My Favorite Name

by Linda L. Kruschke

Christmas is here. It makes me wonder where the rest of 2022 went! We’ve spent the month thinking of the perfect gifts for family and friends. Then came the shopping and wrapping. But the older I get, the less Christmas is about the giving and getting of things. For me, it is now more about the one gift given long ago, the best gift of all. The gift of God’s Son.

My favorite part of decorating for Christmas is deciding where to display my 28 nativity sets and figurines. As I set each one in its place, I am thankful for the gift of the Holy Child.

I’ve been thinking about the many names given to Jesus in the Bible. He is called the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Prince of Peace, King of kings, Lord of lords, Alpha & Omega, and many more. But my favorite name of Jesus? Immanuel.

The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will name Him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 NASB). This prophecy is quoted in Matthew 1:23 by an angel in a vision to Joseph. He defines the name Immanuel to mean “God with us.”

When I look at my many nativity scenes, that is what I see: God with us. For thousands of years, God tried to get the message across to His people that He loved them and would always be there for them. He spoke through miracles, such as the parting of the Red Sea, and through prophets, such as Isaiah and Daniel. But even with all His attempts, His people did not listen.

So God became one of us, to live among us in the flesh, to experience life just as we do. I like the name Immanuel because it reminds me that God left His glory behind to experience all the pain, trials, and heartache that we experience. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus is a high priest who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet was without sin. He has walked a metaphorical mile in our shoes. He can sympathize with our weaknesses because He has gone before us. All to provide those who would believe in Him an eternal relationship with God.  

This Christmas, I hope you will feel the blessing of being with God and of God being with you. I hope you will experience the fullness of Immanuel.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b NIV).

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Linda L. Kruschke writes candid memoir and fearless poetry. She aspires to show women that God’s redemption and healing are just a story away. She blogs at AnotherFearlessYear.net, and has been published in Today’s Christian Living, Fathom Magazine, The Christian Journal, Bible Advocate, Now What?, iBelieve.com, WeToo.org blog, The Mighty, Calla Press, Divine Purpose blog, Agape Review, Arise Daily, and several anthologies. She is the editor-in-chief for Swallow’s Nest, the poetry journal of Oregon Christian Writers.

Join the conversation: What does the idea of God with Us mean to you?

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God With Us

by Nan Corbitt Allen

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23 NIV

One day, my 4-year-old granddaughter pulled me close and whispered, “Nana, I love God.” It truly warmed my heart to hear her say it. And then she added, “Both of ‘em.”

I was a little confused. “What do you mean by ‘both of ‘em’? There’s only one God.”

She answered, “You know, God and Jesus”.

Oh. Well. Yeah.

I quickly ran in my mind ways to explain the Holy Trinity to a 4-year-old but decided to go with, “Well, God and Jesus are kind of the same – only God stays in Heaven and Jesus came down to earth to be like us.” I was sure my answer was brilliant and that she got it – sort of. (Of course, there was the Holy Spirit part that I don’t really understand myself and wouldn’t even try to explain to a child.)

Her sweet comment started me to thinking about that later, however– about Jesus being God Incarnate – Emmanuel – God with Us. That reminded me of a story told by the late, great commentator Paul Harvey. It goes like this:

There was a farmer who discovered a flock of birds desperately trying to escape the winter cold by repeatedly flying into his glass storm door. The compassionate farmer really wanted to let the birds inside to get warm but having been around wild animals in his work, he knew that was not the best plan for these creatures. Not only were the birds cold, but frightened as well, and that fear could have harmed them even further.

The farmer had an idea.

He would go out and sprinkle crumbs from his front porch to the open barn where he kept a coal-burning stove to keep his farm animals warm. He was sure that the birds would follow the crumb path to a warm refuge. Alas, the farmer was broken-hearted when the birds wouldn’t accept his plan. The farmer thought, “If only I were a bird, just for a moment, I could lead them myself into the safety of the barn”.

And that’s what God did. Became one of us. To lead us to safety.

In my later conversation with Brileigh later, in which I revisited the phenomenon of God walking on earth, I broached the subject of Jesus being called lots of different names, too – before and after He came to earth. Jesus was just His given name – common among Jewish boys of that time.

“Like what names, Nana?”

“Well, like Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”, I answered quoting my favorite Old Testament prophet, Isaiah. I also added, “He was later called King of kings.”

Her: He was a King?

Me: Yeah. But not like other kings.

Her: I remember a bad king who tried to kill Jesus when He was a baby.

I presumed she was talking about the madman Herod who had declared himself King of Jews until the Wise Men showed up at his front door and ruined everything. I began hoping to shed some light on this biblical account, “Yes, there was a king like that and…”

But before I could go on, she added, “I fink his name was Harold.”

There it is.

TWEETABLE
God With Us – encouragement from Nan Corbitt Allen on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Nan Corbitt AllenAbout the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 40 years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis live in Cleveland, GA where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Truett McConnell University. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: Has God’s timing for you ever proved way better than your expected time frame?

Jesus Still Saves

by Cynthia Cavanaugh @CavCynthia

Her deep brown-black eyes and dark curly hair caught my attention as I walked by. She was standing alone, holding a book, and as our eyes met, she timidly called out, “Where’s my Nana?”

My friend and I looked around the store and didn’t see any adults close by. We leaned down and assured this sweet little three-year old we would help her find Nana. I offered my hand, and she clung to it instantly, allowing us to lead her to the front of the building. But before we reached the front counter, she saw her Nana and went running. It was a sweet reunion. She was safe in the arms of love once more.

In her darling voice, she said, “Thank you for saving me.” My heart melted, and as we walked away, what her words kept echoing through my head. The store was filled with holiday décor, and I thought about what “saving” could mean for all of us this Christmas season.

Is there something you need saving from as the holiday draws near? Maybe an overly busy schedule and not enough time to get everything done? Financial difficulty? A broken relationship? Are your expectations insanely high for you in the Christmas rush?

As I think on the days ahead, my heart breaks for a few of my dear friends. One recently suddenly lost her husband; two dear friends lost their adult daughters during this past year. I’d love to gather them all up and take away the pain, to save them from the heartache of celebrating memories rather than holding their loved ones close. Others face sickness or financial woes. The holiday season seems like a cruel joke when in the midst of such agony.

And yet, time marches on, no matter what our circumstances may be.

Christmas will come as it does every year, and right on time. We will once again remember the arrival of God in the flesh, in the form of a helpless baby, come to save the world. He may seem distant and even uncaring to us at the present. But His coming was a gift of unfathomable love, leaving heaven to be our Immanuel, God with us. And these two thousand years later, He continues in His desire to be with us, waiting for us to take His outstretched hand, asking us to simply trust Him.

The sweet, lost little girl in the store that day had to take my hand in trust, even though she was afraid, so that she could be saved. Jesus wants us to do the same for us. As we put our hand in His, He saves us. As we acknowledge we can’t do Christmas without Him, He saves us. As we recognize we can’t solve all our family issues, He saves us. And as we try to make Christmas a meaningful time for our families with limited resources, he saves us.

Don’t lose sight of the saving hand of Jesus this busy season. He is still God with us. He can still do what we cannot, all in response to our determination to trust Him even when we are afraid or overwhelmed.

 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23 NASB

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Jesus still saves – holiday inspiration from Cynthia Cavanaugh, @CavCynthia on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cynthia cavanaughAbout the author: Cynthia Cavanaugh is the author of five books, including Anchored, and is a speaker, life coach, and leadership professor at Trinity Western University. She knows nothing about coffee and is a self-proclaimed tea addict who loves connecting with women helping them to flourish. 

Join the conversation: From what do you need saving during this Christmas season?