Picture this…

Picture great crowds, coming to be taught…
Picture the sick, whom others had brought.
Picture them healed, through miracles wrought,
By Jesus, God’s Son, Whom so many had sought.

Picture a day where the sun was getting low.
“Hear” the disciples saying they just didn’t know…
How the people would eat—and should be told to go;
But picture a lad with loaves and fish that would grow.

“Listen” to Jesus say, “Bring them here to me…”
Picture loaves and fish multiplied by His decree,
With five thousand being fed, at a cost that was free,
And full baskets left over before the disciples put out to sea.

Picture Jesus sending the multitudes away,
Going up to the mountain by Himself to pray–-
Then joining the disciples, through water and spray,
On the fourth watch of the night, just before day.

Picture Peter bravely wanting to join the Lord,
Picture him boldly stepping overboard;
Then see his faith waver as sea and wind roared–
Picture him sinking but, by Christ, being restored.

Picture your own life and remember these things;
Remember that “greatness” to small things Christ brings.
Look to the Lord for your faith to take wings,
As you walk on life’s waters with the King of Kings.

P. A. Oltrogge

From Matthew 14:14-31

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Photo/Porch of the Lord

Compassion at the Pool of Bethesda

During a feast of the Jews, we see Jesus at the healing pool of Bethesda, which was by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, that prominent city.

And He saw a certain man lying among the many others who had come to seek healing, whose infirmity had lasted thirty-eight years—and on whom no man had apparently had pity.

It was known and told that an angel came to stir the waters at a season and time at this pool of five porches, an esteemed place.

And whoever first, thereafter, made it into the water was healed of their illness—with no longer a trace.

Jesus, knowing that this individual had been crippled and infirm for a long time, asked him if he wanted to be healed.

The man replied that he had no man to help him into the waters after they were stirred. Others were always quicker, so his fate had been sealed.

Then, Jesus mercifully said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk,” stepping in for the said “no man.”

Immediately, the infirm man was made whole, got to his feet, took up his bed and walked, for health and healing have always been God’s plan.

Today, when we experience difficulties, even those long-standing, and may sometimes feel there is no one to help, not even the Lord…

remember, we still do have an advocate in Jesus, God’s Son—to get adverse things eliminated and have the good restored.

P. A. Oltrogge

”…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Acts 10:38 NKJV

“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.” (Words of Jesus in John 10:10 NKJV)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NKJV

Poetic account, above, from John, chapter 5.

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From Out of the Miry Clay

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“He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay; and He set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm.” Psalm 40:2

…just a little contemplation on what I envision the Lord might say to someone who just placed their faith in Him…

To My mind, your life without Me was like being in miry clay;
But I kept My hope that you’d respond to My love one day.
Where you had been didn’t matter so much,
For I knew that you were in need of My touch.
Ever so gently I drew you away–
I knew this would happen if you would just pray.
By the power of My Spirit you opened your heart,
And now, through My grace, you have gotten a new start.
That person you were has actually died;
A new life’s begun due to “Christ crucified.”

So rejoice in My love as I do in yours.
Share it with others despite troubles or wars,
For I have room for so many through heaven’s open doors.
And from out of heaven’s windows, My love surely pours–
Down to the miry clay–or wherever it may
Find people and lead them out to My way.

P. A. Oltrogge

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Galatians 2:20
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“He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge. His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.”
Psalm 91:4

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
Matthew 23:37 (New King James)

Be willing to come to Christ and be blessed….

The Tomb that Became Glorious

“And so they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where He was crucified, there was a garden; and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been laid. Therefore on account of the Jewish day of preparation, because the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.” John 19:40-42

from John 20….

At a new tomb, a garden tomb, a great stone had been rolled away–
Just to show that the victorious Jesus Christ didn’t stay!
Briefly, His body, in linen, with spices, had been placed therein,
But lasting death, for this Man, was not destined to win!

That morning, Mary Magdalene came while it was not yet dawn–
Then ran to get Simon Peter when she found that Christ’s body was gone.
Upon hearing this, Peter and John went out and came unto the tomb;
Only the linen wrappings were lying there within its room.

They went away then after they’d seen for themselves what she had said;
They hadn’t understood Jesus’ words, that He would rise again from the dead. But Mary remained outside the tomb, and while she was weeping, she looked inside again to find two angels, their posts keeping.

“Woman, why are you weeping?” was the question they put to her–
She replied that her Lord’s body was taken–by whom or where, she wasn’t sure.
Turning around, she saw a “gardener,” but didn’t yet recognize
That standing there was the beloved Christ, before her very eyes.

When He said, “Mary,” her eyes were opened to every familiar feature
Of the One she loved, and for whom she’d wept, “Rabboni,” the Master and Teacher. He had yet to ascend to His Father–so, therefore, He bid Mary go,
To tell the brethren of His ascension–He wanted them all to know!

We, too, can go from the garden tomb, a place that had seen God’s glory,
To tell all the world of what Christ has done–this world’s greatest love story.
“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.

At that garden tomb, a much greater “stone” had actually been rolled away…
Of death and darkness, now removed, to reveal the Light of Jesus Christ’s Way!

P. A. Oltrogge

“So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” John 20:8-9

“For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.’ But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.” Mark 9:30-32

Other references: Matthew 16:21; Matthew 17:22-23; Matthew 27:62-64; John 2:16-22; John 10:17-18

“And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Revelations 1:5,6

“I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Revelations 1:18

Scriptures: NASB

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Greeting the Dawn

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Early one morning, I got up from the night’s rest
and stole quietly out to find day at its best.

Our yard had a bench, so I there took a seat
and looked towards the glistening fields of wheat.

The sun was just rising, increasing its glow,
coming up from the horizon for a grand “daybreak” show.

The chirping of the birds had already started.
One squirrel chased another—across the lawn, they darted.

The flower beds looked like worlds of their own,
where sunlight and dewdrops together had grown.

The cat prowled through the flowers and around the birdbath,
then scooted over to explore what might be down the stone path.

Her kittens awoke, frisked about, and climbed trees,
playing with branches that swayed in the breeze.

Such blessings God gives us but not everyone sees,
because some are still sleeping while the dawn flees.

P. A. Oltrogge

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“It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your loving kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night….” Psalm 92:1-2 NKJV

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3 NIV

“I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word.” Psalm 119:147 NKJV

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” Lamentations 3:22-24 NRSV

The Children’s Bread

“And He was saying to her, ‘Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’” (Mark 7:27) These were Jesus’ words to a Syrophoenician woman, regarding the healing of her daughter… Here He was referring to healing as “the children’s bread.” She was not Jewish (“the children”) but persisted in faith, to ask for His help, which He gave.

We read in the Bible’s book of Acts that in the course of Peter’s travels, he arrived at the town of Lydda to visit with some of the saints.

There He came upon a man named Aeneas, who’d been bedridden for eight years with paralysis and its constraints.

The account tells us that Peter spoke with sure faith, saying, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you: arise, and make your bed.”

At Peter’s words, the paralyzed man immediately arose; and all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord, having seen that healing is the children’s bread.

In another instance, in Joppa, there was a disciple named Tabitha, or Dorcas, who abounded with charity for others and deeds that were kind.

Just at that time, she had fallen sick and died–a loss which was felt deeply, for she had made garments for many; and by such acts of service she was defined.

Some of the disciples heard that Peter was in nearby Lydda, so they sent two men to him to entreat him to come and not delay.

He agreed to come with the men and there, in an upper room of the house where her body was lying, Peter sent out those who wept. He knelt and prayed–then turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, arise,” at which point, death couldn’t stay.

She opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. He gave her his hand and raised her up, then called those who’d been there to return. Peter presented her alive to all of them, who were so grateful and amazed.

The raising of Dorcas became known all over Joppa and many there believed, too, on the Lord and that the Name of Jesus, of whom Peter preached, was greatly to be praised.

P. A. Oltrogge

A poetic summary from Acts 9:32-43

Also refer to Acts 10 on the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Gospel, and Acts 11:18 “And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, ‘Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.’”

“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

Other examples of Peter and the other apostles extending healing in Jesus’ Name: Acts 3:1-10, 16 and Acts 5:12-16; Acts 14:8-10; Acts 19:11-12; Acts 20:9-10; Acts 28:3-5 (Paul suffered no harm himself); Acts 28:7-9

Healing encouragement:
http://www.kcm.org
http://www.sandrakennedy.org
http://www.billyburke.org
http://www.oralroberts.com
http://www.awmi.net

The Shepherd’s Voice

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I once saw a film clip about a shepherd of today.
It showed an imposter calling for the sheep to come his way.

But the sheep went on grazing, just as if they couldn’t hear.
Then their true shepherd called; His voice, to them, was clear.

It was amazing to watch them immediately flock to his side.
Likewise, we flock to our true Shepherd, protector, and guide.

At times, a voice that is dangerous will come to us in disguise.
But the voice of our Shepherd, Jesus, and His truths make us wise.

P. A. Oltrogge

“And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:4-5

“I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and I am known by my own.” John 10:14

“…For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5

“The wise in heart will receive commands….” Proverbs 10:8

“The law of the wise is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death.” Proverbs 13:14

“But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.” from one of the parables in Matthew 25 (verse 4)

Scriptures NKJV

Excellent series at http://www.moorelife.org on
“My Sheep Hear My Voice” by Keith Moore

That’s Perfect

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“God is my strength and power: and He makes my way perfect.”
2 Samuel 22:33

“As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.
For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
And makes my way perfect.”
Psalm 18:30-32

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

“But above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:14-17

“The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.” Hebrews 7:28 NLT

“…Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 1:27-28

New King James Version

A Narrative on the Biblical Account of Jonah

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Photo/Unsplash

In Old Testament Bible days…

The capital of the Assyrian Empire was Nineveh, and the Assyrians showed no mercy to those they overtook in any conquest.

God told His prophet, Jonah, that he should go to them, telling them to repent for their sins and idolatry, at the Lord’s request.

Jonah didn’t want to do this. They were Israel’s enemies; and, in his own way of thinking, they deserved to be punished without being warned.

So he set off for the seaport of Joppa and boarded a ship due to sail to distant Tarshish–the mission for God being thereby scorned.

Jonah went below and soon fell fast asleep, while the crew, above on deck, began to grapple with a storm that had begun to grow.

They tried very hard to keep things on course, but eventually decided the way to survive was that much of the cargo they’d have to forgo.

They perceived that such a fierce storm had something to do with God and began to pray to “gods” which they’d known by hearsay.

That didn’t prove to help and they thought of the passenger who’d come aboard, all the while they were dealing with wind, waves, and spray.

The captain went below and found, despite the storm, the new passenger asleep; and he woke him to pray to his “god,” or they’d all be lost.

A decision was made to cast lots to see who was to blame for the trouble, and they came up with Jonah as the cause of their being storm-tossed.

Jonah admitted to being a Hebrew from Israel–one who worshiped the true God who’d made heaven and earth, but whom he’d disobeyed.

He said he’d run away from a God-ordained task. The storm was surely because of that–and, therefore, a decision had to be made.

The only way to stop the storm’s fury, he said, was to throw him overboard; but the sailors ignored that, not wanting to do such a cruel act.

They tried taking to the oars, which ultimately didn’t work; so they finally took Jonah at his word, so their ship could remain intact.

They prayed that Jonah’s God wouldn’t harm them for taking the measure, but went ahead and tossed him over the threatened boat’s side.

Then the winds began to die and the waves to calm…. They gave thanks and honored his God on the deck in awe, that the storm did, in fact, subside.

As Jonah began to tumble down into the depths of the water, he knew he needed to call on God to rescue him from the harrowing situation.

So God appointed a great fish, of His design, to come and scoop him up in its mouth, providing an unusual underwater way station.

“I called out of my distress to the Lord, and He answered me. I cried for help…from the depth of Sheol, Thou didst hear my voice,” Jonah said.

“Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me.” But his salvation was from the Lord, whom he thanked for life instead.

After three days and nights, God commanded the fish to release Jonah out onto the dry land; and he heard the Lord say that Nineveh was still on His mind.

The message to repent before forty days’ time or God would punish them and their city was to be presented to all. This time Jonah went, but never whined.

Well, the people’s hearts were receptive to the message that Jonah brought; and from the King down to the least, they fasted from water and bread.

They were repentant and called on God that He might relent and not harm them after all–and God, in His mercy, didn’t do what Jonah had relayed that He had said.

This displeased Jonah, who hadn’t had a heart for the people from the beginning of the assignment. He told God that He was too gracious as far as he could tell–

“a compassionate God, slow to anger, abundant in loving kindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.” (It was Jonah’s anger that began to swell.)

The Lord asked Jonah if he had good reason to be angry; but Jonah simply exited the city to watch if their repentance would last, or if God might yet send destruction.

After all, he felt the Ninevites didn’t deserve any mercy since they’d not shown any themselves. He kept fuming since he’d followed God’s every instruction.

While he was outside the city waiting to see if God would send, at least, some punishment to it, God provided a plant there to shade him from the sun.

This pleased Jonah very much. But God had a lesson in mind and sent a worm to destroy the plant the next morning, and its leaves withered to none.

Again, Jonah became upset and complained that his life wasn’t even worth living. Then, the Lord said that if he was sad about a mere plant’s death,

which he hadn’t even created, wasn’t He, as the Lord of creation, justified in caring about 120,000 persons to whom He’d given breath?

So we see that God uses messengers to cause men to repent and turn away from wrong–that there loom consequences to ignoring the true God and His ways.

But He does this out of the love He has for those whom He’s designed and created, simply wanting them to come under His kindness and blessing all of their days.

Thank God, there are many “Jonahs” today, sharing the message that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. More eager to do so than Jonah, they hope to reflect…

the love and mercy of the Lord themselves–and that God’s words through the Bible reveal that Jesus Christ is faithful, and so worthy of every person’s respect.

P. A. Oltrogge

Just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights, Jesus said that would be the “sign” to “this generation.” He said this, knowing and meaning He would be put to death on a cross for the sins of mankind and would be in the grave for three days and three nights, but would be resurrected then, with the accomplished, triumphant message that salvation is of Him, Jesus Christ. He told the crowds, “Something greater than Jonah is here!” And so, He is here today. May this present generation fully embrace the message of His life, death, and resurrection and offer of forgiveness and abundant life now and for eternity.

“And as the crowds were increasing, He began to say, ‘This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so shall the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South shall rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh shall stand up with this generation at the judgment, and condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.’” (words of Jesus, from Luke 11:29-32 and Matthew 12:38-41)

“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

“He isn’t really being slow about His promised return, even though it sometimes seems that way. But He is waiting, for the good reason that He is not willing that any should perish, and He is giving more time for sinners to repent.” 2 Peter 3:9 The Living Bible

“He is merciful and tender toward those who don’t deserve it; He is slow to get angry and full of kindness and love.” Psalm 103:8 The Living Bible

“For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” Romans 11:32-33

A Captivating Season

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The heavens and earth exhibit countless masterpieces of the Lord’s.
His seasons have beauty and variety–each one has its own rewards.

But one that’s especially captivating is the autumn, before it’s cold.
Shades of red, orange, and gold make His artistry evident and bold.

Hearing the crunching of fallen leaves under our feet as we walk,
makes for a reflective time of year to go out with a friend and talk.

When the sun shines on a hillside covered with trees which have “turned,”
it’s a far more exquisite gift God gives than anything I may have earned.

“Fall” is a time of the welcome harvest, when thankfulness comes to mind.
There are pumpkins and apple picking and bountiful crops of every kind.

So I thank God for His goodness and the beauty that He’s displayed;
And I thank Him that, in any season, He’s answered when I’ve prayed.

I know that I love spring and summer and the winter’s pure white snow;
but my favorite season still is autumn, with its glorious golden glow.

P. A. Oltrogge

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Psalm 19:1

“…Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah 6:3

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