Thursday, December 31, 2020

Orange Moon "Of Old... Of Today"

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


"Of Old… Of Today"


     Life never writes its verse upon a blank page.  Everything that comes to us finds its place with the events that have already occurred in our lives.  We react to present occurrences, based on things that happened in the past.  We learn, based on things we have already learned.  We relate to people, based on previous relationships and experiences.  We succeed and fail, based on paths of success and failure already traveled.  Most importantly, born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ must seek to walk with God today, as based on His faithfulness known in days gone by.


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


    Have we ever once found God faithful to be what we needed Him to be, and to do what we needed Him to do?  If so, we shall find Him faithful in the present hour, and in all to come.  "I am the Lord; I change not… Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:5).  We must coordinate all that comes to us with the lines of life that bear witness to our Heavenly Father's perfect and abiding faithfulness.  "I will remember the works… the wonders of the Lord" provides a powerful motivation to presently affirm another of the Psalmist's affirmations, "I will trust in Thee" (Psalm 56:3).


     This is especially important because much of what a fallen world writes upon our hearts and minds conflicts with God's trustworthiness.  Our Heavenly Father  presently allows our spiritual enemies to foist lies upon us regarding His faithful presence and working in our lives.  If we allow such incoming darkness to settle within us apart from remembrance and affirmation of the Lord's fidelity, we can drift into darkness rather than decisively walking in the Light.  "Awake to righteousness, and sin not" commanded the Apostle Paul (I Corinthians 15:34).  Only by remembering and affirming the truth of God can we overcome the challenges by which our enemies seek to mislead those prone to forgetfulness.  "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits" (Psalm 103:2).


    Today will write its verse upon the pages of our lives.  Let us be sure as it does to remember the truths already written by the Holy Spirit within us, and to seek more of the Light of Christ to grace our hearts and minds.  Thereby our hearts will be kept in peace, and thereby will we honor our Lord according to His works and wonders of old, and His works and wonders of today.


"Thou hast been my help… Thou art my strength… For this God is our God forever and ever. He will be our guide even unto death" (Psalm 63:7; 31:4; 48:14)


Weekly Memory Verse

    I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him."

(Ecclesiastes 3:14)




















Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Orange Moon "Gifts and Givers"

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


"Gifts and Givers"


     When looking at a manmade object, be it a work of art, technology, edifice, food, or clothing, we often express an incomplete admiration.


    "What a beautiful painting!  What an amazing device!  What an incredible building! What a delicious meal!  What a lovely dress!"


    Certainly, all of these appreciations and countless others have their proper place in our acknowledgements.  However, if we forget the makers of the things we admire, we neglect to fully experience the good they bring.  Things do not appear out of thin air.  Somebody - usually many somebodies - must apply heart, mind, and hand to produce the things we enjoy.  We thus do well to admire the imaginers, designers, and makers of things no less than their products.


    You see where this is headed.


    "They worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen" (Romans 1:).


   The current of missing the Maker runs deep in the human psyche.  From the creation of Eve for Adam, when the first man failed to express acknowledgement and gratitude to God for the sublime gift of his wife, our native tendency leads us to focus on the wonders of creation rather than the wonder of the Creator.  Again, it is absolutely proper to appreciate "the things that are made" (Roman 1:20).  Viewed in the light of truth, they distinctly reflect the heart and hand of God.  


   "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and godhead" (Romans 1:20).  


    God desires that we enjoy His blessings - "He...giveth us richly all things to enjoy" (I Timothy 6:17).  We do well to rejoice in the tangible blessings He conveys.  However, a beautiful sunrise admired without remembering the One who made the sun denotes our tendency to miss the most important feature of all beauty, craft, design, and ability.  I like to say it this way: "My Father made that!"  More to the point, I like to make it personal and pray it this way: "Heavenly Father, You made that, and I praise, thank, and rejoice in You and the glory of Your heart, mind, and hand!"


   I'll close with an illustration.  Before writing this, I partook of the most delicious pumpkin pie in the world, made by my daughter Emmie.  Nobody makes this delicacy like she does - I will  hear no arguments in the matter! :) - and eating the pie provided a culinary marvel to my tastebuds.  However, if I fail to remember its maker, I fail to truly appreciate the full blessing of the blessing.  I try not to do that.  Emmie's pumpkin pie is all the more wonderful because she prepared it, and because she did so from the love of her heart for her family.  This leads to an even further and deeper appreciation because God made Emmie, He made the components for pumpkin pie, and He gave her the knowledge, wisdom, and art to produce it.  So, I especially try to not forget that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17). 

We miss so much when we focus only on the gifts of life, forgetting that blessings do not simply appear out of thin air.  Somebody imagines, designs, and makes them, beginning with God Himself, and then with the human hearts, minds, and hands that serve as the means through which He bestows "every good gift and every perfect gift." Yes, we do well to remember, "My Father made that!" And we do well to make it personal, "Heavenly Father, You made that and I praise, thank, and rejoice in You!"


"For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen."

(Romans 11:36)


Weekly Memory Verse

    I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him."

(Ecclesiastes 3:14)




















Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Orange Moon "The Word (Living) and the Word (Written)"

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


"The Word (Living) and the Word (Written)"


     God's eternal purpose rides on two rails, the supremacy of the living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the supremacy of the written Word, the Bible.


   "The Word was made flesh..  The Word was God… that in all things He might have the preeminence… Thy Word is truth… Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy name" (John 1:14; 1:1; Colossians 1:18; Psalm 138:2).


   No believer can go wrong in seeking to install the Lord Jesus and the Bible as our dual guiding lights.  The written Word reveals and exalts the living Word.  The living Word personally fulfills and confirms the written Word.  Focusing on one to the exclusion of the other either leaves us lifeless without personal fellowship with our Lord, or deceived as we fail to know Him in terms of truth. The Lord Jesus affirmed the two rails in His discourse to the woman at the well:


   "The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him" (John 4:23).


    We must know God "in spirit," that is, we must enter into living and personal relationship with Him through faith in Christ and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  We must also know our Lord "in truth," that is, we must believe on the Lord Jesus of Scripture in order to be saved, and to live a life that reflects His presence and working in our hearts.  Without Christ, the Bible can only be known as text.  Without the Bible, we may worship a false Christ referred to by the Apostle Paul as "another Jesus" (II Corinthians 11:4).  We must therefore worship in spirit and in truth if we are to journey on the twin rails of a genuine walk with God.


   "In Thy light shall we see light" (Psalm 36:9).


    In the light of the Bible, we see Christ.  In the light of Christ, we understand the Bible.  No other way of worshipping and relating to God exists than the synthesis of the living Word and the written Word. Let us establish within our hearts and minds the dual determination to know our Lord in living fellowship, as guided by His Word.  Our journey with God began in the salvation that came to us by the Person of Christ, as revealed by the pages of Scripture.  Our journey ever continues in the same way, on the rails of the living Word and the written Word.  


"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

(Psalm 119:105)

"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 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."

(Ephesians 1:15-18)


Weekly Memory Verse

    I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him."

(Ecclesiastes 3:14)




















Monday, December 28, 2020

Orange Moon "Did (Does) Joe Exist?"

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


(a repeat and update from 2014)


"Did (Does) Joe Exist?"


     I frequently raise the question when speaking at funeral services, "Does the deceased (we'll call him Joe) still exist?"  That is, does Joe still possess consciousness and awareness of being?  Or, did the cessation of physical brain activity and heartbeat put an end to Joe?" (other than the old aphorism, 'Well, ole Joe will always live on in our memories and hearts!' - nice for us, maybe, but it doesn't do much for Joe!).


   Recently, I've added another question to the consideration: "Did Joe ever exist?"  That is, did Joe exist according to the normal understanding and perception of personal reality whereby all human beings define the sensibilities of "I am... you are...he is… we are?"  Was Joe more than merely matter?


   The materialist must answer in the negative:


    "No, Joe never existed as more than matter.  He was rather the product of an unconscious physical process that united trillions of what might be called 'Joe atoms' during a relatively brief span of life, resulting in a temporary physical structure composed of form and force.  Electrical impulses and chemical combinations dancing through the structure of Joe's brain resulted in a facsimile of 'consciousness.'  This awareness of himself, others, and the universe, however, actually existed as part of the physical system in which Joe was temporarily a part.  No matter how much it appeared otherwise, that's all there was to Joe."  


    According to this view, Joe existed as far more as a thing than a person.  The materialist must acknowledge the inescapable inference of his perspective, namely, personhood does not exist according to the accepted meaning intuitively held by all human beings. Indeed, the materialist must affirm that he himself does not actually exist in the personal terms every human being perceives and understands. We are things - complex things, no doubt - but things no less than a rock or a leaf are things.


    Conversely, Christians believe that a part of Joe - the very heart of Joe - actually existed (and still exists) as a being composed of more than matter.  We maintain that a transcendent reality serves as the source and sustenance of material realities.  The Bible refers to such "substance" as spirit, or that which exists apart from the material structure of the universe.  The Lord Jesus Christ declared that "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24).  Scripture also defines humanity in terms of the spiritual, and furthermore affirms that other such beings exist, known as angels (I Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 1:14).  Atoms do not compose the spiritual substance and being of who we most deeply are. Those who hold to this view of Joe readily affirm his existence in these terms, maintaining that the essence of Joe was, is, and will always be. "I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him" (Ecclesiastes 3:14).


   The believer comfortably resides with this common understanding of personhood, affirming the consciousness that includes freedom, thought, self awareness, and moral sensibility that exist as something more than physical reality.  The materialist, conversely, finds himself trapped in an unavoidable conundrum.  He lives life as if he and others are more than matter.  He thinks, emotes, relates, decides, and views his existence in an awareness perceived and experienced as transcendently spiritual, moral, and relational.  He views himself and others in personal terms.  He makes choices believed to be real and freely determined.  He bears some form of moral compass within his thoughts and emotional sensibilities.  Indeed, he feels like something more than merely the matter of the world in which he finds himself.  He knows that he conciously exists, but he maintains that a mindless, inconscious universe led to his existence and awareness.  The materialist cannot escape this reality pressed upon him by the nature of things, and even more, by the intuitive realities that transcend things.  His thoughts and manic devotion to materialism drive him to this conundrum and its discomfort.  Little wonder materialists so often seem distressed and unhappy!


    Joe was more than matter.  He is more than matter.  His spirit lives on, either joyfully in the presence of the Lord Jesus who redeemed him by grace through faith, or unhappily because he rejected this freest of all gifts and the most Divinely revealed of all truths.  Does Joe still exist?  Absolutely!  Did he ever exist?  The answer seems so obvious as to require no mention, both to the materialist and to the believer.  Indeed, despite stated denial of the truth by some, every human being knows he is something more - much more - than matter.  Moreover, the Spirit of God bears witness to all that somebody made us, Somebody much more than matter.  Believers can and must be confident as we declare to all the unavoidable truth that continually bears witness to the source of an existence that is eternal rather than temporal, transcendent rather than transient, spiritual as well as physical, and meaningful because Joe - like all of us - was and is more than matter.  

"The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

(II Corinthians 4:18)

"In Him, we live and move and have our being."

(Acts 17:28)

Weekly Memory Verse

I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him."

(Ecclesiastes 3:14)