Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Orange Moon Tuesday, January 31, 2023 "The Only Answer For Sin"

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


              "The Only Answer For Sin" 


    The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ offers the only answer for sin that maintains God's integrity, while offering freely given forgiveness to all who believe.

    "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).
    "He delighteth in mercy" (Micah 7:18).
    "Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before Thy face" (Psalm 89:14).

    God's great desire to forgive coexists with His absolute necessity to exercise justice in providing pardon from sin.  His own character and nature dictates He cannot simply overlook or absolve unrighteousness as a mere decree.  There must be execution of justice against sin, administered to the guilty.  "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4).  This includes the entirety of Adam's race - "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).  Justice must be served upon us all for God to Himself remain just, a dark prospect that would seem to leave humanity without hope.

   Amid his great suffering, Job asked the most pertinent of questions: "how shall man be just with God?" (Job 9:2).  An even greater question must be raised: how shall God be just with Himself, while not condemning man to a deserved execution of justice against his sin?  The answer lies in the truth that such an execution has occurred.

    "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew not sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21).
    "Christ… bore our sins in His own body on the tree" (I Peter 2:21; 24).
    "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5).

    We must either answer for our own sins, or cast ourselves upon the mercy of God whereby they Lord Jesus has already appeared before the Divine judgment bar to answer for us.  Moreover, having borne our sins, and even made "to be sin for us," our Savior has suffered the consequences of justice as meted out by the hand of His Father.  "We did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him" (Isaiah 53:4-5).  Thereby, God maintains the perfection of His nature of justice, while bestowing the mercy in which He so delights.  In Christ and in Christ alone, "mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Psalm 85:10).

    No other means of forgiveness can be offered by the God of whom the Psalmist declares, "Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; Thy judgments are a great deep" (Psalm 36:6).  He must remain true to Himself in order be merciful to us.  The Person and work of the Lord Jesus made this possible by His atoning work on the cross.  He makes this actual in all those who receive by faith the freely given grace of His fulfilling the justice requirement and merciful intentions of God.  "Thereby being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).  No other concept or possibility of forgiveness exists.  Human beings will either one day face God in our sins, or we will face Him in the Savior.  Thus, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus alone provides the only answer for sin, namely, the mercy of salvation and the maintaining of God's integrity as being "just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."

"But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."
(Hebrews 10:12-14)

Weekly Memory Verses
   His greatness is unsearchable.
 (Psalm 145:3).  
   His understanding is infinite. 
(Psalm 147:5)











Monday, January 30, 2023

Orange Moon Monday, January 30, 2023 "One Bite More"

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


              "One Bite More" 


    We recently finished a year and a half long survey of Biblical doctrines in one of the services we conduct.  As we concluded, I realized a prediction I made at the outset of the study had come to pass.  Namely, I felt completely frustrated because it seems we only began to scratch the surface of all we could have pondered of God's truth and its dynamic impact in our hearts and lives.  Of course, my "frustration" is completely warranted, and actually a sensibility that must accompany every search for the Lord's light and attempt to bear witness to what we have discovered.

   "His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 145:3).  
   "His understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5).

    In God's realm of truth, every sermon is unfinished, every book incomplete, every witness wanting.  How could it be otherwise?  An unsearchably great God, possessed of infinite understanding, communicates His truth through finite beings who know nothing yet as we ought to know (I Corinthians 8:2).  Of course, through the Holy Spirit, believers can effectively speak, write, and witness in a manner and measure that illuminates hearts and minds with Biblical truth.  Certainly, He supplements in hearers and readers that which we fail to convey because of our limitations.  The preacher who steps away from his pulpit, the writer who dips the nib of his pen in the inkwell for one last period, and the Christian who wonders if his witness communicated the truth as necessary must all cast themselves upon the Lord in the hope that He will complete the sermon, the book, and the testimony.  "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (I Corinthians 2:12).

   A famous American restauranteur seeks to serve his guests a portion that leaves them "wishing they could have just one bite more."   God's truth does that, but in far greater measure.  All legitimate learning leaves us wishing we could more fully partake of the Bread of life.  Thankfully, eternity lies before us with ever new revelations and discoveries of our Lord's goodness and greatness.  This present life also offers such opportunity as He beckons to call upon Him with the assurance He will "show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not" (Jeremiah 33:3).  No matter the measure of such revelation, we will always realize we have barely partaken of the feast that lies before us.  Frustration in the realization?  A bit, for a moment.  However, exhilaration far more fills and thrills our spirits with expectation that the Bread of life will forever offer "just one bite more."

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst."
(John 6:35)

Weekly Memory Verses
   His greatness is unsearchable.
 (Psalm 145:3).  
   His understanding is infinite. 
(Psalm 147:5)












Sunday, January 29, 2023

Orange Moon Sunday, January 29, 2023 “To Us, Within Us”

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


              "To Us, Within Us" 


    "I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power" (Ephesians 3:7).

   The Apostle Paul well knew his calling to serve God and others depended on a power from above that had wondrously found a place in his heart and life.  Paul referenced this in two prayers included in his epistle to the Ephesians:

   "The exceeding greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead" (Ephesians 1:19-20).
   "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" (Ephesians 3:20).

   The same power that raised the Lord Jesus from the dead came to us through the Holy Spirit when we believed, so much so that it dwells within us through the Spirit.  This refers to a reality that must be believed and affirmed by faith amid the challenges of human weakness all believers in the Lord Jesus feel and experience. 

    "But 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).

   We do well to join Paul in praying for each other and for ourselves that we will grow in the knowledge of both the power of God and the weakness of our earthen vessel.  Our Lord's standards for life and service to Him and others far transcends our human capacities.  However, the enabling He provides for their fulfillment dwells within us, providing an immediacy of capability to do the will of God regardless of the weakness we may rightly sense in our humanity.  The dynamic protocol of "I Cannot! - I Can! - Through Christ!" resides nearer than our next breath in all believers (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13; I John 4:9).  Thereby, our native weakness becomes the scene wherein His indwelling life and power leads us to do what we could never otherwise accomplish.  As Paul testified, "He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles" (Galatians 2:8).

   However God has called us to serve Him and others, the privileged responsibility far outweighs our human capacities.  Thankfully, He knows this far better than do we ourselves.  Thus, He provided Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit to motivate, lead, and enable us.  Again, we do well to pray as did our brother of old, the Apostle Paul, whose recognition of weakness led to affirmation of the power of God that had come to him, and dwelled within him.  Yes, Divine enabling and human weakness unite in believers to empower a life and service that directs all glory to the Lord Jesus, and a blessedness to us known in the wonder of, "My strength is made perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9).

"For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you."
(II Corinthians 13:4)

Weekly Memory Verse
    For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
 (I Corinthians 12:12)












Saturday, January 28, 2023

Orange Moon Saturday, January 28, 2023 “An Ancient Deception”

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


              "An Ancient Deception" 


    An ancient deception exists within the hearts of unbelievers and the flesh of believers.

    "Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5).  

     The devil's own delusion of self-autonomy and rule became the default position of humanity when our forebears fell to the enemy's devices in Eden.  Before we trust in Christ, we believe ourselves to be self-determining entities, capable and worthy of governing our own lives.  We may not directly think in such terms, and most people do not consciously think of themselves as gods.  The deception abides nevertheless, resulting in many various expressions of deluded and doomed self rule.  "We will walk after our own devices… our lips are our own.  Who is lord over us?" Jeremiah 18:12; Psalm 12:4).

   Trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ grants a new spirit and heart  devoted to faith in Him, and the awareness that we exist to serve as dependent creatures of the one true and living God, and even more, as His sons and daughters in Christ.

   "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).
   "We are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3).
   "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:4).

    God performs a spiritual circumcision deeply within the hearts of all who trust the Lord Jesus.  He cuts away, as it were, the deep root of self-dependence and autonomy within our innermost being we inherited from Adam.  However, according to His wisdom and purpose, we presently retain the earthly members and faculties inherited from Adam, wherein a "law of sin" remains (Romans 7:23-25).  Believers can still walk according to the ancient deception rather than the Spirit and truth that governs our innermost spiritual being.  "The flesh lusteth against the spirit" (Galatians 5:17).  We can seek to live as if we are gods, although not directly thinking in such terms.  However, every time we act in opposition to God's will, trusting our fleshly notions and commotions, we tacitly walk as if we are gods.  The same is true when we succumb to fear, which tempts us to act as if we must deal with the challenges of life alone and by our own capabilities.  "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee" declared the Psalmist, knowing his utter need for the one true and living God to lead him through trouble (Psalm 56:3).  The prophet Isaiah echoes, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).

   The Apostle Paul prescribes the most stringent of treatments for such dreadful waywardness in believers.  He commands that we  "through the Spirit… mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body" (Romans 8:13).  Those deeds proceed from a false sense of divinity in our flesh that tempts us to trust ourselves rather than God, living as if we must make our own way and independently govern ourselves.  Paul calls us to execute such darkness, death, and delusion through the leading and enabling of the Holy Spirit.  This involves a decisive determination within our hearts that we will trust our Lord implicitly, and that any fleshly uprising that counters His Lordship, provision, and guidance is worthy of death.  "We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead" (II Corinthians 1:9).

   The day approaches when we will no longer be tempted to walk in the darkness of "Ye shall be as gods."  This is not that day (at least at the time of this writing).  No, this is the day when we arise to wield the sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith through the power of Christ.  We stand to "fight the good fight of faith," a battle that occurs most directly within our own being wherein spirit and flesh engage in conflict (I Timothy 6:12).  In many ways, our enemies - including the law of sin in our flesh - will tempt us to think, speak, act, and relate as if we are something far more than we are.  Life and death are at stake, the life of Christ governing us as our Prince of peace, or the death we experience when we seek to walk according to a false sense of independently governing ourselves.  The choice is obvious, but also challenging.  May our Lord lead us to believe and affirm His singular place as "God alone," and our blessed place of dependence, trust, and the faith of another ancient affirmation…

"Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust, and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation." 
(Isaiah 12:2)

Weekly Memory Verse
    For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
 (I Corinthians 12:12)












Friday, January 27, 2023

Orange Moon Friday, January 27, 2023 “Practical Atheism?”

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


              "Practical Atheism?" 


    I once heard a pastor say that "Christians are most certainly not atheists.  However, we often live as if we are."

    "In all thy ways acknowledge Him" (Proverbs 3:6).

   We do sometimes forget, ignore, and even disbelieve the reality of God and His promised presence, provision, and working in our hearts and lives.  We fail to "acknowledge Him."  The world, the devil, and the flesh work incessantly to foment such "practical atheism," as the pastor referenced above termed our wanderings into darkness.  No excuse exists for such unbelief, and in those times when we become aware of our sin, we do well to decisively repent and determine to believe our Lord is present, involved and active in every venue of our existence.  As Jacob confessed at Bethel, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not!" (Genesis 28:16).

    The matter involves specificity.  In general terms of doctrine and principle, committed believers rarely question God's presence and working.   Individual matters, however, present a different challenge.  Some pains, problems, difficulties, and heartaches tempt us to ignore our Heavenly Father's promised involvement.  Sometimes, we simply do not think in such terms until we come to our senses in the realization and remembrance that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). 

   "In all thy ways acknowledge Him."  Is there some "way" in which we have failed to clearly see "Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways?" (Psalm 139:3).  Likely in all our lives, we can and must see more clearly by faith that God is vitally present, involved, and active in this matter, or that challenge.  Perhaps we have even failed to see His role in a blessed provision or protection.  Whatever the case, acknowledging the Lord in all our ways beckons us to an active heart and mind whereby we join the prophet, "I will look for Him" (Isaiah 8:17).  Born again believers in the Lord Jesus are most certainly not atheists.  Let us determine to never act as if we are by failing to see and believe that… 

"He is… and He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."
(Hebrews 11:6)

Weekly Memory Verse
    For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
 (I Corinthians 12:12)