Wednesday, July 31, 2019

“Deceptions of Discontent”

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

"Deceptions of Discontent"

    Satan tempted Eve (and indirectly, Adam) to desire that which she could not have rather than to be grateful for that which she did have.

    "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" (Genesis 3:1-6).

    The devil continues to ply his deceptions of discontent on the human race until the present hour.  He tempts us to forego gratitude for God's blessing by enticing us with the grating sense that we don't and can't have that which would make us happy.  Satan lies, but he does so with much skill in brewing poisonous concoctions that taste sweet on the tongue, but are bitter in the belly.  "Rather than trust God, Eve, you and Adam need to be as gods."  Nothing could have been further from the truth, but the tree of knowledge of good and evil bore appeal to Eve's senses despite its deadly danger to her spirit.

    The protection from such deception involves thankful acknowledgement of the undeserved and freely given blessings bestowed on us by the Heavenly Father who perfectly knows what we need, and just as importantly, what we don't need.  The Apostle Paul greatly illuminates us in this vital matter.  "Godliness with contentment is great gain" (I Timothy 6:6).  Devotion to our Lord and gratitude for His gifts enables us to overcome the temptation to pine away for baubles the devil dangles in front of us that may appear as strands of pearls, but which are actually nooses of peril.  Thanksgiving, consistently and increasingly offered for God's gracious provision, fills our hearts with the awareness of grace that keeps us from longing for fruits that promise delight, but which poison with death.

"I have learned in whatsoever state I am in therewith to be content."
(Philippians 4:11)
"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
(I Thessalonians 5:18)

Weekly Memory Verse

    God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father.
(Galatians 4:6)



Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "All Things... This Thing"

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

"All Things… This Thing"

   We rejoice that "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28).  But does this thing, that is, the current challenge(s) we face fit into the promised assurance of our Heavenly Father's coordination of everything in our lives?  It does.

    "This thing is from Me" (I Kings 12:24).

    Our difficulties arrived at our doorstep as determined or allowed by God, and as measured to not overwhelm us beyond our Christ-enabled capacity to walk in faith and faithfulness.  "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).  The general truth of "all things" must become in our hearts and minds the specific truth of "this thing."  Our Father's promise of pointed involvement in our lives beckons us to the faith that sees not only the forest, as it were, but also the individual leaves on the trees.

   The problem we presently face, or the need, difficulty, loss, perplexity, heartache, or even heartbreak, does not escape the purview of our Father's "all things/this thing" working for His glory and our good.  The issue therefore involves our response to the fact of His working.  We must make a choice to believe the Truth that regardless of appearance, emotion, and limited understanding, "this thing" flows with the current of God's promised assurance regarding "all things."  We must  visit (and revisit as necessary) the throne of God's grace to specifically trust Him that the current distress comes to us at the very least by God's allowance, and at the most, by His determination.  "I will trust in Thee" we affirm, in response to our blessed Lord's "I will be" and "I will do" in all things - and in this thing (Psalm 56:3; Exodus 6:7; 34:10).

"In this shalt thou know that I am the Lord."
(Exodus 7:17)

Weekly Memory Verse
    God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father.
(Galatians 4:6)



Monday, July 29, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe “The Main Thing, the First Thing”

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

(Thanks to our dear friend Larry V. for inspiration on this one).

"The Main Thing, the First Thing"

      Life consists not only of proper content, but also of correct emphasis.  

     "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).

    Many things bear importance in our lives.  However, if we do not establish the main thing as the main thing and the first thing as the first thing, we miss the heart of life as it actually is.  The Person and Truth of God must be embraced as paramount in our hearts, minds, and actions.  Only thereby will we seek His reign and His righteousness, that is, the Lordship of Jesus and the free gift of acceptability with God through Christ's redeeming work on our behalf.  Indeed, if we consistently and increasingly trust and submit to the Lord Jesus, all things matter.  If we do not, nothing matters.  Significance and the Savior are inextricably bound.  "To live is Christ" declared Paul in one of his most absolutist declarations of truth and reality (Philippians 1:21).  We must join the Apostle in his single hearted devotion to both content and emphasis.

   The glorious thing about narrowing our hearts in devotion to Christ is that it broadens our experience of everything else.  Consider the blessings of life.  If we merely receive them as things or experiences that make us happy, we miss the truth that "every good gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17).  Or if the hard things come to us as merely the product of chance, misfortune, or wrong (of others or ourselves), we fail to see God's "very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).  Finally, in the everyday, mundane realities of life, a heart established and maintained in worship of the living God makes if far more likely that we will know the vibrancy of His loving presence amid even the rote and the repetitious.  Proper emphasis, namely, seeking to keep the main thing and the first  thing in their proper place, leads to the only genuine life available to our hearts: "He is thy life" (Deuteronomy 30:20).

    What we do matters very much.  Why we do it matters more.  Only the Lord Jesus can establish and maintain both our doings and motives in accordance with genuine significance.  Through Him, we grow in both content and emphasis.  His presence of life in our hearts leads us in the worship that results in a walk that bears meaning for both this life and forevermore…
"God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father."
(Galatians 4:6)
Weekly Memory Verse
    God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father.
(Galatians 4:6)



Friday, July 26, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "Who Won?"

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

(a repeat from 2012)

"Who Won?"

   The Roman emperor Nero killed the body of the Apostle Paul, whose spirit immediately flew into the direct presence of his beloved Lord Jesus Christ.  "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:8).

    Nero, along with the once-mighty Roman Empire, add only dusty and fading footnotes to the pages of history.  Paul, however, marches along present pathways through his inspired Scriptural writings.  The Apostle remains as pertinent today as he was 2,000 years ago, while Nero's mark on history becomes more negligible with every passing year.

    Who won their personal battle?  Paul or Nero?  The answer is obvious.  The latter ended the earthly life of the former, but he had no effect on the heavenly Life of Paul.  Nor did he dispel Paul's Gospel.  God's apostle lives on forevermore, and in this day, millions will read his words for the sublime purpose of drawing nigh unto the God Paul trusted.  Nero's sword gained a fleeting victory in the moment; the sword of Paul, or rather, "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" proclaims the victory of the ages (Ephesians 6:17).   Paul won.  Through Christ, in Christ, and by Christ, Paul won.


"I met a traveler from an antique land
who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert.

Near them on the sand,
half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
and wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
tell that its sculptor well those passions read
which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
the hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.

And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
the lone and level sands stretch far away".

(Percy Shelley, 1792-1822)

"The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance."
(Psalm 112:6)
"The lamp of the wicked shall be put out."
(Proverbs 13:9)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "Peace to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
(Ephesians 6:23)



Thursday, July 25, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "To Know... To Trust"

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

"To Know… To Trust"

     Our spiritual enemies do everything they can to discourage born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, as allowed by God.  "There are many adversaries" declared the Apostle Paul in his day (I Corinthians 16:9).  Devils, the world, and the flesh remain, seeking to hinder our consistent and growing access to a salvation in the Lord Jesus that promises abundant supply in every circumstance, condition, and situation.  

    "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (II Peter 1:3).

   Note the promise and the contingency.  Our Heavenly Father has already given to us everything that pertains to the internals and externals of our present existence.  "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).  However, availing ourselves of such availability requires "the knowledge of Him."  Indeed, we must know someone in order to trust them and benefit from their faithfulness.  I often share the story of my mother wheeling our youngest daughter around the block in a stroller when Emmie was a baby.  Emmie loved the journeys, as did my mother, and I had complete confidence that our daughter was in good, trustworthy hands.  I well knew my mother.  However, suppose a stranger had knocked on my door one day.  "Mr. Davis," he said, "I hear that your baby daughter loves to be pushed around the block in her stroller.  Well, here I am, sir!  I'll be glad to do that for you every day!"  Nice offer perhaps, albeit a bit strange (bear with me.  It's a good illustration! :) :)  ).  The gentleman may have been perfectly trustworthy.  But if I didn't know him, forget about it!  Again, we trust others to the degree we know them.

    Every born again believer trusts God to one degree or another.  You cannot be a believer it you don't (Romans 1:17).  However, do we trust Him well enough to navigate the paths of our lives with a confident, consistently joyful heart governed by the peace of Christ?   Honest Christians will all confess need regarding such experience, namely, to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).  We need to know Him better in order to trust Him more, and thus to walk in the faith that results in faithfulness of heart, mind, attitude, and behavior.  We possess all things in Christ regarding this life and forevermore.  Access to such grace awaits the faith that lays hold of God's provision in all things.  Such faith results from knowledge, the knowledge of God as revealed by His Word, His Spirit, His church, and His ongoing work in our hearts to reveal the Trustworthiness that leads to trust.

"I... 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; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power."
 (Ephesians 1:15-19).

Weekly Memory Verse
    "Peace to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
(Ephesians 6:23)



Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe “For Us. To Us. In Us. Through Us.”

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

"For Us. To Us. In Us. Through Us."

     Through the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God for us came to us, now dwells in us, and proceeds from us as we trust and submit to our Heavenly Father.

    "I have loved thee with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3).
    "The kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared" (Titus 3:4).
    "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).
    "Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us" (Ephesians 5:2).

    Salvation in Christ provides wondrous and necessary gifts for every recipient.  Forgiveness, spiritual birth, assurance of eternal life, and the indwelling Holy Spirit all bless the trusting heart with personal bestowals of grace.  "O Lord, Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul.  Thou hast redeemed my life" (Lamentations 3:58).  Our Lord purposes, however, that such goodness does not result in an overwrought focus on how good He has been to us, but rather how He can be good to others through us.  The love of Christ is a perfectly unselfish reality.  "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).  As our Lord's Spirit dwells and moves within us, He works to turn us inside out, as it were.  Rather than a black hole that absorbs all, He progressively transforms us into bright and shining suns that bear radiant light, warmth, and life to others.  "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" commanded the Apostle Paul (Philippians 2:4).  The love of Christ us ever directs us to gaze upward, outward, and away to behold His glory, and to be changed thereby into active participants in His devotion to others.  "Charity (love) … seeketh not her own" (I Corinthians 13:5).  

   The love of God for us fills us with hope.  The love of God to us in Christ thrills us with grace.  The love of God in us fulfills us with His involved presence.  And, the love of God ministered through us instills with the awareness of how good and great our Lord really is.  We find ourselves doing things for Him and others that we know we would not even consider apart from His presence and working in our hearts.  "Where did that come from?" we may wonder when we sacrifice for others rather than selfishly seek our own benefit.  We know the answer.  Love, the love of God for us, to us, within us, and through us - this constitutes the marvel of saving grace in the Lord Jesus whereby God receives all glory, others are blessed, and we find our own hearts thrilled, filled, and fulfilled as the joy of His selfless devotion to others becomes our joy.

"I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."
 (Acts 20:35)

Weekly Memory Verse
 "Peace to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
(Ephesians 6:23)



Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "Embrace Hope"

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

"Embrace Hope"

     "Abandon hope all ye who enter here."  You may recall this inscription over the gates of hell as depicted in Dante's epic poem, "Divine Comedy."  The phrase serves as one of the most chilling expressions of the eternal fate awaiting all those who refuse the only hope provided to condemned sinners, namely, the redeeming grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He alone provides expectation of a future filled with prospects of goodness, both in this life and in the one to come.

    "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Psalm 23:6).

   "Embrace hope all ye who enter here" might be an apt welcome by our Lord to all who will enter His realm of grace and mercy in Christ.  Indeed, born again believers have so very much to look forward to.  This includes the present day, whatever its circumstance, condition, and situation may bring to our doorstep.  "I will be with thee" sounds the promise to trusting hearts, foreshadowing the pledge of the Lord Jesus, "I am with you always"  (Isaiah 43:2; Matthew 28:20).  Moreover, in difficulty, our Lord assures us of even greater presence: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).  Believers are receptacles of Christ's hope in all things.  As we trust Him and the promises of His Word, we find ourselves expecting "goodness and mercy" even in times of challenge, difficulty, pain, and loss.  

    "I will hope continually, and yet praise Thee more and more" (Psalm 71:14).

    The Psalmist's "I will" regarding perpetual hope and growing praise calls us to join him in the determination of expectation.  What will this day and forevermore hold?  We do not know in specific terms.  However, we do know Who holds this day and forevermore.  "My times are in Thy hand" (Psalm 31:15).  He will be with us as we journey to the future, and He will be awaiting us when we arrive.  "I am with you… I will be with you" (Matthew 28:20; Isaiah 43:2).  As long as this is true, we can embrace hope as our guide into the next moment, the next day, and forevermore.  This is peace.  There is no other.  And this is power, the power through Christ to arise and go forth in the confidence that we will never face a coming circumstance, condition, or situation that is not filled with the One who will be awaiting us with more than enough grace and provision when we arrive.  Embrace hope all ye who enter here.

"My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him."
(Psalm 62:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
 "Peace to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
(Ephesians 6:23)



Monday, July 22, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "Why Faith?" - Conclusion - Love

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

"Why Faith?"

Conclusion - "Love"

     Why faith?  Because "faith… worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6).

    Love, the love of God as revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ, serves as the motivator, guide, and power of all genuine trust in our Heavenly Father.  Our Lord's devotion to us leads Him to be everything we need Him to be in all things.  "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).  Our experience of such grace involves the faith whereby we avail ourselves of Christ's abundance.  "We have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:2).  Thus, our Heavenly Father incessantly works in our hearts to instill confidence in Him whereby He loves us not only by supplying for all our need, but also by inspiring our trust in His provision.  He thereby receives all glory and honor in our relationship with Him, but we also play a role by the response of faith in which "we love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).

   When I pray for fellow believers and for myself, I not only thank the Lord for His promised provision.  I also ask Him to work in us to trust His assurance of supply.  Indeed, believing God's promises of provision is just as important - if not more - as receiving His provision. When we ask the Lord for our daily bread, eating and enjoying that bread constitutes a wonderful physical and emotional experience of God's love for us.  However, trusting Him for our sustenance involves the even more vital aspect of spiritually relating to Him in the dynamic fellowship of His love and grace received by faith.  We began our Christian life in such a manner by believing and receiving.  We continue the Christian life in the same way.  "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Colossians 2:6).  So, we eat our daily bread with gratitude.  We also trust the Lord for our daily bread with gratitude because we realize that the faith we exercise to receive God's provision is the fruit of His love working in us.

   Our Heavenly Father loves to provide for us because He so loves us.   "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).  He knows, however, that even more than the gifts He gives, we require relationship and fellowship with the Giver.  "He is thy life" (Deuteronomy 30:20).  Thus, He made us to trust Him, one of the most relational things conscious beings can do regarding one another.  Moreover, He works in our hearts to provide continual opportunity for our  "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).  Our Father could love us in no greater way, and we return that love in no greater way than to trust Him in "the faith which worketh by love."

"Peace to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
(Ephesians 6:23)

Weekly Memory Verse
 "Peace to the brethren, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
(Ephesians 6:23)



Saturday, July 20, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "Why Faith?" Part 10 - "Faithful"

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

"Why Faith?"

Part 9 - "Faithful"

     Why faith?  Because…

     "God is faithful" (I Corinthians 1:9).

     Our trusting response to the Lord begins by the revelation of His trustworthiness, namely, His promise in the Lord Jesus Christ that "by grace are ye saved by faith" (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Our ongoing response in living God-honoring lives also proceeds as we more than more understand and access the faithfulness of God.  "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, for He is faithful that promised" (Hebrews 10:23).  Divine faithfulness elicits human faith.  God's trustworthiness births and maintains our trust.  This is the sequence that can never be reversed in our understanding and access of our Heavenly Father's promised provision in Christ of all things.  "We have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:2).  

    Such truth constitutes the Christian life as a growing discovery of our Lord's trustworthiness in doctrinal terms - "God cannot lie" - and also in personal terms - "This is the disciple which testifieth of these things" (Titus 1:2; John 21:24).  Our Heavenly Father orchestrates our lives to place us in circumstances, conditions, and situations that provide opportunity to realize the principles of Scripture in personal, practical experience.  We may well believe God to be faithful as a matter of fact.  However, the Christian life involves knowing the Lord in far more intimate terms than mental acuity.  Realizing and responding to opportunities whereby we trust our faithful God results in growing conviction accompanied by grateful confidence.  We know Him, and we know the beauty of His faithful, trustworthy heart as one of the primary characteristics of the glory of  God.  "Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds!" (Psalm 36:5).

   No one has ever trusted in the God and Father of the Lord Jesus and been disappointed for doing so.  And no one ever will.  He is perfectly faithful, perfectly true, perfectly trustworthy, and He cannot lie.  Why faith?  Because trusting God is the only sane response to the fact of His fidelity.  Even more, trusting God escorts us into the wonders of His heart whereby we know Him.  Our Father made us for this, and faithfully works to foster and forge the trust that fills our hearts with wonder and love...

"Our heart shall rejoice in Him because we have trusted in His holy name."
(Psalm 33:21)

Weekly Memory Verse
  "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world."
 (John 16:33)