Emmanuel, God With Us

Emmanuel, God with us…
You see, we are not alone.
Emmanuel, God with us…
Through the birth of a Child, God’s presence was shown.
He couldn’t leave us without knowledge of His love,
But made Himself known, coming down from above.
Emmanuel, God with us…
From God, the Father, came a Baby so mild.
Emmanuel, God with us…
God’s Son was embodied in a holy Child.
Born of a virgin, the handmaiden of the Lord–
From His life, the goodness of God would be poured.
After humble beginnings in a manger stall,
His Name would become great–He would die for all,
So that any individual living on this earth
Could personally know their God of great worth.
Emmanuel, God with us…
It’s the greatest Name known.
Emmanuel, God with us…in Jesus…
And now we need never be alone!

P. A. Oltrogge

“In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” John 14:20

“And Jesus came up 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 the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:18-20

The Manger


It’s a funny thing, but I never saw
why You might have been laid in a bed of straw.
That’s where the animals came to feed,
and that was representative of our daily need
of the Bread of Life, which, Jesus, You are.
We’re drawn to Your Word like wise men to a star.
To all people the angels proclaimed tidings of great joy,
by pointing to the birth of that God-indwelt boy,
who lay down in the manger where the animals were fed.
Jesus–the Word was God–You’re our daily bread.

P. A. Oltrogge

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35

“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son, and she wrapped him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:4-7

Cherished “Christmas of my Childhood” Memories

We always met at our grade school on an often snowy Christmas Eve,
anticipating the gifts back home that we knew we would receive.

But thoughts, really, were on the Lord Jesus and the amazing story
that we would be telling of God sending us His Son amidst angelic glory.

We each had a part we had practiced for the yearly Christmas Eve service–
those who may have had a bigger role were sometimes a little bit nervous.

The atmosphere was one of warmth, though, but so respectful of the divine–
at my church very many years ago, these Christmas memories of mine.

We stepped outside the school and crossed over the connecting street
to the large decorated church sanctuary where everyone would meet.

To us children, the lights and nativity were always greatly impressive.
Beautifully-ornamented, tall Christmas trees made the night so festive.

Boys wearing new suits and ties and the girls in fine dresses sewn
began to sing the great Christmas carols, backed by the organ’s deep tone.

Often a solo was sung–one of the most endearing was “O Holy Night,”
which spoke of the guiding star and its sweetly gleaming light.

This song told of the wise men who came from a distant Orient land,
and how we were meant to love each other, as God had always planned.

“The weary world rejoices” were words that carol would recall,
and that Jesus Christ had been born to us in a lowly manger stall.

“His law is love and His gospel is peace.” I remember the song so well,
along with the serenity felt, as we heard the old church steeple bell.

Some of the children had the roles of shepherds or of the wise men to play;
Of course, there were Mary and Joseph by the Baby in the hay.

We were depicting the humble place where that great King had arrived–
the Giver of everything good in life that could ever be wanted or derived.

“Joy to the World” was sung with robust joy to the pipe organ music’s final beats,
after which we returned to our classrooms for sacks of nuts and other treats.

Heading home in the car with our families to continue the Christmas Eve fest,
we knew it was because of Jesus, that our lives were truly blessed.

Perhaps this reminds of your own childhood. If not, come now to join in its peace;
God wants you in His family forever, to abide in His love that will never cease.

P. A. Oltrogge

O Holy Night

The stars are brightly shining.
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
’til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices,
O night divine, O night when Christ was born,
O night divine, O night, O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
with glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
in all our trials, born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger;
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother;
and in His Name, all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we;
let all within us praise His holy Name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever;
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
O night divine, O night, O night divine!

(music by Adolphe Adam
words by Placide Cappeau)

Keeping Christmas Every Day

It’s a good thing that we’re reminded of the famous old Charles Dickens tale
of a man named Ebenezer Scrooge and a life that had almost failed…

to embrace all of the kindness and compassion that could be spread around.
Instead, Ebenezer’s greed and selfishness caused his life to be sadly bound.

The “ghost” of an old business partner appeared to him one Christmas Eve–
and told him he’d be visited by “spirits,” who’d have insights for him to receive.

If they could have him look back and remember some things that had been good–
then see in the present and the future the things that he really should,

then his life might still be rescued from a bankruptcy of the soul…
So, as each Christmas spirit visited in the night, that was their intended goal.

He’d just arrived at home, with resentment of paying Bob Cratchit, his clerk,
for the next day, Christmas Day, since Bob wouldn’t even have to work.

His nephew, Fred, had arrived that day with a cheerful “Merry Christmas” greeting.
“Bah, humbug,” was Ebenezer’s reply, as usual, at this time of their meeting.

Fred’s invitation to Christmas dinner, he also had declined once again,
and refused a plea by men who’d asked if he could help others not as fortunate as him.

So, one by one, the spirits awoke him, taking him first on a journey to recall
when he was a young apprentice to Mr. Fezziwig, who was generous and kind to all.

He saw his fiancee, Belle, who’d walked away due to realizing his first love
was the pursuit of money and success, which he couldn’t seem to put her above.

Perhaps, seeing his early childhood, too, when he had experienced love’s neglect
made him start to rethink his own neglect of others, who needed attention and respect.

The spirit of Christmas present brought him to Bob Cratchit’s family holiday–
where, despite being poor, they were thankful to God and always took time to pray.

He learned of their sweet child, Tiny Tim, who needed medical care beyond their means.
This began to touch Ebenezer’s soul, at last, to see such a heart-wrenching scene.

He saw the celebration at Fred’s house, where friends were mocking Ebenezer’s inability to share; but Fred only spoke kind words of pity for his Uncle–his love for him was always there.

The spirit of the present revealed children, Ignorance and Want, shivering beneath its robe, representing the less fortunate whom we’re to help and are with us throughout the globe.

The ghost of Christmas yet to come revealed funerals, one of a man who no one mourned.  Then Ebenezer also saw the Cratchit home, where Tiny Tim had died–the family there, forlorn.

He ultimately learns that the man not mourned was himself, to his great shock and dismay. He begs the spirit to give him another chance to make amends–then he awakes to Christmas Day.

Immediately, Scrooge sends the Crachits a huge turkey, which was, to them, a gift that was profuse. Next, he encounters those who had asked of his donation–his wallet now was generous and loose.

Then, on to Fred’s house, the changed Ebenezer proceeds, to inquire if he could still join them…  to celebrate God’s goodness at Christmas and always!  This story is truly a meaningful gem.

P A. Oltrogge

(The above synopsis from “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens)

Ideas on ways to reach out ourselves:

No Contest

I had been grappling with a problem that had dogged me for many a week
when the Lord gave me a vision that I didn’t even seek.

He showed me a spiritual tug of war, with Him and myself there on one side.
The devil and his demons were on the other, my faith to divide.

I don’t remember seeing others; but, to my mind, there could have been
friends who were also “pulling” on my side, through prayers that I would win.

In the vision, I had the calming realization that with Jesus holding the rope,
the devil and his cohorts would be defeated, completely unable to cope.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

Two Significant Births

The Hebrew people had prayed for a deliverer to be their long-promised King.
While living under Roman rule, they looked for the answer that God would bring.

Then it came to pass that two little babies were born in the same time span.
The lives of each one of them would be major in God’s great redemptive plan.

One would be a prophet named John, the baptizer, and was the son of Zacharias, the priest. The other was Jesus, who would be the focus and celebration of God’s greatest Passover Feast.

John’s mother, Elizabeth, had longed for a child and rejoiced at the birth of her son.
And Jesus’ mother, Mary, told the angel who came that God’s will for her should be done.

The angel, Gabriel, had first appeared to Zacharias and told him what to name his son–
John, “The Lord is gracious,” a preparer of the way for the Messiah, God’s Anointed One.

When betrothed, Mary’s Joseph had gained assurance from God, by having been visited in a dream too. Mary stayed with her cousin, Elizabeth, for a time before her own baby would become due.

These four parents realized, through faith, the significance of those entrusted to their care. A messenger of God, and Immanuel, “God With Us,” were birthed in answer to prayer.

P. A. Oltrogge

(from Luke 1 and Matthew 1:18-25)

Written of Jesus:

“And the angel said unto her, ‘Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father, David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.’ Then said Mary unto the angel, ‘How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?’ And the angel answered and said unto her, ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.’ And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:30-38 KJV

of John:

“And his father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying… ‘And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’” Luke 1:67 and 76-79 NASB

With Others in Mind

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Matthew 5:43-48

Demonstrating that in order to be “the greatest,” Jesus washed His disciples’ feet.
He was living His life’s course in a manner He wanted His followers to also meet.

We’re to serve family and friends, but also those we find it difficult to like at all;
Loving those who love us is natural, Jesus said, but it’s not our only call.

He said to “love your enemies,” or those with whom it’s hard to find common ground.
He wants us to pray for and recognize all who need to feel a love that’s sound.

For it’s in giving, He emphasized, that God’s greatest purposes are achieved;
A life that ‘s focused on others, as He leads, is how His truest blessings are received.

And, really, it’s so freeing to forget about obtaining what we think we need or might desire;
Running our race, with a heart for those around us, ensures the fulfillment that’s
much higher.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 HCSB

“Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:5

“…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.” John 13:12-15

“But the greatest among you shall be your servant.” Matthew 23:11

Only One Sacrifice

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

A look at Hebrews 10:1-18 reveals why Jesus was sent, to be born of a virgin–to live and die according to God’s will–to fulfill all the requirements of the law. The Old Testament laws were established as a way to approach God and so that God could dwell among the people. But then, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to dwell among us and give His life as the sacrifice for our sins. Today, He lives in us individually through the power of the Holy Spirit given to each believer, and we can approach God with confidence through Jesus.

“In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22 NLT

The following is based on Hebrews 10:1-18

Animal sacrifices were made by the Hebrew priests for worshipers who drew near
to seek a cleansing of their sins from the God of Israel, repeatedly year after year.

Those sacrifices were reminders to the people, on an annual basis of all of their need to obtain forgiveness; but the blood of bulls and goats could never, with finality, succeed.

Therefore, when Christ began His ministry in the world, He made clear by declaration that such sacrifices weren’t desired by God, but He required a body of His preparation.

Jesus then further stated, “Here I am–it is written about Me in the scroll–
I have come to do your will, my God,” referring to His God-appointed, sacrificial role.

Though the old sacrifices didn’t please God, they’d been offered in accordance with the law. Jesus set aside the first to establish the second, in which God would find no flaw.

Because of Christ’s obedience to die on Calvary’s cross, we can be made holy once and for all. No priestly ritual or belief is needed, other than that it’s on Jesus’ Name we must call.

Having accomplished being the Lamb–the one sacrifice–which His Father deemed complete, Jesus sat down at the right hand of God in heaven, where He waits for His enemies to be a stool for His feet.

The Holy Spirit also testifies that God has made a covenant with those who put faith in his Son. He puts His laws in their hearts and writes them on their minds, but their sins He counts as none.

Where these have been forgiven, through Christ’s blood, the Bible says, all God’s will is fulfilled. No list of good works done will open heaven’s door; and no bull or goat needs to be killed.

For obedience to the law was not the reality, but only a shadow of God’s plan still ahead. To put an end to repetitive sacrifices, the blood of God’s unblemished Lamb, Jesus, ultimately had to be shed.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:19-25 NKJV

“With His own blood–not the blood of goats and calves-He entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.” Hebrews 9:12 NKJV

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
Romans 10:4

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17

“When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.” John 19:30

Some references on Old Testament laws, as well as the “sacrifices” that believers in Christ can do today, not to earn salvation, but out of love and gratefulness: Leviticus 1:1-4; 4:35; 16:30; 1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 51:16-17; Proverbs 21:3; Isaiah 1:11-17; Jeremiah 7:22-23; Hosea 6:6; Romans 12:1; Philippians 2:17 and 4:18; Hebrews 9:11-14 and 13:15-16