The Lord, our Fortress, our Stronghold

Flowers in the Rocks

…photo by Alan Levine

“The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.” Psalm 46:7

Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall; for it had been founded upon the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25

Scriptures from NASB

The One Who Sent Jesus

When you believe in Jesus Christ and have settled that He’s the God who is true,
You will not simply be believing in Him, but in the One who has sent Him, too.
Jesus came into the world as God’s Light, so that darkness would be dispelled–
That none should miss knowing their God, nor have their salvation withheld.

God desires to be a loving Father to all, but His justness will require judgment one day;
Jesus did not come to judge but to save, and to teach us to be followers of His Way.
All Jesus ever said or that He did, were things only from His Father that He’d heard.
A blessed life now and eternally are the gifts of which a Christian can be assured.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Jesus shouted to the crowds, ‘If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know His commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells Me to say.’” John 12:44-50 (NLT)

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.” Hebrews 9:27-28 (NIV)

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” John 5:24 (NKJV)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NASB)

“Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.’” John 14:8-10 (NKJV)

The Greatest Light of Heaven

Christian Postcard

…photo by Matt Gillman

The beautiful sun that’s shining at the start of a gorgeous day

is welcomed by us all and always brightens our work or play.

Life seems to have so much to offer–we want to take it all in.

But the promise in a beautiful day can obscure the thought within

that reminds to consider the Son of God and what He said of sin.

Jesus told the world of our need of a Savior because of the Holy One–

His Father in heaven, who, on evil and good, gives of His rain and sun.

Days of sunshine or fun cause many to think only of the here and now;

but Jesus said that His was the Life to which we should make our vow.

Actually, our lives are doubly blessed when we put faith in God’s Son–

Upon doing that, it becomes true that real, abundant life has begun.

Saul was on the way to Damascus when he encountered an extraordinary light–

It was the light of Jesus from heaven, through which his life was made right.

So don’t be deceived by bright thoughts of the future that don’t include the Lord.

It’s in losing your life that you’ll find it and have an exceedingly great reward.

P. A. Oltrogge

“As he (Saul) was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting…'” Acts 9:3-5

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'” John 14:6

“Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.’” John 8:12

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven, for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44-45

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'” Matthew 16:24-26

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” Revelation 21:23

All scripture above: (NASB)

The Powerful River

Cowichan River Provincial Park

…photo by David Stanley

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” 1 John 4:18

Are you at a point where fears are trying to dominate your thinking?
Or are you in a situational “boat” that makes you feel as though you’re sinking?

Then let this scripture permeate your thoughts, to make things perfectly clear,
that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

God’s perfect love surrounds you like pleasant views down a wilderness river.
Knowing you’re afloat on the river of His perfect love has great power to deliver.

P. A. Oltrogge

“And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:16-19

“How precious is Your lovingkindess, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fulness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.” Psalm 36:7-9 NKJV

“…and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:19-21

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High…The Lord of hosts is with us, The God of Jacob is our stronghold.” Psalm 46:4 and 7

further encouragement:
http://www.moorelife.org “Faith in the Power” series

Fresh as a Dewdrop

Maidens Hair

…photo by Bill Harrison

“Fresh as a dewdrop,” My Word is to you.
Go to it daily and find things new.
You’ll find the familiar in it as well–
Of comfort, wisdom, and truth it will tell.
At times, for direction, it gives a faith hint,
Bringing light to your path like a dewdrop’s glint.
Fresh as a dewdrop, I want to impart
More of its treasures into your heart.
Like finding the dewdrops, you can depend
On My being there always to instruct and befriend.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Thy Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”
Psalm 119:105

“I will never forget Thy precepts, for by them Thou hast revived me.”
Psalm 119:93

“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
…words of Jesus in Matthew 28:20

(See “About the Porch”)

Lydia Becomes Part of the Royal Priesthood

“And without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

It’s recorded that the apostle Paul received a vision–of a man putting forth a request,
that Paul should come over to Macedonia, so that the people there could be blessed.

So Paul, and those with him, pursued the vision, setting sail on the Aegean Sea–
landing at Neapolis, they went to Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia in which to be.

On the Sabbath, they went out to a riverside, where some women were who customarily prayed. Prayer and worship were woven as fabric in Lydia’s life, while selling fabrics of purple was her trade.

She listened to that which Paul spoke to them about Jesus Christ being the Lord–
then took heed in her heart that it was through Jesus, that true relationship with God
is restored.

Embracing what Paul said, she went from reverencing God to knowing Him in a personal way. God had opened her heart to respond to the good news, just as anyone can do today.

Then she and her entire household were baptized, representing their being washed from sin. With joy, she invited the missionaries to her home to stay, prevailing upon them to come in.

This woman, Lydia, who sold fabric of a royal color, had found peace at the riverside that day. Through the Prince of Peace, her Lord, Jesus Christ, she’d been welcomed into His royal family to stay.

P. A. Oltrogge

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

A reference to baptism by Peter in Acts 2:38-39: “…Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.”

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace..” Isaiah 9:6

(The poetic account is based on Acts 16:9-15 about Lydia from Thyatira)

Some references to purple’s use in the Bible:

“Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twisted linen and blue and purple and scarlet material; you shall make them with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman.” Exodus 26:1 (for the Tabernacle)

“And now send me a skilled man to work in gold, silver, brass and iron, and in purple, crimson, and violet fabrics, and who knows how to make engravings, to work with the skilled men whom I have in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided.”
2 Chronicles 2:7 (for Solomon’s Temple)

No “Goliath” too big for our God

“…for the battle is the Lord’s…” 1 Samuel 17:47

The Bible says that all of the Hebrew warriors’ knees were knocking
At the sight and size of the giant, Goliath, an enemy who was shocking.
None were brave enough at all to finish that giant off;
And when they saw him at a distance, Goliath would loudly scoff.

But there was a shepherd lad of courage who had fought a lion and bear–
To him, the giant Goliath was really nothing of a scare,
For David had the faith of one who knew that he was guarded
By the greater Lord of Hosts–and it was Him Whom he regarded.

David rejected King Saul’s armor and chose to fight Goliath instead
With declarations of faith, a slingshot, and a stone to knock him dead.
That’s exactly how it went–though he had brought a total of five;
It took just one stone plus faith to make that giant not survive!

Today, in our lives, we may have never tackled a lion or a bear–
But David’s example of facing things fearful makes us be aware
That faith in God is ample for the things that we may face–
Though problems may seem looming, we can conquer them by God’s grace.

_______________________________

A postscript to this Biblical record is that we might speculate
That a further lesson is in the account that one could possibly state.
The five smooth stones that David brought show he was quite prepared
To try again, depending on how the first stone actually fared!

P. A. Oltrogge

And, like David, remembering past victories, where the Lord undertook for us, can help us in facing what may be or what seems like a greater challenge before us….

“And David said, ‘The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’ And Saul said to David, ‘Go, and may the Lord be with you.’” 1 Samuel 17:37

A Discussion After Breakfast with Jesus

…from John 21:15-25

One morning after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples at the Sea of Galilee; and after they had joined Him at breakfast, He began to tell Simon Peter of things that were yet to be.

To begin with, Jesus asked Peter three times if He loved Him and, if so, to what extent. Peter answered each time that Jesus knew that He loved Him, so he wondered what all of this meant.

Three times, Peter had denied the Lord when Jesus had been taken into custody before His trial. So it seems this was the Lord’s way of reaffirming Peter’s commitment after that time of denial.

After each question about his love, Jesus said, “Tend My lambs; shepherd, and tend My sheep.” These were the Lord’s directions to Peter, for the days ahead, that He knew He could now trust him to keep.

Then He said that when Peter was younger, he had been free to walk whatever path he’d chosen to take; but as he went on to share the Gospel, he would be led by others to a destiny he wouldn’t choose to make.

Contemplating what Jesus said, Peter asked about the future of John, for instance, just having looked his way. We can take from Jesus’ answer that we must simply follow the Holy Spirit for our own lives after we pray.

Jesus told Peter, “Follow Me!” And today, He is saying the same to each of us, so we must listen for His voice. Then, when we hear, we, too, must follow Him, even if it would be something that wouldn’t be our choice.

So often, what may seem hard turns into a pathway of great blessing for others and ourselves, as well. Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. In worshiping Him as our Good Shepherd, all fears will be quelled.

postscript:

At the end of the chapter, John made a comment on all of the other things that Jesus had done–and that the world itself couldn’t contain all the books that could be written about God’s Son.

Books have been written, too, about the lives of those who followed the Lord in their journeys here on this earth. Their lives were a testimony to a life yielded to Christ, which is a life lived to its highest worth.

P. A. Oltrogge

Two Daughters Receive Miracles from Jesus

Jairus, a synagogue official, came earnestly looking for Jesus, and knelt at the Teacher’s feet. His daughter was at the point of death; and he knew it was Jesus whom he needed to entreat.

He begged, “Please come and lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.”
Jesus went off with Jairus–a great throng followed, for they knew He had so much to give.

On the way to Jairus’s home, a woman who needed healing, too, would draw from the Lord’s power first. She had suffered twelve years, and had sought help of many physicians, yet the condition was at its worst.

Having heard about Jesus, she thought of putting action to the faith that had risen inside her heart–that a mere touch to His garment would release enough power for the constant plague to depart.

She may have rehearsed in her mind what she intended to do, complete healing being her goal. But she also gave voice to the faith in her heart, “If I may touch but His clothes, I shall be whole.”

She came up in the crowd; and upon touching His cloak, immediately sensed she was healed! Perceiving that His power had just gone forth, Jesus asked that the recipient be revealed.

The disciples were surprised that He would ask this, as so many were pressing in on Him all about. Jesus looked around to see the woman who had touched Him, who’d received by faith, without any doubt.

Fearing and trembling, she came and fell at His feet; and He listened to her story that she then told. He said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace…” Her faith had been subtle, but yet it had been bold.

While He still spoke, some from Jairus’s house came, with news that cut to the heart’s core. With finality, they said to Jairus, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher any more?”

Jesus heard what they’d said, but turned to Jairus, with these calming words that assured: “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe,” which gave him hope that she still could be cured.

Only Peter, James, and John, the brother of James, were allowed to follow further to Jairus’s place. There, they found many people loudly weeping and wailing, because of his daughter’s case.

“Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died but is asleep,” Jesus declared. Then they laughed Him to scorn; but He sent them all out, knowing that her life was already spared.

He took along the child’s father and mother and His companions to enter where the child lay. Taking her by the hand, “Talitha, kum!” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” was all that He needed to say.

Immediately, Jairus’s daughter got up; and she began to walk, to the amazement of those in the room. This was another of the miracles of Jesus–where what spoke of death suddenly reversed to live and bloom!

The faith of a father acting on behalf of his daughter, or a daughter acting on her own–in either case, the compassion of God to answer is certainly emphatically shown.

Likewise, the miracle power of Jesus Christ is available for any of us today…
Perhaps think of the stories of either of these daughters at those times when you have a need about which to pray.

P. A. Oltrogge

…a poetic telling of the account in Mark 5…
(“Talitha cumi” in the King James version)

Encouragement:
http://www.moorelife.org
(Free downloads–look in the Topic List for “Healing”)

and:
http://www.charlescapps.com

…If you read this and have need of healing in any way, I pray that you will receive, too, from the Lord.