• [CHRISTIA] devotion: "God-With-Us"

    From Mark@1:396/4 to Practical Christian Life on Sun Jun 14 12:57:45 2020
    From: lamppoet@CENTURYTEL.NET (Mark)

    (trying to get back on the bike with my devotional writing.)


    "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall give birth to a son. They shall call his name 'Immanuel'; which is, being interpreted, 'God with us.'" Matthew 1:23

    Have you ever awoken from one of the dreams that seems so real that it influences your mood for a good part of the day? You may not even remember
    all the details, but the mood, the emotions stick with you. It is not that
    you simply remember feeling sad or happy, you still are sad or happy.
    Perhaps you actually dreamt about someone you knew, and somehow you have the same feelings toward the person once you are awake that you had in the
    dream. Having dreamed you have upset a loved one, you wonder what you have
    done to make them angry. And you keep telling yourself, "Self, it was only a dream."

    But, some dreams are more than "only" a dream. Mary's husband Matthew had a dream that influenced not only his mood, but his actions and the course of events in God's plan to conquer human hearts with His love. We know the
    story fairly well: Mary and Joseph were engaged, but before the wedding,
    Mary was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit. All Joseph knew was, she
    was pregnant.

    We can imagine Joseph's hurt and anger. He probably imagined all the
    possible scenarios since they were not yet married. Joseph had every right
    to cut off the engagement and even allow Mary to be exposed as an
    adulteress. Engagement in that time carried the same expectation of faithfulness as marriage. Yet, hurt as he must have been, Joseph was also a good man, and planned to divorce her secretly, not willing to make an
    example of her.

    That's when he had the dream. But this was not a normal dream. An angel of
    the Lord appeared to Joseph in the dream and told him he should not be
    afraid to take Mary as his wife. "That which is conceived in her is of the
    Holy Spirit," said the angel. Mary would give birth to a son and the angel instructed Joseph to name him Jesus. "For it is he who shall save his people from their sins."

    That's a dream that will stay with you! Joseph woke up and took Mary as his wife immediately, not knowing her sexually until she had given birth to
    Jesus. All this happened, writes Matthew, so that the prophet's words would
    be fulfilled, "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall give birth
    to a son. They shall call his name 'Immanuel'; which is, being interpreted, 'God with us.'"

    His name "Jesus", meaning "God saves", would remind His parents, and all who would follow Him, that God means to "save" or forgive people. His desire is
    not judgment or wrath, but grace through the child so miraculously born.

    But, when Matthew remembers Isaiah's prophecy (Isaiah 7:14), he knows
    another name for this coming Child: Immanuel: "God with us." It is a wonder that God would freely, through His own sacrifice, offer full pardon to all people. But, to be "God with us" implies something far more intimate.

    God does not come upon the scene, ridding the world of the plague of sin,
    and then leave us to ourselves. He wants a continuing relationship with us.
    He has been "with" every person in the story of Christ's birth so far. An
    angel visits Mary personally to tell her the birth of Jesus will be a direct result of the Holy Spirit. An angel visits Joseph in his dream. Mary's relative Elizabeth is also pregnant, and her child, the future "John the Baptist" leaps in her womb when she and Mary meet. Angels light up the
    fields with their mighty chorus announcing Jesus' birth to hillside

    And the promise of the "with-ness" of God remains. God-With-Us is a name we should never forget, because it reminds us we need never fear. Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth, and the Shepherds are all told, "Do not fear!" Jesus' birth isn't
    a single event that happened 2,000 years ago, to be remembered like a
    history lesson. It is the God of Heaven puncturing the resistance of the world's heart by sending Jesus, who is Christ the Lord. When God conquers,
    He conquers with love!

    God-With-Us is also a name we should never forget, because the "with" is not just for the "insiders" who have followed Jesus, but for the entire world.
    God "so loved" the world. When we hear anger and fear fueling fires of
    hatred, let us let the God of all Grace remind us of his "with-ness" through Jesus. Let us allow that Name, "Immanuel" guide our thoughts, emotions and words in this season into the coming year.

    mark p.


    Mark's Blog

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