Jesus, Name Above All Names

First Advent and first candle is lit
Image by Per Ola Wiberg ~ Powi via Flickr

“Jesus, name above all names,

Beautiful Savior,

Glorious Lord,

Immanuel, God is with us,

Blessed Redeemer,

Living Word…”

Those last three names – “Immanuel, God with us,” “Blessed Redeemer,” and “Living Word” – captured our attention as we thought about Christmas in India. What does “Immanuel, God with us” mean? What is God’s presence? We get so caught up in temporal, soon-to-be broken or discarded presents that we forget the ultimate gift is the eternal, unending presence of Immanuel!

Just as cold is the absence of heat and darkness is the absence of light, so evil is the absence of the presence of Christ – but the Enemy is being pushed back in every corner of India. Jesus’ presence and His love will warm and shine light into the families and villages of the more than 5 million new Indian believers who heard the Good News in the last 5 years through a Mission India program. Jesus will be “home for Christmas” in their families as they celebrate “Immanuel, God with us” this Christmas.

And we remember that high-caste Brahmin lady in Bombay who told us of the horrible fear of the gods that drove her to keep on sacrificing to them. “And then,” she said, “I found the blessed Redeemer God who gave the ultimate sacrifice for me: His only Son.” Tears of joy streamed down her face as she looked up to heaven in pure gratitude for the gift of a Redeemer, for the gift of the Living Word who through His death showed her God’s infinite love.

It’s not presents but Presence that our souls truly long for. It is the Presence of the Beautiful Savior, Glorious Lord, Immanuel God with us, Blessed Redeemer, and Living Word who brings light in darkness, warmth in cold, and dispels sin and death with forgiveness, purity, and eternal life. The gift of His Presence is the ultimate Christmas Present!

Dr. John F. DeVries

Founder and former President of Mission India

Excerpts From:
The India Intercessor-December 2010

Copyright © 2010 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

The Refiner’s Fire

Malachi 3:3 says:  ‘He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.’
This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work.  She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining Silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says:  “He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time.

The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, ‘How do you know  when the silver is fully refined?’

He smiled at her and answered,  “Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.”

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire , remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

Life is a coin. You can only spend it once.  Spend it the way He wants you to.

Author Unknown

Edited by Susan E. Johnson

Copyright © 2010 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

The Fair-Haired Child

Susan-5 Years Old

There Was a Little Girl
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.

The Fair-Haired Child

There was once a fair-haired child who often heard this poem when she was young. By all accounts, she was said to be bright and lovely; possessing a tender and compassionate heart.  Yet, she lacked any real confidence, quiet and shy to the extreme.  In social situations frequently aware that she was different, seeming to be lacking in those traits which made her readily accepted by her peers, she withdrew into herself, listening to that voice which constantly whispered to her: “Never good enough.”  Easily bruised, she learned to shut others out at the first sign of pain—too afraid that if others knew who she really was, there would be more ridicule, rejection, or humiliation–loneliness and isolation easier to bear than the vulnerability and fear of letting others get too close.

As she grew older, others considered her to be competent and confident, with wisdom beyond her years, yet that voice continued to whisper:  “Never good enough.”  She did not understand that the drive for perfection was the complete opposite from the call to excellence. It was easier to focus on what was lacking than grateful for what was God-given—unable to understand that being perceived as different from those she saw around her didn’t mean “odd” or “unacceptable” or “worthless” or “flawed.”

Not until she had a child of her own did the realization began to dawn–this child was a special treasure—the way God saw her too. Not wanting her child to suffer the same shyness and self-doubt which had plagued her for decades, she began to fill the child’s heart and thoughts with the goodness of God’s many gifts to her and the special call on her life that required each specific skill and talent—something she hadn’t heard herself as a child, even though well-loved.  She had begun to understand that God makes no mistakes in who He creates, precisely giving to each those specific gifts, talents,  and personality traits which will enable them to walk confidently into His pre-ordained call for their lives.

There is no telling what the fair-haired child missed by listening to those decades of demonic lies and allowing the strangle hold of fear to dominate her life. The heart seared with numbness from pushing the pain ever deeper, was difficult to revive. Certainly fear does not come from God—faith is His path.  She is beginning to understand her value is in what God created and Jesus Christ died for on Calvary, not in Satan’s whispered lies or what she thought was true. She became overwhelmed with anger hearing those same lies whispered to others like her—anger at what is being stolen from them; wanting their hearts healed and restored before decades are wasted or lost.

She does not know what the end of this story will be—only God knows that.  However, she has come to understand that God creates each individual for His purposes and the advancement of His Kingdom.  No one is unnecessary, no one doesn’t fit, no one is without a God-given inheritance or without a purpose, and no one is without incredible value to Him–each one a unique and special treasure.  How could she have valued as worthless what God values so highly? How could she have valued what others thought of her more than what God had said was true?

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. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29: 11-13 (NKJV)

For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the earth.” Deuteronomy 7:6 (NKJV)

Copyright © 2010 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Manoah’s Wife

Mid-17th century
Image via Wikipedia

When the Angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the LORD. And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!” But his wife said to him, “if the LORD had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have told us such things as these at this time.”  Judges 13:21-23 (NKJV)

So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah. Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.” Judges 14:5-6 (NKJV)

Then Samson called to the LORD, saying, “O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!”  And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life. And his brothers and all his father’s household came down and took him and brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of his father Manoah. He had judged Israel twenty years. Judges 16: 28-31 (NKJV)

Manoah’s wife is an example of God’s willingness to use ordinary people to birth the extraordinary; completing His purposes for a generation.

Copyright © 2010 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8 (NKJV)

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