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Immanuel - God With Us!

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Immanuel:  God With Us

Isaiah 7:14

Years ago a small-town newspaper carried a letter sent in by one of its subscribers. She had gotten a thank-you note from her grandson after he'd recently stayed with her and her husband for a few days. The letter went like this:

Dear Grandma Kubescheski,

I had lots of fun at your house.

I am sorry I dug up all your plants.

I am sorry I used a whole roll of toilet paper.

I am sorry I put it in the toilet.

I am sorry I tried to flush it down.

I am sorry the water went all over your floor.

I am sorry I bothered your neighbors.

I am sorry I made Grandpa mad. I am sorry for putting sand in your rainwater.

I am sorry I lost three spoons. Grandma,

can I come again for a few weeks in the summer?

Your grandson, Gary Peters[1]

What would you do if you got a letter like that? You'd probably write him a letter and say, "Come on over. It would be great to have you!"

From the beginning of creation to the conclusion of this world as we know it, God has been sending us that invitation. 

“Yes, I know you’ve messed up.

Yes, I know you have deliberately disobeyed me.

But I desire to still be your God and for you to be my people.”

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isa 7:14 NIVUS)

Look in the manger – there is my love note – my sign that I still want to be your God and for you to be my people.

During our Advent season we have been looking at the phrase:  “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

1.  We asked ourselves ‘Who is this Child in the manger?’

Who was He before He came to our planet?

What did He give up in order to take upon Himself our human frailty and earthly form?

2.  We asked the reason or purpose of the incarnation.  Why did Jesus leave heaven to become a brother among us?  The answer is within the name His Father gave Him:  “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

3.  Last week we spoke of the mystery that in Jesus was both God and man.  We asked the significance of the virgin birth > that this human Jesus was tempted like we were yet remained holy – without sin.  This sinless one offered to God Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

4.  This morning:

God the Almighty One is also Immanuel > God with us.

If you want a balanced picture of God, you've got to juxtapose those two names.

He is God Most High / and / God Most Nigh. [2]

He exists outside time and space. //

He is also Immanuel—God with us.

“The Present of Presence”[3]

-        a child wanting to be with their parent.

-        ‘quality’ time vs. ‘quantity’ time > parents who try to fit their children into their schedules. 

-        When I travelled to Angola – alone.  How many times I wished Theresa were with me. // When Theresa returned from her trip to Holland:  ‘I have to go back – with Ron this time.’

The best experiences are lacking when we experience them by ourselves.

The greatest experiences are shared experiences.

That is why the Almighty One became Immanuel.[4]

A.W. Tozer said that

"most Christians are theological Christians."

He said they are attempting the impossible.

"They're trying to be happy without a sense of the presence."

How sad! The greatest gift God gives us is the present of presence.

Jesus said,

"I will be with you always, even to the end of the age."

The Garden of Eden

o   God walked with man in the garden

o   SIN stopped that communion

o   Ever since God has been yearning to resume that fellowship

o   No one has been looking forward to that day more that Almighty God Himself!

§  His love spared no expense to make it a reality!

Exodus > Moses spoke to God ‘face to face’ > as a friend.

Leviticus 26:11-12 (NIV)
11 I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.

2 Chronicles 6:18 (NIV)
18 “But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!

Is 7:14  Immanuel

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isa 7:14 NIVUS)

Ezekiel 37:27 (NIV)
27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Zechariah 2:10 (NIV)
10 “Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord.

Matthew 1 quotes Isaiah 7 that this Child is the promised: Immanuel

Rev 21:3  the dwelling of God is now with men.

 

“"The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits. "And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE."” (Eze 48:35 NIVUS)

-        in OT God’s dwelling (shekinah) was in the tabernacle > temple

-        in Christ, God dwelt among us > Jn 1:14

-        during the church age, God indwells his church > Eph 2:22

-        in age to come “they shall see his face” 22:4

Direct, unmarred fellowship between God and his people

‘They will be His people’.

John 14:1 > that where I am…

2 Corinthians 6:16 (NIV)
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”b

Rev. 22:4

“They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” (Re 22:4 NIVUS)

To walk hand in hand with Christ

·       To view with Him all His handiwork of what He has prepared for us.

·       To view the glory and beauty of the prepared city – adorned for His bride

·       To walk in perfect harmony, perfect praise, perfect health, and perfect understanding.

To live up close and personal with God!

o   All sorrows erased – forever!

We will be ‘at home with God!’

Henry Van Dyke – the late great American author, educator, and Presbyterian clergyman (1852-1933):

“Every house where love abides and friendship is a guest, is surely home, and home sweet home, for there the heart can rest.”

Heaven – with Almighty God who is love.

              - with Jesus:  “what a Friend we have in Jesus!”.

Wait till you see my brand new home:

·       Security, rest, peace, no guilt, no secrets

o   Only love > freedom

·       A safe place.

Maybe this is over obvious, but the Almighty One became "God with us" because he wanted to be with us.

Here is an amazing thought:

God wants to spend eternity with you.

Even I get tired of being around me sometimes!

But not God.[5]

Revelation 21:3 says, "I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God."

He came to our place.

He took our place.

And he invites us back to his place.[6]

However, we heard at Ross & Anne’s wedding two weeks ago:  ‘It is not good for man to be alone.’

That was spoken while Adam had unrestricted fellowship with God.

God was his God and he was God’s people (singular – person).

God alone is not enough – we do need one another!

God created us that way.

Set that alongside the question: 

‘How are people today ever to understand God’s invitation for them to come into a relationship with Him?’ and we discover our role – our mission.

Our relationship with one another should model and point to our relationship with God.

Jesus puts together the most important command and the second which was close to it:

1)     Love the Lord your God

2)     Love your neighbor.

As we become more like the people of God that God desires to recreate in us; we become attractive to others who so crave that community.

As we live ‘Immanuel – God with us – God within us’ our community relationship with each other draws other people to us and to the glue that binds us together > the love of God.

John’s first letter brings together the twin theme of love for God and love for others:

“19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1Jo 4:19-21 NIVUS)

Paul says the body, is a picture of the church of Jesus Christ.   Everything working together for the common good of each other.

So, if you want to find community,

if you want a place where you fit in,

if you want to know where you belong

and where you're not the odd person out,

then come to church; come to the body of Christ; come to the family of God.

Do you find it that way in the church?

It's hard to believe that the church can be like that.

We've been fooled too often.

We've been let down by too many people.

We've experienced our lonely times even in church.

Instead of seeing the body as something that works well together, we usually see it as a little reflection of the world around us,

splintered into fragments,

isolated individuals meeting together

—power, politics, and wary strangers.

Paul used the illustration of the church as the body of Christ in his first letter to the church at Corinth.

But he doesn't say that the congregation at Corinth is always a caring community.

In fact, when you read through the letter as a whole, you begin to see how poor it is sometimes.

He gives us a rather nasty picture of the congregation.

Greed is there,

as is pride

and envy

and snobbishness

and deceit.

The list of sins is a long one.

But even that congregation, he says, can become a caring fellowship and a healing community in the city.

Even that congregation can grow in its expression of the love of Christ.

How does it happen?

It happens, Paul says, when people begin, together, to take their cues from Jesus Christ as the head of the body.

We each have to ask,

"What is Jesus thinking?

What is He doing?

What is He wanting?

Then that's what I want to do and think and desire as well."

And when I'm surrounded by other people who are wanting and thinking and doing the same things, I belong—I belong to Christ, and I belong to others because they also belong to Christ.

Community becomes a reality not out of our ability to get along, but out of our ability to be connected to the same source of thought and power. [7]

That’s the practice of Presence – the practice of Immanuel > God with us.

Paul tells us even more:

Community happens when the power that drives each of us is the single power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit of God, he says, is the heartbeat and lifeblood of the community.

He is God living within each of us,

giving us personal attention,

direction,

and motivation

to be all that we can be.

The mind of Christ and the power of the Spirit—Paul says that's what makes community.

So as we await the consummation of the ages,

As we await the promised return of our Lord and Saviour,

       We practice the Presence > the Immanuel

       We practice being a people of God.

Not only will we discover the beauty of a restored relationship with God as our God but also the dynamic of community

– a community of love that works together as a coordinated body with Christ as head,

and we will discover that others are attracted to this community.

As the grandson wrote to his grandmother so we speak to God: 

“I’m sorry for… And we list our sins. 

Then we ask, “May I come over?” 

The reply:  God’s letter in response?

‘Do come over. 

I’m waiting. 

I desire to be your God and to have you as my people. 

I want you to practice ‘Immanuel’

because my heart’s desire is to have a relationship with you as my people.”


----

[1] Sermon: “Messiah's Community” by Wayne Brouwer

[2] Sermon ‘Immanuel’ by Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church, Washington, DC.

[3] Sermon ‘Immanuel’: Batterson

[4] Batterson

b  Lev. 26:12; Jer. 32:38; Ezek. 37:27

[5] Batterson

[6] Batterson

[7] Wayne Brower

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