Monday, February 14, 2022

Orange Moon Monday, February 14, 2022 "Influence"

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

(a repeat from 2011)


    Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ - but not in the sense of "believing" as the Bible commands.

   My lightly held conviction involved an emotional and mental affinity for the person of Christ and the story of His life, death, and resurrection. I rarely attended church as a child, and much of my spiritual awareness revolved around briefly heard sermons on television, movies that depicted the Savior (usually shown during the Christmas season), and bits and pieces from other sources, including an occasional reading of the Bible.

    All this led to a "faith" that had little real effect on my life. Herein lies the issue of genuine Biblical trust, as opposed to the fool's gold of false and inadequate believing.  True faith, as fostered in us by the Holy Spirit and exposure to the living and written Word of God, brings life-changing influence in all who "know the grace of God in truth" (Colossians 1:6).  This effectually establishes the glory, supremacy and centrality of the Lord Jesus as the great issue of our existence. "He is thy life" (Deuteronomy 30:20). Our experience and outworking of this foundation is far from perfect, of course, and we sometimes find ourselves seemingly asleep at the wheel regarding the reality of life as known in Christ.  However, the believer finds that he can never venture far from the hub of his heart because the influence of the Holy Spirit results in contentment - or the lack thereof - always flowing from our response to the Savior in whom we live, and who lives in us.  "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusted in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).

   If we could quantify or measure genuine happiness, the most joyful person in the world at this moment would be the believer most enveloped in the wonder and significance of the Lord Jesus in all things.  Situation, circumstance or condition would not be the issue. If we could likewise find the most miserable person in the world at this moment, it would again be a believer, a truly born again Christian who has forgotten or disbelieved the great and Christ-saturated fact of his life.  Again, situation, circumstance or condition would not be the issue.  "To live is Christ" declared the Apostle Paul (Philippians 1:21).  The influence of the Lord Jesus cannot be escaped by those who genuinely trust Him, either in blessing or in chastening. "He which hath begun a good work in your will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).  This constitutes the great and telltale mark of true grace as received by true faith.  The Holy Spirit who indwells us is Christ-centered and Christ-motivated (John 15:26; 16:14).  He ensures that our lives forever ebb and flow to the degree we join Him in such determination.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new."
(II Corinthians 5:17)

Weekly Memory Verse
   He is thy life.
(Deuteronomy 30:20)




Saturday, February 12, 2022

Orange Moon Saturday, February 12, 2022 "Effectual"

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


    Every born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ exists as something and someone other than who and what we once were.  

   "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.  Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17).

   "Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).

   "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord" (Ephesians 5:8). 

   "Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:11; note that Paul writes these words to believers he indicted for walking in carnality - I Corinthians 3:3).

   "We are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

   "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6).

   "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).

   How important is it for believers to know who we are in the innermost depths of our Christ-inhabited spiritual being?  How vital that we consider ourselves as "alive unto God?"  The Apostle Paul answers in his brief, but incredibly rich epistle to Philemon:

   "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).

   The Lord Jesus Christ was tortured to death and forsaken by God and man to change the very heart and essence of who we are.  That change has already taken place in our spirits, where the Holy Spirit lives in the "new creature" we are.  Paul plainly told Philemon that "effectual" faithfulness would flow through his recognition and affirmation of Christ's living and active internal presence.  Important to know this?  No, absolutely vital and necessary.  Indeed, to borrow from Hans Christian Anderson, if we believe we are still ugly ducklings when the Lord Jesus has transformed our spiritual essence into swans, we will inevitably live as who we were rather than who we are.  We will unintentionally fail to avail ourselves of the "newness of life" our Savior purchased by a price we will never fully comprehend.  This constitutes a tragedy of a magnitude we also cannot comprehend.

   "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16).

   We are far from glorified in the fullness of our being in this present lifetime.  "The flesh lusteth against the spirit" (Galatians 5:17).  However, a place exists within us, a place of grace wherein the Lord of grace has birthed a new creature by His living presence.  "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (I Corinthians 6:17).  This union of His Spirit with ours exists within the deepest essence of our redeemed selfhood in Christ.  Therein, we "delight in the law of God after the inward man" (Romans 7:22).  This is who we most deeply are.  And this is the gift our Lord purchased for us by becoming who He was not:

   "He 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).

   Our Lord triumphed over sin, hell, and the grave to save us from the tragedy of eternal condemnation and perdition.  His triumph also freely provided newness of life and the new creature He birthed in us when we believed.  May we acknowledge and affirm so great a gift, purchased by so high and holy a cost.  It would be tragedy indeed to ignore or neglect the wonder of such "effectual" grace whereby who we were is not who we are.  Let us then arise to "walk in newness of life" by affirming "every good thing" in us provided by so great a Savior and so glorious a salvation.  Thereby, we will far better "fight the good fight of faith" and effectually overcome fleshly and devilish challenges of this present life...

"Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh."
(Galatians 5:16)
"if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."
(Romans 8:13)
"So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."
(Romans 7:25)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Pray without ceasing.
(I Thessalonians 5:17)




Friday, February 11, 2022

Orange Moon February 11, 2022 "Temples of the Teacher"

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

"Temples of the Teacher" 

    Having witnessed the Lord Jesus Christ pray, one of His disciples asked Him, "Lord, teach us to pray " (Luke 11:1).  Little did the disciples know how monumental would be His answer.

    "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6).

   The Lord Jesus first provided a model of prayer for His followers. "Our Father, which art in Heaven…".  However, after His death, resurrection, and ascension, He would come to dwell within them through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Thereby, the Teacher would not only instruct the student.  He would also inhabit us to motivate, guide, and empower us in prayer.  Indeed, His promise to enable us in all things must surely include our fellowship with God.  Who among us believes we possess the inherent knowledge, understanding, motivation, and ability to commune with an infinite, eternal Being?  "Without Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).

   This reminds of my college statistics professor, Dr. Shah.  If only his brain could have gotten inside mine!  Sadly, that did not happen.   I struggled through to pass the course.  I never really got statistics, and I don't remember a useful thing about the subject all these years later.  Of far greater challenge and consequence, however, my prayer Professor not only calls me to a privileged responsibility far beyond my capacities.  He also came to dwell within my heart in the new birth to empower my praying.  The promise of "I will dwell in them and walk in them" surely includes this most blessed and vital aspect of our relationship with God (II Corinthians 6:16).

   What God enjoins, He enables.  He never calls His children to make bricks without straw.  This especially includes the very heart of our relationship with Him, namely, to commune with His heart.  No less than the Apostle Paul confessed, "We know not what we should pray for as we ought" (Romans 8:26).  Our Lord knows, however.  Yes, the praying Christ knows.  Moreover, He lives within us to lead us in the wonder of fellowship with our Heavenly Father.  We therefore do well to pray about our praying, that is, to trust the Lord to remind us, motivate us, guide us, and empower us.  Long ago, disciples who sought guidance about prayer became living temples of the Teacher who does so much more than instruct.  He inhabits, and He leads us in walking with His Father, and our Father.

"And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me."
(John 17:22-23)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Pray without ceasing.
(I Thessalonians 5:17)




Thursday, February 10, 2022

Orange Moon Thursday, February 10, 2022 "Live To Give"

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

"Live To Give" 

   True ministry and service to others will feel in the heart as if we ourselves have been the recipient rather than the giver.  The Lord Jesus Christ confirmed this way of God to His disciples:

   "And upon this came His disciples, and marvelled that He talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest Thou? or, Why talkest Thou with her?  The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?  Then they went out of the city, and came unto Him.  In the meanwhile His disciples prayed Him, saying, Master, eat. But He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.  Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him ought to eat?  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work" (John 4:31-34).

  Having just dispensed the water of the life to the woman at the well, the Lord took the opportunity to teach His disciples that in terms of truth and reality, we eat by feeding, or rather, we receive by giving.  Indeed, if we could ask any martyr in Heaven about the sacrifice they made for God and people, their response would be, "Sacrifice?  No.  It was the greatest of all privileges."  As the Lord's followers expressed after one of the first persecutions of the early church, "They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:31).

   The love of the Lord Jesus does that in hearts.  It turns us inside out, redeeming us from the deadly self-centeredness of our original birth unto the delight of a life lived for God and others.  "I delight in the law of God after the inward man" confessed the Apostle Paul, referencing "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" that indwells every believer (Romans 7:22; Romans 8:2).  Paul referenced this in another passage, revealing the law of the Spirit in terms of unselfish devotion to others: "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).  Those in whom Christ dwells live to give, as it were, finding their truest joy in His love flowing outward toward others.  "The Lord Jesus said… It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

   Of course, we still find ourselves tempted to walk in selfishness rather than love.  Our flesh resists the way of Christ's love and the path upon which our spirits delight to walk.  "The flesh lusteth against the spirit" (Galatians 5:17).  Thus, we face many challenges regarding the life of self sacrifice to which our Heavenly Father calls us.  Remembering that His love dwells within our hearts, and that our truest delight involves the glory of God and the blessing of others prepares us to meet the challenges and make the choices to "walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us" (Ephesians 5:2).  We can do this because Christ Himself dwells within us by the Holy Spirit, thereby motivating and empowering His devotion to others as our devotion.  This is joy, the delight of our redeemed hearts, and the way of Heaven revealed upon the earth as we remember and affirm that we receive by giving.  Yes, in Christ, through Christ, and for Christ, we live to give.

"Charity (love)… seeketh not her own."
(I Corinthians 13:5)
"The Son of man came not be be ministered unto, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many."
(Matthew 20:28)
"God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father."
(Galatians 4:6)

Weekly Memory Verse
Pray without ceasing.
(I Thessalonians 5:17)