The Life and Ministry of Jesus–God’s Gift to Us

I think that it could be said about Jesus that, even as their twelve-year old son, when Mary and Joseph found Him sharing in the temple, His ministering had already begun.

His first recorded, actual miracle was at the wedding where He turned water into wine. That’s when His connection to His heavenly Father really began to shine.

He called twelve men to be His disciples–to learn from Him and follow His ways. He taught them through parables and the scriptures, and made them mindful of thanksgiving and praise.

Jesus performed many miracles–from provision to healing, and raising some people from the dead. He said to forgive your enemies–not retaliating, but praying for and loving them instead.

On this day, we begin the Lenten season, remembering His sacrifice on behalf of our sins. He was the perfect Lamb of God on the cross; it’s through Him that new life begins.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, and old things have passed away. That’s a free gift of God for all to receive. If you haven’t yet received it, then let this be your day.

P. A. Oltrogge

“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

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

Matthew 5:43-48
Luke 2:41-52
John 2:1-11
John 21:25

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The Leader We All Need

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Looking for a trusted leader? Then, you need to look no more,
for Jesus Christ is the leader every one of us is looking for.

Kingdoms of this world arise, and there are those that fall;
but Christ and His eternal kingdom reign preeminently over them all.

We can read of the rulers of history, both the bad or the good;
but it’s the Lordship of Jesus Christ that must be fully understood.

Sent from His Father, God, Jesus came to us as a servant,
sharing God’s love on earth in a manner that was selfless and fervent.

He emptied Himself of His position, to live and die as a man,
winning redemption for all who’ll believe, in fulfillment of God’s plan.

He spoke of His Father’s goodness, and He told us how to live.
He said that we were to love others, to serve them, and to forgive.

Jesus said that if we followed Him, we’d actually find what’s best.
He taught the importance of prayer, and that, thereby, we’d be blessed.

Looking for a trusted leader? He can be contacted from any nation.
“If anyone is in Christ, they’ve become a new creation.”

Receive, for yourself, Jesus’ leadership, the ruler who shall reign forever.
What a true and faithful King He is. Will He fail us or forsake us? Never!

P. A. Oltrogge

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8 NASB

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone 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 will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'” Matthew 16:24-25 NKJV

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13 KJV

“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

“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:23-24 NKJV

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NKJV

“Love never fails….” 1 Corinthians 13:8 NKJV

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV

“Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.'” Revelation 11:15 NKJV

“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns.'”

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True….”

“And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:6, 11, and 16 NKJV

Everything to Gain…Because of God’s Love

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Whoever desires to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Jesus makes this statement yet today to us
because God’s great love is actually behind it.

For as we surrender to God’s perfect will,
we needn’t have any apprehensions still…

since the Lord of all creation wants to guide us
to that which is best as He walks beside us.

P. A. Oltrogge
 
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone 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 will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'” Matthew 16:24-25 NKJV
 
“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 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

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulnrss.” Lamentations 3:21-23 RSV

“…For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:5 NLT

His love blesses us, and we seek to love and bless others…

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV

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

Cross Over to the Other Side

Photo by Josh Matthews
Jumonville Cross
Photo by Josh Matthews

A cross on a hillside beckons for our attention,
and can bring to mind something that Jesus Christ mentioned
when He and His disciples launched out for a sail–
“Let’s cross over to the other side,” were His words that didn’t fail.

Have you been on the side with those who have apprehensions,
or reject that Christ is Lord or doubt God’s intentions?
Look thoughtfully to the cross, for a strong message it bears–
God wants you to cross over to knowing that He cares.

Any other “religion” hasn’t the cross’s personal touch–
God sent His Son to die for you because He loved you that much.
There, Jesus made the sacrifice for your well-being and sins–
so you could cross to the place where new life in Him begins.

Despite a storm, His words didn’t fail in that Biblical account recorded.
They won’t fail in your destiny either, but you’ll be greatly rewarded,
as you come under the shadow of the Almighty and cross to the other side.
You’ll be so thankful you heeded the message of the wonderful cross as your guide.

P. A. Oltrogge

“On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’

“Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’ And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!’”

Mark 4:35-41 (NKJV)

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

John 5:24 (NIV)

“…that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Romans 6:4 (NKJV)

Have the Heart of Ruth

We read in the Bible that Ruth, of Moab, had a loyal and loving heart.
So upon the death of her Hebrew husband, she felt that she couldn’t part
from Naomi, her beloved mother-in-law, who had urged her to make her way
back to Ruth’s own parent’s home; but, instead, Ruth begged to stay.

She shared her heart, stating that where Naomi went, so, in fact, would she;
where she lodged and the God she worshiped–these would also be
what she desired for her own particular life, even to her day of dying.
To stay with her late husband’s “family” was the future on which she was relying.

Naomi allowed Ruth, then, to go with her on her Bethlehem-Judah return;
there Ruth would find a special blessing that only God could have discerned.
For there was a kinsman-redeemer through Naomi’s husband’s line,
whom Ruth would meet, while gleaning in his fields, by God-ordained design.

Related by blood, willing and able to redeem this woman, Boaz entered her life;
a prominent free man, total provision was hers, when she later became his wife.
One can easily see an analogy here to the Bible’s New Testament account that we read of God becoming Man, through Jesus Christ–the Kinsman-Redeemer He knew we would need.

Like Ruth, leave the “god” you once were told about; find shelter under the
true God’s wings. Look to the Way, the Truth, and the Life–and experience the peace that Christ brings. Don’t try to make it on your own with God, through acts of service, however kind; there’s provision for us as “the bride of Christ,” which He, the Bridegroom, wants us to find.

P. A. Oltrogge

“But Ruth said, ‘Entreat me not to leave you or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.’”
Ruth 1:16-17 NKJV

“May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”
Ruth 2:12 NASB

“You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John 3:28-30 NASB (words of John the Baptist regarding Christ, the Bridegroom)

Other references:

Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19,20

Rejoicing to hear of those of today who have left their perception of God to find faith in Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life–

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” John 14:1 NKJV

“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 NKJV

The Only True God

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Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Regarding Christians, Muslims, and Jews,
some say the God they all worship is the same.

But the Bible is clear that the only true God
is the One who is known through Jesus’ name.

Realize it’s a fallacy that knowing God is the same to all three,
for Jesus said that “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

His words hold true for other “faiths,” too, no matter which they may be.
“No one comes to the Father,” Jesus emphasized, “except through Me.”

There aren’t “many paths to God,” but He has provided a blessed one–
opened for us by way of Calvary’s cross through Jesus, His beloved and only begotten Son.

P. A. Oltrogge

“You know neither Me nor My Father. If you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” John 8:19

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3 (and all of John 17)

“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

“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

“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

“While he (Peter) was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!'” Matthew 17:5

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6:37

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

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Romans 1:16

“And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.” Matthew 1:16

“Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess…coming in that instance, she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him (Jesus) to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” From Luke 2:36-38

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:9-11

“Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6

Scriptures NKJV

Photo Unsplash
by Robert Nyman

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

There’s still light in Goshen

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The Lord was working out a major plan to set free–the captive Hebrew people of old. There would be ten plagues, so the actions of Moses and Aaron would need to be brave and bold.

When they came before Pharaoh, they had commands from the Lord on what to say or do, to warn him of, or initiate, every plague that his nation was soon to go through.

The ninth plague of darkness was so severe that the Egyptians couldn’t get around. For three days, the darkness was “felt” and thick, in the air and on the ground.

One of Egypt’s chief deities was the sun “god,” so such darkness proved the Lord’s might, to prevail over any of the “gods” of the Egyptians. Only His power could end the dark night.

But the Hebrews were under God’s protection; and, in the midst of that constant night, there was light in Goshen in their dwellings because God was in charge of their fight.

Today, people experience darkness, not of God and not a kind where you can’t visibly see, but darkness in their minds when they’ve not recognized “the door,” through which anyone’s able to go free.

Jesus pointed the way, saying, “If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” You can experience “Goshen” through God’s Son yet today, and you’ll have all of the light that you’ll need.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt. So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” Exodus 10:21-23

“If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36 KJV

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

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill, and destroy: I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.’” John 10:9-10

“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NKJV

At Hanukkah, Dear Jewish Friend

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We’re meant to be family; I pray you can see
that the Jewish Teacher, Jesus, was from your family tree.
Of the house and lineage of David, as Jewish as you yourself;
yet He was God and Messiah, not a name in a Book on a shelf.

Your Torah, too, speaks about the sacrifices
necessary for what a holy God saw as mankind’s vices.
God’s people couldn’t come to the priest with righteousness of their own,
but through the slaying of an animal, a cleansing was shown.

Your devotion to God is very commendable,
yet your system of belief is not dependable
before the God of Israel’s holy face.
You see, you must recognize the Lamb He sent in your place.

No, there won’t be a Messiah by any other name
than the revealed Jesus Christ of worldwide fame.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son—
There’s no need to look for another Messiah to do…
what Jesus has already done.

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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 NKJV

“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16 NKJV

“Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and to great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come—that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” Acts 26:22-23 NKJV

“But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” Ephesians 2:13-16 NASB

“(The Lamb of God) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” John 1:29 NKJV

Emmanuel, God with Us

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Emmanuel, God with us…
You see, we are not alone.
Emmanuel, God with us…
Through the birth of a Child, God’s presence was shown.
He wouldn’t leave us without knowledge of His love,
But made Himself known, coming down from above.
Emmanuel, God with us…
From God, the Father, came a Baby so mild.
Emmanuel, God with us…
God’s Son was embodied in a holy Child.
Born of a virgin, the handmaiden of the Lord—
From His life, the goodness of God would be poured.
After humble beginnings in a manger stall,
His name would become great—He would die for all,
So that any individual living on this earth
Could personally know their God of great worth.
Emmanuel, God with us…
It’s the greatest name known.
Emmanuel, God with us in Jesus,
And now we need never be alone!

P. A. Oltrogge

“In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” John 14:20

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20

“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

…from Christmas on the Porch, the book, available at http://www.amazon.com and http://www.barnesandnoble.com