DSC07762 Immanuel- the name given the Messiah, the Promised One who would come to earth to rescue His beloved creation from the horrid mess they had gotten themselves into.

Immanuel. God with us.

No man made religion can offer real closeness with the real God. Always, in the religions man has made up, we make it unattainably hard for ourselves to reach God.

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God, however, makes it easy. He reaches for us. The history of the world is nothing more than the story of God being Immanuel- God with us, God reaching for us.

He made a perfect world with perfect closeness between man and Himself. Man sinned and severed the relationship. God continued to make ways for man to know Him, and then finally, He sent the permanent solution to our sin problem. He gave us His dearly loved Son, withholding nothing in His pursuit of us. Then He sent His Spirit to indwell every person who accepts His gift of eternal life.

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I once heard a preacher say: “You can be as close to God as you want.”

He is God with us, the One who has done everything possible to make it easy for us to come close to Him. We’re the ones who build the barriers between us and God, with our sin, mistrust, and rejection of all the goodness He offers us.

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Still, His invitation is always going out. Christmas, the fascinating time of year when, in spite of all of people’s efforts to squelch the scandalous message that God loved us all enough to send His Son to die a brutal death to pay for our sin and be raised again so those who believe can have new life, that message, it goes out over loudspeakers in stores, and on the radio, the television, and the internet.

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That message, it travels at the speed of sound, and you can cover your ears against it but you can’t stop it from leaking out everywhere. The songs of the season carry the message, the crooners, the pop artists, and all the musicians are the unwitting carriers of the message that will rescue the whole world from darkness, if we’d all stop being afraid of the Light.

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You’re hard-pressed to evade it, this time of year, this message that has infiltrated every tradition surrounding this holiday. Santa Claus? =A generous Christian saint. Happy Holidays? Holiday=Holy Day.

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It’s no surprise- Paul says in Romans 10:8, “The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.” In the mouth of every person who has ever sung Silent Night or Joy to the World, in the ears of every person who has heard Linus recite the Christmas story on Charlie Brown Christmas.

If only everyone would stop and wonder about what they’re singing and hearing.

Inescapable Immanuel. You can leave Him, but He won’t leave you.

What relentless, generous love. Don’t run from it, embrace it.

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“Praise be to God for His unspeakable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15