One of Our Short Devotions
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Matthew 1:23 - The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him - "Immanuel" - which means, "God with us."
Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Luke 2:10-11 - The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
Matthew 2: 11 - On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.
Psalm 46:1 - God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
As this year draws to a close, I have been thinking about the number of times that I was aware of God's presence in my life over the past twelve months. I want to encourage you to ask yourself a similar question. In the past year, when were you most aware of God’s presence? If some special moments come to mind, take time to thank God. If not, let me encourage you to be still and draw near to God. Whenever we do, he promises to draw near to us.
God with Us
In addition to the truth of the Christmas story, the spiritual and emotional power of Jesus' birth is contained in the words God with us. In Matthew 1, we learn several important details surrounding the coming of Jesus into the world. Before Mary and Joseph were married, Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
Joseph's concern was to not embarrass Mary, so he planned a quiet and private divorce. It's safe to assume that Joseph didn't understand what was happening. To reassure him, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel told Joseph to not be afraid because the baby she had conceived was from the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the angel explained that this miraculous birth was a fulfillment of Scripture from the book of Isaiah: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call his name "Immanuel" - which means, "God with us" (Matthew 1:23). This is one of my favorite Christmas verses.
God with man, Man with God
In the Garden of Eden, before sin entered the world, the picture in Genesis 1 and 2 is one of God with man and man with God. Adam was made by God, walked with God and worked with God. The very end of the Bible describes a similar picture. Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God (Revelation 21:3).
At Christmas, the birth of Jesus reminds us of this foundational truth. ...they will call his name "Immanuel" - which means, "God with us." God made us to live life with him and that is why Jesus was sent. Jesus restored our relationship with God. This is the meaning of Christmas. God never intended us to go through life alone. He wants us to walk with him and enjoy his loving, unchanging presence.
photo courtesy of mmlolek
Jesus is the gift of Christmas
Jesus reminds us that God still loves us and has not given up on any of us. Absolutely nothing in heaven and earth can cause God to stop loving us. He wants to draw near to us so that we are aware of his presence. Most of us feel more loved when we are living the way God expects us to live. By contrast, when we are disappointed in our behavior, we tend to feel unworthy of God's love. Christmas corrects these flawed assumptions.
God's love for us is perfect and is not subject to our behavior, either good or bad. Through Jesus, God is in effect saying, "I am with you. I love you. Return to me and receive my love. Don't try to earn my approval by trying harder, just come to me. I want you to be with me and become aware that I will always be with you."
As you reflect on the mystery of the Christ’s birth, follow the example of the
who when they found Jesus, bowed down and worshiped.
Author: Paul Schlieker www.bible-study-lesson-plans.com
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Discussion ideas for your small group or Sunday School class:
1. What is your favorite Christmas verse?
2. In the past year, when were you most aware of God’s presence?
3. How has Jesus restored your relationship with God?
4. What helps you realize that God's love for you is not dependent upon your performance?
5. Spend five minutes worshiping God for his love.
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