Gift #3 for Christmas, 2021.
While people all over the world are thinking of
Christmas in lesser or greater degrees right now--
one thing only sets the celebration apart -
~~> feeling God's presence.
O, we can have choirs, pageants, preschool plays and extra church services; we can put up trees and lights, looking good from the outside; but unfortunately for many, it remains just that--outside. It is activity, but not connection with the Savior born in Bethlehem.
These familiar words were uttered some 700 years before the birth of Jesus: "The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
Lean in now. Matthew's account of the birth of Jesus Christ includes the angel's announcement to Joseph that his betrothed, Mary, was to bear a son. And this was a fulfillment of the above prophecy of Isaiah.1 Immanuel means "God with us.2 But God with us . . . what. does. that. mean?
Throughout Scripture, the people of God were assured that God was with them. To Joshua, "the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."3 David wrote: "yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.4 And just before Jesus ascended into Heaven, he comforted his disciples with these words, "lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."5
Okay, so you can know and believe that God is with you, but how do you feel his presence at Christmas or any time?
Here are a few thoughts to increase your awareness of this beautiful gift number three: feeling the powerful presence of God.
First, be desirous of God's presence ~ Consider Brother Lawrence,6 who said, "Oh my God, since you are with me, and I must now, in obedience to your commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I ask you to grant me the grace to continue in your presence. To this end make me prosper through your assistance. Receive all my works, and possess all my affections." He was a dishwasher in a 16th century Carmelite monastery in Paris.
Look for God ~ be aware of where he is at work around you.
I've heard people pray for God to heal their child or a relationship, and then when they see resolution, they credit it to coincidence! >If you are praying about something specific, and there is movement in that area, don't you think it is at least possible that God had something to do with it?! Look for God at work around you.
Ask God to reveal himself to you - Psalm 19 talks about the heavens declaring the glory of God all around us. Look up, look out and also listen for him around you. Just think of how God reveals himself to us in the beauty of Nature.
Make room for God with a little silence, so that you can hear him.
"God is the friend of silence . . .
See how nature, the trees, the flowers, the grass
grow in deep silence.
See how the stars, the moon and the sun
move in silence.
The more we receive in our silent prayer,
The more we can give in our active life." Mother Teresa
"Be still, and know that I am God."7
Give God '15' in the morning: in his Word and committing your way to him.
"Be silent in the presence of the Lord God."8
Oh I know it is sometimes difficult to be still in a busy season, but it is more necessary than any other time. It is life-giving to spend time in the presence of God, you will see. Give it a try by opening Gift #3.
1 Isaiah 7.14
2 Matthew 1.23
3 Joshua 1.9
4 Psalm 23.4
5 Matthew 28.20
6 Practicing the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence
7 Psalm 46.10
8 Zephaniah 1.7