Monday, December 24, 2012

Immanuel. Loving The God Who Came To Us

When a couple has a baby, they go through the challenging process of coming up with a name for their child.   For some, like Sharon and I, you poured over books like 1001 baby names…that was before google.  Yes, men we were dragged through all that stuff and then your wife hears a customer at work tell her the name of her daughter….Brynley and she says perfect and I did too.    Then I looked up the meaning of her name and it is of Irish origin meaning ‘burnt meadow’.  Well, we went ahead anyways!

Our name is our identity in many ways and somehow it captures a lot of what it means to be us.  There was a time you could go into a Christian bookstore and get your name on parchment paper with the meaning of it…with my name Jack, it said ‘following the LORD’. I was encouraged until I did further research and realized it is a derivative of Jacob, meaning deceiver…ouch!

Our surname connects us to a family and all the extended relationships that go beyond our immediate family.  Sometimes it identifies where our families originated and the professions.  Now, the name Ninaber is of Dutch origin and no, not every Dutch name begins with Van.  So, our name means “new neighbour” and  apparently my family did a lot of moving around.  I have to admit that Lloyd and I have both done a good job living up to our name!

Well for Mary and Joseph that decision was made easy by the revelation that God had given them.
Jesus.  It is still the name that creates the most controversy.   The name means God saves and He wasn’t the only one with that name at that time as Josephus, a Jewish historian at that time relates that they were other children who were given that name…a derivate of the name Joshua.

When other rulers were trying to make a name for themselves in history, Jesus became the dividing line of history!

I also believe there is power in that Name!

However, today I want to focus on the other name that was prophesied of Jesus and that is Immanuel.

We are going to look at the meaning of that very name, God With Us and break it down in looking at in three parts,  Jesus as God,  Jesus as one who is WITH us, and finally Jesus as one who is FOR us, focusing on the final word US.  I pray that you will love the God who is with us as we walk through this together.
We first need to take a look at where this prophecy Is referenced.

Initial Observations.

Isaiah 7:10-14  Here is one of the background prophecies on our reading from Matthew today.
Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14Therefore 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.

It was to the wicked King Ahaz, a man who introduced many new forms of pagan and idolatrous worship.  It was Ahaz who sacrificed his own son to the idol god Molech in 2 Kings 16:3
He was placing more trust in an alliance with the king of Assyria, than with God

Ahaz was the 13th king of Judah of the line of David and began his reign in 742BC and reigned for 17 years.  In the 2nd year of his reign this wicked king was alarmed that Rezin, the king of Syria, and Pekah, the king of Israel, had joined forces to invade Judah and place their own king on the throne in Jerusalem.
Ahaz refused to trust God to provide protection; instead, he took some gold out of Solomon's temple and sent it to the king of Assyria, hoping for his protection. It was at that time that God told Isaiah to go along with his son and trust God rather than Assyria, for all three nations had already been scheduled to be destroyed by God within the next generation.

Even though he failed miserably and didn’t honor or trust God, God kept His promise to us.
Isaiah 7:13Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14Therefore 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.

Isaiah 8:8  O Immanuel.  Here the name is used in a place of judgement with the question being, God are you really here with us?

The OT as seen in Isaiah 9:6 came up with many names for the coming Messiah!
Jesus was never called Immanuel as a title during his time on earth.  He never was addressed by that name, but He became a living embodiment of that Name.

Jesus is GOD with us

·         The manner of His conception.  It was a supernatural birth as Mary was found to be with child through the Holy Spiritv18 … reiterated to Joseph in v20 what was conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit

·         The claim that He made of Himself.  John 10:30;14:9  I and the Father are one (in essential essence, in all things completely God;  and to Phillip he said, anyone who has seen me, has seen the Father.  
      John 8:58  Before Abraham was born,  I am which was a direct reference to God from Exodus 3:14.  It incensed his audience so much at that point they were ready to stone him

·         The testimony of His apostles …eyewitnesses of His majesty!  2 Peter 1:16  We did not follow clever invented stories.  We heard the voice of the Father affirming His identity.  This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.

·         God incarnate was necessary for our salvation 1 Timothy 2:5

Hebrews 7:25Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

2 Corinthians 5:19 God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men

Therefore He is able to SAVE completely.  He didn’t say it outright, but He might as well.  Jesus is our God with us.

Jesus is  God WITH us

The Greek word translated “with” (meta) means “face to face with.”  Our God desires intimacy with us.  He has called us His friends. John 15.
In the word God we see His majesty, but in the word WITH we see compassion, we see mercy.  In the word God, we see glory and in the word with, we see love.
He can embrace sinners as His children when they accept the sacrifice of His son.
He is with us through all the experience of our life
He is with us through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit

He is with us in death and beyond

He doesn’t just want to come for a visit at Christmas.  He wants to reside, He wants to be at home with us.

Jesus is God with US

He is Immanuel for all of us.
Everyone can come to Christ.  He is for us not against us…that is an amazing miracle!
The God of the universe in the presence of His Son and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit is for you!
No matter what situation you are in, He is for you!   Just read Romans 8:38,39… nothing can separate us from His love!

Miracles don’t come in nice, pretty wrapping paper like the ones that we assemble under the Christmas tree.  Miracles can really mess things up.  When God shows up, it may not be on your timeline.  It can play with your schedule. 

I rather doubt that Mary and Joseph were planning to go on a honeymoon to Egypt.  It wasn’t on their preferred destination list.

What if Joseph had done what he had in mind to do? He would have missed out on the opportunity to be a father to the Son of God! I don’t have time but just imagine what that was like…being in the carpenter’s shop and teaching your son your craft and then watching Him design and make something so beautiful. That’s my boy! All of the moments, all the experiences, everything growing up, and he had in mind at first to divorce himself from Mary. It would have been so much easier, neater, cleaner. But sometimes you’ve got to stay in the situation that is messy to get to the place where you experience the miracle that God has for you.
 I think, like Joseph, honestly most of us would rather choose to divorce ourselves from difficult situations that God has put us in, because it would be simpler, it would be easier, it would be neater, it would be cleaner.

I can remember sitting in a car with Sharon in London, ON when we were looking for an affordable place to live so I could go to seminary and there I was pouting and saying, “ahh, it’s not going to happen and ready to turn the car around, but thankfully Sharon wouldn’t have anything to do with it!  She was persistent.  God had the perfect place for us.  However sometimes if it gets too hard or too messy, we don’t think it’s God’s will.

We don’t want to complicate things and so we choose to possibly divorce ourselves from someone at church.  We possibly come here and choose not to make eye contact with someone.   They have hurt us in the past or let us down…they didn’t come through and you are probably right, they didn’t. 
For some, we divorce ourselves from friends who offend us.

For others, they divorce themselves from a relationship because they don’t want to be hurt again.
Some have divorced themselves from a dream because we are not sure if we can handle the failure or the disappointment if it doesn’t happen.
So we divorce ourselves from situations, from people, from problems and because of it, we never see the miracle that God intended FOR US!

Here’s the big question…  Are you in a situation, is it something that God has conceived? Is isn’t always easy to discern that.   It is easier to discern if something is conceived by sin. So there are some situations that you are in that are messy because of sin in your life or someone else’s life and there are situations where my advice would be to get out. Get out of that sinful situation because what you are in is not conceived by God, it is conceived by the sin in your heart and in your life. But then there are also situations where it is conceived by God and I know it and I need to stay right where I’m at. I need to see this thing through. If you hang in there, you might just see God move in some amazing ways.

No matter what you circumstance, God is with you!

Corrie Ten Boom whose family hid Jews during WW2 and was forced into a concentration camp said this of God,  even when I am in the deepest pit, God is deeper still.

What does God with us means in 2012?   He is still God with us, we still have His abiding presence.  We bring the love of God wherever we go.

If we are too busy, we can totally miss it.  It does get messy and it does take time  God has put us here for divine appointments – not for judging others, but for loving them.

Sharon and I had a “God With Us” moment in the middle of the mall last week.  We sat down to figure out what was still left on our list and were quickly approached by a deaf person.  We had to choose in that moment to either be generous or sluff it off.  We chose to give and in turn it inspired all those around us as well.  Afterwards, one older gentleman who also gave sat right in front of us and began to question if that money was going to be put to good use.  As I was reminded of the message earlier in the month by John, I said that we need to choose love over judgement.  It would lead to a conversation about God and faith and it was a God appointment.  At the moment it all happened, I have to admit I wasn’t excited about being interrupted and I didn’t go into the mall praying God give us someone to minister to, but we just learned to be open in the moment.

We need the IMMANUEL mindset  - It should be comforting for us as well as challenging.

When others see you in action and how God has used you, most often they want to experience it as well
I challenge all of us to always be open, to be ready for those God appointments.

Here at Grace on a Sunday morning hopefully should be a safe place to try this mindset on.

Before you leave today ask the HS, who do you want me to encourage.

For some of you it might be easier to talk to strangers in the mall.  We often are drawn to the people we are most comfortable around. The same thing is true here at Grace.  People are watching us.  It is contagious and it will lead to great conversations and actions with we move beyond our normal circle of friends.
Well, here’s the truth and that is this Immanuel, God With US!  

He is for you and He designed you to flourish.

John Ortberg writes,  God made you to flourish – to receive life from outside yourself, creating vitality within yourself and producing blessing beyond yourself!

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Immanuel means God with us, but my question for you today is do you want to be with Him and with His people.  Scripture also teaches us that where two or three are gathered, He is in the midst

I have seen a love that abounds here on Sunday morning as someone anonymously gave $500- to another person who they knew was in need in our family here at Grace.  I have seen people who want to be with each other and I have also noticed those who chosen to make eye contact with others.  I have watched today as a small group took the opportunity to help Linda C. by doing the baking for muffins and providing hot chocolate today.  As I have visited with people here at Grace, they have told me that they have sensed the atmosphere changing over the past couple of months.  They notice different people talking and sharing with each other. 

God thank you that you are with me.  Teach us how to practically walk out this vision of a love that abounds.  A God that lives, abides, breathes in me.  As Tom W. shared with me, where sin abounds, may grace abound even more!  Romans 5:20

We are not doing this to take away your friend time.  We are doing this to expand your God view, to see your ministry, to push your further to really see God with us.  I don’t want you to be content with where you are at.  Discover more and love it.  Instead of divorcing ourselves from a situation, let’s learn to be married to it  and discover the joy in committing to seeing it through!

Faith is messy and risky.  Everyone else just goes shopping and does groceries, but you do it with an Immanuel mindset…God with us!  Leave the top of your to do list blank and let God fill it in.
Questions to ask God.

·         Where have I fallen down in a love that abounds?
·         God, I confess my own being busy and missing out.
·         God, what do I need to most remember about an Immanuel mindset…comfort, courage?
·         God who do you want me to minister to today?

No comments: