Today’s Scripture: Matthew 1:23
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
What do you think of when you hear the name Emmanuel? Well…before I even had the verse written…the Lord spoke to my heart something to talk about. This series has been pretty good for the Holy Spirit putting things upon my heart before I even start writing. So, I think I have to get writing…and limit the length of this introduction…Amen!?!
Today’s version of the Christmas Carol is by one of my favorite up and coming Christian artists…the Rhett Walker Band. If you like to turn on Third Day, and rock out some times like I do to Jesus music…I would highly recommend you spend the $10.00 for their CD…you’ll be glad you did. The lead singer reminds me some times of Bruce Springstein, some times Chris Cornell, and even Lynard Skynard. So…here’s today’s video.
Today’s Message: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
I barely had today’s scripture copied and pasted into this message before I heard the Lord speak to my heart that when He came into the world…He was announced as Emmanuel which we all means…God with us. When He left this world…what were His last words in Matthew? I’ll tell you. Matthew 28:20 (NKJV)
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
So…when He was announced by the angels He was announced as Emmanuel “God with us”, and when He left the world so that the Holy Spirit could come…His parting words were; “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. In it, God also says that He will never leave us nor forsake us. In fact, the whole reason for the Holy Ghost was for us to know that not only is God with us, but He is IN us. He’s always with us every where we go, every thing we do, and there’s never a time where we’re out of His sight.
I don’t know about you, but that thought is too wonderful to fully comprehend. Yes, I know the religious folk will use this to say stuff like if you wouldn’t do what you’re about to do in front of God you shouldn’t do it at all. That’s true…we should be thoughtful about what we’re doing because the truth is…where ever we are…He is there. He is watching, but I also know that there’s not a thing that I’m going to do in my life that He’s surprised about.
Listen, I’ve never done anything that God’s looked at me, thrown His hands up in disgust, and said: “I am done with that Bryan. He is never going to get it, and I’ve had it with him.” I know that there are things that I do in life that aren’t His best for me, and I’m sure there are things that I do that He doesn’t want me to do…but I know without a shadow of a doubt I am His…and there’s nothing I can do that will separate me from His love and His watching over me…because He is always with me.
“God with us.”
What a wondrous thought to me. How about you?
Time after time, the Israelites found themselves separated from God – always by their own doing. And God would eventually deliver them, only to be betrayed by His chosen people again. So we find two constant themes in the Old Testament:
. The Israelites, no matter how hard they tried, were unfaithful God
.God remained faithful and fulfilled the promises He made to them
Aren’t we all like the Israelites? Don’t we all find ourselves like little prodigal son’s and daughters who find ourselves in the pig pens of life? Don’t we all find ourselves like sheep that have gone astray? Sheep that find ourselves being stared down by hungry wolves…sheep that get stuck in awful places, sheep that lose their way, and get too far away to hear the Shepherd’s voice?
Okay…fine…I am the only one who finds myself in these places, and I’m in ministry. I am a pastor, and I still find myself in places where I separate myself from God. Let me talk about this for a moment because there’s a lot of talk about how when people feel distant from God they blame God. However, as we just found out. Jesus said that He is with us ALWAYS. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Jesus said in Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV). My point being that whenever I feel distant from God…it’s not God that moved…it’s me.
Yes, that’s right, Christlike Ministries NWA Family I just said that as a pastor I can still find myself separated from God. How? Because I still find myself wanting to do my own thing, and it really is that easy. We get started doing our own thing, you don’t realize that God’s not in what you’re doing, and before long you notice that you feel distant from God. I have a shorter leash these days, but that doesn’t stop me from walking my own path…even if I am in ministry.
That’s why I keep saying that just because I’m in ministry…that doesn’t mean I am immune to getting myself into trouble or distant from God. I still find myself in places where I have to repent and ask for forgiveness just like anyone else. I’m not Jesus…I’m saved by Jesus. I’m not perfect…I’m being perfected. So if you’re expecting perfection…don’t look to me…because I will let you down. I may feel like I disappoint God some times, but the truth is I know that’s not right.
God loves us all the time, all day, and He never stops. He doesn’t stop loving me because I make mistakes, He doesn’t stop loving me because I find myself enslaved to a sin, and He doesn’t stop loving me if I even willingly find myself in sin. Listen, I’m not saying that I’m out there practicing sin…I’m just trying to make the point…actually the Holy Spirit is trying to make the point that there’s NOTHING that can separate me from the love of God…but me.
- The Israelites, no matter how hard they tried, were unfaithful God.
- .God remained faithful and fulfilled the promises He made to them.
Friends, God is ALWAYS faithful even when we are not. Look at these two points from the Old Testament. Remember all the murmuring and complaining the Israelite’s did? They were horrible weren’t they? Made images to worship. The complained all the time. Isn’t if funny how we’re not much different from them today? Listen…we just read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever…right? He also is no respecter of person. If God was faithful to the Israelite’s…He’s going to be faithful to us…even when we’re not like the Israelite’s weren’t.
Time after time, the Israelites found themselves separated from God – always by their own doing. And God would eventually deliver them, only to be betrayed by His chosen people again.
I repeated this point because the Lord told me to in order to point out this. Time after time, just like the Israelites we find ourselves separated from God – always by our own doing, and time after time we (just like the Israelites) betray Him time and again, and doesn’t it feel like no matter how hard we try some times…we betray God and are unfaithful…but He is still faithful to us…because WE ARE HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE.
Can I tell you that there are only two groups of people? We’re either believers or un-believers. All believers are part of the Body of Christ. All believers are son’s and daughter’s of God. That’s why we often refer to one another in the Body of Christ as brother or sister…and I started to say that we don’t have any blood relation at all…but that’s wrong…we’re all related because of the Blood of Jesus.
God is a faithful Father…and just like He was faithful to the Israelites…He’s faithful to us who are His children. We are the son’s and daughter’s of God…and He’s always faithful to us, He’s always with us, and there’s never a time once we come to know Him that we’re orphans because He turns His back upon us. We are the ones who turn away from Him, and the truth is…what I said a moment ago. If we feel distant from God…He’s not the One Who moved.
Through His prophets, God made many promises. Isaiah 7:14 says, “”Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and you shall call his name Emmanuel.” The name Emmanuel translates as “”God with us.” It’s a remarkable promise – the Ultimate Being and Creator of the Universe promising to make Himself physically present with the people who have proven themselves unworthy.
He’s still fulfilling that promise today in each and every one of our lives. How? Through the third person of the Trinity. The Holy Ghost is the proof that God’s promise to be with us always even until the ends of the age will never go unfulfilled. Not only is He watching over us every day, not only does He walk with us every moment of the day, but He is with us every where…because He goes with us every where…because He lives within us. Don’t let that weird you out…it’s just proof that God is not slack concerning His promises…even the one to be with us always.
In one of the most somber Christmas song, “”O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, there is an embraced tension within Israel. They are in exile, separated from God yet again. With a sober perspective, they choose to rejoice in the promise God has made to them. With nothing else to cling to, in the midst of desperation and loneliness, they recall and proclaim the promise that God would be with them – knowing that, in spite of their unfaithfulness, God is faithful to His promises.
Some times, friends, the only thing we have to cling to is God’s promises. I know what that feels like. I know what it’s like to be in a place where the only words I could utter is: “I trust You, Lord.” All we as believers have to go on some times is the Word of God. I think of when I was out of work. The Bible says that God would supply all of my needs, and I knew that included a job. The same thing with wanting a wife. The Bible says that it’s not good for man to be alone, and that if a man finds a wife he finds favor with the Lord.
God’s so faithful, friends. It’s a comfort to me to know that when I get into a place where there’s nothing else…I can cling to Him and His Word.
No one could have expected a baby in a manger to be the start of God’s perfect plan to be “”with us.” And yet, that is exactly how God fulfilled His promise.
That’s exactly how the Holy Spirit came to be. Jesus said that it would be beneficial for Him to go away because He would send us One that would be just like Him. Remember Jesus’ prayer in John 17?
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. John 17:20-23
This is Jesus praying for believers. That they may be one. Just like Jesus and the Father are one…so are we one with Jesus and the Father. How?
16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17
This is how God is always with us. The Helper, Comforter…the Third Person of the Trinity…the Holy Ghost.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. John 16:7
God is faithful…even until the end of the age. The Holy Ghost is His fulfilled promise to never leave us. So, that still small voice inside of you…that’s God. Isn’t that awesome!?!
Are you waiting for God to come through on a promise He has made? Do you feel a sense of loneliness or exile? Rejoice! Rejoice! Through Christ, God has made Himself present to us. His faithfulness is greater than our failure. And His presence is all the reason we need to, once more, rejoice!
One of the surest ways that we can prove to Him that we take Him at His Word is to rejoice, always and again I say rejoice. That’s what worship is all about, friends. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in one of those places where I felt distant from God or I needed the assurance of His hand upon things…and when I got to worshipping Him…I found not only the assurance, not only the promise, but I also found Him to be right here with me…where He promised He would be.
I like this. “God’s faithfulness is greater than our failure.” The religious world would have us to think that we can sin our way to being rejected from God. The religious would have us to believe that there’s a point where God will throw up His hands in disgust, and be finished with us. However, that’s not biblical.
Listen, the first thing God pointed out to me before I even started writing is that Jesus was announced as “God with us”. Jesus’ last words were that He would be with us always, even until the end of the age. The Holy Spirit is the promised Helper that would dwell with us and in us…the Holy Spirit is God. I don’t know if you know this or not, but you can’t get more always with someone than to be in them…at least not to my knowledge.
The Holy Spirit is proof of God’s faithfulness to us. Just like the rainbow was to Noah, and Isaac was to Abraham. The Holy Spirit is confirmation of God’s promise to be with us always…and I don’t know about anyone else…but that doesn’t make me feel shame or scared or concerned…it makes me feel full of love and comfort for my Father.
Through Christ…God has made Himself present to us. Through the Holy Spirit, God dwells in and with us. I just can’t close this message without repeating what may be the one thing that we all need to remember…every day…until the end of the age.
God’s faithfulness is greater than our failure, and His presence is all the reason we need, to once more, rejoice.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
Be A Doer…Not Just A Reader:
How’s this for something to think about?
Since God is “”Emmanuel,” how is God with you this holiday season?
I think it would be a good idea to close this message with a prayer…Amen!?!
Heavenly Father. Thank You for speaking to us tonight. What an awesome thing to know that You’re always with us, that You’re never disgusted with us, and You’re always faithful to us…even when we’re not to You. Lord, help us to become more aware of Your faithfulness in our lives, and thank You for the revelation of Your Word this day…through this message. I ask that You would speak all that You would like to speak to the hearts of the readers of this message, and for those who need You…that You would touch their lives in a special way. Lord, remind them that You are Emmanuel…and that You are with them always…in all situations and circumstances…and You will see them through. I ask these things in Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen