Thursday, September 30, 2021

Orange Moon September 30, 2021 "For Christ's Sake"

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

(Another "Doctrine 101" consideration)

"For Christ's Sake"   


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

    Laban's acknowledgement to Jacob foreshadowed Another who would serve as the basis for the blessing not merely of one, but for multitudes.

    "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 1:30).

   From the beginning of our salvation through the Lord Jesus, God's blessing flows to us through the Person, merits, and work of our Savior.  Right relationship with Him, received by grace through faith, means that God works in our hearts and lives primarily through who Christ is, and what He has done for us.  This does not mean that what we do does not matter.  Certainly, it does.  We are to "walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work" (Colossians 1:10).  We must respond to God in faith and submission to Him as His trusting sons and daughters in Christ.  However, like our new birth, provided through who Christ is and what He has done, our walk with God must be lived with the attitude directed toward our Savior that Laban expressed to Jacob:  I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for Thy sake.

   Our Heavenly Father views believers as spiritually united to His Son, or "in Christ Jesus" (I Corinthians 6:17; 1:30).  This constitutes His primary perception and affirmation of who and what we are.  Again, this does not mean He ignores or overlooks what we think, believe, speak, and do.  Such things matter much to Him.  They are not, however, His first gaze upon us.  We are His sons and daughters first, based on the sacrifice His eternal Son made for us.  God sees us through the lens of the cross, the resurrection, and the Christ who sits at His right hand, and  "ever liveth to make intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25).  "God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you" wrote the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians (Ephesians 4:32).  All other blessings flow to us upon the same current of who Christ is to God, and for the sake of who He is to us.  "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

   The believer's "first gaze" upon ourselves must correlate with the view of our Heavenly Father.  We must see ourselves as "alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).  While determining to "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called," we nevertheless affirm the Person and work of the Lord Jesus as the foundation for everything God does in our lives (Ephesians 4:1).  Any other view denies the Scriptural declaration of Christ's centrality in God's purposes, and inevitably results in futility, failure, discouragement, and a walk that does not correlate with our Savior's redeeming work on our behalf.  Yes, to whatever degree we have "learned by experience" that God has blessed us "for Christ's sake," let us learn it more.  A life of far greater faith and faithfulness awaits those who join Laban in the realization that God's blessing of ourselves originates and forever proceeds through the auspices of Another.

"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)

Weekly Memory Verse
    We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." 
(II Corinthians 4:5)






Weekly Memory Verse
    We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." 
(II Corinthians 4:5)






Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Orange Moon Wednesday, September 29, 2021 "Into the Abyss"

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

"Into the Abyss"   


     I recently read the dark counsel of a famous musician who believes herself to have made her own way in life.

     "Quit looking to God or Jesus to save you.  You are on your own."

    Great irony accompanies the woman's words. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ made her, sustains her existence, and since her conception, has given to her "life and breath and all things." She also lives and moves and has her being in Him (Psalm 100:3; Colossians 1:17; Acts 17:25; 28).  Her ability to compose and perform beautifully appealing music also originates in the God who created the human race with such gifts.  The woman nevertheless believes herself and tells others that human beings are on our own, proudly affirming us as the arbiters of our own existence.  "Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" declared the devil to Eve long ago (Genesis 3:5).  The lie flowed out of Eden unto the present day, carrying the masses along its dark currents and waves.

   "Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength?" (Amos 6:13).

   "A thing of nought."  The artist mentioned trusts in dust, and tells others to do the same.  This places her in grave jeopardy.  

    "Woe unto the world because of offences!   For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh" (Matthew 18:7).  

    Indeed, it is one thing to personally embrace illusion and delusion.  It is quite another to blatantly lead others along with you.  Of course, we all have influence on our sphere of influence, for good or ill.  However, public figures possess a sway and leverage that bears great persuasiveness on the unsuspecting masses, who follow the prominent because the world shines its light upon their face and name.  In the passage mentioned above, the Lord Jesus Christ plainly states that such ones will be one day be held particularly accountable for rejecting God and His truth, and for leading others to do the same.  As the Lord Jesus warned the religious leaders of his day: "Woe unto you!… Ye have taken away the key of knowledge.  Ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered" (Luke 11:52).

   Reading the artist's suggestion shocked me at first because of the blatant nature of her unbelief, as well as her attempt to bring others along in the darkness that enshrouds her heart.  This also angered me, but most importantly, I realized, "I need to do something about this!"  I then spent time in prayer for the woman, and for the millions she has influenced for more than a half century.  Eternal peril threatens: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7).  Eternal life can still be received, as confirmed by a thief who had spent his life in wickedness, but who left the planet a saint through the grace of the Lord Jesus (Luke 23:39-43).  I pray God will mercifully reveal His fearfulness and His faithfulness to the artist.  I also pray for the millions who have followed her appealing lyrics and notes into the abyss that appears to glimmer with light, but which actually seethes with darkness both now and forevermore.

"If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!"
(Matthew 6:23)

Weekly Memory Verse
    We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." 
(II Corinthians 4:5)






Weekly Memory Verse
    We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." 
(II Corinthians 4:5)






Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Orange Moon Tuesday, September 28, 2021 "Get To" - Revisited

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

" Get To!" - Revisited      
      In the nursing section of one of the retirement communities where Frances and I conduct services, our meetings have been suspended for the last 2 months because of an uptick in the Covid virus.  Thankfully, Frances received a call from the activities director of the facility yesterday, inviting us to return to our normal service schedule.  I love the way Frances informed me: "Jessica called, and we get to start services again!"  This joyously reminded me of an Orange Moon devotional I wrote in 2015, which follows:

  One morning during the first years of conducting the services, I shared with Frances my itinerary for the day.  I mentioned several morning responsibilities, and then remembered, "Oh yes, we have to go to Gordon Oaks this afternoon."  Immediately, a more appropriate thought occurred to me.  "Let me rephrase that," I said.  "Actually, we get to go to Gordon Oaks this afternoon!"

    "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now" (Philippians 1:3-5).

    Frances and I consider our ministry at the facility a responsibility. We conduct four services a week there, and believe we should show up on time with hearts and minds prepared to fulfill our God-called duties.  However, our dominant sensibility and feeling involves the awareness of how privileged we are to be given such an opportunity.  Our Lord has so often met us through the hearts, lives, and faces of many of His people at Gordon Oaks.  He has blessed us over and over and over again in ways that only God can create and bestow.  We will see Christ in people who seek and trust Him in challenging situations, and who come to our services as the expression of their devotion to the Lord Jesus.  We have so have looked out at congregations of people, many in wheelchairs, and been keenly aware of the undeserved privilege to be in the presence of so many beautiful and Christ-filled hearts.  Oh yes, privilege.  We get to

    God gave us a gift many years ago, a gift that, as the saying goes, keeps on giving.  He gave to us the privilege of a special fellowship with many of His trusting sons and daughters in Christ.  I feel this way about all our ministries.  "We get to."  I suspect that if such a sensibility is not resident within our hearts and minds regarding the callings of life, well, they may not be callings.  Indeed, when the sense of duty gives way to the realization of privilege regarding any responsibility, joy awaits us as the Lord Jesus fills us with His  heart of  service and devotion to our Heavenly Father and others...

"Thou wilt show me the path of life.  In Thy presence is fullness of joy, at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore."
(Psalm 16:11)
"I was glad when they said unto me, "Let us go into the house of the Lord!"
(Psalm 122:1)

Weekly Memory Verse
    We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." 
(II Corinthians 4:5)



Monday, September 27, 2021

Orange Moon Monday, September 27, 2021 "As Glass To Light"

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

"As Glass To Light"      



       When the first Apollo astronauts returned to earth with samples of moon dust, scientists were amazed by the amount of silicon found in the dust.  Of course, the fact now seems obvious since the moon serves to reflect the light of the sun, and silicon comprises a primary component of glass, an incredibly effective reflector of light.

    "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world… Ye are the light of the world" (John 9:5; Matthew 5:14).

   While the the Lord Jesus Christ lived His earthly life, He reflected the light of His Father.  "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9).  The Lord Jesus now spiritually walks the earth in those who trust Him.  "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16).  Thus, we serve to reflect the light of the Son.  He is the light, and He lives in us through the Holy Spirit to make possible our reflective potential and attributes.  Like the Lord Jesus said of His representing the Father, we want it to be true of ourselves that people see the glory of the Son reflected in us.  

    "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).

    To what "hope of glory" does the Apostle Paul refer?  He answers in his epistle to the Philippians: "My earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death" (Philippians 1:20).  Paul desired that God's glory would be revealed in him and reflected through Him, as empowered by the Spirit of the indwelling Christ.  He viewed himself as the moon to the sun, and as glass to light.  "We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake" (II Corinthians 4:5).  

   We must also know this about ourselves.  As believers, we exist to absorb and reflect the light of Christ to our particular sphere of influence.  Be it our countenance, demeanor, attitudes, words, or actions, all serve as spiritual silicon through which our Lord's glory can be seen and magnified.  We trust and submit to Him for this holy and heart-filling purpose, being confident He will will lead us by the Holy Spirit to "shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:15).  Such hope, such "hope of glory," fulfills the reason for our eternal existence, and the blessed calling of this very day.  Let us give thanks for so great a privilege, and so serious a responsibility.  And let us be confident that the Son who so reflected the Father will be so reflected in us by our serving as glass to light…

"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light."
(Ephesians 5:8)

Weekly Memory Verse
    We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." 
(II Corinthians 4:5)






Saturday, September 25, 2021

Orange Moon Saturday, September 25, 2021 "Why Angels Serve"

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

"Why Angels Serve"      



     A good friend recently asked me to listen to a series of messages on angels, delivered by a well known preacher.  The messages are good, Biblically based, and have led to a number of interesting considerations.

    "The angels… Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Hebrews 1:13-14).

    The preacher offers quite a few anecdotal experiences of Christians who believe themselves to have been served by angels regarding matters of protection, guidance, and provision.  This raised a question in my mind: what is the purpose for such angelic involvement and intervention?  

   "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30-31).
   "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31).

   God sends angels to benefit believers in all the ways mentioned by the preacher.  Their purpose - His purpose - involves our knowing His love, and responding to Him in kind.  Indeed, angels (excepting fallen demonic angels) do what they do not to draw attention to themselves, but rather to the Creator they serve.  The traces of footprints they seek to leave in our hearts are not their own, but rather their Lord's.  Ask any angel if they desire to be remembered for their service, and doubtless, and all would respond as did the Psalmist regarding human devotion: "Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy and Thy truth's sake!" (Psalm 115:1).  The angels would have us direct all love and glory to God alone. Of course, this does not mean we cannot appreciate their role and ministry.  However, we can be sure they desire and need no acknowledgement from us, but rather hope we will remember Who sent and enabled them to serve us.

   Along these lines, we may surmise that when Lucifer rebelled against God, he likely tempted all of the angelic host to follow him in his anarchy against God (Revelation 12:4).  He certainly tempts all human beings with such darkness.  Thus, the host of angels that remained faithful to the Lord all made a fundamental, elemental choice of the heart to do so in the face of great devilish pressure.  Such ones, God bless them, do what they do for the glory of the Lord, and our chief benefit.  Again, this involves knowing our Lord's love in Christ, and loving Him in response.  This is why angels serve us, be it in matters of protection, guidance, or provision.  Such realization certainly elicits grateful appreciation for this holy company of servants, even as it directs our hearts to more love and honor the Lord who sends them.

"Bless the LORD, ye His angels, that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word."
(Psalm 103:20)

Weekly Memory Verse
   And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.
(Psalm 90:17)