A Blessed, Merry Christmas to You!

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ!  And, after His death on a cross for us, He stiill lives today after a glorious resurrection, and desires for all to receive Him as their Savior and Redeemer… Glory to God in the highest!

“The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130 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

Photo by Porch of the Lord

Photo by Porch of the Lord

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
——————————–

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

Photo by Porch of the Lord

A Message and Prayer from a Shepherd in the Field

I was out in the field with the other shepherds on what seemed like an ordinary night, when we suddenly were surrounded–by an extraordinary, glorious light.

I would never have thought to see an angel, but that’s what I saw appear.  He began to give us a message, saying, first, there was nothing to fear.

He continued, speaking of good tidings of great joy, for all people of the earth–for that day, in the city of David, had been Christ the Lord, the Savior’s birth.

Then the angel spoke of a sign, which would help us to locate this wonder.  He’d be wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger–then I heard what seemed like some thunder.

It turned out to be the sound of many angels–not just a few, but a multitude! They were praising God with great rejoicing, creating a festive mood.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men!”  These were the words they left us with, so we went on to Bethlehem then.

We were eager to follow the heavenly directive given to us that night; and just as the angel had specified, we found the Baby in a manger–God’s “Light.”

We stood in adoration of the Christ child, knowing His destiny was divine…and that He had been born to be our Savior–I knew then also that He was mine.

We thanked Mary and Joseph for this moment, having told them of the visitation in the field…then went on to make known to others the good news, that, to us, had been revealed.

What an amazing night I had experienced–the Lord visiting me in such a way!  And may people of all future generations, receive this heralded Savior, I pray.

P. A. Oltrogge

(from the account in Luke 2)

“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”    John 12:46 NKJV

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.”  Isaiah 9:2 NKJV

Something of the Miraculous

One of Jesus’ miracles, of which the Bible makes no mention,
is that He could speak to multitudes, without the microphone’s invention.

Everyone could hear–those in front and those in the back of a crowd.
I’d call that a genuine miracle–that, for all, His voice was sufficiently loud!

Even today, He speaks to multitudes, without any microphone needed–
simply by way of the Holy Spirit, often when His followers have interceded.

So His “voice” is still sufficiently loud, for all to hear it and take heed…
We continue to pray they will respond to Him as Savior, recognizing their need.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
John 5:24 (NASB)

Sunrise Over Lake Abaya

…photo by David Stanley

The God-sent Gift of a Substitute

“…he (Pilate) went out again to the Jews, and said to them, ‘I find no guilt in Him (Jesus). But you have a custom, that I should release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then, that I release for you the King of the Jews?’ Therefore, they cried out again saying, ‘Not this Man, but Barabbas.’  Now Barabbas was a robber.” John 18:38-40

“Crucify Him!” the crowd shouted to Pilate, calling for Barabbas to be released.
It was only when Jesus’ fate was sealed, that the people’s uproar ceased.

Of Barabbas–insurrection, robbery, and murder were the history of the man.
But Jesus was destined to take Barabbas’s place, in accordance with God’s plan.

For those who’ve received Christ as Savior, the following applies...

The Bible states that ALL of us have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory.
Like Barabbas, we were due for punishment, but Jesus changed the ending to our story.

We’re not only pardoned, but are made fellow heirs with Christ, who fully paid our debt. His obedience to His dear Father was the example of a love that we will never forget.

Because of that obedience, we now can call Almighty God our Abba Father, too.
Like Jesus, may we discern and follow our Father’s will in anything He may ask us to do.

P. A. Oltrogge

“And they came to a place named Gethsemane, and He (Jesus) said to His disciples, ‘Sit here until I have prayed.’ And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. And He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death, remain here and keep watch.’ And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, ‘Abba Father, all things are possible for Thee; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt.'” John 14:32-36

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:14-16

“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6

“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:16-18

“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…” Romans 3:21-24

And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.  1 John 3:23

“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.'”  John 8:42

“He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” 1 John 5:12

Jesus in Prayer 21

Artwork by Waiting for the Word

Hosanna to Jesus, our King

Palm Branches

Photo by Luke Jones

“And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.” Leviticus 23:40 NKJV

“Thus I will bless you while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” Psalm 63:4 NKJV

from John, chapter 12:

Jesus came to Bethany, where He’d recently raised Lazarus from the dead;
so Martha prepared Him a supper where He, Lazarus, and others were fed.
Lovingly, Mary took costly perfume of pure nard and anointed Jesus’ feet.
She then wiped them with her hair, a gesture Jesus lauded as sweet.

Judas rebuked it as being wasteful; but Jesus knew that which was lying ahead–
it was an anointing upon His body before His crucifixion and resurrection from the dead. A great multitude of the Jewish people came out, to the town of Bethany that day, to see Jesus, and Lazarus, too–as news of his resurrection had traveled a long way.

The chief priests didn’t like this at all, and putting Lazarus to death was their thought. They were losing many because of this miracle, which Jesus’ power had wrought. The next day, those who had been at the feast learned Jerusalem was then on Jesus’ route. They took branches from the palm trees to wave–“Hosanna!” was the chorus they began to shout.

Further, they firmly cried out, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
even the King of Israel!” They thought an earthly King was what history would record. Humble and riding on a requested donkey that had never been ridden before,
Jesus entered Jerusalem, amidst their praise, knowing what was really in store.

For just outside of Jerusalem, on a hill called Golgatha, a cross would hold
the precious body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and another Kingdom’s story would unfold. There He would sacrificially die for all mankind, bearing all of their disgrace. But in three days, He would rise and return to His Father in Heaven, in order to prepare us a place.

You see, Jesus Christ IS the King of Kings, as sung in the glorifying Hallelujah Chorus. Those who are His, praise Him still with joy–both now and in the Eternal Kingdom yet before us.

P. A. Oltrogge

“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

Excerpt from Handel’s “Messiah,” “The Hallelujah Chorus”
“For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The kingdom of this world
Is become the Kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign forever and ever,
Forever and ever, forever and ever;
King of kings, and Lord of lords!”

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” Revelation 7:9-10 NKJV

Palm branch

Photo by Tree-Species

Jesus Christ is Lord!

Photo by Liz West

Photo by Liz West

When Jesus was crucified, the devil thought he’d scored;
but death couldn’t hold Jesus, for He is the Lord.

Through His death and resurrection, all is restored,
for those who take Him as Savior and make Him their Lord.

For God so loved us all, that His great love was poured–
down to the whole world through His Son, Jesus, the Lord.

The love we receive through Him promotes kindness and accord;
the way to true peace is found through Jesus, our Lord.

Committing your life to Him is a wise step, so walk toward–
the hand that’s outstretched to you by Jesus, “your” Lord.

The good news of the Gospel is too wonderful to be ignored,
for the goodness of God is yours through Jesus Christ, the Lord.

P. A. Oltrogge

“And the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said….'” (from Matthew 28, the angelic greeting to the women who had come to the tomb/grave site)

“The other disciples therefore were saying to him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’….” John 20:25 (stated to Thomas after the resurrection of Jesus)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“…I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” (the words of Jesus from John 10:10)

“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation); old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Further reflections on Easter can be found at archived poems, “Just as He Said”; “The Tomb That Became Glorious”; “God’s Flower of “Brass”; “Reflections on the Legend of the Dogwood”; and “He, a Rose”.

On This Good Friday

Print by Waiting for the Word

Print by Waiting for the Word

“Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,’ he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed His last.” Mark 15:36-37 (NIV)

He was betrayed in a garden
For purpose of our pardon…

Then brought, as a Lamb,
To a “trial” that was a sham…

Spit upon and crowned
With thorns that they found…

He was whipped on His back,
And endured each loud crack…

Made to carry the cross,
Despite His strength’s loss…

His hands and feet were nailed down
On a cross, rugged and brown…

His bleeding and His pain
Were meant for all our gain…

Wine vinegar for His thirst
On a sponge, was among the worst…

Of the things He did endure
For a motive, which was so pure…

He knew His Father so loved the world,
That He took the mocking that was hurled…

Then, being obedient unto death,
He took His final breath…

From the cross unto the tomb,
It all became a kind of womb…

For, from it, Christ emerged
In victory–all our sins were purged…

So that now whosoever will
May freely have their fill…

Of His Living Water that’s yet presented
For any person who has repented…

Christ still gives, with a love that doesn’t cease;
A simple prayer will bring you His peace.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

Something to Consider

Photo by Matt MacGillivray

Photo by Matt MacGillivray

Consider the Birds and the Lilies

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

Come, you blessed of My Father

“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

Did you learn to love (as I’ve loved you) in your daily walk;
Or was it not really genuine, but, instead, merely talk?

That’s an outline of a question Jesus will ask one day
In separating His sheep and removing the goats away.

If you took care of others, even “one of the least of these,”
He’ll say you did it to Him, and will have found that to please.

Kindnesses done for others in His Name, with sincerity of heart,
Are implied to be noted by Jesus, as if on a heavenly chart.

The righteous will ask, “When did we do these things for You?”
While the unrighteous will insist that they did them, too.

Faith in Jesus saves us through His service, highest of all;
But we serve Him, out of love…it’s our heavenly call.

“Works” left undone or devoid of Him won’t carry any weight;
Make Jesus your Savior and Shepherd before finding it’s too late.

P. A. Oltrogge

“All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you game Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You? Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Matthew 25:32-46

Photo by Karen Roe