Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Orange Moon Tuesday, November 30, 2021 "Every Living Thing"

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

"Every Living Thing"  

     I do not know what the Lord Jesus Christ meant by these words.

    "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing (half penny)?  And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father" (Matthew 10:29).

     Certainly, at the very least, our Lord meant that our Heavenly Father cares about all His creatures.  The Psalmist confirms such a heart of devotion.

    "The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works" (Psalm 145:9).
     "Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing" (Psalm 145:16).
   Trillions of creatures have lived and died on the earth throughout its history.  In light of the sparrow mentioned above, are we to conclude our Father graces the passing of all creatures with some special administration of His presence?  It would seem so, since the Bible never exalts the importance of sparrows over other creatures God made.

   Again, I do not know what the Lord meant by His words.  I do know, however, the most strongly implied implication, namely, loving compassion.  "But Thou, o Lord, art a God full of compassion" (Psalm 86:15).  The book of Revelation declares that God created all things for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11).  He must therefore deeply grieve that sin brought necessary judgment on creation, and upon creatures who suffer for our sins rather than their own.  Indeed, things die on this planet because death entered the world through human beings (Romans 5:12).  The pristine holiness of God required such an earthly calamity in order to ensure the planet's ultimate redemption.  Still, how it must affect our Father's heart when a single sparrow falls not because of its own wrongs, but for those of others.

   I vividly recall digging the grave of our beloved beagle Sparrow (appropriately named for such a consideration), who died in January, 2020.  Tears first fell, and then a sense of rage arose within me as the thought occurred to me that Sparrow did not deserve her demise.  "It was my fault!" came the realization and rage.  Indeed, I belong to a race of beings whose sin digs the graves of every living thing that dies on the earth.  No creature of any other species falls due to their own wickedness.  All die because of Adam's sin, and lest we cast overmuch blame on our original forefather, let us recall we were in him when he distrusted and disobeyed God (I Corinthians 15:22).  I will always think of that sad day of Sparrow's passing, and of how the anger that accompanied sorrow seemed appropriate then, and still seems so now.

     Little wonder that no creature falls without their Creator drawing near.  What takes place when He graces the sparrow with His presence?  That is another question for which I have no answers.  Somewhere deep in the heart, however, a light seems to shine.  It brings no coherent explanation.  But it glimmers with the realization that whatever the Lord Jesus meant when He said that a sparrow does not fall without the Father, something sacred and wonderful surely takes place.  It is just like our God to grant us such assurance, because it is just like His heart to be all His creation and His creatures need Him to be.

"Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?  In whose hand is the soul of every living thing."
 (Job 12:10)

Weekly Memory Verse
    He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
 (John 7:38)


Monday, November 29, 2021

Orange Moon Monday, November 29, 2021 "This God"

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

(Thanks to my brother and friend, Scott M., for inspiration on this one).


"This God"  

    Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are monotheists.  We believe "there is one God" (I Timothy 2:5).

    However, we also know that human beings can - and do - act as if there are many gods.  Believers also sometimes fall victim to the temptation of idolatry.  Thus, we do well to maintain a running discourse with our Heavenly Father: 

   "Am I knowing You as You are, and understanding Your truth as it is?"

   "Am I living as if You actually exist, and are the only living and true God?"

     The Psalmist greatly illuminates our inquiry:

    "For this God is our God forever and ever" (Psalm 48:14).

   Which God?  We actually possess far more light and insight regarding this most vital of questions than did the Psalmist.  Believers have the completed Bible and the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Thus, we can know "this God" in greater measure and substance than did our brethren of old.  We must do so because our spiritual enemies possess far greater potential to communicate their errors to us than ever before.  With the blessings of the communication age - "Knowledge shall be increased" - come many temptations (Daniel 12:4).  The most serious involves the portrayal of God in either blatantly false terms, or more dangerously, in cunning deceptions that suggest a Deity too demanding to be approached, or too accommodating to be feared.  Either way, "this God" can be exchanged, to our peril, for "this or that God."


   The Lord Jesus Christ spoke to this vital matter in one of His most telling affirmations, laced with both promise and warning:

   "He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).

   Many rivers flow from many bellies in this generation.  We must set sail only upon those that proceed from the headwater of "As the Scripture hath said."  We must believe in the Biblically-revealed Christ, being ever wary of "another Jesus" flowing in devilish and fleshly streams that sparkle with light, but which drown the unsuspecting in the darkness of deception  (II Corinthians 11:4).  

   "This God."  The living and true God.  The God of Scripture.  The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The God who made and sustains all things.  The God delightful to the trusting, but dire to the unbelieving.  The God who works all things according to His eternal purpose in Christ.  The God of grace, and the God of truth.  This God.  May He have much mercy in leading us to Himself, and may we determine we will love, worship, trust, obey, and communicate no other.

"Thou art God alone."
(Psalm 86:10)
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness."
(II Corinthians 11:13-15)

Weekly Memory Verse
    He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
 (John 7:38)


Saturday, November 27, 2021

Orange Moon Saturday, November 27, 2021 "Prayers From Prison"

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


"Prayers From Prison"  

    The Apostle Paul's letters to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon often fall under the category of the "prison epistles."  Written during times of Paul's incarceration by the Roman government for preaching the Gospel, the letters contain a particularly interesting feature.  

    "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers… Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers… For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding… For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Ephesians 1:15-16; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 1:9; Philemon 1:4-5).

   Many volumes could be written on the theme of Paul's "prayers from prison."  Wonderful light shines forth regarding how and what every believer should pray.  God's glory, will, and eternal purpose in Christ provide primary emphasis, which then proceeds to the response of believers to God's working in our hearts and lives.  Paul pays little attention to outward matters of circumstance, condition, and situation.  Certainly, this does not mean he did not pray about such things, or that we should not.  However, true and effectual prayer involves emphasis, even as the Lord Jesus Christ revealed, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).  Our primary focus in prayer must be directed toward matters of the heart, namely, God's heart and the response of our heart to Him.  Prisons, be they literal or figurative, often help us to realize what truly matters, and what we should most emphasize in both life and prayer.  "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23).

    Along with content, Paul's prison prayers offer insight regarding context.  The Apostle viewed his confinement as an altar of intercession for the glory of God and the blessing of others.  We must do the same.  Of course, most of us will likely never be incarcerated for our faith.  Figuratively, however, we all have "prisons" that hinder us from doing things we would like to do.  The matters may involve minor hindrances, or major and very difficult obstacles that seem to bar normalcy of life.  Whatever the case, like Paul, our prisons offer opportunities for prayer that otherwise would not exist.  "And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation" (II Corinthians 1:6).

    I heard such an offering last night during a phone call from a dear sister in Christ who currently resides in a local rehab facility, recovering from a serious injury suffered during a fall, along with many other challenges.  We prayed as we concluded our call, which brought tears to my eyes as a greatly challenged saint of God sought His grace not for herself, but for others.  I have heard her offer many such intercessions, and have seen answers.  What else would we expect when a hurting, but trusting heart looks to God with prayers from prison? 

   Again, we all have venues of seeming confinement that actually provide a liberty we may not find in any other circumstance or condition.  Indeed, what prayers can be prayed from prison that would otherwise never soar to the throne of grace?  Paul's letters to Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, and Philemon reveal an altar our brother of old built in a seemingly inopportune place that became a tributary of grace as prayers from prison led to answers from Heaven.

"And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends."
(Job 42:10)

Weekly Memory Verse
   The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
(Galatians 3:24)


Friday, November 26, 2021

Orange Moon Friday, November 26, 2021 "With Somebody"

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


"With Somebody"  

    Scripture calls born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to consider ourselves as "alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).  This means we view ourselves as the spiritual temple of the risen Christ, who dwells within us to serve as the very Life of our lives.  "Ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God" (Colossians 2:12). We are not just ourselves, but are rather ourselves as indwelt, motivated, led, and empowered by the Holy Spirit who "worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).  


   Such grace bestows a wonderful promise involving this day.  Namely, we will not live it alone.  Whether we know it or not, remember it or not, or respond well to it or not, born again believers live our lives with Somebody.  Yes, Somebody will grace our blessings with His presence, enjoying them with us.  Somebody will walk with and within us through our challenges as "a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).  Somebody will be with us in the everyday, mundane realities of life, infusing them with significance as we remember we can "do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 1:31).  Yes, Somebody will be with us, even as He has abode with us since the blessed moment when first we trusted Him and His Spirit drew so near that He will forever dwell within our hearts.  "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16).

   We presently "walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).  We will not always remember and affirm the truth we consider.  At times, we will think, speak, act, and relate as if it were not true.  It will always be true, however.  "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" sounds and resounds the ancient promise of assurance to all who have been spiritually birthed into the salvation that bestows God's greatest gift to the trusting heart - the gift of Himself (Hebrews 13:5).  

Father, are You there?
No, My child, I am not there.
I am here, nearer than any other.

And I will always be not there, but here,
of this you can be sure,
and this you will discover

As the years roll on and eternity draws nigh,
I am with you always,
so near, so much nearer than any other.

I am here, My child.


    We will live our lives today with Somebody, somebody more wonderful than our hearts will ever fully fathom and imagine.  Please receive this as a simple reminder of the most sublime truth that graces our hearts and lives in every moment and along every pathway.  May God grant much grace of light, whereby we realize "the grace of life" - His life - that abides with us forevermore, and in this moment.

"I will be with thee… I am with thee… I am with you always. 
(Isaiah 43:2; 41:10; Matthew 28:20).

Weekly Memory Verse
   The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
(Galatians 3:24)


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Orange Moon Thursday, November 25, 2021 "Oh Daddy!"

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

Thanksgiving 2021


"Oh Daddy!"  

   Like all of us, I have been thanked for many things through the years.  My favorite "Thank you" happened many years ago when our children were still young.


   In the fall of that year, our daughter Emmie, 3 years old, asked for a copy of the cartoon movie, "101 Dalmatians," for Christmas.  She has seen the film at the theatre during the summer, loved it, and wanted to be able to watch it at home.  This was her number one gift request for the season, and an inexpensive one at that!    


    We assured Emmie she would receive her Christmas wish. I visited a local video store several days later, only to hear the clerk say,  "We're sold out.  I would hear those words for months to come.  Every store told the same story.  The studio had taken the video out of circulation, and people were buying up any remaining copies.  Several months of searching yielded no copy of the movie, and it seemed I would not be able to fulfill my daughter's primary Christmas gift wish.


    I asked the Lord to lead me to a copy, if He saw fit.  Several months passed.  The middle of December arrived with no "101 Dalmatians" ("Where are those pups?!).  I continued to pray, but began to wonder if perhaps the Lord, in His perfect wisdom, had decided I needed to buy Emmie a much more expensive main gift!  I knew, of course, that sometimes our requests do not correlate with His will, and that God's "No" is no less loving than His "Yes."  I continued to pray, but had almost  given up hope that Emmie would receive the movie on Christmas Day.


     A week or so before Christmas, I passed by the original video store.  "Oh well, it can't hurt to stop and give it one more chance."  I walked into the store and proceeded to the service desk.  "How can I help you, sir?" asked the nice girl behind the desk.   I responded, and the echoes of her unexpected answer ring down through the years.  "Yes, we do have a copy, sir, just one actually."  I could barely hear the rest of her words.  The young lady's "Yes" nearly drove me to my knees on the spot.  She continued, "My manager told me to sell this copy today if someone asked for it.  We had reserved it for someone awhile back, and they haven't come to pick it up.  Would you like to buy it?"


     "Well, uh, hmmm, let me think about that.  YES MA'AM!!!!!"  Sometimes God seems tangible to the point of being able to reach out and touch Him.  Or more literally, He has touched you.  That moment in the video store indelibly etched itself upon my heart and mind.   I bought the movie - of course! - and went my way rejoicing (not knowing that a far greater blessing awaited me).  


    As parents are wont to do, on Christmas morning we saved the big gift for last.  We opened all the other packages. Emmie seemed fine, despite not having received "101 Dalmatians."   Yet.  In my mind, however, the drama built until finally I said, as casually as possible, "Uh, Emmie, is that another present I see behind the tree?"  She went to check, and I'm pretty sure immediately knew what lay before her.  She picked it up, tore the wrapping from the package, and 101 speckled puppies greeted her on the cover of the video.  I'll never forget her response.


     "Oh Daddy!"  Emmie ran into my arms to give me what remains the tightest and most grateful hug I have ever received.  We have the moment on film, thankfully, and while I haven't watched it in a few years, I do not need to.   The prayers, the hug, the moment in the store, and most of all, "Oh Daddy!" vividly reside in my heart forevermore


     A term in Scripture seems to mirror Emmie's "Oh Daddy!"  - "Abba Father."  The Lord Jesus uttered the words during His earthly lifetime, and of believers, the Bible declares, "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Mark 14:36; Galatians 4:6).  The term denotes much endearment and intimacy.  Doubtless, many such moments took place in the heart of our Lord as He walked the earth.  The same happens in us.  Sometimes God's goodness so overwhelms us, we spontaneously burst forth with expressions of affectionate and thrilled gratitude.  Emmie's  "Oh Daddy!" reflected such a moment, and I will never forget this, my all time favorite "Thank you!"  Many other moments have followed through the years, occasions when God's perfect faithfulness overwhelm our hearts with wonder, as it fills them with overflowing gratitude.   Yes indeed, "Abba Father!"


"Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and Thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come of Thee, and Thou reignest over all; and in Thine hand is power and might; and in Thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name."
(I Chronicles 29:11-13)

Weekly Memory Verse
   The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
(Galatians 3:24)