For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end (Isa 9:6-7)~~ We talk about Christmas being the time we observe the birth of Jesus, but what is the significance? It’s about more than just the day we observe that our Savior was born – for we all know that the true worth of what we have in Christ is the complete cycle beginning with His birth, but including the life, death and resurrection of Him; to complete the work to our own eternal salvation. This Child, Christ our savior, was born for the benefit of us men, of us sinners, of all believers, from the beginning to the end of the world. He is called Wonderful, for He is both God and man. His love is the wonder of angels and glorified saints. He is the Counselor, for He knew the counsels of God from eternity; and He gives counsel to men, in which He consults our welfare. He is the Wonderful Counselor; none teaches like Him. He is God, the mighty One. Such is the work of the Mediator, that no less power than that of the mighty God could bring it to pass. He is God, one with the Father. As the Prince of Peace, He reconciles us to God; He is the Giver of peace in the heart and conscience; and when His kingdom is fully established, men shall learn war no more. The government shall be upon Him; He shall bear the burden of it. Glorious things are spoken of Christ’s government. There is no end to the increase of its peace, and the happiness of its subjects shall last for ever. It’s more than just remembering the ‘birth day’ of Christ…but the understanding of the victories He brings!
“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.'”(Matt 1:22-23)~~
“With us.” There is hardly a more central promise that God has ever made to human beings. The alternatives are just too horrifying to imagine. If God has abandoned us, and that is why so many bad things happen in life, then what does that say about God, and what does it say about our destiny? If God vacillates, willing to be “with us” only as long as we don’t get too obnoxious, coming and going like a father who keeps giving up on being a father, where does that leave us? If God is incapable of being with us, then we have to conclude that we will never reap the benefits of divine presence, and words like grace, mercy, love, and truth have no meaning.
Isaiah was the prophet who was given the message. In a time when Israel’s enemies where bearing down on them, he gave this startling oracle about the Lord giving a sign, a virgin would conceive and give birth, and the promise in the child: Immanuel. God with us.
Jesus was born, but He was sent, and Immanuel was one of His names. God with us! That was why so many people didn’t understand Him. His voice came from a different place. He turned life upside down with the truths He presented. But He also left people with the sense that they had 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.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins (Matt 1:18-21)~~ The most important thing we know about Joseph is that at the right moment in his life, he was full of faith and grace. He found out that the woman he was engaged to be married to was pregnant, and though Mary had the benefit of the message of an angel who explained her unique conception, Joseph hadn’t been visited yet. All he had was Mary’s word. So what was that conversation like? No, she hadn’t slept with another man. Yes, she was pregnant. And yes, a spiritual being had told her that she would conceive by a unique act of God— and as if that wasn’t enough— the child in her womb would be the Savior of the world! Why did Joseph believe her? Why did he change his first plans to quietly divorce her so as not to expose her to public shame and instead take her as his wife? I ask myself, if I were in his shoes, would I have believed Mary? Here is something for all of us to think about: Think of Joseph. Think of him looking into Mary’s eyes, hearing her account, knowing in his heart of hearts it was true, and having the courage to act on that faith knowledge even though he may have had doubts. As nonsensical as it seemed, he believed it. As much as the idea of a virgin conception violates every norm of what we know about real life, he knew it was possible with God. As risky as it was to stay with Mary and be branded by others as the hapless dupe of an immoral woman, Joseph decided to put everything on the line. That is true faith. And it is true grace. It wasn’t just that he believed Mary; he believed God. That God could; that God might; that God would; and that God did! May God, give us that iron-strong faith that at the birth of Jesus He really did enter this world— our world— and He is still working powerfully in it.
Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain. And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested (1 Chr 4:9-10)~ The blessing of God is greater than any curse of the enemy! No matter what the enemy called you because of your past; no matter what failures you’ve experienced or what defeat you’ve experienced, that is NOT where God intends that you stay! God has a blessing for you but you have to CHOOSE to walk in the blessing – God can’t take you to the penthouse if you are choosing to dwell in the gutter! Just because life was this way or that way when you grew up doesn’t mean you have to hold your present and future hostage to those standards. God created you for victory, so that you don’t have to live like the loser that the enemy calls you to be! Through Him we will push down our enemies; Through His name we will trample those who rise up against us (Ps 44:5). No weapon formed against us shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against us in judgment He shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And our righteousness is from God (Isa 54:17). God says ‘Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you’ (Luke 10:19). We have dominion over everything the enemy has ever thought of to throw in front of us! So, if you’re going to ask God for that blessing, ask that He would bless you ‘indeed’ – ask for EVERYTHING God has for you – no just enough to get by – it’s not greedy to do this, it’s faith in what God promises He will do! He is not a just enough God, He is a God of abundance! Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly (Ps 84:11). And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham (Gen 28:4). God doesn’t trickle down blessings as if He’s got a limited supply or as if He wants to tease you with a little here and there – but when we trust Him – ask Him in faith, TRY HIM, He opens up the windows of Heaven and pours out a blessing that is beyond our capacity to receive (Mal 3:10). He can do it according to His riches and glory and He WILL do it because we are faithful in Him. God gives us the blessings of life and the authority to walk in them, and everyone that receives the blessing must learn how to walk in the blessing through good character; having trustworthiness and honor – rather than under the curse of the darts of the enemy. Not only will God bless us ‘indeed’ but He will keep His hand upon us, keeping us from low character and keeping us from being a bad representative of His glory!
Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest (Josh 1:7) – Be confident in God’s work in you! Don’t be swayed or disturbed due to naysayers or lack of understanding; nor be arrogant or overzealous from pride and self-absorbance; but be humble yet assertive, that your Walk in Authority be God appointed! For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph 2:10). God CREATED us to be strong and successful, with AUTHORITY. Not luck nor chance, not by our own doings, but by His grace we are what we are! Man born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble (Job 14:1). It is just part of life that we will have trials, challenges and opposers. But be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee (Deut 31:6). God promises us over and over again that there shall be no one who can stand before us and dispute His will for our lives. In other words He’s got our back…and if God is for us, WHO can be against us??? Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest (Josh 1:9). Look, it’s not an option.. It’s a ‘command’! God says that we need not be afraid or worry..He’s with us! It’s gonna be tough sometimes, but He’s holding us up! People will oppose you and turn against you…but HE will never leave you out to dry and in fact: The Lord said, Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts (Ex 33:21-23).. God will set you in a place where you will experience His greatness, be covered from His wrath and as He allows you to go forward, know that in waiting on Him you can be assured that He has gone before you. So no, you are never alone; don’t doubt what He has created in you; but stay grounded and focused… go get your blessing, though come what may; trusting Him all the way! God is going before you, standing with you AND…. He’s got your back!
In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them (Prov 14:3)~ How you use your tongue, one of the most difficult things to rule, dictates how you are treated in life. Both death and life are in the power of the tongue, and if you indulge yourself in talking, you will realize one or the other result. There are consequences to pay for your speech. Harsh and proud speech brings punishment and trouble; discreet and gracious speech brings blessing and safety. A fool cannot control his proud speech, and it causes others and him grief wherever he goes. When a fool talks proudly with his mouth, the pride in his words causes others to dislike and resent him. He loses friends and relationships, but in his ignorance does not know why. But a wise man is preserved and honored by his tongue. He uses speech for the good of others, and they love him for it. His gracious and kind words win the blessing and favor of others. He preserves his soul from much grief by wisely dealing with those around him. When a wise man graciously and humbly sets within himself to always advance others, they respond with affection and appreciation. He gains in friends and honor. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers (Eph 4:29). What do you have to say…for yourself?
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding (Prov 3:5)~ It doesn’t matter how much a thing is engrained in us. No matter how long things have been a certain way and how strong the evidence is to support it, a word, an action, any event to the contrary, no matter how insignificant, can inject the smallest of thoughts, that can change the way we see it; We may believe in a thing all our lives and even have proof of its truths, but a simple alternative notion can sometimes be enough to shake our faith in what we know; turn our world upside down… and eventually alter the course of our walk. DOUBT!!! This is the master craft of the enemy. As surely as the Word says that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains (Matt 17:20), the enemy’s tactic is to put “just enough” doubt in your mind that your faith might waiver! Wavering faith means that your trust in The Lord is now ‘not’ with ALL your heart… Because you are now starting to focus on what you see going on around you. Your doubt and worry and unbelief are growing in your mind from their little-bitty “seeds” and that is where our minds eventually make that doubt larger than what we had already ‘rooted’ in faith. But friend, remember, the devil is a LIE! The devil has been a LIE since the Garden of Eden and he has never changed! This is where faith in what we KNOW; our ROOTS; is so important. You have to know what you know that you know! God said His Word would not return to Him void, but would go out to accomplish what He purposed (Isa 55:11). Jesus said He came that we would have life and have it more abundantly.. (John 10:10). He said the He would give His sheep eternal life and that NOTHING would take them from His hand (John 10:28). Regardless of what we see, and what it makes us think about, we can’t let it spiral into something that hasn’t even happened. It’s very likely as a matter of fact that a lot of that WOULDN’T happen if we hadn’t started thinking about it and walking in the ’sight’ of our minds! We must believe in what we KNOW of Him to have promised, For we walk by FAITH (in what we KNOW), not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us (2 Cor 1:20) – If God said it, then it IS – every promise that God has ever made started with what He spoke – THAT is the power of His Word! You must never take your ‘eyes’ off of Him and never doubt what He said! Remember, even Peter, when the Lord said ‘come’, he believed he could come and he, with faith and focus on the Lord, walked on water until he looked around and saw the waves (of doubt) and then believed in his doubt! Jesus is saying to you as you walk through this storm: “Eyes on ME”! Friend, He will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him; because you trust in Him!