God Is with Us

Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands.
Isaiah 7:4
At Advent and Christmastime, we love reading from Isaiah 7. It's where we find the promise that a young woman (in some versions, "virgin") shall conceive and bear a Son whose Name would be Immanuel. This word "Immanu" (with-us) + El (God) is only found twice in the Bible (in Isaiah 7 and Isaiah 8), but Christians love it as much as any other name for God. It is a beautiful one-word description of who Jesus is and what he means to us. 

But it's important to put the promise of God-with-us in its proper context. It was made during a long struggle. Some of God's people had turned to other powers, and others were trying to remain true to the Lord. It went on for decades—centuries, really—and before all was said and done, the people were overrun and exiled. So when we are enjoined to pay attention and be still, to be courageous and strong, it is not advice for a moment or a single night or even a brief season of our lives. Troubles lasted for many lifetimes in Israel. And they continue to plague us today. 

Yet the "firebrands" which threaten us with destruction are but "smoldering stumps" when we take the long view. The One in whom we place our faith is eternal. In the end, those other powers that cause our hearts to tremble consist of smoke and mirrors. Even when they seem to surround us, we can be courageous in the Lord, for we know that God is with us in Jesus Christ, the One promised to us so long ago by Isaiah,

Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.
 1 Corinthians 16:13
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Make us, O blessed Master, strong in heart, full of courage, fearless of danger, holding pain and danger cheap when they lie in the path of duth. May we be strengthened with all mighty by the Spirit in our hearts.
 F.B. Meyer
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.
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