God With Us: Part I

God with us. God – the Creator, the Powerful One, and the Righteous One. With – Coming down in the form of a powerless, innocent baby. Us – the very imperfect people of Earth, the ones who choose not to recognize His goodness most of the time.

One of the best themes of Christmas, for me, is this idea of Emmanuel. Of “God with Us”.

Most of us will recognize this, primarily Christmas, theme. It’s just in the past few weeks that I’ve made this amazing discovery: The Bible is packed with verses and chapters where “God with Us” is the underlying theme!

God with Us 1

Don’t you get excited when Christmas can happen all year round? “God with Us” is not just a Christmas theme. God is with us every moment of every day. He always has been. He always will be.

This week, let’s focus on Emmanuel.

I want to start by looking in the Old Testament.

Genesis 3:8a

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…”

Isaiah 41:10

“Do not fear, for I am with you;

Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 30:21

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

Your ears will hear a voice behind you

Saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’.”

Genesis tells us that from the very beginning, God was with us! But, even though we messed up by eating that apple, he still wanted to be with us.

We can find so much comfort in knowing this: God wants to be with us.

We can find so much joy knowing this: God is with us.

Isaiah shows us some beautiful, powerful promises. God is with us so much that He gives us this picture where we find him beside us – holding us up. We can allow Him to carry us. We can let Him take control and move us.

He is right behind us in Isaiah 30:21. He is right there, leading us… helping us.

I get quite speechless when I think about all of it. Which doesn’t work well on a blog. So I’ll just suggest this for today to close:

Spend a few minutes meditating on the idea that God wants to be with you. Allow Him to be right there with you. Feel Him holding you up with His hands. Know that He is there to guide you.

Just feel Him with you.

Because His name is “Emmanuel”.

 


 

Comfort  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-comfort/

 

…And Joy  http://alittlesanctuary.org/and-joy/

 

Summer Christmas  http://alittlesanctuary.org/summer-christmas/

 

God with us: Part I  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part/

 

God with us: Part II  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-ii/

 

God with us: Part III  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-iii/

 

Storying Christmas: Waiting  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-waiting/

 

Christmas Eve & The Miracle Fern http://alittlesanctuary.org/christmas-eve-miracle-fern/

The Power of Pause: A Good Theme

a good theme

It’s the heart of summer in the States right now. My parents back home are busy with Vacation Bible School, youth camp, and all the other things that happen in churches during the summer. They have to sweat in 120 degree weather while I am cuddled up in my blankets with the space heater on full blast here. Weather, orbits, and the earth’s axis befuddle me daily. Sometimes I pause and have to think… wait. It’s not December – it’s July!!! The 4th of July comes around, and I feel like I need to wake up and open presents.

Another holiday that confuses me is Easter. Easter here in New Zealand is different than Texas for many reasons. For one, there are SOOOOO many chocolate bunnies and chocolate Easter eggs and chocolate dinosaurs and chocolate rugby balls. They don’t decorate the hard-boiled eggs like we do or use the plastic eggs to put goodies and quarters in.

Another confusing difference is that churches have youth camp on Easter weekend (four day weekend here for everyone) instead of summer. So they don’t sweat and boil and get heat stroke during youth camp like we do because it’s autumn at the time.

I signed up to go this past year and I was unbelievably excited about it. I mean, youth camp without Texas heat? Yes! I was so ready for that!

The theme was simple: “Pause”.

I thought this was a really good theme. I was all, like, yes. Yes, that is such a good topic for, not just teens, but for everyone. We get so busy, or if we’re not busy, we tend to create busy-ness to fill in the void.

I prepared myself. In February, I began to wean myself off coffee to give myself healthy adrenal function so that I could be my best self at camp. The last two summer youth camps I attended, I was sick in the dorms most of the time. And I hate disappointing people. I continued to stay away from sugar, and I took care of my body.

the power of pause theme insta

You know a person is really serious about something when they decide to say no to coffee for two month.

And I tried to pause. I wanted to prepare myself.

But, pausing was hard.

In the end, Mark brought home a stomach virus from the hospital and I got sick the night before we left. It was out of our hands. There were tears. The whole thing was made worse by the fact that I was off caffeine, too. Horrible, right?

Though I get sick sometimes and that makes me discouraged, I almost always neglect to just pause and spend time with Jesus. I learned some things in those two months of preparing my body, mind, and soul to go spend time with teenagers. I want to continue to journey into that mind-space of pausing.

Let’s spend a few days of just stopping. Take an intermission in the middle of the chaotic play of life. Learn to set aside our phones, our computers, and our spinning brains long enough to see God, to see each other, and to spend time with ourselves. This is good. We need to find the power in pausing.

Storying Christmas: Comfort

storyingchristmas“Comfort” is one of the English language’s most warm & fuzzy words. So I think it suits Christmas perfectly. In the middle of winter, comfort is a big mug full of hot cocoa and marshmallows. It’s a red flannel blanket and a well-loved book. Comfort is the feeling of a fireplace; it’s the feeling of a big bear hug.

I’ve really been thinking and praying for a few months on what to write this December – Christmas season. There are endless articles and sermons and memes that seem to represent this month. There’s so much noise out there – mostly consumeristic. I want to quiet the noise with simplicity.

So, let’s do a little series. Let’s call it, simply, Storying Christmas. Let’s just focus on themes within the Christmas story. Because stories are how we see the world. Stories are how we learn. Stories are how we think and begin to hope. And let’s start with the story of comfort.

I haven’t written on A Little Sanctuary in a couple of months. In many ways, these couple of months have been very difficult. This blog is all about comfort – it’s all about finding “sanctuary”, finding rescue in loneliness. So coming back with a post on this subject seems fitting.

It’s early December, but you’ve probably already started listening to your Christmas carols. Like this one:

God rest ye merry gentlemen

Let nothing you dismay

Remember Christ our Saviour

Was born on Christmas Day

To save us all from Satan’s power

When we were gone astray

 

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy!

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy!

 

From God our heavenly father

A blessed angel came,

And unto certain shepherds

Brought tidings of the same:

How that in Bethlehem

Was born the Son of God by name

 

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy!

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy!

 

The shepherds at these tidings

Rejoiced much in mind

And left their flocks a feeding

In tempest storm and wind

And went to Bethlehem straightway,

The blessed babe to find

 

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy!

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy!

Wstorying-christmase’ll get to the second half, joy, next time; but, just pay attention to the ending of each verse to find the feeling of comfort. The first verse ends with the comfort of being rescued from darkness – Comfort. The second ends with a baby, God’s own son, a Messiah the Hebrew people had waited for centuries to come – Comfort. The third verse ends finding that baby at the end of a storm – Comfort.

The Christmas story is an outpouring of comfort (and joy). That “peace on earth”. Mary is told by the angel not to be afraid – that God the Most High has found favor with her (Mark 1:30). Zechariah prophesied after his son John the Baptist was born that God had come to redeem and save them (Mark 2:68). And I love when Matthew reminds us of prophesy from Isaiah – that Jesus will be called God with us (Matthew 1:22-23).

God with us.

God rest you, merry gentlemen, boys, girls, ladies. Be at rest. Do not be afraid. A baby was born – Emmanuel. God with us. Live in comfort this Christmas season. Live in the feeling of that baby boy coming, sleeping peacefully. There is nothing much more comforting than a mother holding a baby – a baby that grew up and now comforts us, holding us in his hands.


Looking for more Christmas posts? Here ya go:

Comfort  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-comfort/

 

…And Joy  http://alittlesanctuary.org/and-joy/

 

Summer Christmas  http://alittlesanctuary.org/summer-christmas/

 

God with us: Part I  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part/

 

God with us: Part II  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-ii/

 

God with us: Part III  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-iii/

 

Storying Christmas: Waiting  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-waiting/

 

Christmas Eve & The Miracle Fern http://alittlesanctuary.org/christmas-eve-miracle-fern/