Saturday, December 3, 2016

26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet--Immanuel

Nativity Alphabet by Krista Hamrick

Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Nativity Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 words in the Nativity Alphabet are so intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows. My heart has been drawn to write 26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet.



While pondering the name, “Immanuel,” I was inspired by listening to Chris Tomlin’s anointed hymn, Emmanuel while studying Isaiah 7:14


NASB:  Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Amplified: Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us].

NET:  For this reason the sovereign master himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel.

NLT:  All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

The Voice:
 Suit yourself. The Lord will give you a proof-sign anyway: See, a young maiden will conceive. She will give birth to a son and name Him Immanuel, that is, “God with us.”
Young’s Literal:
 Therefore the Lord Himself giveth to you a sign, Lo, the Virgin is conceiving, And is bringing forth a son, And hath called his name Immanuel.


In March, 2000, I traveled to Israel with 850 other women for the filming of the Beth Moore Bible Study, Jesus, the One and Only
As our Israeli tour bus drove toward Bethlehem, I began to wonder, what would it have been like for Joseph and Mary as they approached Bethlehem 20 centuries ago? Was the five-mile stretch of road from Jerusalem as bustling as it is today? What did they see? What did they hear?

As we approached the town, we noticed all the terraced olive groves, which march up the dry hills like steps leading to a temple. And then, suddenly, there it is: Bethlehem, the ancient "House of Bread"--clinging to a ridge as if clinging to history itself. O, little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!

Naturally, no one can be sure exactly where Jesus' birth occurred in Bethlehem, but you just know that, wherever the exact spot, it couldn't have been far away. That thought alone pierces through all the touristy glitz and fairly takes your breath away in anticipation.

Standing in the city of Bethlehem, looking out on the Shepherd's Fields I can just imagine the heavens opening up and the angels descending and shouting, Glory to God in the highest, unto to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord. When the shepherds in the field were surprised by the appearances of the angel and the heavenly host, their initial terror quickly turned to joy. Just as the angel had said, they found the baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. For these simple men with open hearts, it was a process of surprise, shock, fear, disbelief, hope, trust, confirmation, and finally indescribable joy! Joy at seeing the Christ child. Joy at having been singled out for the unique honor of being present at the very moment in history when God came near. Joy at having witnessed the one birth that gives meaning to all other births.

Bible Teacher Beth Moore writes: “When Mary heard those first cries of divine life wrapped in human flesh, any thought of disappointment must surely have turned into immeasurable peace and joy!  Even His name, Immanuel, "El" means "God," the rest of the word means "with us," the "with us God." He created us to be with us. He gave each of us a longing for Him by creating every single human being with a "with" need. While the world carried on unconcerned, the infant Immanuel cooed and kicked and toddled His way to His feet. God, the Immortal Invisible, walked among His people, Israel, as they sojourned through the wilderness. But not until now did His invisible feet sink into the sand, shod with skin, making visible prints. And God was with us. Immanuel.”

What do we learn from the unlikely circumstances of Jesus' birth, but that our God is a God of surprises. How He delights in bringing us unexpected joy! How many times have we seen God most clearly in the middle of a crisis? How many times have we discovered the miraculous in the midst of the mundane?

Pastor Charles Swindoll writes: “Immanuel. God with us. He who resided in Heaven, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, willingly descended into our world. He breathed our air, felt our pain, knew our sorrows, and died for our sins. He didn't come to frighten us, but to show us the way to warmth and safety.”


Where is God
 when we’re in the emergency room with a severely injured loved one? When trouble or tragedy strikes, we long for God, the living God. Uncomfortable circumstances may continue, but God will prove himself our sure refuge because he has promised he will never forsake us. His name, Immanuel, means “God with us.” Because of this truth we can continue to call on the Lord with confidence that He will hear and respond because of His unfailing love.


Immanuel, thank You that You are the “with us God.” Thank You for Your promised presence with me today. Although my circumstances may seem overwhelming, I call to You with confidence because You are all powerful and You love me. I praise You that you are Immanuel—God with us—in everything we experience as we walk through this broken, hurting world. Help me to be Your hands and feet today, Your words of comfort and encouragement to those who need to know “where You are” in their times of deep need. In Your mighty Name Above All Names—Immanuel, we pray, amen.



Look Up—meditate on Isaiah 7:14 Pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on 
Isaiah 7:14 pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on 
Isaiah 7:14 pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


* If you liked this post you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ 

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