My Christmas Companion

by Janet Perez Eckles 

You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11 NASB

“Christmas?” a friend asked, “Who feels like celebrating anything these days? There may not even be any Christmas this year.” You and I don’t have to share in this pessimism. We don’t, because hope shines bright when we consider this:

The bush that Moses encountered was just an ordinary bush until it burned without consuming it. The staff was just a staff until it turned into a snake. The rock was one of many, until Moses struck and water gushed out. The Red Sea was just a body of water until God parted it for His people to cross on dry land. David’s rocks were simple stones, until he used one to defeat Goliath. Mary was a humble peasant girl, until God touched her with a miracle.

See? That’s how it works. Our life might seem impossible, needy, and desperate for a miracle…until something happens. We encounter the wonder of God’s power. Our future might be a series of unknown tomorrows, until the horizon of His riches appears. Our dreams might seem elusive, until we believe God’s love conquers all.

And this is how His conquering power works: “The virgin will conceive and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, ‘God with us” (Matthew 1:23 NIV).

He worked it out. Through Jesus, He’s with us. That’s why all worry, fear and stress must go out the window because He’s with us. And because He is, we have His company through the darkness. Because He is with us, we know for tomorrow, victory awaits.

We know it will come. All we have to do is glance back and remember what He has done through the ages: an ordinary bush burned with a message, because God was there. A simple rock produced gushes of water, because God was there. A virgin gave birth, because God was there. A sea of water created a barrier, but it opened up because God was there.

Today is no different. He’ll put something in our path that may burn to get our attention, so we will listen. He will make living water flow to quench the thirsty soul. He will make the impossible possible. And He will give us the stones of courage to defeat the giants we face.

He did the same with Joshua, as he faced a giant too. It was called fear and insecurity. God knew. So, He spoke to Joshua’s fear: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NIV).

Wherever we go? Yes. That promise came alive for Joshua. And it’s alive for us, too. God ushered he and His people across the Jordan river to the other side, where the promised land waited for them.

As we cross our own river of pain, He will be with us too, ushering us to the other side where His richness awaits.

That’s why this Christmas, with open arms and grateful hearts, we can accept the gift of His constant presence. That gift is wrapped in His love, held with the ribbon of His faithfulness, and adorned with the seal of His promise.

Lord, this Christmas will be different for me because my joy will not come from circumstances, decorations, presents or gatherings. My genuine joy is found in You, and in the reassurance that no matter what surrounds me, you are with me. In Jesus name.

janet perez eckles

About the author: Janet Perez Eckles helps thousands to look beyond circumstances and overcome fear. She is a best-selling author and international speaker. Her writing and virtual  presentations help thousands turn their trials to successful, joy-filled lives. 

Janet’s book,  Hola, Happiness: Finding Joy by Dancing to the Melody of God’s Word is a brief Bible study to nudge you to the next level of triumph and joy. It is packed with deep reflections and answers from God’s Word. No matter what you face–disappointment, fear, heartache, shame, insecurity, sorrow–you will say “Hola” to happiness, peace, and the joy for which God created you.

Join the conversation: How does knowing that God is with you and for you (Romans 8:31) make a difference in your life?


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.

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

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?


Forever Grateful

by Pam Farrel

Our preschool granddaughter reaches for my hand anytime we walk. Recently as we walked together, she heard the rumbling of a train nearby and, reaching up for me, said, “Nana, I  ‘fraid.”  I immediately picked her up and gave her a hug. She knows I’m there for her. She knows I will rescue her.

Just as a loving grandparent is prone to do, God uses a variety of ways to let us know He is there for us. In my own life I have seen abundant evidence of His care over the years in our marriage, family, and home. He has blessed me with amazing friends and given me a job that I love. I’ve been privileged to travel to many exciting places and meet interesting, inspiring people.

Of course, my hope in Him goes beyond life on earth to an eternity I know I will spend with Him. I first fell in love with my husband when he explained the meaning of a simple phrase on the front of his leather Bible—“That they may know You.” This phrase comes from John 17:3 : “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (NIV)

Eternal life is a wonderful promise, but the blessing of His presence starts right here on earth, long before I will ever get to heaven. Knowing Christ is to know the one called “Immanuel,” which means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). It is to know the God who said, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NIV). It is to know the God who promised, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NASB).

While eternity with Him is my future, He has given me many personal reassurances that He is a God for the present as well. I’ve found that remembering God’s presence and involvement in my life has been a key to trusting Him for whatever lies ahead.

  • God heard my cry for help when my abusive father was out of control.
  • God walked me out of chaos through the wisdom of a godly mentor.
  • God sent me Bill, an amazing partner in life and love.
  • God sent food when Bill and I were struggling, poor students.
  • God gave me a bicycle to ride when my car died.
  • God gave Bill and I hope in the face of death, disease, and disappointments.
  • God gave me love when I was angry or frustrated in my marriage.
  • God challenged me to rethink how to run a love relationship.
  • God gave me wisdom when I was perplexed in my parenting.
  • God has always been with me to process my emotions so Bill is spared the drama!

And daily, my Grateful to God list continues to grow.

Do you struggle to trust God for your future? A great way to increase your faith is to begin your own gratitude list. Then take some time alone or even with your spouse or family to review and thank God for all He has done to prove his love, grace and provision in your life. Recognizing Him at work in the here and now will supply confidence to trust Him for your future.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13 NASB

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an international speaker, relationship specialist and best-selling author of over 45 books including her newest books: 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman and Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience . She and her husband, Bill, are Co-Directors of Love-Wise.  Follow them on Twitter (@pamfarrel)  and Bill and Pam Farrel on Facebook.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Pam’s book, Discovering Hope in the Psalms  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What has the Lord done in your life that you need to put at the top of your gratitude list?