Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Orange Moon Tuesday, May 31, 2022 "Here Am I, Send Me"

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

"Here Am I, Send Me



    "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in Heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

   The Lord Jesus Christ Himself serves as the light that shines upon and within believers, leading us to live in a manner that reflects well upon our Heavenly Father.

   "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (II Corinthians 4:6).

    The glory that shines in Christ's face must shine in ours.  This will lead us to do things we would not do otherwise, and to refrain from things we would. Knowing that we serve as "ambassadors for Christ" bestows great privilege and responsibility upon us (II Corinthians 5:20).   Ambassadors represent others rather than themselves, a great honor in most cases wherein an earthly authority appoints and sends a proxy to communicate his thoughts and purposes.  Every believer serves such a role in our particular sphere of influence.  Amid all that life involves, our Heavenly Father grants to us the high calling of representing Him along every pathway, and in every endeavor.  "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31).

   The great Ambassador, the Lord Jesus Himself, leads and enables us to reflect well upon our Heavenly Father in countenance, demeanor, attitude, word, and deed.  This includes every venue, including our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, churches, the marketplace, and wherever we are or may go.  None of us perfectly respond to and fulfill our honored role.  We can and must grow, however, in being the lamp of our Lord's light.  Realizing and submitting to the privileged responsibility begins our service.  

   "Here am I, send me" prayed Isaiah in the recognition of his calling (Isaiah 6:8).  As this day begins, the same altar of consecration beckons us to affirm that the day can be one in which Christ's light shines in us for the glory of God.  No greater privilege and no greater responsibility can be imagined.  Yes, to kneel before our Lord, and then to arise and go forth as His ambassadors bestows a measure of grace in which we must rejoice and never take for granted.  Let us all join Isaiah, "Here am I, send me."

"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)

Weekly Memory Verse
    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)



Monday, May 30, 2022

Orange Moon Monday, May 30, 2022 "Better Than I Deserve - Revisited"

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

"Better Than I Deserve - Revisited



      On several occasions through the years, I have shared with you the unwavering response of a dear friend when asked how he is doing…

    "Better than I deserve."

    This is absolutely the case (not just for my friend, but for all of us! :):)  ).

    "He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10).

   How has and how does a righteous God act in such grace and mercy toward those who trust the Lord Jesus Christ?  Taking the Psalmist's cue, we might say, "He has dealt with us after Christ's righteousness, and according to Christ's faithfulness to His Father."

   "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).

    The Apostle Paul's declaration of God's dealings with us based on His Son has become one of my favorite passages of Scripture.  While what we do and don't do in response to our Heavenly Father matters much, that which matters more is what Christ has done, is doing, and will do forevermore.  Moreover, the more we know the doings of the Lord Jesus on our behalf, the more our own doings will align with the glory and will of God.  Note the Apostle Peter's confirmation of this vital truth of grace:

   "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen" (II Peter 3:17-18).

    How do we avoid the "fall from your own steadfastness?"  By heeding Peter's command to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."  Or, as the writer of Hebrews affirmed… 

     "Consider Him… lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" (Hebrews 12:3).  

    Indeed, the Christ who began our salvation as the Author of our faith is the same Christ who continues our salvation as the Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  To the degree we know Him and understand His place in God's working and in our response will be the degree to which we walk in genuine and growing faith and faithfulness.  "God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (I John 4:9).

    How could it be otherwise?  God gives all preeminence to the Lord Jesus.  His eternal purpose operates completely in Him.  He has given Him a name which is above every name (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 3:11; Philippians 2:9).  And again, "He delivered Him up for us all" in order that He might "with Him also freely give us all things."  Yes, Christ is the theme.  Christ is the subject.  Christ is the life.  And Christ is the mediator whereby God acts toward believers based first on His Son's doings on our behalf, and then, on how well we respond to those doings.

    "Better than I deserve."  Absolutely, for all of us.  But never better than the Lord Jesus deserves.  This what God gives to all who trust His beloved Son and our beloved Savior.  Yes, our Father gave to Christ on the cross what we deserved so that He might give to us what Christ at God's right hand deserves.  The more and better we know this truth, the more our hearts, hands, and feet will bear witness to having "with Him" been freely given all things.

"But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, that according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
(I Corinthians 1:30)

Weekly Memory Verse
    But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, that according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
(I Corinthians 1:30)



Saturday, May 28, 2022

Orange Moon Saturday, May 28, 2022 "A Place, All Its Own"

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

"A Place All Its Own



      Amid all things that define what it means to be a human being, one stands not only above all others, but rather occupies a place all its own as the very essence of who and what we are.

    "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3)

    God exists as a relational being, that is, one God dwelling in three Persons who love and communicate with one  another.  He made humanity in His image, meaning relationship will also be central in our existence.  The entrance of sin into the human race through Adam gravely damaged our capacity for relationship with God, making necessary a spiritual redemption and resurrection.  This our Heavenly Father provided through the Lord Jesus Christ, and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to all who believe.  

      "The Holy Spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:16).


    Of all Scripture declares about what it means to be a Christian, nothing more defines the reality than relationship.  God knows us, and we know Him.  Of course, on His part, He knows us perfectly.  On our part, we "see through a glass darkly" (I Corinthians 13:12).  Still, we see, and still, we know, to one degree or another.  Indeed, in every believer, the witness abides - "I know Him."  We may or may not know Him well, and we all must surely know Him so much more and so much better.  Nevertheless, the Christian knows God, and deeply within, knows that availing ourselves of this wondrous bond of grace received through faith is the very essence of our existence.  "He is thy life… To live is Christ" (Deuteronomy 30:20; Philippians 1:21).

   Such a gift bears with it great privilege and great responsibility.  In all times, and at all places, we may "come boldly unto the throne of grace to obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).  This involves personally relating to God in prayer and in the light of His Biblical truth, the two key components of what it means in our present existence to relate to our Lord.  We may also come with praise and thanksgiving, with request for knowledge and wisdom, with confession of sin and confidence of forgiveness and cleansing, and with the simple desire for communion with the One for whom our hearts were made.  Indeed, the Spirit of God ever beckons us to remember the relationship freely given by grace in the Lord Jesus, and to avail ourselves thereunto.

   Our Heavenly Father obviously loves relating to us.  Let us look with our hearts into Heaven to see the prints of nails that mark our Savior's hands and feet, and that bear such vivid witness to how much God loves our fellowship.  "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4).  Such a realization will surely fuel the flame of our desire to respond to Him, pleasing His heart by the response of our heart.  Long before the advent of the Lord Jesus, and with far less light of grace than we possess, the Psalmist realized the blessed truth.  We close with his affirmation that must increasingly become our own, the affirmation of relationship with God as having a place, all its own…

"When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek."
(Psalm 27:8)
"One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple."
(Psalm 27:4)
"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue."
 (II Peter 1:2-3)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men."
 (I Timothy 2:1)



Friday, May 27, 2022

Orange Moon Friday, May 27, 2022 "Consider Thyself"

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

"Consider Thyself



    When spotting error in others, a wonderful opportunity and necessity lies before us regarding our own walk with the Lord.  

    "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).

   Awareness of the faults of others should remind us of our own need for God's mercy, and even more, of how often He has generously bestowed it.  "In the spirit of meekness… considering thyself" must be present within our own hearts if we are to serve as effective restorers of others.  Certainly, we pray for those in whom we see fault, and offer ourselves to the Lord if He sees fit to administer correction through us.  However, recognizing sin in others must also lead us to pray for ourselves regarding the temptations we face.  The most devoted born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ still lives with flesh in which resides a "law of sin" (Romans 7:23-25).  All believers are still susceptible to following that law, and at times we do.  "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8).   If we climb upon a high perch of condemnation for others, we will surely all too soon fall from such a foolish vantage point.  When seeing failure in others, we therefore do well to first humble ourselves in gratitude for the mercy we have received, and will receive.

    "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

   The New Testament clearly calls believers to serve as means of correction for each other.  It also plainly states the "consider thyself" attitude that must accompany our restorative efforts for each other.  Only the humble can help.  All others need not attempt to serve as means of correction for others because they themselves are in need of restoration from the sin of pride.  As a preacher, I seek to remember this.  When speaking to congregations, I try to never use "You" as my primary pronoun when considering the callings and challenges of Scripture.  "We" and "Us" - these are the appropriate pronouns of the preacher, and of all believers who rightly understand that to correct others, our hearts must be properly attired  - "Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble" (I Peter 5:5).

   The power and authority of the Holy Spirit rests upon humility.  Never upon pride.  If we are to serve as effective means of correction for each other, our Heavenly Father will have to keep us keenly aware that the sins of others must be viewed as "motes" (twigs), while we see our own as "beams" (Matthew 7:3).  Thereby we can serve as "ye which are spiritual," a designation that always correlates with being "clothed with humility."  Thereby, our Lord may well lead us in correction of others because we so open to His correction of ourselves.

"Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
(Luke 18:10-14)
"Search me, o God, and know my heart.  Try me, and know my thoughts.  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
(Psalm 139:23-24)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men."
 (I Timothy 2:1)



Thursday, May 26, 2022

Orange Moon Thursday, May 26, 2022 "Perfection and Imperfection"

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

"Perfection and Imperfection



    God has forever dwelt in pristine and absolute perfection.  

   "As for God, His way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31).
   "He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He" (Deuteronomy 32:4).

   This raises an interesting inquiry.  How does a perfect divine Being relate to imperfect human beings?  How does He reveal Himself and communicate in a way we can comprehend?  How can He fulfill His perfect purposes amid the imperfections of those who fall far short of His standard?  Certainly, regarding our need for forgiveness and justification, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus answers the question.  Through Christ's perfect work of our sins imputed to Him on the cross, and His righteousness imputed to those who believe in the new birth, our Heavenly Father made a way to be both "just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).  In this holy light, perfection and imperfection unite in Christ through the grace heralded by the Psalmist:  "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Psalm 85:10).  

   In a more technical sense, however, mystery remains in how we relate to a perfect being.  We can know some, and we can know more.  But we can never know all of how God works in history, and in our story.   Questions regarding why, how, what, when, and where will therefore reside in our minds throughout our earthly lifetime.  Knowing this will go far in maintaining a healthy humility in our hearts, and interestingly, strong conviction.  Our Lord reserves genuine confidence for those who rejoice in what we can know, and who rejoice no less in what we cannot.  This helps us to remember, as a dear friend often says, "God is God, and we ain't!" (thanks, Wayne!).  

    Nothing of greater benefit can grace our understanding.  We were born as members of a race of beings that early in our history bought into the devilish lie that "ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5).  No, we won't, not now, not ever.  "Thou art God alone" (Psalm 86:10).  So, we accept the mystery of a gloriously perfect God far beyond our full understanding, but whose wisdom in making a way to relate to imperfect beings draws us to the altar of wonder and amazement.  We will find no better place for our hearts, and no more powerful a sensibility to maintain therein.

"The King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen."
(I Timothy 6:15-16)
"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."
(Deuteronomy 29:29).

Weekly Memory Verse
    "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men" (I Timothy 2:1).



Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Orange Moon Wednesday, May 25, 2022 "So Much Given, So Great the Cost"

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

"So Much Given, So Great the Cost



   God calls the church of the Lord Jesus Christ to proclaim the highest price ever paid for anything, anywhere, at any time.

   "Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (I Peter 1:18-20).
   "He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2).

    Because the Lord Jesus Christ paid so infinitely vast a price, our Heavenly Father can also call us to bear witness to the freest gift ever given.

   "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).

    The highest cost.  The freest gift.  If we had to pare down our Gospel message to 2 key points, these themes would serve as notably effective ways to bear witness to the saving grace of God in Christ.


So much given, so great the cost,
so terrible the sorrow, so vast the loss.
When on that day at Calvary, 
the Father smote His Son,
when for us He forsook Him
to bleed and die alone…
So much given, so great the cost.

So much given, so much forgiven.
So great the mercy shining in His face
when on that day we first believed,
and in this day as we receive
the grace to live in faithfulness,
the beauty of His holiness…
So much given, so great the cost. 

So much given, of glorious supply,
 grace that cost Him all, His holy, precious life.
For on that day when we believed,
His Spirit entered in.
And in this day when we believe,
He lives in us, we live through Him…
So much given, so great the cost.


  Our message begins with the price paid.  It proceeds to the gift  purchased.  The cost.  The gift.  The only way one can fail to receive the gift of God's salvation in Christ is to refuse His pardon and newness of life offered "without price" (Isaiah 55:1).  We come with empty hands to the throne of grace because in that most holy of venues, our Heavenly Father allows no barter.  The Lord Jesus long ago cleansed an earthly temple where buying and selling took place (John 2:13-16).  "Make not My Father's house a house of merchandise!" He demanded.  The echoes of His cry ring through the ages, finding the hearts of all who realize the temple of God stands as a place of grace where one cannot pay for that which has already been purchased by the highest of all costs.

   Receiving God's gift of salvation in accordance with Scriptural truth leads those so blessed to be filled with wonder, and with a passionate determination to live in a manner that honors the One who paid such a price to make possible such a grace.  Little wonder the Apostle Paul proclaimed he would glory only in the cross of Christ (Galatians 6:14).  Paul well knew that a focus on the cost would lead not only to the reception of grace, but to a life lived in devotion to the One who gave His all that He might freely give His all to those who know indeed "So much given, so great the cost."

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich."
(II Corinthians 8:9)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men" (I Timothy 2:1).



Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Orange Moon Tuesday, May 24, 2022 "To Pray" Part 2 - Folding, Preparing, Sweeping

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

(I wrote this yesterday while Frances was sleeping, that is, while she underwent surgery on her hand.  As you will read, she provided a fascinating insight on the theme of yesterday's message as we were on the way to the hospital.  The surgery went well, by the way, and thanks for the prayers I know you will pray for her rehab.  Glen).

"To Pray"

Part 2 - Folding, Preparing, Sweeping


    My wife Frances made an excellent point about yesterday's message concerning the mystery of God's working through the prayers of His trusting sons and daughters in Christ.

      "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men" (I Timothy 2:1).

   Regarding the question of why our Heavenly Father so involves us in His working, Frances reminded me of the days when our children were very young.  We involved them in household activities and chores long before their help actually helped.  Folding clothes, preparing food for cooking, sweeping the floor, and any other number of necessary tasks could far more easily have been accomplished without the children's participation.  However, if they were to learn valuable lessons about personal responsibility and the joy of participation with others, we needed to let them fold, prepare, and sweep in a manner that may not have been up to our standards, but would help them to become the people we wanted them to be.

    Applying this to God's working, the analogy shines brightly.  How much easier it would be for Him to simply, as in the original forming of creation, simply say it rather than involve us in His doings us by calling us to pray it.  Certainly, our Lord does many things in His creation unilaterally and with no human involvement.  However, He also acts or doesn't act in many matters based on our praying.  This would certainly seem a significant inconvenience to the fulfillment of His purposes.  Scripture confirms that it is.  "Ye have not because ye ask not" (James 4:2).  Our spiritual education and maturing means that much to Him, far more than it does to earthly parents who involve their children even before they can adequately perform their duties.  Our Father works that we may "grow up into Him in all things," meaning He must fulfill His ultimate purposes amid the challenges we present to Him (Ephesians 4:15).

    Of course, God will "finish the work" and fulfill "the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 9:28; Ephesians 3:11).  He is that good, that great, that present, that involved, that wise, that able, and that powerful.  He can and does grant real freedom to human beings, sees them use and misuse it, but nevertheless will perfectly finish and fulfill His ultimate intentions in Christ.  How He does this, we do not know.  That He does it is beyond question.  This includes our praying.  We may do it well sometimes, poorly at others, and sometimes, not at all.  Things will happen and not happen accordingly, with consequences.  Amid all, however, our Heavenly Father wondrously performs the miracle of working through faithful and fickle humanity to execute the purposes that have existed in His heart from everlasting.  "God… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:3; 11). 

    Little wonder that the Apostle Paul, when pondering such matters regarding God's purposes for national Israel in Romans 9-11, finally stilled the pondering of his wondering mind for the praising of his worshipful heart:

    "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33).

   "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1).  No wiser request has ever been offered than the disciples' appeal for their Master's illumination regarding prayer.  We do well to echo our brethren of old because much of our Heavenly Father's working rides upon the twin rails of our asking and His answering. Certainly, this constitutes much mystery, but we can know enough to acknowledge our privileged responsibility in the vital calling of prayer.  We can also know enough to fall before our Heavenly Father in amazed wonder that while we may not fold, prepare, and sweep as well as we one day will, He nevertheless grants to us the gift of a salvation that not only redeems us, but calls us to serve as "workers together with Him" as He fulfills His glorious purposes in Christ (I Corinthians 6:1).

"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."   
Matthew :9-10)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men."
 (I Timothy 2:1)