“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.” -Matthew 1:23 NRSV

From the onset of creation, God has been with us. Abraham walked with him. King David felt his presence. The prophets heard his still small voice. Yet when the angel appeared to the Virgin Mary a new age of “God is with us” began. God would be with us in a way never experienced before. He would become a human and live with us.

This is the true message of Christmas. God with us in human form. Fully experiencing human life. The high and the lows. Laughter and tears. Tempted in every way and yet sinless. God fully knows what it is like to be one of us. In like manner, when we read about the life Jesus we know what God is like. When we see him, we see God.

Open our eyes Lord. Open our minds. Open our hearts. Help us to embrace Emmanuel.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.


Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. -Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

There is a prevalent paradigm that embraces the idea that some work is sacred and some just secular. I love how this verse teaches us that all work can be sacred when we it is done in service to the Lord Jesus. A plumber's work can be sacred when done with excellence and integrity. A doctor can perform divine works of healing when it is done unto God.

The truth is that we are Christ's body and are his ambassadors to the world. It is a cliché, but true none the less, that we are the only Jesus that many will ever see. When we love others it is Christ loving through us. Our work can be a great expression of that love and service. It is why Paul admonishes us to see our work as sacredly done as unto the Lord.

Enlarge our hearts and minds Lord, to see our work as a sacred service done for your glory.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.


Forgive us as we forgive others. -Matthew 6:12 GWT

There is such a relational aspect to forgiveness. We need to be forgiven as much as we need to forgive. In a sense one cannot truly forgive unless they have experienced forgiveness. Both things, giving and receiving forgiveness, are so necessary to our spiritual, emotional and mental health. And yet there is something needed to complete the circle.

For one to be forgiven they must first acknowledge their need of forgiveness. Practically this means that I can forgive you but you will not experience forgiveness if you do not think that you did something that needed to be forgiven. In such a case, only the forgiver will reap the blessing of forgiveness. And sadly the circle of forgiveness will remain broken.

Create in us a heart to forgive Lord. And forgive us as we forgive others.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.


It is one thing for you to speak ill of the Son of Man. People will be forgiven for every sin they commit and blasphemy they utter. But those who call the work of God the work of Satan utterly remove themselves from God, and those who blaspheme God’s Spirit will not be forgiven, neither in this world nor in the world to come. -Matthew 12:31-32 VOICE

I think that blasphemy is a much misunderstood word. I like this definition of it:
Blasphemy (blasphēmía) "switches" right for wrong (wrong for right).
It calls what God disapproves, "right" which "exchanges the truth of God for a lie."
In the verse above Jesus puts the word in context as he compares forgivable to unforgivable blasphemy. This small space is inadequate to delineate the many views about what it means to blaspheme the Spirit. Yet I offer a few thoughts.
  • There is a sin that will not be forgiven. This seems to be at odds with the idea that everyone will be in heaven.
  • This blasphemy seems to be an intentional sin of the heart. It is deliberate and is not repented of.
  • In the case above it seems to be committed by religious leaders. It gives me concerns for heresy hunters.
  • It reminds me that quenching and resisting the Holy Spirit can have eternal consequences.
Come Holy Spirit. We invite your presence. Help us to be those who bless and do not blaspheme you.

... this devotion is part of an ongoing series on words in the bible.