VIDEO God With Us

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

Most people have heard some version of this story: A small child was reluctant to go to sleep by herself one night. After several bedtime stories, her mother told her it was time to turn out the light. “But I want you to stay,” the little girl protested. “Don’t worry,” the mom said, “Jesus is here, and He will be with you all night long.” To which the little one replied, “But I want Jesus with skin on!”

The little girl wanted the promise fulfilled at Christmas: Immanuel, “God with us.” A small child can’t be faulted for not understanding that Jesus, though invisible to human eyes, is present nonetheless. Indeed, the world received “Jesus with skin on” at His incarnation: Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). And He has been with us ever since through the Holy Spirit—just as He promised (Matthew 28:20).

Small children can be forgiven for not understanding how Jesus can be with us when we can’t see Him. But mature Christians must never forget the Christmas message of Immanuel: God is with us!

By the light of the gospel we see [God] as Emmanuel, God with us. Matthew Henry

December 19, 2021 | Dr. Jack Graham | Immanuel | Matthew 1:23 | Sunday Sermon

God’s Compass

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105

During World War II, Waldemar Semenov was serving as a junior engineer aboard the SS Alcoa Guide when—nearly three hundred miles off the coast of North Carolina—a German submarine surfaced and opened fire on the ship. The ship was hit, caught fire, and began to sink. Semenov and his crew lowered a lifeboat into the water and used the vessel’s compass to sail toward the shipping lanes. After three days, a patrol plane spotted their lifeboat and the USS Broome rescued the men the next day. Thanks to that compass, Semenov and twenty-six other crewmembers were saved.

The psalmist reminded God’s people that they were equipped with a compass for life—the Bible. He compared Scripture to “a lamp” (Psalm 119:105) that provides light to illuminate the path of life for those pursuing God. When the psalmist was adrift in the chaotic waters of life, he knew God could use Scripture to provide spiritual longitude and latitude and help him survive. Thus, he prayed that God would send out His light to direct him in life and bring him safely to the port of His holy presence (43:3).

As believers in Jesus, when we lose our way, God can guide us by the Holy Spirit and by the direction found in the Scriptures. May God transform our hearts and minds as we read the Bible, study it, and follow its wisdom. 

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

How have you experienced a particular verse or passage as a compass for your life in recent days? When are you tempted not to follow the directions the compass of Scripture gives?

Jesus, thank You that when I’m tempted to drift away, the wisdom of Scripture helps bring me back.

A Prayer Burden

God wants us to share each other’s burdens so we can all be strengthened in the body of Christ

Nehemiah 2:1-8

Christians use the word burden to refer to a spiritual weight placed on their heart, usually because God wants their attention focused on a certain matter. For example, Nehemiah was burdened to intercede for the Jewish people left vulnerable by Jerusalem’s crumbling walls. The Lord already knew the Israelites’ troubles, so He certainly didn’t need the prayers of this one man. Rather, the burden was for Nehemiah’s sake. He made himself available for God to use as a conduit and thereby tapped into a reservoir of compassion. So great was Nehemiah’s love for his countrymen that he set aside his fear and addressed the Persian king about the help they needed. 

Bearing each other’s burdens is one way we can strengthen the church. It’s human nature to feel connected with those we’ve helped. That’s true even of the people who never discover that we have interceded. In this way, God knits believers together to make up a cohesive whole, which He calls the “body of Christ” (Rom. 12:5). 

Our heavenly Father is looking for people willing to be burdened for their brothers and sisters in the Lord. I challenge you: Make yourself available to intercede on behalf of someone else. Strengthening the body of Christ is an awesome privilege. 

Morning Prayer

“Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” (Psalm 143:8)

This is a beautiful and meaningful prayer with which to start the day, and one that God must delight to answer. It is very simple, with two requests and two declarations, yet it can reach the very heart of God.

Because we trust implicitly in His Word, we hear Him speak through it as we read it at the beginning of the day. And as we hear Him speak, we rejoice again in His lovingkindness, especially in saving our souls and guiding our ways.

Then we are emboldened once again to lift up our very souls to Him (not just our voices!) and ask Him for clear guidance in the way in which we should walk today.

The psalmist also prays, and so should we: “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness” (Psalm 143:10). God will “cause [us] to know the way wherein [we] should walk” by the Holy Spirit if we sincerely desire to know and to follow His will and to be led in the paths of righteousness. He will never lead us, of course, in any path contrary to His revealed Word. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

But when He is given all priority in our lives, when we love and study and obey His Word, and when we sincerely call on Him for daily guidance in His will, He will surely answer. “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6). “This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (John 5:14-15). HMM

He Delights In Me

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; play the lyre to our God, who covers the sky with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, and causes grass to grow on the hills. He provides the animals with their food, and the young ravens, what they cry for. He is not impressed by the strength of a horse; He does not value the power of a man. The Lord values those who fear Him, those who hope in His faithful love (Psalm 147 vv. 7-11).

There are some things a father never forgets—his child’s first steps, the first words, the first Christmas. I’ll always remember the rush of pride I felt when our son, D. J., got the music award as a senior at Brentwood Academy. I felt the same deep emotion when his sister, Kathy, became the spelling champion of her class in Grand Rapids. My kids have delighted me on many occasions. I was especially proud of D. J. one time when he visited the Heaston family every day to see their daughter, Heather, who was recovering from the auto accident that took the life of her sister, Leesha.

Though it blows my mind, I know how the Lord must feel when his children do well! He “values in those who fear Him” (v. 11). God is unimpressed by brute strength, but he takes great pleasure and enjoyment in the reverence of his children. We are created to praise, and when we learn to do that well, we know we’re pleasing him.

As we become aware of God’s delight, we’ll experience the gift of his glorious grace. We, in turn, will delight in him—a wondrous, intimate interplay between God, the Father, and his children.

Personal Prayer

Praise the Lord! I thank you and praise you for delighting in me. I place my confidence in your glorious grace and unfailing love today.

Reflect on Perfection

I will speak of Your splendor and glorious majesty and Your wonderful works.—Psalm 145:5

The fact that God knows everything ought to strengthen our faith and cause us to bow down in adoration before Him. Yet how little do we reflect on this divine perfection! Those who are inclined to rebel against God hate this aspect of His being and would do away with it if they could. They wish there might be no witness to their sin, no searcher of their hearts, no judge of their deeds. How very solemn are the words of the psalmist recorded in Psalm 90:8: “You have set our unjust ways before You, our secret sins in the light of Your presence.”

To the believer, however, the truth of God’s omniscience (His all-knowledge) ought to be one of tremendous comfort and security. In times of perplexity we ought to say like Job: “He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold” (Jb 23:10). Whatever might be going on in our lives that is profoundly mysterious to us and quite incomprehensible to those who are around us, we must never lose sight of the fact that “He knows the way [we] have taken.” The psalmist, when seeking to stir his soul to confidence and hope, reminded himself in the midst of his weakness and weariness: “He knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust” (Ps 103:14). And Simon Peter, when his failure brought him almost to the point of despair and the searching question came “Do you love Me?” said: “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You” (Jn 21:17). Such knowledge should ever cause us to worship.


Father, help me reflect on this fact that You know everything, for I see that the more I understand it, the more secure I will feel in my soul. Teach me still more, dear Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Isa 55:1-9; Heb 4:12-13; 1Jn 3:20

What statement did God make?

What did the writer to the Hebrews confirm?

It’s Time For Christinas

Galatians 4:4-5

A tyrant is loose in the world. It has everyone of us in its grasp. It controls every action and activity. It tells us when to get up, when to go to work, when to leave work and when to go to bed.

It is, of course, time. An unconquerable fact of life that cannot be expanded, accumulated, mortgaged, hastened or retarded. An anonymous author has written:

I have just a minute,

Only sixty seconds in it.

Forced upon me,

Can’t refuse it.

Didn’t seek it,

Didn’t choose it.

I must suffer if I lose it,

Give account if I abuse it.

Just a tiny little minute,

But, eternity is in it.

God is conscious of time, and of timing. That is why we come upon a scripture verse like Galatians 4:4-5: “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son… to redeem those under the law.”

So at just the right time God moved into this world through the gift of His Son. The arrival was not as man expected and certainly not as Hollywood or Madison Avenue would have arranged. But just when the right time came, God spoke through a baby’s cry.

Emerson said, “This time like all times is a very good one if we but know what to do with it.” It’s time for Christmas because at the right time God speaks through men and women. Over the centuries God has raised up individuals to speak to their generation. Martin Luther, John Wesley and William Booth arrived on the scene when religion was at a low ebb. They, by God’s grace and power, spoke to their age and altered the course of history. Billy Graham has been mightily used of God to speak to our day.

We are once again at the manger. The time is ripe for rejoicing, for renewal, for remembering and for responding. It’s time for Christmas because “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

James Osborne, The War Cry