Friday, May 31, 2024

Orange Moon Friday, May 31, 2024 "Melody of the Heart"

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

(a repeat from 2018)

"Melody of the Heart"  

    "I used to sing in the choir."

     Many years ago, after a service at a local retirement community, I spent a few moments with Ms. Brenda.  She had lived at the facility for many years, and was a regular attendee  at our meetings.  Ms. Brenda suffered a stroke, had diabetes, and underwent dialysis weekly.  She had been through a lot, but maintained a sweetness of spirit and attitude that blessed us each time we saw her.  She confirmed the words of the Lord declared to the Apostle Paul regarding his thorn in the flesh: "My strength is made perfect in weakness" (II Corinthians 12:9).

    "I can't sing anymore" continued Ms. Brenda.  "I just don't have the strength.  I wish I could…"  Her voice trailed off wistfully.  My sister's words touched me deeply.  I have heard them before from many people experiencing similar physical trials, particularly those who have suffered strokes.  This time, without thinking I responded, "Ms. Brenda, I can hear your heart."  The statement surprised me, despite it coming from my own lips.  It also brought tears to my eyes because it is so true.  Again, we've known literally hundreds of believers who once sang for the Lord, about the Lord, and to the Lord.  They still do.  With their hearts. I can hear them.  I can see the Lord's song in their eyes and faces.   Their voices have been stilled by weakness and infirmity, and like Ms. Brenda, it hurts them.  It hurts me to think about it.  However, the Christ-filled heart from which musical praises and thanksgivings originate cannot be stilled…

    "Be filled with the Spirit,  speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:18-19).

    The Psalmist asked, "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" (Psalm 137:4).  God's answer reveals that the Holy Spirit can compose melodies, harmonies, and beautiful strains of Christ's love in any heart wherein He dwells, and wherein He finds faith and devotion.  "God my Maker… giveth songs in the night" (Job 35:10).  Our Heavenly Father hears our hearts.  His own heart of compassion doubtless feels the pain known by sons and daughters in Christ who once sang with voices that can no longer sound and resound to His glory.  He will one day restore those voices to a more beautiful utterance than ever known.  For now, He listens to those like Ms. Brenda as the melody of their heart ascends to Him from the beauty of holiness that cannot be stilled by the battering of physical infirmity.  

   "I can hear your heart."  I meant those words spoken to a dear sister in Christ whose life sang the Lord's song.  Yes, I could hear Ms. Brenda's heart.  However, her Father in Heaven hears it so much more.  How it must bless His heart as His children "sing the Lord's song in a strange land."  And how it blesses my heart to "hear" that song composed by the Spirit, inspired by the Savior, and sung by the souls of the saints...

"I will sing with the spirit!"

(I Corinthians 14:15)

Weekly Memory Verse

   The Root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.

(Proverb 12:12)


Thursday, May 30, 2024

Orange Moon. Thursday, May 29, 2024 "The Freest Gift, Paid In Full"

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

"The Freest Gift, Paid In Full"  

"Our confidence in the Spirit of God and the Word of God can be directly measured by how we share the Gospel."

     If we communicate the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as declared and defined by Scripture, we may be accused of promoting a message that leads to irresponsibility and laxity regarding a life of devotion to the will of God.  Consider the experience of the Apostle Paul:

    "We are slanderously reported, and some affirm that we say, Let us do evil, that good may come… What then?  Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid" (Romans 3:8; 6:15).

    Paul proclaimed the freest gift ever given, the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ, purchased by the highest cost ever remitted, the Savior's suffering, forsakenness, and death on the cross of Calvary.  Paul's enemies chafed at his thrice-declared affirmation of a "free gift," accusing him of promoting licetiousness (Romans 5:15; 16; 18).  The Apostle nevertheless refused to back down from the truth that had changed his heart, along with the hearts of so many others born again by grace through faith in a sublimely breathtaking work of God apart from human effort or merit.  Paul well knew the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Gospel message as more than sufficient for those who repented and believed in the Divine work of God that alone changes hearts.

    "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (I Corinthians 2:4).

    "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16).

   Paul did not allow himself to be distracted by how and why people responded to the Holy Spirit and the Gospel.  He simply spoke and wrote the truth, knowing that many would believe and be born again thereby.  Others would "believe in vain," hearing words in the head that resulted in a decision of sorts, but never reaching into the heart to effect a conversion (I Corinthians 15:2).  Still others would reject the truth entirely.  Paul did not allow human response to alter his message of a divine gift marked "Paid In Full" that would be sullied by even a hint of cost to the recipient.  Indeed, far too much sorrow, pain, forsakenness, and death took place on the cross of Calvary to place any price tag on that which Christ alone could have purchased for our sake.

   "But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:4-7).

    Our confidence in the Spirit of God and the Word of God can be directly measured by how we share the Gospel of God.  Indeed, based on Paul's experience, if we are not sometimes accused of communicating laxity regarding holiness, we may need to check our understanding and communication of Christ and salvation.  Let us then join the Apostle in no less proclaiming the freest gift ever given, purchased by the highest cost ever remitted.  We can be supremely confident that the power of the Spirit and the power of the Gospel will more than suffice in penetrating beyond the head and into the hearts of those who will truly believe and receive the freest gift, gift paid in full.

"He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
(Romans 8:32)

Weekly Memory Verse
   The Root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.
(Proverb 12:12)


Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Orange Moon Wednesday, May 29, 2024 “Greatly Loved, Graciously Beckoned”

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

"Greatly Loved, Graciously Beckoned"  

"We come by His merits, based upon His person and work.  Or we do not come at all. "

     Although Daniel did not possess the full revelation of God's grace and truth in the Lord Jesus Christ, this "greatly beloved" Old Testament saint knew the heart of how God relates to us, and our singular hope of how we respond to Him (Daniel 10:11). 

    "O my God, incline Thine ear, and hear; open Thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by Thy name: for we do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies" (Daniel 9:18).

   Daniel affirmed approach to God based on the Lord's abundant mercy rather than the illusion of our own righteousness.  As the Apostle Paul declared, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand" (Romans 5:1-2).  Such grace has always been the way to God, even by the saints of the Old Testament.  Thankfully, in Christ the Blood-stained path to the throne lies clearly before us.  We come by His merits, based upon His person and work.  Or we do not come at all.  On our best days of faith and faithfulness, we come by the Lord Jesus.  On our worst days of waywardness, we still may come if we approach with a humble, trusting heart fixed and focused on the Lord Jesus.  He is our way at all times, our fount of "great mercies" whereby our Heavenly Father receives us as "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).

   Consistently realizing and availing ourselves of such grace nurtures genuine devotion to God and communion with Him.  "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).  When we come by Christ and His atoning sacrifice, the Holy Spirit enables us to overcome both pride and despair.  We approach the aptly termed "throne of grace" with bowed heart and head, but also with "boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him" (Hebrews 4:16; Ephesians 3:12).  Thereby, the love that beckons us also motivates our responsive love that blesses the heart of our Father.  Grace and mercy alone fuel within us the commitment, affection, and self sacrifice whereby genuine desire to come to God arises within our hearts.  Daniel, greatly beloved and graciously beckoned, discovered such freely offered Divine goodness.  He greatly loved and gratefully responded, as will we in the bright light of grace in the Lord Jesus that confirms our way to God as available and accessible through "Thy great mercies."

"For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father."

(Ephesians 2:18)

Weekly Memory Verse

   The Root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.

(Proverb 12:12)


Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Orange Moon Tuesday, May 28, 2024 "When I Am Weak..."

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

"When I Am Weak…"  

"Every act of obedience by a believer involves a "resurrection" of sorts, whereby the strength of God is made perfect in our weakness."

     Life with God through the Lord Jesus Christ in our present existence involves an inverse reality and experience.

    "When I am weak, then am I strong" (II Corinthians 12:10).

    Fact, the truth of God's Word, declares that when we find ourselves at our lowest ebb, the Lord's high tide of "rivers of living water" abound within us.  Feeling, of course, tells us precisely the opposite (John 7:38).  Emotion and sensation declare that when we are weak, we are weak.  Certainly, this is true in the earthly sense.   Our human faculties possess no inherent strength to live as God would have us live.  The indwelling Spirit of Christ, however, ever abides within us as our "hope of glory," that is, our hope of a life honoring to our Lord (Colossians 1:27).  The Apostle Paul speaks to this challenging, but encouraging truth in the most stark terms:

    "if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken (enliven) your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Romans 8:10-11).

   Our human faculties and members do not yet dwell in the direct presence of God.  They are "dead" in this sense, and thus require His enlivening to enable our proper thoughts, words, and actions.  Conversely, our spirits are alive in Christ, and serve as the means through which He motivates, guides, and empowers the life to which He calls us.  When we trust and submit to God in heart, the power of the Holy Spirit energizes our minds, wills, and bodies to obey God.  Indeed, every act of obedience by a believer involves a "resurrection" of sorts, whereby the strength of God is made perfect in the weakness of our humanity.  

    This truth constitutes our human frailty and weakness in far different terms than we normally perceive.  Paul stated the enigma plainly: "I take pleasure in infirmities (weakness)" (I Corinthians 12:10).  The Apostle did not state that he "felt" pleasure in weakness.  He did however, "take" pleasure in the awareness that when we recognize our need, we are far more likely to avail ourselves of God's supply.  By faith, Paul chose to see his inabilities as the scene of his Lord's super abundant presence, involvement, and enabling.  "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).  Our brother of old found his Lord able to transform the tomb of weakness into a temple of resurrection, just as He had accomplished  in His own rising.

    We shall find the same as we recognize our weakness for what it is, namely, the conduit through which Christ lives in us, and we live through Him.  Few themes more directly or implicitly grace Paul's writings, and no theme more establishes our hearts, minds, hands, and feet to join our brother in discovery of the inverse wonder of "when I am weak, then am I strong."

"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."
(II Corinthians 13:4)

Weekly Memory Verse
   The Root of the righteous yieldeth fruit.
(Proverb 12:12)