“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23
When a loving father hugs his daughter good-bye as she leaves for her first year of college, he might assure her, “Don’t worry about anything; I’ll be with you every step of the way.” Obviously, the father isn’t going to be with his daughter in the dormitory, in her classes, or in the cafeteria. Instead, she knows what he means: “I’m here for whatever you need. I’m supporting you, praying for you, believing in you. I am always with you.”
That’s what the word “Immanuel” meant in the Bible. Translated literally, it can mean “God is with us” (Isaiah 8:10) or it can be a name, “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; 8:8). By it, Israel understood that God would guide, protect, and provide for His people as promised on so many occasions (Exodus 3:12; Deuteronomy 2:7; Joshua 1:5). In short, Immanuel meant, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5). No wonder God’s Messiah was given the name Immanuel.
God is with you today. Whatever you need, He can provide. He will never leave you or forsake you. He is there to guide, protect, and provide.
The World’s Most Unusual Birth – Matthew 1:18-23; Isaiah 7:14 – Skip Heitzig
This work had been done with the help of our God. Nehemiah 6:16
“Failure is impossible!” These words were spoken by Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906), known for her immovable stance on women’s rights in the US. Though she faced constant criticism and later an arrest, trial, and guilty verdict for voting illegally, Anthony vowed to never give up the fight to gain women the right to vote, believing her cause was just. Though she didn’t live to see the fruit of her labor, her declaration proved true. In 1920, the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote.
Failure wasn’t an option for Nehemiah either, mainly because he had a Powerful Helper: God. After asking Him to bless his cause—rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem—Nehemiah and those who had returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon worked to make that happen. The wall was needed to keep the people safe from enemies. But opposition to the cause came in the form of deception and threats. Nehemiah refused to let opposition deter him. He informed those who opposed the work, “I am carrying on a great project” (Nehemiah 6:3). After that, he prayed, “Now strengthen my hands” (v. 9). Thanks to perseverance, the work was completed (v. 15).
God gave Nehemiah the strength to persevere in the face of opposition. Is there a task for which you’re tempted to give up? Ask God to provide whatever you need to keep going.
Reflect & Pray
How do you normally handle opposition? What cause are you willing to fight for, no matter how tough the opposition?
Precious God, I need Your help to keep going with the work You’ve given me to do, no matter what the cost may be.
There’s nothing more humbling than salvation. We might like to think we did something that made our heavenly Father look down and say, “Now, there’s a person worth saving,” but this simply is not the case. We had absolutely nothing to offer God except our sin. And what’s more, today’s passage tells us that “He chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). How could we possibly take any credit for something that happened before we were born?
God chose us, not when we were saved but before we had done anything noteworthy—in fact, long before we even came into existence. Our part was simply to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the offer of forgiveness by the Son, and the love of our heavenly Father. That should remove any sense of pride about how we were saved.
What’s even more amazing about our salvation is its permanency: Choosing us to be holy and blameless before Him forever, God predestined us to become His adopted children and heirs of His kingdom (Eph. 1:4-5; Eph. 1:11). Our future in heaven is not only free from the penalty and power of sin but also free from sin’s very existence. Never again will we succumb to unrighteous desires or even battle temptation.
In light of this loving rescue plan, we marvel at the fact that God knew us before we were born and chose to save us. My friend, we should fall on our face before Jesus Christ in humble adoration, praise, and gratitude for His great love and mercy.
“And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.” (Zechariah 6:1)
These four great angelic creatures appear in several roles in Scripture. They are specifically identified as “four spirits” and are positioned “before the LORD of all the earth” (Zechariah 6:5). They come out from between two mountains of brass to walk “to and fro through the earth” (Zechariah 6:7). The horses are the same color as the horses in Revelation 6, indicating that these horsemen are age-long angelic authorities that execute and implement God’s will in the earth.
The four living creatures seen by Ezekiel may be the chariots that the horsemen are riding in Ezekiel 1:5. Those living creatures have four faces and four wings (Ezekiel 1:6), and a “wheel was on the earth beside each living creature” (Ezekiel 1:15).
The similar descriptions and connection with the book of world judgment in Zechariah and Revelation argue for a close relationship with four special creatures that are directly positioned with, and to, the throne of the Second Person of the Godhead—the Lamb of God. The differences are tantalizing but can easily be understood as eyewitness testimony by different people at different times in history.
Zechariah was told of their work in the “north country” (Babylon, Gog, and Magog) and in the “south country” (Egypt, Libya). Given Daniel’s previous prophecy of the north and south (Daniel 11), Zechariah would understand the future focus of the horsemen as history moved forward. “They are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). HMM III
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
But there is a limit to man’s ability to live without joy. Even Christ could endure the cross only because of the joy set before Him. The strongest steel breaks if kept too long under unrelieved tension. God knows exactly how much pressure each one of us can take. He knows how long we can endure the night, so He gives the soul relief, first by welcome glimpses of the morning star and then by the fuller light that harbingers the morning.
Slowly you will discover God’s love in your suffering. Your heart will begin to approve the whole thing. You will learn from yourself what all the schools in the world could not teach you—the healing action of faith without supporting pleasure. You will feel and understand the ministry of the night; its power to purify, to detach, to humble, to destroy the fear of death and, what is more important to you at the moment, the fear of life. And you will learn that sometimes pain can do what even joy cannot, such as exposing the vanity of earth’s trifles and filling your heart with longing for the peace of heaven. TIC123-124
Thank You, Father, for the ministry of the night, for the lessons of pain. But thank You, too, that we’re not alone in the night. Thank You for the morning star and the glimpse of the light of morning. Amen.
I would have you to be free from cares.—1 Corinthians 7:32 (R. V.).
He that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.—Psalm 32:10.
I Have no cares, O blessed Will!
For all my cares are Thine,
I live in triumph, Lord, for Thou
Hast made Thy triumphs mine.
Frederick W. Faber.
Let my soul roll itself on Him, and adventure there all its weight. He bears greater matters, upholding the frame of heaven and earth, and is not troubled or burdened with it.
What is needed for happy and effectual service is simply to put your work into the Lord’s hands, and leave it there. Do not take it to Him in prayer, saying, “Lord, guide me, Lord, give me wisdom, Lord, arrange for me,” and then arise from your knees, and take the burden all back, and try to guide and arrange for yourself. Leave it with the Lord, and remember that what you trust to Him you must not worry over nor feel anxious about. Trust and worry cannot go together.
Hannah Whitall Smith.
“I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?.” Isa. 51:12, 13
Let the text itself be taken as the portion for today. There is no need to enlarge upon it. Trembling one, read it, believe it, feed on it, and plead it before the Lord. He whom you fear is only a man after all; while He who promises to comfort you is God, your Maker, and the Creator of Heaven and earth. Infinite comfort more than covers a very limited danger.
“Where is the fury of the oppressor?” It is in the Lord’s hand. It is only the fury of a dying creature; fury which will end as soon as the breath is gone from the nostril. Why, then, should we stand in awe of one who is as frail as ourselves? Let us not dishonor our God by making a god of puny man. We can make an idol of a man by rendering to him excessive fear as well as by paying him inordinate love. Let us treat men as men, and God as God; and then we shall go calmly on in the path of duty, fearing the Lord, and fearing nobody else.