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Mission Devotional - December 16, 2015

Opening Prayer: Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:7-16)

Scripture: Matthew 1:23

Journal: What is your current sense of God's presence in your life? How does the promise of his presence give you hope?

Reflection: What a promise! And more than just a promise, what a statement of who God is! He is Immanuel! That is his name! Thus, he is the God who just can't stay away. He is God with us! In the midst of our deepest darkness, he is with us. In the midst of our most desperate loneliness, he is with us. In the midst of our most unimaginable pain, he is with us. When our hearts have been broken beyond repair, he is with us. When we have made a total mess of our lives, he is with us. When tragedy strikes, he is with us. When we are lost, left, or abandoned, he is with us. At the times we feel most unlovable and ashamed, he is with us. When we feel like complete and utter failures, he is with us. When we feel like all hope is lost, he is with us. When we feel completely broken and inept, he is with us. When we are terrified of what lies before us, he is with us. When we are uncertain about our futures, he is with us. And even when life seems to be going "just fine thank you" he is with us even then. In fact, the Psalmist (Psalm 139:7-12) tells us that there is nowhere we can go where he is not with us. Just open your eyes and your ears, he is there. Somewhere. Even if he is there in a way - or a place, or a form - that you didn't expect. He is with us! It's just who he is. Thanks be to God. (Watch and Wait by Jim Branch)

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Josh and Jenny M. are working with the RAK Church Plant in the United Arab Emirates. The RAK Evangelical Church has now been formally constituted as a church with about 40 members. They have recently celebrated the ground breaking for the church building. To find out more, go to the Reclamation Stories blog and watch a video.

As a ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America, RUF holds to the core beliefs of historic Christianity which motivate a heart for God and love for the university. CSPC supports RUF on two college campuses - UT Knoxville and Carson Newman. Pray today for Matt Howell at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and for RUF as it connects with students on both campuses.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus. Help us to believe that it's true. Help us to truly believe that you are Immanuel - God with us. Help us to believe it in spite of our fears and our uncertainties. Help us to believe it in spite of our anxieties and insecurities. Help us to believe in spite of our loneliness and isolation. And help us to believe in spite of our feelings and our circumstances. Thank you that you are Immanuel, it's just who you are. And since you are Immanuel, which means you will always be with us, help us to seek always to be with you in return. Amen. (Watch and Wait by Jim Branch)