Friday, April 30, 2021

Orange Moon Friday, April 30, 2021 "Surely"

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


   "And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not" (Genesis 28:16).

   Like Jacob at Luz, how often must we wake up to the presence and working of God in our lives.  Because we presently "walk by faith, not by sight," the tendency to miss our Lord's involvement in the circumstances, situations, and conditions of our lives means we must frequently "awake to righteousness" by remembering the promises: "I am with you always… I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (I Corinthians 15:34; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).

   Jacob's "Surely" regarding God's presence was based on his dream about a ladder whereupon angels ascended and descended between Heaven and earth (Genesis 28:12).  The Lord Jesus Christ declared Himself to have been that ladder (John 1:51).  Thus, born again believers have far more than a dream upon which to rest our confidence regarding our Lord's dynamic presence and involvement in our lives.  We have the Word of God that proclaims the risen Savior as with us always, with no possibility of His departing.  Our "Surely" exceeds that of Jacob by a vast measure.  Like our brother of old, however, we must often awake out of our sleep to recall and affirm the truth.  "I hope in Thy Word" (Psalm 119:81).

    What does Scripture say about the circumstances, situations, and conditions that presently characterize our lives?  Be they pleasant, difficult, or mundane, the Bible plainly states our Heavenly Father's working in all things (Ephesians 1:11).  We may not know the details of His presence and involvement.  But we can "surely" believe in the truth of His active engagement.  We do not need a dream to know and believe this.  We rather possess the Word of God and the Spirit of God as our assurance that "the Lord is in this place."  He is.  Surely, He is.  Let us then awake and arise in the faith that sees, believes, and confesses the truth seen not in a dream, but in the "more sure word" of "It is written" (II Peter 1:19; Matthew 4:4).

"And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."
(II Kings 6:15-17)

Weekly Memory Verse   
      "In this world ye shall have tribulation.  But be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world."
 (John 16:33)



Thursday, April 29, 2021

Orange Moon Thursday, April 29, 2021 "Encouraged By Encouraging"

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

(A repeat from 2015)

Encouraged By Encouraging   

   Sometimes, when we feel the need for encouragement, God quickly sends it by His Word, His Spirit, His church, and other means whereby we are strengthened and refreshed.

   "O my God, my soul is cast down within me."
 (Psalm 42:6)
"I will extol Thee, O LORD; for Thou hast lifted me up."
(Psalm 30:1)

  Sometimes, however, the Lord doesn't immediately lift us up.  No cool breeze or cup of cold water seems forthcoming.  In those challenging times, a different form of encouragement lies at hand.

    "For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you... Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes" (II Corinthians 4:11-12; 15).

   The greatest encouragement we receive is that which we dispense to others.  "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). The strengthening that passes through us invigorates us personally because believers in the Lord Jesus have God's love "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).  We look upward and away from ourselves, discovering God's own joy and peace of unselfish devotion to others.

  When we feel cast down without reprieve, we can be sure the Holy Spirit moves within us to direct our attention to the needs of some other hurting soul.  We may only have opportunity to pray a prayer, but what an opportunity that is!  Or we may find words and ways to directly reveal the living water of the Lord Jesus to a hurting heart. Whatever the case, as our focus departs from ourselves unto the glory of God and others, our need for encouragement will be supplied in the "more blessed" way of Christ's loving self sacrifice being ministered in and by us.

   We thank God for those times in which He personally fortifies our hearts. And we thank Him when we are encouraged by encouraging.  Both ways flow from the presence of the Christ who lived His entire earthly lifetime in His Father's care, and in the joy of devotion to others...

"The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many."
(Matthew 20:28)
"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."
(Philippians 2:4)
"Walk, even as He walked."
(I John 2:6)

Weekly Memory Verse   
      "In this world ye shall have tribulation.  But be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world."
 (John 16:33)



Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Orange Moon Wednesday, April 28, 2021 "For Christ's Sake" Part 2 - HIs Poverty, Our Riches

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

"For Christ's Sake"     

Part 2 - His Poverty, Our Riches


     "I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake" (Genesis 30:27).
    "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).

   Just as Laban learned "by experience" that God blessed him for Jacob's sake, born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ must become well acquainted with the reality that our Savior's merits serve as the basis for "all spiritual blessings" that come our way both now and forevermore.  God blesses us for Christ's sake. The stanza of the familiar hymn, "Jesus Paid It All," could justifiably be accompanied by another: "Jesus paid for it all."  Yes, every measure and moment of grace that will ever come our way flows upon the current of Christ and His merits that make possible God's supply and sustenance for all who believe.

    "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
   "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" (II Corinthians 8:9).

    What was "poverty" to the Lord Jesus?  Conception in the womb of Mary as a human being began the experience of loss.  Thereby, He exchanged the infinite abundance He knew as God the Son for human limitations that must have been (and may still be) the greatest loss any conscious being will ever know.  "Great is the mystery of godliness.  God was manifest in the flesh" (I Timothy 3:16).  He then lived an earthly lifetime whereby He experienced lack, weakness, sorrow, pain, and ultimately, death.  As difficult as such experience is to every human being, what would it have been in the sensibilities of One who had forever known only pristine perfection and limitless supply?  We do not know.  We cannot know.  We will never know.  We can only be sure that when the Bible declares "Christ suffered for us in the flesh," His poverty transcends anyone else's deprivation by the vastest of all measures (I Peter 4:1).

   In direct proportion to such loss, "the unsearchable riches of Christ" await all who trust in Him (Ephesians 3:8).  Of course, the abundance comes to us in accordance with God's wisdom, purpose, glory, and will.  We do not presume upon our Heavenly Father to demand that He administer His supply according to our parameters or definitions of provision.  Sometimes the Christian who most experiences the blessing of God may for all the world appear to be bereft of all the world has to offer.  A full heart, that is, a heart full of Christ, may often most reveal that our Savior's great loss serves both now and forevermore as the basis of the saints' great gain.  "What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3:7-8).

    We "learn by experience" that God blesses us "for Christ's sake" in the light of Scripture, and by embracing the truth that on the cross, God gave to Christ what we deserve so that He might give to us both now and forevermore what Christ deserves.  The more we know this, the more we will find heartfelt love arising and abounding within us, and the more we will seek to live our lives in a manner that honors so wondrous and so glorious a Savior.  Yes, what Laban said to Jacob in a moment of time, believers will be saying forever to our Savior, with loving praise and thanksgiving: "I have learned by experience that God hath blessed me for Thy sake."   

"God hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."
(II Corinthians 5:21)
"We love Him because He first loved us."
(I John 4:19)

Weekly Memory Verse   
      "In this world ye shall have tribulation.  But be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world."
 (John 16:33)



Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Orange Moon Tuesday, April 27, 2021 "For Christ's Sake"

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

(More "Doctrine 101" regarding how we walk with God in faith and faithfulness.  No more important truth exists in our relationship with God through the Lord Jesus.)

"For Christ's Sake"     


     "I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake" (Genesis 30:27).

    Laban's words to Jacob, despite being spoken from one conniver to another, nevertheless brightly ring with the foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

    "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).

   God saves all who believe through not through our own merits, but by the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf.    The grace begins with "God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32).  It continues with "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).  Our eternal benefit ever flows on the current of who and what the Lord Jesus is for us.    Who is He to us?  What has He done?  What is He doing?  What will He do forevermore?  Progressively discovering the answers to these questions leads us to "learn by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for Thy (Christ's) sake."

   Understanding and embracing this blessed truth not only leads us to avail ourselves us of God's gifts.  It also results in a growing appreciation for so wonderful a Savior, so wonderful a Father who gave Him, and so wonderful a Holy Spirit who leads us in "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ephesians 3:8).  This motivates a life of faith and faithfulness as we live for God by living from who and what Christ is to Him, and to us.  Indeed, the more we share God the Father's view of the Lord Jesus, the more we find ourselves empowered by the Holy Spirit to walk in our Savior's likeness.  "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).

   We must "learn by experience" that all grace flows to us through the Person and work of the Lord Jesus.  We play a role of reception by trust and submission, but never do we earn by our own merits the blessing of God.  Christ is the issue.  God forgives, cleanses, provides, guides, protects, empowers, and administers all grace on the basis of who the Lord Jesus is to Him, and who He is to us.  No other way exists whereby we "access by faith… this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:2).  No other way is needed, and no other way will result in a genuine love for God that manifests its devotion in true love and a life lived for His glory.  

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."
(Ephesians 2:4-7)
"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son."
(I John 5:11)

Weekly Memory Verse   
      "In this world ye shall have tribulation.  But be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world."
 (John 16:33)



Monday, April 26, 2021

Orange Moon Monday, April 26, 2021 "Life, Beyond Life"

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

"Life, Beyond Life"     


   Salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ provides innumerable wonders of God's grace and truth to born again believers.  The Apostle Paul referred to them as "unsearchable riches" (Ephesians 3:8).  God forgives our sins, assures us of eternity with Him in the Heavenlies, births us into His spiritual family, and promises His provision and protection, as administered by His perfect wisdom.  The list could go on and on, and it will forevermore as the redeemed discover in this life and the next the infinite abundance of God's "unspeakable gift" (II Corinthians 9:15).

   At the heart of such grace, we find life, the very life of Christ Himself.  From "dead in sins" to "alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord," believers are spiritually "risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God" (Ephesians 2:5; Romans 6:11; Colossians 2:12).  Our spirits teem with the life of Christ Himself, that is, with the resurrection life whereby He overcame death.  Thus, nothing we will face in this life transcends the grace of His life whereby the Holy Spirit leads and enables our overcoming.

    "In this world ye shall have tribulation.  But be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

   The Lord Jesus declared His triumph even before He died and rose again from the dead.  What would He say to us now, having trampled death under His nail-scarred feet as He exited His tomb in triumph?  The New Testament epistles answer the question.  Our risen Savior tells us through Paul, John, Peter, James, Jude, and the writer of Hebrews that His life indwells our spirits, and will empower our minds, tongue, hands, and feet as we believe the truth that Christ's triumph is our triumph.  "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place" (II Corinthians 2:14).

   Tribulation indeed comes our way, much of it.  But far more life, the risen life of the Lord Jesus Himself, dwells within every born again believer as a generator of "the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe" (Ephesians 1:19).  This we must believe because it is so gloriously true, and also because our experience of the life of Christ continues as it began: "The just shall live by faith… we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand" (Romans 1:17; 5:2).  "To live is Christ" declared Paul, who also affirmed our calling to avail ourselves of our Lord's vibrant Life beyond life…

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

Weekly Memory Verse   
      "In this world ye shall have tribulation.  But be of good cheer.  I have overcome the world."
 (John 16:33)



Friday, April 23, 2021

Orange Moon Friday, April 23, 2021 "The Cup and the Saucer" Or... "Plan A and Plan B"

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

"The Cup and the Saucer"


"Plan A and Plan B"


    My paternal grandmother Emmie made coffee in a stovetop percolator commonly used in her day.  This meant the coffee was often too hot to immediately drink directly from her cup.  I can still see her as if it were yesterday, pouring the steaming beverage into a saucer so it would cool more quickly and become drinkable.  Experience had taught the the saucer would be necessary, so she always had it ready to be be able to improvise, something we all do in various ways.


    As so much about her does, this reminds me of God in His relationship with human beings.

   "Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.  And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel" (Exodus 19:5-6).

   Of course, according to His infinite understanding and foreknowledge, the Lord well knew His chosen earthly nation Israel would not obey and keep His covenant.  Thus, He was perfectly ready to improvise and use Israel to fulfill even greater purposes for her than had she been faithful.  Like my grandmother and her coffee, God had prepared a "Plan B" that might actually be considered His "Plan A."  Yes, God's grace and truth in the Lord Jesus Christ shines in ways it never could have had Israel fulfilled God's will for her as a nation (which by God's redeeming grace she one day will - Romans 11:).  Through a people willfully wayward and rebellious, God nevertheless brought forth the Son of His grace to make possible redemption for all.  "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord… The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (Luke 2:10-11; Galatians 3:24).

   The truth applies to all humanity, and all individuals.  God perfectly knows what is coming in every person's life, determines much, allows much, and knows His capability to coordinate all and fulfill "the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 3:11).  This includes the most devoted believer and the most rebellious sinner.  All somehow flow with the current of God's ultimate purposes, whether happily or unhappily.  The devil himself can do nothing without God's permission, as confirmed by the book of Job (Job 1:12; 2:6).  This does not preclude the real significance of choices that result in great and grave consequences to every person, based on how we respond to God and His grace and truth in Christ.  It does mean, however, that His "Plan B" will transcend the seeming liabilities of "Plan A" to the degree that His glory will shine far more brightly because He had to pour, as it were, hot coffee into a saucer. 

   I learned a lot from my Grandmother Emmie, by both her counsel and her conduct.  This includes the cup and the saucer, which reminds me of the wonder of our Lord's ways of grace and truth in Christ.  Let us join the Apostle Paul in his exultant expression of joyous wonder…

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counselor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto Him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen."
(Romans 11:33-36)


Weekly Memory Verse   
     "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
(I Corinthians 6:20)


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Orange Moon Thursday, April 22, 2021 The Witness, the Witnesses

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

"The Witness, the Witnesses"

     "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20).

    The Creator and His creation are separate realities.  God formed something that exists apart from Himself when He brought into being "the things that are made."

    That being said, it remains true that creation absorbs and reflects the light of its Maker for the purpose of revealing and glorifying Him.  From the subatomic universe of the small, to the vastness of the heavens beyond human measure and comprehension, all things tell us something about the One who made them.  

    First, they tell us about His ability, "His eternal power."  The atoms and the galaxies reveal what God can do.  He can plan incomprehensible complexity, design it in His heart and mind, and then engineer His aspirations not only with technical precision, but also with artistic beauty and wonder.  He can make a flower graced with both hue and fragrance.  He can fling more stars into space than astronomers will ever number, while also infusing every known physical object with untold measures of atoms.  He can make us weep by the beauty of a child's face, cause us to laugh when watching the playfulness He infused into puppies (especially beagles!), and then overwhelm us with wonder  by mountains majestic, oceans vast, and moonlight shining ever so softly in the darkness.  The Psalmist who knew this so well, said it so well: "The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein" (Psalm 111:2).


   Then, creation tells us perhaps even more about "the Godhead," that is, our Lord's nature.  Who is He to have made such beauty and complexity, and then to have made human hearts and minds with the capacity to experience His "wonders without number?" (Job 9:10).  Indeed, we are the one handiwork of God said to be created "in His own image" (Genesis 1:27).  We, therefore, possess capacities for relationship with Him and each other that tell us much about our Creator's own relational existence as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Every human expression of kindness, good will, and enjoyment of our Lord and of one another bears a message regarding the eternal love that graces the loving fellowship of the triune Godhead.  Whether known to us or not, we see His reflection in each other when we smile, communicate, help, sacrifice, encourage, and remind each other that all things are His things, and especially, "Behold, all souls are Mine" (Ezekiel 18:4).

   In this day, God's creation will bear witness to God the Creator.  We cannot begin to take it all in.  But we can see more than we have, and likely more than we expect if we will remember that "the invisible things of Him" can be seen with our eyes, heard with our ears, touched with our hands, smelled by our noses, tasted with our tongues, understood by our minds, and experienced with our hearts.  Wonders and glories await us if we will realize that God made all things to bear witness to Himself, and He made us to be the witnesses.

"I will look for Him."
(Isaiah 8:17)

Weekly Memory Verse   
     "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
(I Corinthians 6:20)