Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Orange Moon March 31, 2021 “Everything He Deserves”

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

"Everything He Deserves"


    On the cross of Calvary, God gave to the Lord Jesus Christ everything we deserved in order that He might give to us everything He deserves.

    "Christ died for our sins" (I Corinthians 15:3).
    "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things" (Romans 8:32).

    This, of course, comprises the very essence of the Gospel, which proclaims the sublime simplicity of God's offer of grace to all who will freely receive it by faith (John 1:12).  We do well, however, to realize the impact of the cross regarding its eternal benefit.  The suffering, forsakenness, and death of the Lord Jesus purchased everything with which God will ever bless His trusting children.  The next breath we breathe in His peace comes to us because our Savior experienced the inner and outward turmoil of bearing our sins and God's wrath upon them.  A spiritual price tag of "Purchased At Calvary" marks every blessing of grace our Heavenly Father will ever bestow upon us.  Yes, He "freely gives us all things" because the Gospel that saves us from our sins also saves unto Christ's merits being imputed to our account as the freest gift ever given, purchased by the highest cost ever remitted.

   "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as of silver and gold… but with the precious blood of Christ" (I Peter 1:18; 19).


   No truth will more infuse our hearts with gratitude, and also the ongoing desire to requite such undeserved goodness by a life lived for the glory of God.  "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).  Yes, every happy moment of a long eternity in the presence of God comes to us by way of a broken Heart that cried out in the lonely darkness, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).  Because on the cross of Calvary, God gave to the Lord Jesus everything we deserved in order that He might give to us everything Christ deserves.

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
(Titus 3:5-7)

Weekly Memory Verse   
    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. 
(John 7:24)



Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Orange Moon Tuesday, March 30, 2021 "To Know More"

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

"To Know More"


    Because God is an eternal Being, and because "His understanding is infinite," what we know about Him causes us to realize how much more we need to know (Psalm  90:2; 147:5).

    Certainly, we can know our Lord and his truth well enough to walk with Him in Christ-empowered faith and faithfulness.  The light of Scripture more than illuminates our way regarding how we access our Lord's grace to consistently trust and obey Him.  "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (II Peter 1:3).  The fact that we can never know all does not mean we cannot know enough to face our present challenges.  "The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Proverbs 4:18).

    However, it remains true that every new ray of God's light arrives with the promise that more are coming.  We will need more, of course, both in this life and in the life to come.  Presently, the challenges of life never wane.  As time passes, our conflicts may change in their nature and measure.  But they keep coming.  Thus, the light must continue - which it does - as hopefully will our reception - which it must.  Regarding God and His truth, the Christian never reaches a place where we fold our tents, retreat within, and close our eyes to the bright stars of Christ meant to shine upon us until we leave this present world (and then forevermore).

    We know some.  We can know more.  But we can never know all.  We give thanks for the first point, and acknowledge the third.  But we live in the second.  An infinite God calls to our hearts and minds, beckoning to come ever further, soar ever higher, and swim ever deeper into His Person and truth.  Indeed, let us hear the echoes of the ancient command to the prophet, and then respond in humility and confidence…

"Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."
(Jeremiah 33:3)

Weekly Memory Verse   
    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
 (John 7:24)



Monday, March 29, 2021

Orange Moon Monday, March 29, 2021. "The Movement Of the Spirit"

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

"The Movement Of the Spirit"


    "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:1-2).

    The Bible opens with the Holy Spirit moving to illuminate, form, and fill, providing a physical representation of what He ever seeks to accomplish by working to redeem human hearts through the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

   We were not there to see His moving upon the earth recorded in Genesis.  Nor do we see much of what the Spirit of God presently does in the hearts of people.  We tend to judge by outward evidence, as opposed to the Psalmist's declaration that "His word runneth very swiftly" upon the earth (Psalm 147:15).  Moreover, the Spirit's working is so finely tuned by the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of God that even if we could see His inner working in human hearts, we would not comprehend most of what we behold.  

    "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24).

    "Appearance" often threatens of irreparable darkness, damage, and emptiness.  Conversely, "righteous judgment" - the Word of God - proclaims that God the Father incessantly sends God the Spirit to reveal the saving grace of God the Son.  Indeed, regardless of what we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, our Lord's redemptive moving is ever the greatest and most powerful influence in the world.  We do well to remember the Bible's affirmation of this movement of the Spirit, and also to acknowledge that when we see darkness, damage, and emptiness, we can be sure He is present  and moving to enlighten, redeem, and fill.

"To Him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old; lo, He doth send out His voice, and that a mighty voice."
(Psalm 68:33)

Weekly Memory Verse   
    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
 (John 7:24).



Friday, March 26, 2021

Orange Moon Friday, March 26, 2021 "The Power of His Hand, the Grace of His Heart"

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

"The Power of His Hand, the Grace of His Heart"


    Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ were thrilled by the power of His name.

    "The seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name!" (Luke 10:17).

    Their Master, however, redirected emphasis to the grace of His heart.

    "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20).

    To deal with the issue of demons, the Lord Jesus spoke either directly, or by the proxy of those He sent in His name.  To write our names in Heaven, however, required His sorrow, pain, forsakenness, and death on the cross of Calvary.  Demonic deliverance required the power of His authority; deliverance from the penalty, power, and ultimately, the presence of sin, required the wonder of His character.  Indeed, what God can do comprises a glory we will never fully fathom.  Who He is, however, transcends His doings because His nature serves as the source of His actions.  "Thou art good, and doest good" declared the Psalmist of the sequence where our Lord's character forever guides His capability (Psalm 119:68).

   Calvary most tells us who God is.  I wonder sometimes if this is the reason our Lord's resurrected body still bears the prints of nails and a spear inflicted on the cross (John 20:27).  Indeed, the power of God and His Word will forever rightly amaze and thrill us.  The nail prints, however, open a door into the heart of God that far more overwhelm us with wonder.  They rather drive us to our knees and faces in bewilderment that such a Being of goodness can exist.  A long eternity will doubtless find the redeemed again and again looking upon what some have called "the only imperfections of Heaven."  Actually, the prints of nails and a spear speak to a Heart so perfectly formed and filled by love that even after seeing devils flee at the power of His name, we do better to see our sins flee as far as the east is from the west through the grace of His heart, as revealed on the cross of His love.  

May we see them again, o dearest Lord?
And may the holy scene again afford
a pathway into Your wondrous heart.

The prints we see, on the Prince we trust,
oh how they tell us that we must
journey further, ever further, into Your wondrous heart.

A sight too holy to describe, of mercy and of grace,
we look upon them yet again, and then into Your face,
as You lead us onward into Your wondrous heart.

"The love of Christ… passeth knowledge."
(Ephesians 3:19)
"The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
(I Timothy 1:14)

Weekly Memory Verse
    As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.
(Psalm 18:30)



Thursday, March 25, 2021

Orange Moon Thursday, March 25, 2021. "What Does the Bible Actually Say?"

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

"What Does the Bible Actually Say?"


    "What does the Bible actually say?"  A friend's seminary theology professor asked the question at the beginning of class each day.  We all do well to seek the answer to the best degree we can regarding what it means to know and walk with God in the light of His Word.

    "Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17).

    We will not one day answer to the Lord for what our pastor said, or what our denomination said, or what the particular line of theology we follow said.  We will answer for what the Bible says.  We will answer for what it says to us personally, in the sense of caring enough to find out what it means to know and love God through the Lord Jesus Christ, and how we are to walk with Him in faith and faithfulness.  Thankfully, the light of Scripture shines clearly regarding these issues, telling us plainly what God intends us to believe and do in response to His truth.  Moreover, the Holy Spirit teaches the seeking believer as we open our hearts and minds to God's Word, promising to "guide you into all truth" (John 16:13).  Thus, it behooves all believers to devote ourselves to a lifelong pursuit of discovering answers to the question: what does the Bible actually say?

   We do not have to be the seminary professor or student to learn what we need to know.  Communicators called to preach or teach help, but only as adjuncts to our own prayerful and careful reading of the Scriptures.  Again, the fundamental truths of what it means to enter into and maintain relationship with God through the Lord Jesus lie in plain sight on the pages of the Bible.  We will never know all, but we can ever know more.  And we can know enough to consistently and increasingly walk with our Lord as "What does the Bible actually say?" leads us in pursuit of the love, light, and life we find awaiting us in the Word of God.

"Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day."
(Psalm 25:5)
"But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him."
(I John 2:27)

Weekly Memory Verse
    As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.
(Psalm 18:30)



Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Orange Moon Wednesday, March 24, 2021 "A Creator With Character"

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

"A Creator With Character"


    Imagine a new believer who hears a sermon that properly affirms God as almighty.  "Nothing is too hard for Him" declares the preacher,  "God can do anything!"   The convert responds, "Amen!" (Genesis 17:1; Jeremiah 32:17).

    Imagine also that a few days later, the new believer comes upon the Apostle Paul's statement to Titus: "God… cannot lie" (Titus 1:2).  He also finds a corollary verse in the book of Hebrews: "It was impossible for God to lie" (Hebrews 6:18).  The convert thinks to himself, "Now wait a minute, there is something the almighty God cannot do.  He cannot lie!  Moreover, He also cannot sin in any manner since He is "without iniquity" (Deuteronomy 32:4).  So, God really can't do anything.

    This new believer has learned two of the most vital truths He can know, namely, God is almighty, but His infinite power is governed by the fact that He is also all good, righteous, and holy.  He can forever exercises His capability in accordance with His character of love and truth.  "Thou art good, and doest good" (Psalm 119:68).  Thus, when we rightly declare God to be Almighty, we do so in the context of His power ever flowing with the current of His perfect probity.  "The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works" (Psalm 145:17).

    Imagine yet another scenario, an impossibility, but for the sake of consideration: what if God's almighty ability was not governed by His goodness and righteousness?  Such a horror is too dark to ponder for long.  Nothing would be safe in the universe, including and especially ourselves since human beings often displease their Creator.  An arbitrary and capricious God would constantly change the rules, based on His whims of the moment.  He would likely have long ago destroyed creation and started over, only to forever end up in frustration because a Creator without character could never find satisfaction in anything.

    He is a Creator with character, the almighty God who executes His omnipotence in accordance with His perfect love and integrity.  "As for God, His way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31).  We would not want Him to be any other way, although things happen in our lives when the governance of our Heavenly Father's hand by His heart means He cannot always act in ways we desire.  He must ever be who He is, and He must ever act in accordance with who He is.  Thus, He can be trusted "with all thine heart," and thus, we can forever rejoice in the wonder of God's capability, as guided by the beauty of His character (Proverbs 3:5).

"I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only."
(Psalm 71:16)
"Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in Thy faithfulness answer me, and in Thy righteousness."
(Psalm 143:1)

Weekly Memory Verse
    As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.
(Psalm 18:30)



Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Orange Moon Cafe Tuesday, March 23, 2021 "There"

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


       "The Light shineth in darkness" (John 1:5).

       The brightest light that ever shined in this world, or anywhere else, glimmered in the dark blackness of Calvary when the Lord Jesus Christ bore the wrath of God for our sins as He suffered and died on the cross.  There, the being and nature of God shone forth in a glory beyond our every conception and imagining.  Because there, the Son of God died not for His friends, but for His enemies.

      "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.  But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Romans 5:6-10).

      Who is God?  Look upon the cross to find the best answer.  The beloved Son not only bore our sins there.  He was "made to be sin for us" (II Corinthians 5:21).  In the mystery of His sacrifice, the Lord Jesus became everything He was not in order to rescue us from our sins, and to redeem us into being what God made us to be.  What could "made to be sin" have meant in the heart of One so purely and perfectly devoted to righteousness and holiness?  We can never know.  That which we do know, however, is that Calvary tells us that our Lord is loving, gracious, merciful, kind, and self-sacrificial to the degree that when the Scriptures declare "He is good," a door opens into a measureless sanctuary of wonder we can never fully explore.  "The love of Christ… passeth knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19).  The cross tells us this, or rather, the Christ of the cross who was "the Light of the world before He suffered" (John 9:5).  Even more now, however, He is the light of the heart of God wherein we see why God defined His glory to Moses as His goodness:

     "And He said, I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory. And He said, I will make all My goodness pass before thee" (Exodus 33:18-19; emphasis added).

    We do well to remember that the brightest Light that ever shined glimmered in the blackest darkness that ever enshrouded a place, and even more, a Heart.  "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).  Yes, there, there on the cross of Calvary, the Lord Jesus showed us most vividly who God is, and what He does.  A long eternity of "wonders without number" await all who trust in the Christ of the cross (Job 9:10).  We shall see things of which we presently cannot even conceive.  However, we will never see a brighter light than that one that shined at Calvary.  Because there, God most revealed to us us who He is…

"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify Thee."
(John 17:1)

Weekly Memory Verse
      As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.
(Psalm 18:30)


Monday, March 22, 2021

Orange Moon Monday, March 22, 2021 "The Fallback"

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

"The Fallback"


    When God works in a way we cannot understand, we do well to fall back on the things we do know, or as Luke termed them, "the things which are most surely believed among us" (Luke 1:1).

    What are these truths?  Space does not permit mentioning more than a few, but several Biblical certainties do shine with particularly brilliant illumination.  First, "as for God, His way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31).  Our Heavenly Father does nothing that is not the best it can possibly be.  Perfect knowledge, understanding, and wisdom guides His every action.  Thus, the things He directly determines or the things He allows all flow with the current of His ultimate purposes and His sublime ability whereby "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28).  Indeed, God's way is not only good.  Nor is it simply very good.  "His way is perfect."

   His intentions are also perfect.  "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end" (Jeremiah 29:11).  God's perfect character and nature of holy and righteous love guides everything He does.  "Thou art good and doest good" (Psalm 119:68).  Our Lord desires the best for us, and always acts accordingly.  Of course, He often defines "our best" much differently than do we ourselves.  "Thou hast shown Thy people hard things" said the Psalmist, a plaintive cry echoed at times by every believer (Psalm 60:3).  We therefore do well to often affirm the fount of motivation from which both blessings and "hard things" proceed, namely, the perfect intentions of love from the God who is evermore "for us" (Romans 8:31).
    Finally, we remember that we are not the center of God's universe.  He works first and foremost to glorify and reveal His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, "that in all things He might have the preeminence" (Colossians 1:18).  This is difficult truth for our flesh, which longs for a prominence with God only the Lord Jesus can have.  Our spiritual enemies tempt us to focus on ourselves and our needs and desires, as opposed to our Father working to fulfill His "the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 3:11).  However, the more we come to know God and His truth, the more our  hearts experience peace as we realize His primary determinations and allowances involve not ourselves, but Christ.  This helps deliver us from the unholy trinity of "I, me, and my" that leads to a self-centered darkness rather than the bright light of loving devotion to God and others.

    Many other "most surely believed" truths help us when our Heavenly Father works in ways strange to our understanding.  We fall back on these, and find our hearts kept in peace when our minds are bewildered.  Indeed, when we find ourselves in a maze of what we don't know, we remember what we do know as the light that leads us through.

"Let Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth continually preserve me."
(Psalm 40:11)

Weekly Memory Verse
    As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.
(Psalm 18:30)



Saturday, March 20, 2021

Orange Moon Saturday, March 20, 2021 The Seen and the Unseen

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

The Seen and the Unseen


       We referenced the verse below in a message this week, which led me to ponder the implications of seeking to follow the perspective declared by the Apostle Paul:

       "We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (II Corinthians 4:18).

      First, Paul does not suggest that we ignore "the things which are seen."  Creation encroaches on us far too much to simply attempt escape from the realities its constantly brings to our doorstep.  The Apostle rather refers to our primary vantage point from which we view all things.  Do we see through the lens of the living God and His truth?  Is the gaze of our spirit led and empowered by the gift of His Spirit?  When the aforementioned encroachment of earthly things demands our attention, do we attend to them in the light of our Heavenly Father's presence, involvement, and working?  Do the pleasant things find us gratefully remembering the Giver of "every good gift and every perfect gift?" (James 1:17).  Do the painful things prompt us to join Moses, who "endured as seeing Him who is invisible?" (Hebrews 11:27).  These and many other questions encourage and challenge us to more consistently emphasize eternal reality, and in so doing, far more effectively and practically address the matters of our present existence.  "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord" (Colossians 3:23).

    The old saw that we can "be so Heavenly minded, we're no earthly good" is surely possible.  However, genuinely walking with God does not cause us to ignore reality and responsibility, but rather to face life in the confidence that "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (II Peter 1:3).  We face things squarely, as it were, because we face God spiritually.  That is, we seek to remember and affirm that the realities of life all bow to the transcendent reality of His life.  As we frequently suggest in these messages, our Lord is the Great Fact of all things.  Regardless of what our senses and often faulty human reason tell us, the Spirit of God and the Word of God bear witness to the pervasive fact of God as the greatest truth of every circumstance, condition, and situation.  "God… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:3; 11).  Our calling involves remembrance and affirmation of such wondrous truth by faith, and by choosing to view "the things which are seen" through the lens of "the things which are not seen."

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."
(Colossians 3:1)  
"We walk by faith, not by sight."
(II Corinthians 5:7)

Weekly Memory Verse
    For in Him we live and move and have our being.
(Acts 17:28)