3 Words That Are Better Than "Merry Christmas"

My favorite Christmas word is Immanuel. That word tells us that Jesus is not only out there at God's right hand, interceding for us, out there preparing a future home for us—He is here now, living with us.

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel' (which means God with us)" (Matt. 1:22–23).

This Christmas let three little, but powerful, words guide your thoughts, your words, your actions, your feelings: "God with us."

God

God, the Son, who spoke the world into existence became a babbling baby. Christ, the King, laid aside His riches to live in poverty without even a place to lay His head. Jesus, our Lord, came as a servant to seek and to serve and to clear a way to His Father for any who will meet Him at His cross. Immanuel!

With

God had been with His people before that first Christmas. In the tabernacle or temple He would meet with them. But when Jesus came it changed from "Come meet with Me in a specific place" to "Now I've come to meet you. I've made the first move. I am 'Immanuel.'"

You cannot be where God is not.

Relish the "withness" of God this Christmas. He is very near, settled down among us. Hold this truth deep within your heart, "You cannot be where God is not" (Ray Ortlund, Sr.). Immanuel!

  • When you get up in the morning, God is with you!
  • When you go to work, God is with you!
  • When you talk on the phone, or email, or take a walk, God is with you!
  • When you are frightened and anxious, God is with you!
  • When your needs exceed your income, God is with you!
  • When you are alone, or tired, or teary, God is with you!
  • When your health is failing, God is with you!
  • In times of pain and in times of joy, God is with you!
  • As you read this right now, God is with you!

Immanuel!

Us

If you know Immanuel, you are part of a multitude. It is not just "God with me." It is "God with us!" You have taken your place with all who have loved and followed Him for two thousand years. Relish that truth. Hold your fellow believers tenderly in your heart. Let's treat each other with "compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience" (Col. 3:12). Let's be quick to apologize and slow to take offense. Learn to "let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body" (Col. 3:15).

God is with you. He has been with you. He is with you right now. And He will be with you—always!

The book of Matthew begins with this wonderful proclamation, "They shall call his name Immanuel (which means God with us)" (1:23). And Matthew ends with Jesus saying, "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (28:20).

You're safe. God is with you. He has been with you. He is with you right now. And He will be with you—always! Remember Dad Ortlund's words, "You cannot be where God is not." You are never alone. Not only on Christmas, but forever.

Where is it hard for you to embrace the "withness" of God? How can you embrace Immanuel more this Christmas?

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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About the Author

Jani Ortlund

Jani Ortlund

Jani Ortlund, Executive Vice President of Renewal Ministries, loves spending her energies connecting women with the Word of God. Serving Jesus Christ through writing, speaking and discipling are her chief passions in life. Jani and Ray, Pastor of Immanuel Church, have four married children and twelve grandchildren, and minister in Nashville, Tennessee.