Out of the Ashes

The following was written some years ago but is certainly applicable today.
by Guest Contributor, J. Vetter

Only a year ago, a tornado swept through our town, and trees became missiles of destruction. They slammed against houses, fences and vehicles with an angry vengeance.

This morning I took the time to investigate the new walking trail that was built in our area. Joy crowded into my heart and it overflowed with gratitude as I recognized that the pathway had been created with the remains of those fallen trees. Then, at the end of the trail, the joy that I felt gave birth to overwhelming revelation of new life! There, amidst the trees, an outdoor chapel had been built. There was a simple wooden cross, a pulpit, and there were six wooden benches.

Even though no one was standing behind the pulpit, I heard a message spoken loudly and clearly into my spirit. It was “Never give up! Never give up!” In spite of what may look like devastation, God declares, “There will be new life – trust Me! Learn to expect the good, for I know how to bring it about. Take your eyes off the distraction of loss and begin to expect the beauty of renewal.”

The Lord has much to say about being one who overcomes. I personally believe it thrills God’s heart when we choose to allow Him to rebuild what has been devastated or broken. It may not look the same; but in fact, often it can be even better. I’m thinking, for example, of the times people have had a water pipe break or some other kind of flooding. At first, it’s just a mess, and not very many people start out being thankful. However, after the insurance company pays for new flooring and restoration, it’s easy to forget the sense of frustration about the incident.

If only we could always see a snapshot of the finished project! But wait…God has something to say about that–how about, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

I remember reading about a woman whose son was severely injured. She was praying for his healing and happened to look up and out of her kitchen window and saw a vision of him riding his bike over the lawn. Time went by, and he was healed. One day, she actually saw that exact picture of him on his bike, just as she had seen in the earlier vision.

Many a person, when keeping faith in the Lord, has found that the loss of a job has yielded an even better one or a new situation that is more satisfying for them.

Sometimes, as in a personal experience of my own, a loss can be very hard–the loss of a precious loved one. Yet, I can give thanks for having had the joy of having known and loved that one, knowing the comfort that he is with Jesus; and I have found peace through Him, which passes all understanding.

If difficulties strike, I believe we can keep our hearts from being overwhelmed. In Psalms we read, “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2) From the vantage point of that “Rock,” our Lord Jesus Christ, we are able to rise above any negative circumstance.

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“Of the Truth”

“Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are you a king then?’

Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause, I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.'”

John 18:37 NKJV

Pilate went on to ask Jesus, “What is truth?”

I would like to dedicate this blog post to a humble soldier of the Lord’s army, who was born and raised in India. Ravi Zacharias was a strong defender of the Lord’s truth; and as you may have already heard, he recently went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

After a failed attempt, at seventeen years of age, to take his own life, he had an encounter with the Lord through reading the New Testament of the Bible, especially Jesus’ words, “Because I live, you will live also.” He went on to dedicate his life to Him, speaking to large numbers of people regarding Christianity during his life. He also authored many books on the subject, such as “Jesus Among Other Gods,” “The Logic of God,” “The Lotus and the Cross,” and “Why Jesus?” The following is a quote taken from his latest book, “Seeing Jesus from the East,” Zondervan 2020. Many of his messages can be viewed on You Tube, and see rzim.org

“The story of the gospel is the story of eternal life. My life is unique and will endure eternally in God’s presence. I will never be ‘no more.’ I will never be lost because I will be with the One who saves me.”

Ravi Zacharias

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The Chastisement for our Peace was Upon Him

“Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,’ he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed His last.” Mark 15:36-37 NIV

He was betrayed in a garden
for purpose of our pardon…

Then brought, as a Lamb,
to a “trial” that was a sham…

Spit upon and crowned
with thorns that they found…

He was whipped on His back
and endured each loud crack…

Made to carry the cross,
despite His strength’s loss…

His hands and feet were nailed down
on a cross, rugged and brown…

His bleeding and His pain
were meant for all our gain…

Wine vinegar for His thirst,
on a sponge, was among the worst…

Of the things He did endure
for a motive, which was so pure…

He knew His Father so loved the world,
that He took the mocking that was hurled…

Then, being obedient unto death,
He took His final breath…

From the cross unto the tomb,
it all became a kind of womb…

For, from it, Christ emerged
in victory–all our sins were purged…

So that, now, whosoever will
may freely have their fill…

Of His living water that’s yet presented
for any person who has repented…

Christ still gives, with a love that doesn’t cease;
a simple prayer will bring you His peace.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up unto everlasting life.'” John 4:13-14 NKJV

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive, for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:38 NKJV

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:5 NKJV

“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

“Because of this oath, Jesus is the one who guarantees this better covenant with God. There were many priests under the old system, for death prevented them from remaining in office. But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.”
Hebrews 7:22-25 NLT

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Garden of Gethsemane
Jerusalem, Israel

Lord, Remember Me

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From Luke 23…

Two criminals on punishing crosses were next to the one which held the Lord.
One of the men rebuked the other, saying they were receiving a just reward…

for the other had blasphemed Jesus, ridiculing Him because He hadn’t saved
Himself and them—words which showed no fear of God but were, instead, depraved.

The criminal who defended the Lord must have known of His ministry of peace,
saying, “This Man has done nothing wrong,” though, for Christ, there’d been no release.

Then he, with humility, asked Jesus simply to remember him at the time, later… when He would come into His kingdom—he knew, in his heart, it was eternal and greater.

“Lord, remember me”…a simple, reverent plea, but so very wise…
for Jesus gave him the promise that that day, he would be with Him in Paradise.

P. A. Oltrogge

“For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:10 NKJV

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10 NKJV

“…and after he brought them out (of the inner prison), he said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they answered, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus (as your personal Savior and entrust yourself to Him), and you will be saved, you and your household (if they also believe).” Acts 16:30-31 AMP

Billy Graham called it the hour of decision–a wonderful one it is!
http://www.billygraham.org/classics

He’s Opened the Life Gate

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To God be the Glory

To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Refrain
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
Oh come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

Oh perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our rapture, when Jesus we see.

Words by Fanny Crosby
Music by William Howard Doane
Published 1875

Like Sheep Without a Shepherd

“And Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

“And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.

“Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

Matthew 9:35-38

There wasn’t any kind of sickness or disease which Jesus couldn’t cure. Today, He’s still alive; and, of His mighty healing power, we can be equally sure.

Jesus felt compassion for the multitudes, knowing that they were downcast and distressed. Like sheep without a shepherd, they were in need of His touch to be blessed.

It’s still the same in the world today–there’s need for healing and protection, even from any plague. But of greatest need is healing for the soul–as the ability to know God, for many people, has seemed vague.

Jesus said the harvest is plentiful and that we’re to pray for workers to bring it in before the night. And we ourselves can answer the call to share with others, near or far, about His love and light.

Yes, “like sheep without a shepherd” is descriptive of multitudes still today. Open their eyes, heavenly Father, to the Lord Jesus, as their healer, Savior, and Shepherd. This, for them, we pray.

P. A. Oltrogge

Lost No More

“Lost No More” by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. http://www.GregOlsen.com

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:14

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3

(Scriptures NASB)

The Living One

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…from Luke 24, a poetic account…

Some of the women who had loved Jesus set out at early dawn with spices they’d prepared…in order to anoint His body. How they might enter the tomb must have been discussed and shared.

When they discovered that the stone had been rolled away, they stepped inside the tomb and found…that Jesus’ body was not there–they were perplexed in looking around.

Suddenly, two men in dazzling clothing appeared to them–the women were terrified! The angels had come with a message about His resurrection…and death having been defied.

“Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen….” as the women could plainly see. Then the angels said to recall how Jesus had spoken of this very thing while still with them in Galilee.

Jesus had told them how the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men…and then be crucified; and on the third day, He would rise again.

So they remembered Jesus’ words and returned from the tomb to share with the eleven and all the rest. But the apostles couldn’t believe them–though Peter went to see for himself about this news that was blessed.

Two of the Lord’s followers were going to Emmaus on that very third day. They were discussing with each other the things that had happened in Jerusalem as they went their way.

Then Jesus Himself, not actually recognized by them, approached and began to travel beside them on the road. He asked them what they’d been discussing–their demeanors reflected that they were carrying a heavy load.

One of them, named Cleopas, asked how he could have been visiting Jerusalem and not have known or heard…of the fate of Jesus, the Nazarene, –a prophet mighty in deed and word.

They said that they had hoped He would be Israel’s redeemer…meaning by His leadership or even by being its king. But His death, instead, by crucifixion, had definitely changed everything.

Next, they shared that, on this third day, some women had gone to the tomb at dawn…and told them that, but for having seen there a vision of two angels, it was empty–His crucified body was gone.

Jesus addressed them, then, as foolish men, who were slow of heart to believe…in what the prophets had spoken of the Christ, implying that the wise would understand and receive.

Jesus went on to explain the things foretold of Him in the scriptures by Moses and other prophets, throughout. All this while, their eyes were prevented from recognizing Who was really with them on their route.

As they approached the village of Emmaus, their traveling companion, Jesus, acted as if he might travel on, but they urged him to stay with them, for the night was almost upon.

So Jesus went in to stay with them and reclined at the table to break bread. When He took it, blessed it, and gave it to them, their eyes were opened to see the living One, risen from the dead!

Jesus then vanished from their sight, and they reflected on how their hearts had been burning…as He spoke of how the Christ needed to suffer these things–this “stranger” had been so discerning.

At that very hour they got up to return to Jerusalem to share with the eleven what had transpired. As they were telling these things, there came in their midst, He whom their hearts desired.

It was Jesus, Himself, the Master, saying, “Peace be unto you.” Startled and frightened, they needed His assurance, once again, to see them through.

He asked them why they doubted and then showed them His hands and feet. They still couldn’t believe it, for joy and amazement. He then asked for something to eat.

After having the broiled fish that they gave, He again opened their minds to understand all that had needed to be fulfilled. Repentance and forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His Name, starting from Jerusalem…and from there, it would build.

They were to wait until they were clothed with power from on high…. Then He led them out as far as Bethany, where He blessed them and departed from them up into the sky.

After worshiping Him, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy that was hard for them to contain. They were continually in the temple, praising God for their redemption, which had been made so plain…

and for their beloved King’s reign!

P. A. Oltrogge

“Why do you seek THE LIVING ONE among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen!” Luke 24:5-6

In the Twinkling of an Eye

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 NASB

At God’s appointed time, I’ll be saying goodbye.
That time is getting close, and I’ve tried to explain why.
I love you so much–please come along;
Don’t neglect Jesus for that would be wrong.
He’s preparing a party, and it will be grand.
Please don’t miss out because you don’t understand.
He’s made it so plain in the true Gospel story–
He, the Christ, is our way to Glory.
One thing’s for sure–all lives draw to a close,
so it’s best to put faith in the One who arose.
But we could see Jesus more quickly than we think
for the Bible speaks prophetically of what’s on the brink.
“In the twinkling of an eye…we shall be changed.”
Take Jesus and your place in Glory that He has arranged.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and the mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 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. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” words of Jesus in John 14:2-3 NKJV

Recommended reading:
The Last Hour
An Israeli Insider Looks at the End Times
Book by Amir Tsarfati

No “Goliath” Too Big for our God

“…for the battle is the Lord’s…” 1 Samuel 17:47

The Bible says that all of the Hebrew warriors’ knees were knocking
At the sight and size of the giant, Goliath, an enemy who was shocking.

None were brave enough at all to finish that giant off;
And when they saw him at a distance, Goliath would loudly scoff.

But there was a shepherd lad of courage who had fought a lion and bear–
To him, the giant, Goliath, was really nothing of a scare,

For David had the faith of one who knew that he was guarded
By the greater Lord of Hosts–and it was Him whom he regarded.

David rejected King Saul’s armor and chose to fight Goliath instead
With declarations of faith, a slingshot, and a stone to knock him dead.

That’s exactly how it went–though he had brought a total of five;
It took just one stone plus faith to make that giant not survive!

Today, in our lives, we may have never tackled a lion or a bear–
But David’s example of facing things fearful makes us be aware

That faith in God is ample for the things that we may face–
Though problems may seem looming, we can conquer them by God’s grace.
_______________________________

A postscript to this Biblical record is that we might speculate
That a further lesson is in the account that one could possibly state.
The five smooth stones that David brought show he was quite prepared
To try again, depending on how the first stone actually fared!

P. A. Oltrogge

And, like David, remembering past victories, where the Lord undertook for us, will help us in facing what may be or what seems like a greater challenge before us…. So we persevere with declarations of faith in our God and with prayer.

“And He spoke a parable to them, that men ought always to pray and not lose heart….” words of Jesus in Luke 18:1 NKJV

“And David said, ‘The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’ And Saul said to David, ‘Go, and may the Lord be with you.’” 1 Samuel 17:37

Daily prayer, 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, U.S.
at http://www.govictory.com

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Look Unto the Hills

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“I will lift up my eyes to the hills–
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.”
Psalm 121:1-2

Lord, you are the source of my help on any given day.
You made the heavens and the earth–On you, my hope will stay.
I will look even to the hills–On their horizon, I’ll always see,
through the eye of faith, my Savior, heading down with help for me.

P. A. Oltrogge

“He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.”
Psalm 121:3-8 NKJV

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
words of Jesus in John 14:27 NKJV