Tuesday, April 30, 2019

“Let Us Have Grace”

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

"Let Us Have Grace"

    Does a strong emphasis on God's grace and truth in the Lord Jesus Christ lead some people to believe they can take advantage of our Heavenly Father's freely given favor in His Son?  Absolutely.

    "Some affirm that we say, Let us do evil that good may come" (Romans 3:8).

    Deceivers accused no less than the Apostle Paul of the deception commonly known as antinomianism.  Such error involves the notion that since believers are saved by God's freely given favor through faith, it does not matter how we subsequently live.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" responded Paul.  "God forbid!" he thundered in response (Romans 6:1-2).  Rather than license to sin, a genuine experience of God's grace motivates and empowers faith and faithfulness.  "Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28).   The more we know, understand, and respond to God's grace and truth in Christ, the more we find heart, mind, hands, and feet directed along the path of righteousness.  

   A consistent and growing experience of grace results from a consistent and growing awareness of the Person and work of Christ on our behalf.  Who is the Lord Jesus?  What has He done.  What is He doing?  What will He do for us forevermore?   The more we find the Bible'a grace-saturated answers to these questions, the more our Holy Spirit-inhabited hearts arise with the motivation to love God and people.  Moreover, we find the power to trust and obey as we realize that the Christ who serves as our example also lives in us to enable godliness.  "Walk even as He walked… I will dwell in them and walk in them" (I John 2:6; II Corinthians 6:16).  Thus, we seek to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" in order to more faithfully live in accordance with God's glory and will (II Peter 3:18)..  "God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (II Corinthians 9:8).

    Our spiritual enemies tempt us to exchange grace-empowered relationship with God for well meaning, but misguided efforts to live by our own dedication, devotion, and determination.  The standard - Christlikeness - is far too high for such futility to ever lead to genuine faithfulness.  We must "have grace," and yes, some will misunderstand and misapply God's freely give favor, viewing it as license to sin rather than liberty to obey.  But like Paul, we do not change the message by adding burdens beyond our ability to bear.  We rather communicate God's grace in proper Biblical terms, namely, we must affirm the freely given favor that justifies is one and the same with the freely given favor that motivates and empowers genuine devotion to God and people.  The Bible could not be plainer about this truth.  Let us be plain about it also.  Only an unequivocal emphasis on God's grace and truth in Christ results in the salvation of the sinner, and the service of the saint.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Nothing else.

"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

   Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear.

(Hebrews 12:28)


Monday, April 29, 2019

"Accepted In the Beloved"

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

"Accepted In the Beloved"

    One of the primary tenets of Biblical Doctrine 101 involves the truth that God imputed our sins to the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary so that He could impute Christ's righteousness to us as a free gift of grace.  Or we might say that God gave the Lord Jesus what we deserve, and gives to those who believe what He deserves.

    "The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).
    "Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us… righteousness" (I Corinthians 1:30).

   Two paths lie before the human race regarding acceptance with God.  We must either be pristinely perfect from the moment of our conception until forevermore, or pristine perfection must be freely placed on our account as a gift of grace.  The former condemns the entire human race; the latter constitutes the Gospel.  Only through the imputed merits of the Lord Jesus do we become "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).  Our own merits and efforts can never suffice.  Because we are originally conceived of Adam's fallen race, we all share the Psalmist's lament: "in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51:6).  Adam's servitude to sin passes down to all his progeny: "in Adam all die" (I Corinthians 15:22).  We cannot ourselves change this spiritual and moral disposition, nor can we absolve ourselves of sins already committed.  Thus, the first path of seeking to attain to acceptability with God by our own efforts portends of frustration, futility, and failure.  "There is no peace, saith my God to the wicked" declared the prophet, referencing those left to remain in their sins because, as the Lord Jesus said, "Ye will not come to Me that ye might have life" (John 5:40).

   The second path offers certain hope to those who repent of their deluded efforts to justify themselves and receive God's free gift of pardon and imputed righteousness in Christ.  "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Galatians 5:16).  As the most blessed bestowal of grace, God accounts trusting hearts as enrobed with the righteousness of His Son.  He sees us as "in Christ," looking upon the righteousness of the Lord Jesus when He sets His gaze upon us.  He sees the Robe, and relates to us first upon the basis of who Christ is, and who we are in Him.  Of course, this does not mean that our Father fails to faithfully chasten and scourge us as necessary (Hebrews 12:6).  However, it does mean that imputed righteousness - Christ's righteousness - supplies the primary sensibility in God's heart regarding His relationship and fellowship to born again believers.  "And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 1:14).

   Biblical Doctrine 101.  The truth we consider may be foundational.  Indeed, every new believer must be escorted as far as possible into this most blessed Light of grace.  However, such truth never grows old in its motivational and empowering impact regarding a life of faithfulness to God.  We will need to be reminded often of our being "accepted in the Beloved."  Moreover, we need to grow in our awareness and understanding of the grace whereby God gave to Christ what we deserve so that He might give to us what Christ deserves.  Fresh explorations of this wondrous expression of God's love always leads us to new vistas of glory, and new victories of the freely given favor that leads to faith and faithfulness

"Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear."
(Hebrews 12:28)

Weekly Memory Verse

   Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear.

(Hebrews 12:28)


Friday, April 26, 2019

"The Loneliest Soul"

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

"The Loneliest Soul"

    If John 1:1 could be considered the most important verse in the Bible, as suggested in yesterday's message, Matthew 27:46 might qualify as the most solemn and somber.

    "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?!"

   The Lord Jesus Christ uttered this most mournful of laments as He hung on the cross of Calvary.  Thereupon He suffered physical and emotional agonies beyond all imagining, being "marred more than any man" (Isaiah 52:14).  Doubtless we all bow head and heart upon every remembrance of our Savior's experience of human pain such as we know.  "Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows" (Isaiah 53:4).  However, the greatest grief and the most keen sorrow involved the wrath of God poured out in such fury that the Father and Holy Spirit forsook and turned away from the Lord Jesus.  Indeed, the Holy One who had forever before known only the love of the triune Godhead suffered its rejection as "He was made to be sin for us" (II Corinthians 5:21).  What could such darkness have meant in a perfectly righteous and morally pristine heart, and in a soul so devoted to the love of the Father and the Spirit?  We can only know that we will never know.  And we can be sure that to the degree the Lord Jesus was forsaken on the cross, His promise will ring eternally and perfectly true: "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).

My God, My God,
why hast Thou forsaken Me?
For I cry into this night
but no answer comes from Thee.
Oh I long to see Your face,
to know again Your heart's embrace.
My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?

Holy Father I come to Thee
by the way of this bloody tree.
And in the darkness of this hour,
I feel Your wrath poured out on Me
for the ones I came to save,
to rescue from sin and from the grave.
Holy Father I come to Thee, 
Your face I long to see.

My God, My God, oh hear Me now,
As My head and heart I bow.
I am Thine for Your will,
as in death My life is stilled.
But I know You will not leave
 My soul to perish, My heart in this grief,
My God, My God, 
why hast Thou forsaken Me?

     Many statements made by our Savior during His earthly lifetime reveal His knowledge for why He came into the world, and why He would one day suffer and die alone.  Why then would He have cried out, "Why?!"  We do not know, and perhaps cannot know.  Perhaps, however, the agony of spiritual grief known as the Lord Jesus died in forsakenness may so overwhelmed His spirit that He could not beckon the Truth to the surface of His consciousness.  His was the loneliest soul that ever was, or ever will be.  "Why art Thou so far from helping Me?" (Psalm 22:1).  His cries ring through the centuries, bearing witness to agonies of a heart ravaged and a spirit bereft.  

    Let us close now.  Perhaps our best response involves the realization that mysteries abound regarding Calvary's dark hour beyond our understanding.  Thus, we do best to let our Lord's "Why?" lead us to worship, and to the awed admiration and adoration of One who must love us so very much more than we will ever know…

"We did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God… He was wounded for our transgression, He was bruised for our iniquities… the Lord hath laid on Him the inquiry of us all."
(Isaiah 53:4; 5; 6)
"The love of Christ… passeth knowledge."
(Ephesians 3:19)

Weekly Memory Verse

   "O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek Thee."

 (Psalm 63:1).


Thursday, April 25, 2019

"John 1:1"

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

"John 1:1"

  Over the 43+ years of my Christian life, I have read the first chapter of John hundreds of times.  I often return to be awed by the passage, particularly the first verse.

   "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).

   I'm not sure a "most important verse" exists in the Bible.  "Every word of God is pure" (Proverbs 30:5).   Every verse of Scripture so teems with God's light, life, and love that no passage transcends another in meaning and significance.  Presently, however, some verses at least seem to bear the most importance and necessity.  So, if I had to cast my lot or a Most Important Verse, it would fall on John 1:1 (despite my strong affinity for the writings of Apostle Paul!).  Every time I read the Apostle John's declaration, I find myself completely thrilled, but also daunted by the Truth that presents itself to my heart and mind.  John 1:1 seems like a high summit that gleams with glories of light too bright to behold directly, but which bathes mountainside, foothills, and base with illuminations that suggest "wonders without number" (Job 9:10).  Doubtless this is the case, revealing that eternity will not suffice in allowing us to fully ascend the summit of John 1:1 and behold "the Light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen or can see" (I Timothy 6:16).

   John 1:1 blesses and buffets.  It shines with the glorious Light of the Christ who exists, who dwells in relationship to the Father and Holy Spirit, and who is Himself the second Person of the Divine Trinity:  "was… was with God… was God."  No verse more succinctly proclaims our Savior's blessed Person and being, calling us to admiration and appreciation.  However, no verse more drives us to our faces in the realization that whatever we can know or understand regarding John's declaration, it is not enough.  As we often suggest, we can know some.  We can know more.  But we cannot know all.  This is especially true regarding the nature of our Savior, that is, the God who became man, and the man who remains God.  How can He even exist?  How can the infinite God of John 1:1 become the infant humanity of Luke 2:12?  "Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."  Paul knew the only answer.  "Great is the mystery of godliness.  God was manifest in the flesh" (I Timothy 3:16).  In Heaven and earth, there is no one like the Lord Jesus Christ.  John and Paul unite to tell us of glories  in Christ beyond comprehension, but which became lowly to the degree He lived and died as a man.

   Lord willing, I will read the first chapter of John many more times during the remainder of my earthly journey.  The first verse will again and again stop me in my tracks, first to rejoice in the peace and gladness of yet again pondering the beauty of our Savior.  I will then crane my neck in the attempt to behold a Summit of grace and truth far too high to fully see, and even more, far beyond our attempt to scale.  Yes, in Heaven and earth, there is no one like the Lord Jesus Christ.  John 1:1 has spoken that message to my heart and mind every time I have ever read it.  And it always will.

"And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, that glory of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
(John 1:14)

Weekly Memory Verse

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


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

“Altars, Everywhere"

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

"Altars, Everywhere"

    Several days ago, I walked out of our house to discover that someone had apparently tossed an empty cup and straw onto our driveway.  I shook my head and felt irritated by the lack of respect and responsibility shown by the litterbug, a proper response to such an offense.  People should not throw trash onto other people's property.  However, a thought entered my mind that changed the course of my attitude and reaction.

   "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men" (I Timothy 2:1).

   In the light of the Apostle Paul's exhortation to realize our Lord's loving and involved presence in all things, the eyes of my heart were opened to behold an altar that lay before me.  I could replace my irritation with intercession.  I could pray for the person who tossed their litter into my driveway.  Certainly such a person needs the Lord's working in their heart and life, as do we all.  Of course, I knew nothing whatsoever about the perpetrator who became the subject of prayer.  But I do know the One who knows him (or her) perfectly.  Moreover, I am confident that our Heavenly Father allowed the cup and straw to end up in my driveway for the  purpose of paving a pathway in my spirit to the throne of grace.  So I prayed for the person, asking that God's grace and truth would be revealed in his heart, and that the Holy Spirit would bear witness to him of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  "Oh yes, Lord" I concluded.  "And teach him to not litter!" :)

   Wonderfully, the story does not end there.  Yesterday morning I again walked out of my house, this time to discover Mary Beth walking on the sidewalk at the end of our driveway.  She is a nice lady, a believer, who lives in our neighborhood and regularly takes walks that lead her by our house.  We struck up a conversation and just before parting, she showed me an empty cup.  "Could you throw this in your garbage, Glen?" she asked.  "It looks like somebody tossed it out of their car."  I took the cup and nodded.  I also told her the story about the previous day's experience of another cup and the realization of an opportunity to pray for a litterbug.  "I can't believe you're saying that!" responded Mary Beth.  "That is exactly what I do when I find trash during my walks through the neighborhood."  This led to mutual rejoicing in a wonderful and faithful Lord who calls us to altars of prayer in countless ways, and enables us to replace our natural fleshly inclinations and irritations with supernatural spiritual intercessions.  "O send out Thy light and Thy truth.  Let them lead me.  Let them bring me to Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles" (Psalm 43:3).

   They're everywhere.  Altars of prayer "for all" grace the pathways of our lives as the Spirit of God leads us in the love of the Lord Jesus.  Sometimes offenders become the subject of our intercessions as the Spirit of Christ rescues both them and ourselves by leading us to pray rather than be poisoned by resentful bitterness.  Mary Beth understands this.  I am learning, little by little.  What a gift, the gift of regular visits to the throne of grace as made possible by the God who "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will," and who beckons us to join Him in the fellowship of His ongoing work of redemption in Christ (Ephesians 1:11).

"Pray without ceasing."
(I Thessalonians 5:17)

Weekly Memory Verse
     "O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek Thee."
 (Psalm 63:1).


Tuesday, April 23, 2019


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


    When our children reached the age of entering the workforce, we taught them several basic characteristics and practices that would serve them well, and more importantly, serve the Lord and their employers well.

   1.  Show up on time.
   2.  Have a respectful, "ready to work" attitude.
   3.  Do your assigned work better than expected.
   4.  If you finish the work assigned, look for other productive ways to stay busy and benefit the workplace.

   To the credit of a wonderful Lord and a great mother who served (and serves) as an incredible example, they listened and are doing well in their respective careers.  I am grateful, and can say with all sincerity that our daughters and son now serve as a model to me of how to fulfill responsibility in an exemplary manner.  

    "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men" (Colossians 3:23).  

    Nothing more fulfills our hearts than doing what we do "heartily, as to the Lord."  We all work for Him first and foremost.  Personally, I feel this most keenly when preaching and writing.  I have confidence that this is what our Heavenly Father called me to do more than forty years ago.  When I practice these callings, I feel within myself the strongest compulsion to give everything I have, as provided by the Lord, in every message.  I don't know how well I actually accomplish this, or how it comes across, but I am determined to never communicate the Gospel with any sense or sensibility other than "heartily."  I am completely aware that such a determination does not originate in myself, but rather in a faithful Lord who promises to motivate, guide, and empower us as we show up at His throne of grace with a humble, trusting attitude.  "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).  

   "Here am I, send me" offered the prophet long ago when his Lord sought someone to send for His purposes (Isaiah 6:8).  What an example of humble consecration to God and to people.  Even more, consider that in the eternal counsels of God, an even more humble and glorious One offered Himself to His Father for the purpose of our eternal redemption.  "I am from Him, and He hath sent Me" (John 7:29).  Indeed, the Lord Jesus Christ forevermore serves as the most wondrous example of showing up with a trusting and submissive attitude to fulfill responsibility.  "I do always those things that please Him" (John 8:29).  I think of that sometimes when I gratefully consider our childrens' attitude and work habits.  It is a blessed pondering, and how much more our Father must be blessed by His Son's "heartily" devotion to God and people...

"Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
(I Corinthians 10:31)
"I must work the works of Him that sent Me."
(John 9:4)

Weekly Memory Verse
     "O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek Thee."
 (Psalm 63:1).


Monday, April 22, 2019

"To Realize the Reality"

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

"To Realize the Reality"

    I don't know about you, but when I wake up first thing in the morning, my mind seems to run in a thousand different directions.  Moreover, a lot of those pathways seem to have little to do with the Lord and His purposes (or at least I'm not immediately thinking in those terms!).

   "O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek Thee" (Psalm 63:1).

   One of the benefits of writing these messages involves their help in reminding, encouraging, and challenging my heart to realize the Reality of each day.  "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).  As I told a friend the other day, I feel as if I write them with regard to my own personal condition, circumstance, and need.  Those who read them are just looking over my shoulder to see if I've pondered anything worthwhile!  I hope that's the case sometimes for you.  For me, it's every day, because writing has always been for me a way to mesh my internal gears and get the machinery moving.  

    Back to the point.  We do well to seek the Lord early, in whatever manner most suits our particular disposition, personality, calling, and responsibility.  We may or may not spend a great deal of time upon first awaking in consciously devoting ourselves and the day to our Heavenly Father.  We do, however, want to spend a great measure of our heart's devotion to the Life of our lives.  As soon as we gain our bearings, acknowledging the glory, will, and eternal purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ as the path of Reality upon which we will tread establishes our course and "shall set us in the way of His steps" (Psalm 85:13).  No other way to begin our days offers to us life, peace, and the wonder of our blessed Savior's loving and involved Presence.  To realize the Reality - may each day begin at this altar of Light.

"Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass."
(Psalm 37:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
     "O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek Thee."
 (Psalm 63:1).


Thursday, April 18, 2019

Feel? Real!

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

(Sending this out the night before because we have a storm coming that may affect our electricity.  And pardon to those who don't care for golf! :)  )

"Feel?  Real!"

    In the game of golf, feel is often not real.  That is, the best way to swing a golf club is often counterintuitive to what the player thinks he or she should do.  For example, most beginners think that to hit the ball high, one must swing up.  This is exactly the opposite of the case.  One swings down to cause the golf ball to ascend (based on the angled construction of the face of the golf club).  Other factors follow the same protocol of "feel is often not real."  Now, enough golf!

   "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
   "Why standest Thou afar off, O Lord?  Why hidest Thyself in times of trouble?" (Psalm 10:1).

   Why the seeming contradiction?  The same David who declared God to be "a very present help in trouble" nevertheless despaired over the Lord's absence in trouble.  Which perspective was true, and again, why did David contradict Himself? (especially when we consider that the Holy Spirit inspired David's words - II Timothy 3:16).  The answer lies is that which was real, and that which was feel.  God's presence in trouble - His very present help - constitutes the reality of our Lord's loving and involved presence in every aspect of our existence.  This is the real.  Our Heavenly Father draws especially close when we hurt, doubtless nearer than our next breath.  We matter more to Him than words can express, and while He must at times allow or even determine painful challenges in our lives, we can be sure He takes no pleasure in our necessary difficulties and hurts.  "He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men" (Lamentations 3:33).

    Regarding David's mention of God's seeming absence in trouble, his words  reflected his emotional reaction, his feel.  It wasn't real, or rather it wasn't true  (except in the fact that David actually felt as if God were absent).  The man declared by the Lord in the New Testament to be "after Mine own heart" nevertheless experienced fleshly contradictions to that which he knew to be true in his heart (Acts 13:22).  His feel did not align with God's real.  Surely every born again believer experiences the same conflict on a daily basis.  "The flesh lusteth against the spirit" (Galatians 5:17).  Regardless of how well we know and believe the Scriptures, contrary inclinations, impulses, and sensibilities challenge our faith and confidence in God and His Word.  Remembering that feel is often not real prepares us for the required internal determinations to believe and affirm "Thus saith the Lord" and "It is written" in the face - or the feeling - of anything that contradicts.

   Oh yes, one final thought: Fore!

"As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing."
(II Corinthians 6:10)
"What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."
(Psalm 56:3)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "Without Me ye can do nothing."
 (John 15:5).


"First Things First"

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

"First Things First"

    Contrary to modern notions, salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ does not first offer help to the needy, substance to the empty, and tranquility to the troubled.  No, the Gospel's initial offer involves pardon to the guilty.

   "God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:17-18).

    Before anything else, the matter of God's perfect righteousness and our sinful unrighteousness must be settled.  He must forgive us without compromising His integrity.  Justice must be served if justification is to be supplied.  This our Heavenly Father made possible through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of His Son.  

   "Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:25).  

   Apart from faith in the Lord Jesus, human beings remain in their sin, and in God's condemnation.  The Lord Jesus Himself plainly stated the indictment - "condemned already."  When sharing the Gospel, therefore, we must be lovingly honest in proclaiming its primary truth, namely, a Savior from sin and its consequences exists.  Then we declare the spiritual and moral gulf that exists between God and unbelievers because of His righteousness and their sin.   We refrain from clouding the issue by suggesting that people need salvation because they are sad, forlorn, and unfulfilled.  Certainly faith in the Lord Jesus leads to a relationship with God that powerfully addresses such human need.  But this is not why people need to be saved, at least in the initial aspect of the new birth.  Redemption through Christ from being "guilty before God" must first form and inform the content of our evangelistic message (Romans 3:19).  Sin must be judged for God to remain true to Himself.  For believers, this happened in the past when the Lord Jesus bore our sins on the cross.  For unbelievers, it will occur in the future because they refuse God's offer of pardon in the Lamb (Matthew 25:41).

   Salvation in Christ involves and impacts every aspect of our existence in both time and eternity.  "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3).  Such grace, however, addresses first things first.  Sin must be forgiven, freely and breathtakingly provided through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus and our reception of His gracious mercy.  We must share the Gospel accordingly in order to be faithful to our Lord, His Truth, and needy human hearts that must be redeemed from condemnation to the clemency found only in Christ. 

"But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you."
(Isaiah 59:2)
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
(Romans 5:1)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "Without Me ye can do nothing."
 (John 15:5).


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

“Here a Little, There a Little"

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

"Here a Little, There a Little"

    Regarding every fundamental doctrine of Scripture, many verses rather than one or a few must illuminate our understanding of God and His Truth.

    "Whom shall He teach knowledge?  And whom shall He make to understand doctrine?   Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little" (Isaiah 28:9-10).

   God inspired His Word for those serious enough to realize that growing awareness of its knowledge, doctrine, precepts, and lines requires time, diligence, and patience.  While the Biblical message of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ is breathtakingly simple - necessarily - those who believe that message then discover a lifetime of growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus lies before us.  Only by consistently correlating verses and passages can we increasingly comprehend the meaning of all doctrine.  "The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple" (Psalm 119:130).  Note the plural of the Psalmist's declaration: "words."  We do well to realize our ongoing need for confirmation and enhancement of our understanding regarding every teaching of the Bible.  The Apostle Paul taught that we know nothing yet as we ought to know (I Corinthians 8:2).  Thus, the challenge lies before us, the "here a little, there a little" calling wherein we seek to fortify and improve the structure of our understanding.  "The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18).

   Our consideration should both thrill us and still us.  First, the infinite nature of Biblical truth promises "wonders without number" (Job 9:10).  Regardless of how far we journey into the light of God, His Spirit beckons, "Come further, climb higher, dive deeper!"  "His understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5).  No contemplation should more fill our hearts with joy as God's eternal nature promises growing illumination of glory both now and forevermore.  However, the same Truth also stops us in our tracks with the solemn realization: we must know more of God and the doctrinal truth of Scripture that reveals His character, nature, and way.  Indeed, we do well to allow the current of "I know nothing yet as I ought to know" to continually course through the riverbed of our hearts and minds.  This will always be the case, and thus we bow before God and His Word in the humbling realization of wonders to come.  "A wise man will hear and will increase learning" (Proverbs 1:5).

   Whatever we presently know of God and His truth, it is not enough.  Writing these words has thrilled and stilled me, a response I am sure you share.  We must be thirsty for God, and hungry for His Truth.  Now.  Always.  Forever.  He is worthy of such realization, determination, and intensity.  We shall not be disappointed as we tread the path of "here a little, there a little" regarding the Light that ever beckons, "Come further, climb higher, dive deeper!"  The lines and the precepts await us, as does the God who dwells therein to greet us with growing grace and glory…

"Call unto Me, and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."
(Jeremiah 33:3)
"Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts."
(Jeremiah 15:15)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "Without Me ye can do nothing."
 (John 15:5).


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

"The Prospect"

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

"The Prospect"

    Many people are paralyzed by prospects.  That is, they live in fear of  "What if?"  "What if this happens?  What if that happens?  What if this and that happens?"

   For born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible definitively provides our response to any and every prospect of peril.

   "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
   "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee" (Isaiah 43:2).

   "A very present help I will be with thee."  The prospect of His presence -  this is the answer to the "What if?" questions of life.  Trouble will come to all of us (although often in different ways than we anticipate).  We will pass through the waters and the rivers.  We will walk through the fire.  However, our primary prospect assures us of the loving and involved presence of God in all things.  We must therefore prepare our hearts in the light of truth and reality.  When "What if?" threatens, we answer with "Who!"  We answer with Him.  Indeed, nothing will ever approach the threshold of the Christian, batter on the door of lives, and even break it down without the Lord Jesus Christ being the One waiting to greet whatever foe or challenge tempts us to fear. 

   The little boy could not believe his ears when one evening, his father announced, "Tomorrow, son, it's time for you to go into the deep, dark woods!"

   The boy could not believe what he heard.  Many times, he had watched his father venture into the vast stand of trees that surrounded the family property.  One of the things he loved and admired most about his dad was the man's seeming fearlessness concerning the dangers that might lie in the woods.
    "Uh, Dad, did you say you think I should go into the deep, dark woods?" The boy gulped as he replied, barely looking at his father because he so feared that he might have correctly heard his dad's words.

    The man replied without hesitation, even smiling as he spoke. "Yes, son, tomorrow's the day. I have no doubt that you're ready, and I'll wake you up at the crack of dawn for a good breakfast, and then… and then a journey into the forest!  Your first journey!

    The boy slept little through a long, restless night.  When he did, nightmares of what might lie in the forest startled him to wakefulness.  How could it be that his dad thought he was ready for the deep, dark woods?!  What might really lie in their fearful depths?   What was his father thinking?!  

    Just before sunup, the boy heard a knock on his bedroom door.  His father's voice followed.  "Son, are you awake?  It's time.  Today's the day!  It's time for you to go into the deep dark woods!"  Once again, the little boy heard sheer excitement in his dad's voice.  He hesitated, but then responded, "Yes, Dad, I'm awake."  The excited voice sounded once again through the door.  "Great son, get your clothes on and come to the kitchen.  I'm making a big breakfast for you so you'll be ready for your big day!"

   The little boy arose and began to get dressed.  He thought about his father.  First, he remembered again the courage and bravery of his dad.  But then, he even more thought of how much his father loved him.  He knew this was true!  His dad showed him every day!  The thought came to mind, "If Dad thinks I'm ready, well….  I know I can trust him!"

     The boy ate little of the breakfast his father had prepared as the sun rose on what would be a fateful day. "Not hungry, son?" asked the father. The boy looked at his dad, still feeling uncertain about things ahead, but also trusting the man even more as he looked into his eyes. "No sir, not really" said the boy, speaking  barely above a whisper. "I guess I'm just thinking about the trip into the deep, dar… The boy cut his sentence short, not even wanting to say the words.

    "Ok son, get your backpack" the dad said with a smile, and I'll meet you out by the poplars," referring to the stand of hardwoods where an opening allowed entrance into the forest.
     When the boy arrived at the spot, his dad was not yet there. This gave him time to consider the vast and seemingly innumerable trees. They were beautiful, no doubt, especially as the rays of the rising sun shone through the branches and leaves. He had loved to gaze upon the forest for as long as he could remember - from a safe distance - and he often lingered as he watched his dad disappear into the forest for his trips. How brave was his father!  And how much the little boy felt he was not like him!  A sense of shame coupled with the fear churning inside.  Tears formed in his eyes just as he heard his father's footsteps approaching.  He gulped hard, and again thought to himself, "I can trust my dad!"

    The man reached his son, and put his arm around the boy's shoulder. "All right, son, are you ready?"  The boy quickly wiped a tear and looked up at his father. "Yes, Dad, I think so. I think I'm ready." 

    The father replied, "Me too, son.  I've been waiting for this moment since the day your were born!  There are so many things in these deep, dark woods I want to show you.  So let's get going!"

       The boy's father set out toward the opening in the poplars.  His son, however, stood still, frozen in his tracks by the words he had just heard.  He could barely speak, but as best he could, the boy called out to his father.  "Dad… Dad, are you going with me?"

     The father stopped and turned to face his son.  He smiled and reached out for the boy in a motion that invited him to come and join him. "Of course I'm going with you, son!  You're not yet ready for a journey into the deep, dark woods by yourself.  Someday you will be, but this is not that day.  No, not yet.  Oh yes, I'm going with you into the deep, dark woods. We're going together, and I'm going to show you things I could never describe to you with words. It will be wonderful, and like I said, I've been waiting for this moment since the day you were born!"  The man looked into his son's eyes. "Son, are you ready?"

    The little boy was ready. He was more ready to journey into the deep, dark woods than anything he had ever pondered doing. His dad was going with him!  His brave, strong father would accompany him every step of the way.  Now the prospect of the vast forest portended not of fear and uncertainty.  It rather promised the wonder of discovery and awe. "Yes, I'm ready, Dad" the boy almost shouted.  "I'm ready to go into the deep, dark woods!"
   Whence we go, we go not alone.  Our Heavenly Father journeys with us, whether we venture unto shining summits where vistas of beauty await our awed eyes, or into deep, dark woods that threaten with seeming peril.  Whence we go, we go alone.  "I am with you always" promised the Lord Jesus, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).  In Christ, God gives to us Himself.  He is our prospect.  Thus, we can face anything and everything with the assurance that the Lord Jesus will be everything we need Him to be in every moment, in every contingency, in every venue.  Always with us, never to leave us - this is the promise of He who cannot lie.   "Are you ready?" He asks.  Let us respond,  "Oh yes, Father, I am ready!"

"The Lord of hosts is with us.  The God of Jacob is our refuge."
(Psalm 46:7)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "Without Me ye can do nothing."
 (John 15:5).