Thursday, October 31, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "Pleasure In His People"

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

          "Pleasure In His People"

   Having written about my paternal grandmother yesterday, it seems only fair that I mention the blessing of my maternal grandmother today.  Valeta Harris was a generous and feisty little lady, about as wide as she was tall.  She loved her family, and the thing I remember most about her involves the joy she found in our gatherings.  She would hardly let anyone leave the get togethers that brought her such delight.  One had to be quick and cunning to make a getaway when the time came to go home.

   I never think about my grandmother Valeta without considering the Bible's teaching about our Heavenly Father's love for His trusting children in Christ, and how much it means to Him that we live our lives in loving fellowship with one another.

   "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God.  And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God" (I John 4:7).
   "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Psalm 133:1).

   Of all the benefits that ensue from believers loving each another, nothing matters more than pleasing our Lord.  Relating to one another in ways that bring pleasure to His heart means that we are led and empowered by the Holy Spirit in our relationship and fellowship.  Whenever believers gather, whether one to one, or in groups, or in large gatherings, we can be sure our Heavenly Father finds even more blessing in our fellowship than do we ourselves.  Of course, unlike my grandmother Valeta, He doesn't chain the door to prevent us from departing from one another!   However, He doubtless looks forward to our Heavenly eternity when, as the old hymn intones, "there will be no more parting over there."  

    We must realize God's feelings transcend any emotion we have ever felt.  His infinite nature means that everything about Him immeasurably exceeds our human existence, awareness, and sensibilities.  So, the next time we enjoy personal fellowship with a brother or sister in Christ, or find rich blessing in a family gathering, or rejoice with Christians in a service, we do well to remember that Someone else enjoys our togetherness far more than do we ourselves.  My grandmother Valeta reflected such wonder, and I am grateful for her exemplifying the joy our Heavenly Father finds in us…

"The Lord taketh pleasure in His people."
(Psalm 149:4)

Weekly Memory Verse
      We give thanks unto God and our Father, praying always for you.
 (Colossians 1:3)



Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "63"

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


   My paternal grandmother Emmie Davis will always be 63 years old in my mind.  She actually lived until almost 70, but for some reason, I ever remember my grandmother as 63 (possibly because that was her age when I began to enjoy extended visits with my grandparents on their farm).   My memory of her is precious in my heart, and greatly influential to this day.  My grandmother served as one of the most significant people of my childhood.  She was strong, but kind and generous.  I was special to her because her only son Glen (my father) died when he was 37.  I doubtless served as my grandmother's remaining connection to the loved one she lost.  I also have little doubt that her Christian influence played a powerful role in my becoming a believer several years after she went to be with the Lord.

   I thought of her yesterday, having myself reached the age of 63.  I don't feel that old, and thankfully, have no health issues whatsoever.  That's the good part.  However, I don't feel as wise as I might have suspected would be the case by this time of life.  In that regard, I still feel much like a 20 year old (I'm cutting myself some slack and at least am considering myself to have learned a few things beyond my teen years!).  I should possess a whole lot more knowledge, understanding, and wisdom by now, and have no excuse whatsoever for failing to progress unto God's summit of light more than I have.  At the very least, I'm glad to have enough wisdom to realize how far I've lagged, and certainly hope it will motivate me to ascend higher, dive deeper, and fly farther.  Or, as the Apostle Peter commanded, "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).

    At 63, I do see a positive aspect in my awareness of how far I need to go.  Namely, I more realize the infinite and eternal nature of God and His truth.

    "He... is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen" (I Timothy 6:16-17).

   If we ever reach a point with our Lord where we feel like we have discovered much about Him and His truth, we can know something is amiss in our perceptions.  I love the poet Faber's exultant cry regarding such wonder: "Shoreless Ocean, who can sound Thee?  Thine own eternity is round Thee, majesty Divine!"  Regardless of how far we journey, or how deeply we dive, or how high we fly, the Infinite and the Eternal beckon us to press on: "Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not" (Jeremiah 33:3).  63 years, despite their honest attempt to illuminate my heart and mind, have not taught me nearly as much as they should have.  But I do know this: with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, no matter how how high, far, or deeply we venture, we've only just begun.  I wrote a poem about this many years ago, one that you've seen in these messages a few times.  It's seem appropriate now, and I'll close with it.

The Journey's Just Begun

There is no end to the quest we know,
forever beckons on.
For we soar in skies so bright and blue,
above all clouds of storm.

Yes, we fly into the heart of God,
as in His Son we trust.
And earth will soon be nothing more
than long forgotten dust.

So spread your wings and catch the wind,
o journeyman of hope.
And race toward horizons blessed
with those who also know,

That the quest of hearts is Jesus,
He is our shining sun.
It matters not how far we've come...
the journey's just begun.

"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 for the prize of the igh calling of God in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 3:13-14)
"If any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know."
(I Corinthians 8:2)

Weekly Memory Verse
      We give thanks unto God and our Father, praying always for you.
 (Colossians 1:3)



Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe “Creator… Servant"

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

          "Creator… Servant"

    In respect for His earthly father and mother, the Lord Jesus Christ delayed the beginning of His ministry for many years.

   "And when they saw Him, they were amazed: and His mother said unto Him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us?  Behold, Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.  And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought Me?   Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business? And they understood not the saying which He spake unto them. And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them" (Luke 2:48-51).

   Also, in respect for His earthly mother, the Lord Jesus began His ministry.

   "And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee?  Mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And He saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory" (John 2:3-11).

   Let us state the nature of such humility in the most direct and stark terms possible: Joseph and Mary's Creator and Savior yielded to their authority regarding the very purpose for which He came.  "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).  Of course, in so doing, the Lord Jesus acted in respect for His Heavenly Father and His Word.  "Honor thy father and thy mother" (Exodus 20:12).  Had He failed to do so, He could not have died for the sins of humanity because He would have had His own sin for which to die.  "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20).  Our Savior knew that God directed Him in accordance with delegated human authorities.  Thus, while His reaction in both instances referenced above indicates initial hesitation to his earthly parents' wishes, the Lord Jesus quickly realized His Father's guidance regarding both the delay and the outset of His ministry.

   This is written primarily as an appreciation for our wondrous Lord.  Our Maker became our servant in order to redeem us from our sins.  A human race spiritually damaged and distorted by rank pride saw its God born in a manger, immersed in sinners' baptismal waters, mocked by religious leaders, adorned with servant's garb as He washed His disciples' feet, beaten by soldiers, nailed to a cross, and laid in a tomb.  In context of our current consideration, we saw Him obey Divine authority by obeying human authority.  Words fail in the blinding and beautiful light of such grace.  We therefore close in wonder, and the realization that the Christ of humility now dwells within our spirits to lead us along our own paths of devotion to God and humanity…

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.  And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:5-11).
"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake."
(I Peter 2:13)

Weekly Memory Verse
      We give thanks unto God and our Father, praying always for you.
 (Colossians 1:3)



Monday, October 28, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "More Than a Memory"

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

          "More Than a Memory"

    I have not seen Bruce in more than 50 years.  I do not even know if he still remains in this world.  However, each October 28th, I spend the day offering many prayers for him, asking our Heavenly Father to reveal His grace and truth to Bruce if he is still with us, and to work in his life according to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and Bruce's need.

   "We give thanks unto God and our Father, praying always for you" (Colossians 1:3).

    Bruce was my first best friend.  We knew each other from the time we were five years old, until I moved away from the neighborhood when I was ten.  We did the usual things little boys do, riding bicycles, playing sports, pretending to be soldiers in battle, and discussing deep philosophical issues regarding truth, reality, ethics and morality (just kidding about the last part! :)  ).  We got along very well, had a few tussles here and there, but always reconciled.  We remained friends until I moved, and I saw Bruce only once afterward when his family invited me to stay with them for a weekend after they had moved to the country.

    Regarding October 28, I remember to pray for Bruce on this day each year because my birthday is on October 29th.  This was a neat thing for 2 little boys, having birthdays (and birthday parties!) so close together.  So it's easy to remember the day.  After I became a born again believer in the Lord Jesus, the thought occurred to me one year that I could do more than remember Bruce each October 28th.  I could pray for him on that day (and other days throughout the year), thus making a memory more than a memory.  Recalling Bruce became an altar in my heart to be visited in devotion to God and to my first best friend.  Thus, I'll be praying for Bruce in this day, giving thanks for him, and making request for he and his family.

    "More than a memory."  I try to live by this axiom that came to my heart and mind many years ago.  The human brain is a marvelous gift, "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14).  Our capacity to remember serves us in countless ways, and constitutes a primary distinction in our humanity originally made in the image of God.  We must remember to effectively function, but even more, we must remember in order to effectually and fervently serve the Lord and people.  "I will remember the works of the Lord" (Psalm 77:11).  I have no doubt that praying for Bruce each year on October 28th involves the exercise of heart and brain for the primary purpose God gave me a heart and brain.  I remember Him, and in such holy light, I more than remember Bruce.  Such a gift applies to countless other people who still journey upon the pathways of my memory, and of yours as well.  More than a memory.  I'll be thinking about such grace as I think about Bruce today.  And as I pray for him.

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you."
(Philippians 1:3)

Weekly Memory Verse
      We give thanks unto God and our Father, praying always for you.
 (Colossians 1:3)



Saturday, October 26, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "A Secured World"

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

          "A Secured World"

  "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment" (I John 4:18).

   When we realize that insecurity governs any aspect of our thinking, relating, and responding to life, the first question to be considered involves the love of God (the "perfect love" mentioned by the Apostle John in the verse above).  "What is it about the Lord's devotion to my best interests am I not remembering and affirming?"  

    "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).

    "For us."  These two words written by the Apostle Paul directly correlate with John's assurance that the awareness of God's love and insecurity are mutually exclusive in our hearts.  If a troubling matter leads us to ongoing fear and trepidation, we can be sure we have forgotten or ignored our Lord's promise to be everything we need in every circumstance, condition, and situation.  Indeed, the declaration of Romans 8:28 - "all things work together for good to them that love God" - is either true or it is not.  It is.   Thus, nagging insecurities are actually wakeup calls of both promise and challenge.  We might pray accordingly:

   "Heavenly Father, I realize I have been governed by fear rather than faith regarding this matter.  I have forgotten and ignored Your assurance of superabundant grace in all things, including this thing.   Father, I have been thinking, speaking, and acting as if You don't love me.   I therefore come to You with repentance for such disregard and disrespect, and for having disobeyed Your command to trust You "in everything" (Philippians 4:6-7).    Thank You for Your forgiveness and cleansing in Christ, and for leading me to this altar of renewed faithfulness in my heart.  I choose to trust You about this matter, and to believe Your many promises of love that assure me You have given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3).   In the name of the Lord Jesus I pray, Amen."

   It's scary world out there, in countless ways.  However, it's a secured world in here, that is, in the hearts of born again believers in the Lord Jesus.  God's peace fills us in the Person of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).  Let us avail ourselves of such assurance regarding every matter.  And when we realize we have succumbed to fear, let us seek our faithful God who will forgive and restore us to the remembrance of His love, and the power of His promise…

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

Weekly Memory Verse
    How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings.
 (Psalm 36:7)



Friday, October 25, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "The Temple of Prayer"

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

          "The Temple of Prayer"

     God calls us to help people with our hands.

     "Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (I John 3:18).
     "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men" (Galatians 6:10).

    Our Lord also calls us to help people with our hearts.

    "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men" (I Timothy 2:10).

    The innermost being of born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ exists as a temple of prayer.  "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6).  Thereby we possess capacity to bless God with expressions loving devotion, praise, thanksgiving, and supplication for our needs.  Our Heavenly Father also grants to us the wonder of seeking His working in the hearts and lives of others.  Even as I write this, the enormity of such privilege and responsibility overwhelms and amazes me.  The King of the universe holds out His scepter to us, beckoning us to come and request the bestowal of His grace to our families, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and people we don't even know.  Moreover, His desire to grant our requests far exceeds our desire to prayerfully offer them.  Our Father bears the most generous of hearts.  He loves to give, to provide, to protect, and most of all, to work in people to reveal the Lord Jesus as salvation, peace, hope, strength, provision, protection, and as life itself.  Prayer never involves twisting God's arm, as it were, to convince Him to do that which He doesn't really want to do.  Prayer rather involves God's turning our hearts inside out, leading us to the altar of loving devotion to Him and others.  Thereby the temple of our hearts becomes an instrument in His redemptive purposes.  Little wonder that Samuel affirmed his responsibility to help Israel with his heart by seeking the help of God's heart for His people: "Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you" (I Samuel 12:23).

   The Christ who lived His earthly lifetime in much prayer for others now lives in us by His Spirit to lead us along the same paths of loving devotion to God and people.  What a wonder, what a gift, what a privilege, and what a responsibility.  In light of such grace, the disciples' request of long ago must become our earnest plea: "Lord, teach us to pray" (John 11:1).  We can help people with our hands, as led and enabled by the love of Christ.  And we can help people with our hearts, by seeking for them the help of His heart.  It is hard to imagine a greater calling, or a more effectual working whereby we glorify our Lord by loving Him in the temple, the temple of prayer in our hearts.

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy."
(Philippians 1:3-4)

Weekly Memory Verse
    How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings.
 (Psalm 36:7)



Thursday, October 24, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "User Error"

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

          "User Error"

     Computers love my wife Frances.  She treats them with affection and respect, mainly because they know she knows them very well ("Frances is the boss!" they say).  Frances is innately gifted with the devices, and is also professionally trained to get them working and keep them working.  Conversely, computers don't like me at all, mainly because I know little about them other than turning them on and doing the very few things with them I know how to do (I also grumble about them, which doubtless they don't appreciate!).

    When I have problems with my computer, I consult my Information Technology department, a.k.a. Frances (after grumbling a bit).  It's an amazing blessing to live with someone so gifted with computers (and thousands of other things!).  "Frances, there's something wrong with this computer!"  Being the patient person she is - especially with me! - she takes care of the issue, usually in a matter of seconds.  And, being the kind person she is - especially with me! - she gently lets me know that my problem was not with the computer.  Nine times out of ten, the problem is with me.  "User error."  

    When I first became a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I was blessed to be guided by authors, pastors, and mentors who led me to a strong view of the Bible.  One writer in particular suggested an axiom I have sought to maintain as a rock of authority and assurance within my heart.  Namely, if I have problems with a matter in Scripture, the issue never involves the Bible.  The problem rather involves user error.  The difficulty rests on my doorstep if I don't understand a passage, or if I cannot see how one precept of God's Word aligns with another.  "Thy Word is truth" declared the living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, to His Father (John 17:17).  This includes every word of Scripture.  "Thy Word is very pure.  Therefore, Thy servant loveth it" (Psalm 119:140).  

   Forty four years of determining to believe the Word of God cover to cover, passage to passage, verse to verse, and word to word has served me well as a guiding principle of truth.  I still too often stumble in challenges regarding personal application of our Lord's Word.  However, the years have convinced me of the wisdom long ago imparted by people who realized and affirmed the pristine perfection of Scripture.  User error.  Any question or difficulty with the Bible is actually a difficulty and question with me.  This conviction goes far in solidifying a strong foundation for our hearts and minds, and for the confidence and humility that paves the path of peace for walking with the Prince of peace…

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock, and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at His doctrine.   For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
(Matthew 7:24-29)
"Every word of God is pure.  He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him."
(Proverbs 30:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
    How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings.
 (Psalm 36:7)



Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "The Prince of Peace"

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

          "The Prince of Peace"

     "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).

    If "goodness and mercy" perpetually follow us, we do well to frequently slow down so that such blessing will overtake us.

    "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

    Earthly realities and responsibilities beckon us to movement, both mentally and physically.  We must attend to the necessities of life in this present world, seeking to honor our Lord thereby.  "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31).  However, born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ also do well to still ourselves mentally and physically on a regular basis for the purpose of concentrated focus on our Lord and His truth.  An open Bible and a prayerful heart provide blessed opportunity to experience the peace of looking unto the Prince of peace.  Taking time to purposefully realize such grace leads our hearts to God's promised "still waters" (Psalm 23:2).  "Thou wilt show me the path of life.  In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).

   Such blessed truth notwithstanding, our Heavenly Father also calls us to a stillness - of heart -  found in the midst of life along busy pathways.  Can goodness and mercy overtake us there, even as we must deal with onrushing circumstances, situations, and conditions?  It can, and we must anticipate that it will.  "My expectation is from Him" (Psalm 62:5).  A Christ-stilled heart can be known any and everywhere if that heart is filled with confidence that the Lord Jesus awaits us in every contingency of life.  "I am with thee… I will be with thee" (Isaiah 41:10; 43:2).  Is the Prince of peace capable of bestowing peace only in the garden of prayer?  Hardly.  The One who slumbered while on a ship ravaged by a violent storm is more than capable of revealing His rest in the vessel of our hearts, even when the tempests of life toss us to and fro (Mark 4:36-41).

    Do we believe this about Him?  This is the issue, rather than how we view ourselves.  Regardless of past experience, present emotion, or future prospects, can the Prince of peace bless us with still hearts amid our often hectic lives?  Is He who He declares Himself to be?  During those times of stillness first considered in this essay, we do well to frequently ponder that when we arise and go forth, the Prince will arise us to join us in our journeys.  He will be who He is whenever and wherever.  Such expectation prepares us to more consistently experience the miracle of a heart at rest even as our minds, hands, and feet must rush about to engage life in a decidedly unstill world.  This is true peace, known by the Christ whose tranquility finds all who believe that His goodness and mercy ever follows, and even more, that He ever dwells within our hearts as the Prince of peace.

"The Lord will bless His people with peace."
(Psalm 29:11)

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