God With Us
by Joanne Ellison

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would come and that His name would be Emmanuel, God with us. There are days when I wonder if God is preoccupied with more important things than me. Do you ever think that way? But then I remember His name, Emmanuel, God with us. The character of God is expressed in many other ways. He is called Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God. He is our Provider, Redeemer, Savior and Shepherd. But the name I need to remember daily is Emmanuel. He is in our midst; not asleep on the job, but actively at work in our lives. The real issue is not that He leaves us. It is that we leave Him.

In our thought life

In our actions

In our attitudes

But He is still there

He is as near as our children’s favorite blanket

In the Old Testament, we read about three Jews living in a pagan land of Babylon; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s image. Nebuchadnezzar threw them into the fiery furnace in fury and heated the furnace 7 times more than it was normally heated. The three men were bound and thrown into the fire for their refusal to bow down to the king. They would only bow down to Jehovah God.  The fire was so intense that those who led them to the fire were killed by the heat. To their complete surprise and unbelief, Nebuchadnezzar and those nearby saw 4 men unbound walking in the midst of the fire unharmed! The best part of the story is the description that the fourth person looked like a son of the gods. God Himself was in the fire with these men; Emmanuel.

Sometimes it appears that God is not with us; that He has forgotten us. We pray and nothing happens. We hope for a better future and find ourselves still stuck in our present with no hope for a better future. But God is in this with us. Some of you have lost your jobs and your future looks bleak. Perhaps your marriage is rocky and you wonder if it is ever going to get better.  Emmanuel is in the fire with you.

But for most of us these days we are up against the similar issue that these three men in the book of Daniel faced– not wanting to bow down to the gods of the culture. When confronted by Nebuchadnezzar, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego boldly declared God as sovereign:

Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. (Daniel 3:13-25)

As Christians we are faced with many cultural gods: Money, power, prestige, self on the throne, the spirit of the age, and the list goes on.

Emmanuel is with us on this journey called life and He demands our full allegiance to Him. Our surrender assures us of His peace no matter what circumstance in which we find ourselves. I think that is a pretty good deal, don’t you?

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