Saturday, February 27, 2021

Orange Moon Saturday, February 27, 2021 "To Explore"

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



"To Explore"


    The current mission to Mars that may pave the way for a future manned space flight to the Red Planet vividly reflects humanity's longing to explore.  We seek knowledge and experience of the physical universe, of other people, and of ourselves.  God hardwired us with the inclination, and made His creation for exploration.  Thus, we do well to search, to look, to journey, to find, and to ponder and benefit from our discoveries.


   "But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul" (Deuteronomy 4:29).


    Interestingly, our natural longing for venture and adventure serves as the reflection of a far deeper capacity built into our spiritual being.  God made us for living and loving relationship with Himself.  Because of His infinite nature and being, this requires ongoing exploration of who and what He is. "Seek the Lord" beckons the prophet to the hearts of humanity (Amos 5:6).   Sin, of course, gravely damaged the capacity and the longing for God it motivates.  Salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ restores and repairs our spiritual hardwiring, as it were, resulting in the believer's freedom and enabling to set our hearts toward the eternal discovery for which they were made.  "I will seek Him whom my soul loveth" (Solomon 3:2). 


     We do well to explore.  God made the universe to be sought, found, questioned, examined, and known.  We miss the point of our yearning, however, if we do not first and foremost seek the One who made us with the nature of curiosity and inquiry.  We will never know our God completely.  His character, nature, and way span the ongoing reaches of forever, thus beckoning us to journey ever onward to discover "He whom my soul loveth."  King David, one of the greatest explorers in history (of God), greatly encourages and inspires us to set our hearts to journey ever onward in the exploration that will never end…


"One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple."

(Psalm 27:4)


Forever's Journey

There is no end to the quest we know, 

forever beckons on.

For our spirits soar in skies so blue,

above all clouds of storm.


Yes, we fly into the heart of God

as in His Son we trust.

And earth will soon be nothing more

than long forgotten dust.


So spread your wings and catch the wind,

o journeyman of hope,

and race toward horizons blessed

with those who also know


That the quest of hearts is Jesus,

He is our shining sun.

It matters not how far we've come...

the journey's just begun.



Weekly Memory Verse

   In Him we live and move and have our being.

(Acts 17:28)




















Friday, February 26, 2021

Orange Moon Friday, February 26, 2021 "Forgiveness and Fear" Part 3

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



"Forgiveness and Fear"


Part 3


"There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared" (Psalm 130:4).


    Fearing a perfectly unselfish being constitutes a very different thing than fearing anyone else.


    "God is love… Charity (love) seeketh not her own" (I John 4:8; I Corinthians 13:5).


    The Lord of Scripture has never thought a selfish thought, never spoken a selfish word, never committed a selfish act, and never done anything guided by narcissistic and egotistical self interest.  Such glory begins in Himself as the triune Persons of the godhead relate to one Another in loving and sacrificial devotion.  The Father seeks the best interests of the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The Son seeks the best interests of the Father and the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit seeks the best interests of the Father and the Son.  This is love in its infinite and eternal essence, the love declared by the Apostle Paul to "pass knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19).


    This is also the basis of the believer properly fearing God.  He will always act in our best interest as it relates to His glory, will, and eternal purpose in Christ.  Presently, this does not always correlate with our definition of "best interests."  We require both pleasure and pain in order to become what God would have us to be, and what we therefore need to be.  He will always act accordingly, gracing us with "wonders without number" that fill and thrill our hearts, but also determining and allowing difficulties that greatly challenge our emotional sensibilities (Job 9:10).  Love, that is, God's unselfish devotion to our best interests, guides both administrations.  This is something to fear because Job's friend Eliphaz spoke falsely when he callously chided God's suffering servant, "Happy is the man whom God correcteth" (Job 5:17).  Eliphaz served as the devil's mouthpiece by such a distortion of truth.  Indeed, we will not be happy when experiencing the love of God in difficult ways.  We can certainly know His joy deeply within.  "Count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations" (James 1:2).  But we will not be happy when our Lord's love leads us into necessary sorrows.  Again, this is a love to fear because it will always act in accordance with what is best for us, rather than what is pleasant to us.

   To know the love of God is to know the fear of God.  He loves us enough to hurt us when necessary, or to lengthen the leash of our enemies who seek our harm.  He works all together for our good, but in times of challenge, it will not feel this way.  Few doctrinal truths more prepare us for the faith and faithfulness whereby we maintain our walk with the Lord in a consistent and growing manner.  And few doctrinal truths will more illuminate our hearts with the sublime light of God's loving character, nature, and way.  "Fear God" commanded the Apostle Peter, who well knew that beautiful glimmers of our Lord's love shine forth from the fearfulness of His unselfishness (I Peter 2:17).


"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 Him we live and move and have our being.

(Acts 17:28)




















Thursday, February 25, 2021

Orange Moon Thursday, February 25, 2021 "Forgiveness and Fear Part 2

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



"Forgiveness and Fear"


Part 2


"There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared" (Psalm 130:4).


    As suggested in Part 1 of this consideration, the correlation of forgiveness and fear seems counterintuitive.  God's pardon of sin fills the recipient with gratitude, appreciation, wonder, and love.  


   "There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged" (Luke 7:41-43).


    To be forgiven by God elicits a joyous adoration and devotion that will never leave our thankful hearts.  Indeed, we will be even more appreciative in Heaven than we are now as we realize the goodness of our Lord with glorified hearts and minds.  "I will praise Thee forever" exulted David regarding the mercy he had received (Psalm 52:8-9).  How then does a place exist in our thoughts and beliefs wherein fear accompanies forgiveness?


    The answer lies in the means whereby God made possible the pardoning of our sins.


   "We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).


   To forgive our sins, the Lord Jesus Christ had to shed His blood.  He had to die at the hands of humanity. Even more, He had to suffer in the wrath of Divinity.  God does not, and cannot according to His nature, forgive sins by fiat.  He forgives sins by fire, that is, by the mercy made possible through the Lord Jesus having experienced His Father's flaming fury against sin.  God smote His Son with untold judgment and forsakenness on the cross of Calvary, revealing how seriously He views the matter of sin.  In such holy light, a place for fear as it relates to forgiveness clearly becomes evident.  


    "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints" (Psalm 89:7).


   The believer who understands the basis of forgiveness will also perceive the solemn reality it reveals.  Again, to make mercy available to all who will receive it, God sent His eternally beloved Son into the fires of judgment.  This is how serious sin is to Him, and how serious it must be to us.  Indeed, even as we rightly rejoice in pardon, we also rightly realize the pristinely perfect righteousness of the One who freely grants forgiveness through Christ.  Certainly, a place for trembling as well as rejoicing finds its place in the hearts of the saints, that is, of all freely forgiven through the sacrifice of God's beloved Son, and our beloved Savior.


  Many years ago, I shared this truth with a young man who responded, "Oh I've been saved.  I don't have to fear God because my sins have been forgiven and I am His child."  While rejoicing with Him in the mercy he affirmed, I also shared with him the New Testament command to "fear God," adding that the Greek root word used by the Apostle Peter literally means to be terrified by Him (I Peter 2:17).  "The reason for our fear as believers," I added, "is actually the love of God.  He is so perfect in His character, nature, and way that He must hate the unrighteousness that so threatens those whom He loves.  This hatred of sin means He will act toward us in very hard ways if we take the matter too lightly.  We all do that at times, and fearing His love helps us to avoid disregard of the dark horror of sin."  I concluded, "Calvary is where we see this horror most vividly and disturbingly revealed.  God hates sin so much, and so desires to forgive and rescue sinners, He judged His Son to make mercy possible.  So David was right.  God is to be greatly feared not only by those who reject Him, but also "in the assembly of the saints."


   The darkness of the cross shines its brilliant illumination on the beautiful heart of the God who "delighteth in mercy" (Micah 7:18).  He loves to forgive, and the father of the prodigal who ran to bestow mercy on his repentant son glimmers with the truth that God hurries to pardon those who come to Him through Christ (Luke 15:20).  We rejoice in such holy light.  But we also fear.  Indeed, just as the Apostle John fell in fright when first seeing the glorified Christ in Heaven, a proper place for fear exists in the hearts of all who gladly rejoice in God's mercy, but who remember how it found its way to us (Revelation 1:17).  Yes, the sorrows of Calvary and the forgiveness that flows from its holy fount tell us that God is to be loved, praised, thanked, adored, worshipped… and feared.


"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom… knowledge."

(Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7)

"Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth."

(Hebrews 12:6)


Weekly Memory Verse

   In Him we live and move and have our being.

(Acts 17:28)




















Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Orange Moon Wednesday, February 24, 2021 "Forgiveness and Fear" Part 1

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



"Forgiveness and Fear"


Part 1


    Let us imagine a young believer reading Psalm 130 for the first time.  He makes it to verse 4, and begins to consider the statement, "There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be… .  Before he can finish, however, the phone rings.  By the end of the call, our new Christian has to get ready for work.  He leaves the house, still thinking about the Psalmist's affirmation of God's mercy, and wondering how the verse concluded.  "What would forgiveness inspire us to think about our Lord?" the believer ponders at times throughout the day.  "That thou mayest be praised… that Thou mayest be thanked… that Thou mayest be adored… that Thou mayest be glorified… that Thou mayest be loved?"  


"There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared" (Psalm 130:4; emphasis added).


   Certainly, surprise awaits the Christian we consider.  Fear?  Related to forgiveness?  We rarely make such an association in our understanding of God's truth.  I recall my own fascination when first reading Psalm 130:4.  "How can forgiveness lead to the fear of God rather than love, praise, thanksgiving, adoration, and worship?" I puzzled over the matter, and still sometimes find the statement intriguing whenever Psalm 130:4 comes to mind.


    I recall my first thought as I sought to find an answer to the seeming enigma: "Perhaps the Hebrew root word for "fear" means something other than what we usually consider.  It must mean reverence or respect, or something along those lines.  I've heard preachers say that."  A visit to the Hebrew lexicon, however, revealed that the word "yare" primarily denotes the same thing we usually mean when considering fear.  It means to be afraid, and to be afraid with terror and dread.  This left me more puzzled than ever.  Again, how can the wondrous blessedness of God's forgiveness elicit fear of Him?


    First, let us acknowledge that forgiveness does lead us to love, praise, thanksgiving, worship, and adoration of our Lord.  I think of the prodigal son who returned to his merciful father after rejecting him and demanding his inheritance (Luke 15:11-32).  Indeed, the son left in rebellion.  He returned in repentance.  But even more, let us imagine what the Bible does not say, but clearly implies.  How must the son have loved his father for the duration of a redeemed lifetime that could have been so different had the father's heart not been full of mercy and grace,  Yes, there was forgiveness with the father, which doubtless led to devoted love in the heart of the son.


   Again, however, the Psalmist declares, "There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared."  Why fear?  How does forgiveness lead to our being properly afraid of and even dreadfully terrified by our blessed Heavenly Father?  How do such sensibilities correlate with a loving relationship with Him? There is an answer, an answer sublimely reflective of who our God is, and of His glorious character, nature, and way.  We will consider the answer in tomorrow's message, rejoicing together in the light of the Lord, wherein fearing Him comprises a vital component of knowing and responding to His love.  


"Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?   He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy."

(Micah 7:18)

"God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him."

(Psalm 89:7)


Weekly Memory Verse

   In Him we live and move and have our being.

(Acts 17:28)