Consider the Birds and the Lilies

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Look at the birds of the air…
They don’t sow, reap, or gather
Their needed food into barns—
But are dependent upon God, rather.

Consider how the lilies are clothed—
They toil not, nor do they spin,
But to the heavenly Father’s care
They’re blessed to give in.

Yes, consider these,
And consider giving in,
To the message of Christ’s love
Above this world’s din.

Partake, through the Bible, from God’s table
Of spiritual food fit for a King’s heir,
And be clothed in the love of Jesus,
the finest thing you could wear.

Consider the children,
So gentle and so tender—
What kind of faith
To them will you render?

One that speaks dislike
And contempt of others—
Or one that speaks love
And draws all men to be brothers?

The heavenly Father gave Jesus
To tell of God’s care and to guide.
When we take Him as Savior, He gives love
For all others for whom He has died.

So just like the lilies
Or the birds of the air,
May people of all nations be blessed to give in
To Jesus—the way to the Father God’s care…

P. A. Oltrogge

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies….” Luke 6:27

“And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.’”
Matthew 22:37-40

“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious, can add a single cubit to his life’s span? And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.

“But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith? Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:25-34

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A Sure Thing

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Don’t just know about Him only in your head,
but be “born again” as Jesus has said.
It isn’t just the date you were born on this earth
that matters as much as your spiritual rebirth.

It’s simply a gift–so easy to claim,
by praying to receive that gift in His Name.
No other Name but Jesus cancels sin;
just open your heart and ask Him to come in.

Make sure that you’ve done this in your own heart.
It’s faith there that counts–churchgoing’s just a start.
Please don’t let pride or tradition keep
you or those you care about from a love that’s so deep.

Don’t look to “new age” or deceptive ways of thinking,
for they’re no foundation–but sand that is sinking.
And though it is good to think in positive ways,
such thoughts without Jesus won’t get you through life’s maze.

God’s set before us such an easy choice–
your salvation through Jesus will make angels rejoice!
And you won’t need to be concerned about daily bread–
you’ll be all right always if you’ll stay spiritually fed.

Another simple thing is to give ten percent–
God will return back to you far more than you sent.
For others are in need and churches must reach
more human beings with this Gospel we preach.

Jesus, Bread of Life, our Friend and our Guide–
thank you, as well, for your promises to provide.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going, so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’” John 3:1-8 (from John 3:1-21)

“But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
John 1:12-12 (King James Version)

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the very cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.’”
Acts 4:8-12

“But woe unto you, Pharisees! For ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” Luke 11:42 (King James Version)

“And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:18

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Photo/Pixabay

A Rose in the Rain

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When facing difficulties… And for any men reading this, you could be compared to a hickory or oak tree, some of the strongest woods to weather storms…

Beloved, to God, you are His rose in the rain;
and don’t ever think He doesn’t feel your pain.
Trials aren’t sent to us by the Lord—
no, they’re deep rivers that He alone helps us ford.

The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy,
but we’ve got God’s Word to foil the thief’s ploy.
God’s promises are sure—He never has lied;
and the desire of your heart will surely be supplied!

With our eyes on God’s Word, we persevere;
we know this fulfillment is already here!
For faith says right now what isn’t seen with our eyes,
because we know that our God has heard our hearts’ cries.

A rose in the rain, but you’re hardy and strong—
you trust in God’s Word and in Him to Whom you belong.
There’s an answer in God for every problem we face;
so we thank You, Heavenly Father, for the answer by Your grace.

P. A. Oltrogge

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“The righteous cry and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:17-19 NASB

“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:10-12 NASB

As White as Snow

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Pixabay

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18

“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
These are gracious words that the Lord has said, and only He would know,
whatever sins have been in your life that you have come to regret.
What peace it is to know that God will forgive…and will also forget.

We read in the Bible of Peter, James, and John being led up by Jesus on a mount, where His clothing became radiant—white, like snow, it’s told in that account.
This spoke of His glory and was a demonstration that He was the Holy One—God’s voice, coming out of a cloud, said to listen to Jesus, His beloved Son.

This brings to my mind the garment of salvation that makes us white as snow.
In Him, we become new creations—sinners cleansed by His blood’s outflow.
To any who take Him as Savior, the One who died for sin on the cross in their place—any guilty stains are thoroughly lifted; no sinful spot can leave a trace.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Now after six days, Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up on a high mount apart by themselves, and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.” Mark 9:2-4 NKJV

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

“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10 NIV

“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’” Matthew 26:27-28 NKJV

“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 8:12 NKJV

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NASB

“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:17 NASB

Psalm 103:12
John 1:29
Hebrews 1:1-4
1 John 2:1-2

You’ve Never Seen Anything Like It

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Pixabay

“But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV

Verse 10 goes on to say, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” So, the text is referring to the glorious Gospel revealed through the Holy Spirit (see all of chapter 2).

But the 9th verse does make me think of the almost hard-to-comprehend beauty, glory, and peace of our heavenly home and destination. Thus, these thoughts:

Eye hath not seen, nor ear yet heard,
neither our hearts, says God’s Holy Word,
have envisioned the things which the Lord has in store
for all those who will meet Him on heaven’s shore.
A river like crystal and a Main Street of gold
are just some of the beauty that we will behold.
But, then, best of all, at last we will view—
our Savior, Jesus Christ, Faithful and True.
Though we face trials down here on this earth,
they’re nothing compared to heaven’s great worth.
You’re more than a conqueror—He gives you His grace,
both now and in eternity’s unfathomable place.

P. A. Oltrogge

“And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.” Revelation 19:11 NASB

“The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun, or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” Revelation 21:19-23 NASB

“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Revelation 22:1 KJV

“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 KJV

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:18-19 NKJV

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39 NKJV

Regarding a House Divided

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Photo/Pixabay

IN THIS TEMPLE
AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE
FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION
THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
IS ENSHRINED FOREVER

I’m remembering today that…

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Yet, that’s what frequently seems to be happening in America, my land.

Every American should have the right to peacefully express their views,
without being threatened by others who are often ready to accuse.

Quoting Jesus, Abraham Lincoln emphasized the words above;
and it was only after a civil war that the nation could focus on love.

Jesus taught that hate and murder are really the same in God’s eyes.
May any who feel hate abandon it, thereby proving themselves to be wise.

Each person is made in the image of God, it says in the book of James;
and blessing God but cursing our fellow man isn’t right, it also proclaims.

We should be peace loving and gentle and be willing to yield to others
in this land whose founders envisioned living as American “sisters and brothers.”

P. A. Oltrogge

“But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.’” Matthew 12:25 NKJV and similarly in Luke 11:17

“And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mark 3:25 NKJV

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say,’You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.” Words of Jesus in Matthew 5:21-22 NRSV

“People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.”

“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”
James 3:7-18 NLT

“…He (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources for he is a liar and the father of it.” Words of Jesus in John 8:44 NKJV

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
1 John 3:14-16 NKJV

It’s the right time now—not just at Christmas, to pray the words of the old Christmas carol that “the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good will to men.” The last words, of course, were proclaimed by the angels—God’s message to mankind on the birth of our needed Savior, Jesus Christ.

An Example Poured Out

From His grand and glorious home in heaven—a place of comfortable rest,

Jesus came down to this earth on a mission, so that mankind could be blessed.

During the last supper with His disciples, likewise, He got up from a comfortable place, to give Himself to serving.

Just as He would be stripped and crucified soon, so He set aside His garments, girding Himself with a towel, to cleanse the undeserving.

Pouring water into a basin, He began to wash and wipe the disciples’ feet.

But Peter failed to understand this requirement that Jesus was wanting to meet.

“Never shall you wash my feet!” were his immediate words—an outflow from Peter’s heart.

But Jesus said to Peter that unless He washed them, then, with Him, he would have no part.

At that, Peter told the Lord to wash not only his feet, but also his hands and his head.

So sincere was Peter’s desire to please Him, that he quickly permitted Him to do so instead.

Jesus continued, speaking of being made clean, but said that not all of them were clean.

In his relationship with the Lord, Judas would betray Him, letting Satan come between.

When Jesus revealed that a disciple would betray Him, the others wondered which one this meant.

By giving Judas the dipped bread—said to be a custom of graciousness, it’s been thought that Jesus was giving him a chance to repent.

But Judas turned away from the Lord and went out into the dark of night—

as many still choose darkness today, sadly, resisting Jesus’ love and Light.

Just as Peter would have had no part with Christ, likewise, it’s the same today…

If anyone doesn’t receive the cleansing from Jesus’ poured-out blood, which takes our sins away,

they will have no part with Christ, our Lord and Savior, who, by His example, taught…

that we, also, should serve one another with love and humility, having received the redemption that He bought.

Jesus loved His disciples to the end; He died for us all, having laid aside His glory.

And, as at that Passover meal, when His task was finished, He sat down…but now He’s seated at His Father’s right hand, in completion of this true redemption story!

P. A. Oltrogge

“And so when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and reclined at table again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher, and Lord, and you are right for so I am. If I, then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master; neither one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.’” John 13:12-17 NASB

“Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’” Mark 9:35 NASB

“And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.’” Matthew 26:27-28 NASB

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB

“This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to My Lord, sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” (words of Peter from Acts 2:32-36 NASB)

Jesus’ blood, the cleansing flood…

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Jesus Stops an Outer Storm and an Inner One

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Photo from the movie, “Jesus”

At evening, Jesus and His disciples were headed to the Gadarenes, across the sea. A storm arose and began to fill the boat with the wind-whipped waters of the Galilee.

Jesus was asleep in the stern in the midst of it all when His disciples cried out with fear. “Teacher, don’t you care that we are perishing?”—their lack of faith being made clear.

Jesus stood up and rebuked the wind and spoke to the sea, saying, “Peace, be still!” Then the disciples were amazed to see the wind and the waves conform to His will.

After the Lord questioned them why it was that they had no faith, they wondered aloud together. “Who could this be?” to have such authority over the power of wind, sea, and weather.

At their arrival at the Gadarenes, they would see the Lord do a work of another kind. There, Jesus was met immediately by a man who had an unclean spirit and whom no man could bind.

He stayed among the tombs and mountains and would cut himself with stones, crying out both day and night. Even shackles and chains couldn’t hold him, but he’d break them, due to an evil, inner might.

Seeing Jesus from afar, this man ran to Him and worshipped Him, and then he said… “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” He indicated fear of what was ahead.

Jesus told the unclean spirit to come out of the man and asked its name, which was Legion. “For we are many,” it said, and begged Jesus earnestly not to send them out of that region.

Then all the demons begged Jesus to permit them to enter a herd of about two thousand swine, which were feeding in the mountains there. At once, Jesus gave permission. The demons entered the pigs, which then ran violently down a steep place to drown in the sea, giving those who saw it a troubling scare.

The men who had fed the swine fled and told others in the city and country what had transpired. So, many came to see for themselves and were shocked to find, clothed and in his right mind, the madman whose life had been so degraded and mired.

Afraid, they pleaded with Jesus to depart from there, even though such a great deliverance had been shown. The man who’d been delivered very much wanted to leave with and follow Him, but Jesus said that, instead, his story should become more known.

He told him to go home and tell his friends of God’s compassion on him and what great things the Lord had done… So he departed and began to share in Decapolis, and the people marveled as he spoke about his life-changing encounter with Jesus, God’s Son.

P. A. Oltrogge

…from Mark 4-5

You are Greatly Loved

If you have ever experienced the loss of someone whom you loved—
while you’re blessed to know that now they’re with the Lord above,
you still, at times, do feel an intense strain of the heart
because you just long to be with them, instead of being apart.

So, I thought of how God, who “so loved the world,” paid our sin debt
by sending His only Son, Jesus, to die for each of us, and yet…
Some haven’t really recognized the truth of that reconciliation,
so they remain separated from Him despite the Gospel’s invitation.

On an individual basis, God wants to fellowship with you and me.
And since He’s the very author of love, it’s His desire that we all see
how He wants to be reunited, not being separated, remaining apart.
May every individual realize this and invite the Lord into their heart.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20 NKJV

“But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 AMP

“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

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Blessed in the U.S.A.

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Raised on a farm in the beautiful U.S.A.,
we depended on God and learned how to pray.

Farm animals and crops, like soybeans or corn,
were tended to daily from the early morn.

The crops were abundant in the fertile soil,
and the joy of the Lord gave ease to any toil.

Fresh fruits and vegetables were always canned
from the family garden that was yearly planned.

Still, there was time in summer to swim at a pool—
a sharing neighbor kept our whole family cool.

A trip uptown for the Fourth of July parade
was patriotic fun, with fireworks later displayed.

And competing in family softball, out on the lawn,
was enjoyed by all before summer would be gone.

Sundays were blessed, praising Jesus, our King;
and during the week, of Him, we still would sing.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.
The more that people come to know Him…
the more we’ll be in one accord,
with brotherly love being outpoured!

P. A. Oltrogge

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

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

“This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” 1 John 3:23

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
(Scriptures NASB)

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation! Selah”. Psalm 68:19 NKJV

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Photos/Pixabay