Monday, January 31, 2022

Orange Moon Monday, January 31, 2022 "A Heart Like This" Part 2

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

"A Heart Like This"  

Part 2 - His Glory Reflected


     The discovery and ongoing exploration of a Heart like this, that is, God's perfectly unselfish character, has a fascinating effect on the humble, trusting heart making the journey.

    "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).

  How does knowing God's glory of devotion to others result in our mirroring His image?  First, the word for "glass" in the Apostle Paul's declaration above is translated from the Greek root word, "Kataprizo," meaning mirror.  This means believers are to look into our Lord's mirror and see His glory reflected.  How can this be?  Paul answers.

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

   We must see ourselves as inhabited by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, first, because it is true.  The realization also provides the hope of living in the devotion to others made possible only by our Lord's living and active presence within us.  "Reckon ye also yourselves… to be alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).  Christ lives in us. We live through Him - this is the New Testament protocol whereby God enables His trusting children to live in a manner that glorifies Him and enables us to "walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us" (Galatians 2:20; I John 4:9; Ephesians 5:2).
   Left to its inclinations and impulses, our flesh would lead us along dark paths of selfish egotism.  "The flesh lusteth against the spirit" (Galatians 5:17).  God has not left us to such frustration, of course, but rather sent the Holy Spirit to birth us as a "new creature" when we believed (II Corinthians 5:17).  This "new man, created in righteousness and true holiness" serves as a living temple of God, bearing many wonderful qualities of His being and nature, with one preeminent:

   "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).

   Do we view ourselves accordingly?  Do we consider ourselves as "alive unto God," as Paul commanded?  If so, we realize that our Heavenly Father enables us to love as the Lord Jesus loves.  We do not always do so, but the potential - His potential - always resides in our spirits through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  To the degree we realize and affirm this truth by faith will be the degree to which we walk accordingly.  Certainly, by ourselves, we have no hope to "walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6).  However, the very point of our Father's grace in Christ is that we are not by ourselves!  A look into the mirror - God's mirror - yields the reflection of "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Thereby, we rejoice in a life whereby His unselfishness becomes better known by us, and wondrously, better known within and through us for the glory of God and the blessing of others.

   In his counsel to Philemon, Paul shined a bright light on the truth of how important it is that believers view ourselves in accordance with our Lord's living and vital presence within us.  We close with the Apostle's command to see ourselves in God's mirror…

"I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints, that the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus."
(Philemon 1:4-6)

Weekly Memory Verse
     "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)




Saturday, January 29, 2022

Orange Moon Saturday, January 29, 2022 "A Heart Like This"

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

"A Heart Like This"  


     We are all blessed to know unselfish people who live their lives for others.  The beauty of such character graces our lives with glories that originate and forever proceed in Another, whose heart exists not as a black hole drawing all things into itself, but rather as a shining sun of light radiating outward to provide light and warmth for others.

    "God is love" (I John 4:8).
    "Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own" (I Corinthians 13:4-5).
    "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).


   Someone exists who has never had a self-centered, egotistical moment in His eternal existence, nor will He ever.  The living and true God bears such a heart of devotion to others.  This glorious wonder comprises His triune being of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.   If "God is love," and if love seeketh not her own," our thoughts of each Person of the godhead must be filled with contemplation of perfectly unselfish dedication to one another.  The Father loves the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The Son loves the Father and the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit loves the Father and the Son.  This is love in its eternally holy and glorious reality of otherness.  

    "The Father loveth the Son…I love the Father… the fruit of the Spirit is love" (John 3:35; 14:31; Galatians 5:22).

   Do we view God in the light of such goodness, greatness, and glory?  We must.  Biblical truth and understanding requires the awareness.  Our experience with the Lord also flows upon the current of knowing Him as He is.  Nothing more establishes and maintains our response to God than this prime truth of His character and nature.  "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).  Indeed, knowing that God cannot act selfishly greatly illuminates our understanding of His doings found in the pages of Scripture, and also  written on the pages of our lives.  Whether in bestowing tender mercies upon the humble, or executing necessary wrath upon the wicked, every act of God must be interpreted in the light of His eternally abiding unselfishness.  Moreover, from our conception and forevermore, we must realize the same truth personally applied governs our Father's heart and hand regarding our lives. "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us" (I John 3:16).

    I think of this sometimes (and I desire to do so more often), that the God we trust exists in perfectly unselfish devotion to others, and wondrously, to myself.  The thought stops me in my tracks.  It stills my heart with wonder.  It drives me to my face in awe.  How can such a One be?  We have no frame of reference for a Heart like this.  Well, perhaps we do.  Because for those who trust the Lord Jesus, the love of God for us came to us, and now dwells within us (Jeremiah 31:3; Titus 3:4; Romans 5:5).  As mentioned, I have seen this glorious reality in countless brothers and sisters, not perfectly yet, but nevertheless so beautifully manifested by loving self sacrifice that I know what I am seeing.  I know Who I am seeing.  What a wonder, and what joy to know that today we walk with this Lord who has never once been guided by a selfish thought or motivation.  Nor will He ever.  Yes, a Heart like this beats within the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Through His freely given presence, it beats within those who trust the Lord Jesus, beautifully fulfilling the ancient plea of the Psalmist…

"And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us."
(Psalm 90:17)
"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which is given unto us."
(Romans 5:5)
"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor."
(Ephesians 5:1-2)

Weekly Memory Verse
   "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
(I John 5:4)




Friday, January 28, 2022

Orange Moon Friday, January 28, 2022 "Grace Through Faith"

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

"Grace Through Faith"  


     Choices of faith lead to choices of faithfulness.

     "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17).

     Every step of obedience to God in the life of a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ can be traced back to His enabling offered, and His grace received by faith.  We may not always perceive the direct correlation, but the protocol of grace through faith always operates.

   "Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28).

    Consider the beginning of our day.  Most believers approach the Lord  in some manner to acknowledge the Lord's presence, involvement, and promise of provision, protection, and enabling for the day.  We trust the Lord accordingly.  What acts of obedience proceed from this general prayer for bestowals of daily grace?  In one sense, all of them do, although we may also seek our Heavenly Father more specifically regarding matters that arise throughout the day.  Whatever the case, grace offered and grace received result in grace manifested through obedient thoughts, words, and actions.

   This comes as no surprise since the Christian life involves living relationship with God.  He redeemed us to establish and maintain a fellowship of love, grace, faith, communication, and devotion, based on His working in our hearts, and the response of our hearts to Him.  "When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face, my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek" (Psalm 27:8).  God is always first.  He must move upon and within us to inspire and enable our capacity to respond.  However, our response is real, uncoerced, and unprogrammed.  King David perhaps most succinctly declared this truth:

    "I will love Thee, o Lord, my strength" (Psalm 18:1).

   Note David's determination - "I will" - based on God's empowering - "O Lord, my strength."  David well knew that his freely chosen devotion was the only response that would have any meaning to God.  He also knew, however, that the Lord must supply the grace that would lead him to love in a manner of sincerity and reality.  Indeed, God promises to motivate, lead, and enable.  He does not, however, make our choices of faith and subsequent obedience for us.  We must "work out" that which God "works in" through the power of the Holy Spirit, and through our response of faith and submission to God's glory and will (Philippians 2:12-13).

   How God works and how we respond offers the most fascinating subject we can consider.  No subject is more important, and none more practical regarding life and how we live it.  The clearly declared Biblical protocol of grace received through faith does not answer every question.  It rather initiates our ongoing quest to discover our Heavenly Father's involved and dynamic working in our hearts and minds, and how we respond.  We do well to seek the grace of growing understanding, whereby we more consistently and effectively access the grace of growing faith and faithfulness.  "Let us have grace" indeed!

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
(Romans 5:1-2)

Weekly Memory Verse
   "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
(I John 5:4)




Thursday, January 27, 2022

Orange Moon Thursday, January 27, 2022 "The Dual Witness"

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

"The Dual Witness"  


     We have all experienced challenges that seemed to threaten with destruction, but which actually served as prelude to great blessing and benefit.

   "They crucified Him…  He gave up the ghost… They came and took up His corpse, and laid it in a tomb… They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him" (Matthew 27:35; Luke 23:46; Mark 6:29; John 20:13).

   The suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ cast the disciples into despair, despite His having told them it would happen.  They didn't understand.  In terms of God's wisdom and ways, they could not have understood.

    "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:14).

   Only after they received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost did the Lord's followers comprehend what He had told them before His death and resurrection.  Subsequently, they went forth with a message of triumph and the clear declaration that the wicked human hands responsible for Calvary paled in comparison to the Divine heart's purposes in Christ's suffering and death.

   "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain, whom God hath raised up" (Acts 2:23-24).

   Through the dual witness of the Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit, believers can see the Light that ever shines in darkness.  Thereby, our Lord enables us to expect His best in circumstances, situations, and conditions that seem to threaten us with destruction.  Certainly, we feel the challenges of life, and the temptations to doubt and despair that assail our flesh.  However, we possess advantages the disciples did not.  The Spirit of God in our hearts and the completed Word of God before our eyes enable us to realize that crosses serve as preludes to empty tombs and triumphs unknown in any other way.  "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God… Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (I Corinthians 2:12; Romans 10:17).

   Whatever the realities and appearances of the challenges we presently face, something else is going on.  Somebody else is present, involved, and working out purposes that could never be fulfilled apart from crosses that lead to resurrections.  The Spirit of God and the Word of God unite to assure us of such truth.  Our faith began in this holy light.  It continues as we remember, and as we look to our Lord for the grace to overcome temptations to despair with affirmations of hope.  His presence in our hearts will lead us to a place of faith the disciples could not have known until that day when the Christ who had walked with them became the Christ who dwelled within them.  Calvary made that possible, as it makes possible our determination in this hour to rejoice with the Apostle Paul…

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
(Romans 8:35-39)

Weekly Memory Verse
   "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
(I John 5:4)