A Bit of the Irish

“Top of the morning” to you, on this St. Patrick’s Day!
May all of God’s wonderful blessings graciously come your way.

It’s said that St. Patrick used the shamrock, which has leaves of three,
as an illustration to the Irish people of God’s holy Trinity.

Just as a shamrock is composed of three separate leaves, yet is one–
the almighty God of the Bible is the Father, Holy Spirit, and the Son.

Shamrocks have been associated with “luck,” but God’s promises are sure.
While shamrocks cannot last, God’s loving kindness will forever endure.

Today is a day when many will turn to thoughts of the Emerald Isle;
but may we daily be sure to turn our thoughts to the Lord for a while.

And on a day when some may be thinking of “wearing the green,”
may the people of God reflect His joy, which is the best thing to be seen.

P. A. Oltrogge

“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.” 1 John 5:7 KJV

Of the Word, Jesus, it’s written: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 KJV

Mark 12:28-30; John 14:6; John 14:9; 1 John 1:1-4; John 1:1-5

Inspirational tribute to the life of St. Patrick:
www.dutchsheets.org (video)
www.givehim15.com (written)

Zola Explains the Three Days and Three Nights

Reprinted with permission given from Zola Levitt Ministries….

The following is an essay on the most asked question that comes to Zola Levitt Ministries during the season of Lent/Easter, when you may ask it yourself.

Friday to Sunday?

QUESTION: If the Lord was crucified on Friday and rose on Sunday, how could that encompass three days and three nights?

ANSWER: The Gospel accounts indicate that the Lord was crucified on Friday at 9:00 a.m. and taken off the cross at 3:00 p.m. His body was prepared for burial and interred at sundown the same day, which was the beginning of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The Lord then arose on Sunday morning after sunup.

According to the modern way of counting, this spans barely two days. Yet that time period seems to disagree with Jesus’ earlier prediction:

“For as Jonas (Jonah) was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40

The prophecy can be understood when we examine the Jewish way of counting days and nights. We must recall that the Jewish day always starts at sunset, so that Friday really begins on Thursday evening (a fact that is reflected in the language of Genesis–“the evening and the morning” are the first day). The second day, then, begins at sundown on Friday and continues through the daytime on Saturday. Finally, Sunday begins at sundown on Saturday and stretches through Saturday night and the daylight hours of Sunday, making the third day. Since the Jews counted any portion of daylight as a full day, then Friday morning through Sunday morning would have been seen as three complete days and nights.

People have sometimes struggled to move Passover (the “Last Supper”) back one day in order to get three days and three nights the way we would count them in the Western world, but that would be inaccurate. Even in the Western world we begin each day on the night before at midnight, so the concept is not strange to us. Supporting this understanding of the Lord’s crucifixion on a Friday (against those who claim that it happened on a different day) is the centuries-long history of Christians celebrating Good Friday, not “Good Thursday” or “Good Wednesday.” This evidence indicates that we can trust the accuracy of the Bible’s account, and also confirms that knowing the Jewish roots of Christianity can open a deeper understanding of God’s Word.

Do the Gospels Disagree on When Jesus Died?

QUESTION: Did Jesus celebrate the Passover and die on Passover day, or did He celebrate and die on the day before? Matthew, Mark, and Luke say He died on Passover day, but John seems to claim that He celebrated and died the day before the Passover. Why the difference?

ANSWER: The difference between John’s Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) regarding the Passover and death of Jesus is attributable to the fact that two systems were used at that time for reckoning Passover day. The Judeans used a method of reckoning different from the Galileans (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The Galileans and Pharisees measured days from sunrise to sunrise, whereas the Judeans and Sadducees used the sunset-to-sunset reckoning in John’s Gospel.

“And the evening and the morning were the first day.”–Genesis 1:5

Thus, Jews from Galilee celebrated their Passover on Thursday evening, with Passover day starting at sunrise Friday morning. Jews in Judea and Jerusalem, however, celebrated Passover on Friday evening at sundown. Consequently, according to John and the Jews in Judea, Jesus’ celebration on Thursday and death on Friday before sunset occurred on erev Pesach (the eve of Passover), because Passover started for them at Friday’s sunset.

The Galilean method used by Jesus and His disciples would have the Passover Lamb slain and Last Supper on Thursday, 14 Nissan. The Judean method used by John would have the Passover Lamb slain on 15 Nissan.

Most scholars agree that because of the two different methods of timekeeping, there were two days for the slaying of the lambs, which makes sense given the number of lambs being slaughtered. That task couldn’t be done in a single day.

There is no contradiction; the Gospels reflect the two different chronological systems for determining the Passover.

Zola Levitt site: http://www.levitt.com

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)

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

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

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….

What is man, that God is mindful of him?

Zermatt, Switzerland
Photo/Unsplash

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth! Your glory is sung above the heavens. From the mouths of little children and infants, you have built a fortress against your opponents to silence the enemy and the avenger.

Psalm 8:1-2 GW

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

Psalm 8:3-4 KJV

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
    the moon and the stars you set in place—
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
    human beings that you should care for them?

Psalm 8:3-4 NLT

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and great in mercy.
The Lord is good to all,
And His tender mercies are over all His works.

All Your works shall praise You, O Lord,
And Your saints shall bless You.

Psalm 145:8-10 NKJV

from the worship song…
How Majestic is Your Name
by Michael W. Smith

O Lord, our Lord
How majestic is your name in all the earth
O Lord, our Lord
How majestic is your name in all the earth…

O Lord, we praise your name
O Lord, we magnify your name
Prince of Peace, Mighty God
O Lord, God Almighty!


For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  

Isaiah 9:6 NKJV

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

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, 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 4:9-11 NKJV

For I know the thoughts that I have toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV

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

The Creator of the Ends of the Earth

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.

Isaiah 40:28-29 NKJV

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God….

Psalm 42:1-2 NKJV

Photos/Unsplash: Top, Gleason Falls, Hillsborough, NH, U.S., by Forest Simon
Bottom, Rocky Mountain State Park, Estes Park, U.S., by Steve Adams

To Become a Child of God

A statement that’s sometimes made, which needs to be corrected…is “We are all God’s children.” Not true–but by those words, it seems to be suggested.

That we’re all created by God is a fact that’s certainly true. But to become a child of God requires something every person must personally do.

“But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them gave He the right or power…to become the children of God”–an offer that, when accepted, becomes your most blessed hour.

Jesus said to Nicodemus, a teacher of Israel, that a man must be born again. He had visited the Lord in the night, having seen the miracles He’d wrought among men.

And Jesus told a group of Pharisees plainly that they were of the devil, their father. If they were already God’s children, then why did He die for them or even bother?

No, He was sent to die for the sins of anyone living here on the earth–the firstborn among many brethren, Christ became Man through the virgin birth.

Obedient to His Father’s plan, Jesus paid the ransom for our restoration…to relationship with the Holy One–for those who believe, from out of every nation.

“I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God,” Jesus said. They’re still words that speak of “Family” to those who’ll believe that He rose from the dead.

No, we can’t all be called God’s children until we’ve put faith in His Son. That’s the defining moment when a new life, as God’s child, has begun.

P. A. Oltrogge

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…. John 1:12

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…. John 1:12 KJV

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:1-3

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…and see all of John 3

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

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

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.   Romans 8:29

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”  John 8:42-47

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. Romans 8:12-17

Scriptures: New King James Version, or as noted