Friday, June 30, 2023

Orange Moon Friday, June 30, 2023 "Personal"

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


      "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17).

     Why faith?  Why do we receive God's saving grace by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and why do we subsequently live in a manner that honors and pleases Him by placing confidence in His trustworthiness and promises?  

   "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God" (Hebrews 11:5).

   Our human relationships help to answer the question.  Nothing more speaks of personal connection with another person than trustworthiness and trust.  When one communicates commitment of heart and action to another, and the other believes in the integrity of the promise, relationship ensues.  We do not and cannot trust someone apart from knowing them well enough to be confident in their trustworthiness.  Or, we may place faith in another based on the faithfulness we see in their relationship and actions toward others.  In either case, a heart to heart, mind to mind bond of personal relationship results from promises made, promises believed, and promises kept.

    "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

   The reward received by seeking God is, by definition, God Himself.  That is, through the Holy Spirit's working in our trusting hearts, we receive and will eternally enjoy spiritual union and communion with the Creator, Sustainer, and Life of our lives.  "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).  We were made for this, and cannot view ourselves as truly alive apart from the presence of God, and fellowship with Him.  "He is thy life" (Deuteronomy 30:20).  Our role in the matter involves the faith whereby we engage in the experience of promises made - by God - and trust determined - by us.  "God is faithful… I will trust in Thee" (I Corinthians 10:13; Psalm 56:3).  The matter is deeply personal, as originated in the fathomless depths of the Person of our Heavenly Father, and faithful depths of those who trust Him through Christ and by the leading of the Holy Spirit into communion with "the deep things of God" (I Corinthians 2:10).

"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, whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature."
(II Peter 1:3-4)

Weekly Memory Verse
     Oh how great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men.
(Psalm 31:19)



Thursday, June 29, 2023

Orange Moon Thursday, June 29, 2023 "Mandate of the Mind"

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

"Mandate of the Mind"   

      It should not be surprising when the mindless suggest the notion that, according to their view, an unconscious universe somehow evolved conscious beings, including themselves.

    "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God" (Psalm 14:1).

   Of course, many people who hold this perspective are highly educated and even brilliant people in many ways.  This is not to discount or disrespect their mental abilities.  However, as mentioned in yesterday's message, the old saying is most certainly true: "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."  Just as certainly, a mind that does not ponder God in the light of His Spirit and His Word must be accounted as wasted and mindless in the context of its primary reason for existence.

    "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts" (Psalm 10:4).

   This helps us to understand and respond to the times in which we live, wherein unbelieving materialists have so many means to aggressively communicate their views.  Would we expect them to do anything less as those mindless toward God?  The pride of their knowledge "puffeth up" (I Corinthians 8:1).  They swell with assurance and bluster with arrogance because pride accompanies all knowledge that does not originate with God.  We would not expect humility and fairness of consideration from those who disregard the One whose light blessedly leads us to humble ourselves before God and people.  "The wicked… know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness" (Psalm 82:4;5)

   As terrible a thing as it is to waste, a mind is a wonderful thing to devote to God.  "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God… with all thy mind" (Mark 12:30).  In fact, of all the realities we must rightly address in our thinking, only one can ensure that we do not waste our brains.  "Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).  A "stayed" mind means that we direct the sails of our thinking to catch the wind of the Holy Spirit, as it leads us in the light of Scripture and the reasoned, rational thinking that acknowledges God and His truth.  The ancient command to "come and let us reason together" only happens when we acknowledge the Maker of our capacity to reason, and the existence of our minds as His handiwork and scene of vibrant mental activity (Isaiah 1:18).  In these days of bluster by those blind to God and His truth, let us devote ourselves to heeding the Apostle Paul's long ago mandate of the mind…

"Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are holy, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things."
(Philippians 4:8)

Weekly Memory Verse
     Oh how great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men.
(Psalm 31:19)







Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Orange Moon Wednesday, June 28, 2023 "Thinking and Thanking"

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

"Thinking and Thanking"   

      God gave us brains and the capacity to think for many reasons.  None engage our mind better than gratitude and the giving of thanks.

    "In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:18).

    A truly thinking mind directly corresponds with a thanking mind.  We walk in the deepest darkness and most mindless neglect if a river of gratitude does not course through our thoughts.  Certainly, this does not mean we must consciously thank our Heavenly Father in every moment.  Again, He gave us brains for many uses, all of which He purposes us to use with diligence and determined engagement.  However, if thanksgiving does not occupy a primary place among these applications, we can be sure of a most consequential failure to use our brains.  As the old saying goes, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."  Wasted indeed is a brain unused for gratitude.

    Writing these words causes me to think of how often I have wasted my own mind, and how negligent I have often been regarding the thanking that should flow from thinking.  I suspect most believers feel this way, first, because one of the main truths about gratitude involves the realization of how impossible it is to feel and express it enough.  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights" (James 5:17).  Every moment of our existence can and must be viewed as a gift from the great Giver.  Moreover, "every good and perfect gift" comes with a price tag, namely, the suffering, forsakenness, and death of the Lord Jesus Christ that purchased our redemption and everything God will ever do for us throughout an everlasting eternity.  "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely given us all things?" (Romans 8:32).  In this holy light, how can we ever begin to be grateful and offer gratitude to the degree our Lord so richly deserves?   

    We also know that we have missed opportunities for thinking and thanking, most often by not thinking as led by the Holy Spirit.    He will lead us to the altar of gratitude consistently and frequently  as we trust and submit to His loving guidance.  "When He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13).  Such guidance will result in the thinking that leads to thanking, and the use of our minds for one of their most holy, God-pleasing, and heart-fulfilling capacities.  Yes, thinking and thanking go hand in hand, and heart in heart.

"Give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness… O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto Thee forever."
(Psalm 30:4; 12)

Weekly Memory Verse
     Oh how great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men.
(Psalm 31:19)







Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Orange Moon Tuesday, June 27, 2023 "Bart Starr"

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

"Bart Starr"   

      The following is a repeat, originally written and distributed many years ago.  I recently had occasion to revisit the place mentioned, and to remember with gratitude an experience that will always remain in my heart involving the Lord, His restraint, and a gentleman I have long admired.

   As a child, I loved professional football, I loved the Green Bay Packers, and I loved Bart Starr.  I long ago lost interest in pro football and the Packers.  However, I still greatly admire Bart Starr as a person far more than as a football player.

  Mr. Starr is legendary here in his home state of Alabama. Certainly, Bart's on the field exploits in a football-crazy state have much to do with his notoriety.  However, people more love and respect him for the life he has lived and the things he has done as the expression of God's grace in the Lord Jesus Christ. I recall a story told by a gentleman whose car broke down on the highway.  Many drivers passed by without stopping to help. Finally, a car pulled over behind the stalled vehicle.  The driver of the car who graciously offered aid was Bart Starr.  This is one of many stories told by Alabamians about a man honored as the 1960s Player of the Decade in the National Football League.  Mr. Starr has quietly honored his Lord with a life of self sacrificial devotion to God and people.

   I have a personal Bart Starr story. A few years ago our family stopped at a fruit stand in central Alabama. The stand is known for its peach ice cream, and we went in to enjoy a treat.  As I stood in line, a man passed by, leaving the store. I took little notice, but soon realized that Bart Starr had crossed my path. Through the windows of the building, I could see him getting into his car where his wife waited.  Rather than immediately leave, they sat in the car, enjoying their ice cream.

    I faced a dilemma.  A strong inclination gripped me to go out to the car and tell Mr. Starr what a blessing he had been to me, both as a football player and as a Christian gentleman.  For nearly a half century, he has held a special place in my heart.  I finally had the opportunity to tell him so.  However, another thought came to mind, which eventually guided my actions.  People of prominence such as Bart Starr have a difficult time finding private moments to simply enjoy the small things of life.  Moreover, I could say nothing to him he hasn't heard a thousand times.  The interlude with his wife did not need to be interrupted.  I therefore decided to thank the Lord for a nice blessing, and allow Mr. and Mrs. Starr their privacy.

    I have always been glad I did that.  It would have been nice to actually meet Bart Starr.  I found it far nicer, however, to exercise the same respect he would likely have shown, given the same situation.  In fact, I think my actions in that moment were guided to some degree by the things I knew to be true of Mr. Starr.  He serves as a prime example of a Christian gentleman.  I want to be the same.  It says much about Bart Starr that he could inspire such a determination, and it says even more about the Lord Jesus who so lives in God's trusting children that they can have such profound influence on each other.  Mr. Starr gives glory to His Savior for the life he has lived.  He inspires us to give the same glory to the Christ who shines so brightly in people who trust and submit to Him.  People like Bart Starr.

"As it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
(I Corinthians 1:31)

Weekly Memory Verse
     Oh how great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men.
(Psalm 31:19)







Monday, June 26, 2023

Orange Moon Monday, June 26, 2023 "Come and See"

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

(Friends: I wrote this early yesterday morning, and was blessed to ponder the glories to come, and also the present glory of the Lord Jesus Christ we can know in this life.  On the way to a service later in the morning, we stopped at a red light.  On the car ahead of us, a bumper sticker offered the simple encouragement, "Come and See," the very title I had chosen for this essay.  I assign no particularly significance to this, other than the encouragement I felt to do as the bumper sticker and the essay suggest:  Come and see.

"Come and See"   

      Journey as far and as deeply into the heart of God as possible.  Make eternity the span of your travels.  Open your eyes as wide as possible, determine to intently listen to every sound, and touch the depths of the Lord's being to whatever degree holy sanctity will allow.  Then fall to your face in the realization that no possibility exists of ever completing your voyage upon an Ocean of goodness, greatness, and wonder that beckons your heart to venture ever further, onward, and beyond.

   "Oh how great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee; which Thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men!" (Psalm 31:19).
    "His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 145:3).
    "God… doeth wonders without number" (Job 9:2; 10).

   Realize also that this day offers the possibility for discovery of our Lord's infinite being, character, nature, and way.  Although we presently "see through a glass, darkly, " we can still journey, see, hear, touch, and then fall to our faces in wonder (I Corinthians 13:12).  An open Bible, a prayerful heart, fellowship with believers, and the expectation our Heavenly Father will meet us along the pathways of this present life assure us that our eternal expedition into the triunity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has already begun, and is in progress.  Believers "have eternal life" in the present because the Lord Jesus defined such glory as knowing Him and the Father (I John 5:13; 17:3).   "Come and see" said Philip to Nathaniel of the Savior (John 1:44-51).  Nathaniel came and saw, and still ventures on the  voyage that began in the day when he discovered that this lifetime offers "wonders without number," foreshadowing indescribably greater glories to come.

    The Spirit of God, the Word of God, the church of God, and the creation of God beckon us to "Come and see."  Let us come indeed, and having done so, let us retrace our footsteps again and again to the aptly named, "throne of grace" (Hebrews 4:16).  We will do so forever, which includes this day.  God awaits us in His Word, His world, His people, and along the pathways of the present that portend of Heavenly pathways to come...

There is no end to the quest we know,
forever beckons on.
We soar in skies so bright and blue,
above all clouds and storm.

Yes, we fly into the heart of God, 
as in His Son we trust,
and earth will soon be nothing more
than long forgotten dust.

So spread your wings and catch the wind,
o journeyman of hope,
and race toward horizons blessed
with those who also know

that the quest of hearts is Jesus,
He is our shining sun,
it matters not how far we've come...
the journey's just begun.

"I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 3:13-14)

Weekly Memory Verse
     Oh how great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men!
(Psalm 31:19)