bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

The True Story of God With Us

Therefore the Lord himself 
will give you a sign: 
The virgin will conceive 
and give birth to a son, 
and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

At the time that Isaiah spoke this prophecy the nation of Judah was under a large threat from Assyria.  Alliances were being pressured and formed.  King Ahaz of Judah refused to align himself with the northern tribes because he had secretly made a pact with the Assyrians.  He didn’t grab hold of God’s past deliverances and trust God to save him and his people.  

Isaiah made his prophesy about the coming savior to the entire House of David as a warning to trust God and no one else.  God is with us (“Immanuel”) in so far as we are willing to trust and believe Him.

God is with me.  I hold on tightly to the knowledge that His Holy Spirit dwells in my heart, mind and soul.  It’s a promise completely fulfilled with Jesus.  And yet, I still occasionally fall into the trap of looking for a savior outside that promise.  A chance to make more money, a politician who scatters promises like birdseed, a new diet to get me “back on track” or a vaccine that will make the world “normal” again.

Promise made and promises broken

My BSGs just finished a section in our study of Everyday Theology.  It focused on scripture – its validity, relevance, purpose and origins.  We discussed how our modern times reflect Biblical times in so many ways.  Warring political factions, the lack of faith, and how the promises of God still stand true for today.  

Our world needs to grab on to the truths of scripture.  The Bible isn’t just some book some random guys put together.  It is what the study author calls, “God-breathed.”  There is no other book on the planet that has as much historical evidence to support what it says.  I asked the group why did the author choose to start a book about theology with the topic of scripture rather than say, God?  

One member responded quite rightly, “Because the Bible gives us the character of God so we can better understand who He is.”  

I gave the visual of using an encyclopedia book – yes, the actual book.  In the ole timey days we would hear about something and turn to the encyclopedia to learn more about it.  We knew what was written in that book was true.  No doubts.  After reading all about say, Marie Curie, we could be assured we knew just about everything we needed to know.

That’s how we should view the Bible – the true and relevant encyclopedia about God.  And know that it’s all true.  So, when Isaiah prophesizes the birth of Jesus hundreds of years prior to his birth, we can see it as confirmation of the whole story being true.

All Scripture is God-breathed 
and is useful for teaching, 
rebuking, correcting and training 
in righteousness, so that the 
servant of God may be thoroughly 
equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

And knowing it is true – that Jesus came to be our savior and the Holy Spirit would dwell in us for all time – should cause us to look toward Him and hold on to Him as our only savior.

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

Always With Us

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you 
are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
Isaiah 43:1-3

Around the holidays we inevitably start seeing helpful news stories on how to deal with our families at social gatherings. How to handle the uncle who drinks too much.  What topics not to bring up around your opposite political leaning parents.  And yet we still attend these family events.  Why? Because they are our family and we still love them.  It’s amazing what we will put up with when it comes to family.  

That idea of “blood being thicker than water” keeps us closely tethered to our loved ones.  It reminds me of those pre-school ropes with little fabric rings the children hold on to so they don’t wander off and get lost.  The teacher admonishes the children to grab hold of their ring tightly so the little family stays together.  And if Jimmy gets distracted and starts to head in a different direction, the group pulls him back in.

Now imagine God as our head of household.  He provided the roof over your head, the food for the feast and the gifts about to be received.  He created that uncle, your parents, and even that really weird cousin.  And He calls you His child.  He calls us to grab hold of our place on His family rope so we don’t get lost.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, 
neither slave nor free, nor is there 
male and female, for you are all 
one in Christ Jesus. If you belong 
to Christ, then you are Abraham’s 
seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:28-29

We drink too much.  We gossip.  We steal.  We withhold forgiveness and mercy.  We look to the world for guidance.  We work so hard to let go of God’s tether and yet He sticks with us.  He still shows up.  He never leaves us.  We are his. He is Immanuel — God is with us.

I was reading a prayer by Charles Spurgeon called “The Presence of the Word.”  He describes God’s Holy Word as always being with us.  The divine teachings through the Bible are at our fingertips, on our mind and at the ready whenever we need Him.  

“Oh, let it (Your Word) be in us a living seed that will produce in us a life acceptable before God…..Lord, we ask that your Word may chasten us whenever we go astray.  May it enlighten us whenever for a moment we get into darkness.”

Charles Spurgeon

If we make the mistake that the Bible was written long ago and has little or no connection to our life, we have attempted to untethered ourselves from God.  He is always with us through His living Word.  The Bible is meant for us right now — to be His constant voice and sense of being part of His family.  

My son, keep your father’s command
and do not forsake your mother’s 
teaching.
Bind them always on your heart;
fasten them around your neck.
When you walk, they will guide you;
when you sleep, they will watch 
over you;
when you awake, they will speak 
to you.
For this command is a lamp,
this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
are the way to life.
Proverbs 6:20-23

When we keep the Word of God tethered to our heart and mind, He is sure to be always with us.  You might say, “I’m not good about memorizing scripture.”  But here’s a little secret: So much of our lives are already seeped in God’s Words and commandments.  We can all probably list a few of the 10 commandments right here and now.  And if we were to stick with those the rest of our lives and truly follow them, we’d be closely tethered through eternity.

But His Word has so much more wisdom and comfort available to us.  The first verse I truly memorized was:

Be still and know that I am God.
Proverbs 46:10 

And it’s funny.  As soon as I decided to try and remember that verse it started popping up everywhere!  God was with me, guiding me, encouraging me to remember.  Like a parent cheering on a baby taking her first steps.

He promises to never leave us.  We were called to Him by name.  We are His.  And when we feel the pull of that blood to bring us back home, we need to show up — be the other half of the covenant.  Our family is not complete without you.

Therefore go and make disciples 
of all nations,baptizing them 
in the name of the Father and 
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 
and teaching them to obey everything 
I have commanded you. And surely I 
am with you always, to the very end 
of the age.
Matthew 28:19-20