Seeing Ourselves in the Story of Zacchaeus

“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:1-10 KJV

Sometimes….

Like Zacchaeus, do we find ourselves “up a tree,”
feeling strained about whether or not we can see
Jesus, the Lord, in the midst of our day,
even though we really took no time to pray?

Mercifully, Jesus calls us to quickly come down–
We sense His smile and not a frown;
He wants to come to where we live
to share counsel and love that He has to give.

Short in stature, Zacchaeus was,
“Short on time” is our daily buzz…
If we seek Christ’s presence before the day’s start
we’ll have greater courage to not lose heart.

P. A. Oltrogge

Of course, this account is really about Jesus’ love and saving grace for Zacchaeus, who was wanting to see Him. But the thoughts expressed above came to mind from the story because it seemed a good reminder that if our day is going to be busy, even a brief time of prayer, seeking the Lord’s wisdom/guidance for the day and listening to hear from Him, is wise. When we don’t do that, it can be much easier to become discouraged or choose paths that might not be the Lord’s best.

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Mark 1:35 KJV

“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:6 NKJV

“Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there.” Acts 16:7 NLT

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 KJV

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105 KJV

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” Luke 18:1 NKJV

“Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.” 2 Corinthians 4:1 NKJV

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9 NKJV

“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.” Proverbs 28:26 NKJV

Nighttime Snowfall

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Scene/Unsplash

To this day, I love to watch the snow falling, so very peacefully at night, descending softly and serenely, glistening in the moonlight.

I remember, as children, wintry evenings, when the winds would blow…
heading down our long, country driveway, to help our father shovel snow.

We sensed the peace of the Lord outside amid the drifts so deep,
and laughed together, as we worked, before heading inside for the night to sleep.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Have you entered the treasury of snow…?” Job 38:22

“He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes.” Psalm 147:16

“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

New King James Version

A Journal—Sending a Thank You Note to God

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Something anyone could consider doing…

A friend has kept a daily journal of thanksgiving to God now for, at least, ten years. And, in her life, she’s seen many blessings and has gained freedom from unfounded fears.

I agree wholeheartedly on thanking the Lord but haven’t always been so diligent to record thanks on a daily basis. But in this world of negatives that often bombard us, keeping a journal of blessings can be an oasis.

It truly is respectful of God’s faithfulness and causes us to see beyond things that are dark. A thanksgiving journal can be begun anytime, the Lord appreciating any written, thankful remark.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving. And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” Psalm 100:4

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Scriptures New King James Version

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Photos/Unsplash

Is Anything Too Hard for God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P. A. Oltrogge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deliverance from Snares

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust!’ For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence.” Psalm 91:1-3 NASB

A strong confidence in God will cause adverse things to shatter.
In any situation, remember, that faith is the victory in the matter.

So don’t let worries trouble you or rob you of your sleep.
Give them over to your Good Shepherd and be a confident sheep.

The One who’s most able to deliver you from any kind of snare
is the One on whom the Bible says we’re to cast our every care.

Look to Jesus and worship Him, giving your thanks and praise.
Then you will find His mighty power released and ready to amaze.

P. A. Oltrogge

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

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
John 10:11 NASB

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me.”
John 10:14 NASB

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19 NKJV

Stay in agreement with God’s Word.

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Photo/Unsplash

Paul’s Rough Sea Voyage and Shipwreck to an Island

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Photo by Porch of the Lord

I’ve shared this Biblical poetic account previously, but would like to add, if you’ve not yet come across it, recommendation of the book, by Robert Cornuke, “The Lost Shipwreck of Paul.” In it, the author takes you on his captivating journey to Malta to research the actual location of Paul’s shipwreck and any possible remains of the ancient Roman anchors mentioned in the Biblical account. The book is available at Amazon.com, where you can also find many positive reviews of it.

(Having appealed to Caesar, Paul is sent to Rome…
a poetic narrative of Acts 27-28)

When it was decided to go to Italy, Paul and some other prisoners entered a ship at Adramyttium and were put to sea, to sail along Asia’s coasts.

Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment, treated Paul kindly, letting him receive care at Sidon from people who were Paul’s friends and hosts.

From Sidon, they sailed under the shelter of Cyprus due to the strong, contrary gales.

Then, over seas off of Cilicia and Pamphylia, they came to Myra, Lycia, where they were put aboard another ship bound for Italy in their forthcoming sails.

They sailed slowly many days, arriving with difficulty off Cnidus—the wind didn’t permit them to proceed.

So they sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone, passing it also with difficulty, coming to Fair Havens, a stop of need.

They’d lost a lot of time, and the weather was becoming dangerous as it was so late in the fall.

So Paul spoke to the ship’s officers about it—that he perceived trouble ahead, with great damage to the cargo and ship and even to the lives of them all.

But the centurion was more persuaded by the pilot and captain of the ship than by anything that Paul had said.

And because the harbor wasn’t suitable for wintering, the majority reached the decision to put out to sea, going ahead.

If, somehow, they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing southwest and northwest, they could spend winter there, they thought.

So when a moderate south wind came up, they supposed they’d attained their purpose, weighed anchor, and began sailing along Crete, on the route they sought.

But before very long, a violent wind, called Euraquilo, rushed down to sea from the land.

And when the ship was caught in it, and couldn’t face the wind, they gave way to it and were driven along—totally unplanned.

Running under the shelter of a small island called Clauda, they were scarcely able to get the ship’s lifeboat under control.

After they’d hoisted it up, they used supporting cables in undergirding the ship and let down the sea anchor. Avoiding being run aground on the shallows of Syrtis was the goal.

The next day, as they were being violently storm-tossed, they began to throw the cargo overboard.

On the third day, they threw the tackle over, another thing the ship was carrying but which they could no longer afford.

Sun nor stars appeared for many days, and of the thought of being saved, they’d gradually lost hope.

After having gone without food for a long time, Paul reminded them that if they’d listened to him, with this storm and loss they wouldn’t have had to cope.

Yet he urged them to not lose courage, saying there would be no loss of life among them, but only of the ship.

He shared that this he knew by way of the appearance of an angel of God, who had come and stood before him on the trip.

The angel told Paul that he would yet stand before Caesar and that God had granted him the lives of all those sailing along.

So Paul, again, strongly encouraged them, saying that he believed God and that God’s predictions were never wrong.

He added, however, that on a certain island, they would run aground.

And after the fourteenth night in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight, some of the sailors began to sense that land ahead might soon be found.

They took soundings as they approached; and not wanting to run aground on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern, wishing for dawn’s light.

Then the sailors tried to abandon the ship, lowering the lifeboat as though they were going to put out anchors from the front, but they couldn’t quite…

for Paul said to the centurion and his soldiers, “Unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved.”

So the soldiers cut away the ropes of the lifeboat and let it fall away before any escape could be braved.

Until the day was about to break, Paul encouraged them that not a hair of their heads would perish—that they should not be anxious, going without eating—but to take some food.

He himself took bread and gave thanks to God in their presence and began to eat. So all the others on board took food as well, encouraged and their spirits renewed.

Two hundred seventy-six persons were aboard; and when all had eaten enough, they lightened the ship by casting overboard their wheat.

When day broke, they couldn’t recognize the land but observed a certain bay with a beach. They resolved to drive the ship onto it, if they could accomplish the feat.

So, casting off the anchors, they left them in the sea, loosened the ropes of the rudders, and hoisted the foresail to the wind—then headed for the beach.

But they struck a reef where two seas met and ran the vessel aground. The prow stuck fast and remained immovable. The stern began to break up by many a wave’s forceful reach.

The soldiers had planned to kill the prisoners so that none would swim away and escape; however, the centurion wanted to bring Paul safely through.

So, he kept them from those intentions and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first—the others to follow on planks from the ship or anything with which they could make do.

Thus it happened that all were brought safely to the land—they found that Malta was this particular island’s name.

There, the natives showed extraordinary kindness… Due to rain that had set in and the cold, they received them all and kindled for them a fire’s warming flames.

When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out, due to the heat, and fastened on his hand.

Seeing this, the natives expressed the thought that, likely, Paul was a murderer, lucky to escape the sea, but that death by snakebite was somehow justice served—perhaps divinely planned.

But Paul shook the creature off, back into the fire—the incident, for him, was not ill-fated.

Then the natives, who had expected him to swell up and die, suddenly changed their minds and said that with a “god” he could be equated.

In that region, there was a leading citizen, Publius, by name, at whose estate they were welcomed for three days.

The father of this man lay sick with a fever and dysentery. So Paul went in to him, laid his hands on him, and he was healed. Paul was continuing to follow his Lord Jesus’s compassionate healing ways.

When this was done, other natives on the island who had illnesses also received from Paul’s healing ministry during his stay.

The islanders honored Paul in many ways, giving him and the others much in provision before the time when they would again sail away.

P. A. Oltrogge

“For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness, has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said.” Acts 27:23-25 NLT

The Lord of the Pillar of Cloud and Fire

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“Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. And the Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” Exodus 13:20-22

“And with a pillar of cloud Thou didst lead them by day and with a pillar of fire by night to light for them the way in which they were to go.” Nehemiah 9:12
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Moses, a Hebrew by birth, was called by God to lead His Hebrew people out
from the ancient land of Egypt to a prayed-for promised land route.

Through his obedience and God’s powerful hand, their burdened lives as slaves
came to be changed forever because the good Lord hears and saves.

God had heard their desperate cries–and had seen the severe oppression.
After many God-sent plagues, Pharaoh finally made his concession.

So hardhearted had he been, that it had taken a very mighty blow
to his own and all Egyptian families before he would let God’s people go.

Many pestilences had been tried–including frogs and boils on man and beast–
hail, insects, darkness, and finally, death of firstborns of the greatest man’s home to the least.

That was the deciding plague, which caused the barrier to the Hebrews’ freedom to be broken– while they, in Goshen, were spared, for blood on their doorposts had “spoken.”

Yes, blood from an unblemished lamb on each lintel and doorpost was spread–
This proclaimed that their lives should be preserved because of a lamb that had bled.

They had shared the first Passover meal–a feast remembered to this day,
which points to God’s sacrificial lamb in Christ–now the Good Shepherd
who leads our way.

After the Passover, God guided His people with a pillar of cloud in their sight. And for gains through night-time travel, He led by a pillar of fire for needed light.

Quick to regret, Pharaoh pursued the former captives to the brink of the great Red Sea. But the angel of God and God’s pillar of cloud kept the Hebrews secure and free.

This protection and time were needed, for Moses to stretch forth his hand.
The Lord swept back the sea with a wind all night, creating for the Hebrews dry land.

God’s people then made their way safely, with walls of water on each side–
They followed the leadership of Moses, casting any fears they might have had aside.

God brought Pharaoh’s army into confusion; then the Lord gave Moses the instruction…to stretch forth his hand again, which made way for the pursuers’ destruction.

From out of the pillar of cloud, God caused the Egyptian’s chariot wheels to sway. The waters turned back and drowned them all, giving the Hebrews victory that day.

Protection and guidance were provided back then through God’s pillar of cloud and fire. Therefore, let’s seek the same Lord of those ancient days who calls us to a life that’s higher.

Today a “promised land” is yours through the leading of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Abundant life now and an eternal home with God is freely offered to everyone.

P. A. Oltrogge

(Based on the Old Testament account in the book of Exodus)

New Testament references:

“And Peter said to them ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 2:38

Words of Jesus:

“…I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” John 10:10

“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:28 KJV

“…and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said…And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” John 17: 1. 4

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2

The Church’s One Foundation

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Writers who prayed in years gone by have been, actually, some of the best.
Many times, their words became hymns, with which Christians were then blessed.

Those melodies and words still come forth as God’s Spirit brings them to mind,
bringing encouragement to our walk of faith, or matters of faith defined.

P. A. Oltrogge

“The Church’s One Foundation”
by Samuel J. Stone, 1839-1900

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her,
And for her life He died.

Elect from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation
One Lord, one faith, one birth.
One holy name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord, to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end.
Though there be those that hate her.
False sons within her pale,
Against both foe and traitor
She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed,
Yet saints their watch are keeping;
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song.

Mid toil and tribulation
And tumult of her war
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore,
Til with the vision glorious
Her longing eyes are blest
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

From The Lutheran Hymnal
Author: Samuel J. Stone, 1866
Composer: Samuel S. Wesley, 1864

Christ Our Cornerstone
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:19-22 NKJV

Train Ride

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I was traveling on a train that had many stops it would be making…
but I knew my destination and which stop that I’d be taking.

I thought I’d ask the traveler next to me where he was going to go;
then, surprisingly, he said it wasn’t something he could know.

I thought that that was rather odd, for one needs to be quite sure,
for travelers can’t ride indefinitely on a never-ending tour.

I’d researched my destination, having heard it was a beautiful place;
but my fellow traveler’s plans were vague and uncertain in his case.

Eventually, he’d need to get off—there would come an end to the trail.
It reminded me of those who travel equally vaguely, but on a spiritual rail.

They think that any exit will get them to a final place of peace,
but they haven’t secured the ticket to where God’s love will never cease.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life…don’t travel until it’s too dark.
Secure your ticket by taking Him as Savior—then you’ll KNOW where you will disembark.

P. A. Oltrogge

“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

“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

HE Strengthens Me

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I’ve got some mountains to climb

and I need to feel prime…

So I thought of that script,

which says that I’m equipped:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

He strengthens me; HE strengthens me…

With each step forward, He strengthens me;

with each step up, He strengthens me.

If I suffer a setback, He strengthens me.

If I feel weak, I’ll resist being distraught…

No, “He strengthens me” must be my thought,

for that is what the scriptures have taught.

This confidence I have, for I’m blood-bought.

So, “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might,”

just as David found strength in God for a Goliath fight!

P. A. Oltrogge

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 NKJV

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” Habakkuk 3:19 NLT

“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might, He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31 NKJV

“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11 NIV

“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28 NASB

“(The Armor of God) Finally, Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” Ephesians 6:10 NASB

“Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands….’” 1 Samuel 17:45-46 NASB

“For by You I can run against a troop; By my God I can leap over a wall.”
2 Samuel 22:30 and Psalm 18:29 NKJV

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Photos/Pixabay

Postscript:
Whatever you have to do,
the Lord will see you through!