalm 147:5)
"He is the Rock.  His work is perfect, for all His ways are judgment, a God of truth and iniquity, just and right is He."
(Deuteronomy 32:4) 

Weekly Memory Verse
    So He fed them according to the integrity of His heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of His hands."
 (Psalm 78:72).



Friday, March 22, 2019

"The Best Day" Part 3

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

"The Best Day"

Part 3

     Every "best day" experienced by born again believers as a free gift of God's grace comes to us by way of the worst day any sentient being will ever experience.

    "My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me?!" (Matthew 27:46).

    Against the backdrop of eternity spent in the joyous presence of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, God the Son was abandoned to die alone on the cross of Calvary.  There the Lord Jesus Christ suffered the wrath of the Father by bearing our sins, and being "made to be sin for us" (I Peter 2:24; II Corinthians 5:21).  No one knows, or ever will know the sorrowful agony of lonely as does the Lord Jesus.  Even those eternally banished from the presence of God will not know forsakenness as did the Savior.  They will be judged for their own sins.  Christ was "the propitiation not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2).  Thus, when "lonely" comes to mind, we must first think of the One who ventured further into the dark and forlorn void than any other.  "We did esteem Him sticken,  smitten of God… They all forsook Him" (Isaiah 53:4; Mark 14:50).

   This was the price paid to make possible our days as best days.  They come to us by way of the worst day, that dark time when our Lord cried out unto a Heaven that had turned away.  How with us God must be in light of the price paid to freely give us His indwelling and abiding presence!  Thus, on those days that so feel and seem like worst days, we do well to remember that God is "a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).  He is so because when our Lord cried out "My God, My God," no answer came.  Indeed, the darkness that descended upon the world during our Savior's agony paled to the darkness known within His heart.  This is the price of "I am with you always" and "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).  And this is the remembrance whereby our worst days can be known in a very different light as we look to the One whose forsakenness on the cross of Calvary ensures the presence of God as the freely given gift of grace purchased by the highest cost ever remitted.

"My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?  Why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of My roaring?  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent."
(Psalm 22:1)

Weekly Memory Verse
   How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, o Lord!  Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings."
(Psalm 36:7)


Thursday, March 21, 2019

"The Best Day" Part 2

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

"The Best Day"

Part 2

  Yesterday's message referenced our friend Jim Kelly, who long ago lived at one of the retirement communities where we conduct services.  I mentioned that Jim often responded to the question, "How are you doing?" with the response, "You know, I think this is the best day of my life!"  

   Jim bore this attitude of heart and mind because he was a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and because he truly believed that each day is the day God makes for His trusting children (Psalm 118:24).  This raises the question, how can we follow Jim's example amid the often challenging and sometimes keenly painful realities of life?   "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).  How can each day be the best day when some days are so difficult?

   First, Jim experienced demanding and painful days during the time we knew him.  Confined to a wheelchair, our brother knew the pains everyone experiences who live as long as he did.  He had been healthy into his mid 90s, when he lost the ability to walk.  Moreover, Jim's long lifetime doubtless included the same trials and tribulations known by all who are part of a human race "born unto trouble" (Job 5:7).  Each day being "the best day" was therefore no trite adage to Jim.  He knew trouble as a companion day by day, as do we all.  Some of his "best days" doubtless brought Jim heartache and even heartbreak, which he felt no less than anyone else who suffers.  Jim nevertheless opened the eyes of his heart to behold realities of Christ that made each day a gift for which to be grateful, and a wonder to be witnessed.

   Let us consider our own best days that may actually feel like worst days.  What if on a day when the sun refuses to shine, we nevertheless open the eyes of our heart to behold the Light that "shineth in darkness?" (John 1:5).  How much will we honor our Lord by seeing Him in the faith that looks into the blackest of nights to behold some distant star unnoticed against any other backdrop?  Such a gaze of faith will surely transform a worst day into a best day.

   What if a day of pain leads us to seek "the God of all comfort?" (II Corinthians 1:3).  What if our Heavenly Father applies the balm of the Holy Spirit to our hearts whether or not His purposes allow Him to alleviate the hurts of our bodies?  Or souls?  How much more will we know His heart because we find Him to be enough and more than enough in the valley of distress?  Such grace will surely make a best day from a worst day.

   What if God administers or allows a day wherein bewilderment rather than understanding seems to be our portion?  What if, as the saying goes, we must trust His heart when we cannot see His hand?  How will the Lord meet us deep in our spirits when we echo the plaintive cry of the Psalmist: "Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, o Lord?!" (Psalm 130:1).  Our present life of faith requires that "we walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).  Thus, some of our best days will find us with little understanding of how God is working, or what He is doing.  They will feel like worst days.  But as we trust the Lord, they will be best days.

   Finally, if the Lord tarries until our departure from this planet by way of physical death, will we experience our earthly farewell as a worst day or a best day?  Every believer knows the answer.  "To depart and to be with Christ is far better" (Philippians 1:23).  Indeed, if our Heavenly Father allows us to look back on our earthly lifetime, every believer will testify that the day we entered into the direct spiritual presence of the Lord Jesus was our best day indeed.  "Far better" testified the Paul who had been caught up into the third Heaven where he beheld glories of God unlawful to utter because they would have been impossible to adequately describe (II Corinthians 12:2-4).

   I am grateful for the ongoing legacy of Jim Kelly in my life, and doubtless in the lives of many others.  God graces us with examples of faith and faithfulness as we journey through this present world.  We do well to look, listen, and realize that that the same Christ who empowered brothers and sisters to influence us dwells within our trusting hearts.  Thereby He enables us to serve as models who remind us that "this is day which the Lord hath made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it."

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

Weekly Memory Verse
   How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, o Lord!  Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings."
(Psalm 36:7)


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

"The Best Day"

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

"The Best Day"

   I'm thinking about Jim Kelly this morning.   Again.

   "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you."

    Those of you who have been with us awhile may remember that Jim lived at a local retirement community where we conduct services.  He was in his late 90s when we began our meetings, and lived until just after his 101st birthday.  And when I say "lived," I mean that word in the truest sense of the term.  "To live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21).  Jim loved the Lord, he loved people, and he loved the life God had given him in the Lord Jesus.  If you asked Jim how he was doing, he invariably responded, "You know, I think this is the best day of my life!"  And he meant it!  I think Jim really believed a verse we all quote, but sometimes fail to adequately realize the import of its meaning: "This is the day which the Lord hath made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it!" (Psalm 118:24).

   Jim realized the importance of attitude as a Christian, that is, of "attitude based on Altitude" (Jim takes a back seat only to my wife Frances in the understanding and practice of that truth).  

   "God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-6).

   Born again believers in the Lord Jesus are spiritual beings.  "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you" (Romans 8:9).  We live in earthly temples of flesh, of course, and must navigate the dusty and often difficult paths of a fallen world.  However, nothing changes that fact of our Heavenly being in Christ, and our capacity through Him to live here while already spiritually dwelling There.  Note the present tense of Paul's declaration: we "sit together in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus."  By faith, we thereby possess the capacity in Christ to overcome the challenges of our current earthly environment by realizing and affirming who our Lord is in us, and who we are in Him.  "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ" (II Corinthians 2:14).

   I suppose some might say that Jim's attitude resulted from genetics, upbringing, training, life experience, and other natural factors.  Not a chance!  While we all have innate personality tendencies based on such influences, the reality of attitude in believers proceeds from the awareness and affirmation of our Altitude in Christ.  If He is who He is, and we are who we are in Him, only unbelief keeps us from joining Jim in realizing that no matter what, "this is the day which the Lord hath made."  And thus, it is the best day of our life.  Jim knew that truth while sitting in a wheelchair during the last three years of his earthly lifetime.  But no, he actually knew that truth while "sitting together in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus."   Yes, I'm thinking about Jim Kelly again this morning, and I am giving thanks.  But even more, I am remembering his example, encouragement, and challenge to see this day, the only day we have in this life, as the best day, the Lord's day!

"That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known unto thee this day, even to thee."
(Proverbs 22:19)

Weekly Memory Verse
   How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, o Lord!  Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings."
(Psalm 36:7)


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

“Five Loaves. Two Fish. Twelve Baskets Full”

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

"Five Loaves.  Two Fish.  Twelve Baskets Full"

   "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" (Matthew 14:15-20).

   In a nutshell, this story declares, "Bring Me what you have.  I'll provide what they need.  And far more." 

   Our particular spheres of influence need us to feed them.  That is, God calls born again believers to serve our world with the One who said, "I am the Bread of life" (John 6:35).  Of course, none of us have enough within ourselves to provide the spiritual sustenance that satisfies the hunger of human hearts.  Our five loaves won't do it.  Nor will our two fish.  That is, unless the Lord Jesus is present to take what we have and make into what He multiplies.  He is present within our trusting hearts, and He purposes to feed our multitude as we present ourselves and our all to Him.  

   "Who is sufficient for these things?" asked the Apostle Paul regarding the ministry to which God called him.  Paul answers his own question: "Not to think of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, for our sufficiency is of God"   (II Corinthians 2:16; 3:5).  Paul realized that only the Bread of life can fill needy hearts.  Indeed, how do we know what to do or what to say that will apply the sustenance of God's provision and truth in precisely the way our world needs?  In and of ourselves, we have no clue about such matters except in the most general terms.  Only our Lord knows how to direct and guide the distribution of our five loaves and two fish into enough, and more than enough.  Thus, we bring what we are and what we have to Him.  It is all we can do amid the challenge of hungry hearts and too few loaves and fish.  And, it is all we need to do.  Again, regarding the challenge, Paul confessed…

   "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).

   "Not enough!" we rightly acknowledge of ourselves.  "Twelve baskets full of abundance and more than enough!" we affirm of Him.  Our world awaits our recognition of both too little and more than enough.

I am Thine, o Lord, 
but I am most surely not enough
to be what my world needs,
not enough, not enough!

But then never did You call me
to be what my world needs.
Rather You call me to bring 
my loaves and fish to Thee.

Enough and far more I find 
when I look to You and see 
five loaves and two fish become
twelve baskets full, full of plenty!

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or thing, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen."
(Ephesians 3:20-21)

Weekly Memory Verse
   How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, o Lord!  Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings."
(Psalm 36:7)


Monday, March 18, 2019

“Christos and Chrestos”

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

"Christos and Chrestos"

   "Charity (love)… is kind" (I Corinthians 13:4).

   The New Testament Greek root word for "kind" is "chrestos," meaning "fit or able to be used."  This might seem surprising upon first consideration as it may not seem to correlate to our definition of the characteristic.  Further contemplation, however, reveals that "chrestos" is the perfect term for God's kindness and our own experience of His calling to "be ye kind (chrestos) to one another" (Ephesians 4:32).

   It has been said that "the greatest ability is availability."  This is chrestos, or kindness.  Indeed, a kind person is someone with the willingness and ability to be what others need.  The matter first involves attitude toward God, namely, we present ourselves as available to our Lord for His glory and will.  This leads to the corollary consecration of devotion to people.  The Lord Jesus Christ serves as the primary and perfect example of such devotion.

   "I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me" (John 5:30).
   "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

    We might say, "Christos (the Greek for "Christ") was and is chrestos."  He was willingly available for the Father to send Him to be our Savior.  He is willingly available to be that Savior to all who believe.  And He is willingly available to lead and guide believers by the Holy Spirit who reveals "Christos" and "chrestos" in us as we devote ourselves to God and others.  The kindness of availability that so glorifies God and blesses people through us begins by our knowledge of the Lord Jesus as the very essence of such kindly goodness.  We then submit ourselves to Him for His character of devotion to be manifested in us.  "Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us and given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor" (Ephesians 5:2).

   The prophet Isaiah responded to the Lord's search for someone to serve as the herald of His Word to wayward Israel.  "Here am I.  Send me" said Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8).  This is kindness.  This is chrestos.  This is Christ, the holy One willing to be sent not only as a messenger, but as "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).  The Lamb now lives in trusting hearts as the very Life of our lives (Colossians 3:4).  As we trust and devote ourselves to Him, we will walk with the prophet's attitude - "Here am I.  Send me" - or rather, with the kindness, the chrestos of the Christ who seeks His Father's will and the blessing of others.

Here am I, send me, Lord,
for the glory of Your name
and the needs of others.

Here am I, send me, Lord,
in the kindness of the Christ
for my sisters and my brothers.

Here am I, send me, Lord, 
to a lost and dying world
without life, peace, or hope.

For I hear Your call, "Who shall go?"
and go I must, this I know.
Here am I, send me, Lord. 

"For Thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes.  I have walked in Thy truth."
(Psalm 26:3)

Weekly Memory Verse
   How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, o Lord!  Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings."
(Psalm 36:7)