Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Orange Moon Wednesday, November 30, 2022 "The Promise of Life"

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


              "The Promise of Life"     


   "Quicken (enliven) me according unto Thy Word, o Lord" (Psalm 119:107).


   "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, buy the spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken (enliven) your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Romans 8:11).

    The Christian life is precisely that, a life, the life of the risen Lord Jesus enabling us to trust and obey God.  We require such grace because the members and faculties we inherited from Adam - the flesh - possess no inherent capacity to do the will of God, being "dead because of sin."  Conversely, dwelling within our spirit is the Holy Spirit, whereby we are "alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).  As we trust and submit to God, the life of Christ in our spirit engages and empowers our capacities to think, speak, act, and relate in faith and faithfulness.  Thereby, we mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, or as the Apostle Paul succinctly declared, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh" (Galatian 5:16).

   This enlivening happens as we choose to walk in the light of Scripture, as opposed to worldly, fleshly, and devilish influences. As the Psalmist requested, "Quicken me according unto Thy Word, o Lord."  The Holy Spirit who indwells the Bible He inspired and the believer He spiritually birthed, administers the risen life of Christ as the enlivening power whereby vessels of earth become the scene of Heavenly glories and wonders.  "We have this Treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (II Corinthians 4:7).  Only thereby do we have the slightest hope of living the Christian life made possible through the life of Christ.  "Without Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).

    The Lord who transformed a tomb of death into the joyous birthplace of His Life beyond life does the same in believers as the Spirit of God and the Word of God enliven us.  Indeed, every act of faithful obedience in the history of the church has required Christ's risen life no less than did His own resurrection.  We walk with God as believers in the same way we became believers.  We believe our Lord Jesus to be risen from the dead not only for us as the basis of our new birth, but also within us as "the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy 1:).  As always, He is "the way and the truth and the life," and as always we….

"Live through Him."
(I John 4:9)
"Ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead."
 (Colossians 2:9)




Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Orange Moon Tuesday, November 29, 2022 "Just and the Justifier"

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


              "Just and the Justifier"     


    God, cannot simply forgive sin by overlooking it, or sweeping it under the rug, as it were.  He must remain faithful to Himself, and true to the integrity of His nature as He bestows mercy.


    "But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel" (Psalm 22:3).

   Job seemed to realize this truth long before the New Testament addressed the seeming challenge regarding Divine justice and mercy.

    "How should man be just with God?" (Job 9:2).

   In his declaration of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul answers the question.  

    "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God, to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:24-26).

   "Just and the justifier."  Through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary, justice and mercy united to make possible our pardon from sin.  In simple terms, He bore our iniquities so that we might bear His righteousness.  Or, He suffered the justice of God by dying for our sins to make possible our freely given forgiveness.  "God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32).  This reveals the Gospel in its simple essence, of course.  However, the underlying truth of justice and mercy as it relates to God and His character must be considered and communicated.  Only through the Lord Jesus can God forgive sin without compromising His nature and integrity.  He cannot decree mercy by fiat.  He must rather give His Son to die for it by sacrifice.  

    "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement" (Romans 5:10-11).

   If God ever forgave one sin by any other means than the Lord Jesus, He would become untrue to Himself and thus, unable to be for us who He promises to be.  This He will not and cannot do.  All who have ever been pardoned found such grace through trusting in the promised Deliverer to come, or in the Redeemer who came.  Indeed, our salvation involves our Lord's character no less - and in ultimate terms, even more - than our rescue.  He must be both "just and the Justifier."  Christ makes possible the blessed union of justice uncompromised and mercy unleashed.  The Psalmist alluded to such a wonder, and we close with his obvious foretelling of the Savior in whom…

"Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
(Psalm 85:10)
"There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
(I Timothy 2:5)

Weekly Memory Verse   
   "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth…. Be clothed with humility."
 (III John 1:4; I Peter 5:5)




Monday, November 28, 2022

Orange Moon Monday, November 28, 2022 "Conviction and Compassion"

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


              "Conviction and Compassion"     


    "Be of one mind" commanded the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, and then added for good and absolutely necessary measure, "Live in peace" (II Corinthians 13:11).  

    Two thousand years later, the body of Christ still works on faithfulness to Paul's mandate, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  Whether in personal relationships or corporately, devoted believers disagree on matters we believe to be important.  Many are, and we must all seek to know God and His truth as declared by Scripture, rightly interpreted and humbly understood and applied.  We must determine to walk with both conviction and compassion, a unity of spiritual traits only possible through the Holy Spirit's working in our hearts to reveal the character of the Lord Jesus.

   "Ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3).
   "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3).

    Jude and Paul unite to cast us to our knees and faces in the mandate to "contend" for the genuine and true faith of Christ, while maintaining "all lowliness and meekness."  How is this possible?  How can we present a decisive affirmation of truth, as we understand it, but with just as decisive a heart and mind of humility?  Being on our knees and faces provides the best means of finding the answer.  When considering matters of doctrine and practice with fellow believers, particularly when we see things differently, we must remember that in the sight of God, how we contend is every bit as important as that we contend.  If we follow Jude's mandate without seeking God's grace to adorn ourselves with the character and demeanor of Christ, as prescribed by Paul, we will do little good in our attempts to affirm our position.  Indeed, we can win the battle of argument, but lose the war of rightly serving as the ambassador of the Lord Jesus.  Much prayer regarding conviction and compassion must therefore precede our determination to fight the good fight.   The Spirit of God alone can lead us to faithfully fulfill the "How?" and the "What?" 

    We do well to remember the truth that our brother's heart is as important as his mind (more so, actually - Proverbs 4:23).  If I change his opinion, but do so in a manner that distorts the character of Christ, have I really helped him?  Maybe not, and the possibility of seeming to do good, while actually doing harm, should once again lead us to posture of prayer in our own hearts and minds.  No matter of our walk with the Lord more reveals our complete need for the leading and enabling of Christ.  And doubtless, no matter will more find Him gladly revealing through us the union of His glorious conviction and compassion.

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."
(III John 1:4)
"Be clothed with humility."
 (I Peter 5:5)

(In respect to theme of today's messages, let's do 2 memory verses this week)

Weekly Memory Verse   
   "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth…. Be clothed with humility."
 (III John 1:4; I Peter 5:5)




Sunday, November 27, 2022

Orange Moon Sunday, November 27, 2022 "Saved By Hope"

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

              "Saved By Hope"     


    I recently heard a scientist postulate what the earth would be like in a billion years.  As a materialist who does not believe in God, he portrayed a bleak outlook wherein no life or water would be left on the planet because of the sun's increasing heat through the ages.  According to this view, the only hope for survival by the human race involves escape from an earth that will one day be completely uninhabitable by any living creature.  Moreover, according to the materialist, the earth will one day cease to exist altogether when our sun becomes so large it will likely engulf the planet.

   "Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die" (I Corinthians 15:32).

   Little wonder so many who embrace this view give in to either hedonism or despair.  The unbeliever maintains that it will ultimately not matter or even be known that the human race ever existed.  Nothing of consequence regarding our doings will endure.  Instead, we will have been no more important than a rock, a single bacteria, or a speck of dust, here today and gone tomorrow.  Scripture, conversely, portrays a very different view of earth and its purpose, significance, destiny, and most importantly, its inhabitants.

    "The earth abideth forever" (Ecclesiastes 1:4).
    "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him" (Ecclesiastes 3:14).

    Certainly, the planet on which we live will one day no longer exist in its current form.  It will not, however, cease to exist, nor will it become uninhabitable by the creatures who live on it.  The "new earth" will not be new in the fact of its existence, but perfected by the redeeming power of God ("new" in the original Greek of the New Testament means new in form and condition - II Peter 3:13).  The redeeming work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of earth who became its Redeemer, assures us that glory and perfection grace the future of what we might call God's enhanced and improved creation to come.

   "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope" (Romans 8:22-24).

   "Saved by hope."  While listening to the scientist and pondering the desperately sad implications of his perspective, the thought came to mind, "What am I going to do about this?"  That may seem silly.  What can any of us do to change the hearts and minds of others about such matters of eternal consequence?  The answer is this.  We may not have the opportunity to affect the scientist in question (other than pray for him, a powerful influence as God answers).  However, in our own spheres of influence, our lives can serve as the counter to the increasing atheism of our culture.  We can so live as to reveal to others that God exists, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the redeemer who can rescue human hearts from the delusion that leads to either hedonism or despair.  Our countenance, demeanor, attitude, words, and actions can proclaim the reality of God to all with whom we live our lives.  We can serve as beacons of hope to the hopeless.  "Ye shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:15).

     The Spirit of God bears witness of the Lord Jesus and His truth to the scientist we reference.  From conception unto the present moment, he has "clearly seen" the reality of God and His creation (John 1:9; Romans 1:20).  He may never repent, believe, and turn away from the hopeless delusion that allows him to live as he pleases (the real root and cause for all unbelief - John 3:19).  He cannot, however, escape the Light that ever shines upon him (John 1:9).  Herein lies the power of the Gospel, namely, every other view of reality leads only to despair regarding this life and forevermore.  The Gospel, as revealed by the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the church of God proclaims "promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (I Timothy 4:8).  To even the most ardent atheist, such hope serves as a powerful influence.  Let us pray and live in such a manner that we will serve as the lamp that shines brightly upon the truth of an earth that will always be, and even more, of its people who either joyfully or sorrowfully "shall be forever."

"He built His sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth, which He hath established forever."
(Psalm 78:69)
"I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."
(Romans 1:16)

Weekly Memory Verse   
    Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.
(Psalm 97:12)



Saturday, November 26, 2022

Orange Moon Saturday, November 26, 2022 "To Behold the Beauty"

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


              "To Behold the Beauty"     


    You may have seen the video that recently went viral on the Internet of a mother chimpanzee united with her baby two days after having an emergency C-section (I cannot imbed the video link in this email because of SPAM filters, but you can access it on YouTube by searching for "Emotional moment chimpanzee reunited with her baby").  It is a beautiful scene as the mother discovers her offspring, and even more wondrous when considering the glory it depicts.

    "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are, even His eternal power and godhead" (Romans 1:20).

   Every atom of true beauty in creation bears witness to the beauty of the Creator Himself.  I thought of this when considering that many people will appreciate the sweetness of a mother meeting her baby for the first time.  People will appreciate "nature," certainly a proper response to the realities we experience with our senses.  However, a greater response always awaits us when beholding beauty in its myriad forms.  To see what can only be described as love in the response of a chimpanzee mother for her offspring must lead us to gaze through the portal opened into the heart of God.  The mother's devotion did not come to her by the mere natural processes of the universe.  No, Somebody made her with the capacity to cherish her baby, doubtless as the expression of how He feels toward us.  "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4).

   I feel for people who miss or neglect this greater response.  Indeed, while natural beauty is a thing to be greatly appreciated, such grace exists to elicit wondering awe regarding the God so glorious of heart that He made a universe filled with beauty in so many forms.  Few transcend the love of a mother for her child, whether in the human or the animal kingdom.  Such affection and commitment glimmer ever so brightly with the love of God.  However, we can miss such glory if we forget to look for "the invisible things of Him."  What a tragedy, but what a gift of grace when we respond to the Holy Spirit as He beckons us to gaze through portals whereby the wonders of creation offer even more wondrous glories of the Creator.

"I will look for Him."
(Isaiah 8:17)
"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)

Weekly Memory Verse   
    Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.
(Psalm 97:12)



Friday, November 25, 2022

Orange Moon Friday, November 25, 2022 "Purity of Purpose"

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


              "Purity of Purpose"     


     Proverbs reveals the purity of purpose in God's Word, inspired by the Spirit of God to reveal God the Father and God the Son.

    "Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended?  Who hath gathered the wind in his fists?   Who hath bound the waters in a garment?  Who hath established all the ends of the earth?  What is His name, and what is His Son's name, if thou canst tell?  Every word of God is pure" (Proverbs 30:4-5).

   "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God" (I John 4:15).
    "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (I John 5:5).

   The Apostle John declares God's presence resides in our hearts through our faith in the relationship between the Father and the Son.  Moreover, the Apostle affirms our triumph in the challenges of life proceeds by keeping near in heart and mind the truth of Christ as the Son of God.  Little wonder then that all Scripture would directly or indirectly bear witness to the Divine bond of the Father and the Son whereby our own union with God becomes actual and realized.  "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John 14:13).

   Why is the relationship between the Father and Son so thematic in Scripture and in the Holy Spirit's working in our lives?  The answer is found in the Savior's prayer recorded in J0hn 17, just before He suffered and died on the cross of Calvary.

   "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent… 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… I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:3; 22-23; 24; 26).

   The Lord reveals in this most illuminating of all Scriptural prayers that human beings exist to be the dwellingplace of God wherein the Holy Spirit reveals the relationship of love eternally known by the Father and the Son.  Little wonder then that the Word inspired by the Spirit would either glimmer brightly with such truth in many passages, or promise such light to come in others.  Again, we became believers by believing that Jesus is the Son of God.  We overcome the challenges of life by affirming the same truth.  Realizing this purity of purpose in God and Scripture will go far in helping us to better understand and interpret the Bible.  Thereby, we will more faithfully walk with our Lord for His glory by realizing the relationship between Father and Son that now wondrously dwells in us through the Spirit.  The Apostle Paul most directly and succinctly states this hope of glory, and we close in the wonder thereof…

"Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father."
(Galatians 4:6)
"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us."
(Romans 5:5)

Weekly Memory Verse   
    Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.
(Psalm 97:12)



Thursday, November 24, 2022

Orange Moon Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2022 "The Most Thankful"

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

(a repeat from 2020)


              "The Most Thankful"     


    Doubtless, the most thankful person who ever lived was our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Gospels depict our Savior's expression of gratitude to His Father on numerous occasions.


    "And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down" (John 6:11).


    Our Lord knew better than anyone the reality of human dependence on God.  Without relinquishing His divinity as God the Son, the Lord Jesus nevertheless lived His earthly life as a man.  As "the son of man," He perfectly modeled what it means to be a human being, which means He lived by faith in His Father's presence, provision, and power.  "The Son can do nothing of Himself… I live by the Father" (Matthew 18:11; John 5:19; 6:57).  Thus, He lived in the natural response of thanksgiving, based on keen awareness of God's promised supply and the need for it.  


     "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6).
    "As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me" (John 6:57).


    As Christ lived by His Father, so believers live by Christ.  This includes His thankful heart revealed in us through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  As the character, nature, and way of the Lord Jesus progressively shines in us, gratitude will be a chief expression of such grace.  We live by Christ, which finds us "giving thanks to God and the Father by Him" (Colossians 3:17).  The most grateful human being who ever lived now spiritually dwells within us, meaning we cannot fail to live thankfully as we respond to His presence and working.  "Rooted and built up in Him… abounding therein with thanksgiving" (Colossians 2:7).


    Every believer realizes our need to give thanks more and better.  This means we need to grow in what it means to live by our Savior's abiding and dynamic presence in our hearts.  The "Most Thankful" will lead us to be more thankful as He lives in us, and as we follow His example of realizing our Heavenly Father's abundant provision and our complete need and dependence…


"Without Me, ye can do nothing."
(John 15:5)
"By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name."
(Hebrews 13:15)

Weekly Memory Verse   
    Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.
(Psalm 97:12)



Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Orange Moon Wednesday, November 23, 2022 "The Things We Cannot See"

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


              "The Things We Cannot See"     


     My wife Frances has been remodeling and redecorating our kitchen in recent months.  She has done an amazing job in imagining, planning, designing, budgeting, purchasing, and doing the actual work.  Me?  I'm around if she needs help, which happens at times.  Most of the project, however, has been hers.

   If you were familiar with our kitchen of several months ago, and if you saw it now, you would know how involved the work has been.  Many obvious details and changes would stand out.  However, many would be known only to Frances and myself (and many more just to her).  One happened in the last few days regarding a wall where once a door had been.  You don't need to know the details, but Frances first built the wall, and then performed a near miracle in matching an old section to the new, structurally, but even more, in design.  A little while ago, I looked at the wall in amazement and said, "Sweetie, you did such a good job with this that no one will ever even know this wall has not always been here.  However, if you hadn't done so, everybody would have known!" (after beginning to write this, we also installed a window in that wall, where once a door had been.  Again, I helped a bit, but the brains and the hard work?  Well, you know… ).

    A light flashed in the moment I uttered those words.  Indeed, how many things does God do that even His devoted followers do not realize?  However, if He did not do them, everybody would know.

   "God… doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number" (Job 9:2; 10).

    Job tells us we cannot fully know or count the doings of our Lord.  The God present and vibrantly active in the entirety of His creation performs trillions upon trillions of "great things" and "wonders without number" in an eternally constant orchestration necessary for creation to survive and thrive.  We see the merest quantum of such Divine activity and its glorious results.  However, could one rogue particle of the universe somehow escape God's working, we would likely become alarmingly aware that something had gone horribly amiss.  Or, if the Lord who works all things together for the good of His trusting children ceased His coordination, our lives would fly into chaos at the hands of the world, the devil, and the flesh.  "By Him all things consist" (Romans 8:28-29; Colossians 1:17).

    As we approach the observance of Thanksgiving in the United States tomorrow, we do well to give thanks for the things we do not know of God's doings, as well as the things of which we are aware.  Whether in a vast creation or the minute details of our lives, our Heavenly Father works in ways so skilled and detailed, we cannot see His heart and hand in motion.  Like Frances's wall and window, however, we often see the effects at a later time.  We marvel on such occasions, we praise the Doer, and yes, we give thanks for things we could not see as He did them, but which amaze us when we become aware of wonders without number.

"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! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counselor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto Him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen."
(Romans 11;33-36)

Weekly Memory Verse   
    Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.
(Psalm 97:12)



Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Orange Moon Tuesday, November 22, 2022 "Utterance Given"

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

              "Utterance Given"  

    In a culture increasingly hostile to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must be increasingly devoted to loving and uncompromising communication of its truth by both example of life and word of mouth.  

    "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord" (II Timothy 1:7-8).

   Such devotion to God and truth requires His leading and enabling.  No less than the Apostle Paul asked for prayer, "that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel" (Ephesians 6:19).  Paul well knew that the Holy Spirit "of power… love… and a sound mind" would be required for the faithful fulfillment of his calling.  We must know the same, seeking our Lord's power to bear witness of Christ as He grants opportunity.  We will not do so otherwise, or if we make the attempt, fleshly efforts will result in a distorted or less than effective presentation of the redeeming Person and work of the Lord Jesus.  "Who is sufficient for these things?" asked Paul in regarding our representation of the Lord Jesus, and then answered his own question: "Our sufficiency is of God" (II Corinthians 2:16; II Corinthians 3:5).

   We do well to day by day echo the Apostle's request for the grace to bear witness of grace.  We require the love of the Lord Jesus, as well as His wisdom, understanding, motivation, and enabling to faithfully and effectually communicate the Gospel.  He promises to supply - "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you" promised the Savior to the first disciples who would become temples of His indwelling presence and enabling" (Acts 1:8).  That same Spirit lives in us who believe, assuring us that as we ask in faith, He will respond in grace to all who join Paul in his earnest request…
"That utterance may be given unto me."
(Ephesians 6:19)

Weekly Memory Verse   
    Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.
(Psalm 97:12)