Saturday, April 29, 2023

Orange Moon Saturday, April 29, 2023 "Between Two Worlds"

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

"Between Two Worlds" 

     "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do" (John 17:4).   

    I have long been intrigued by this statement of the Lord Jesus Christ, uttered during His high priestly prayer recorded in John 17.  With the cross and the resurrection looming as the necessary and complete fulfillment of His redeeming work of Divine grace, why would the Lord speak in terms of "finished" beforehand?

    The answer lies in a preceding declaration of triumph: "I have glorified Thee on the earth" (John 17:4).  Indeed, the Lord Jesus, tempted more than any other, perfectly trusted and obeyed His Father during an earthly lifetime of the most severe challenge: "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).  His penultimate work of redemption, however, would not be fulfilled on the earth.  Rather, He would hang between Heaven and this world as He bore the wrath of man for His righteousness, and even more, as He suffered the wrath of God for our sins.  He would die to fulfill His Father's purposes, and to provide eternal salvation to creatures of the sin-cursed realm of time and space.  Such a work could only happen when suspended between two worlds, or as the Savior declared, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me" (John 12:32).

    The finishing of God's work by the Lamb of God on the cross made possible the finishing of eternal redemption for sinners.  The Lord Jesus had no sins of His own for which to suffer, so He could bear the sins of others.  The feet that had so beautifully traversed the paths of the world could not complete the task by walking.  They must be pierced and fastened to a tree, as were the hands that touched lepers, healed the infirm, and blessed children by His embrace.  The heart that so loved along everyday paths of the earth must be lacerated by a sword, and forsaken by a Father to make possible the completion of the Savior's redeeming work.  Indeed, remove the cross and the Lamb of God suspended thereon from the narrative of the Gospel and all that remains is an earthly life well lived, no doubt, but with no real Heavenly significance that matters and no salvation that rescues.  "Without the shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22).

    The Lord would also ascend to Heaven after His resurrection as our great High Priest who "ever liveth to make intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25).  His atoning work, finished by a completely satisfactory death for sin, led to the resurrection and arising to Heaven to fulfill His eternally ongoing office whereby He "is now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24).  God forever sees all who believe in the light of what His Son has done for us, and who He is for us.  We can account this as a finished work also, albeit ongoing, because nothing will ever hinder Christ's intercessory service, and nothing will ever change our Heavenly Father's perfect satisfaction in His Son's Person and work for us.

   The Lord of Heaven and earth fulfilled His Father's purposes for both realms.  This explains the necessity for His incarnation, and the beauty of a life well lived, a death effectually died, and a resurrection sufficient to provide a living Savior forevermore.  The finishing of an earthly work led to the finishing a Heavenly work, carried out between two worlds, and forevermore cherished by both.

"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us, nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others.  For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." 
(Hebrews 9:24-26)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Before honor is humility.
(Proverbs 15:33)






Friday, April 28, 2023

Orange Moon Friday, April 28, 2023 "Godspeed"

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

(Godspeed to my dear friend and brother, Bryan W., upon this first day of the next phase of a life well lived.) 


     I love the term "Godspeed", found in only one passage of Scripture.  

    "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed,  For he that biddeth him Godspeed is partaker of his evil deeds" (II John 1:9-11).

    Although used in a negative connotation by the Apostle John as a warning to not encourage or participate in the doing of evil, Godspeed means to go joyfully, obviously with God.  It suggests a blessing, the affirmation of hope that fellow believers will venture forth with the Lord in His joy.  

   "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. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation" (Isaiah 12:2-3).

   The Lord Jesus Christ supplies the water of the wells of salvation, ever making possible our "Godspeed."  As He said to the woman at the well, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water" (John 4:10).  Bidding Godspeed therefore means that we desire the recipient of our good will to journey forward in the remembrance of the Lord's presence along the way, partaking of His sustenance by asking Him for grace, and joyfully finding He provides what He promises.  "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).

    What better invocation could we wish for another?  To go with God is to go with life, the only genuine vitality of spirit, heart, strength, wisdom, and provision that exists.  All along the way, the beneficiaries of "Godspeed" may "draw water out of the wells of salvation," thereby maintaining our hearts with the "living water" of the Lord Jesus.  "Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).  Certainly, no more effectual and prayerful good wishes can we bestow upon those who journey with us in this life of challenge, and this life of finding the Water of life as abundantly sufficient in all things.

   One benediction of Scripture may perhaps most define the heart and spirit of Godspeed, written by the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians.  We close with Paul's beautiful bestowal of grace, and with our own wish for all who read this.  Godspeed…

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen."
(II Corinthians 13:14)

"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
(John 4:14)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Before honor is humility.
(Proverbs 15:33)






Thursday, April 27, 2023

Orange Moon Thursday, April 27, 2023 "Knowledge and Trust"

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

"Knowledge and Trust" 

     For our faith to "grow exceedingly," as did the Thessalonians, we must "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Thessalonians 1:3; II Peter 3:18).

   We trust someone to the degree we know them.  The life of faith calls us to a trust based on remembrance and affirmation of how faithful we have found God to be in His Word, by His Spirit, in our hearts, and in the lives of others.  Faith does not arise within us by focusing on ourselves, but rather by "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).  Is He who He declares Himself to be?  Is His Word true?  Have we found our Lord to be faithful in our lives?  Proper answers to these questions result in proportionate trust in the One we increasingly discover to be trustworthy.

    "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).

   We must seek to know our Heavenly Father as well as we possibly can.  Believers "live by faith" (Romans 1:17).  That is, we experience the life of Christ as as we trust Him along the pathways of our lives.  If we do not well know our Lord, we will find growing and consistent faith a greater challenge than it should be.  Of course, we presently "see through a glass darkly," and we will always in this lifetime require growth and strengthening in faith (I Corinthians 13:12).  Thus, we consistently read and ponder the Scriptures.  We pray in confidence that communion will God results in His becoming personal to us, and we to Him.  We fellowship with other believers for  the mutual strengthening of  faith we find in each other.  We determine that nothing in our lives matters more than knowing our Lord well enough to trust Him.   To live by faith involves progressive discovery of the God who "cannot lie," and whose "faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds" (Titus 1:2; Psalm 36:5).  Thereby, we trust Him because we know Him.

   When our youngest daughter Emmie was a baby, my mother enjoyed taking her for walks in her stroller.  I trusted my mother completely, knowing her well enough to realize she would take good care of Emmie.  Conversely, had a stranger approached me to volunteer for taking my daughter on walks, I would have turned him down instantly.  I would have had no basis for trust because I would have had no knowledge of trustworthiness.  Indeed, knowledge and trust go hand in hand, heart in heart.  "Thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy…. I will trust in the covert of Thy wings" (Psalm 61:3; 4).

    The grace that began our relationship with God by faith perpetuates and enhances our confidence and trust.  "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Colossians 2:6).  Our role involves consistent exposure to the gifts our Father gives whereby trusting Him flows as a sparkling current from the wellspring of His faithfulness known and experienced.  We must therefore grow in God's grace, knowing we will trust Him more as we know Him better.  Growing faith results, based on better and better knowledge of our Heavenly Father's perfect faithfulness.

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you, through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord."
(II Peter 1:2)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Before honor is humility.
(Proverbs 15:33)






Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Orange Moon Wednesday, April 26, 2023 "A Big Deal"

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

(A repeat from 2011.  A similar incident to the one referenced  in this essay happened last night during a visit to the grocery store, this time involving cookies.  I'm learning.  I think.)

"A Big Deal" 



    When our children were young (just yesterday, wasn't it?), they would often bring products to me as we shopped at the grocery store.  "Please may I have this, Dad?"  When I said no, they sometimes placed the item on a shelf where we were standing, rather than return it to its original location.  I did not allow this.  "Never make work for somebody else," I would say.  "Return it to where it belongs."


    Fast forward quite a few years.  I recently picked up a container of coffee at the store, and put it in the shopping basket.  On a special display a few aisles over, however, I discovered a bigger container at a better price.  I decided to buy it instead of the smaller item, and placed the larger version in the basket.  I then placed the smaller container on the display in front of me and turned to make my way to the checkout register. 


    "Never make work for somebody else.  Return it to where it belongs."  Echoes of my own words from long ago rang in my heart and mind.  A brief thought flashed through my mind.  "Well, this is a can of coffee I am putting on this coffee display, so what's the big deal?"  It was a big deal, however, for all the reasons you can imagine without my mentioning them.  I retrieved the smaller can from the display and returned it to its proper place on the previous aisle.


    Left to myself and my own rationalization, I would have hypocritically and lazily left the coffee where it did not belong.  I would have made work for someone else.  Thereby, I would have violated the protocol I long ago established for our family.  Thankfully, the Lord does not leave us to our own fleshly devices. 
    "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13). 


    I had no doubt as I returned the coffee to its shelf that the Lord had graciously fulfilled His Word in the experience.  I also had a great sense of joy, and a smile on my face.  It took a little time and a little effort (very little, really), but it brought back precious memories of days gone by (again, just yesterday, wasn't it?), and precious realities of the Lord Jesus Christ in this present day. 


     Obedience to God in large and small matters flows from the river of His abiding presence in us.  We find ourselves doing things we know we would not be doing if the Holy Spirit were not working in us "to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).  Certainly, we participate in the process as we determine to trust and obey.  "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12).  However, the Lord Jesus receives all the glory because even as we make our free choices of devotion to God, the realization floods over our soul that Christ walks in us, even as we walk by Him (II Corinthians 6:16). 


    The Christian life involves a dynamic, hands-on experience of the living God revealed primarily in countless small matters of the day.  We miss His leading at times, of course.  Sometimes, however, we realize the blessed reality of a present and living Lord Jesus revealed in venues of life wherein seemingly mundane events shine with the glory of His dynamic presence and working.  This day will offer such opportunity.  May the Lord open our eyes, fill our hearts with expectation, and realize along the aisles of our experience that small matters involve a big deal...


"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord."
(Colossians 3:23)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Before honor is humility.
(Proverbs 15:33)




Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Orange Moon Tuesday, April 25, 2023 “What Music We Can Make!”

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

"What Music We Can Make!" 

     The quality of life to which God calls His trusting children in Christ depends completely on the quality of life that indwells us through His Spirit.

    "Walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6).


     "He," being the Lord Jesus Christ.  This would constitute a cruel joke if our Heavenly Father called us to be like His Son by our own devices and determination.  Even a cursory reading of the New Testament reveals a quality of life lived by the Lord Jesus that transcends our abilities by an infinite measure.  His character, nature, and way shines as the brightest spiritual and moral light the world has ever seen.  All others fall before Him in futility upon pondering even the notion of being like Him.  Thus, our Heavenly Father's purpose of conforming believers to the likeness of Christ must come with some way of accomplishing this most seemingly impossible of tasks.

    It does.  "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6).  James Stewart (the Scottish preacher, not the actor) profoundly illustrated this truth:  


     "For what Christ has done is to make us feel, at all the gateways of our nature, the pressure and bombardment of the infinite energies of a world unseen.  He has shown us how our little life, with unsearchable riches to draw upon, can be reinforced beyond all calculation.  I may not be able to fight down some evil thing.  But if Christ were here, He could.  So then, if Christ is in me, He can.  This transfusion of spirit and energy is really possible...  If Mozart were in you, what music you could make!  That cannot be.  But here is something that can: if Christ were in you, what a life you could live!  This is faith's logic.  God wants you to know that you can rise above the level of your limitations.  'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me' (Philippians 4:13)."

   We awoke to this day with the Spirit of God beckoning, "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10).  Thereby, to walk as our Savior walked becomes possible and actual as we trust and submit to Him.  Through Christ, what music we can make!  Or rather, what faith and faithfulness can be composed upon our hearts, and performed on the instruments of our spirit, soul, and body.  Thoughts, attitudes, words, and deeds can flow within and through us impossible apart from the Lord Jesus.  And therein lies the blessed truth: we are not apart from Him.  He dwells within us, and He does so not as a passive observer, but as a mighty and active participant of grace imparted for our living a life far beyond our natural means.  

    "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16).

    "The infinite energies of a world unseen" teem within the spirits of born again believers.  Christ Himself constitutes such a dynamic wonder of motivation, guidance, and enabling.  Our Father can justifiably call us to walk as did His Son because His Son walks in us.  This we must believe, first, because it is true, and then, because the grace of God flows within and through us as we trust the Word of God.  "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17).  Rather than a cruel joke, our calling to Christlikeness blesses us with the most wonderful gift our Father could give to us.  To make us like His Son in character, nature, and way, and to give us the indwelling Spirit of Christ provides the most wonderful gift could our Father give.  Yes, what music we can make through Christ!

"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)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Before honor is humility.
(Proverbs 15:33)