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    Tonight we dine in hell...!

    If I can be candid with you, this year has been quite surprising and even tumultuous.  I have found that in times of turmoil I would pray that God would provide and save me from my troubles, that he would lift me up out of the pit.  I prayed that he would come and rescue me and provide peace once more.  The funny thing is that he does provide, but he often does it through ways we do not expect.

    In the time of King Ahaz, the ancient Kingdom of Judah was under threat.  The armies of Assyria came up against it and the defense of the kingdom looked futile.  Everything that once separated the Kingdom of Judah from the surrounding nations was eliminated, as idol worship of the worst kind was set up in the land.  We are told that King Ahaz even offered his son as a burnt sacrifice!

    While he messed up royally, and lead his people astray, God still spoke.  God still defended his people.

    When Ahaz needed an army, God gave him a sign.  He told him about a baby, about one called Immanuel (God is with us).  He told him about a baby that would eventually bring peace.

    With the piercing voices of a choir, we are wondrously reminded that,

    For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
    and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
    on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
    with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
    The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

    God was in control, even when the enemy was at the gates.  Yes, Assyria was defeated, but the larger enemy was conquered.  Sin and death itself was routed by this Son, and one day he will return in glory to put this world to rights.

    Perhaps you have been there too, when it’s tough to say whether or not God is in control.  I hope you cling to the wondrous (yet frustrating) truth that sometimes God gives us a baby instead of an army and provides for our deepest needs.

    O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
    Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
    Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
    The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

    How has God surprised you with his provision?

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