A Walk through Bethlehem

In the wintry month of December, during the Christmas season each year,
a nearby church creatively causes the town of Bethlehem to appear.

Not as Bethlehem is seen today, but, instead, how it might have been,
with people of different trades at work; and there’s even the sold-out inn.

Watching a person making pottery or someone doing basket weaving,
or kneading dough for some bread makes you feel you are there and not make-believing.

An actual camel with a rider and some shepherds watching over their sheep…
add to the atmosphere of old Bethlehem as the night turns dark and deep.

“Angels” in white, with golden sashes, and “wise men” in rich-looking attire
also walk among the visitors, who can warm up at a carefully-tended fire.

Hot cider or chocolate are provided, and Christmas carolers are heard…
here and there on the “Bethlehem” grounds, reflecting the joy of God’s Word.

The highlight is the blessed manger scene—or the nativity, as it’s called—
featuring Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus, with whom we’re most enthralled.

Little children, as well as adults, walk away with hearts that are fully amazed…at having taken a walk down Bethlehem’s streets—to ponder the Lord’s birth—God, our Father, be praised!

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men!”

Luke 2:13-14

P. A. Oltrogge

“Then the angel said to them, Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (from the message to the shepherds in Luke 2:10-12)

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Poinsettias for the Prince of Peace

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At the Christmas season, with decorations inside and out,
the poinsettias reflect what it’s all about.
Clean as the whiteness of a lamb or a dove–
the purity of ivory petals speaks of the Child sent from above.

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Pink reflects cheer and the joy that was proclaimed
by the angels about the Christ child–Jesus, He’s named.
Crimson red speaks of blood that was shed for mankind
by Jesus Christ upon the cross–our salvation defined.

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The lives of those who receive Him gain a new lease
in finding faith for living through this Prince of Peace.
So, in seeing the poinsettias, rejoice for the reason
that His birth in Bethlehem is what gave us this season.

P. A. Oltrogge

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:9-11 KJV

“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

“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His Name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6 NKJV

…from Christmas on the Porch, the book, available at http://www.amazon.com and http://www.barnesandnoble.com

Son of the Highest, Son of Man

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth have been from of old,
From everlasting.”
Micah 5:2 NLT

From destined Bethlehem Ephrathah, a town that was very small,
would come the One who would be Ruler of Israel and the Lord of all.

The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, a virgin humble and mild,
whom God the Father had chosen to bear the Messiah—Jesus, His Holy Child.

Coming forth from the family of Judah, Jesus’ birth was lauded that night,
by rejoicing angelic voices, as the world’s Savior from sin’s blight.

His goings forth, the prophet Micah said, were actually “from of old–
from everlasting,”
as He preexisted with God the Father, truth be told.

After His birth, Mary laid Him down in a manger—a depiction very sweet.
But He was Immanuel, the eternal Mighty God, sent to bring about Satan’s defeat.

P. A. Oltrogge

…this writing inspired by a devotional written by Kenneth E. Hagin,
Founder, Rhema Bible Training College

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Joseph, betrothed to Mary, was troubled, having learned she was with child, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying…

“‘Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: Behold the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His Name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:20-23 NKJV

Prior to this, Mary had been visited:

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’

“But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’

“Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’
And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’

“Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.”

Luke 1:26-38 NKJV

“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’”

Luke 2:7-14 NKJV

“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6 NKJV

“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Matthew 18:11 NKJV

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 NKJV

“The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—“. Acts 10:36 NKJV

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Pixabay

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

Written 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

…from Christmas on the Porch, the book, available at http://www.Amazon.com and http://www.barnesandnoble.com

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A Visit to Israel

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Garden of Gethsemane
Jerusalem, Israel

The historic country of Israel is where Jesus once walked and taught,
as well as having been the place where His many miracles were wrought.

Today, His followers make pilgrimages there, believing that they will find,
a sensing still of His presence and memories of a very special kind.

They want to walk where the Lord Jesus walked and sail on Galilee’s sea,
visit Calvary’s site—then go to where His empty tomb is said to be.

They picture Jesus turning water into wine or observing the Passover feast, teaching the Beatitudes on the mountain, or causing fish and loaves to be increased.

This land is where the Lord healed lepers or those who were blind or lame;
and Jerusalem is where He told His disciples to wait to receive of the Holy Spirit’s flame.

The city of Jerusalem, over which Jesus wept, was a prominent city of His day;
and its importance to the heart of God has certainly not diminished today.

Jesus wept for those who didn’t recognize that, through Him, scripture was being fulfilled. God had sent Him to be the solid rock of one’s life, upon which every believer should build.

Today, many of Jewish descent are returning to make their home in this land,
all of which was foretold in prophecy, fulfilling what God has planned.

P. A. Oltrogge

“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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17 NKJV

“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16 NKJV

“Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and to great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come—that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” Acts 26:22-23 NKJV

“But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” Ephesians 2:13-16 NASB

…prophecies on the return of the Jewish people to Israel:

“Therefore, behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, ”when it will no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.” Jeremiah 16:14-15 NASB

“Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain, from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations, and will assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Isaiah 11:11-12 NASB

“And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better (unto you) than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I (am) the Lord… For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you unto your own land.” Ezekiel 36:11; 24 KJV

…return of the Hebrew language:

“For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, my supplants, (even) the daughters of my dispersed, shall bring mine offering.” Zephaniah 3:9-10 KJV

…the land of Israel will bloom:

”In days to come, Jacob will take root; Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.” Isaiah 27:6 NIV

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For further interest:
http://www.jerusalemprayerteam.org
http://www.levitt.com
http://www.savinglivesinisrael.org

Christmas on the Porch—2019

Cover Art for Christmas on the Porch, by P.A. Oltrogge

Cover art for Christmas on the Porch, by P.A. Oltrogge

Christmas will soon be here; and the Porch of the Lord book, Christmas on the Porch, has been updated with Christmas poems from the 2018 season that have now found their places within its pages, along with the Bethlehem star. This can be a great “coffee table” book or one to share and give away as a gift—a gift that reflects the true meaning of Christmas.

If you missed giving a copy to someone last year or would simply be interested in having the new collection of Christmas poetry for yourself, the updated book is presently available at http://www.amazon.com and also at http://www.barnesandnoble.com.

Have a blessed Advent and Christmas season, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

P. A. Oltrogge

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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)

Picture this…

Picture great crowds, coming to be taught…
Picture the sick, whom others had brought.
Picture them healed, through miracles wrought,
By Jesus, God’s Son, Whom so many had sought.

Picture a day where the sun was getting low.
“Hear” the disciples saying they just didn’t know…
How the people would eat—and should be told to go;
But picture a lad with loaves and fish that would grow.

“Listen” to Jesus say, “Bring them here to me…”
Picture loaves and fish multiplied by His decree,
With five thousand being fed, at a cost that was free,
And full baskets left over before the disciples put out to sea.

Picture Jesus sending the multitudes away,
Going up to the mountain by Himself to pray–-
Then joining the disciples, through water and spray,
On the fourth watch of the night, just before day.

Picture Peter bravely wanting to join the Lord,
Picture him boldly stepping overboard;
Then see his faith waver as sea and wind roared–
Picture him sinking but, by Christ, being restored.

Picture your own life and remember these things;
Remember that “greatness” to small things Christ brings.
Look to the Lord for your faith to take wings,
As you walk on life’s waters with the King of Kings.

P. A. Oltrogge

From Matthew 14:14-31

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Photo/Porch of the Lord

From Out of the Miry Clay

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“He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay; and He set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm.” Psalm 40:2

…just a little contemplation on what I envision the Lord might say to someone who just placed their faith in Him…

To My mind, your life without Me was like being in miry clay;
But I kept My hope that you’d respond to My love one day.
Where you had been didn’t matter so much,
For I knew that you were in need of My touch.
Ever so gently I drew you away–
I knew this would happen if you would just pray.
By the power of My Spirit you opened your heart,
And now, through My grace, you have gotten a new start.
That person you were has actually died;
A new life’s begun due to “Christ crucified.”

So rejoice in My love as I do in yours.
Share it with others despite troubles or wars,
For I have room for so many through heaven’s open doors.
And from out of heaven’s windows, My love surely pours–
Down to the miry clay–or wherever it may
Find people and lead them out to My way.

P. A. Oltrogge

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Galatians 2:20
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“He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge. His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.”
Psalm 91:4

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
Matthew 23:37 (New King James)

Be willing to come to Christ and be blessed….

Greeting the Dawn

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Early one morning, I got up from the night’s rest
and stole quietly out to find day at its best.

Our yard had a bench, so I there took a seat
and looked towards the glistening fields of wheat.

The sun was just rising, increasing its glow,
coming up from the horizon for a grand “daybreak” show.

The chirping of the birds had already started.
One squirrel chased another—across the lawn, they darted.

The flower beds looked like worlds of their own,
where sunlight and dewdrops together had grown.

The cat prowled through the flowers and around the birdbath,
then scooted over to explore what might be down the stone path.

Her kittens awoke, frisked about, and climbed trees,
playing with branches that swayed in the breeze.

Such blessings God gives us but not everyone sees,
because some are still sleeping while the dawn flees.

P. A. Oltrogge

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“It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your loving kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night….” Psalm 92:1-2 NKJV

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3 NIV

“I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word.” Psalm 119:147 NKJV

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” Lamentations 3:22-24 NRSV