PREPARING FOR THE FAST

GOD IS WITH US

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:1–3, 14

Additional Reading: Matthew 1:23; Philippians 2:5–8


We started 2021 reflecting on our awesome God, and we will continue to do so in our midyear prayer and fasting.

When we think of God being great and awesome, His infinite power, knowledge, and presence, as well as His glory and majesty, come to mind. We think of God being infinitely bigger than the universe He created, which He simply spoke into existence. He is transcendent, far above anything in all of creation, whose greatness we cannot fully fathom.


Because God is with us, we are never alone.

However, God’s awesome greatness is not only demonstrated by how big He is. It is also demonstrated in His ability to humble Himself, come down to our level, and become small like us—even stooping lower to save and serve us.

God demonstrated this in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word of God, who is Himself by nature God, and by whom God created all things, both visible and invisible. Yet He took human form and became man, with all its limitations. Can we even begin to imagine this? The infinite and limitless God, in His awesome greatness of power and goodness, took on limitations. The immortal one became mortal. The timeless one stepped into time and grew from infancy to adulthood. The self-sustaining one experienced hunger and thirst. The Creator of the universe took on the form of a creature.

God is not just somewhere out there, far above and beyond our miniscule lives. He is a God who has come down to our level and is experientially and intimately acquainted with our human situation—our weaknesses, frustrations, and suffering; our dreams, hopes, and aspirations; the big things and the mundane things in our lives. He is a God who is with us (Matthew 1:23). This is the God we serve.

As we continue plodding through this unprecedented season in the world, let us remember that we are never alone. For the rest of this week, we will know that God is our comforter, guide, and restorer. His love, kindness, and faithfulness know no bounds. Together, may we know and experience how great and awesome our God is—He who chose to make Himself small in order to be with us.


BECAUSE GOD IS WITH US, WE ARE NEVER ALONE.



NOTES

Write down your thoughts on today’s devotional. Pray that God will continue to speak as you reflect.




REFLECT

Look back at the past six months. How have you grown in your understanding of God? Amidst all that’s happened, how has He been near to you?




Read and meditate on Matthew 1:23. Reflect on areas of your life where there seem to be much pain and uncertainty. Imagine God with you and telling you, “I am here with you, My child. You are not alone.” How can His presence and nearness enable you to face these challenges?





PRAY

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:1–3, 14
Dear God, thank You for not just being great and awesome in ruling and reigning over the earth. Thank You for also being near me, for sending Your Son to become a man and live among Your creation. May I grow in my understanding and appreciation of Christ’s incarnation. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will guide me, speak to me, and lead me deeper into Your word. Every day and every moment, I believe You are with me. I am not alone. I am never alone. Because of this, I can face every battle ahead, I can boldly proclaim the gospel, and I can advance Your kingdom in this world. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

ANG DIYOS AY KASAMA NATIN

Nang pasimula, naroon na ang tinatawag na Salita. Ang Salita ay kasama ng Diyos at ang Salita ay Diyos. Sa simula paʼy kasama na siya ng Diyos. Nilikha ang lahat ng bagay sa pamamagitan niya, at walang anumang nalikha nang hindi sa pamamagitan niya. . . . Nagkatawang-tao ang Salita at namuhay na kasama natin. Nakita namin ang kadakilaan niya bilang kaisa-isang Anak ng Ama. Puspos siya ng biyaya at pawang katotohanan ang mga sinasabi niya.

Juan 1:1–3, 14

Basahin Din: Mateo 1:23; Mga Taga-Filipos 2:5–8


Nang magsimula ang 2021, ipinakilala natin ang ating dakilang Diyos, at patuloy natin itong gagawin sa ating pananalangin at pag-aayuno ngayong kalagitnaan ng taon.

Kapag iniisip natin ang pagiging dakila at kamangha-mangha ng Diyos, pumapasok sa isipan natin ang Kanyang walang hanggang kapangyarihan, kaalaman, presensiya, at pati na rin ang Kanyang kaluwalhatian at kadakilaan. Naiisip natin ang Diyos na higit na mas malaki kaysa sa kalawakang nilikha Niya. Nagsimulang umiral ang mga bagay sa pagbigkas Niya ng mga salita. Wala Siyang hangganan. Siya ay labis na nakahihigit sa anumang nilikha, at hindi natin ganap na mauunawaan ang Kanyang kadakilaan.


Dahil kasama natin ang Diyos, hindi tayo kailanman mag-iisa.

Subalit ang kamangha-manghang kadakilaan ng Diyos ay hindi lamang makikita sa kung gaano Siya kalaki. Makikita rin ito sa Kanyang kakayahang magpakumbaba. Bumaba Siya sa antas natin, at naging maliit gaya natin—mas mababa pa nga sa antas natin— upang magawa Niya tayong iligtas at paglingkuran.

Ipinakita ito ng Diyos sa pamamagitan ng pagkakatawang-tao ni Jesu-Cristo. Si Jesus ang Salita ng Diyos, at Siya Mismo ay Diyos, at sa pamamagitan Niya ay nalikha ang lahat ng mga bagay na nakikita at hindi nakikita. Sa kabila nito, Siya ay nagkatawang tao at naging tao, dala ang mga limitasyon ng pagiging tao. Magagawa ba natin itong unawain? Ang walang katapusan at walang hangganang Diyos, sa Kanyang dakilang kapangyarihan at kabutihan, ay piniling magkaroon ng limitasyon. Ang immortal ay naging mortal. Ang hindi nalilimitahan ng oras ay nagpasakop sa oras at lumaki mula sa pagiging sanggol hanggang sa pagtanda. Ang hindi nangangailangan ng anuman ay nakaranas ng pagkagutom at pagkauhaw. Ang Lumikha ng kalawakan ay nagkaroon ng katawan ng isang nilikhang nilalang.

Ang Diyos ay hindi nananatili sa kung saang malayong lugar na hindi maaabot ng napakaliit nating mga buhay. Siya ay Diyos na bumaba sa ating antas kung kaya’t naranasan at alam na alam Niya ang sitwasyon ng mga tao—ang ating kahinaan, kabiguan, at paghihirap; ang ating mga pangarap, pag-asa, at mga hinahangad; ang mga malalaki at maliliit na bagay sa buhay natin. Siya ang Diyos na kasama natin (Mateo 1:23). Ito ang Diyos na pinaglilingkuran natin.

Habang patuloy nating hinaharap ang walang katulad na panahong ito, tandaan natin na hindi tayo kailanman mag-iisa. Sa mga susunod na araw, makikilala natin ang Diyos bilang tagapagbigay-ginhawa, patnubay, at tagapagpanumbalik natin sa Kanya. Ang Kanyang pagmamahal, kabutihan, at katapatan ay walang limitasyon. Sama-sama nating kilalanin at saksihan kung gaano kadakila at kamangha-mangha ang ating Diyos—pinili Niyang maging maliit upang makasama tayo.


DAHIL KASAMA NATIN ANG DIYOS, HINDI TAYO KAILANMAN MAG-IISA.



MGA NATUTUNAN

Isulat ang mga naisip mo tungkol sa debosyonal ngayong araw. Ipanalangin na patuloy na mangusap sa iyo ang Diyos habang lalo mong pinag-iisipan ang mga ito.




PAG-ISIPAN

Balikan ang nakaraang anim na buwan. Paano ka lumago sa iyong pagkakaunawa sa Diyos? Sa gitna ng lahat ng nangyayari, paano Siya nagiging malapit sa iyo?




Basahin at pag-isipan ang Mateo 1:23. Pag-isipan ang bahagi ng buhay mo kung saan ka nakakaramdam ng sakit at kawalan ng katiyakan. Isipin na kasama mo ang Diyos at sinasabi Niya sa iyo na, “Kasama mo ‘Ko, anak Ko. Hindi ka nag-iisa.” Paano nakakapagbigay sa iyo ng kakayahan ang presensya ng Diyos upang harapin ang mga pagsubok na ito?





MANALANGIN

Nang pasimula, naroon na ang tinatawag na Salita. Ang Salita ay kasama ng Diyos at ang Salita ay Diyos. Sa simula paʼy kasama na siya ng Diyos. Nilikha ang lahat ng bagay sa pamamagitan niya, at walang anumang nalikha nang hindi sa pamamagitan niya. . . . Nagkatawang-tao ang Salita at namuhay na kasama natin. Nakita namin ang kadakilaan niya bilang kaisa-isang Anak ng Ama. Puspos siya ng biyaya at pawang katotohanan ang mga sinasabi niya.

Juan 1:1–3, 14
Mahal na Diyos, maraming salamat dahil hindi Ka lamang dakila at kamangha-mangha sa pamumuno at paghahari sa mundo. Maraming salamat dahil Ikaw ay malapit din sa akin. Ipinadala Mo ang Iyong Anak upang maging tao at mamuhay kasama ang Iyong mga nilikha. Nawa’y lumago pa ang aking pagkaunawa dito at patuloy kong ikasiya ang pagkakatawang-tao ni Cristo. Ipinapanalangin ko na ang Iyong Banal na Espiritu ay magbigay sa akin ng gabay, mangusap sa akin, at magpalalim pa ng Iyong salita sa puso ko. Sa lahat ng araw at sa lahat ng pagkakataon, naniniwala akong kapiling Kita. Hindi ako nag-iisa. Hindi ako kailanman mag-iisa. Dahil dito magagawa kong harapin ang lahat ng laban sa hinaharap, buong tapang na ipahayag ang Iyong salita, at isulong ang Iyong kaharian sa mundong ito. Sa pangalan ni Jesus, amen.

GOD IS WITH US


CONNECT

Make a list of about five to ten superheroes that you know. Beside their names, write their superpowers. Then, depending on what their power is and what you know about them, rank them according to who you think is the greatest (#1 being the greatest).

Now, what if we asked superhero #8 if he or she would be willing to swap powers with superhero #1? Do you think this superhero would agree? Most likely yes, because that would mean giving up lesser powers and acquiring new and greater powers.

But what if you asked superhero #1 if he or she would be willing to make the swap and become superhero #8? Do you think this superhero would agree? Most likely not, because that would mean giving up mighty powers in exchange for weaker ones. Right?

It’s the same for all of us. If we were given a choice, no one would be willing to become something or someone that we perceive to be of lower or lesser ability than us.

But did you know that someone willingly did something like that?


READ THE WORD

Before the world began, there was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through him. Nothing was made without him. . . . The Word became a man and lived among us. We saw his glory—the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father. The Word was full of grace and truth.

John 1:1–3, 14 (ICB)

Most of us are familiar with the phrase “God is with us.” But do you actually believe this? Do you actually know this to be true? God is not a God who is somewhere out there on the fringes of the universe, not involved in our lives. In fact, He has been and still is very much with us, here and now. God has been there since the beginning of everything. The Bible tells us He created all things and you will not see anything that has not been created by God. From the huge planets in the solar system down to the tiniest species—bacteria, amoeba, or any organism unseen to our naked eyes, and even to species that have yet to be discovered by man—all were created by God!


When He created us, He did not leave us to just be. In the Bible, we see His presence in the Old Testament, working through the lives of different men and women. But the best evidence of His presence with us is when He came to earth as a man, Jesus Christ. Can you imagine that? God, the most powerful of all, came to earth as a baby, who couldn’t do anything except depend on other humans to care for Him and feed Him. He did all of this so He could be with us and save us, because He loves us. (We will learn more about His love later this week.)


HUDDLE

PARENTS TO KIDS

4–6 years old

  • Is God in heaven or here with us on earth?
  • Can He be in heaven and here with us at the same time?

7–12 years old

  • Do you believe God is truly with you even if you don’t see Him? Why?
  • How does knowing that God is with you help you get through tough times?

KIDS TO PARENTS

  • Have you ever seen or felt God’s presence? How do you know He is with us?
  • Why is it important to know and believe God is with us?

Even if we have not seen God, we know that He is here with us. We see evidence of it all around us—the sun rises every morning, the moon comes up every night, seasons change, and trees and plants grow. There is much more evidence, but the most enduring one is Jesus Christ, who lived a human life on earth and went through every human emotion. He knows how it is to be human. Today, even if we do not physically see Him, God is with us through the Holy Spirit, who guides and comforts us and leads us to know God more. Truly He is with us!

As we pray and fast this season, may we know God more in different ways.


PRAY

Before the world began, there was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through him. Nothing was made without him. . . . The Word became a man and lived among us. We saw his glory—the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father. The Word was full of grace and truth.

John 1:1–3, 14 (ICB)
Dear God, thank You for sending Jesus to come live here on earth many, many years ago. Thank You that He is still with us now. Help us to understand this truth and to believe in it. Help us to see Your presence in our lives and to know and love You more. In Jesus’ name, amen.

DISCOVER

Did you know that about 700 years before His birth, God already told the prophet Isaiah about Jesus? In Isaiah 7:14 (NIV), it says:

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

It has always been part of God’s plan to be with us by sending Jesus to come! Isn’t that amazing? Let us always carry this truth with us!

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