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 late 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’d 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 is from “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens)

Reprinted for Christmas, 2015

(In reality, the spirit world consists of God and His angels,
the devil and evil spirits. But the theme of the story about the
Christian love we’re to share is certainly true and Biblical.)
For accounts of the actual supernatural intervention of God, see http://www.sidroth.org

A Star for the Magi, a Star for Us

“…they went their way, and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
Matthew 2:9-11

The Bible relates that some magi sought
A gift so priceless that it couldn’t be bought.
A star was their guide in this long-ago quest;
And it went before them, coming to rest,
Over the place where God decreed it should,
Designating the Christ-child–and there it stood.
It must have been brilliant as it stopped above
To point out the gift of God’s divine love.
They worshiped Jesus there, going inside,
Trusting that the star was their heaven-sent guide.
The Child was the very reason God had brought them to this place,
And they sensed that redemption was theirs to embrace.
A Redeemer God had sent, as had been foretold–
The magi presented gifts–myrrh, frankincense, and gold.
God’s righteousness and holiness would require a sacrifice–
That justice would be met when this Child paid the price.
He would live a perfect life, fulfilling all that’s right
And would urge all to repentance, saying He was the world’s Light.
As an individual, you may think that your life has been good…
But “falling short of God’s glory” needs to be understood.
God sent for all a Savior, an old familiar story–
Only Christ’s sinless life met and satisfied that glory.
Fitting it was for a sparkling star’s light
To magnify the greatest Light on that special night.
Today God sends His Spirit to lead and be your guide–
It’s “standing” above the Lord’s house, inviting you to come inside.
There find the God-sent Christ–for you to worship and believe.
You’ll find that He gives gifts to you–from His goodness, you’ll receive!

P. A. Oltrogge

“Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.'” John 8:12

“But now apart from the Law, the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness because in the forbearance of God, He passed over the sins previously committed, for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26

“Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17

Reprinted for Christmas, 2015

Christmas is…

Christmas is all about God becoming Man, by a birth that was heaven-sent.
The birth of mankind’s Savior is what Christmas has always meant.

Jesus Christ, God’s holy infant, slept in a stable on a bed of hay,
which demonstrated that genuine humility is always the Lord’s way.

This newborn baby would grow up to be the greatest teacher of all time.
It’s of His life and redemptive work, that the joyous Christmas bells chime.

Mary and Joseph were chosen as parents to nurture God’s very own Son–
to guard and protect Him carefully until their guidance over Him was done.

Then Jesus began to follow what His heavenly Father was conveying—
and His Father’s will was reflected in the things He began doing and saying.

He taught by Word and example, but eventually was led to a hill,
where something more lowly than His birth in a stable was awaiting Him still.

From the stable to a criminal’s cross, the Spirit of God was His guide.
Christmas is Christ–He was born for us all, and for all of us, He died.

But a victorious resurrection came about–He’d vanquished all of His foes!
Now we, too, can walk in newness of life because Jesus Christ arose.

The little town of Bethlehem is where Christ’s ministry began…
Foretold and fulfilled, Christ accomplished for us God’s redemptive plan.

So share “A Blessed, Merry Christmas!” greeting, honoring the Biblical scene…
of the beautiful Nativity of Christ, something “happy holidays” can never mean.

P. A. Oltrogge

Photo by John Pavelka

Photo by John Pavelka

“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.” John 1:12 KJV

Never a Blue Christmas

Photo by Jon Curnow

Photo by Jon Curnow

A dimly lit stable or cave on that long-ago, destined night,
suddenly became a hallowed place, because of the newly arrived “Light.”

Animals were resting nearby as the baby took His first breath–
He was sent from heaven to deliver this world from the snare of sin and death.

Shepherds watching their flock by night were amazed by an angelic visitation–
telling them a Savior had been born–Christ the Lord, for people of every nation.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,”
was further proclaimed by a multitude of angels on what had taken place then.

Straightway the shepherds went to Bethlehem to worship the baby in the stall–
the One who’d been sent to live among mankind but would give His life for us all.

Death on a criminal’s cross, followed by victorious resurrection,
were in the future of this newborn child, who would live a life of perfection.

If anything has gotten you down today, and at Christmas you’re feeling blue,
just remember that all of the love God has still shines through Jesus for you.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14

“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4

“Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

The Faith of Mary

Mary changed the course of this entire earth,
By accepting God’s plan for the virgin birth.
Her agreement with the angel’s words affirmed God’s will,
And the words that she spoke are often quoted still.
She declared herself to be God’s handmaid or servant;
In her, the Lord had found a heart that was fervent.
She had faith the Lord loved her and all of mankind;
She trusted in God’s heart and not her own mind.
She was just a young woman of a tender age,
But she stepped out in faith onto the world’s center stage.
Though startled at first by the angelic visitation,
Her faith in God was strong enough to take up her station.
Likewise, it’s wise today to ask the Lord to help us find
The plans and purposes for our lives that He has in mind.
By doing so, we ensure that we’re on His sure quest,
For our loving Designer knows which plans are the best.
Jesus called His disciples to leave earthly pursuits
To follow Him and put down strong spiritual roots.
What He has for our lives can be discerned by His Word;
And through the power of the Holy Spirit, He also can be heard.
The more that we listen to Him, the more we obey,
The brighter the dawn grows to the full day.

P. A. Oltrogge

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” Proverbs 4:18 (New American Standard)

“And in the sixth month, the angel, Gabriel, was sent from God unto a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, ‘Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.’ And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, ‘Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor 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 forever; 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 1:26-38 KJV

Reprinted for Christmas, 2015

Children Love to Sing of the Newborn King

Photo by Icelight

Photo by Icelight

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

If there had never been a Savior, Christmas carols would never have been heard.
We wouldn’t have learned that the baby in the manger was God’s very Word.

If there had never been that baby’s birth, then when each December comes around,
we wouldn’t sing of “Joy to the World,” but merely of some snowfall on the ground.

Songs of snowmen or of reindeer can’t bless young children like songs that show
that they’ve a God of love–who created the real, live reindeer and the snow.

“Away in a manger, no crib for His bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;
the stars in the sky look down where He lay” are words that bless so much more instead.

“The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay” helps children to understand Christmas Day.
“Oh Little Town of Bethlehem,” song of His birthplace, has words that anyone can pray.

On a silent, holy night, all was calm and all was bright, when a virgin gave birth–
to a holy infant, tender and mild. A child senses peace by this carol on Jesus’ worth.

When children know of God’s gift of the Savior, they’re blessed to have the realization
that lighted trees and giving of gifts are in honor of the Son of God’s birthday celebration!

P. A. Oltrogge

Oh, little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless
sleep, the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth,
the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all
the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary
and gathered all above;
while mortals sleep,
the angels keep
their watch of wondering love.
Oh, morning stars together
proclaim the Holy birth.
And praises sing
to God the King,
and peace to men on earth.

How silently, how silently
the wondrous gift is given.
So God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls
will receive Him still,
the dear Christ enters in.

Oh, holy child of Bethlehem
descend to us we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in,
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great, glad tidings tell.
Oh come to us, abide with us,
our Lord, Emmanuel!

(Words by Phillips Brooks
Music by Lewis H.Redner)

Powerful Prayers for Peter

Herod began to persecute those who believed in Jesus, it’s told in the twelfth chapter of Acts. James was martyred by the sword and Peter was seized, though there had been no criminal facts.

The church was offering up constant prayer for Peter–imprisoned by Herod Agrippa, the king. So in the dark of the night, God sent an angel to visit Peter there, who was asleep despite everything.

Four squads of soldiers had been assigned to him; and he was chained as he slept that night. A soldier on each side of him and guards were there, who were keeping the prison door barred tight.

Suddenly, the angel of the Lord stood by Peter, and a light shone inside the prison cell. The angel struck him on his side and raised him up; and from Peter’s hands, the heavy prison chains fell.

At the angel’s instruction, Peter dressed quickly to follow him–though it all seemed to be unreal. They went past the first and second guard posts. This must be a “vision,” was how it made him feel.

They came to the iron gate that led to the city, which simply opened to them of its own accord–then went out and down one street, and the angel departed. What a rescue from an angel of the Lord!

Peter came to his senses, realizing it had actually happened–he’d escaped Herod and leaders of the Jews. He proceeded on to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where they’d fervently prayed for this news.

Peter knocked at the door of the gate to the house, and a girl by the name of Rhoda came to see who was there. In her joy at hearing his voice, she ran to tell the others it was Peter, and that God had answered prayer.

They just couldn’t believe her, so Peter had to continue to knock, until they opened the door themselves to see… that God, indeed, had heard their prayers for Peter, and had sent His angel–to miraculously set him free!

At dawn, back at the prison, there was a commotion among the soldiers, as to how Peter’s captivity was defied. After a search was endeavored, Herod ordered the soldiers’ deaths; but the Bible records that he, too, soon afterward died…

“But the word of God grew and multiplied!”

P. A. Oltrogge

(From the account in Acts 12)

On divine interventions of today:
http://www.sidroth.org
Many encouraging archived programs…

The Provider

Photo by betancourt

Photo by betancourt

Some people think of feeding the birds, especially in the cold of wintertime–
though, for the many birds there are, it’s God’s provision that’s really prime.

Jesus said we should consider how excellently that God’s creations are supplied.
This brings confidence to our lives, knowing that, for us, He will certainly also provide.

Jesus commissioned us to share the Gospel and care for others, as He leads.
We’re assured that as we give unto the Lord’s work, He will supply all of our needs.

We’re to be about our Father’s business. In giving to the poor, we’re lending to the Lord. And in seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness, His bountiful blessings on us are poured.

P. A. Oltrogge

“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?” Matthew 6:26 ….”But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 NASV (from Matthew 6:25-34)

“He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.” Proverbs 19:17 NASV

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NKJV

“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now on this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.'” Malachi 3:10 NKJV

Some ideas for Christmas giving:
http://www.danitaschildren.org
http://www.operationblessing.org
http://www.samaritanspurse.org
The local church and its outreaches