Sunday, December 17, 2023

God With Us By Sharon Musgrove #devotional #Sundaythoughts



God With Us

By Sharon Musgrove


“’Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).”  Matthew 1:23 ESV


Christmas is about celebrating the birth of God with us


Sometimes, even in holiday times, we can forget that God is with us.  When we read about the life of Jesus, we often compartmentalize His time on earth as history and forget the spiritual and omnipresent nature of God here now.


Do you ever feel alone in this world?


As I was reading the Christmas story in the Gospel of Matthew, it struck me that Matthew was the only Apostle that included these “God with us” words of the prophet Isaiah in the telling of Jesus’ birth.  Of the four Gospels, each written by a different Apostle, Matthew’s chronicle singularly includes this ancient text. 


“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 ESV


Noting this added Holy writ made me curious about Matthew.  Did he, like me, need consistent reminding that God isn’t gone? 


Matthew is believed to have been called Levi before his discipleship with Jesus.  He made a living as a tax collector, a career built on taking excess fees from his fellow countrymen to pay for his lifestyle.  Because Matthew worked for the Roman government and profited at the expense of his own people, he would have been ostracized from society...including religious gatherings.


Matthew was one of those people.  He cites in his book (Matthew 9:9-13) that the Pharisees labeled him a sinner, considering him beneath their standards.  The religious leaders held it against Jesus that he was with such people.  I suspect it meant a great deal to Matthew that Jesus, God with us, reclined at his house.


In the years spent with God’s son, Matthew changed.  He went from manipulation to honesty and deception to truth, working for the Kingdom of God until his martyrdom.  The presence of God turned him around.


Watching Jesus ascend into the heavens must have been hard.  God with us gone.  But Matthew ends his writing with the last words of Jesus:


“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20 (emphasis mine).


Matthew knew we needed to hear God with us as the gospel message.  He understood we’d feel alone and would need encouraging good news.  So, he filled his book with it.  From the first chapter to the very end, he reminds us that God is with us.  And all the stories of Jesus in between help us understand that God is and always has been for us too.


Christmas time or not, when we find ourselves in difficult times, we can surrender our burdens, forgive, or act towards others according to His lessons of love.  When times are easy, we can sing Him praises and give Him thanks.  Each of these everyday activities are like returning to Matthew’s reminder that God is with us, and we are not alone.


Author Bio:


Sharon has been writing and teaching biblically based curriculum, Bible studies, and devotionals since 2007.    


She has had the unique position of writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both programs primarily served women in the homeless community.


Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She’s been privileged to speak in Leadership camps intended on encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young women.


Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.


Sharon and her husband, divide their time between Oregon and Hawaii. They have two grown children. 


Currently, Sharon is encouraging others via her inspirational blog, but prefers sharing face to face. Additionally, she is working towards a degree in Ministry. 



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