A Mighty Forest and the Mighty Fortress

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, and in whatever he does, he prospers.”  Psalm 1:1-3 NASB

Like a tree firmly planted by streams of water–

that’s what each of us will become, as God’s son or daughter,

when we meditate, continually, in God’s written Word.

Our growth in Christ will increase–it can’t be deterred.

Jesus reminded us that man doesn’t live by bread alone–

It’s by regular feeding on God’s Word that we will have grown

to be strong trees in a mighty “forest,” the planting of the Lord–

rooted in God, our mighty fortress, our faith having soared.

P. A. Oltrogge

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”  Psalm 18:2 KJV

“For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore, for thy name’s sake, lead me, and guide me.”  Psalm 31:3 KJV

“I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.’” Psalm 91:2 NKJV

You may enjoy visiting Covenant Family Church, http://www.covenantfamily.cc for “church” via conference call on Sundays at 10:50 a.m., (Eastern Standard Time). There’s no need to announce yourself; just make the call and enjoy the “live” message. The telephone number is (609) 663-1557.

Photo Unsplash/Rampart Lakes, USA

Unblemished, through Christ

A friend recently shared the following “vision” she’d gotten one day. She’d been standing in faith against shingles, a painful condition. As she was saying, “Lord, I present my body to you,” (Romans 12:1-2), she  got a picture of herself as an unblemished lamb (cleansed from sin and redeemed from sickness through Christ’s finished sacrificial work at the cross). The Word proclaims that God forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases (Psalm 103:3).

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

A Living Sacrifice

Present your body, holy and acceptable to God–

of His mercies, being sure…

that by the blood of Jesus, God’s Lamb, 

you’ve become a “living sacrifice” that’s pure.

Only lambs without blemish were presented to God

by priests who were following God’s ways.

No such lamb could have disease–

neither do you, the Word says–give Him praise!

He’s forgiven all your sins AND healed your diseases–

believe that, with your renewed mind.

God has made you a lamb without blemish through Christ–

that’s how you, as a Christian, are defined.

P. A. Oltrogge

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.”  Isaiah 53:5

“And when evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, ‘He Himself took our infirmities, and carried away our diseases.’” Matthew 8:16,17

“Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.” Psalm 103:3

(The person who shared the above “vision” is J. Vetter, a guest contributor to The Porch of the Lord blog.) And for more encouragement on healing, go to www.emic.org for a March 3rd message by Pastor Duane Munoz. Scroll in to about 25.

Hearts Need to “Hear”

Love, with no definite expression of outward action or word,
isn’t love at all–since, by our hearts, nothing is “heard.”
Kind words, loving service, time spent together, a gift, or a tender touch–
without these things tangible, we can’t really feel love much.

Just like most plants need regular sunshine and water,
we need regular caring expression from friend, spouse, son, or daughter.
Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters can affirm and encourage–
we all can, for this world holds much that can discourage.

Friends and family are meant to uplift us and be a fortress in life;
and when loving gestures abound, there will be little, if any, strife.
When love is firmly founded thereby, we’ll be ready to reach out
to those needing love from us whom we may meet on a daily route.

Jesus also said that we should love those who don’t love us back;
sometimes, such love can move relationships onto the right track.
At times, we must look past the things in some that seem odd–
we may need to pray for the grace of the unconditional love of God.

For that love has been found to lead others to tangibly feel
the love of the heavenly Father in a way that is real.

P. A. Oltrogge

“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5

“These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:17

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another, not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:9-11

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

“And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful just as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6:31-36

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11

…and a few outreaches of the love of God:

www.samaritanspurse.org
www.operationblessing.org
www.danitaschildren.org
www.kcm.org

Life’s Goodbyes

Over the years, life brings to us many goodbyes, which is why it’s so important that we become wise, gaining life and death perspectives, as seen through Jesus’ eyes.  He’s Savior, Lord, and King–and He never lies.

He wants us to understand before our lives are done, that there’s a heaven to gain and a hell to shun.  He said heaven could be ours–that it’s a beautiful place–reserved for those who trust in Him and is offered by God’s grace.

“Absent from the body…present with the Lord” is the promise and future that we can look toward, for when the time comes for us to leave the earth.  This is for anyone who has received Him through “the new birth.”

Life in this world is certainly a temporary thing; but, thank God, through Christ’s redemptive work, death has lost its sting.  Seeing Jesus face to face and reunions with loved ones gone…will, one day, follow our own “goodbyes,” a glorious new dawn!

P. A. Oltrogge

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12 (NKJV)

“…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His Word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior; to Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.” Titus 1:2-3 (NASB)

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.”  John 14:2 (NKJV)

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’” Luke 23:43 (NKJV)

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate.  The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.”  Matthew 7:13 (NLT)

See the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16.

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” John 3:3 (NASB)

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  John 1:12-13 (NASB)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”  Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV)

“We are confident, I say, and willing to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”  2 Corinthians 5:8 (NKJV)

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”  1 Corinthians 15:55 (NASB)

A Heart that’s Guided by God

“…then He (Jesus) said, ‘Behold, I have come to do thy will.’ He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God….” Hebrews 10:9-12 NASB

In the dark of night in Gethsemane’s garden, Jesus fell on His face to pray,
seeking possible release for Himself from a most difficult and painful way–
that His Father in heaven had revealed to Him on why He’d come as a Man.
He was to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins, according to God’s plan.

To any one of us, death on a cross would be something we would shun; 
yet Jesus was able to say He would do it, so that God’s will could be done.
Being in agony, His sweat became like great drops of blood that fell.
He knew that the way of the cross would provide escape for us from hell.

And a great part of the atonement is bodily healing, just as Jesus had shown.
Abundant life is ours through Him, who sits at the right hand of the Father’s throne.
Jesus was our great example…of listening for and following God’s perfect will.
In setting aside our will to follow God’s, it’s His good purposes that we’ll fulfill.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’ 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 26:36-39 NKJV

Before that time in Gethsemane, we read of what Jesus said:

“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?’” Mark 8:34-36 NKJV

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

“…seek His will in all you do….” is written of the above scripture in the New Living Translation

Encouragement on healing at http://www.rhema.org in the book, “Bodily Healing and the Atonement,” by Dr. T. J. McCrossan, reedited and reprinted by Rev. Kenneth E. Hagin and Dr. Roy Hicks

Remembering Billy Graham

It’s been three years since he 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 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

“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

website: http://www.billygraham.org

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

In His Presence

To Our Great God…

At Pentecost, your Spirit came, with the sound of a rushing mighty wind.
The Comforter comes to believers yet today, a promise you’ll never rescind.

Often, your presence is apparent through a reassuring, inner voice.
When problems threaten to overwhelm, you encourage us still to rejoice.

You’re blessed by the praises of your people…bless the Lord, oh my soul.
I’m thankful you’ve said that on you, dear Lord, all of my cares, I can roll.

It’s good to abide in your presence, for there’s fullness of joy therein.
Thank you for provision and healing, as well as for forgiving our sin.

We praise you for your creative ability, for the beauty of bird and flower,
the mountains and other majestic things that speak to us of your power.

We’re so blessed you desire to visit with us, as you did first with Adam and Eve. All that you require of us to meet with you, Father, is to believe in your Son and receive.

P. A. Oltrogge

“‘Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him, the Father, God, has set His seal.’ Therefore they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’” John 6:27-29 NASB

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Words of Jesus in John 14:16-17 KJV

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:26-27 KJV

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:2-4 NKJV

“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 Man Above All Men

“Come Follow Me” by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission.  http://www.GregOlsen.com

Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.'” Matthew 19:21

Have you met up with Jesus?
He’s your kind of Man…
Came down here from heaven,
carrying out God’s mighty plan.

He’s still here today, capturing hearts, lives, and souls,
giving all whom He touches much worthier goals.
He doesn’t actually show up in visible form,
but you’re aware of His presence when prayer becomes norm.

And some have had visions or have seen Him in dreams,
and what they remember is the love that He beams.
That’s also reflected in the words of His book;
the renowned Holy Bible is the right place to look.

You might think you know what could give you life’s best;
but those who follow His lead are on a sure quest.
He wants to increase your every potential,
but living for Him and others is essential.

Dedicating all that you have to Him is not loss–
The best in mind for you is why He died on the cross.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time….” 1 Timothy 2:1-6

“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?'” Mark 8:34-36

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep….My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”  John 10:11, 27

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“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 

“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Matthew 18:11

“…but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11

Scriptures from the New King James Version of the Bibles

Take courage today

Jesus told His disciples to go ahead of Him to the other side of the sea.

He had sent the crowds away and, for a time of prayer, He needed to be free.

When Jesus came walking upon the water in the fourth watch of the night,

the disciples, in their boat, thought they were seeing a ghost and cried out in fright.

They had already been disturbed that night, having been battered by waves—

the wind was contrary. Here, we’ll see another instance where “Jesus saves!”

Jesus told them to take courage—that it was Him and that there was nothing to fear.

Some translations of this account say that He told them to be of good cheer!

Having witnessed the Lord’s miracles, Peter wanted to be a disciple of faith, as Jesus had taught,

and join the Lord on the water. Stepping out of the boat, he actually walked on the sea, but then became distraught.

Initially, his confidence had been high, so when the Lord told him to come, he boldly went ahead.

The Bible indicates, though, that he took his eyes off of Jesus by noticing the wind, instead.

It says that he “saw” the wind, meaning that it was whipping up the water to a greater degree. 

Looking away from Jesus, the Fearless One, even for just that moment, caused Peter’s courage to flee.

Jesus reached out quickly and rescued Peter, but questioned him as to why he had succumbed to doubt. 

As they entered the boat, the wind stopped; and the disciples, in awe, worshiped the Lord as they continued on their route.

We, too, today, must ever look to Jesus, remembering His great love for us and the mighty miracles that He can perform.

We have testimonies today—as well as those told in the Bible—of His ability to bring us out, in victory, through any kind of storm.

P. A. Oltrogge

(From Matthew 14:22-32)

Biblical Steps…Ask, Seek, Knock

Photo by Porch of the Lord,
Bequia Island

Let “Ask, and it will be given to you,” and “Seek, and you will find,”
and “Knock, and the door will be opened to you,” often come to mind.

God has so many possibilities, when we are thinking there are none–
The disciples were distraught at Jesus’ death ’til they beheld the risen Son.

When hope seems to have ended, remember your mighty God’s deeds.
He’s a “beyond all that we ask or think” God, who supplies beyond our needs.

So be blessed to be a blessing to others as God pours out His love.
Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights above.

P. A. Oltrogge

“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 3:20-21 NKJV

“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 1:17KJV

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him? Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:7-12 NKJV