December 2, 2022 (The sixth day of the first week of Advent 2022)
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“And the Word became flesh and made His tabernacle one with us so that we might behold the glory of God as one begotten as only could be by the Father of all which is full of grace and truth.” (John 1.14 YLT)
The God who dwells within us makes us His people!
As we take this time in our Advent season to grasp the truth, grace and beauty of Immanuel: the God with us and within us, let us remember all of that was, is and will always be revealed in perfection by the one called the Christ of God, Jesus of Nazareth born in Bethlehem the city of a great king, to be called the King of kings, Lord of lords, mighty God, everlasting Father, Wonderful Counsel, Prince of Peace upon whose shoulders is born the governance of the world. The governance of our world is not taken from us by storm but offered to us as a moment of sweet surrender to the only One who can rule objectively, lovingly, transformationally and perfectly. Because of Jesus, we are given the opportunity to see ourselves for who we truly are intended to be and be all that God sees in us for the good of others as befits His glory which can be ours. What can we see in ourselves because of Immanuel?
Worthy: We have value beyond that which the world places on us. When the world values us it is actually to build us up in order that the treasure we are can be taken for the use of the world to support itself. It gives nothing in return for what is taken. The hope of the “green” proposal so popular in the world today is to harness and create a sustainable source of power that will not “harm the world.” But, at what cost? This is the world’s understanding of worth: value and cost. In order to sustain itself and the desire to control life with more complicated machines and technology, the price to be paid is that of the lives of others and not their own. In Jesus Christ, we see our worth and value validated by the One who came to give His life for us that we might dwell with Him forever. In that, Immanuel speaks not only to the calming truth “God is with us and within us” but that WE are with Him and in Him. Jesus declared to His disciples, all who believed enough in Him to follow in sweet surrender to the Way, the Truth and the Life He offers, “I AM in the Father and the Father is I AM in Me.”
Capable: One of the worst feelings we can feel is uselessness and inability. I believe that is what truly lies behind the fear of being unloved. The truth of our “matter” is not only that we matter as people of worth and value which increases as it is given to others but we have always mattered to God. The prophet declares, “Before I was in the womb, God knew me and knitted me together perfectly that I might live for Him.” (Jeremiah 1.5) The infinite possibility of God exists in us that we might accomplish His Word, His Work and His Will on earth. Did we not learn from the stories of creation in Genesis that we have meaning and purpose? Did we not glean that all the resources needed to do what we are meant to do have been provided? We are tasked with three opportunities: to steward all of creation with the same intentionality as that which created it; to worship the Lord our God who is the creator and sustainer of life and maintain the identity of holiness which is the clear indicator of our acknowledgment that we are His people and He is our God; and to seek to be humbled toward Him and trust Him in all and every season and situation of our lives as we accept the realities of both sin and salvation, rebuke and reconciliation, judgment and justice. Immanuel is the tangible expression of “all things are possible with God in the knowledge of the impossibility of the people to be God and avoid death which is the result of sin. We are capable of being God’s people because God is our God; in Him shall we have life and have it abundantly.
Blessed: Romans 8,31 declares “If God is for us then who can be against us.” Of course, we have to truly embrace the intentionality in Paul’s statement. The question of “Who can be against us?” is not intended to propose that we will have no enemies. Even God has an enemy who is the Great Adversary and Worship Leader of Lies: Satan, the insurrectionist Lucifer. As he is the enemy of God, so, too, is he our enemy. He has no affection for us. He lusts the energy of our lives which emanates from our souls and will do all within his power to seduce us into surrendering it to him at the cost of our own life. He gives us nothing in return but continued emptiness. He leaves the hole in our life which can never be filled with the things he offers as the world would offer it to us. What Paul spoke to was the truth that with God who is with us and within us, Immanuel, nothing will overcome us. He is affirming what Jesus had taught the disciples on the night of His arrest leading to His crucifixion “There will be trouble in this world, it will come against you but do not fear it, for I have overcome the world so that it will not overcome you.” Of course, three days later, His resurrection would establish this profession as truth. We are blessed in this truth and by it. The God who made us has given to us not only what is needed for our daily bread but a sacred hope and purpose to live out in life. We are not intended to be conquerors of this world. Rather, we are made victors in the battle against the enemy who seeks to steal the blessing from us. He has already failed because we dwell in Immanuel, the blessing of God with us and within us.
Powerful: The truth about faith is that it is powerful. Paul proposes to those who are believers in Jesus as the Christ, “And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3.22-24) Jesus reminds His disciples, “If you have faith even as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain ‘Move!’ and it will move even so far as to be cast into the sea.” How often did He say to those who sought Him for healing and restoration, “Do you believe? By your faith, you are healed!” And no greater power is there than this that in the arrogance of the world, the very name of Jesus will bring every man, woman and child to their knees so that they will confess in their own tongue “Jesus is Lord” and thus reveal the very truth of their beliefs which lie at the core of the heart, mind and soul. Even the demons will be in obedience to those who truly know Immanuel and they will submit to that authority which espouses the truth of God’s will and purpose for every living person.
Loving and Loved: Of course, there is no greater evidence of Immanuel than this- “that you love one another.” It is based on the greatest truth “For God so loved the world that He sent His Only Son to us so that all who would believe on Him and in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” We are “loved” so that we can be “loving.” And that love is not the kind of love which desires to exist only to be loved. That love exists because God is love and loves us completely. He not only created us but now has extended the opportunity to re-create us back into the image which first belonged to us. That image which we surrendered in sin in order to make our own image as befits our hope, dreams and desires can be and will be restored to us as we love God first, foremost and always. Jesus made no bones about “The Father is in Me and I am in Him, so that you may be with Us and We may be with you.” Authentic love is the very essence of Immanuel. It is the very essence of who we are as God’s people. It is the hope of our Advent celebration to prepare others in the world to decide to not be of the world but instead make ready for the King of kings to come in that we might dwell together with Him forever.
Father, You have made Immanuel real for us and available to us. We know you have called us to be Immanuel and share it with others so that they may truly and authentically live as You have intended for them to live in greatness, in humility, in love, in faith for all the days of their lives. Bless our commitment to fulfill this hope of Immanuel not only in this Advent season but in all seasons of life. We ask this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.