Trusting Jesus, the Good Shepherd

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…from Luke 15, putting the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son into a bit of the poetic…

If a man has a hundred sheep but just one of them has gone astray,
doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness to search for the one lost without delay?

And when he finds it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing that it’s found.
Then, once home, celebrations of his joy with friends and neighbors abound.

In the same way, there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner who comes home
than over ninety-nine righteous persons who, wisely, never wanted to roam.

P. A. Oltrogge

You may not be “little,” but the following verse from an old song describes our security in Christ very well. And if any of us learned this song when young but got away from the Good Shepherd, we can know from Luke 15 that He’s so very happy to have us back…

I am Jesus’ little lamb,
ever glad at heart I am;
for my Shepherd gently guides me…
knows my needs and well provides me—
loves me every day the same,
even calls me by my name.

from the song, “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb”
by Henrietta Louise von Hayn

Book Recommendation:
A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23
by W. Phillip Keller

Father, thank You for what Your Son has done…

Father,

I thank You for Your answers even before my prayers have begun…
because of what Your Son, Jesus Christ, has done.

I’m seated in the heavenly places—my victory’s been won…
because of what Your Son, the Lord Jesus, has done.

At Calvary’s cross, the curse was defeated. All fear I now can shun…
because of what Your Son, the Messiah, has done.

Not by my own merit, but by the blood from His veins that had run,
I can come before You boldly because of what He’s done.

Regarding the name of Jesus—a greater name, there’s none,
because He so pleased You as a perfectly obedient Son.

And, one day, when my race on earth has been completely run,
I’ll be immediately in Your presence because of what Your Son has done.

P. A. Oltrogge

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“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” 2 Peter 1:16-18

“And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Words of Jesus in Matthew 6:7-8

“Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come.” Ephesians 1:15-21

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespassses, 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

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:17-19

“So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:6

“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 4:16

“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8

“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

Scriptures NKJV

Breakthrough over the Blues

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Photo/Porch of the Lord

Perhaps you’ve experienced disappointments…
I know that others and I have, too.
But when I recall precious moments I’ve had,
I can no longer stay feeling blue.

Realize this old world with its trials
can’t keep you from all that delights.
Disappointments may occur, but some very nice gifts
will come through from the Father of lights.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17 KJV

Beauty is in the Eye of God, the Beholder

The story of a “different” duckling was one that, as children, most of us had read…This duckling was ridiculed because of his appearance–so much so, that he finally fled.

He then went through various experiences, away from the home he originally knew; but all of those experiences were bitter and caused him to keep feeling “blue.”

As the story progressed, he came upon a flock of magnificent swans, while downcast, who welcomed him as a most beautiful swan; and there he found happiness at last.

We learn, in reading the Bible, that God doesn’t look at how you outwardly appear–You may feel you haven’t much value, yet you’re a distinctive “swan” in His mirror.

And if blessed with what man defines as great beauty, God still looks within to start…His search for a person who is devoted to Him, humble, but courageous of heart.

Remember, too, that when God sees you, He sees the righteousness of His own Son; and He has promised to perfect the good work in you that, through Christ, He has begun.

P. A. Oltrogge

“For Thou dist form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:13-14 KJV

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him, for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

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Out of the darkness into His light…

Jesus was teaching in the temple when some scribes and Pharisees approached,
bringing a woman caught in adultery, who they thoroughly had reproached.

Setting her down before Him, they brought up the command that she be stoned;
and what were His thoughts on that—should Moses’ law now be condoned?

Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground, as though He didn’t hear.
Soon the woman would find, through Christ, her deliverance from a death fear.

So when they persisted in asking Him, she surely was fearing the worst.
But He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

He again stooped down to write—perhaps knowledge of the sins of those accusing. They began to all leave, then, one by one, knowing their own sins they couldn’t be excusing.

Jesus stood up then, seeing only the woman, left there in the midst of the crowd. He asked her where her accusers had gone, their condemnation having been so loud.

“Has no one condemned you?” Jesus asked. “No one, Lord.” Not one of them had stayed. Then He said He didn’t either, but to go and sin no more. She received pardon despite having strayed.

After this event, Jesus declared that He was this world’s light…and that those who follow Him will not walk in darkness but, through Him, will “see” to live right.

P. A. Oltrogge

(from the account in John 8:1-12)

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Photo/Unsplash

A Time of Budding

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Photo/Unsplash

Yes, there is a life inside the womb,
Where it was meant to be safe
But a multitude have met doom–
A delicate bud created to bloom
To be a beautiful flower, but was cast away;
Yet many have been spared because you did pray.
And I have My “angels” going around
Rescuing those women who haven’t yet found
That the one inside is special and gifted–
Not a burden that needs to be lifted.
An awakening can bud–a turning around,
So all the unborn can be brought forth sound.
And “parents” who’ve aborted these and may know little of Me
Can repent and then I will set them free
To go on and find a better day;
For I remove sins far and away.
And what of those who performed the deed?
These also I’d forgive if they would realize their need
To repent for this taking of humanity,
And what a sad realization it would be.
Tears of remorse can so overwhelm–
Remember, I forgive all sins in My Realm.
But for those who faced the world and stood
For these little ones when no one else would,
I won’t forget the things you’ve done
At the time the battle is truly won.
For I am the Giver of Life on this earth,
Declaring the value of each person’s worth.

P. A. Oltrogge

“For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” Psalm 139:13-16

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you….” Jeremiah 1:5

“From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Matthew 4:17

…the poem above is the writer’s reflection on possible thoughts of the Creator…

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Unsplash

Our Father of Forgiveness

A subject that Jesus taught, and that He made so perfectly clear,
was the need to forgive others—God’s standard, to which we’re to adhere.

By word and by His example, especially on the cross, this was displayed
when forgiveness, of even His enemies, was the kindness for which Jesus prayed.

Jesus had warned that if we ever felt this was something too difficult to do,
then, He said, of our trespasses, that “neither will your Father in heaven forgive you.”

Obviously, our merciful God has forgiveness at the very core of His heart.
If there is someone you haven’t forgiven, therefore, forgive, letting withholding of Christian love depart.

Then, you’ll be confident, with Christ as your Savior, when you go to enter heaven…that you’ve forgiven others, along your life’s journey, as Jesus said, even “seventy times seven.”

P. A. Oltrogge

“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:26

“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him, up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’” Matthew 18:21-22

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 3:43-45

“Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’” Luke 23:34 KJV

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” Psalm 103:8

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Pexels

He, a Rose

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“I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys.” Song of Solomon 2:1

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.” Luke 12:27
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The variety of flowers God created are such a feast for our eyes–
And, besides their beauty, most have a pleasing fragrance that will arise.

No wonder Jesus said that we should consider the lilies of the field–
Their essence is a tribute to His Father’s care, to which they yield.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross arose, as a pleasing fragrance, to the Father’s throne–
An aroma so pleasing that Christ now, as the rose of Sharon, is known.

Yes, like a rose, that was crushed and associated with thorns upon His head,
Jesus paid for our redemption through scourges and His sacred veins that bled.

All who are in Christ give sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him as well,
To remind those who are saved of heaven, and to warn those unaware of hell.

So consider how the lilies are clothed, and therefore put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
For His sacrifice on your behalf is the one that the Bible says sufficed.

P. A. Oltrogge

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Romans 13:14

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

“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 5:1-2

“But thanks be to God, Who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” Acts 10:38-43

Praise God, it was for you that He arose!

The Living One

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…from Luke 24, NASB…a poetic account…

Some of the women who had loved Jesus set out at early dawn with spices they’d prepared…in order to anoint His body. How they might enter the tomb must have been discussed and shared.

When they discovered that the stone had been rolled away, they stepped inside the tomb and found…that Jesus’ body was not there–they were perplexed in looking around.

Suddenly, two men in dazzling clothing appeared to them–the women were terrified! The angels had come with a message about His resurrection…and death having been defied.

“Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen….” as the women could plainly see. Then the angels said to recall how Jesus had spoken of this very thing while still with them in Galilee.

Jesus had told them how the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men…and then be crucified; and on the third day, He would rise again.

So they remembered Jesus’ words and returned from the tomb to share with the eleven and all the rest. But the apostles couldn’t believe them–though Peter went to see for himself about this news that was blessed.

Two of the Lord’s followers were going to Emmaus on that very third day. They were discussing with each other the things that had happened in Jerusalem as they went their way.

Then Jesus Himself, not actually recognized by them, approached and began to travel beside them on the road. He asked them what they’d been discussing–their demeanors reflected that they were carrying a heavy load.

One of them, named Cleopas, asked how he could have been visiting Jerusalem and not have known or heard…of the fate of Jesus, the Nazarene, –a prophet mighty in deed and word.

They said that they had hoped He would be Israel’s redeemer…meaning by His leadership or even by being its king. But His death, instead, by crucifixion, had definitely changed everything.

Next, they shared that, on this third day, some women had gone to the tomb at dawn…and told them that, but for having seen there a vision of two angels, it was empty–His crucified body was gone.

Jesus addressed them, then, as foolish men, who were slow of heart to believe…in what the prophets had spoken of the Christ, implying that the wise would understand and receive.

Jesus went on to explain the things foretold of Him in the scriptures by Moses and other prophets, throughout. All this while, their eyes were prevented from recognizing Who was really with them on their route.

As they approached the village of Emmaus, their traveling companion, Jesus, acted as if he might travel on, but they urged him to stay with them, for the night was almost upon.

So Jesus went in to stay with them and reclined at the table to break bread. When He took it, blessed it, and gave it to them, their eyes were opened to see the living One, risen from the dead!

Jesus then vanished from their sight, and they reflected on how their hearts had been burning…as He spoke of how the Christ needed to suffer these things–this “stranger” had been so discerning.

At that very hour they got up to return to Jerusalem to share with the eleven what had transpired. As they were telling these things, there came in their midst, He whom their hearts desired.

It was Jesus, Himself, the Master, saying, “Peace be unto you.” Startled and frightened, they needed His assurance, once again, to see them through.

He asked them why they doubted and then showed them His hands and feet. They still couldn’t believe it, for joy and amazement. He then asked for something to eat.

After having the broiled fish that they gave, He again opened their minds to understand all that had needed to be fulfilled. Repentance and forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His Name, starting from Jerusalem…and from there, it would build.

They were to wait until they were clothed with power from on high…. Then He led them out as far as Bethany, where He blessed them and departed from them up into the sky.

After worshipping Him, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy that was hard for them to contain. They were continually in the temple, praising God for their redemption, which had been made so plain…

and for their beloved King’s reign!

P. A. Oltrogge

“Why do you seek THE LIVING ONE among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen!” Luke 24:5-6

The Trial of Jesus Christ

He was brought before Pilate by God’s divine plan;
Pilate said, “I find no guilt in this man.”
Questioned before Herod, Christ gave no reply,
for He knew in His heart He was destined to die.

Then brought back to Pilate once more to stand–
Pilate still found no guilt justifying a crucifixion demand.
But the crowd was insistent–their voices prevailed;
and God’s Sacrificial Lamb was thereby unveiled.

Led away with two criminals while women mourned
to a place called, “The Skull,” where He would be scorned–
There, He was lifted, nailed to a cross’s wood,
though His service to God had been perfect and good.

An inscription said, “This is the King of the Jews.”
He came to lay down His life–it was His role to choose.
He was taunted by soldiers and a criminal in despair,
saying if He was the Christ, He could come down from there.

The other criminal feared God, saying their misdeeds were strong,
“But this man has done nothing wrong.”
A promise of Paradise and a cry from Christ’s voice–
“It is finished!” Thus, we can take Him as Savior by our choice.

Darkness had fallen, the temple veil tore in two–
“Certainly, this man was innocent,” the Centurion said, too.
So went the trial of an innocent man;
but He was God and our Messiah by His Father’s divine plan.

P. A. Oltrogge

from Luke, Chapter 23
and John 19:30

“He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will but as You will.’”
Matthew 26:39 (New King James)

“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” John 10:17, 18 (New American Standard)