Saturday, November 30, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe Part 2 - Quiet Glory

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe


Part 2 - Quiet Glory

    Regarding the "IS" of God, we are challenged by the fact that it often belies our expectations and inclinations.

    "Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not" Genesis 28:10).
    "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are you ways My ways" (Isaiah 55:8).

    Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ must accustom ourselves to expecting the unexpected working of God in our lives, the lives of others, and the world.  Our Savior, the risen Christ and King of kings, still frequently manifests Himself in ways that limit the full revelation of His power and glory.  "My strength is made perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9).  Indeed, size, noise, and exhilaration often denote human or even devilish activity, as opposed to the working of the Divine heart and hand.  As in days of old, "a still, small voice" may confirm the presence and power of God, as opposed to "wind… earthquake… and fire" (I Kings 19:11-12).  Failure to realize this clearly revealed Biblical truth can hinder the realization of our Lord's working as He acts according to His thoughts and ways.  

    Such working may also run counter to the desires of our flesh, which "lusteth against the Spirit" (Galatians 5:17).  Our spiritual enemies tempt us to desire God on our terms (or their terms) rather than His determination and design.  Israel, in proper response of waiting on the promised Messiah, rejected Him when He appeared because a manger, servanthood, and a cross characterized the Lord's first coming rather than a slashing and piercing sword of deliverance.  The same challenge sometimes confronts our inclinations regarding God's working in our lives.  He may answer our prayers and fulfill our expectations of faith in ways that greatly discomfit our human sensibilities.  The often missed truth of the Apostle Paul's thorn in the flesh is that it likely resulted from his prayer that the Rose of Sharon would be greatly revealed and beautified in his life (II Corinthians 12:7; Song of Solomon 2:1).  This led to more prayer for the thorn's removal, and God's response that the thorn must remain.  No prick of the thorn, no presentation of the Rose.  Paul learned - as we must - that in our present earthly lives, God's glory often challenges the comfort of our flesh, even as it fills and fulfills the hearts of those who trust Him.  "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (II Corinthians 4:16).  

   God's "IS" often stands in stark contrast and challenge to our expectations and inclinations.  We must therefore "walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).  We must be "spiritually minded" rather than "carnally minded" (Romans 8:6).  Great adventure awaits us along the everyday paths of life wherein we expect the unexpected and uncomfortable "IS" of God.  We will thereby find Him in unlikely venues wherein the presently quiet glory of the Lord Jesus fills and thrills our hearts no less - and sometimes more - than obvious manifestations of His power and glory.

"He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him."
(Isaiah 53:2)

Weekly Memory Verse
   In Him we live and move and have our being.
(Acts 17:28)


Friday, November 29, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "IS"

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe


    In our present earthly lifetime, we constantly face the temptation to live according to "seems" and "feels like" rather than "is."

    "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24).

    "Is" begins with the one, the only One, who can rightly call Himself "I AM" (Exodus 3:14).  The God of the Bible - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - constitutes the essence of reality and truth.  Nothing exists that He did not create.  Nothing continues to exist that He does not sustain.  And in a manner far beyond our capacity to understand, all things serve God's ultimate intention referred to by the Apostle Paul as "the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Psalm 100:3; Colossians 1:17; Ephesians 3:11).  Thus, when we seek to live by "is", we look to the great "I AM."

   "What is truth?" asked Pilate of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 18:38).  The Bible does not record that Pilate waited for the Lord Jesus to answer.  He clearly did not want to know the answer to his question.  We know, of course.  "I am… the truth" (John 14:6).  The truth Himself stood before Pilate, as He does before us in all things.  The Lord Jesus literally dwells within believers by His Spirit, forevermore constituting truth and reality as both an internal and external gift of God's presence and working.  "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16).  This leads to vital questions of our existence we do well to ponder in the light of "is" and "I AM."  Let us make these questions personal, and ponder them in the holy light of truth.

   Who is God to us in terms of our being and existence, in this moment and forevermore?  "He is thy life… To live is Christ" (Deuteronomy 30:20).

   What constitutes the "is" of this day, regardless of its conditions, situations, and circumstances?  "This is the day which the Lord hath made" (Psalm 118:24).

   What is the true blessedness of every blessing?  Is there someone to thank for "every good gift and every perfect gift?" (James 1:17).  "God giveth to all life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25).

   What is the primary truth of every trouble, difficulty, pain, sorrow, and loss?  "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

    What is our hope for navigating the seas of this day, this lifetime, and forever?  "As thy days, so shall thy strength be" (Deuteronomy 33:25).

    What is love, that is, the reality of the heart that we all know to be "the greatest of these?" (I Corinthians 13:13).  "God is love" (I John 4:8).

    How can we know peace?  Joy?  Fulfillment?  "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee… God, my exceeding joy… To live is Christ" (Isaiah 26:3; Psalm 43:4; Philippians 1:21).

    Is there meaning, significance, and purpose to my life and being?  Is there an answer to the greatest question of all: Why?  "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God… Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord" (I Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:23).

    These and every question of life must be answered according to "is" rather than "seems" and "feels."  A genuine experience of life, being, and sublime wonder await all who join the prophet in his determination to see and know reality - "Is" - in the light of its Essence, Maker, and Sustainer…

"I will look for Him."
(Isaiah 8:17)

Weekly Memory Verse
   In Him we live and move and have our being.
(Acts 17:28)


Thursday, November 28, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe "More Than Memories"

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe

(a repeat from 2015.  Happy Thanksgiving Day!)

"More Than Memories"

    When we journey to the past, we must be sure to go with God.

    "I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember Thy wonders of old" (Psalm 77:11).

    Such recollection involves remembrance of both our blessings and our challenges.  Thinking back on pleasant and happy occasions offers opportunity for more than memories.  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17).  When we remember our blessings with gratitude and consciously expressed thanksgiving, the Holy Spirit graces our recollections with a strengthened faith and determination to presently trust and honor our Lord.  Thus, we journey to the past of God's generous lovingkindness not only in remembrance, but with gratitude for His goodness.  "Give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness" (Psalm 30:4).  Yes, we remember our happy times as more than memories, and as opportunities for thanksgiving.

   It is just as important that we never look back without factoring our Heavenly Father's involved presence in yesterday's pains, difficulties, and sorrows.  He was there in all of them, either determining or allowing our challenges in complete confidence that He could weave them together for His glory, our benefit, and the benefit of others.  Regarding wrongs committed against us, for example, God did not determine people to mistreat, neglect, or hurt us.  "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man" (James 1:13).  In the mysteries of His wisdom, however, He did allow the trials that occurred through the misdeeds of our offenders.  We therefore journey with our Lord to the painful portions of our past for the purpose of seeing Him there with compassion, and also with the commitment to work together for good the wrongs committed against us.  We "sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving" for those times, and for the ongoing work of the Lord to redeem us from their effects (Psalm 107:22).  As Joseph confessed to the brothers who so dreadfully wronged him, "Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good" (Genesis 50:20).  Thus, we remember our difficult days as more than memories, and as opportunities for thanksgiving.

   When we journey to our past, we must not go alone.  We go with God, the One who is able to illuminate our view of days gone by.  We choose to see Him in our yesterdays, believing that our Lord is so wise, able, involved, powerful, and loving that every good and perfect gift was from Him.  We also choose to believe that no painful moment of the past is beyond His capacity to redeem and use for our benefit, and the benefit of those with whom we live and to whom we minister.  The choices to view some matters in this perspective are not easy, and we will not fully understand how God works all things together for our good.  We just know that He does.  His Word declares this truth.  He cannot lie.  He always fulfills His promises.  Thus, we journey to the past for the primary purpose of seeing our Heavenly Father there in the blessings and trials, and in all.  We make our memories more than memories as we give thanks and rest our hearts in the God of our yesterdays, todays, and forever.

I will not go alone
as I journey to the past,
along the trail of memories
that in my heart hold fast.

For I did not go alone
through the blessings and the trials,
Someone was ever with me
in times of tears and smiles.

So I will not go alone 
when I ponder yesterdays,
I will journey with the Father
so worthy of our praise.

For He was there in all,
weaving all together,
for the glory of His Son 
and our benefit forever.

I will not go alone as I journey to the past.

"Thou hast been my help."
(Psalm 63:7)
"God… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will."
(Ephesians 1:3; 11)

Weekly Memory Verse
   In Him we live and move and have our being.
(Acts 17:28)


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe “The Two Rails”

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe

"The Two Rails"

      The supremacy of the Savior and the supremacy of the Scriptures provide the rails upon which the train of our hearts must travel in our relationship and fellowship with God.  We journey in devotion to the living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the written Word, the Bible.

    "I am the truth He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence" (John 14:6; Colossians 1:18). 

    "Thy Word is truth All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (John 17:17; II Timothy 3:16-17).     

    The Lord Jesus declared that "the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23).  We must have living and personal relationship with God through Christ, as led and enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit.  We must also walk according to the truth and authority of the Bible in order to rightly relate to God.  "In Thy light, we shall see light" wrote the Psalmist (Psalm 36:9).  In the written Word, we discover the Person and work of the living Word, the Lord Jesus.  In the living Word, the Lord Jesus, we understand, interpret, and respond to the truth of the written Word, the Bible.  Both components must form and inform our understanding of the Christian life, and our walk with God "in spirit and in truth."

    This is essence.  This is bedrock.  This is the heart of the matter and the matter of the heart.   God's Truth rides on two rails, again, the preeminence of the Savior and the preeminence of the Scriptures.  Note that we are not the focus of this primary understanding of God's purposes.   The Lord Jesus came first and foremost to fulfill His Father's glory and will.  The Bible exists not first for our benefit, but for the glory and revelation of Christ.  This does not preclude or minimize God's loving purpose of redeeming sinners or inspiring the Bible that leads us to His saving grace.  The understanding does, however, deliver us from the temptation to view ourselves the main focus of God's intentions.  Indeed, the Savior's redemption involves the determination "to save His people from their sins," the primary error of which is our notion of self-importance and exaltation (Matthew 1:21).  Exalting the Savior and the Scriptures puts us in our proper place, and even more, honors God and His truth first and foremost.

    The preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The preeminence of the Bible.  When these two rails are laid within our hearts, God's Spirit and Truth travel mightily and speedily upon them to honor our Lord, proclaim His Word, and bless others with light and glory.  Such emphasis leads us  into a life both now and forevermore beyond all wonder and imagining.

"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 2:10-11).
"I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and praise Thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name" (Psalm 138:2).

Weekly Memory Verse    
   In Him we live and move and have our being.
(Acts 17:28)



Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe “To Know God. To Know Ourselves”

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe

"To Know God.  To Know Ourselves"

      The Lord Jesus Christ revealed both Divinity and humanity to us.

      "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9).
     "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

     If we want to know God, we look to the Lord Jesus, who perfectly bore witness to the being, nature, character, and way of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  If we want to know the true substance and significance of humanity, we look to Christ as the only fully human being who has yet lived (being human, as defined by God). Little wonder He declared Himself to be "the light of the world" (John 8:12).  The Lord Jesus reveals to us the two most important facts of existence, and that which we must know in order to enter into truth and reality.  Who is God?  Who are we?

   The Bible, in words spoken by the Lord Jesus Himself, declares true life to be the knowledge of God.  "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).  Scripture also calls believers to rightly know ourselves.  "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16).  We must know both the glorious Occupant of the temple, and the humble but greatly blessed temple itself.  In Christ we see both glories, namely, our fearful and wonderful God, and our "fearfully and wonderfully made" humanity (Psalm 139:14).  Who is God?  Look to the Lord Jesus.  Who is man?  Look to the Lord Jesus.  He forever exists as the God who became man, and the man who remains God.  Moreover, He lives in believers to reveal the presence and power of the Divine, and to actualize and empower humanity to fulfill God's purpose in creating and redeeming us.  Only through Christ do we enter into relationship with God.  And only through Christ do we realize how beautiful our human faculties and members can be as He lives and walks in us.

    In Heaven and earth, there is no only like the Lord Jesus.  Thus, He is the delight of His Father and the delight of the faithful.  We give Him the preeminence in all things because He is so worthy thereof, and because Christ alone leads us to know God and to know ourselves...

"No man hath seen God at any time.  The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath revealed Him."
(John 1:18)
"For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."
(Romans 8:29)

Weekly Memory Verse    
   In Him we live and move and have our being.
(Acts 17:28)



Monday, November 25, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe “The Great Fact”

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe

"The Great Fact"

    I've had several discussion recently with fellow believers in which we have considered the question, "How can people live without the Lord?"  

    The first answer is that they don't.

        "He giveth to all life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25).
        "In Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
     The most ardent atheist, regardless of how much he blusters, requires the Lord's gracious provision for his very existence - "it is He that hath made us and not we ourselves… by Him all things consist" (Psalm 100:3; Colossians 1:17).  Of course, this does not mean that the atheist knows God's grace regarding salvation and redemption from "the wrath to come" (I Thessalonians 1:10).  He does not.  However, unbelievers require breath provided by the Lord to deny the reality and working of the very One who made and sustains their existence.

    The second answer involves another question that reaches much closer to home:  "How do I live without the Lord?"   Again, the truth is that I don't.  Especially as a born again believer in the Lord Jesus, I not only "live and move and have… being" in the Lord.  He also lives and moves and dwells in me.  "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16).  However, I sometimes succumb to the temptation to  think, speak, act and react as if God does not exist.  This constitutes a practical atheism in times of temptation for which no excuse exists.  Indeed, God constitutes the greatest reality and influence in our existence.  It requires but a mustard seed of faith to realize and respond to such truth.  However, I sometimes neglect and ignore the Great Fact of my existence.  As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16).  

    In a sense, an atheist lives at my house (and at yours also, I must add).  Our flesh is that unbeliever.  "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" confessed Paul, who also declared, "the flesh lusteth against the spirit" (Romans 7:18; Galatians 5:17).  Thankfully, the spirits of believers inhabited by the Spirit of Christ constitute a different matter altogether.  "I delight in the law of God after the inward man… So then with the mind, I myself serve the law of God" (Romans 7:22; 25).  The Spirit of Christ perpetually infuses believers with the assurance of God's being, presence, working, and loving involvement in our lives and in all things.  "The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:16).  Realizing this dichotomy between our Christ-inhabited spirits - the essence of who we are in Him - and our flesh - our earthly vessel still inhabited by a  "law of sin" - goes far in preparing us to live in the light of truth and reality, namely, the fact and faithfulness of God (Romans 8:9; 7:23).  

    The atheist's bluster and the believer's blunder - denying or forgetting the Great Fact of an existence that teems with the vital presence of the living God.  Both errors result in human beings seeking to live apart from God's Divine being.  Thankfully, our Heavenly Father works in all to reveal Himself and His truth by creation, the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, and the church of the Lord Jesus.  No one lives without the Lord.  We rightly wonder how the atheist denies the obvious Ocean in which he swims.  Again, however, we need not look far to discover our own challenge regarding remembrance and affirmation of the God in whom we live, move, and have our being.  The Holy Spirit actively dwells within believers to enable overcoming of the temptation to live as if our Lord does not exist.  Let us respond to His moving by frequent remembrance and affirmation of the Great Fact of our existence...

"Thou art God, which hast made heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is."
(Acts 4:24)
"To live is Christ."
(Philippians 1:21)

Weekly Memory Verse    
   In Him we live and move and have our being.
(Acts 17;28)



Saturday, November 23, 2019

Orange Moon Cafe “A Divine and Human Christ”

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe

"A Divine and Human Christ"

    Without relinquishing His substance and nature as God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ nevertheless embraced a humanity whereby He lived in complete dependence on His Father and the Holy Spirit.

    "The Son can do nothing of Himself… I live by the Father… The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel" (John 5:19; 6:47; Luke 4:18).

    The Lord Jesus serves as the perfect example and prototype of humanity dependent on Divinity.  Born as baby so helpless that his human parents had to flee earthly rulers to guard His life, our Savior lived a lifetime experiencing the realities of existence as a man - "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Matthew 2:12-23; Hebrews 4:15).  He spoke as a man, taught as a man, healed as a man, hungered and thirsted as a man, grew weary as a man, suffered and died as a man, rose from the dead as a man, and presently, "there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5).  Again, none of these human experiences constitute the Lord Jesus as less than the God He is.  However, if He was to be our Savior, our Lord had to become and forever remain human, devoted and dependent on His Father and the Holy Spirit, and consecrated to our eternal benefit.  "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14).

   In the wilderness temptation, Satan tempted the Lord Jesus to act as God (Matthew 4:1-11).  Had the devil been successful, all hope for our salvation would have been forfeited.  Indeed, had the Lord Jesus ever acted as God rather than man dependent on His Father, the Divine purposes of our triune God could not have been fulfilled.  To redeem humanity, God the Son had to become humanity and live accordingly.  "God was manifest in the flesh" (I Timothy 3:16).  The Lord Jesus is the God who became man, and the man who remains God.  All this speaks to a sacrifice unimaginable to our hearts and minds.  From infinity to infirmity.  From the limitless span of eternity to the constraints of time.  From omnipotence to weakness.  From joy to sorrow and suffering.  From life to death for One so vibrantly and eternally alive that Scripture titles Him "the Prince of life" (Acts 3:15).  From existing solely as Divine to eternity as "the Word… made flesh" (John 1:14).  These and countless other condescensions bear witness of a Divine and human Christ whose wonder can never be fully fathomed, ultimately understood, or adequately appreciated.

Long, long ago,
in a manger hold
lay a little lamb,
the great I AM, 
the great I AM.

Holy mystery,
God made flesh as a baby.
How can it be?
A little lamb...
the great I AM.

Fall to your knees,
in the light of this glory.
That God for you and me
became a lamb,
the great I AM.

"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
(Hebrews 4:14-15)

Weekly Memory Verse    
   For by Thee I have run through a troop.  By my God I have leaped over a wall."
(II Samuel 22:30)