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Recommended Reading For Christian Growth

Recently I was asked for recommendations for biblical study material. It's a good topic, so I thought I'd share a few resources and ideas that you might want to consider for your own reading in pursuit of growth.

First, you might want to check out this post on "A Layperson's Theological Library" for a start in building your personal library. In this post I won't duplicate recommendations I made previously, but you'll certainly want to check out those recommendations in addition to what is shared below.

Now, on to the recommended reading. There's a lot more I could add, but this will suffice for now.

Bible Study "Reading Romans with Luther" by RJ Grunewald
I actually haven't read through this one yet, but enough trusted friends have done so that I feel confident in recommending it.  The book of Romans can be intimidating and this book helps you to be able to understand the message of the book, using Luther as your guide.

The following are…

1 Christmas Savior

I’ve been doing a countdown on different topics this week from 7 to 1. 

Today is Christmas, so here’s #1 and of course #1 is Jesus. There might be a lot of reasons to celebrate on Christmas; family, food, health, presents, etc. However, without Jesus and what He has done for us, all of those things would have the shadow of sin and death looming over them. But because of Jesus we can have boundless, unhindered joy because He has conquered sin and death. 

What a blessing to again hear this truth: Unto you is born...a Savior. 

Merry Christmas!

2 Christmas Prayers

I'm doing a countdown beginning from 7 to 1, with 1 being on Christmas Day, with each day having a different topic.

Today I'm sharing with you 2 Christmas prayers.

The prayers I'm sharing are uses as "collects" in the Divine Service.  A collect "collects" the main theme of the service and brings it before God as a prayer. I am putting these here so that you may use them on your own as well, if you would like.

Prayer #1: The Collect for Christmas Eve O God, You make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Grant that as we joyfully receive Him as our Redeemer, we may with sure confidence behold Him when He comes to be our Judge; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer #2: The Collect for Christmas Day Almighty God, grant that the birth of Your only-begotten Son in the flesh may set us free from the bondage of sin; th…

3 Christmas Artworks

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It's the week before Christmas, so I'm going to do a countdown beginning today from 7 to 1, with 1 being on Christmas Day. Each day will have a different topic.

Today I'm sharing with you 3 Christmas Artworks.

Below are three different depictions of the nativity scene. None of them are what could rightly be described as "accurrate" insofar as showing what the setting and the people probably looked like, but that doesn't bother me at all.  In fact, what I like about these is that the artists show people to whom their audience could relate and surrounding a Savior to whom they can also relate.  It's a reminder that Jesus came to be the Savior for people of all colors and from all nations and cultures.


Here's a painting from Cameroon 
JESUS MAFA. The birth of Jesus with shepherds, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48387 [retrieved Decemb…

4 Christmas Songs (that you probably don't know)

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It's the week before Christmas, so I'm going to do a countdown beginning today from 7 to 1, with 1 being on Christmas Day. Each day will have a different topic.

Today I'm sharing with you 4 Christmas songs that you might not know, but probably should.

#1 "Nations that Long In Darkness" Walked by Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips

This is a beautiful, newer song that is rich with the words of Scripture and the implications of Jesus coming into the world.

#2 "O Jesus Christ, Thy Manger Is" by Paul Gerhardt Paul Gerhardt is one of the greatest hymn writers in history, but few seem to know this beautiful song.  The words of this are simply beautiful. Below are the words of the first verse. 1     O Jesus Christ,     Thy manger is My paradise at which my soul reclineth.     For there, O Lord,     Doth lie the Word Made flesh for us; herein Thy grace forth shineth.  #3 "From Heaven Above To Earth I Come" by Martin Luther This one might not be unknown t…

6 Christmas Prophecies

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It's the week before Christmas, so I'm going to do a countdown beginning today from 7 to 1, with 1 being on Christmas Day. Each day will have a different topic.

Today I'm sharing with you 6 prophecies fulfilled with the birth of Jesus or shortly thereafter.

Prophecies #1 and #2: Isaiah 7:14 In this verse we actually get two specific and astonishing prophecies that are fulfilled by Jesus.  First, the prophecy that He will be conceived and born of a virgin and second that He will be called Immanuel.

The virgin birth is indeed a miracle only possibly by God, but for God (as Gabriel reminded Mary) all things are possible.  The virgin birth is important because it is the fulfillment of this prophecy, but also because Jesus was born without having the sinful nature passed on to Him as would have happened with a "normal" conception and birth. 
That Jesus is called Immanuel (or Emmanuel, same word, different spelling) is maybe even more amazing than the virgin birth.  I…

5 Christmas Quotes

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It's the week before Christmas, so I'm going to do a countdown beginning today from 7 to 1, with 1 being on Christmas Day. Each day will have a different topic.

Today I'm sharing with you 5 Christmas quotes to reflect upon.

Quote #1 This is from Charles Porterfield Krauth's magnum opus, The Conservative Reformation and its Theology.  It is a quote pertaining to Martin Luther.

All days were Christmas to the great Restorer. He had found the Christ, and when he was not kneeling with the shepherds, he was singing with the angels. 


Quote #2 Here is a quote from that great Restorer, Martin Luther.

There are many of you in this congregation who think to yourselves: "If only I had been there! How quick I would have been to help the Baby! I would have washed his linen. How happy I would have been to go with the shepherds to see the Lord lying in the manger!" Yes, you would! You say that because you know how great Christ is, but if you had been there at that time you wou…