Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Orange Moon Cafe “Prayers Forgotten, Prayers Remembered"

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

"Prayers Forgotten, Prayers Remembered"

      Prayers prayed, but long forgotten by us, doubtless continue to be answered by the God who cannot forget.  Nor can He fail to answer prayers offered in accordance with His will.

    "This is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us, and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him" (I Corinthians 5:14-15). 

     We likely do not see the large preponderance of God's answers to our prayers.  This prevents our spiritual enemies from tempting us to the pride that that might deceive us if we saw how faithfully our Heavenly Father responds to our petitions.  Moreover, how God answers our prayers often greatly transcends our understanding.  Because "the Lord looketh on the heart," He may answer the intent of our prayers in ways that may not look like answers (I Samuel 16:7).  Certainly our Heavenly Father does not give us a serpent when we ask for a fish (Matthew 7:10).  He may, however, act in response to our prayers in ways so devoted to the heart that we cannot see His dynamic working.  He also acts according to His imponderable wisdom rather than our limited understanding.  Thus, the Apostle Paul declared, "We know not what to pray for as we ought" (Romans 8:26).  He also taught that "we walk by faith, not by sight,"  confirming the Spirit of God's working  in ways we cannot see or comprehend  (II Corinthians 5:7). 

   What if you remembered a prayer offered decades ago for someone long removed from your association, and perhaps even forgotten?  What if you also realized the Lord continued to work in response to your request?   Certainly many issues require ongoing petition, as the Lord taught regarding the importunate widow (Luke 18:3-5).  Some matters, however, continue to move the heart and hand of God because in a moment of time, we sincerely made request according to His will.   He far more sincerely responds to petitions long forgotten by us, but long and faithfully remembered by the One who loves to answer our prayers far more than we love to pray them.  Indeed, we do well to remember that prayer is 99% about the One to whom we pray, namely, His glory, His will, and His work.   Our role is important and even vital in God's purposes.  We nevertheless do well to remember that important as our asking may be, our Father's acting in response matters infinitely more.  Thus, we can be sure that prayers perhaps long forgotten by the supplicant nevertheless find the Savior still working to answer in ways wondrously beyond our remembrance, vision and comprehension...

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church throughout all ages, world without end, Amen."
 (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Weekly Memory Verse
      "Lord, Thou hast been our dwellingplace in all generations."
 (Psalm 90:1)


Monday, March 30, 2020

Orange Moon Cafe “Our Dwellingplace - Past, Present, and Future"

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

"Our Dwellingplace - Past, Present, and Future"

      We've all had moments in the past that simply seemed like moments.  No lights flashed.  No bands played.  No bells and whistles, and nothing of import or significance seemed to occur in the experience.  Looking back, however, we see those seemingly insignificant moments as seminal and of powerful influence regarding where life led us, or rather, where God led us.

   "Lord, Thou hast been our dwellingplace in all generations" (Psalm 90:1).

   We must never journey to the past without God.  He was there in every moment, working in our hearts and lives to lead us to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ before we believed, and to faithfulness to our Savior after our new birth.  While our Heavenly Father certainly does not determine everything that happened in days gone by - He did not cause our sins, or the sins of others against us - He nevertheless coordinated the good, the bad, and the mundane in accordance with His loving purpose in our lives (James 1:13; Ephesians 1:11).  Thus, we may look back and see moments fraught with meaning, including those we now realize glimmered with the most brilliant light despite our inability to see.  Such awareness graces our journeys to yesterday in the realization of how our Lord has indeed been our perpetual dwellingplace.

   For me, I think of the evening Frances and I realized God's wondrous purpose for our life together.  We had been friends for nearly a year, very much enjoying each other's company.  We did not think of each other in terms of romance, however, until the night when we visited a restaurant together after church (something we did on a regular basis).  For some reason (God's reason, of course), I reached across the table, took Frances's hand into mind, along with her heart.  More than 43 years later we look back on that moment with amazed wonder for the gift we were given.  That blessed evening, which seemingly began like so many others, ended with our having passed through a blessed threshold for which we join the Apostle Paul in his joyous exulation: "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church throughout all ages, world without end, Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21).

     God fills all the moments of His trusting children in Christ's lives with eternal purpose, meaning, and significance.  Our limited spiritual vision prohibits us from seeing most of the coordination, but we must passionately believe that in His working to conform us to the spiritual and moral image of Christ, "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28-29).  What moments of this day will we look back on with the realization of their particularly vital importance?  Regarding many of them, we cannot know.  Again, however, we can allow the light that shines in every moment of our lives to fill us with the  peace that "all things work together for good."  Yes, we journey to the past with God.  We experience the present with Him.  Whence we go in the future, He will await us there.  The moments, all of them, matter so much.  May we open our eyes and our hearts to see more clearly see the Divine dwellingplace of our yesterdays, todays, and forever, or as the Apostle Paul confirmed…

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

Weekly Memory Verse
         "Lord, Thou hast been our dwellingplace in all generations."
 (Psalm 90:1)


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Orange Moon Cafe "The Church - A Living Organism"

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

"The Church - A Living Organism"

      Allow me to suggest a truth most believers know and understand, but which we nevertheless do well to directly consider on a regular basis.

     "Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house" (I Corinthians 16:19).

     Note the delineation between the "church" and the location where Aquila, Priscilla, and the fellow believers of their locale met.  The church was not the place, program, or protocol of these brothers and sisters of old, but rather the people, or more importantly, the Lord and His people.  "He is the Head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18).  This was especially the case in the early centuries of Christendom, when due to censure and persecution, believers could not openly meet in public locations or structures.  Christians of old thus had a better understanding of the definition of "ekklesia," the Greek root word of church, which means "called out."  Again, this refers to Lord Jesus who calls, and believers to whom the Apostle Paul refers to as "the called of Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:6).  This living and personal union of the Savior and the saints constitutes "the church."

    Please do not interpret this as criticism of referring to locations, structures, and organizations as church.  We all use the language of "going to church," and again, I am confident most people understand we are not being Scripturally literal when we use the term.  Christ and His people - this is the church in the heart and mind of God, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.  "Behold I and the children which God hath given Me" (Hebrews 2:13).  The aforementioned places, programs, and protocols are tools used by the church in many different modes and measures.  Moreover, they are necessary implements, as the Lord establishes and directs.  But they are not literally the church.  Indeed, ekklesia primarily denotes a living spiritual organism, as opposed to a structured organization.  The risen Christ, dwelling with and within His spiritually enlivened spiritual body - this is the church.  

   We do well to remember and affirm this truth of the organism, while appreciating and participating in the organization.  The stark truth of the matter is that we could lose the latter, which has often happened in the last 2,000 years, but the former remains.  The Head of the church said it plainly: "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).  Thus, as with Aquila and Priscilla, we appreciate the "house," while always remembering and emphasizing "the church" that meets there.  We also rejoice in how little - or perhaps, how much - is actually required for the church in its most literal form to function.  Wherever the Lord and His people are united in His love, be it few or many, be it formal or informal, there you have the church in its blessed and Christ-exalting essence.  And nothing shall prevail against it.

"God… hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."
(Ephesians 1:17; 22-23)

Weekly Memory Verse
      "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward another, and toward all." 
(I Thessalonians 3:12)


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Orange Moon Cafe “The Savior and the Scriptures: Supreme"

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

"The Savior and the Scriptures: Supreme"

      Scripture interprets Scripture as it shines its holy light upon the theme of every word, verse, chapter and book, namely, the glory and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.

     "Whom shall He teach knowledge?   And whom shall He make to understand doctrine?  Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little" (Isaiah 28:9-10).
   "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me… All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (John 5:39; II Timothy 3:16).

    When we first begin to read the Bible after becoming believers, we do not possess the knowledge or acumen to place "precept upon precept; line upon line."  We require others to help us in our understanding and response, which behooves us to seek voices and pens devoted to the Lord Jesus and His Word.

     Our determination and goal as time passes involves becoming knowledgable enough to personally implement the coordination of verses and passages whereby we glean truth about Christ, ourselves, others, and the work of God in His world.  Of course, we continue to benefit from those called to communicate the Scriptures, including preachers, teachers, and authors who "labor in the Word and in doctrine" (I Timothy 5:17).  We seek to avail ourselves of those who give every evidence of loving devotion to the Person and Word of God.  Moreover, we run for our lives from voices and pens who do not constantly reflect and affirm the supremacy of the Savior and the Scriptures.  Again, the living Word Christ and the written Word the Bible form the parallel tracks of Truth whereupon the train of God's redemptive work in the world races to its destination of glory.  "The Word was made flesh… Thy Word is truth" (John 1:14; 17:17).

   In our loving devotion to the Savior, we do well to regularly read, ponder, believe, and apply the Biblical truth that shines with His wonder.  As the years proceed, we will find ourselves prepared for growing perception of His working in our lives, as revealed and confirmed by Scriptural authority.  "Line upon line, precept upon precept" will guide our determination as we better understand the synthesis of Scripture that reveals the Person and work of the Lord Jesus.

"Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
(Psalm 119:167)
"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)

Weekly Memory Verse
      "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward another, and toward all." 
(I Thessalonians 3:12)


Friday, March 27, 2020

Orange Moon Cafe "One"

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


      "For as by one man's disobedience, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous" (Romans 5:19).

      One man originally got us into our dilemma of sin, and one Man made possible our salvation from it.  We could venture down many doctrinal paths in consideration of this vital Biblical truth.  For now, however, let us simply consider its message of the significance of a solitary individual.

    "I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then said I, Here am I; send me" (Isaiah 6:8).

    Isaiah committed himself to a task the Lord told him would not be successful (Isaiah 6:9-10).  Israel would not respond to the prophet in repentance, which seems to indicate a call to futility.  In the immediate sense, this was the case.  However, the chronicle of this one faithful man speaks through the centuries in the pages of Scripture, and in the lives of believers.  Indeed, how many have responded to God's call to service with the affirmation voiced by Isaiah?  "Here am I; send me."  Yes, one man, whose devotion has affected millions.

    From the prophet we proceed to Dr. Suess, noted for beautifully stating the significance one person can play in the life of another: "In the world, you may be one person. But to one person, you may be the world."    This is especially true of believers, in whom dwells the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Who might He touch through us when we devote ourselves to God for the purpose of loving people as the expression of loving Him?  We do not know, and we may wonder how we could be of much help to others.  However, we are one person indwelt, led, and enabled by an infinite God.  We can thus be sure our Lord will not waste our realization of how much we can mean to others.  Through Christ, we might very well mean the world to someone, or rather, we might mean the Maker of the world to someone.

    A.W. Tozer once said of John 3:16, "To me, the passage simply means that everybody matters to God."  We do well to embrace such truth, setting forth in each new day with the consecration of "Here am I, send me."   We can thereby expect the Lord will lead us to someone for whom we will mean far more than we can imagine.  One person is all we are, but as God's sons and daughters, we are one person who serve as the heart, the hands, and the voice of the Person to whom everybody matters, and to whom He matters more than anything.

"And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched Me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with Him said, Master, the multitude throng Thee and press Thee, and sayest Thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched Me?
(Luke 8:42-46)

Weekly Memory Verse
      "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward another, and toward all." 
(I Thessalonians 3:12)


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Orange Moon Cafe “Face To Face, Or… Our Unknowing"

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

(Friends, you get a double title today, because I couldn't decide on one or the other!  :):)    Glen)

"Face To Face,
Our Unknowing"

      If God allows us to look back on the past from our Heavenly eternity, we will realize how relatively little we knew about Him and about all things during our earthly lives.  We  "see through a glass darkly" confessed the Apostle Paul, who also exulted, "but then face to face" (I Corinthians 13:12).  Certainly Paul referred to the direct and glorious view of the Lord Jesus Christ to come.  However, "face to face" will also involve our awareness of truth and reality regarding ourselves, others, and all things in our existence.  "In Thy light shall we see light" declared the Psalmist of our current vision, but even more of our future perceptions and understanding (Psalm 36:9).

   We see nothing perfectly or completely in this lifetime.  Certainly we can know and understand enough to effectively function in many matters.  Such limited awareness has led the human race to accomplish wondrous things, both corporately and personally.  However, we know "nothing yet as we ought to know" (I Corinthians 8:2).  Consider the simplest object presently in your field of vision.  I look upon a coaster that rests on a table nearby.  The coaster is round, about 4 inches in diameter, and sturdy enough to securely bear my cup of tea.  However, millions upon millions of atomic and subatomic particles form and maintain the coaster's existence.  I see nothing of that, but the case could easily be made that the outward structure and appearance of the object pales in comparison to its unseen physical nature.  The same is true regarding the object you presently behold.  Again, an untold measure of physical wonder forms and sustains even the simplest of things.

   If we shift our attention to the unseen glory of God's infinite being, heart and mind, the contemplation drives us to our knees in mystified awe.  Even a cursory reading of the Bible unveils a Being so inexpressibly glorious that that knowing Him seems impossible.  We can do so, but let us acknowledge the truth that the miraculous must occur for finite beings to genuinely relate to the Infinite.  The Spirit of God must enable us, which He does in all who trust the Lord Jesus.  "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6).  Wondrously, through the Spirit of Christ, we can know the infinite One who "dwells in the light which no man can approach unto, which no man hath seen, nor can see" (I Timothy 6:16).  However, we acknowledge the relatively minuscule measure of our present awareness and understanding 

   Gather the cumulative knowledge of human history gleaned unto the present hour.  It could comfortably rest on the head of a pin in comparison to the vastness of God and His creation.  We know so very little, and while we give thanks for that which we do understand, we do well to humble ourselves in the acknowledgement of the preponderance of our unknowing.  This refers us back to our original premise, namely, that our present perspective pales in comparison to what can be known, and one day, will be known - face to face.  Nothing should more thrill us, especially when we consider the greatest prospect of eternity, that we shall forever…

 "Know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge."
 (Ephesians 3:19)

Weekly Memory Verse
      "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward another, and toward all." 
(I Thessalonians 3:12)


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Orange Moon Cafe "Very Present"

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

"Very Present"

      "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

     Only regarding trouble does Scripture declare God as being "very" present.  Of course, our Lord loves to bless us with happy, pleasant things and experiences.  He is with us in those, rejoicing as we rejoice, and being glad in our gladness.  "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).  However, God's obvious blessings do not generally bring jeopardy to our hearts and lives.  Trouble does, which leads our Lord to draw especially near with His promise of help and guidance.  "I will be glad and rejoice in Thy mercy: for Thou hast considered my trouble, Thou hast known my soul in adversities" (Psalm 31:7).

    The challenge, of course, is that trouble often tempts us to perceive God not as being especially near, but rather as far away.  The same David who affirmed his Lord as "very present" also expressed the feelings of his flesh in another Psalm: "Why standest Thou afar off, o Lord?  Why hidest Thyself in times of trouble?" (Psalm 10:1).  Trouble challenged David with the sense of aloneness, as it does every human being.  In fact, this may constitute its greatest threat.  If we do not confront the lie of being alone , we attempt to face our challenges by ourselves.  For born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, this belies the blessed truth: "I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20).   Facing difficulty apart from the remembrance of God's presence and promise of "very present help in trouble" leads down pathways of bright illumination we fail to perceive because we close our eyes of faith.  "The light shineth in darkness" (John 1:5).

   In recent days, I have frequently expressed, "With trouble comes opportunity."  This is true, but far more to the point, "With trouble comes God."   He provides a special dispensation of presence, promise, provision, and power when difficulty of any mode or measure comes our way.  What might the Lord do for the trusting saint who opens eyes of faith to see Him through tears of pain, sorrow, and bewilderment?  The Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the history of the church of God answer that our Heavenly Father will do much, first in our hearts to reveal His peace, and then in our circumstances and conditions to reveal how very present He is.  This does not always mean deliverance from our challenge, although we rightly rejoice if it does.  Sometimes it means deliverance in our challenge, that is, "the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).  

     We also do well to remember the price of God's presence in our trials.  Long ago, the voice of a broken Heart cried out into the darkness, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).  Rather than being "very present", God the Father and God the Holy Spirit utterly abandoned God the Son as He bore Divine wrath for our sins.  Very absent rather than "very present" enveloped the heart of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary.  In direct proportion, the promise sounds and resounds through the ages to all who trust the Savior: "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).  Indeed, the greatest of all trouble came to the Lord Jesus.  He faced it alone for our sakes so that when trouble comes to us, we face it with Him for the glory of God.  "Very present."  These are not just words.  They are rather a gift freely given to us by One who knew loneliness to its utmost sense of despair.  May we remember the cost whenever trouble comes our way, and affirm that the darkest valley shines with brightest light for all who will open their eyes to see.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me."
(Psalm 23:4)

Weekly Memory Verse
      "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward another, and toward all." 
(I Thessalonians 3:12)


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Orange Moon Cafe "Death Sentence"

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

"Death Sentence"

      "We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead" (II Corinthians 1:9).
     The Apostle Paul references a death sentence passed on his fleshly tendency to trust in himself rather than the living and true God.  He also declares the basis for confidence in our Heavenly Father, namely, He "raiseth the dead."

    That is somebody we can trust.  Indeed, believers live in the light of a tomb once occupied, but now and forevermore empty.  The Lord Jesus is risen from the dead, a victory that applies not only to our salvation, but to every aspect of a life wherein those who trust Him see His triumph in countless ways.  Indeed, the Christ in whom we have placed our confidence conquered our worst enemy, death.  He purposes to apply the power of His overcoming life to all conditions, circumstances, and situations as we live our lives "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).

   Like Paul, however, we face a challenge in our natural sensibilities, that is, our earthly components inherited from Adam: "the flesh lusteth against the spirit" (Galatians 5:17).  This aspect of our being prompts us to independently navigate the course of our lives as if we possess the means to do so.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  "In Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).  Note that Paul spoke these words regarding believer and unbeliever alike.  Even the most ardent atheist requires God's bestowal of "life and breath and all things" in order to bluster his denial of obvious reality (Acts 17:25).  Christians, of course, know and seek to live by this truth.  However, we also face the challenge to forget or ignore the necessity of our dependence on the Lord.  We must therefore join Paul in passing the death sentence regarding "trust in ourselves."  Whenever we find ourselves drifting away from the only safe harbor that exists for our hearts, we remember and affirm the condemnation we have directed toward trust that does not originate and continue in the faithfulness of God.  As the mighty warrior David confessed, "I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me" (Psalm 44:6). 

    What if the power of Christ's resurrection applies to this problem, or that difficulty, or any challenge we face in our present lifetime?  It does.  "To live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21).  What if our flesh nevertheless tempts us to rely on our own bow or sword?  It will.  Thus, we build an altar in our hearts whereupon we pass a death sentence on any trust that does not rest in the risen Christ alone.  We then visit that altar whenever we recognize our fleshly tendency to rely on anything less than the power that raised the Lord Jesus from the dead.  Yes, the empty tomb of the Lord Jesus applies to every day, and to whatever life brings our way…

"Ye are risen with Him through faith in the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead."
(Colossians 2:12)
"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool."
(Proverbs 28:26)

Weekly Memory Verse
      "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward another, and toward all." 
(I Thessalonians 3:12)