Blessed are…

“And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.

“Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

“Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:1-16 NASB

…for Bible teaching with an emphasis on Israel, prophecy,
and the Jewish roots of Christianity: http://www.levitt.com

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Photo/Unsplash

Feast or Famine?

“…man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” from Deuteronomy 8:3

There’s famine in the world today, though there’s “Bread” that is abounding;
so many walk with uncertainty when personal concerns become confounding.

They’re out the door to earn their living to buy life’s necessities and more;
but the “Bread” they’re missing in their lives can’t be purchased at any store.

Instead, it’s there in the Bible, where Jesus’ words of nourishment are found,
that feed our spirits about the blessings with which God wants us to be crowned.

Not only for things that we may desire, but there are blessings of a still greater kind–peace amidst troubles, faith that endures, and love of others comes to mind.

Never taking the time to read it, or ever searching out a church where it’s taught, can all make up for a very draining day, or for times when they’ll feel distraught.

Let’s pray all the more for those around us, even believers–and those who are not yet–to realize they don’t have to starve any more–there’s a hearty feast of “Bread” they can get.

P. A. Oltrogge

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“And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’” John 6:35 NKJV

When the poem says, “even believers,” it’s simply meant that the writer or any person who has already received the Bread of Life, Jesus, will benefit by coming to Him daily, through His Word, not neglecting it.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 NKJV

See John 1:1-18 —
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

postscript to this poem:

There are some places on this earth
where there are shortages or it’s not been translated;
Pray for the people there, and for those working to bring
this great “Bread” for which they’ve waited.
(see http://www.wycliffe.org where you can
learn of those working as Bible translators)

Remembering Billy Graham

It’s been a little over a year since Billy Graham went to his home in heaven on February 21, 2018. I’m taking a moment to think of him and his life once again…

I remember attending Billy Graham crusades when I was very young
and anticipating hearing Billy after George Beverly Shea had sung.

Cliff Barrows led the assembled choir in an always joyful way,
giving mighty praise to God before someone on stage would pray.

Then Billy Graham would come forward; and with his powerful voice,
he’d say we needed to make a decision—God was giving us a choice.

He always pointed to the cross and what Jesus had achieved—
redemption through His shed blood on Calvary for anyone who believed.

He said we should repent of our sins and give our hearts to Christ—
that His was the only sacrifice which God says has sufficed.

He emphasized that “God loves you” and wants to be your friend,
counselor, and advocate—from beginning of life to its end.

He said this earth was not his home—that he was just passing through—
and that a home in heaven awaits every believer in Jesus Christ, too.

After many Biblical references, Billy would give an invitation.
Then, an amazing number in the place would come forward to his station.

As they came forward, a familiar song helped set so many hearts free—
“Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me.”

Today, Billy Graham is honored for faithful service to God during his life span. May we continue to share the Gospel of Christ—God’s gracious redemptive plan.

P. A. Oltrogge

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

Book Recommendation:
Redeemed by Will Graham,
grandson of Billy Graham

Jesus, the Son, from the Kingdom of Heaven

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Peter, James, and John went up with Jesus to a mountaintop and, there, were witness to…

an experience like no other that Jesus had ever led them to view.

Their Master Teacher was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun.

His clothing became white as the light or snow, like no launderer on earth could have done.

They then saw Him conversing with Moses and Elijah, who had supernaturally appeared.

God spoke from out of a bright cloud that overshadowed them. Falling down, the disciples feared.

“This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Hear Him,” were the words that God, the Father, came to declare.

Thereafter, Jesus touched them, telling them to not be afraid. Then they stood up and found that only Jesus was there.

Clearly, they’d seen that Jesus was the Son of God Almighty, with all that that could mean…

Yet, later, we see Peter being approached by some men in Capernaum at a different Biblical scene.

The men were collectors of the temple tax and questioned Peter as to whether his Teacher would pay.

Peter said that He would—then entered the house where Jesus was, to see what He would say.

Jesus knew what Peter was going to ask but first questioned him, on from whom the kings of the earth drew tax collection.

Was it from their sons or was it from strangers, Jesus asked. Peter chose “strangers” as the obvious selection.

“So the sons are free,” Jesus was emphasizing, so that Peter would have firm realization…

that, as the Son of His Father, God, He had special status or privilege, as magnificently shown at the transfiguration.

Jesus really didn’t need to pay, but with humility and not wanting to offend, he sent Peter out to go down to the sea.

There, by casting in a hook and taking the first fish that he caught—in its mouth, he would find a coin to cover the exact fee.

As a disciple of Christ, Peter, too, was free. Yet, Jesus paid the temple tax for them both in this Matthew, chapter 17, story.

In even greater humility, He went to the cross, where He paid for all who’ll believe, so that they, too, can be free, as a son or daughter of the King…of glory!

P. A. Oltrogge

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Hebrews 1:1-4

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4:4-7

“So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.” John 2:18-22

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’. They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.’” John 8:31-36

“Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” John 20:16-17

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Also, Mark 9, the transfiguration account

(Scriptures NKJV)

There’s a Rainbow!

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Unsplash

If ever there was a subject that should be put into poetic form,
it’s that of the magnificent rainbow, which can suddenly appear after a storm.

As the sun starts shining, it’s especially vivid, after the rain has poured;
and its message comes from God, as it’s the signature of the Lord.

He said that He was setting His bow in the cloud, to always remind afresh,
of His covenant made with Noah and his sons, and every living creature of all flesh…

that never again would He send a flood to cover the entire expanse of the earth.
To all successive generations, the rainbow’s reminded of this covenant of great worth.

We remember today that Noah was a real person, who steadfastly undertook
the building of a great ark by God’s direction, no matter how, to others, that would look.

It took many decades to accomplish the task, and there never had been a flood…
Today, God is offering the safety of an ark that was “built” by Jesus’ sacrificial blood.

God is not willing for any to perish. He’s giving much time to accept His invitation
to enter into the ark of the Lord–His provision for any person of any nation.

When I see the rainbow there in the sky, I’m reminded of God’s covenant made to mankind–including the one He made for us through Jesus, the greatest covenant He wants all of us to find.

P. A. Oltrogge

“For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:28 NKJV

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NKJV

“But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall enter the ark….” Genesis 6:18

See the first half of Genesis, chapter 6, for the causes behind God sending the earth-encompassing flood and to read of Noah finding favor with God.

For your interest:
http://www.arkencounter.com

The Creator versus the Atheists

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Even within a city or out on a rural farm,
we’re blessed to always enjoy the vast creation’s charm.

To say, then, as some do, that there is no God
is a kind of blindness that seems, to me, so odd.

For there are many masterpieces, on which our eyes can feast–
from the starting of a snowfall to the landscape when it’s ceased.

From the city to the beauty of the peaceful countryside,
the signature of the Creator is something atheists cannot hide.

P. A. Oltrogge

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“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20 NIV

“For he (God, the Father) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son (Jesus) he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible….” Colossians 1:13-16 NIV written by the apostle Paul to the Christians in Colossae

Scatter Genuine Love

A clanging cymbal, a noisy gong,
that’s how a life is without love–so wrong!
If you speak of the future, possessing that gift;
know mysteries and knowledge, but don’t show love, you’re adrift.

Even if you have faith that seems to be heaping,
in God’s eyes–without love–nothing is what you’ll be reaping.
If you have faith that could remove a mountain,
without love, your life can be compared to a dried-up fountain.

If you give all your possessions to feed the poor
but have not love, you’ll always be unsure
of the mark you’ve made in this world that needs
your true love and compassion scattered as seeds.

If you give even your life, with your body being burned–
without love in your heart, there’s nothing you’ve earned.
Be patient, be kind–don’t be jealous or brag–
nor be arrogant or act unbecomingly–those things bring a snag.

Don’t let yourself be provoked, and forsake insisting upon your own way;
don’t take into account wrongs suffered in a fray.
Don’t be glad about things unpleasing to God, but be glad about what’s good.
In love–bear, believe, hope and endure all things as He would.

Other gifts will cease, but real love is enduring;
the partial will give way to a full maturing.
Now things in the mirror are dimly seen,
but, one day, all will be clear with a crystal sheen.

Faith, hope, and love–these three you can rate,
but love will always be the greatest of the great.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control–
Scatter these seeds and be a contented soul.

P. A. Oltrogge

(poetic thoughts from 1 Corinthians 13)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” words of Jesus in John 13:34-35

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us; an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 4:32-5:1-2

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As You Love Yourself

“Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no greater commandment than these.” Mark 12:29-32

We’re to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, the Lord has said…
but, sometimes, we’re critical of ourselves and unforgiving, instead.

Being right with God isn’t by our own deeds but through what Jesus has done…
He who is doing a good work in us will complete what He’s already begun.

To those who are in Christ Jesus, there’s no condemnation from the Father above. He’s merciful, forgiving, sympathetic with our weaknesses–and thinks we’re worthy of His love.

P. A. Oltrogge

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“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:2-6

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10

(Scriptures NKJV)

Love’s Daily Occurrence

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Precious memories are truly a beautiful thing,
but it’s the presence of a loved one that makes us sing.
I keep that in mind when I think of the Lord–
in seeking His presence, I’ll be renewed and restored.

It’s time spent with Him, sharing my love with Jesus,
that touches His heart, too, and greatly pleases.
He surely loves those who think upon His name,
and of the things He has done in Bible-event fame–

But personal time with Him daily and meditating on His Word
are the things that will make me live fully assured.
Then it becomes easy to follow where He leads,
with that overflow of mutual love to meet God-seen needs.

P. A. Oltrogge

“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 NKJV

“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:7 NIV

“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him, and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him, and let him behold My salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16 NASB

“He said to him, the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ (with a deep, instinctive, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend.) Peter was grieved (was saddened and hurt) that he should ask him the third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know everything; You know that I love you’ (that I have a deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend.) Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.” John 21:17 AMP

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

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“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)