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 joyous 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

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Pixabay

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

Choosing the Real versus the Artificial

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I remember many chilly Christmases past, as you likely do as well…
going to a local tree lot, to choose the best tree, as far as we could tell.

Some may have been too short, and some may have been too tall;
then, finally, we would discover…the best one for us of them all.

At some point, years ago, it became popular to switch to an artificial pine,
but they never truly could satisfy this old-fashioned heart of mine.

When it comes to choosing the truth about God, there really is only one way.
Jesus—the way, the truth, and the life, who came to us, first, as a baby on the hay.

You can’t make up your own version of God—an artificial “god” won’t do.
For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son…this He did for you.

So as you go about enjoying the beautiful trees of the Christmas season,
remember God’s Biblical and satisfying truth—that Jesus IS its reason.

Most trees are topped by an angel or a star, reminding us of Christ’s birth.
Rejoice, for God loves you very much; and Jesus is (the real) Lord of heaven and earth!

P. A. Oltrogge

“Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’” John 14:6 KJV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 KJV

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:19 NLT

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Photos by Porch of the Lord

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 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

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“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
(Scriptures NASB)

Advent of a Rose

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Pixabay

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
as men of old have sung.
It came, a flower bright,
amid the cold of winter
when half spent was the night.

Isaiah ‘twas foretold it,
this Rose I have in mind.
With Mary we behold it,
the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright,
she bore to men a Savior
when half spent was the night.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender
with sweetness fills the air,
dispels with glorious splendor
the darkness everywhere.
True man, yet very God,
from sin and death He saves us
and lightens every load.

This hymn originally appeared in 1599,
Translated from German by Theodore Baker 1894

“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.” Isaiah 11:1

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

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

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 2:15

Scriptures NKJV

Train Ride

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Photo/Pixabay

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

Out of the Darkness…into His Light

Jesus was teaching in the temple when some scribes and Pharisees approached,
bringing a woman caught in adultery, who they thoroughly had reproached.

Setting her down before Him, they brought up the command that she be stoned;
and what were His thoughts on that—should Moses’ law now be condoned?

Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground, as though He didn’t hear.
Soon the woman would find, through Christ, her deliverance from a death fear.

So when they persisted in asking Him, she surely was fearing the worst.
But He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

He again stooped down to write—perhaps knowledge of the sins of those accusing. They began to all leave, then, one by one, knowing their own sins they couldn’t be excusing.

Jesus stood up then, seeing only the woman, left there in the midst of the crowd. He asked her where her accusers had gone, their condemnation having been so loud.

“Has no one condemned you?” Jesus asked. “No one, Lord.” Not one of them had stayed. Then He said He didn’t either, but to go and sin no more. She received pardon despite having strayed.

After this event, Jesus declared that He was this world’s light…and that those who follow Him will not walk in darkness but, through Him, will “see” to live right.

P. A. Oltrogge

(from the account in John 8:1-12)

The Man Above All Men

“From that time Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” Matthew 16:21

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.”

“Then a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘I have glorified it and will glorify it again.'” John 12:27-28
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Artist’s sketch by Rachel Dutton

Have you met up with Jesus?
He’s your kind of Man…
Came down here from heaven,
carrying out God’s mighty plan.

He’s still here today, capturing hearts, lives, and souls,
giving all whom He touches much worthier goals.
He doesn’t actually show up in visible form,
but you’re aware of His presence when prayer becomes norm.

And some have had visions or have seen Him in dreams,
and what they remember is the love that He beams.
That’s also reflected in the words of His book;
the renowned Holy Bible is the right place to look.

You might think you know what could give you life’s best;
but those who follow His lead are on a sure quest.
He wants to increase your every potential,
but living for Him and others is essential.

Dedicating all that you have to Him is not loss–
The best in mind for you is why He died on the cross.

P. A. Oltrogge

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
1 Timothy 2:4-6

“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

“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

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“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

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

“…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

Scriptures from the New King James Version of the Bible

 

THE Gang to Belong to…

I belong to a gang called, “The Redeemed”–
against which the devil has schemed.
He wants us to think that he always prevails;
but he can’t, for our God (who is Love) never fails!

It’s great to proclaim you’re “The Redeemed”–
that with the Father, Son, and Spirit you’re teamed.
Evil, demonic forces can come across tough;
but Jesus is Lord, and He’s more than enough.

For we’re more than conquerors through Him,
and the devil’s predicted future is grim.
Jesus came down to earth to destroy the devil’s works,
which is one of “The Redeemed” membership perks.

Christ rescued us from sin and heading the wrong way…
and gives to us guidance when we seek and pray.
He gives us a heart for other gang members,
and the “fire” to invite others whom He yet remembers.

We’re a gang that has armor to combat any foe–
We’re redeemed from the curse, so any sickness must go.
Our well-being all around is on our “gang leader’s” heart,
He always stands by us…and won’t ever depart.

In this world, we will have tribulation, Jesus said;
but we’re of good cheer for He went on ahead…
and overcame the world for those of us who believe.
Join “The Redeemed” and receive your eternal reprieve.

P. A. Oltrogge

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“…the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” (from 1 John 3:1-8)

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NKJV

“Love never fails.” (from 1Corinthians 13:8)

“He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you.'” (from Hebrews 13:5)

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

Ephesians 6:10-17
Psalm 103:1-5
3 John 1:2
Psalm 91
Revelation 20:10

Hear from some of “The Redeemed”
gang members at: http://www.bvovn.com

More Precious Than Silver or Gold

(From Acts 3)

Peter and John went up together to the temple at the ninth hour, which was the hour of prayer. There was a man laid daily at the gate, lame from his mother’s womb, who asked charitable alms from those who entered there.

Seeing Peter and John about to enter, he asked alms of both of them, too. Then Peter, with John, looked directly into his eyes, telling him to look at them; and he began to tell the man of something else that they could do.

That through faith in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, he could rise and walk–a far better gift than silver or gold. Then Peter took him by the right hand and lifted him up. He received strength in his feet and ankle bones upon Peter’s hold.

The exact words that Peter said to the man were “Silver and gold have I none…” Then he’d told him of that which he did have to give–a gift of healing, through the name of Jesus, God’s Son.

The man who’d been lame began leaping, walking, and praising God at the temple’s “Beautiful” Gate. He entered the temple with them, and Peter went on to share with the people that it was the power of Jesus’ name that had changed that lame man’s fate.

Excerpt from Acts:
“Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And His name, and faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.'” Acts 3:11-16

Peter continued, saying that Christ had been crucified by them in ignorance, but that He had fulfilled all that the prophets had foretold. Now, forgiveness of sins and salvation could be theirs through Jesus–again, a gift from God far greater than silver or gold.

P. A. Oltrogge

Scriptures, New King James Version

You can read of a similar miracle, which took place in our time in Jos, Nigeria, and other miracles at http://www.oralroberts.com. Other encouragement on healing at http://www.awmi.net, http://www.kcm.org.

By Many Convincing Proofs…

…after His suffering, Jesus presented Himself to the apostles alive.  Thus, with any doubtful thoughts in their hearts, they’d no longer have to strive.

Gathering them together, the Messiah commanded that they shouldn’t leave…but stay in the city of Jerusalem, for, in not many days, they were about to receive…

what they had heard of from Him–the Holy Spirit’s power!  Upon receiving, they would be the Lord’s witnesses from Jerusalem and beyond, from that very hour.

After Jesus had shared this, He was lifted up from them and was received into a cloud in the sky.  As they watched, two men in white clothing stood beside them and asked the apostles why they were gazing so intently on high.

The two men went on to say that this Jesus, who was taken up from them in such a way, would come again in just the same manner, a reference to a future day.

The apostles, upon returning to Jerusalem, went to the upper room where they were staying.  With one mind, they, and some women, including Jesus’ mother, and His brothers, were all continually praying.

At that time, Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren, about one-hundred, twenty in all…and shared about the fate of Judas.  Then, it was determined that Matthias would, instead, answer the Lord’s call.

And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly, there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, which filled the house in every space!

Next, what looked like tongues of fire came to rest upon each one.  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues of various languages before that first outpouring was done.

Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation all around.  “The multitude” of them came together, bewildered, at this unusual sound.

They noted that all who were speaking in their language were Galileans by birth.  Then Parthians and Medes and residents of many other areas joined in questioning it all, as well as visitors from Rome and other parts of the earth.

They were impressed, hearing them speak of the mighty deeds of God, “in a language that is mine.”  But some others mocked them, saying, “They’re just drunk with sweet wine.”

This made Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raise his voice in a bold declaration…that they were not drunk so early in the day, but this was a phenomenon of God’s own preparation.

Peter referenced the prophet, Joel:

“‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘that I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even upon My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy.  And I will grant wonders in the sky above, and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.  And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”

Acts 2:17-21 and Joel 2:28-32

Then Peter addressed them, saying, “Men of Israel, listen to these words,” and he related the account of Jesus, the Nazarene…reminding them of the many miracles, wonders, and signs that many of them had actually seen.

Yet, by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, He was put to death by them through the hands of godless men.  However God, Himself, raised Jesus Christ, the Messiah, up again.

Peter made reference to Jesus as the promised descendant of David, who had looked ahead…to the resurrection of Christ and His exaltation to God’s right hand after that raising from the dead.

Of that resurrection, Peter said, he and the apostles were witnesses to all that had taken place; and the promise of the Holy Spirit, of which Jesus had spoken, was further evidence of God’s grace.

And all of Israel should know for certain that God made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus, whom they’d crucified.  Greatly moved, they asked Peter and the rest what they should do…their hearts were open wide.

Peter then told them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.  They would also receive the Holy Spirit…all part of how a new life in Christ begins.

So, those who received his message and were baptized that day were about three thousand souls.  Further teaching from the apostles, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer now were their devoted goals.

Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe…and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles that the people saw.

The believers had all things in common, sharing with one another where there was a need.  In the temple and from house to house, gladness and sincerity of heart was shared in both word and deed.

The Lord was adding daily souls being brought into His fold, as He is doing still, if truth be told.  The book of Acts continues to this day, so that “multitudes” may find the love of Jesus, as today’s Christ followers share and pray.

P.A. Oltrogge

(a poetic sketch of Acts 1 and 2)

Also referenced by Peter,  Psalm 16:8-11 and Psalm 110:1