54/55 days until Christmas

Immanuel, God WITH us. God IS with us as evidenced by His daily faithfulness. David in Psalm 54 cries out to God in song. He is being pursued and under attack. His prayer is simple and profound.
Psalms 54:1 – Save me, O God, by your name; vindicate me by your might. 2 Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth.

Maybe you have felt like every attack of the enemy has been pointed at you lately, or at least a fair share! Attacks are real and can be really difficult to understand or endure. They may have a name and a face, but are more often the spiritual variety that attack the heart with hurt and heaviness. Whatever the case, remember the prayer of Psalms 54. With only 54 days until Christmas we can be assured that Jesus, (Immanuel) hears our prayers and will sustain us. v. 4 – Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.”

Isaiah 55 must be one of the most amazing and poetic passages in the entire bible. Check it out and remember this is Immanuel, God with us…

Isaiah 55:1-13
1 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a ruler and commander of the peoples.
5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor.”
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.””

Find Ron Barnard’s complete 2012 Countdown to Christmas Devotional at http://www.thesamnetwork.com/?page_id=353

63/64 days until Christmas Immanuel God WITH us.

Let’s focus on the God is WITH us.

Life is a collection of moments that become days that become years that become a lifetime. With each new moment and day come new experiences. Some are good, some are way more than not so good. In fact sometimes it can feel as if the world is collapsing around you, aka Chicken Little. Death is a particularly difficult challenge to face up to. Our own mortality becomes more real to us the older we get or each time we are without someone we love. Yet we know that even death has no victory over Jesus. “This mortality shall put on immortality. Death shall be swallowed up in victory or life.” Some would say as a discomforting form of comfort, “well the Lord gives and the Lord takes away” as is written in the book of Job. However, this is an old covenant principle and the God of Grace I serve is a God of life not death. Give and take away was an Old Testament law principle. Under the New Covenant He only gives, and in this case Life Eternal. I can’t think of a greater gift. The enemy takes and yet in his taking Jesus performs the greatest act of victory over defeat by literally taking victory over death! In this one act, Immanuel joined us in the most challenging part of our life journey, death. Immanuel is with us in facing the grave and is our only hope to overcome it!

Sometimes it can feel like the sky is falling. The temptation is to panic, or operate out of fear, or even to become hopeless about your situation. Anxiety is panic in disguise, fear is the least effective way to deal with the unavoidable, and Hopelessness is code word for depressed. Truth: None of these are God’s destiny for ANY of us. Peace and Pain are not mutually exclusive and courage, not bravery, is God’s answer for fear. Hope never disappoints in the light of eternity. FYI – I’m / Your not Chicken Little, & the Sky is NOT falling, and Immanuel is God and He is WITH us.”

Jesus said in John 8:31, “If you continue in my word you are truly my followers and you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” This wasn’t just a challenge to be a student of the written Word, but rather a challenge to continue to walk in the truth Christ communicated. That truth would later be recorded by His disciples and gifted to the church as a life giving God breathed blessing. However, that wasn’t the complete fulfillment of John 8:31 either. For as John would also write: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; and all things were made through Him and apart from Him nothing was made which was made…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-3, 14).

The true message of Christmas is beyond amazing: The Second Person of the Trinity, the only begotten Son of the Father, the eternal Word, and creator of everything wills to clothe Himself in our nature, and to become man, our brother, one of us, with us. God Himself lies in the manger, completely human, completely God. But He didn’t stop there, He’s still with us. In a way He wasn’t before. The baby Jesus grew into a man who pushed down barriers and broke down walls so God could be with us. It’s with Immanuel, the living Word, we continue. He’s the Truth that we know. (John 14:6) He’s the God who is with us…”

Find Ron Barnard’s complete 2012 Countdown to Christmas Devotional at http://www.thesamnetwork.com/?page_id=353