Saturday, March 23, 2024

Orange Moon Saturday, March 23, 2024 "Behold!" - Conclusion - An Illustration

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


Conclusion - An illustration

      "Beholding as in a glass (mirror) the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).

      If you have been with us for awhile, you may recall reading the testimony below of God's faithfulness regarding the theme of "Behold!" we have considered this week.  As we trust and obey Him in viewing ourselves in terms of His presence and newness of life in us, born again believers will find our Lord working in us "both to will and do of His good pleasure" at times when God's grace utterly amazes and astounds us (Philippians 2:13).  The following was certainly one of those occasions, and remains so until this day. 

    On a warm spring afternoon many years ago, I parked at the high school my eldest daughter and son attended, waiting for them to join me for the ride home.  

  I rolled down my driver's side window, hoping for a breeze.  A car approached from behind, bellowing loud music. I thought little of it, expecting it would pass by quickly.  The car, however, stopped next to me.  To my shock, a young man leaned out from the passenger side window and spat into my face. 

  The car immediately sped off, with raucous laughter sounding from its occupants.  I sat in bewildered shock as feelings of disgust and rage welled up within me. I wiped my face, and considered giving pursuit to the young men.  Of course, I had no idea what I would have done had I chased down my offenders.  I just knew I felt desire for some form of vengeance.

   Then, from seemingly nowhere - but from somewhere - a thought came to me…

"They spat upon Him." 

(Matthew 27:30)

   I will never forget that moment, that moment of the most sublime grace.  Remembering the shame experienced by the Lord Jesus Christ shined a bright light into my heart.  I recalled the grace that led the Savior to endure not merely spittle, but the cross of sorrow, pain, forsakenness, and death.  I remembered that my sins led Him to such a fate.  Most of all, I realized had I been there among the jeering, taunting crowd, I would have spat upon Him with them. These thoughts moved my heart toward a different reaction to the young men. I also remembered several other Biblical declaration:

"I do always those things that please Him." 

(John 8:29)

"I delight in the law of God 

after the inward man."

 (Romans 7:22)

    In the first reference, the Lord Jesus proclaims His undying devotion to the will of God. He trusted and obeyed His Heavenly Father during the entirety of His earthly lifetime, to the degree of becoming "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8).  The second passage refers to the Apostle Paul's delight in the law of God, namely, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:2). Paul affirmed the presence of the Spirit of Christ in his heart whereby "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).  The same truth graces all born again believers in Christ.  "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Romans 8:9).

  These passages united in my heart to replace my initial fleshly response with God's grace that enables believers to "walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6).  I realized that regardless of my feelings and fleshly desires - strong and tempting as they were - the delight of my heart involved responding to the love of God through Christ.  Certainly, had the Lord not so graciously intervened with His Scriptural reminders, I would have remained in my initial response of disgust and rage. Hopefully, I would not have done anything foolish, but who can say?  "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing… So foolish was I, and ignorant:I was as a beast before Thee. Nevertheless I am continually with Thee: Thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel" (Romans 7:18).

    I knew what I had to do. Rather than remain dominated by the initial reaction of anger, the Lord called me to trust Him in the light of who Christ is - and also who I am in Him. I remembered His delight in the will of His Father. I  remembered His indwelling my heart. I remembered His promise of enabling.  And I remembered His presence within my spirit means that just as He delights in His Father's will, so do I.  This is true of every believer, based on God's presence and working in us.  Again, "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." 

  I did the only thing I could do according to God's presence and truth. I prayed for the young men. "Pray for them which despitefully use you" (Matthew 5:44).  Believing the Word of God, as led and enabled by the Holy Spirit, resulted in prayers rather than vengeance, especially for the one who spat in my face. I chose to forgive the young men and asked our Father to bless rather than curse them. I trusted Him to work in their hearts and lives to lead them to Himself. Finally, I realized the incident had constructed an altar, a lifelong altar of prayer, in my heart.

   I still visit that altar on occasion, as in this moment:

 "Heavenly Father, in accordance with Your love, grace and truth, I trust You to work in the hearts of those men from long ago to lead them to faith in the Lord Jesus, whether that means spiritual birth, or growth in His grace and knowledge.  Wherever they may be in this hour, I ask You to bless them with Yourself, Your truth, and Your working in their hearts and lives.  Thank You for this altar of grace You so mercifully constructed in my heart, and the privilege of seeking the same grace for the men You have so abundantly bestowed upon me."

  Had the Lord left me to my own fleshly inclinations and desires, bitterness and possibly some form of foolish vengeance would have governed my response. However, remembering our Lord's character, and also the difference His Word proclaims between my Christ-inhabited spiritual self and my flesh, prepared me to fulfill the command of the Apostle Paul:  "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). All glory, honor, and credit belongs to the Lord Jesus alone for the grace that constitutes His delight in the will of God as our delight. 

  Every fleshly temptation presents the same opportunity to remember our Lord's character, nature, and way.  Who Christ always comprises the primary issue.  We then affirm His presence within us, and our "new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).  We behold as in a glass - as in a mirror - the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.  Fleshly thoughts, emotions, and even physical sensations may "lust against" the delight of our spirits for God's glory and will.  The delight is there nevertheless, through the Spirit of Christ's presence and the "new creature" we are in Him (Galatians 5:17; II Corinthians 5:17).  This we must believe, first, because it is true, and then because our experience and outworking of truth ever awaits our faith in "Thus saith the Lord" and "It is written" (Isaiah 30:15; Matthew 4:4).

    Believing the truth about the Lord Jesus includes believing the truth about ourselves as led, motivated, and empowered by Him.  "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).  Of course, this does not imply an overwrought focus on ourselves, but rather a proper view of ourselves as united to Christ.  Long ago, the Savior cried out in lonely forsakenness, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46).  One answer is that such a sacrifice of the presence of God made possible a  a most sacred promise of God: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).  This includes His assurance of being with us in the hour of temptation, and His revelation that regardless of fleshly inclination or impulse, our delight is to fulfill "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus."  Yes, we must believe and affirm such grace as it dwells and works in us as the very Life of our lives.  We must behold!

"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)

 "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, 

and by the Spirit of our God."

 (I Corinthians 6:11)

Weekly Memory Verse

     Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

 (II Corinthians 3:18)


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