At Hanukkah, Dear Jewish Friend

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We’re meant to be family; I pray you can see
that the Jewish Teacher, Jesus, was from your family tree.
Of the house and lineage of David, as Jewish as you yourself;
yet He was God and Messiah, not a name in a Book on a shelf.

Your Torah, too, speaks about the sacrifices
necessary for what a holy God saw as mankind’s vices.
God’s people couldn’t come to the priest with righteousness of their own,
but through the slaying of an animal, a cleansing was shown.

Your devotion to God is very commendable,
yet your system of belief is not dependable
before the God of Israel’s holy face.
You see, you must recognize the Lamb He sent in your place.

No, there won’t be a Messiah by any other name
than the revealed Jesus Christ of worldwide fame.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son—
There’s no need to look for another Messiah to do…
what Jesus has already done.

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

“(The Lamb of God) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” John 1:29 NKJV

Born for You, a Savior

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“And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

“And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.’

“And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly host, praising God and saying,

‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’

“And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

“And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

“And when eight days were completed before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.”

(From Luke 2 NASB)

A blessed Merry Christmas to you, dear follower or friend of this blog…. Thanking God with you that He sent His Son—Emmanuel, God With Us

P. A. Oltrogge

Lord,

Make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
where there is injury-pardon,
where there is doubt-faith,
where there is despair-hope,
where there is darkness-light,
and where there is sadness-joy.

Divine Master, grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive—
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Attributed to Saint Francis Of Assisi

The Shepherds

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.

Luke 2:8-12 NKJV

It’s become more widely told today
that these were specific shepherds,
who’d been watching over their flock
in the outlying fields by night.

They’d been trained in the special care
of those lambs that were destined–
to become sacrificial temple lambs,
which were to be kept pure and free from blight.

To a cave that had been kept very clean,
the ewes who were carrying young,
were brought by these guardian shepherds,
as the place for them to give birth.

Once born, the lambs were wrapped immediately
in the protective swaddling cloths.
Jesus, God’s sacrificial Lamb, too, was so wrapped,
illustrating His destiny and signifying His great worth.

“Behold the Lamb of God,” John the Baptist, later, said of Him,
“Who takes away the sin of the world.”
Jesus was crucified on a cross, died, and was buried,
but rose up victoriously from the dead.

Son of God and Son of Man…
Jesus, our Messiah, became the fulfillment of God’s redemption plan.
Born to bear the penalty for your sins and mine,
He had become man, to die on the cross in our stead.

P. A. Oltrogge

“(The Lamb Of God) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’”
John 1:29 NKJV

“Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:3-5 NKJV

“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 further details, from Greek New Testament
Christmas videos:
http://www.renner.org

Multitude-Minded

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“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men.’”

Luke 2:8-14 KJV

Think about that…a multitude of angels appeared in the skies to proclaim…
the good news of Jesus’ birth and the blessing that had arrived through His Name.

Peace and good will toward men from God were declared by the heavenly host.
Likewise, we’re to share the good news of the Savior by the power and leading of the Holy Ghost.

We can be led to share with just one individual, as Jesus often did, being compassionate and kind. But He told us to go into all the world with the Gospel, for the multitudes are greatly on God’s mind.

To reach the multitudes may seem overwhelming, but we have a heavenly shield. Remember Elisha prayed for his servant, and heaven’s horses and chariots of fire were revealed.

“For He shall give His angels charge over you” is a promise that we can claim today. We know that there was a multitude of them in the skies on that very first “Christmas Day.”

Jesus’ ministry would touch great multitudes of people living upon the earth.
So it was fitting for God to send a multitude of angels to declare His Son, the Messiah’s, great worth.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’

“So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

2 Kings 6:14-17 NKJV

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us.”

Matthew 1:23 KJV

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.“

Psalm 84:11-12 NKJV

“For He shall give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways.”

Psalm 91:11 NKJV

“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 NKJV

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”

Matthew 9:36 NKJV

“And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there.”

Matthew 19:2

“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 NKJV

“But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh.’”

…from Acts 2:17-21 NKJV

For informational videos on
the Christmas story from the
Greek New Testament:
http://www.renner.org

The Innkeeper

“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

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, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.”
Luke 2:1-5 NKJV

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A couple stopped at our Bethlehem inn, having come from quite a distance away. But due to the census, I had no rooms left at all in which any more people could stay.

The husband declared that his wife was ready, at any moment, to give birth. So I thought of the stable to offer them, hoping it might be of, at least, some worth.

There just was something about them, and my wife had sensed it, too. But because of the incoming crowds that day, there was nothing else we could do.

My wife took over some swaddling cloths and things she’d kept for a baby’s birth. She overheard the soon-to-be parents speak of their expected child’s great worth.

Later, in the inn, we thought that we heard the sound of a baby’s cry… That evening, we saw a group of shepherds there, who, for some reason, had stopped by.

We finally got some rest for the night–the inn was full with those who’d traveled far; and I turned and looked out the window, where I saw the most brilliant star….

It’s said you can entertain angels, without being fully aware… So I wondered if Someone greater than angels was connected with that special couple there.

P. A. Oltrogge

“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.”
Luke 2:7 NKJV

Photo by Porch of the Lord

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

Darkness Defeated by the Light of the World

“In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

“God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

“He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”

John 1:1-14 NLT

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Jesus is the very Word of God, giving life to every created thing.
The darkness can never extinguish the light of Him of whom we sing.

Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, the Word became flesh…
to dwell among us, offering salvation, so that every life might begin afresh.

He’s the Light unto our path—the Way, the Truth, and the Life—
and the Prince of Peace unto a world that’s been tainted by sin and strife.

His life brought the Light of the World to all—forever Jesus Christ will reign.
Because He defeated death, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

P. A. Oltrogge

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 NKJV

“I have been crucified with Christ, 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 for me.” Galatians 2:20 NKJV

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him, who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
1 Peter 2: 9-10 NKJV

“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 NKJV

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 NKJV

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NKJV

“(The Word Becomes Flesh) 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

Emmanuel, God with Us

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

P. A. Oltrogge

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

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 RSV

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

A Heavenly Christmas

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I wonder how Christmas celebrations in heaven today would actually be.

Perhaps there are extraordinary garlands and a most brilliant Christmas tree!

Surely, the angels who lauded Jesus’ birth to shepherds in the field back then

are still singing the beautiful chorus of “Peace on earth, good will to men!”

Those shepherds who first heard the message are now in the presence of the Lord,

along with many faithful Christians who have gone on to their eternal reward.

Mary and Joseph, the chosen couple, would remember the time of Christ’s birth—

what a role they had in providing tender care for the Redeemer of the earth!

Beautiful carols, written over the centuries, must be so gloriously sung,

the saints joining in with grateful praise—people of every nation and tongue!

Love, joy, and peace would surround overwhelmingly in that heavenly place—

Christmas, or any season in heaven, will be the richest experience of God’s grace.

The wise men who traveled from afar, and fell down in worship of the Child,

are there in heaven, for they recognized Him, as the King who’d been born undefiled.

And, oh, The Bright and Morning Star—Jesus Himself, would tower over heaven’s Christmas tree.

He, who was crucified on a “tree” long ago, reigns in victory throughout eternity!

P. A. Oltrogge

Noting these scriptures after, and because of, Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross, also known as “the tree”…

“Now when they had fulfilled all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.” Acts 13:29

“(The Just Live by Faith) 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 to the Greek.” Romans 1:16

“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:13-14

“…who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”
1 Peter 2:24

“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.” Revelation 22:16

Scriptures NKJV

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No Greater Star

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“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

“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

“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

Scriptures NKJV

Advent of a Rose

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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

You may enjoy viewing various informative
Christmas videos at http://www.renner.org