Snuggle into God’s Presence

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When I was a child and had an anxious thought,
A loving parent’s presence was the first thing I sought.

When they took me into their arms, I found the very best place to snuggle;
Their loving embrace would relieve me completely of my struggle.

There’s still a child within today that sometimes is unsure;
And turning to our heavenly Father is what makes us be secure.

His arms are open wide for us–He says to cast our cares
Upon Himself, and that’s because great love is what He shares.

Many are the words of faithfulness and comfort He provides;
In His arms of shelter, we find the place where lifelong love abides.

Though I can’t see Him face to face, He says He’ll make my ears
To hear His voice, which will always bear a message to relieve my fears.

Isaiah 41:10
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you
with My righteous right hand.”

And if I have a day where it seems like I’m just drifting about,
Perhaps I need to stop and ask the Lord to help me sort things out.

What should I do each moment–each day that would be best?
I know if I stop and listen, I’ll hear a nudge towards the path most blessed.

P. A. Oltrogge

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me….”
John 10:27 NASB

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you….” James 4:8 NKJV

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.” Psalm 103:12-13 NLT

For an insightful series on fellowship with God:
See Faith School, Week 11, “By Faith, Enoch”
http://www.moorelife.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P. A. Oltrogge

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“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

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

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

Remembering Billy Graham

It’s been a little over a year since Billy Graham 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 Graham 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

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“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

Book Recommendation:
Redeemed by Will Graham,
grandson of Billy Graham

There’s a Rainbow!

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If ever there was a subject that should be put into poetic form,
it’s that of the magnificent rainbow, which can suddenly appear after a storm.

As the sun starts shining, it’s especially vivid, after the rain has poured;
and its message comes from God, as it’s the signature of the Lord.

He said that He was setting His bow in the cloud, to always remind afresh,
of His covenant made with Noah and his sons, and every living creature of all flesh…

that never again would He send a flood to cover the entire expanse of the earth.
To all successive generations, the rainbow’s reminded of this covenant of great worth.

We remember today that Noah was a real person, who steadfastly undertook
the building of a great ark by God’s direction, no matter how, to others, that would look.

It took many decades to accomplish the task, and there never had been a flood…
Today, God is offering the safety of an ark that was “built” by Jesus’ sacrificial blood.

God is not willing for any to perish. He’s giving much time to accept His invitation
to enter into the ark of the Lord–His provision for any person of any nation.

When I see the rainbow there in the sky, I’m reminded of God’s covenant made to mankind–including the one He made for us through Jesus, the greatest covenant He wants all of us to find.

P. A. Oltrogge

“For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:28 NKJV

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NKJV

“But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall enter the ark….” Genesis 6:18

See the first half of Genesis, chapter 6, for the causes behind God sending the earth-encompassing flood and to read of Noah finding favor with God.

For your interest:
http://www.arkencounter.com

The Creator versus the Atheists

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Even within a city or out on a rural farm,
we’re blessed to always enjoy the vast creation’s charm.

To say, then, as some do, that there is no God
is a kind of blindness that seems, to me, so odd.

For there are many masterpieces, on which our eyes can feast–
from the starting of a snowfall to the landscape when it’s ceased.

From the city to the beauty of the peaceful countryside,
the signature of the Creator is something atheists cannot hide.

P. A. Oltrogge

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“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20 NIV

“For he (God, the Father) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son (Jesus) he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible….” Colossians 1:13-16 NIV written by the apostle Paul to the Christians in Colossae

Lydia Becomes Part of the Royal Priesthood

“And without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
Hebrews 11:6
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It’s recorded that the apostle Paul received a vision—of a man putting forth a request, that Paul should come over to Macedonia, so that the people there could be blessed.

So Paul, and those with him, pursued the vision, setting sail on the Aegean Sea–landing at Neapolis, they went to Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia in which to be.

On the Sabbath, they went out to a riverside, where some women were who customarily prayed. Prayer and worship were woven as fabric in Lydia’s life, while selling fabrics of purple was her trade.

She listened to that which Paul spoke to them about Jesus Christ being the Lord—then took heed in her heart that it was through Jesus, that true relationship with God is restored.

Embracing what Paul said, she went from reverencing God to knowing Him in a personal way. God had opened her heart to respond to the good news, just as anyone can do today.

Then she and her entire household were baptized, representing their being washed from sin. With joy, she invited the missionaries to her home to stay, prevailing upon them to come in.

This woman, Lydia, who sold fabric of a royal color, had found peace at the riverside that day. Through the Prince of Peace, her Lord, Jesus Christ, she’d been welcomed into His royal family to stay.

P. A. Oltrogge

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“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

A reference to baptism by Peter in Acts 2:38-39: “…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. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.”

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace..” Isaiah 9:6

(The poetic account is based on Acts 16:9-15 about Lydia from Thyatira)

Some references to purple’s use in the Bible:

“Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twisted linen and blue and purple and scarlet material; you shall make them with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman.” Exodus 26:1 (for the Tabernacle)

“And now send me a skilled man to work in gold, silver, brass and iron, and in purple, crimson, and violet fabrics, and who knows how to make engravings, to work with the skilled men whom I have in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided.” 2 Chronicles 2:7 (for Solomon’s Temple)

A Hard Subject

It’s a hard subject; but the truth is, it’s real.
There is a thief who is out to kill, destroy, and steal–
a being who is fallen because of his pride–
a being who’s purposed to conceal and to hide
the true God in Jesus, the Lord over all–
that’s what Satan does because of his fall.

His ways are deceptive, and he wants you to think
there isn’t heaven or hell beyond this life’s brink.
He’s supportive of “gods” of other names–
or “No God at all” is another one of his claims.
Devotion to a religion or philosophy, he’s approved–
especially those endorsing that Jesus’ Lordship be removed.

He draws those he can to reject Christ’s light,
causing more darkness over any spiritual sight.
We all need to leave old things we’ve been taught
when we realize that, by Christ, our souls have been bought.
It’s simply a gift—but you must take and receive it.
Don’t listen to the naysayer, but simply believe it.

Of all time, the Bible is the best selling book–
if you think it’s inaccurate, then take a deeper look.
Please consider studies by Christians who aren’t slacking
in showing us the evidence that gives it absolute backing.
And to be the all-time best seller of books you can buy,
it must have the backing of Someone very high.

Be sober, be vigilant, the Bible warning is strong–
Jesus is The Way—any other way is wrong.

P. A. Oltrogge

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“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.’” John 14:6 NASB

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith….” 1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJV

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

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NKJV

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

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12 NKJV

We absolutely know that there is a deceiver, the devil, in this world. By simply turning on the news, we hear of lives harmed or destroyed by his influence.

But God, who is love, wants everyone who will, to receive the free gift of salvation through Christ and to experience His peace.

“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

Books to consider:
Evidence That Demands a Verdict
by Josh McDowell
The Case for Christ
by Lee Strobel

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

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

No Greater Star…

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“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod, the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’” Matthew 2:1-2 NKJV

One of the names of the Lord, Jesus Christ, is The Bright and Morning Star.
Long ago, the wise men followed “His” star when traveling from afar.

It guided them like a compass—perhaps giving light to them on their way.
The Bright and Morning Star, through God’s Spirit, is still guiding men who are wise today.

This Christmas, a distant neighbor’s roof has a large, lighted star for all to view.
Its twinkling in the darkness speaks of God’s love—always there to see us through.

Each night, I look for that star, which reminds of the presence of the Lord—
and that, for those who take Jesus as Savior, peace with God has been fully restored.

P. A. Oltrogge

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

“Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” 2 John 1:3

“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 3:21-23 RSV

“‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.’ And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”
Revelation 22:16-17

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

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

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