How to Live the Bible — God Is With Us!

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This is the one-hundred-thirty-sixth lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.


All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” — Matthew 1:22-23

Illustration of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem

My wife and I seriously lost track of our daughter only once. We were walking through a crowded tourist town and the streets were lined with shops. It was evening and the crowds were dense. Suddenly, I noticed that neither my wife nor I had our eight-year-old daughter by the hand. We spun around but were unable to spot her. With candy stores beckoning children indoors, and winding side streets all around, she could have been anywhere. After a few minutes of running around, I somehow spotted her far way on a side street. The look on her face was unforgettable: “Where were you?” she asked, but her eyes said, Thank God you are with me now. I am never going to leave your side again.

“With us.” There is hardly a more central promise that God has ever made to human beings. The alternative is just too horrifying to imagine. If God has abandoned us and that’s why so many bad things happen in life, then what does that say about God? What does it say about our destiny? If God oscillates in and out of our lives, willing to be with us only as long as we don’t get too obnoxious, coming and going like a father who grows lax in his responsibility—where does that leave us? If God cannot be with us, then we would have to conclude that we will never reap the benefits of divine presence, and words like grace, mercy, love, and truth have no meaning.

Jesus was born but he was also sent, and Immanuel was one of his names. Immanu-el: “with us [is] God.” “God with us.” His body is among us, his message from the heavens. He turned life upside down with the divine truths he presented. But he also left people with the sense that they’d never been closer to God than when they were with him.

We don’t need to stay lost. God is not indifferent to our condition. And he came to us in the most radical way, by taking our flesh, our humanity, on himself.

Prayer for Today

Dear Lord, I need to know you are with us. Help me this Christmas to know, more than I’ve ever known before, that you have come and that we can always live in the conscious enjoyment of your presence.
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Read “When I Didn’t Want Christmas to Come” by Mel Lawrenz in Christianity Today.

Listen to Mel being interviewed on the subject of “Grief at the Holidays” on Moody Radio’s Chris Fabry Live.

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Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel’s many books include Spiritual Leadership Today: Having Deep Influence in Every Walk of Life (Zondervan, 2016). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.

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