Saturday, February 29, 2020

“Short Term Sacrifice, Longterm Benefit”

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

"Short Term Sacrifice, Longterm Benefit"
     Many of the beneficial and enjoyable physical activities of our youth (or sometimes, our adulthood) may also result in discomfort in later years.  The strengthening and stretching of muscles may also impact bones, ligaments and tendons with injury that may not be manifest until decades later.  

    "But though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed day by day" (II Corinthians 4:16).

   Short term benefit sometimes bodes of longterm harm.  Indeed, the star athlete of yesteryear may be the physically challenged unfortunate of today.  Moreover, a relatively short athletic career sometimes results in many years of pain.  By this, I do not mean to ignore or deny the benefits of physical and athletic activity, which are many.  I simply state a truth that many former athletes readily acknowledge.  The principle applies in many ways, and also infers its antithesis: short term sacrifice often ensures longterm benefit.

    "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).

    The Christian life involves much sacrifice in time that leads to blessing in eternity.  This begins with our salvation, made possible by the Lord Jesus Christ suffering forsakenness and death on the cross of Calvary in order to make possible freely given salvation to all who believe.  "For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2).  We are that joy known by our Savior (Luke 15:7).  He willingly gave Himself to loss in the short term that resulted in our benefit forever.  He also lives in believers by His Spirit to motivate and empower the same quality of a life lived self sacrificially in time for the blessing of others to benefit eternally: "eChrist in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).  As we exemplify and bear witness to the Lord Jesus by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we lead both others and ourselves into a tomorrow of joy, based on a today of sacrifice.  "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).

   I have long maintained that a primary function and responsibility of fathers involves teaching their children this principle of short term sacrifice resulting in longterm benefit.  This is tru of earthly parents, and far more true of our Heavenly Father.  As we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus, we more and more discover the blessedness of foregoing pleasure in the moment for the purpose of ensuring greater glories in the future.  Certainly this does not preclude present enjoyment of many blessings.  It does mean, however, that many opportunities arise wherein challenging responsibility must be fulfilled before pleasurable privileges can be relished.  This is presently our Father's way in our lives, and He greatly honors and benefits us to lead us along paths of sacrifice in the moment that result in blessedness both tomorrow and forevermore.

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
(Hebrews 12:11)

Weekly Memory Verse
   In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. 
(Isaiah 30:15).


Friday, February 28, 2020

"It Is I"

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

(a repeat from 2017)

"It Is I"
    Because we "live and move and have our being" in God, He saturates our existence to a degree we cannot presently comprehend (Acts 17:28).  Our residence in a fallen world hinders our awareness of the greatest truth in our lives, namely, the Person, presence, and pervasive activity of our Creator.  David nevertheless realized the reality:

    "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit?  Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 139:7-10).

    God dwells as the Blessing of every blessing.  He provides the meaning of every seemingly mundane moment.  He supplies Himself as "a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).  Thus, there is Someone to gratefully appreciate along pleasant pathways.  There is Someone to remember and affirm in the midst of seemingly ordinary, repetitious responsibilities of life that may seem like drudgery, but which actually teem with the living presence of God.  Most of all, there is  Someone to trust in trouble, Someone who speaks to His trusting children in Christ the same promise of hope declared to His disciples as He walked to them upon storm-tossed seas: "It is I, be not afraid" (Mark 6:50).  Whatever the conditions and circumstances this moment brings to our doorstep, God promises Himself as the Great Fact of all.

   "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness" (Isaiah 41:10).

    "It is I."  The Voice resounds from the center of all things.  "It is I."   Creation teems with the risen life and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.  "God… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:3; 11).  This includes our moments, our circumstances, our situations, and our conditions.  The great God, the God and Father of our Savior, supplies the Great Fact of this moment.  We see it - or rather, Him - "through a glass darkly"  (I Corinthians 13:12).  The truth nevertheless prevails as the reality of this moment, and as the Life of our lives.  The Voice we cannot hear, but the fact we can know as we trust the God who assures us in all things,  "It is I."

"To live is Christ."
(Philippians 1:21)

Weekly Memory Verse
   In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. 
(Isaiah 30:15).


Thursday, February 27, 2020

“His Pleasure”

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

"His Pleasure"
      Salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ provides to the recipient a new heart, the heart of God Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit dwelling within our innermost being.

    "I will dwell in them… Christ liveth in me…. Ye are the temple of the Holy Spirit… Christ in you, the hope of glory" (II Corinthians 6:16; Galatians 2:20; I Corinthians 3:16; Colossians 1:27).

    God made human beings to serve as His spiritual home.  He delights to inhabit us, just as we would expect of Someone who loves us to the measure He sacrificed His Son into order to redeem us to Himself - "the Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4).  Indeed of all the wonders we can ponder regarding His indwelling presence, perhaps the most awe-inspiring involves the blessed truth that we matter so much to our Lord that in Christ He draws as near to us as He possibly can.  This involved pouring out His wrath and abandoning the Lord Jesus to die alone on the cross of Calvary -  "we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God… My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 27:46).  The holy result of such grace?  "I am with you always… "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).  This is how much our Heavenly Father loves our hearts, and how dear they are to Him as His spiritual home.

    Let us make this personal.  God loves your heart and mine so very much that in the moment we trusted Christ, His Spirit rushed as a mighty wind into our spirits no less than He indwelt the 1st century disciples on the day of Pentecost.  Moreover, He came to stay in your heart and my heart. Such realization changes everything when we embrace the truth as a matter of general belief, and even more, when we apply it to the specific aspects of our lives.  Indeed, when "in all thy ways acknowledge Him" becomes in this particular way, acknowledge Him, the presence of God in our hearts becomes by faith the presence of God in our minds, hands, and feet (Proverbs 3:6).  The realization that our Lord loves His presence within us far more than we love His presence within us goes far in establishing and securing a more consistent experience of the wonder that He "taketh pleasure in His people".   Again, let us make this personal.  He takes pleasure in you and me because are hearts are so dear to Him that He dwells within them as the very Life of our lives.

"He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit."
(I Corinthians 6:17)

Weekly Memory Verse
   In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. 
(Isaiah 30:15).


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

“The Gospel: Breathtakingly Simple”

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

"The Gospel: Breathtakingly Simple"
      Salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ is breathtakingly simple to the sinner.

     "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand, by which also ye are saved  for I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:1-4).

    The Apostle Paul'declaration to the Corinthians provides the most elemental Biblical affirmation of the Gospel.  Note that it says nothing about us, but rather reveals the centrality and totality of God's emphasis on the redemptive Person and work of His Son.  Who is the Lord Jesus?  What has He done to make salvation possible and actual?  This is the Gospel in its essence.  Certainly the matter involves our response of repentance and faith.  "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).  However, as we share the Lord Jesus with unbelievers, we do well to have confidence in the Spirit of God and the Word of God that as we shine the spotlight on the Savior, many will realize and respond to His ability to save and their need for salvation.

   No less than Paul was accused during his lifetime of preaching a licentious and scandalous message of "Let us do evil, that good may come" (Romans 3:8).  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  The Apostle knew that the Gospel was "the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16).  He knew that preaching grace unadulterated would lead to genuine faith in those who "with the heart… believeth unto righteousness" (Romans 10:10).  Paul believed and affirmed that salvation in the Lord Jesus provides the freest gift ever given, purchased at the highest cost ever remitted.  Thus, he did not alter his Christ-centered and saturated message, being rightly confident that the Holy Spirit would bear witness in sinful hearts of the repentance and faith required if we proclaim the Lord Jesus crucified and risen again as the heart of the Gospel.  

    Of course, Paul knew that some would "believe in vain" (I Corinthians 15:2).  Merely praying a prayer or professing faith does not mean that a genuine experience of salvation has occurred.  Again, the matter involves the heart, that deepest, innermost sanctum of our being.  Some merely believe on the surface, as it were.  Others receive the Lord Jesus in the spirit.  How can we avoid the former and assure the latter in our communication of the Gospel?  The answer is simple, and perhaps disturbing to some degree: we cannot.  "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).  We do disservice to sinners and distortion to the Truth if we add to the work of Christ, or fail to have complete confidence in the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit as we bear witness to our Savior.  That some believe without redemptive effect is unavoidable, according to Paul.  That many "believe to the saving of the soul" is unassailable in accordance with the work of God (Hebrews 10:39). Thus, we go forth with our breathtakingly simple declaration of a Savior whose Person and work are more sublimely wonderful than human hearts can imagine.  The freest gift, at the highest cost.  This is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, prophesied in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New…

"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
 (Isaiah 55:1)
"Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."
(Romans 5:18)

Weekly Memory Verse
   In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. 
(Isaiah 30:15).


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

"For God... From God"

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

"For God… From God"
      As each day begins, God offers born again believers with the privilege of living from the resources He provides by His Son, His Spirit, and His Scriptures.

     "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3).

    Of course, we can neglect such grace, forgetting or ignoring that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Ephesians 2:10).  During our present earthly lifetime, we can still walk after the flesh despite the truth that "ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you" (Romans 8:9).  Our spiritual enemies cannot steal our relationship with God through Christ.  They can, however, tempt us to forfeit our experience of His indwelling life by attacks of distraction and discouragement.  Failure to realize and remember such assaults by the world, the devil, and flesh results in our seeking to live from carnal resources that cannot begin to supply the strength required for living according to God's standards.  "Walk even as He walked" mandated the Apostle John, referring to the Lord Jesus (I John 2:6).  Even a cursory consideration of this command requires that we take our shoes off, as it were, on such holy ground (Exodus 3:5).  Our feet are not capable for the journey of life to which our Heavenly Father calls us.  Our Savior must rather walk in us so that we may walk by Him.

    "I will dwell in them and walk in them… As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (II Corinthians 6:16; Colossians 2:6).

   What if God privileges us to take our next step through Christ?  And the next?  And all others thereafter?  He does.  He calls us to pray, as enabled by His Spirit.  He beckons us to read and absorb His Word, as enabled by His Spirit.  He commands that we love our family, as enabled by His Spirit.  We are to fulfill our earthly responsibilities, as enabled by His Spirit.  We overcome temptation thereby, we maintain our hearts in peace and joy through Christ, and the list goes on and on.  Indeed, we live for God by living from God.  No other hope exists for the life to which our Heavenly Father calls us.  "Without Me, ye can do nothing" declared the Lord Jesus to His disciples (John 15:5).  Many years later, however, the Apostle Paul would utter his exultant affirmation, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).  Yes, Christ lives in us so that we may "live through Him" (Galatians 2:20; I John 4:9).  No other resources are available for the quality of life to which God calls us.  Nor are any other necessary.  This is the gift our Father offers to us as each day begins, and as it continues.  May we more consistently and increasingly avail ourselves of the grace that began our relationship with Him, and which leads us into the blessed realization that "to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21).

"Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear."
(Hebrews 12:28)
"By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
(I Corinthians 15:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
   In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. 
(Isaiah 30:15).


Monday, February 24, 2020

"Not By Sight"

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

"Not By Sight"
      The Lord Jesus Christ lived 30 years of His earthly lifetime without revealing His identity as the Son of God.  He so veiled Himself that His own brothers did not know who He was.

    "Neither did His brethren believe in Him" (John 7:5).

    I have suggested before in these messages that I find this to be one of most shocking facts revealed in Scripture.  To live with "God… manifest in the flesh" without recognizing the wondrous reality seems to indict His siblings with inexcusable blindness (I Timothy 3:16).  Perhaps so.  However, our Lord's obscurity speaks even more to how humble and unobtrusive He lived as a man.  "A bruised reed shall He not break" (Matthew 12:20).  Our Savior lived accordingly in order to experience life in the same manner as do we ourselves.  Far more than 99% of the human race have lived as small fish in tiny ponds, known only to a few during their earthly lifetimes, and remembered only while their generation and perhaps one or two thereafter remain.  Our Lord, worthy of eternal acknowledgment, accolade, and adoration, knows what it means to be unknown by most (and ultimately, rejected by all).  "Who is this?… He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from Him.  He was despised and we esteemed Him not" (Matthew 21:10; Isaiah 53:3).

   We do well to expect and rejoice that yet again the Lord Jesus  quietly dwells in the spiritual family of those who trust in His saving grace.  "We walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).  Most of our Christian life involves following Moses' example, who "endured, as seeing Him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:27).  Our trust involves Bible and Spirit-confirmed conviction of the heart far more than sensation, emotion, and overt displays of God's presence in our lives.  This constitutes great challenge as we walk with Him, requiring affirmations of confidence that often flow against our human perceptions.  "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24).  Such faith requires that we realize our Lord's frequently unseen way in our present existence.  "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength" (Isaiah 30:15).

    When necessary in our lives, the Lord may part a Red Sea or stop the sun in its tracks.  Most often, however - by a vastly larger measure - He will work in a manner that requires the faith that sees the Invisible.  Thereby we discover God's heart in its wondrously faithful devotion to us.  As the old adage affirms, "We trust His heart when we cannot see His hand."  The Christ whose earthly family did not recognize Him still often veils His glory as He lives in His spiritual family.  We must expect this holy way in our lives, and rejoice that we thereby discover glories of His character, nature, and way that would be missed if we presently saw more obvious displays of His presence and power.

"The LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake.   And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."
(I Kings 19:11-12)

Weekly Memory Verse
   In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. 
(Isaiah 30:15).


Saturday, February 22, 2020

"The Deep, Dark Woods

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

(Friends: those of you who have been with us for awhile have seen this one on several occasions.   I send it again today because it seems to illustrate the truth we considered yesterday regarding God's involved presence throughout our lifetime.  "My times are in Thy hand" - Psalm 31:15.  Thanks, Glen)

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

     The boy had often watched his father venture into the vast stand of trees that surrounded the family property. He so loved and admired his dad's seeming fearlessness concerning the dangers that might lie in the woods.  His father's suggestion nevertheless bewildered and even terrified him.  The woods terrified him.  He literally shuddered at prospect of venturing into them.
    "Uh, Dad, did you say you want me to go into the deep, dark woods?" The boy gulped as he replied, fearing he might have correctly heard his father.

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

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

    Sunrise brought a knock on his bedroom door, followed by his father's voice.  "Son, are you awake?  It's time.  Today's the day!  It's time for you to go into the deep dark woods!"  The little boy paused, and then responded, "Yes, Dad, I'm awake."  The enthusiastic voice sounded again through the door.  "Great son, get your clothes on and come to the kitchen.  I'm making a big breakfast for you so you'll be ready for your big day!"

   The little boy arose and began to get dressed.  He thought about his father, remembering again the courage and bravery of his dad.  He also considered more how much his father loved him.  He knew this was true!  His dad showed him every day.  This brought the realization there must be something his father knew that the boy didn't know.  "If Dad thinks I'm ready, well….  I know I can trust him!"

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

    His dad smiled and responded, "Ok son, get your backpack.  I'll meet you out by the poplars," he said, referring to a stand of hardwoods where an opening allowed entrance into the forest.
     When the boy arrived at the spot, his dad was not yet there. This gave him time to consider the woods. How beautiful they were, especially as rays of the rising sun glimmered through the branches and leaves. He had loved to look at them for as long as he could remember - from a safe distance -  and he often lingered as he watched his dad disappear into the forest for his journeys. How brave was his father!  And how much the little boy knew he was not like him!  A sense of shame, coupled with fear, churned within his heart as tears formed in his eyes.  He gulped hard, and thought to himself again, "I can trust my dad!"

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

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

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

     The father stopped and turned to face his son.  He smiled and reached out for the boy to come and join him. "Of course I'm going with you, son! You're not yet ready for a journey into the deep, dark woods by yourself.  Someday you will be, but this is not that day. No, not yet. Yes, I'm going with you into the deep, dark woods.  We're going together, and I'm going to show you things I could never describe to you with words. It will be wonderful, and how I've looked forward to this moment!"  The man looked deeply into his son's eyes. "Are you ready?"

    Needless to say, the little boy was ready. He was more ready to journey into the deep, dark woods than anything he had ever done.  His dad was going with him! His brave, strong father would accompany him every step of the way, and now the vast forest portended not of fear and uncertainty, but of wonder, discovery, and awe.  "Yes, I am ready, Dad!" he almost shouted with excitement.  I am ready to go into the deep, dark woods!"


     Whence we go, we go not alone.  Our Heavenly Father journeys with us.  It matters not whether we venture unto shining summits, whereupon vistas of beauty await our awed eyes, or into deep, dark woods that threaten with seeming peril.  Whence we go, we shall not go alone. "I am with you always" promised the Lord Jesus, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).  In Christ, God gives to us Himself.  Thus, we can face anything and everything with the assurance that the Lord Jesus will be everything we need Him to be in every moment, in every place, in every circumstance.  Always with us, never to leave us - this is the promise of He who cannot lie.   Are you ready? He asks.  Let us respond,  "Oh yes, Father, I am ready!"

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

Weekly Memory Verse
   "Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice."
(Philippians 4:4)


Friday, February 21, 2020

“An Adage and An Assurance”

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

"An Adage and An Assurance"
      "Time passes.  Will you?"

     I recall the small placard strategically placed just above the chalkboard by my 7th grade Social Studies teacher Mr. Swilley.  He was just the kind of fellow you would expect to present such a wry challenge to his students.   I am relieved to report that I did pass, and actually did pretty well in his class.  I have always enjoyed the study of history and how human beings through the ages have found ways to live with one another, and sadly, to quite frequently not live with one another.

    Time does indeed pass.  Wasn't it only yesterday I pondered that adage above Mr. Swilley's chalkboard?  Or was it 50 years ago?  (t'was the latter!).  This would   comprise a disturbing thought were it not for another truism I think about far more often than Mr. Swilley's axiom:

    "My times are in Thy hand" (Psalm 31:15).

    The eternal God offers the assurance of His perpetual and involved presence to born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  From conception to our passage into forever, the great fact of our existence has been and will be His promise, "I am with you always, even to the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20).  We venture not alone through the stages of our earthly sojourn, which provides the most blessed assurance imaginable to our needy hearts.  Indeed, the Spirit of God and the Word of God continually beckon us to join Moses, who "endured, as seeing Him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:27).  Our Lord assures us that our "times" rest in a Hand that strategically places not adages above chalkboards, but rather every era of life into the glorious purpose of conforming us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29).  All bear eternal significance and meaning, regardless of circumstance, situation, or condition.   "God… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:3; 11).

   None of us know what the days, weeks, months, and years will bring to the doorstep of our hearts and lives.  We do know, however, Who will bring all things by His determinations and allowances.  We can forget that great fact sometimes.  Mr. Swilley's adage reminds me, however, to think of the Psalmist's assurance.  Our times - all of them - are in our Lord's hand, or in the fullness of New Testament light, His nail-pierced hands.  Thank you, Mr. Swilley.  And thank You far more, Heavenly Father, for the peace of Your promise and its pledge of Your loving presence…

"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)

Weekly Memory Verse
   "Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice."
(Philippians 4:4)


Thursday, February 20, 2020

“Moved With Compassion”

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

"Moved With Compassion"
      Allow me to introduce you to Jacob.


    Jacob lives at a retirement community where we conduct services.  He faithfully attends the meetings, which leads us to believe he loves the Lord and His people.  :):)  Note that He also loves Frances's backpack, which contains the hymnsheets we use during our services.   However, there is, shall we say, a rub regarding Jacob's attendance:  Frances and I are both allergic to cats.  We usually leave the encounters with Jacob feeling a bit congested and scratching an itchy nose.  Our friend tends to make matters worse because he invariably approaches me with the desire to be petted.  I find myself not being able to resist a brief stroke of his fur because he is so sweet-natured and so faithful an attendee of our services.  This, of course, makes my allergy reaction worse.  It also reminds me of an account in Scripture regarding the Lord Jesus Christ and His willingness to touch the untouchable.

    "And there came a leper to Him, beseeching Him, and kneeling down to Him, and saying unto Him, If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth His hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed" (Mark 1:40-42).

   I often wonder how long it had been since the leper had felt the warmth of someone's hand.  Old Testament law forbad touching lepers because of the infectious transmission of the disease (Leviticus 5:3).  The Lord Jesus, of course, was not subject to this directive because His touch administered healing to the man rather than being infected by his leprosy.  Thus, "moved with compassion", the Savior also moved His hand to touch and cleanse.  We can only imagine what it meant to the leper that someone - Someone - cared enough to administer such grace.  "In my distress, I cried unto the Lord and He heard me" (Psalm 120:1).

    In spiritual terms, we are all that leper.  Moreover, our Savior was willing not only to touch us, but to become as one of us in order to die and rise again in order to cure our sin-diseased hearts.   This was true in our conversion, and remains true in our walk with the Lord as His trusting children.  "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin… If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 1:7; 2:1).  The blood of Christ represents His death as a man.  Only as a man could God the Son shed blood. His advocacy confirms His resurrection and office as our living intercessor in the Heavenlies, again, as a man.  Only as man could the Lord Jesus serve as a qualified mediator between ourselves and God.  Yes indeed, He touched us, and far more.

    I think about such things when Jacob approaches me with the expectation of being stroked by my hand.  I often hesitate, but then I think of the Lord Jesus touching a leper.  Even more, I think of Him touching me.  So Jacob receives a brief, but certain touch of my hand.  And I receive from him a blessed and even more certain remembrance of a Savior "moved with compassion".

"The Word was made flesh."
(John 1:14)
"There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
(I Timothy 2:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
   "Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice."
(Philippians 4:4)


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

“His Power To Redeem”

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

"His Power To Redeem"
      That which the devil, the world, and the flesh ruins, God redeems.

     "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:18-21).

   A risen Lord Jesus Christ bears witness to God's creation being ultimately delivered from the imperfection and deterioration that resulted from the presence of sin.  Indeed, the greatest redemption, as it were, that ever occurred took place when the Lord Jesus was "made to be sin for us" and bore the full weight of God's judgment and wrath on the cross of Calvary" (II Corinthians 5:21).  The Father raised His Son from such ruin, exalted Him with Lordship and "a Name above every name," and bestowed upon creation the promise of restoration from the ravages of sin (Philippians 2:9).  

   This truth applies to our personal lives.  Where are there aspects of damage and ruin in our lives due to sin, whether our own, or the wrongs of others committed against us, or the simple fact that we live in a fallen world?  More importantly, is the Lord Jesus our Redeemer regarding those matters?  Can He bring His risen life to bear on the "deaths" in our lives, that is, the losses that perplex and even paralyze us?  He can, as we look to the One redeemed from the grave and installed upon the throne.  Our Heavenly Father administers firstfruits of the ultimate redemption mentioned above as we believe He possesses both the willingness and ability to do so.  The promise to Israel of old speaks to this loving inclination of God to redeem things lost: I will restore to you the years that the locusts hath eaten" (Joel 2:25).

   Painful events and experiences of our past serve as opportunities to discover the redemption of Christ.  I often share the example of having lost my father when I was two years old.  His absence during my childhood was keenly painful and I doubtless still feel the effects.  However, when I look at my life, I have even more assurance that God wove my the loss of my earthly father into His good purposes for glory of the Lord Jesus, my benefit, and hopefully, the blessing of those with whom I live my life.  My Heavenly Father redeemed - and still redeems - through a significant loss that by His grace serves as opportunity to behold the wonder of His ways.  This is who He is.  And this is what He can do through the resurrected Christ whose personal loss led to the gain of exaltation for Himself, and eternal life for all who believe in His power to redeem.

"He restoreth my soul."
(Psalm 23:3)

Weekly Memory Verse
   "Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice."
(Philippians 4:4)