enelsonblog

not a clue, as usual


Leave a comment

Immanuel – God With Us

peace for paris

 

 

This world has always been a scary place but it feels like things are escalating on a global scale. The news reports out of Paris this weekend have been beyond tragic and fear is spreading. People are asking “Where is God?” But He is here, rest assured, He is here. Even his name – Immanuel – means “God with us”.

Why are the nations so angry?

Why do they waste their time with futile plans?

The kings of the earth prepare for battle;

The rulers plot together

Against the LORD

And against His Anointed One.

Psalm 2:1-2 NLT

…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 hold you up with my victorious right hand

Is 41:10 NLT

I searched for the phrases “do not fear” and “do not be afraid” in Scripture and found them mentioned almost 90 times. In each case, God or one of his angels was giving instructions to someone who had turned to Him for help. The phrase was often coupled with the words “be strong and courageous”, which tells me that God had a tough job for them. A job that would require the person to work hard and struggle through much difficulty and/or danger. We see God speaking these words to Abraham, to Hagar, to Joshua and so many others whose stories are chronicled in the Old Testament.  Many times we see the words, “God will be with you” connected to “do not be afraid”. In the Christmas story Mary, Joseph, Zechariah and shepherds were told not to fear. Even the women at the tomb after the Crucifixion were given the same comforting words through angels. Jesus, himself, tells us in John 14:27, “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…

Isaiah 9:6a NIV

…and they will call him “Immanuel” – which means “God with us”.

Matthew 1:23a NIV

 

I think there is something here that we are in danger of forgetting. We need to remind ourselves of God’s message to His people not just in Biblical times but also to his church today. Before we panic, let’s remember that He has promised to be with us in all things. He didn’t promised to make it all happy rainbows but He does promise to be with us in this fallen world and to help all who call to Him. I don’t know about you, but I find that very comforting.

 It means that I will have both good and bad days…

…but God will be with me.

 I will see both great joy and great evil in this world…

… but God will be with me.

I can call for help and He will respond.

He promised.hands1

Advertisements


Leave a comment

In response to red cups

images (3)

I recently saw a sign that read,

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty,welcome the stranger and the unwanted child, care for the ill and love your enemies”

I realize that all this is in response to Starbucks red cups and Christians trying to fight the “War on Christmas” but I feel that we are being distracted from the real challenges of living out Christ’s words in a fallen world. The quote above cuts to the heart of the matter. Jesus set the example of how His followers should navigate the pitfalls of this world and it’s not easy.

I can bring canned goods to my church’s food pantry once a month but would I give my lunch to a hungry person. Maybe for a friend, but what about a stranger that I chance upon who is hungry. Would I still be willing to help even if I didn’t know that person?

What about clothing the naked. I rummage through my closet each fall to find old coats to give to the local coat drive and make donations to the Salvation Army and other such organizations. But isn’t it hard and a bit dangerous to reach out to the emotionally naked? Those who are vulnerable and hurting and just need to know that someone cares?

Would I welcome a stranger into my home? Probably not, it’s just irresponsible in today’s society to do that. But could I welcome a stranger into my heart in friendship? Could I stop worrying about whether or not i might get hurt and extend love and caring to the people that God has put into my path? Am I able to care about the children who don’t have a family to care about them? What about the child whose parents are too busy or ill to shower their child with the love they crave?

Do I stretch out a hand in kindness and offer help to those who are struggling with medical issues (and there are so many who don’t complain or make an issue about their struggles)?

And here’s the big one – can I love my enemies? I may not hate them and I do feel sorry for those who have hurt me or simply think differently than I, but can I truly say that i love them?

These are difficult matters that Christ followers face everyday, not just at Christmas time. Things that are difficult to incorporate into our everday lives. Things that will require sacrifce on our parts. We will have to give of our finances, our material possessions and our time. We will even have to make ourselves vulnerable from time to time. Loving like Jesus did will cost us dearly but the rewards will be incredible. Am I willing to try? I’m scared and unsure but I’ll hold the hand of Eternity and keep trying. I’ll fail often yet I’ll keep trying.

So now can we stop worrying about who is putting up Christmas decorations and who has chosen not to? The real “war on Christmas” is a personal one and will be fought in our hearts and not on our coffee cups. We are always in danger of getting embroiled in corporate or political battles that will distract us from the real battle. Fight to keep Christ first in your heart. Fight to keep Christian principles of love, grace and mercy first in your life. That’s the front line in this war. And it’s not just for Christmas, it’s a year-round 24/7 battle that Christians must fight every day. Christmas is a great time to revisit these principles and recommit ourselves to them.

And by the way, I actually like the simplicity of the red cups. I think it sends a message in line with Christ’s teachings. Too bad I can’t drink coffee.

“The King will reply, ‘ I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’. Matthew 25:40