2017 rushed into Alaska with record breaking cold temperatures. Our Sutton campus experienced cold between to -36 and -42 degrees Fahrenheit. Then the next week, it literally warmed up 70 degrees and sent daytime temperatures as high as 28 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Somewhere in between, we received over two and a half to three feet of snow. The crazy up and down temperatures wreck havoc on buildings, equipment, animals and people. Amazingly many birds not only survive the extreme conditions, but bring sweet blessings when spotted at local bird feeders. In spite of the temperatures, the songs of chickadees, nuthatches, redpolls, pine gross peaks, and many other species permeate the air. Of course our local ravens, magpies, and bald eagles are always nearby too usually waiting to raid trash cans when the winter winds blow off their lids or garbage bags left in the back of pick-up trucks. This winter, moose have been plentiful around Sutton. The snow came late allowing easy access to food all winter long. While the snow came late, when it came, it came deep forcing many moose onto plowed highways and streets for easier walking, causing an dramatic increase in automobile accidents killing moose within the last 10 days. Thankfully there are many meat harvesting permits and agencies to salvage the moose meat to feed many poor Alaskans. January also saw the return of sunlight, with today having 7 hours and 21 minutes of ambient light.
written by Sharon Aubrey
Immanuel also spelled Emmanuel is the name of God given by the prophet Isaiah announcing the birth of Yeshua, Jesus the Christ. Most people are aware Immanuel means, "God with us," but it can also be stated "with us is God." This unique name of God is derived from combining two Hebrew words: "El" and "im-ma-nu." “El” is a shortened version of Elohim, a generic name of God's title as “God.” "Immanu" comes from the Hebrew adverb preposition (Strongs Hebrew #5973) which means "accompanying, equally with, among, between." Interesting this adverb comes from a root verb, "amam," which means "to overshadow, huddling together, to hide." God is a gracious God, in whose love, we find safety and redemption from the ravages of sin. The image of God overshadowing to hide man is used repeatedly throughout the Old Testament in a positive way. Consider the following verses:
Looking deeper into the Hebrew words comprising in Immanuel, the concept of the English translation "with us" loses some of the deeper imagery associated the word “Immanu.” The portrait is of God covering men like a hen brooding over her chicks is extended to the point where His spirit literally merges with men. Thus, God becomes forever with us, always among us, and in us. His wings don’t just externally cover us, they cover us from the inside out: a complete and total protection from the enemy and the destructive power of sin. Spirit, soul, and body are redeemed under the wings of God.
Immanuel was fully realized in Jesus Christ, who was the Word of God in human flesh and lived and walked with men. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14 By living a righteous life and never sinning, Jesus demonstrated what a human life filled with the Spirit of God can be like. All power over sin is with those who live in the Spirit. Peace is available in the midst of turmoil. Miracles manifest confirming the Word of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Jesus conquered death and imparted everlasting life unto all men and women who would believe on Him, but as He warned Jerusalem, only those who are willing to be gathered, willing to come to God can find shelter under His mighty wings. The blood of Christ shed for the remission of sins is offered freely to all, but you must personally seek that refuge in Him. As a result of Jesus' victory over sin and death, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon all believers on the day of Pentecost and continues to be poured out on believers today, fulfilling the promise of God to be with us perpetually.
No longer is there any separation between God and humankind. The two have been eternally fused by God's will through Jesus’ accomplishment on the cross and confirmed by His resurrection from the dead. The Holy Spirit has been poured out, becoming one with the human spirit. God, who was once walked the Earth in the flesh, has now become One with us forever. This is a great and glorious enigma!
Immanuel, with us is God!
-written by Sharon Aubrey