A Star for the Magi, A Star for Us

…Though it’s a little past Christmas, some thoughts herein are good to remember as we head into the new year…

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“…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

“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)

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

The Heart of Christmas

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For God so loved the world…
Can we comprehend His very big heart?
All the way back to Adam and Eve,
He loved us from the start.

God, the Father, would send a Savior
through Jesus Christ, His Son.
Born of the virgin, Mary–
through Jesus, His plans would be done.

Jesus, the Son, would die for our sins;
He would teach us about loving and giving.
I thank God for the gift of Jesus at Christmas,
who renews my faith always for living.

P. A. Oltrogge

“May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5 NASB

“All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His commandments and His testimonies.” Psalm 25:10 RSV

“…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34

“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

Photo/Porch of the Lord

Star Gazing Leads to the Star to be Praising

“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.’

“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’

“Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.’

“When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

“Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.” Matthew 2:1-12 NKJV

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There’s something very compelling about a brilliant star;
and that, dear Lord, is what You are…

“The Bright and Morning Star,” is one of Your titles, which inspires—
“Glory to God in the highest” was sung at Your birth by heaven’s angelic choirs.

The wise men followed the guiding light of a certain star in the sky,
which led them to You, the Bright and Morning Star—
Jesus, the Son of the Most High.

P. A. Oltrogge

“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 NKJV

“And the angel said unto her, ‘Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:30-33 KJV

“For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth.” Psalm 47:2 NKJV

“Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.” Psalm 50:14 NKJV

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 NKJV

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

Photos/Pixabay

Christmas on the Porch—a Gift Idea

 

Christmas on the Porch

Christmas is almost here, and the Porch of the Lord is offering you a “stocking stuffer!”

…a book of Christmas poetry by P. A. Oltrogge, for you to share the true message and meaning of Christmas with others—family, friends, acquaintances, or anyone who comes to mind. It is a new release, and its title is Christmas on the Porch.

Featuring a new Christmas poem written especially for the book, Christmas on the Porch is a treasury of seasonal poems from the Porch of the Lord. Friends of the blog will recognize their familiar Christmas favorites, collected in print for the first time.

You can obtain a copy of the book at BarnesandNoble.com or at Amazon.com. You can also order a copy, printed on request, through Barnes and Noble stores.

A blessed Advent and Christmas season to you,

P. A. Oltrogge

Samson—of the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11

“And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”
Hebrews 11:32-34 NASB

I thought about the Bible’s Samson, and what one could basically say,

regarding his life and mission in a poetic way…

His future parents were visited by the angel of the Lord, who foretold his birth,

saying that Israel’s deliverance from the Philistines would begin through him, a Nazirite of worth.

As foretold, he was born and blessed of the Lord, and then we also read…

of the Spirit of God coming upon him at times, with the mighty strength that he would need.

An early event recorded is his favoring of a certain Philistine woman to be his wife…

though his parents tried to dissuade him, saying one of their own people could better bless his life.

But she did become his bride—scripture says it was “of the Lord” in this unusual case.

The Lord was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines, for their dominion over Israel was in place.

Killing a young lion with his bare hands, throwing a wedding feast at which a riddle was told—

then came a clash with the Philistines after the riddle was “solved.” Through Samson, their defeat was beginning to unfold.

Deprived of his wife, he caught three hundred foxes, by which he set fire to the Philistines’ vineyards, groves, and grain.

At that, they retaliated, causing her death, at which Samson fought them again, making his readiness to confront them even more plain.

The Philistines encamped in Judah, then. To prevent attack, three thousand of Judah’s men went out with new ropes to have him bound…

and hand him over to the Philistines. Samson allowed them to bind him but broke free, killing a thousand Philistines in just one round.

He commended himself for the triumph, “With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps…I have slain a thousand men.”

But he was overcome at the end of the conquest with extreme thirst then…

So he cried out to the Lord for water, saying, “YOU have given this great deliverance by the hand of your servant…”

He continued, asking God if he was going to let him die without needed water—his plea being fervent.

Out of a hollow place came a spring—the requested water that God provided.

In looking to the Lord, strength was restored; his thirst was quenched and his distress subsided.

And the strength that was given to him by God far surpassed the normal for lifting any heavy weight.

From Gaza to the top of the mountain opposite Hebron, he uprooted and carried on his shoulders, one night, the doors of the Gaza city gate.

He judged Israel for a span of twenty years, according to Judges 15 and 16;

but despite having had strength to have killed a lion, weakness in his personal life was seen.

Most often remembered about Samson’s life is that of Delilah’s snare,

where he told her the secret of his strength, which was in a Nazirite’s vow to keep his uncut hair.

Several times she had inquired, hoping to set a trap, yet Samson had always broken free.

But, in the last case, the Lord departed from him. He was caught—his eyes were put out, and he could no longer see.

He fervently called upon God when he was mocked by his enemies and bound.

And, in a final act, he slew three thousand Philistines—God restored his strength that had been renowned.

One lesson from his life which could be stated is that we shouldn’t be distracted…

from consecration to God—so that, in these times, by living for Him, others will be spiritually impacted.

Surely, Samson knew of the calling on his life from God and that he was to be mindful of His help throughout his days.

God used him mightily, as had been prophesied, for deliverance from the Philistines in an initial phase.

So, grant us a surge of inner strength, Lord, at those times we feel we’ve failed…

for you offer forgiveness and redemption to all for whom to the cross you were nailed.

P. A. Oltrogge

from Judges, chapters 13-16

It’s been said that Samson’s life, though he was an imperfect man, in some ways, pointed to the greatest deliverer (at that time, yet to come) Jesus Christ. Some of these parallels were:

Parents of both had divine visitations, foretelling the birth of a son. Both sons were to be consecrated to God for life.

Samson’s mother had been barren. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was a virgin, so for both, the births of their sons were divine interventions.

The Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson for strength to do battle and strength to even kill a lion with his bare hands. Likewise, Jesus defeated the enemy, Satan, with no man-made weapons, but the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him.

As Samson uprooted and carried the doors of the city gate to the top of a high place, so Jesus carried the cross to Calvary’s hill, establishing and being the gate to heaven through His finished work on the cross.

Samson was handed over, at one point, to the Philistines by his own people. Jesus was delivered to His enemies by one of His own, a disciple. Samson broke free from the new ropes. Jesus broke out of a new, garden tomb, being raised from the dead.

Samson was blinded and mocked by his enemies. Jesus was blindfolded and mocked by His enemies. (Luke 22:64)

Samson’s arms were outstretched between pillars to destroy Israel’s enemies in his death, while Jesus’ arms were outstretched on the cross in His dying, to pull down and defeat the devil and death itself.

Consider the Birds and the Lilies

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Look at the birds of the air…
They don’t sow, reap, or gather
Their needed food into barns—
But are dependent upon God, rather.

Consider how the lilies are clothed—
They toil not, nor do they spin,
But to the heavenly Father’s care
They’re blessed to give in.

Yes, consider these,
And consider giving in,
To the message of Christ’s love
Above this world’s din.

Partake, through the Bible, from God’s table
Of spiritual food fit for a King’s heir,
And be clothed in the love of Jesus,
the finest thing you could wear.

Consider the children,
So gentle and so tender—
What kind of faith
To them will you render?

One that speaks dislike
And contempt of others—
Or one that speaks love
And draws all men to be brothers?

The heavenly Father gave Jesus
To tell of God’s care and to guide.
When we take Him as Savior, He gives love
For all others for whom He has died.

So just like the lilies
Or the birds of the air,
May people of all nations be blessed to give in
To Jesus—the way to the Father God’s care…

P. A. Oltrogge

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies….” Luke 6:27

“And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.’”
Matthew 22:37-40

“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And which of you by being anxious, can add a single cubit to his life’s span? And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.

“But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith? Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:25-34

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A Sure Thing

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Don’t just know about Him only in your head,
but be “born again” as Jesus has said.
It isn’t just the date you were born on this earth
that matters as much as your spiritual rebirth.

It’s simply a gift–so easy to claim,
by praying to receive that gift in His Name.
No other Name but Jesus cancels sin;
just open your heart and ask Him to come in.

Make sure that you’ve done this in your own heart.
It’s faith there that counts–churchgoing’s just a start.
Please don’t let pride or tradition keep
you or those you care about from a love that’s so deep.

Don’t look to “new age” or deceptive ways of thinking,
for they’re no foundation–but sand that is sinking.
And though it is good to think in positive ways,
such thoughts without Jesus won’t get you through life’s maze.

God’s set before us such an easy choice–
your salvation through Jesus will make angels rejoice!
And you won’t need to be concerned about daily bread–
you’ll be all right always if you’ll stay spiritually fed.

Another simple thing is to give ten percent–
God will return back to you far more than you sent.
For others are in need and churches must reach
more human beings with this Gospel we preach.

Jesus, Bread of Life, our Friend and our Guide–
thank you, as well, for your promises to provide.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going, so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’” John 3:1-8 (from John 3:1-21)

“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: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
John 1:12-12 (King James Version)

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the very cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.’”
Acts 4:8-12

“But woe unto you, Pharisees! For ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” Luke 11:42 (King James Version)

“And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:18

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Photo/Pixabay