Merry Christmas! I just returned from a trip to Israel with the Center for Holy Lands Studies (www.theCHLS.org). CHLS is led by my wife, Amy Flattery. While there, I was reminded daily of Matthew 1:23 and the fact that the baby born will be called, “Immanuel (which means ‘God with us)” (NIV).
Jesus is, “God with us.” Powerful! In Israel, we walked locations where Jesus walked. We took a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus rode. And where Jesus walked on water! We visited Jerusalem and prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. We visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built over what many believe is Golgotha. We stood on the Mount of Olives and rejoiced that Jesus will come again!
I am so thankful that the presence of God is not confined to a temple. God’s presence is not limited by being only a concept or theology. Jesus came to earth in human flesh to be “God with us!” He lived a perfect life, taught us about the Kingdom of God with His words and actions, showed us the meaning of sacrificial love, and rose victorious on the third day to conquer sin and death. Powerful indeed!
As we celebrate Immanuel, God with us, this Christmas season, may we remember the times and seasons in our lives when His presence was strongest! Yes, there were times of doubt, discouragement, betrayal, and chaos. But, our constant throughout was His presence and His love. Praise God!
As my life depended on His presence, I want to give His love as a gift to others. Worldwide, there are people, like you and me, who need a friend. We all need someone to be with us, encourage us, and direct us. Sometimes we need teaching or correction and Jesus is there. At other times we need someone to sit with us and provide quiet confidence and support that only presence can bring. That is Jesus, as well.
It is with your partnership that we are sharing the love of Jesus Christ with people around the world who need Him so desperately. Here are some examples:
- A woman in Tanzania viewed, “Discovering Real Hope” and wrote, “I have been feeling lonely, depressed and can’t find anyone to tell then i decided to pray can’t even pray properly nowadays i feel so despaired worthless with a lot of irrational thinking i have exams can’t even study,i need help.” We were honored to share the love of Jesus with her. He will be her friend that stays closer than any family member
- A woman in India viewed, “Who Jesus Is,” clicked the “I prayed the prayer” response button and wrote, “Lord Jesus save my life .please forgive my sins …i am very helpless,i am crying in my situation, hold my hand and give me life so that always rises my hands for yr parise and worship my loving jesus ……no words for explaining my situation…..you know everything…..plz forgive me ……i want to sit near you.” We were honored to pray with her and help her understand better how to walk with Jesus.
As you celebrate our Savior’s birth this Christmas, rejoice that He is with you at all times. Also, join me in asking the Lord to open our eyes to see those who need His presence so desperately in their lives so that we can share His love with them.
If you are looking to make an extra “end of the year” giving please visit www.Network211.com/projects for ideas. Or, you can go to www.Network211.com/give. As you know, your investment will go directly to sharing the Good News that Jesus Christ is “God with us.”
May God bless you!
Dr. Mark Flattery