Tag Archives: God With Us

God is Near

Everybody does stupid things. This spring one of my sons took his turn at it, and in early June he had a meeting to sort out the consequences. My husband and I went with him for moral support.

It meant an early start and a two-hour road trip. I knew people were praying, and I was too. Before we left, I wanted at least a few still moments with the Lord. It had been a busy week. I felt stretched, but not quite to the point of breaking, and at peace with God in the midst of all the activity and the uncertainty of what this day would bring.

With only minutes to spare before heading out the door, I squeezed in a short prayer time and then opened my Bible. The psalm of the day was Psalm 139. To me, that’s this son’s psalm.

His psalm, right before his big meeting. A reminder of God’s presence.

Even though I hadn’t been consciously tense, I felt myself relax in His care, His nearness. His provision.

I believe God is always with me—Jesus promised it—so why is it so hard to really live that way? Why do I still need reminders? Shouldn’t I be able to simply stop, breathe, and know He’s here?

For now I still need reminders, and I’m thankful for this one.

Approaching God

In him [Christ Jesus our Lord] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Ephesians 3:12, NIV*

I can’t wrap my mind around how God can dwell in each of His followers, while sustaining the universe, while seated on the Throne in heaven. It’s all part of His infinitude, and I suppose if we could reduce Him to what we could fully describe and figure out, He wouldn’t be much of a God. He’d be on our level.

Somehow, He’s one God but three Persons, and He’s everywhere. And I worship Him because of who He is and how He loves us.

God on His Throne is a frequent image in the Bible, and that’s what I think of in this passage from Ephesians. It reminds me of the story of Esther and King Xerxes, where to approach the king in his throne room was to risk death – if your uninvited presence didn’t please him, if he didn’t hold out his sceptre in welcome, that was your fate by law. (Esther 4:11)

I picture myself – any of us – without Jesus, standing in the doorway to the Father’s throne room: filthy and matted with sin and failure, broken and bruised by self and by others… not an attractive sight for a God who is perfectly holy and is offended by the mess that clings to me. Would He hold out a welcoming sceptre? Because of His holy and just nature, He couldn’t.

But I come to Him in faith, because Jesus made a way. Jesus washed and healed me, and put clean clothes on me. When I stand in the throne room doorway, God the Father sees me in His Son, and He welcomes me with delight.

Holy, majestic and righteous God, there aren’t words to thank You for Your grace and mercy given through Your Son Jesus Christ. Please fill our spirits with awe and wonder, and help us to love and worship You. Help us to radiate the joy of Your presence.

Let the words of “God With Us” from MercyMe be our prayer:

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


It Shouldn’t Happen at Christmas

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:23, NIV*

In the past few weeks, three people have lost parents or spouses, two have received bad medical news, and another is suddenly out of work. And these are just the ones I know! News coverage expands that list dramatically.

What’s the first thing we say? “It shouldn’t happen at Christmas.”

We have this instinctive sense that Christmas is about good news, not about pain. Some of that’s spiritual—the angels came proclaiming the wonder of God with us. Some of it’s human—remembering childhood’s warm anticipation of presents and surprises.

In the midst of the celebrations, pain happens.

Maybe that’s not so bad. The pain reminds us why Jesus came.

Let’s be sensitive to those who are suffering while the culture wants them to be smiling. Last week’s devotional thought was about “faithfully administering God’s grace” and one way we can do that is to bring God with us into every encounter. May His grace in us bring comfort and a sense of peace.

Father, I praise and thank You for the gift of Your presence. Jesus—Emanuel—God with us. Because You are with us, we are not consumed. Because You have rescued us, we have hope. Let us live in You and share Your presence with those around us.

Our song this week captures the tension between pain and joy: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” sung here by Casting Crowns.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Can I Be With You?

Come near to God and he will come near to you.
James 4:8a, NIV*

“Can I be with You?”

I woke with the question echoing in my heart like a child’s plea to shadow Mom or Dad all day. And I thought how God’s heart must warm when we come to Him in love and trust and just want to be with him.

The song, “Can I Be With You,” from Todd Agnew’s Better Questions album, is about being with God at the end of life. It’s my heart’s prayer. But I want that here, too, as I go about the day….

Father, can I be with You? Thank You for moving my spirit to ask this. Please keep it on my mind so I’ll remember. I want to be with You.

For a prayerful song, here’s “Draw Me Close to You,” as sung by Kutless.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Trust and Confidence

But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7-8, NIV*

These verses are resonating with me again this year. The first time was a season of uncertainty and they anchored me against fear’s pull. Now, in a still-uncertain but less personally-tumultuous season, I’m drawn to a the beginning rather than the end: my spirit is stopping at the trust and confidence, and the verse is a reminder, focal point, perspective-keeper that I can carry with me into each day.

It’s an aid to let me follow James’ directive to continue looking intently into God’s word and to do what it says. What it says to me at this point is:

  • Trust in the Lord;
  • Put your confidence in Him.

Somehow that expands into resting securely in God’s love, strength, grace and power. It means trusting that He’s present with me now – not benevolently watching from “up there” but right here with me, His Spirit dwelling with mine even though He’s also with you and simultaneously sustaining all of creation.

Present. Not distant.

I want – need – to stay present with Him. But in the words of the old hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” I’m “prone to wander … prone to leave the God I love.”

Father, Your Spirit has drawn me to Yourself, and given me life. Thank You for such grace and mercy. So many times I lose focus and drift away, but You always call me to return. Please heal the fractures and unite the fragments. Give me that unity of focus on You that I need. Let me stay by Your side in trust and confidence. Help me not to wander.

Here’s a mix of new and old: Jars of Clay singing “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

God with Us

I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:10b-11, NIV*

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’-which means, ‘God with us.’
Matthew 1:22-23, NIV*

As Christians around the world prepare to celebrate the Incarnation – Emmanuel, God With Us – I wanted to share this video with you. Created by AJ Production Company, it features Todd Agnew’s song, “God With Us” (from my favourite Christmas CD, Do You See What I See?).

The video reminds me of a short novel that’s part of my annual Christmas celebrations. If you can find a copy, I encourage you to read Seeker of Stars, by Susan Fish. It’s the wonderfully evocative story of a young boy fascinated with stars and how he becomes a man who follows a star to Bethlehem in search of a king.

Have a wonderful and wonder-filled Christmas.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.