Thursday, March 28, 2024

Orange Moon Thursday, March 28, 2024 "“Empty Tomb - Full Hearts, Full Lives”

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

(For Lynette)

"Empty Tomb - Full Hearts, Full Lives"

"The empty tomb tells us indeed how full are our hearts and lives as we walk by faith."

      "We walk by faith, not by sight" declared the Apostle Paul, a truth every born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ knows as the norm of walking with God in our present lifetime (II Corinthians 5:7).  We do not yet see our Lord "face to face," nor do we hear Him or touch Him (I Corinthians 13:12).  This often presents great challenge as we navigate the pathways of a world that "lieth in wickedness" and ever seeks to counter faith in the Lord Jesus (I John 5:19).

    Sometimes, however, God works in such a manner that He becomes vividly obvious.  This occurred yesterday during a service at a local retirement community.  To explain requires a bit of backstory.  At a church in our city where I served more than forty years ago, a member of the congregation - Lynette - brought homemade chocolate chip cookies to a function.  Having been a devotee of such gifts of God's grace since childhood, I enjoyed them more than any other version I had ever tasted.  I did not cook in those days, but I asked Lynette for the recipe.  She gladly responded, and I kept the blessed blueprint for chocolate chip goodness for nearly ten years before attempting to make the cookies myself.  

   After learning to cook, I began making the cookies for my family, friends, neighbors, and my wife Frances's colleagues at the hospital where she works.  At some point, I also began to take cookies on a fairly regular basis to people for whom we conduct services, a practice we continue unto this day.  I must add that whenever I make the cookies, I find it incumbent upon myself to test each batch to ensure that no harm comes to those who consume my production.  Yes, I know.  It is a most noble thing to do, and I am more than willing to serve as the canary in the coalmine! :)

   This concludes the backstory.  Now, to the present hour of God sometimes making it difficult to "live by faith" because He becomes so obvious.  In a service yesterday, I delivered a message centered on the theme that our Lord's resurrection means that He is not merely an historical figure, but rather a present and living Savior who saturates our existence and involves Himself in all things in our lives.  "I will come to you" promised the Lord Jesus to His disciples, and to all who would trust Him for 2,000 years (John 14:18).  As I preached, a woman came in and sat less than ten feet from where I stood.  I finished the message, and we closed the service with a hymn and a prayer.  After I said "Amen," the lady I mention asked us to pray for her son, a pastor who serves in Oregon.  "My name is Lynette…" she began.  

    If you knew how many times through the years I have credited the Lord and His daughter Lynette when mentioning or distributing the aforementioned cookies, you would understand how it almost felt as if we could reach out and touch the hem of Christ's garment as He passed so closely by.  I stood in amazement, my eyes wide and my mouth shaped in what must have been the most goofy grin.  After she concluded her thoughts, I told the backstory and the present story, and how much we all witnessed in the moment a most vivid example of how the risen Christ involves Himself in all things in our lives.  I had not spoken to Lynette since the moment more than forty five years ago when she handed me her masterpiece of a recipe.  I have often thanked the Lord for her, and again, have said to recipients of my version of the cookie, "If you like these, give God and Lynette your gratitude!"

     I marvel in countless moments, whether of long ago when I did not know how to boil an egg, but nevertheless requested a recipe that would become somewhat of a hallmark in our lives.  Or, of how many moments I have made a batch of the cookies, tested them (noble indeed!), and have mentioned Lynette when seeing people enjoy them as I do.  Or, of the moment yesterday when the Lord chose to illustrate my sermon with a most pointed example of how His empty tomb means that His Spirit dwells within us if we have believed, and moves among us nearer than our next breath.  We don't see, hear, or touch Him yet.  But sometimes… sometimes He manifests His presence in ways beyond sight, sound, and sensation.  I said to Him again yesterday, respectfully,  "Sometimes, Lord, you make it hard to live by faith!"  Yes, the risen Lord Jesus moves within and among us in all the moments of our lives.  The empty tomb tells us indeed how full are our hearts and lives as we walk by faith, and sometimes it almost seems, by sight.

"I am with you always… I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee… I will dwell in them and walk in them."

(Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5; II Corinthians 6:16)

Weekly Memory Verse

    "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)


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