God with us

AVOID THE AFTER-CHRISTMAS-LETDOWN

 

by Debbie Huber

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday…I had my shopping plans for these special shopping days.  I bookmarked the special Black Friday Deals website to know where all the BEST deals were to be found.  I kept all of my coupons and found all of my Promo codes.  I was ready to have a successful and bargain-filled Christmas shopping season!

Unfortunately, things like this can dominate our lives from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve.  Gift lists are made, shopping days are planned, Christmas parties and concerts are put on the calendar. Somehow we have to wrap the gifts, make the cookies, send in the teacher’s gifts, and find a way to have everyone dressed nicely for a family Christmas picture.  

Our lives are hectic right up until Christmas Day and then on December 26 we have the “Day-after-Christmas-letdown” where we are surrounded by tired and cranky family members, empty boxes, and bags of torn wrapping paper. 

It is easy to allow the hectic schedule and the “planning” to dominate your families’ lives at Christmas.  The buildup and expectation of Christmas and family is a wonderful blessing from God, but without the celebration and thankfulness for what it meant for Jesus to be born, there will be a letdown until next year. 

Jesus is Emmanuel, God With Us!  Our God was born as a baby so He could live on this Earth like us and experience the trials and temptations as we do and yet without sin so He could be sacrificed in our place for our sins. 

Jesus should be the foundation of our plans, our expectation, our celebration, and our joy of Christmas. 

Make it a priority to have Jesus and the celebration of what He accomplished as a result of being born as “God With Us” be the foundation of your family’s Christmas season.  Read about it in the Bible, sing about it at home and in your car, thank God together through prayer, and celebrate with each other about the amazing reality of what Jesus has done for us. 

Do not let a day go by without rejoicing in your heart and thanking God for the wonder of the incarnation of Christ.  Share with the unsaved people in your life about it the glory of Christmas and invite them to church! 

There may be some tiredness after Christmas, but there is no after Christmas letdown because the gospel is a reality in our lives for eternity!

SERMON LEFTOVERS 7.18.16

‘God is with us, are we with Him?’

John 14:15-24

Jesus Farewell Discourse (John 13-16) is preparing his followers for his departure and their continued service

 

God is with us in his Trinitarian nature

Jesus has already given them implications of his being One with the Father

To trust Jesus is to trust the One who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (v6)

He is the fullness and the revealing of the Father (v9)

Throughout chapter 14, Jesus has given reasons why God being with them brings hope and confidence: 

In chapters 14-16, Jesus repeatedly adds that the Holy Spirit will also be with them

Jesus will send “another Helper”. The Greek word for ‘helper’ means “to come alongside”

The Holy Spirit comes alongside to fulfill Jesus’ work in us and through us

Throughout this discourse, Jesus keeps coming back to the Holy Spirit as the “Helper”

He wants to magnify this great reality about God with us

By nature, the Holy Spirit is all God is; and by inclination he is all God intends (Romans 8:9-11)

Jesus also frequently mentions the Holy Spirit in his post-resurrection appearances

When Jesus presents our mission, he adds that the Holy Spirit will enable us (Matthew 28:19-20, Luke 24:46-49, John 20:21-22 & Acts 1:8)

Jesus says, the Spirit who is already with you, will be forever “in” you

The permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a significant difference between Old and New Testament believers

Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit simply help us without indwelling us, as he did in the Old Testament,?

The answer is that God’s great purpose in salvation is to bring us into communion with the Triune God (v20)

The Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of Truth”

Jesus combines these titles three times in this Farewell Discourse

The help brought by the Holy Spirit is not just empowering, it is full truth

We need this because Satan who is called the ‘ruler of this world’ in v30, is also called ‘the Father of Lies’ in John 8:44

Living with a Trinitarian perspective is not theological minutia

This is God’s nature; as a Triune being, he is a relational and communicative person

What a wondrous reality! God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are committed to us

 

What does it mean for us to be with God?

We are to be as fully committed to God as he is to us

In the middle of assuring the disciples that he would be with them, Jesus says our love for God is shown by obedience (vs 15, 21, 23 & 24)

Why bring that up here?  It is a reminder that God is with us, so we can be with him

God saves us into a relationship; that relationship requires obedience

Disobedience is sin, and sin ‘separates us’ from God

Obedience doesn’t maintain our salvation; it verifies and honors our salvation

God does not leave us as “orphans” (v18), so we should not abandon him

An orphan is without parental care; God will never leave or neglect his covenant responsibilities to us

Jesus repeats the connection between love and obedience four times – this is serious!

We don’t have the freedom to define how we love Jesus. Some Christians minimize biblical teaching by saying “I just love Jesus”

But love is more than feelings; the Bible defines love by its actions

Action Jesus gives is to obey God’s word; these are the only actions we have to give God

Jesus calls us to be obedient as he was 

1.  Compartmentalized obedience is disobedience 

2.  Half-hearted obedience is disobedience

3.  Common disobedience, doesn’t provide any cover

4.  So called “justified” disobedience (when we think we have been mistreated or we deserve a break) is just plain ole disobedience

5.  Oblivious disobedience is still disobedience

God gave us his word and he speaks through it, so we are responsible to know what’s in it

We are also responsible to examine our hearts, because not all sin is easy for us to see   

Jesus moves in only one direction – which is to serve the Father’s eternal purpose

If we live ignoring or disobeying where Jesus is going, we are not with him

But if follow this path, even in weakness the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are with us

THE JOY ABOVE ALL OTHERS

God is here. God is with us.

What do we mean when we make these statements? These are basic and sound theology. But they can also be vague and cliché-ish

What does it mean to say God is “here”? As the omnipresent God, He is existent everywhere. And God the Holy Spirit dwells in every true believer.

Yet, we mean that plus more, don’t we?

One of the things we are learning about God in our preaching through Exodus is that God’s presence comes with His purpose. And we know God’s purposes are amazingly wonderful for His people.

To say God is with us is to declare that we have God’s attention, concern and care. It is to recognize that He has given us His heart – what could be bigger than that?!

Living with a deeper and abiding awareness of God’s presence is at the height of salvation’s joys.

The Bible is abundant and varied in its references to God being with us:

The Lord leading Israel 40 years in a visible pillar of cloud and fire

Psalm 23, the Shepherd’s psalm

We are engraved in the “palm of God’s hands” (Isaiah 49:16)

The repeated Old Testament declaration by God that He will never “leave” or “forsake” His people

Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit’s eternal presence with every believer (John 14:16-17)

The Great Commission which ends with Jesus saying, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus carries the name “Emmanuel” which means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23)

God adopts us and makes us co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17)

Romans 8 grand pronouncement that nothing can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus

The Church being described as the Bride of Christ (Revelation 19, 21 & 22)

An encouragement in God being with us is that He is always the initiator.

We don’t have to get God to be present. We don’t deserve it and we never have to plead for it. The One who is here – is always already here. When I enter my time of worship, I think of this in terms of God showing up before me. He is waiting for my appearance; I never have had to wait for Him.

An even grander reality is to contemplate that the whole salvation story exists for the express purpose of our being “with” God forever. Sin made that impossible – God totally and forever fixed that problem.

At the height of exquisite realities in God being with us, we have this portion of Jesus’ prayer to the Father in John 17:24

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

God has given us like a gift of love to Jesus. Jesus with joy and anticipation “desires” that we be with Him.

Oh, child of God who is always with us, do not abuse or neglect this joy which should be above ALL others!