Saturday, May 30, 2020

Orange Moon Cafe "By Thy Words"

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


   "By Thy Words"


   The Psalmist and the Apostle Paul unite to reveal a vital truth regarding our walk with God and the peace of our hearts.


    "I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed" (Psalm 77:3).

    "God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son" (Romans 1:9).


    Paul reveals that service to God begins in the deepest essence of our spiritual being wherein the Holy Spirit lives and moves to motivate, guide, and empower godliness.  David, conversely, confesses to grumbling discontent and its dampening effect on the spirit.  I am reminded of something many of us have said when asked how we are doing.  "Well, can't complain.  And it wouldn't do any good if I did!"  This is true.  However, murmuring has a far more detrimental effect than simply impeding good.  Our complaints actually do much harm, hindering our capacity to access the internal presence and power of God.  What we say and how we say it matters far more than we often realize.  Solomon joins the consideration:


    "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21).


   Not surprisingly, since we were originally created by one called "the Word," our utterances play a significant role in paving both blessed and destructive paths of our lives.  (John 1:1-3).  Little wonder that David prayed, "Set a watch, o Lord, before my mouth.  Keep the door of my lips" (Psalm 141:3).  We live and die during our earthly lifetime according to how we talk about God, ourselves, others, blessings, troubles, and everyday events.  This is a hard truth to ponder regarding the current consideration of complaining (and really hard to write about!).  Doubtless we can all look back on too many times when we barged through "the door of my lips" and overwhelmed our spirit by murmuring discontent.  Too little praise, too much protest.  More to the point, too little life, too much death has resulted from my own experience of often allowing my tongue to utter words of destruction rather than benefit.


    Thankfully, the Word who made us speaks many words in Scripture about His merciful forgiveness and ongoing patience with His trusting children in Christ.  "The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy" (Psalm 145:8).  If, like me, you look back on too many occasions of complaint and an overwhelmed spirit, may I suggest that we look up to our Advocate in the Heavenlies, the Lord Jesus Christ who "ever liveth to make intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25).  God forgives complaining for those who acknowledge their sin, and who mourn the consequences of failure to speak in a manner that fosters life rather than death.  Moreover, He promises grace for this day, the grace of a tongue empowered by the Holy Spirit to utter words that strengthen our hearts and the hearts of others.  May it be said of us, we gave thanks and praise, and our spirits served as a lamp for the redeeming light of God.


"By thy word thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."

(Matthew 12:37)


Weekly Memory Verse

      I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.

(Psalm 77:11)












Friday, May 29, 2020

Orange Moon Cafe "Works and Wonders"

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


   "Works and Wonders"  


   Our memory verse this week speaks to our recalling the things God has done for which we have some understanding, and also the things for which we don't.


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


    "Works" and "wonders."  We can all look back on our lives and see the obvious involvement of God in blessings, challenges, and the ways in which things transpired.  I recall telling the Lord after a particularly vivid realization of how He had worked in a particular matter, "Heavenly Father, sometimes You are so obvious it almost seems as if we don't have to live by faith!"  I often wish I had kept a diary of such blessing.  I haven't, but I am confident that the chronicle of God's gracious working is hidden in my heart.


   Of course, we also look back on life with some real bewilderment.  "Wow, what was the Lord up to in that?"  Things sometimes happen that seem completely  contrary to our understanding of what and how the Lord works.  We may begin to see at least the framework of His purpose and actions.  But some things may continue to boggle our minds regarding our Heavenly Father's working.  We wondered then, and we may wonder now.  "Why? How? What?"  Such lingering inquiry provides much opportunity for faith.  "Heavenly Father, I do not begin to understand Your ways in some things.  But I trust Your heart and Your  wisdom regarding Your determinations and allowances.  "As for God, His way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31).


    It is a blessed thing when we can look back and clearly see God's working.  However, our understanding of His ways are not necessary.  Sometimes wonder, whether joyful or challenging, best suits our need to grow in our knowledge of the Lord and faith in His heart.  We could not trust a God who we could fully understand.  We need the mystery no less than the light.  His infinite being makes that necessary, along with our desperate need for Someone so much greater than ourselves that we will forever rejoice in His works, even as we kneel before Him in wonder.


"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Thy works; I muse on the work of Thy hands." 

(Psalm 143:5)       


Weekly Memory Verse

      I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.

(Psalm 77:11)












Thursday, May 28, 2020

Orange Moon Cafe "Not By Sight"

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


   "Not By Sight"  


   The Book of Revelation depicts the Lord Jesus Christ as the object of worshipful devotion by more than one hundred millions beings of Heavenly and earthly citizenry.


    "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.   And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever: (Revelation 5:11-14).


    Contrast this with how few people even knew He existed during His earthly advent.  Historical demographers believe the world population to have been about two hundred million in the time when the Lord Jesus walked upon the planet He made.  The most generous estimate of those who saw and heard Him would have constituted far less than 1% of the existing populace.  Thus, the fact of God living and acting in His world primarily occurred without fanfare, pomp and circumstance.  Very much like He lives and acts in a great portion of our personal lives.


"He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not" (John 1:10).


    To "walk by faith, not by sight" means that believers will not see or perceive the Lord's doings in most of our steps (II Corinthians 5:7).  We rather trust as a matter of faith and heart conviction that He lives in us, we live in Him, and the Holy Spirit moves in our lives no less than He moved on the face of the waters in Genesis 1:2.  Even more, in fact, because we are personal beings in whom the personal God lives to reveal His character, nature, and way.  "I am the light of the world… Ye shine as lights in the world" (John 8:12; Philippians 2:15).


     The day will come when "I know even as also I am known" (I Corinthians 13:12).  This is not that day.  We rather "see through a glass darkly" and thus make thousands of determinations to join Moses, who "endured as seeing Him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:27).  God mightily works in those who trust the Lord Jesus.  The Apostle Paul stated it plainly: "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).  Like days of old, however, the Lord Jesus will most often walk in us by Spirit so inauspiciously that we will not perceive with our senses or understand with our minds the dynamic fact of His presence.  The left hand will be unaware of the right hand's activities.  This is exactly as it should be for now.  We do well to realize the "not by sight" working of God in our lives and in the world, remembering that the Creator became a part of His creation so quietly that few of His day ever knew He walked among us.


"And when He was come into His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son?   Is not His mother called Mary?  And His brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?   And His sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?"

 (Matthew 13:54-56)

"The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."

(John 1:14)     

 "Surely the Lord is in this place.  And I knew it not."

 (Genesis 28:16)


Weekly Memory Verse

      I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.

(Psalm 77:11)












Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Orange Moon Cafe "To Rest In His Heart"

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


   "To Rest In His Heart"  


   Several hours after writing yesterday's essay about training and building trust in our beagle puppy Ellie, a vivid example illustrated the point. We had service people with noisy equipment at the house yesterday morrning, which terrified Ellie. She wandered throughout the house, whining and obviously seeking to find a place to escape from the noise that frightened her. She found it, I am glad to say, in my arms. She came up to me and I picked her up and held her close. She continued to whine for a bit, and then finally settled down and went to sleep in my arms.

"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in all our tribulation" (II Corinthians 1:3-4).

Why does God comfort us? For the same reason I comforted Ellie, but infinitely more. He loves us and desires our hearts to know His peace and assurance. I thought about this as I held Ellie, pondering, "Who is the more blessed by this moment? Ellie or me?: I realized I was far more the recipient of the blessedness than my puppy. The more she quieted herself and let her body relax into my arms, the more I felt what I can only describe as joy. When I realized she had fallen asleep, I felt my own heart at peace. Another thought then occurred to me: this is at least a bit of what our Heavenly Father feels when we bring our hearts to Him for assurance. He must love to comfort us more than we desire to be c0mforted.

He does, of course. We matter to "the God of all comfort" far more than we matter to ourselves. He keeps track of the number of hairs on our head, something few of us would do even if we could (Matthew 10:30). Our Father ever seeks to encourage us when we feel down or downtrodden. Like Ellie, however, we play a role in the matter. She came to me, seeking comfort and somehow knowing in her little heart she would find it in my arms. I'm so glad she did. We must do the same with our Father, bringing our hearts to Him, and finding Him far more reassuring than Ellie found me to be. We will also know how much He desires to be what we need Him to be as the great Friend of our hearts.

Several hours after my time with Ellie, I conducted a funeral service for the mother of a dear friend. I had a new story to tell, and one that fit well into the occasion. I told the congregants that in the coming days of need for God's comfort, He would be there for them if only they would bring their hearts to rest in His heart. "He will love to comfort you more than you will love to be comforted." I am so glad I was able to say that upon the authority of God's Word, and from the experience of rejoicing in the reassurance I was able to provide for a little beagle puppy whose trust blessed me more than my comfort blessed her.

"The Lord Jesus... said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."

(Acts 20:35)

"Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."

(Matthew 11:28-30)

Weekly Memory Verse

      I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.

(Psalm 77:11)