The following was written before the pandemic. Thankfully, many churches have opened up again. But online churches are also available.
Recently I went out for lunch at a restaurant with one who’s a special friend. We talked about menu items that looked good and what we wanted to spend.
There was also offered a large brunch buffet, of which one could partake. But we opted for menu entrees, unaware of the time that those would take.
For some reason, our chosen meals from the menu took well over half an hour. We were seated right by the grand buffet and soon began losing willpower.
Here was all of this delicious food; each person came by with a full plate. Yet despite its nearness, we couldn’t partake, but simply were left to wait.
I thought about that, in a spiritual sense, especially in countries very blessed. Christian churches abound, yet are passed up–by people who choose Sundays to just rest.
God is offering His buffet of goodness and blessings, and the Bible teaches us His voice. But some are waiting and hungering still–due to simply making the wrong choice.
“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good…” These words from the Bible are for you! God wants you to join others in receiving “the Blessing” from Jesus, who is so Faithful and True.
P. A. Oltrogge
“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.” Psalm 34:8-9
“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” Revelation 19:11
A local Christian church, where you can worship with other believers, is God’s pathway to many blessings; however, here are some online church services if you are new to following Jesus or if you simply want to receive more from Him:
One day Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts, proclaiming to all the good news…. when the chief priests and teachers of the law and the elders came up to question His views..
“Who gave you this authority?” they asked, for He’d just driven out all who would buy or sell. He’d said they’d made the temple a den of thieves, rather than a house where prayer could dwell.
Jesus answered them back with a question of His own about whether they could recognize…if John the Baptist’s ministry was of his own initiative–or was it divine in God’s eyes?
Before they answered, they debated among themselves on which answer would be best. If they said it was from heaven, they knew He would ask why they then hadn’t believed John was blessed.
But if they said John was acting only on his own, they feared they would actually be stoned… for all the people felt that John had been a prophet, and such an answer wouldn’t be condoned.
So their final reply on where John had gotten his authority was that they really didn’t know– Then Jesus answered them that neither would He reveal the source of His ministry’s flow.
Jesus went on to tell the story of a man who planted a vineyard and decided to rent it out. He journeyed to a distant land for some time, but sent one of his servants back on the route…
to collect his share of the harvest one day; but the renters beat him, and he returned in lack. The vineyard owner sent a second, then a third servant, who also received the same kind of an attack.
So he came to consider that he would send his only son–surely, they’d give respect in that case– Well, they not only beat him, but they killed the heir as well, thinking then they might own the place.
Jesus asked what they thought the owner would do to those who had done this thing…. He said he would come to destroy them in turn and give the vineyard to others whom he would bring.
This upset the chief priests, teachers, and elders as they realized he was speaking of them in the story. Some said no one would do such a thing, but Jesus brought up scripture that spoke to them of His glory….
What was the meaning, then, He asked, of “The stone which the builders rejected–has become the chief cornerstone” — Of course, therein His own life and ministry were reflected.
You see, the Jewish nation was the vineyard; the chief priests and others like them were tenants of the land. Through the years they’d not heeded God’s servants, the prophets–now His Son they were rejecting on every hand.
This parable speaks of God, the Father, who sent His prophets, then His Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Lord. As in the parable, He’ll return through His Son–and those who’ve put faith in Him will have great reward….
P. A. Oltrogge
“The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” Psalm 118:22
“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’
“So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’
“And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’
“And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’
“Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'” John 20:24-29 NKJV
Why is faith needed–because, like Thomas, we, too, can sometimes doubt,
so we need to continually go to God’s Word to push wrong thinking out.
Without faith, it’s impossible to please God–it’s a detriment to us as well.
How can we doubt God’s integrity, who’s provided heaven and escape from hell?
The truth about this…is that there’s a deceiver, who actively bombards with lies,
which is the reason God says to be vigilant in keeping His Word before our eyes.
And words of faith are like a refreshing breeze in the midst of a bad situation.
“Have faith in God,” Jesus said, which are His words to the people of every nation.
“For with God, nothing shall be impossible,” is another important Biblical quote.
We can even “walk on the water,” at His direction, boldly stepping out of the boat.
Author, Ravi Zacharias, called Thomas the “Questioning Apostle,” but doubt didn’t stay.
Thomas went on to serve in God’s kingdom, leading others to follow Christ and The Way.
So, just like Thomas, we can walk on in faith, despite doubts that have assailed us.
Fixing our eyes upon Jesus, we’ll be able to say, “God’s Word has never failed us!”
P. A. Oltrogge
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV
The above image of Jesus used by permission of Bob Berran at http://www.bobberran.com See his Online Store to purchase reprints of various sizes.
Ravi Zacharias was the author of many Christian books. Having been born and raised in India, he spoke of the cited influence by Thomas, for Christianity, to a certain area of that country, historically in Kerala. He wrote of this in “Walking from East to West,” the autobiography of his own life, on pages 46 to 50.
Jesus, the Son of God, was birthed by Mary and laid in a manger. King Herod sought to kill Him, but He was kept from danger… for His earthly father, Joseph, having been enlightened and driven, by instructions in a dream that the angel of the Lord had given, took the Child and His mother away to a distant Egyptian location. And, there, the family stayed for a specified duration.
In later years, during Jesus’ ministry, others opposed Him, too. But no one could actually harm Him until His ministry days were through. The devil himself confronted Jesus, with temptations to disband from loyalty to the Godhead and to all that was divinely planned. Jesus was obedient, however, to His Father throughout His days. Then, even death, with its finality, couldn’t hold Him—God be praised!
Today, some seek to downplay Jesus’ divinity or worldwide fame, or they deny acknowledging the Lordship of His name. But His is a name that’s above all names—an everlasting name, a name through which we’re made righteous, for He took all our blame. And one day every knee shall bow, acknowledging all that’s been said, of Jesus Christ as Lord of all, who is surely the Church’s head.
Some, who are doubtful, try to put Jesus completely out of thought, abandoning the Christian truths that they were previously taught. But His is a name which we should praise, and certainly not ignore, for there IS no other God—Jesus said, “I am the Door.” How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which God has freely offered to all people of every nation?
It is through Jesus Christ that God has sought to bless us all. He’s the one and only Savior sent to redeem us from man’s fall. He’s the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end… and about whom the scriptures most assuredly were penned. And, thankfully, we can bring to Jesus any problem, large or small. He’s “The Everlasting Father,” on whom we’re privileged to call.
P. A. Oltrogge
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 KJV
“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58 KJV
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.’ Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” John 14:6-9 NKJV
Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30 NIV
“For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” Hebrews 2:2-4 NASB
“And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18 KJV
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17 NKJV
“…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NKJV
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod, the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’” Matthew 2:1-2 NKJV
One of the names of the Lord, Jesus Christ, is The Bright and Morning Star. Long ago, the wise men followed “His” star when traveling from afar.
It guided them like a compass—perhaps giving light to them on their way. The Bright and Morning Star, through God’s Spirit, is still guiding men who are wise today.
This Christmas, a distant neighbor’s roof has a large, lighted star for all to view. Its twinkling in the darkness speaks of God’s love—always there to see us through.
Each night, I look for that star, which reminds of the presence of the Lord— and that, for those who take Jesus as Savior, peace with God has been fully restored.
P. A. Oltrogge
“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1
“Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” 2 John 1:3
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23 RSV
“‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.’ And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:16-17
“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
“And Jesus came 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 of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20
There is no greater name than that of Jesus:
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11
“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And Hisname will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Psalm 50:15
“Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs, And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.”
While shepherds watched their flock by night, an angel appeared, and God’s glory shone bright. The angel told the shepherds to not be afraid since a proclamation of great joy was being made! A Savior for all people was born, who was Christ the Lord! And then more angels praised God for the Baby adored. Straightway to Bethlehem the shepherds went to see this One Whom God had sent. To everyone they saw, they made known what was told of God’s gift, Who was cut from the shepherd’s mold. He would have a flock–the Good Shepherd He would be- He would die for that flock, both for you and for me. To rescue and die for the lambs–no greater love could have been sent to us from above. If you’re not yet His lamb, be aware there is danger– we have need of the Good Shepherd, once a babe in a manger. Just receive Him as Savior–then learn of His great care in shepherding your life as you come to Him in prayer. At Christ’s birth, we were blessed, and God’s message came then— of “peace on earth and good will toward men!”
P. A. Oltrogge
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12
“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they might have life and might have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:9-11
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14 (King James Version)
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 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.
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 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. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made [f]widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
21 And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
(From Luke 2 NKJV)
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 King James Version
A blessed Merry Christmas UNTO YOU, dear follower or friend of this blog…
“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, who 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, if the 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
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
The first Noel the angel did say was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay; in fields where they lay keeping their sheep, on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel, born is the King of Israel….
A familiar carol that’s sung every Christmas is “The First Noel,”
about an angel coming from heaven, with the greatest news to tell.
The King of Israel and Savior of the world that day had been born.
He’d come to bring us God’s peace, though He would meet with scorn.
He aimed to please His Father in heaven, seeking only His will,
even to the point of death on a cross, in order that He would fulfill
His Father’s desire for us to have relationship with Him as well.
Of that greatest birth, the first Noel, He’s now appointed us to tell….
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel…born is the King of Israel!
P. A. Oltrogge
“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!”
(From Luke 2 NKJV)
Years later,, during His ministry as an adult, Jesus gave this commission:
And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation. He who has believed (in Me) and has been baptized will be saved (from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment); but he who has not believed will be condemned.'” Mark 16:15-16 AMP
And the Apostle, Paul, wrote to the Romans:
“Therefore there is now no condemnation (no guilty verdict, no punishment) for those who are in Christ Jesus (who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior).” Romans 8:1 AMP
Of the first Noel, the good news of great joy, rings every Christmas bell!
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!”
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)