Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What Does Immanuel Mean To You?

What Does Immanuel Mean To You?
·      As we close out this year’s season of Advent, Christmas is just about here.
·      Today, we I want us to close out Advent focusing on the meaning of Immanuel, the song we have been singing for 4 weeks now at the Advent candle. 
Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
·      Matthew is quoting a 700-year-old prophecy from the prophet Isaiah about a virgin-born Messiah who would bring God to us.
·      This virgin-born Messiah would have as one of his names, Immanuel, which is Hebrew for “God with us.”
Immanuel = God with us
·      Is there any phrase in the entire world that can bring more hope and comfort from God than this little phrase, “God with us.” It is central to redemptive history—God with his people
·      In the book of Joshua, Joshua was facing this mammoth challenge that was too big for him.
·      God had assigned him the task of leading the children of Israel in taking possession of the Promised Land, a land that was filled with hostile tribes, many of whom had weapons that were much superior to the weapons of Israel.
·      But God gave Joshua this promise in Joshua 1:5, No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
·      And then in the book of Isaiah, God speaks through the prophet Isaiah to a people who were in captivity in Babylon.
·      First the prophet lists all of the great attributes of God – how enormous God is; how wise he is; how competent he is; nothing and no one defeats God.
·      And having communicated who God is, God speaks to the people in captivity and says in Isaiah 41:10,
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
·      Do you recognize who it is who is with you? If you do, you will see that you have no reason this Christmas to be anxious, fearful, or hopeless about the future.
·      God the amazing God, who is very smart, who can figure out the solution to any problem, God who is incredibly generous, God the God who loves you and watches over you is with you.
·      And friend, it is a decision of faith to be able to believe that God is with you especially when you are going through a dark time
·      When you can’t feel the presence of God and you wonder where his protection and provision has gone.
·      It is a decision of faith to trust in the word of God and say, “I am not alone; God is with me.”
·      King David made that choice of faith in the most famous Psalm, Psalm 23, when he said,
Psalm 23:4 3 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
·      Are any of you this evening walking through the valley of the shadow of death – facing a major operation, or cancer treatment, or unemployment;
·      Or maybe this is your first Christmas apart from a loved one who died this past year and this is your first Christmas without them.
·      Maybe this Christmas is filled with family tensions or you are facing a mountain of debt.
·      David said, “Even when I am walking in the darkest valley, I don’t have to be anxious, fearful, or hopeless about the future because you, God, are with me.”
·      Jesus is God with us. Jesus is God for us. Jesus is God over us.
·      In the economic crisis – God is with us.
·      In the war zones of the world – God is with us.
·      In the midst of poverty and abuse – God is with us.
·      In all the trials and tribulations, Immanuel – God is with us.
·      And that is why Matthew calls Jesus ‘Immanuel’ so that the whole world will be pointed towards him as our Messiah as our Good News, as our Hope for the future…
Now some people ask, how can a baby Jesus help me with all these things you are talking about?  There is a funny scene from a funny parody of NASCAR that draws attention to something we need to remember at Christmas.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVJSEEOybIw
·      Ricky Bobby’s wife was right. Baby Jesus did grow up.
·      And if we were to see Jesus today, we would not see him as a little baby lying in a manger in the state of his humble coming into the world.
·      Instead, we would see Jesus as the prophet Isaiah saw him and as the apostle John saw him, enthroned in his glory as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
And so we come to the most important, question: What does ‘Immanuel’ mean to you?
·      If ‘Immanuel,’ The Resurrected Ascended King is the source of all Hope, I wonder what it is that you are hoping for this Christmas-time?
·      For some of us, it may be security of employment. For some of us, it may be an easing of financial worries. For some, reconciliation where a relationship has been broken.
·      For others, physical or mental healing.
·      What do you hope for this Christmas time?
·      Whatever it is that we are hoping for, the good news is the same for us all. ‘Immanuel’ – God is with us
·      In your darkness, in your trials, in your anxieties: ‘Immanuel’ – God is with you.
·      In your pain, in your frailty, in your brokenness: ‘Immanuel’ – God is with you.
·      In your fears, in your hurt, in your insecurities: ‘Immanuel’ – God is with you.
·      The message of Christmas is not a fairy tale for the children. It is a hard reality of God breaking into the brokenness of our world: ‘Immanuel’ – God is with us.
·      That is the good news of Christmas

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