Outpourings of Love

…from Luke 7:36-50
(likely in Capernaum)

A certain woman of the city heard that Jesus was at the home of Simon, a Pharisee. So she came with an alabaster flask of ointment–her sins had weighed her down very heavily. Her tears washed Jesus’ feet, which she kissed and wiped with her hair–then anointed them with the oil–all tokens of the love she had come there to share.

Simon’s thought was that Jesus should have known that she was a woman to shun. If Jesus was truly a prophet, he would not have permitted her because of the things she’d done. Jesus then told him a story of two debtors, freely forgiven of debts of lesser and greater amounts. It was an explanation to Simon of a sinner’s gratefulness–her debt of sin was large (and, therefore, so was her love) by all accounts.

Jesus expressed appreciation for her kisses and for the tears that she had shed. “Your sins are forgiven” and “Your faith has saved you; go in peace,” He said. Those who sat at the table with Him began to discuss that, saying “Who is this?” His forgiveness of her sins was an authoritative statement they really couldn’t dismiss. 

…from John 12:1-8
(in Bethany at the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary)

In a second narrative, six days before Passover, the scriptures tell of Mary–
who used spikenard, a costly oil–the fragrance of which, the entire house would carry. After supper, there in Bethany, she anointed Jesus’ feet, also wiping them with her hair. Judas then asked why the oil hadn’t been sold and the money been given to the poor–not that he actually did care.

Jesus told Judas to let her alone for she had kept the oil for His burial day.
“For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always,” was what He had to say.

…from Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9
(in Bethany)

A similar occurrence at the house of Simon the leper, Matthew and Mark record,
was that of a woman who took spikenard, pouring it, this time, upon the head of Jesus, her Lord. There were some who, like Judas, criticized her, saying that the oil might have been sold for the poor. But Jesus said she had done this for His burial, speaking of her with grace, and that in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she would forever have a place.

Today, God is pouring out His love and the Holy Spirit upon each open heart.
May we fill our own “alabaster jars,” with love for Him, and eagerly do our part. There’s a world of people Jesus died for, and many are in great need. Guide and strengthen us, Lord, as we seek to be Your servants, caring with both word and deed.

We thank You for Your great sacrifice; we thank You for Your steadfast love.
We appreciate so much what it cost You to visit us from heaven above.

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 eternal life.” John 3:16

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:7-11

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:40 (and verses 31-46) NKJV

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and are in him that is true, even in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20 KJV

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.” John 15:9-10

Scriptures: NASB/Ryrie Study Bible, or as noted

Purity of Heart and Speech

Help me, Father in heaven, to be mindful of what Your Word has said–that my words shouldn’t be critical of others, but they should bless instead. If someone’s ways seem contrary to mine, or if they’ve hurt me in some way, every person is still made in Your image–I must show love towards them and pray.

A forest spring doesn’t flow with waters that are both bitter and fresh; likewise, help me in “keeping under” any wrong attitudes of my flesh. A fig tree doesn’t produce olives, and figs don’t come from a grapevine; neither should judgmental words towards others come from these lips of mine.

The same lips that praise my God, should speak with His love; and I should be kind, in turn. Purity, being peace loving and gentle, willing to yield to others, are things that I must learn. With humility that’s gleaned from Your wisdom, I’ll avoid jealousy and selfish ambition, for You’ve said that disorder and evil of every kind come from either condition.

I should be full of Your mercy, showing no favoritism, and always be sincere–Planting seeds of peace, I’ll reap a harvest of righteousness–all truths that You’ve made clear.

P. A. Oltrogge

“And just as you want people to treat you, treat them in the same way.” words of Jesus in Luke 6:31

“People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:7-18 NLT

“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and He will grant you His blessing. For the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.’” 1 Peter 3:9-12 NLT

A New Creation

“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 (NKJV)

I like to think of the butterfly, a high-flying creation of beauty…

that once was a lowly caterpillar, but destined for the unique duty,

of submitting to the Creator’s perfect will, and a higher design.

This may be compared to the lives of believers–even yours and mine.

Once, we were living low, though we may not have thought it so…

then recognized our need to be forgiven and be transformed to grow

into new creations with a very high call–to go throughout the earth,

in order to share with others, for God, the joy of obtaining “the new birth.”

P. A. Oltrogge

” …he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”  …words of Jesus from Matthew 10:39  (NKJV)

“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)

” ..’Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.’”  …Jesus’ words from Mark 16:15 (NKJV)

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and are in him that is true, even in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20 (KJV)

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (RSV)

Be blessed to read of praise reports at http://www.josephprince.org under “Blog” and then “Praise reports” for great encouragement regarding many situations of life. I’m thanking the Lord, that His goodness and mercy are following you this day. His banner over you is love….

On Any Night or Day

Before reading this poem, “God is Good, All the Time,” I want to recommend a most encouraging true account told in the book, Healed Overnight by Amy Keesee Freudiger. You can read an overview of her book when you visit Amy’s website at http://www.HealedOvernight.com

God is Good, All the Time

…from Luke 13:10-17

In this account, Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues; and it was on a Sabbath day.

A woman was there who, for eighteen years, had had a sickness caused by a spirit—she was bound by Satan that way.

She was bent double and was totally unable to straighten up at all.

But she made her way over to Jesus, upon His invitation and call.

“Woman, you are freed from your sickness,” He said, laying His hands upon her—immediately she became erect.

She began to glorify God that Jesus’ ministry had had such a powerful effect!

But due to rigid adherence to the Torah, a synagogue official could only “see” the Law.

Jesus should not have healed on the Sabbath, he indicated. All he could see was this “flaw.”

In the face of such a miracle, he still, obviously, wasn’t persuaded.

His only desire seemed to be that Jesus’ act of love should be degraded.

Jesus then called him a hypocrite, saying that he, and the other synagogue officials, would untie their own oxen or donkeys on the Sabbath to lead them to some waters.

How much more, then, was it right for Him to heal, even though on a Sabbath, this woman, who was one of Abraham’s daughters.

After Jesus had said these things, his opponents were put to shame…

while, for the glorious things He was doing for others, the people were giving Him great acclaim.

As believers, we, too, are heirs of Abraham; and on any night or day…

the Lord, who never slumbers or sleeps, will hear and answer us whenever we pray.

P. A. Oltrogge

“And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3:29 NASB

“…He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:3-4 NASB

Is anything too hard for God?

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:29-30

Since Jesus said His yoke is easy and that His burden is light,
I shouldn’t let things that seem worrisome keep me up in the night.

I need to cast on Jesus all of my worries and cares instead,
for He lovingly said that He has numbered the very hairs of my head.

If I’m worrying, I’m saying that God isn’t really big enough
to handle or resolve problems that, to my mind, seem so tough.

Can’t He who created your own brain know better what to do?
Consider that and believe that it’s His ability that will see you through.

Why not fully release to God the things that you’ve prayed about?
Put all your confidence in Him and leave no room at all for doubt.

When he who tempts with fear is urging you to be distraught,
just say, “I’ve cast my cares on Jesus,” by the faith that He has taught.

Then go ahead and rest in His love–know it is done and give Him praise.
Remember He leads in green pastures where His sheep may safely graze.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-8 NKJV

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27 NKJV

“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.’” Matthew 19:26 NKJV

“…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” Hebrews 12:2 NKJV

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures….” Psalm 23:1-2 NKJV

Jesus, Closer than a Brother

Dear Lord Jesus,

You thought of the lowly, the forgotten, the oppressed…
You thought of us all; and, through You, we are blessed.

You’re always the Good Shepherd, our Savior and friend.
If any setbacks befall us, You help things to mend.

You’re closer than a brother; and we can draw near…
to You for Your assurance that there’s nothing to fear.

You loved the little children and do to this day.
For the unborn, the young, or the old, You’ve taught us to pray.

And also our enemies, You’ve said, are in great need
of prayers to be enlightened, that Your Word they might heed.

Obedient to Your Father, You went to Calvary’s hill.
You prayed that cup might pass, but accepted Your Father’s will.

Yes, what a friend we have in Jesus, as the hymn goes…
You died for all of mankind, and, praise God, You then arose.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.'” Matthew 11:28-29 NLT

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:11

“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

“And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.'” Luke 23:33

“Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.” Acts 10:40-41

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 20:17

Scriptures: New King James Version, or as noted.

If you have a half hour, the following regards the unborn:
http://www.ilivedonparkerave.comv

Triumphant Hope in Jesus

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6, 7

“Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now we know in part, but then I shall know fully, just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

(A poem on renewal of hope after experiencing loss or a setback to faith.)

You came through difficult days–at times you felt vulnerable and disappointed.
But, remember, you’re a child of God, and you’re still very much anointed.

Philippians 4:13 says you can do all things you’re called to do–
Just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus–that’s Hebrews 12:2.

God is totally for you–His Word has made it clear.
Don’t let past adversities cause you to doubt or fear.

We don’t fight against flesh and blood, but it’s a spiritual battle we wage;
Holding fast to your confidence is vital–it’s not time to disengage.

“Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.”

That’s an old familiar hymn sung down through the years;
And you have carried on so bravely, though sometimes there were tears.

As you continue in God’s Word, it will be a lamp unto your feet
And a light unto your path, bringing fellowship that’s sweet.

In studying the Bible, you’ve come to understand
That all that is good is from the Father’s hand.

Jesus went about healing, showing the Father’s true heart.
He commanded the waves to be calm and the winds to depart.

The Old Testament account of Joseph tells of much that he withstood;
But from what was meant for evil, God brought forth only good.

So keep listening to the Holy Spirit and using God’s Word as you pray;
It’s the trustworthy sword of our armor–don’t let the enemy have any other say.

Plead the blood of Jesus…For our well-being, He was scarred;
Stay strong in your precious faith in His Word, knowing it will guard.

A beautiful chapter of promise is Psalm ninety-one;
We can claim it at each daybreak and even when the day is done.

Surely, you’ve gone through a hard place; but you’ll find by remaining bold
And confident in the Lord, Jesus Christ, your faith will be greater than gold.

“In the world you have tribulation, but…I have overcome the world,” Jesus said.
Stand firm in that truth and you will find that God has wonderful things still ahead.

P. A. Oltrogge

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“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 the house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.” Matthew 7:24, 25

“…rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.” Romans 12:12

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19-20

“Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” James 1:17

“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

“But thanks be to God who always leads us in His triumph in Christ….”
2 Corinthians 2:14

Psalm 91 (entire Psalm)

“that being justified by His grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:7

Book or CD recommendation at http://www.billyebrim.org under “Store,” …”The Authority of the Believer and How to Use It” and other insightful materials.

Photo/Unsplash by David Marcu
Piatra Craiului Mountains, Romania

Philip and the Ethiopian

The earliest believers suffered persecution–a man of God, Stephen, was put to death. Though scattered, they continued to share about Jesus, the Master, who gives to all of us breath.

We read on…of the evangelist, Philip, in the book of Acts and chapter eight. His desire to share about Jesus was greater than any fears he might have had for his own fate.

He’d gone to the city of Samaria and preached there, doing many miraculous signs. He had cast out demons and healed the lame, leaving a very joyful city behind.

Having heard of the new believers in Samaria, Peter and John had arrived as well. They prayed and laid hands on the believers–and upon them, the Holy Spirit fell.

An angel of the Lord then instructed Philip, to head south on the desert road…that ran from Jerusalem to Gaza, where he saw a man soon, and his journey slowed….

Philip walked alongside the man’s chariot, at the Holy Spirit’s leading. This man was the treasurer of Ethiopia, and from the book of Isaiah, he was reading.

He’d been to Jerusalem to worship and was on his journey from there of return. But, obviously, he had a hunger about God, and Philip was to help him learn.

“Do you understand what you’re reading?” Philip asked, wanting to be his guide. The man replied that he needed help, and invited him to come up and sit alongside.

This was the passage of scripture he’d been reading:

“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”

The Ethiopian asked Philip for clarification as to whom this text referred. Then Philip told him the good news of Jesus, the Savior–the first time that he clearly had heard.

Philip undoubtedly told him about baptism in water and of the Holy Spirit being outpoured.  The man believed the gospel, and his own baptism was what he then eagerly looked toward.

As they rode along, they came to some water and stopped, because this man recognized…that it was the perfect opportunity for them to get out so he could immediately be baptized.

Regarding it, Philip said, ‘”If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”–so there was no reason for delay.

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip supernaturally away.  The Ethiopian never saw him again, but he went home rejoicing in the Lord that day.

P. A. Oltrogge

Above scripture: Acts 8:32-33 NKJV

And then he (Jesus) told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, he was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.

Mark 16:15-20 NLT

Snow Poem

There’s a quietness…the air is brisk;

and now it’s getting thick with snow

as I take a walk along the street,

with nowhere necessary today to go.

Heard in the distance are joyful shouts

of some children who are out at play.

Predictions are…the snow will be deep—

the schools have been called off today.

Cars are few out on the streets;

and those that are out are going slowly.

The beauty of the snowfall makes one think,

for the moment, only of its presence wholly.

“Have you entered the treasury of snow?”

That was a question God asked of Job.

“He gives snow like wool,” is from the Psalms.

The neighborhood seems to be in a “snow globe.”

Underneath my plush-lined boots,

the snow keeps crunching as I walk.

Heading back to my front porch,

I meet some neighbors and stop to talk.

They invite me to come inside for coffee,

where the fireplace in their home is glowing.

It’s a perfect time for fellowship

on a day set aside because it’s snowing.

P. A. Oltrogge

Scripture references:
Job 38:22
Psalm 147:16

…and for any concerns today:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV

The Wonderful Works of Jesus

A man with deafness and a speech impediment was in need of Jesus’ touch.
Those who brought him begged the Lord to heal him, being confident of such.

Jesus led him, then, away from the crowd so that they could be alone.
He put His fingers into the man’s ears—the beginning of his hearing tone.

Jesus spit upon His own fingers and touched the man’s tongue as well.
“Ephphatha,” (“Be opened!”) He said, looking up to heaven—then the man instantly heard, clear as a bell!

The man’s tongue was also freed—his speech became perfectly clear.
Jesus told the crowd not to spread the story, but they couldn’t help tell that the man could now speak and hear.

“Everything Jesus does is wonderful,” they shared, in relating this event.
The deaf could hear, the dumb could speak. God’s goodness was being displayed wherever Jesus went!

P. A. Oltrogge

From Mark 7:31-37

“Everything He does is wonderful! He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak.”
Mark 7:37 NLT

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases….” Psalm 103:1-3

Hear testimonies of the works of Jesus today…or receive prayer, M-F, 9:30 a.m. ET; 8:30 a.m. CT at http://www.govictory.com (Morning Prayer)

Refer also to archived post, “Immersion in God’s Word,” or to other sites, such as http://www.moorelife.org, http://www.awmi.net, and others previously mentioned on this blog.