Immanuel – God with Us
“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, `Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: `The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, `God with us.’ [This prophecy is from Isaiah 7: 14]
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had not union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” (Matthew 18 – 25 NIV)
I had a reminder this morning of the fact that God is with us. Usually, I arise each morning at 4:30 AM to write this blog; peruse news items; and listen to God by meditating and praying. I have been quite discouraged lately because of stress related to my view of what God has assigned me to do. I have forgotten my own teachings related to the reading of Scripture. I have allowed fear, doubt, and unbelief become central in my attitude. So, last night as I retired for sleep I turned off my alarm for my 4:30 AM wake-up. However, as I was about to sleep I thought of a friend and prayed for him. I hadn’t heard from him in some time and was concerned if he was OK. Well, in the midst of a deep sleep my phone rang at 5 AM and my friend was calling to assure me he was, indeed, OK. This may seem like a strange way for God to connect with me; but I can assure you that God is with us.
I know that the above scripture is designated to be part of the Christmas story when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I selected it primarily because of the world “Immanuel” embedded in it. It is very important to remember that Jesus has come; Jesus has lived among us; Jesus died and was buried; Jesus rose from the dead; Jesus ascended to the Father; and both Jesus and Father have sent the Holy Spirit. God is, indeed, among us.
My struggle is to believe what I preach. We are living in a world that threatens to be reduced to chaos. Yet, the truth of the matter is that God is sovereign and the kingdom of God has been established through the work of Jesus Christ and that kingdom shall never end, as promised. Our role is to carry on the work of Jesus and complete the assignments that God gives us to do. There are good works that have been ordained for us to perform. We are promised that we shall do the very works that Jesus did when He was physically among us. The Holy Spirit has been given to empower us to carry on the work of Jesus.
The Church was established to bear witness to the work of Jesus. But we have an active relationship through the Holy Spirit with God the Father. We do not live in a world of chaos although Satan is constantly trying to make us think that we are. We live in a world that is under the control of God who is the Lord of Creation not the author of Chaos. We do not have to do great works to be in line with God’s plans and purposes. To heal and deliver from demonic authority are considered small be Jesus. He considered it far more important that our names are written in the Book of Life.
We do not seek our own glory. We seek the glory of God. As God is among us by the Holy Spirit we are actually living in the glory of God. As we go about our daily activities we will naturally do the works assigned to us by God. This is the promise. We need not live in fear, but we are assigned to walk in faith. We take on thankfulness, joyfulness, and the spirit of worship as we go through our daily routines and the glory of God will show that God truly is with us.