Christmas morning. Sure is quit around here. Not like the joyful noisy early morning chaos when we had three small sons and way too many gifts under the tree. Those days are long gone. We now have three adult sons who are sleeping late today. And we have a grand total of five gifts under the tree.

On this peacefully silent Christmas morning I’m reading Acts and thinking about “Immanuel… GOD WITH US” (Matthew 1:23)

Do you ever feel far from God, like Emmanuel is not particularly close? We all do at times.

Acts 23:11 says, “The following night THE LORD STOOD NEAR Paul…”

Why did He STAND NEAR Paul and often seems to stand so far from us?

Maybe because we live such safe and comfortable lives that we don’t think we need Him all that close all the time. Paul’s life was so unsafe and uncomfortable that he needed God close in order to survive each day.

Here’s what prompted the Lord to stand near Paul, this time…

“The dispute (between the Pharisees & Sadducees) became SO VIOLENT THAT THE COMMANDER WAS AFRAID PAUL WOULD BE TORN TO PIECES by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks. (Acts 23:10)

You want God near? Want to feel His presence?

Simple. Get out of your comfort zone, get on mission, take a step of faith and watch what happens – religious people will get mad and the Lord will stand near.