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THEY WILL CALL HIM IMMANUEL

GOD WITH US

Read Isaiah 7:10-14, 9:1-7; Matthew 1:18-2:6


    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 NIV
* * *
    The book of Isaiah was written about 700 years before Christ was born and is filled with prophesies about the coming Messiah. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Joseph, he quoted Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore 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.” Jesus would be called, "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6b)
* * *
    Isaiah prophesied that this Holy Child would live "In Galilee of the Gentiles.” saying, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined." (Isaiah 9:1b-2 NKJV)
* * *
    Dear Lord, You truly are my Wonderful Counselor and I am so thankful that the light of the gospel has shined on me. Just as Isaiah foretold the coming of Jesus, help me to tell the good news wherever I go, especially to members of my family. Keep me faithful in reading Your Word so that I will have something fresh to share with my family and friends.
* * *
    For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 NIV

SATISFACTION IN WORK

"THIS IS THE GIFT OF GOD"


Read Ecclesiastes 11–12

    Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.Ecclesiastes 11:6 NIV
* * *
    When Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, he was old and looking back on his selfish life. With his God-given wisdom still intact, he looks at all of his achievements and comes to an interesting conclusion: "I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil-this is the gift of God." (3:12-13)
    He encourages young men to seek God early in life, saying, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come–“(12:1 NKJV) Solomon discovered that wisdom without God's blessing is meaningless. He said, "All things are wearisome, more than one can say… What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again." (1:8-10)
* * *
    Lord, help me to resist this attitude toward my daily responsibilities. Perhaps if I pray for each family member as I fold clothes, the task of laundry won't seem so endless. Thank you for the gift of children and a husband who sits at our table each evening. Help me to serve them with a joyful spirit, remembering that “this is the gift of God.”
* * *
    Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God.   Ecclesiastes 5:19 NIV

BEAUTIFUL TREASURES

THE BEAUTIFUL HOME

Read Proverbs 24

    By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:3–4 NIV
* * *
    Throughout the Proverbs of Solomon, he refers to wisdom as treasure to be eagerly sought out and cultivated. He said, “Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you…” (24:14)
* * *
    There is no better place for wisdom to grow than in our Christian homes. The beautiful home will be furnished with more than lovely possessions. True riches, if nurtured, will dwell in the hearts of our children. First, we must seek wisdom for ourselves as parents, cultivating our love for each other and the Lord; then we will have an abundance of treasure to share with our children. This is a lifelong process, but the time we have to invest in our children is all too short.
* * *
    Lord, help us to cultivate the fields of our own hearts so that we will have a harvest of treasures to bring into our home. Help us to remember that "By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life." (Proverbs 22:4 NKJV) Give us love for each other and the wisdom we need to lead our children in the ways of the Lord.
* * *
    Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. Proverbs 24:27 NIV

A JOYFUL HEART

TELL THE CHILDREN
     Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. Psalms 145:3–4 NIV
* * *
     Most of his adult life, David was surrounded by enemies, first by Saul who was personally jealous of him, and then by armies who threatened Israel. David recognized that victory comes from the Lord, and he cried out to God for protection.
    Then in his prayers, he acknowledged God's greater plan in it all, “… that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.”(145:12-13)
     David concluded that his mission was to praise the works of the Lord to all who would listen: “One generation,” he declared, “will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts.” In the midst of all that was happening he said, "I will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness." (145:4, 7)
* * *
     Lord, give me a joyful heart that sings like David, in every circumstance, “The LORD watches over all who love him, My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.” (145:20-21) Help us to remember to tell our children and grandchildren everything You have done for us.
* * *
     Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.   Psalm 144:12 NIV

QUIET MY HEART

MY ANXIOUS THOUGHTS
Read Psalms 139

   Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23
* * *
   David never tried to hide his negative thoughts from God. Instead, he poured them out to his Heavenly Father, knowing he would be understood. He said, "O LORD, you have searched me and you know me… you perceive my thoughts from afar… Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD." (vv.1,2b, 4)
   When he feared for his life, he trusted God for his safety saying, "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (v.16) When he wondered if he was doing the right thing he said, “See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (v.24)
* * *
   Dear Father, I too have anxious thoughts. What a comfort to know that you had plans for me even before I was born and all of the days of my life were known by You – past, present and future. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.”(v.13) Help me to quiet my heart with these precious truths from Your Word.
* * *
   I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalm 131:2

THE REWARD OF CHILDREN

BLESSING AND PROSPERITY

Read Psalms 127–128

     Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways. Blessings and prosperity will be yours; Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house… children are a reward from him. Psalm 128:1-2b, 3a; Psalm 127:3b
* * *
    The Psalms portray children as a sign of blessing and prosperity. The Psalmist declares, “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.” (127:3-4) Along with this blessing, however, comes a warning: Unless the LORD builds the house its builders labor in vain. (127:1)
* * *
    God promises that if we put Him first in our lives we will eat the fruit of our labors–a blessed home. But when we focus on what the world expects of us, working long hours and doing too much, our lives become unbalanced. When this happens, the Psalmist says, "In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat–for he grants sleep to those he loves." (127:2)
* * *
    Dear Father, I pray for the peace and rest that comes from focusing on You, even when I am busy. Help me to order my priorities according to Your perfect will. Thank You for the blessings of children.
* * *
    May the LORD bless you from Zion all the days of your life… and may you live to see your children's children.   Psalm 128:5–6 NIV

A LIGHT FOR MY PATH

A LAMP TO MY FEET

    I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.  Psalm 119:104–105 NIV
* * *
    Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the book and the theme is heart rending – David has experienced it all. He agonizes over wicked men delighting in his troubles and the memories of sin in his own life. Sincerely repentant, he says, "I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” (v.32)
    Now as he seeks the Lord with all of his heart he determines to continue to walk in freedom from sin. Hiding God's Word in his heart, he finds that he has more insight and understanding than all of his teachers. He has answers for those who taunt him, and comfort in his suffering. He says, “Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them. Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts.”  (Psalm 119:140–141)
* * *
    Lord, help us to faithfully teach our children from the Bible and help them to hide it in their hearts. Through the Psalmist You promised that Your faithfulness continues through all generations. Like David, I have put my hope in your word. (Psalm 119:90,114)
* * *
    How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:9–11 NIV

A MAN WHO FEARS GOD

A WORTHY EXAMPLE
JOB


    Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." Job 1:8 NIV
* * *
    The story of Job is quite frightening to a believer’s heart. The interaction between God and Satan is something that we really cannot comprehend. But God did not expect Job, or his friends, to understand everything that transpired in Heaven. One thing we know; Job was living righteously and God was proud of him. Those of us, who want to please God, would do well to look at his example.
    Job prayed for his children even into adulthood. He raised them to love each other and enjoy one another's company, but he also maintained a discerning attitude, knowing that they could fall into sin.
    Job maintained his integrity in spite of the most adverse of circumstances, and when it was all over, he prayed for his friends who had completely misjudged him.
* * *
    Lord, I would never ask for the trials that Job and his wife endured, but I do want to be the kind of person who would make You proud. You taught us to pray, do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." (Luke 11:4 NKJV) I am praying this for myself and my family and friends today. Amen
* * *
    "After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before."
    "The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first."
Job 42:10, 12a NIV

MORDECAI

FOILED CONSPIRACY

Read Esther 5–10
    That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him…."What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?" the king asked.  Esther 6:1, 3
* * *
    The book of Esther contains some similarities to the story of Joseph in Egypt. Esther and her guardian, Mordecai, were captives in Persia, and like Joseph, God’s providence brought them into favor with the King. Esther was crowned Queen, and Mordecai in the end, was second only to King Ahasuerus. He …was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen. (10:3b NKJV)
* * *
    Mordecai ‘just happened’ to hear about a conspiracy against King Ahasuerus in time to warn Esther, and the king ‘just happened’ to awaken in the middle of the night–calling for the record that Mordecai had saved his life–just in time to foil the conspiracy by Haman to annihilate the Jews. (Esther 6-7)
* * *
    The truth is that nothing ‘just happens’ to God's people. If we truly believe this, we will live with the confidence that God works out everything according to His good plan. Lord, remind me when I forget, that I will never be sorry for trusting in You.
* * *
    "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV

ESTHER

FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
   Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah… This girl, who was also known as Esther, was lovely in form and features, and Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died. Esther 2:7
* * *
   Esther's story takes place when the Jews were captives in Persia. She was gathered up with many other beautiful young women into the harem of King Ahasuerus, and then chosen to be the queen.

   Esther's cousin, Mordecai had instructed her to be silent about her Jewish heritage, but then came her time of decision: Her people were in grave danger, and only she could approach the king to save them. After calling for a fast, she said, "I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." (4:16b)

   Esther could have never imagined, as she was being carried off into captivity that she would become Queen of Persia and the rescuer of her people. She couldn't see into the future, and neither can we. But we can trust in Jesus, the Son of Esther's God, to use us for His glory.
* * *
   Lord, just as You had a plan for Esther, I know You have a plan for me and for each member of my family. Help us to trust and obey Your leading, knowing that you are in control of the events of our lives.
* * *
   “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"   Esther 4:14 NIV

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