Friday, April 29, 2022

Orange Moon Friday, April 29, 2022 "The Lens of Grace"

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

"The Lens of Grace"


   "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord… By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house" (Genesis 6:8).  

    Numerous references in Scripture speak of grace in terms of how the Lord views those who, like Noah, have received His freely given favor by faith.  

    "Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30).  


    God looks upon those who have received His free gift of salvation in Christ through eyes of grace.  He sees us as "in Christ Jesus."  Our Heavenly Father's first and primary view of believers is not what we do or don't do, or how well we may be responding to Him in the present moment.  Such things matter much, and certainly our  Father works in our lives accordingly.  However, His first gaze focuses upon His acceptance of us based on the Person and work of the Lord Jesus on our behalf.

   How could it be otherwise?  Indeed, consider these truths of finding grace in the eyes of God:

    "The Lord looketh on the heart" (I Samuel 16:7).  What does He see in the innermost spiritual depths of believers?  The Apostle Paul answers in his epistle to the Galatians: "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:6).  Our Father looks into our spirit, where He sees the grace He imparted, the grace of His beloved Son dwelling in the "new creature" and "new man" we are in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24).  Certainly, in any venue where His Son abides, God the Father will see Him first and foremost.  This includes the redeemed, in whom His Son lives.  "He hath made us accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).

   Our Lord also sees righteousness, His freely given and eternally secured justification whereby we are made "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).  Grace provided such blessedness, and  grace maintains it, to the degree that "blessed is the man unto whom the Lord will not impute sin" (Romans 4:8).  The hymn writer Isaac Watts beautifully proclaimed the wonder of God's seeing us as forever righteous in His sight because of grace in Christ:

    "And lest the shadow of a spot should on my soul be found, He took the robe our Savior wrought, and cast it all around!" (From "Awake My Heart, Arise My Tongue").

    The Father sees His trusting children in Christ as spiritually enrobed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus.  We may or may not reflect well upon the garment, and our Father will work accordingly in loving approval of our response, or discipline in times of wandering.  However, nothing will ever defocus His primary gaze on "the robe our Savior wrought," the holy garment of righteousness ripped away from Christ at Calvary so that it might freely array us with the grace of righteousness forevermore.  "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).

   Perhaps most vividly, our Father's looks upon us in grace because He turned His gaze away from the Lord Jesus as He suffered and died on the cross of Calvary.  "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me!" (Matthew 27:46).  Our Savior suffered the wrath of His Father and utter abandonment as He died alone for our sins so that the eyes of Heaven might fix their eternal gaze upon the redeemed, never to turn away.  In precise proportion to the degree the Lord Jesus was forsaken on the cross, we will never be forsaken.  "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).  The Father's eyes that turned away from His Son in rejection will forever see us in the sublime light of grace.  "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous" (Psalm 34:15).

   Few truths will more cast us to our knees and faces in wonder.  Few truths will more lift us to our feet to walk in the worship of a life devoted to bearing "the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:11).  In this moment, our Father's eyes see us through the lens of grace, as provided through the freely given righteousness of Christ.  Surely we wonder, and surely we worship in the light of so glorious a gift, and so high and holy a calling to live in a manner that bears witness to our having "found grace in the eyes of the Lord."

"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)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
(Hebrews 12:3)







Thursday, April 28, 2022

Orange Moon Thursday, April 29, 2022 "Grace Works"

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

"Grace Works"


     My dear friend John Canning will soon retire as pastor of a local church in our area where he will have served for 54 years in the position.

    Yes, you read that correctly.  54 years as pastor of one fellowship of believers.  This speaks to a faithfulness beyond imagining, a fact with which John would completely agree.  Yes, my friend's tenure speaks to God's faithfulness beyond imagining.  John well knows and has long preached that any faithfulness found in us proceeds from the Spirit of Christ who dwells in us.  This does not preclude our response of faith and submission, of course, and John serves as a shining example of receiving grace in a manner that has led him to more than a half century of service to God and people.  

   "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (II Corinthians 9:8).

   This leads me to share one of my favorite statements made by John in a sermon many years ago.

   "There are really only two religions in the world, grace and works.  But only grace works."

   Yes, God's grace in the Lord Jesus works in providing freely given forgiveness, purchased by the highest cost ever remitted.  Grace works in spiritually birthing a new creature in all who believe, "created in righteousness and true holiness."  Grace works in bestowing the living presence of God in all who believe, through the gift of the Holy Spirit to our hearts in the moment of our new birth.    Grace works in the power of the Spirit leading, motivating, and enabling us to walk in faith and faithfulness through His working in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure."  Grace works in providing necessary discipline if we wander from the path of righteousness.  Grace works in ensuring that whether by rapture or physical death, the believer will not journey alone when we pass from this life.  Grace works in assuring us of a glorious eternity in the perfectly bestowed and realized presence of our blessed Lord.  Most of all, grace works in revealing the love of God to us, within us, and through us for the glory of the Lord Jesus as He dwells and walks in us (Ephesians 1:7; II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 12:6; Psalm 23:4; I Thesslonians 4:17; II Corinthians 6:16).

    In my friend John's case, grace works by empowering a remarkably lengthy term of faithful service, aided by his wife Connie, who no less served God and people by serving as John's abiding help, encouragement, and confidant.  Yes, grace works.  I heard a man say these words many years ago.  And I have watched him live their truth for a long, long time.  Godspeed, my Brother and Friend.  How God has blessed so many because you have known the grace of His faithfulness, and have reflected it so very well.

"By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." 
(I Corinthians 15:10)
"Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear."
(Hebrews 12:28)


Weekly Memory Verse
   Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
(Hebrews 12:3)







Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Orange Moon Wednesday, April 27, 2022 “Prayers In Time, Answers Forever”

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

"Prayers In Time, Answers Forever"

     Just before He suffered and died on the cross of Calvary, the Lord Jesus Christ prayed what some have called His "High Priestly intercession" (John 17).  The prayer is still being answered.

    "I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word.  Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee. For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me. I pray for them" (John 17:6-9).

   "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word" (John 17:20).

   The Lord Jesus prayed not only for Peter, James, John, and the other disciples.  He prayed also for believers through the ages, including ourselves.  In this moment, our Heavenly Father doubtless works in each of us to answer His Son's long ago request that we will be kept from evil, sanctified by His truth, enter into the fellowship of the Father and the Son, behold the Savior's glory, and  most wondrously, "that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:15; 19; 21; 24; 26).  What might be happening right now in your life and mine that occurs because our Lord prayed for us?  Doubtless, far more than we can comprehend.  

   This speaks to an interesting issue regarding our intercessions.  When we pray for fellow believers, does our prayer in the moment lead to ongoing answers by God both now and forevermore?  Certainly it does, not because of the quality of our praying, but because of the enduring quantity of our Heavenly Father's answers.  We pray in time.  God answers in the scope and measure of eternity.  It may well be that prayers offered for us by brothers and sisters who long ago went to be with the Lord are still being answered in our lives.  We know this is true regarding our Savior's prayer of long ago.  How can it not be true of the requests He leads His children to offer by the Holy Spirit's leading and enabling?"  "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Ephesians 6:18).

    Perhaps we had godly parents, now departed, who often approached the throne of God on our behalf.  Or a grandmother.  Or a friend.  Or Sunday school teacher.  Or pastor.  Or fellow believer.  Or even a believer with whom we were not acquainted, but who made requests "for brothers and sisters, wherever they may be."  The strains of those voices long ago became stilled and quiet on earthly soundwaves.  But not before the throne of Heaven.  And not before the Lord who sits upon that throne, and who rises to work in eternal, rather than temporal terms.  "Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever" (Ecclesiastes 3:14).

   What about our prayers?  Will they leave an enduing and eternal legacy, or rather, will God continue to answer requests we make and often forget, but which He cannot and will not forget?  The answer seems obvious.  God's forever doings often proceed as responses to our requests, made in the moment, but answered in the ongoing faithfulness of our Father's eternal working.  Little wonder the disciples asked the Lord Jesus, "Teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1).  And little wonder the Holy Spirit ever beckons us to the Heavenly throne for the purpose of seeking God's working for eternal glory and blessedness.

"We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
(II Corinthians 4:18)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
(Hebrews 12:3)





Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Orange Moon Tuesday, April 26, 2022 "Majestic"

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



     We have a majestic live oak tree in our front yard.  At least that's what the owner of the tree company told me last fall after his crew finished trimming it.  "Mr. Davis, if I had to have an oak tree, this is the one it would be.   Its growing pattern is perfect, and it is extremely healthy."  I was glad to hear that, and it brought back fond memories of the even larger oak tree that once lived in our back yard before Hurricane Katrina blew it down and onto our house in 2005.  I'll never forget the tree men who removed it telling us, "We have no idea how your house is still standing."  We knew, of course.  We still miss that tree, while also still living in our house that has never looked back after we had its roof repaired.

    All this leads up to mentioning some less than majestic trees in our backyard, of the scrub oak variety.  Last week, I realized we had a number of them growing behind a tall ligustrum hedge (18-20 feet) that borders the southern and eastern sides of our property.  Several times in our 30 years, the scrub oaks have snuck up on me, becoming tall and even dangerous.  That was the discovery I made last week.  A number of trees behind the ligustrum placed our neighbor's property in jeopardy.  This led to my cutting down - without problem - all of the trees except one, which had had grown to at least 20 feet tall, with a trunk diameter of 6-8 inches.  It leaned into our neighbor's yard, threatening a beautiful orange tree to the south, and her house to the west.  Because of its size and positioning, I considered calling the tree company to have them take the oak down.  That is quite expensive, of course, which led me to much prayer about what I should do.

   I decided yesterday morning, after more prayer, that I'd take the tree down.  I had both a power saw and a handsaw to execute the precise cuts I would need for the tree to fall toward the east.  I made the cuts, and am certain that I did so exactly as I should have.  "There it goes!"  Yes, there it went - in exactly the opposite direction my cuts should have caused.  The oak missed the orange tree, but to my shock and horror, I watched it fall directly toward my neighbor's house.

    It is amazing how many centuries one can live in a second or two.  Time seemed to stand still as I watched the tree fall, and waited for the sound of destruction.  But it never came.  Instead, the tree fell with a relatively gentle plop onto my neighbor's yard.  It landed five feet from the corner eave of her house.  Not a leaf touched the structure.  I had misjudged the height of the tree and its distance from the house.  In fact, the corridor in which the tree fell actually served as the best possible pathway for its fall.

   "A man's heart deviseth his way.  But the Lord directeth his steps" (Proverbs 16:9).

   When the tree came to rest, I began a chuckling that was ongoing through the afternoon, along with many offerings of praise and gratitude to the One who somehow caused the tree to fall in the exact opposite of the direction I had planned and seemingly executed.  I am chuckling now, and praising and thanking.  We serve an amazing Lord, don't we?  He takes such good care of us, sometimes allowing difficult things to happen in the knowledge He can weave them together for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and our best interests.  And sometimes, He executes things in such a wondrous way that no words can describe the glory of His bestowals of grace.  Yes, I had devised a way.  But Lord directed my steps.  Or rather, He guided to its destination a scrub oak that was not majestic during its earthly lifetime.  It will always be majestic in my heart, however, or rather, it will forever remind me of the majestic One who died on another tree so that He might so wonderfully involve Himself in the lives of those who trust Him.

"I will speak of the glorious honor of Thy majesty, and of Thy wondrous works."
(Psalm 145:5)
"Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass."
(Psalm 37:5)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
(Hebrews 12:3)







Monday, April 25, 2022

Orange Moon Monday, April 25, 2022 "The Watcher(s)"

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

"The Watcher(s)"


     Our beagle Ellie follows in the pawprints of Sparrow, our beloved hound who passed away several years ago.  Ellie sits at the same window in our home as did Sparrow, watching the world go by and waiting to alert us if a cat passes through our yard! (would you believe it???  Just as I wrote those words, a cat passed by.  And Ellie, ever on guard as was Sparrow, alerted me to the danger!).

   "I speak that which I have seen with my Father" (John 8:38).

    The Lord Jesus Christ was a watcher.  That is, He spiritually attuned His heart toward Heaven and the Father who led and enabled Him throughout His earthly lifetime.  Indeed, our Savior lived by faith no less than do we ourselves.  

    "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do… I live by the Father" (John 5:19; 6:57).

   In this light of the Watcher who looked unto His Father, the writer of Hebrews calls us to the same directing of our hearts toward Heaven.

   "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1-2).

   The Lord Jesus looked to the Father for guidance and enabling.  We look to the Son for the same.  The Holy Spirit leads us in the light and life of Christ as we avail ourselves of God's grace by faith.  Thereby, we walk in blessed Footsteps of the One who knew life such as we know it, in a world that challenges our confidence day by day, and sometimes, moment by moment.

    "Walk, even as He walked… We walk by faith" (I John 2:6; II Corinthians 5:7).

   Ellie maintains her watch as I write these words, sitting in precisely the same place and posture as did Sparrow for so many years (beware, cats!).  Both dear ones bear witness to the greatest Watcher of all, the Lord Jesus, and to our privileged calling to fix our gaze upward as did He.  Like Sparrow to Ellie, we walk a path already paved by the One who knows better than do we ourselves the challenge of living by faith in a fallen world.  In times of difficulty in trusting God, "looking unto Jesus" will secure our confidence and empower our steps as we watch, even as He watched…

"Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."
(Hebrews 12:3)

Weekly Memory Verse
   Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
(Hebrews 12:3)







Saturday, April 23, 2022

Orange Moon Saturday, April 23, 2022 "I Want You To Have This"

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

(Friends, I wish I could write this as I feel it.  But that is not possible.  Glen)

"I Want You To Have This"


     What do you give to the Person who has everything?

    "The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1).

    My grandson Jackson helped answer the question many years ago.  He was three at the time (he's now 15).  He and his sister Emma had spent the weekend with us, and the time came for them to return home with their parents.  Just before leaving, Jackson came up to me and stuck out his hand, which held a quarter.  "Grandaddy," he said with an expression both sweet and serious, "I want you to have this."  

   I love moments so filled with blessing that you know you will never forget them.  I instantly realized this was one of those.  I smiled, took the quarter, and responded.  "Thank you so much, Jack.  This means so much to me, and I will keep this quarter forever!"  This meant entrusting the treasure to our family safekeeper, Frances.  It also meant the blessedness of that treasure still has a place of cherished grace in the safekeeping of my heart.  

   What do you give to the Person who has everything?  Jackson's gift speaks to the question in a powerful way.  In the most literal sense, we cannot give anything to God since He is "the possessor of Heaven and earth" (Genesis 14:19).  In the sense of heart, however, we can give Him much.  Jackson's quarter would buy almost nothing even in 2010 when he gave it to me (and far less now!).  However, in terms of value, the coin means more to me than I could ever express.  He gave a piece of his heart to my heart when he held out the quarter, along with the echoes of his voice that still resound deeply and beautifully within my soul: "Grandaddy, I want you to have this."  

   I sometimes speak to our Lord in the terms Jackson voiced to me. "Heavenly Father, I want You to have this."  I then "hand to Him" praise, thanksgiving, awed appreciation of His wonder, and the affirmation of gladness that I belong to Him for His glory, will, and eternal purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ.  I do so in complete confidence that Scripture confirms such expression: "The prayer of the upright is His delight" (Proverbs 15:8).  Indeed, my heart still delights in Jackson's long ago bestowal of a gift that can buy little of earthly substance, but which purchased a treasured moment that will be with me forever.  Even more, I am completely certain that our Father's heart feels the same when we "give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name" (Psalm 29:2).

    What do we give to the One who has everything?  So much more than we can imagine.  Thank you, Jackson, for a gift that blessed me in the moment you bestowed it.  It blesses me even more every time I remember it.  And praise You, Lord, for having such a heart that Your children can bestow upon you gifts from our hearts that mean more to You than we will ever know.  "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4).

    Oh yes, I always like to mention that the quarter Jackson gave to me was minted in the heart of his birth, 2006.  I am sure that at three years old, he did not realize this.  But the One who led him to bestow the gift did.  Indeed, I will always believe that I heard more than one voice on that blessed day speaking to my heart, "I want you to have this."  Jackson gave such a gift, as did the Lord who taught me something completely wonderful about Himself, and that we really can give something to the One who has everything.

"O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto Thee forever."
(Psalm 30:12)

Weekly Memory Verse
     "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).






Friday, April 22, 2022

Orange Moon Friday, April 22, 2022 "Greater Truths"

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

"Greater Truths"

     While God's ways often challenge our understanding, there are actually a number of things we can always know.

    He ever works to fulfill His "eternal purpose in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 3:11).

    He works to glorify and reveal the Lord Jesus (John 15:26; 16:14).

    He works in accordance with His character, nature, and way.  "The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works" (Psalm 145:17).

   He works in pristine perfection.  "As for God, His way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31).

   He works in accordance with complete knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.  "His understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5).

   He works with our best interests in heart and mind.  "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

   He works to conform us to the spiritual and moral image of the Lord Jesus (Romans 8:29).

   These and many other certainties must fill our hearts and minds, especially during times when our Heavenly Father's ways in our personal lives challenge our understanding.  The things we do not understand must lead us to recall and affirm the things we do understand.   In times when we wonder "Why?" regarding our Lord's ways,  we can be sure His actions perfectly align with the greater truths of His revealed character, nature, and way.

   God can be trusted when the light of His doings shines brightly upon our hearts and minds.  He can also be trusted when we seem to be left in the dark.  Remembering "those things which are most surely believed among us" fortifies us to walk by faith on brightly illuminated summits, or in dark valleys (Luke 1:1).  We shall not be disappointed, and we will one day realize that our Father''s light shined just as brightly when we could not understand His ways, as in the times when we could.

"My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen Thou me according unto Thy Word."
(Psalm 119:28)

Weekly Memory Verse
     "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).