“God’s presence is always the gift you don’t know you need most until you’re in the most need.”

Ann Voskamp

Matthew 1:18-25

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[b] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)”

 

Ready for Christmas

 If I am truly honest, I have felt rushed this year and it’s the one season I really don’t want to rush through. Usually the boys and I do what we call, Advent acts of kindness. We will deliver cookies to the fireman or pay for someone’ s coffee at starbucks or make thank you signs for the garbage men. I love the Advent season, being able to take time to reflect on God’s goodness and prepare my heart for Jesus. He is the greatest gift, right?  It’s common this time of year to say that Jesus is our greatest gift. Have you stopped to think what that really means?

We obviously would admit that Christmas is more than Santa and his reindeer. But what about more than the Virgin Birth?  My nephew and nieces live in Italy and they had a day off of school this past week to celebrate the Immaculate Conception.  Is this all Christmas means?  I think the bigger miracle lies in the phrase spoken by the angel,

(Immanuel, God with us)

When I gave this talk at church I asked the ladies to take some time with me to look at God dwelling with his people. I broke the talk down into 3 segments: Past, Present, Future.  I have included the talk here for you to read. So, with each segment that you read, I ask that you too will pause and reflect to consider both God’s presence and your need. 

 

PAST

It’s always amazing to me when I re-discover time and again just how personal the God of the Universe is.  From the beginning, he has always desired to dwell with his people.  The definition of dwell means to reside with or live in.  He literally longs to live with you right where you are.  Let’s look at some OT scripture of how God dwelled with his people.  In Genesis 3:8 God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the garden.  Then when Moses said, “I want to see your glory”, He told Moses to build a tabernacle and there he would dwell.  He resided in the ark of the covenant until Solomon built a temple for God to dwell in and asked the question, “Will God indeed dwell with man on earth?” (II Chron 6:18)  Our Theme verse of Matthew 1 is referencing the prophecy from Isaiah which was spoken 700 years before Jesus’ Birth.

(Immanuel, God with us)

One commentary says,  “to say that God is with someone or a people means that God is guiding and helping them to fulfill their calling.”  We can look at several OT stories of how God’s presence helped someone fulfill their calling.  With the Israelites he guided them to the promised land.  With David’s kingdom he gave them power to be mighty in battle.  Even after the Israelites were captured and exiled he preserved a remnant to one day rebuild the nation.

Pause now and reflect:  How have you seen God’s dwelling presence in your past?

 

PRESENT

John 1:14 says, “ The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the father, full of grace and truth.”  Jesus is the eternal embodiment and ultimate fulfillment of God with us.  Sin broke all possible relationship with God and Jesus came to restore it.  This is the greatest gift!  The divine was made human to dwell with us.  The perfect Holy God came down to meet us out of love in our depraved human condition and says “I want to reside with you. Not just now but forever.”  This is a personal God.  He left his Heavenly kingdom and made himself vulnerable to share in our humanity. Let’s look at some NT ways that God dwells with his people

I Corinthians 3:16,  “ Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you?”

II Cor 6:16, “For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them and I will be their God and they shall be my people.”

II Timothy 1:14,“By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”

Believers are now HIS tabernacle and Jesus is both our High Priest and our Sacrifice. He alone gives us full access to the Father because the very glory of God dwells with believers daily.  There’s a song that I love by Jeremy Camp that says,

The same power that rose Jesus from the grave

The same power that commands the dead to wake

Lives in us, lives in us

The same power that moves mountains when He speaks

The same power that can calm a raging sea

Lives in us, lives in us

He lives in us, lives in us

 

We lack nothing because we have everything in Jesus.  With God all things are possible because God is always with us.  As we see from this song, we have his power. The very same power.  We have his love. His peace. His comfort. His grace. His wisdom. AMEN!

Pause now and reflect: How do you see God’s dwelling presence in your life right now?

 

FUTURE

I love taking time to consider God’s dwelling presence. I know in my own life, I needed this reflection because it has been way too easy to rush past HIM.   When I have taken time to do this, it always leads to Thankfulness. Just like the Psalmist says we should do, enter his presence with Thanksgiving. If we know God has been and is with us then we can look forward with hope that he will remain with us in the future.  We have affirmation of the promise that God will be with us in every age to empower us in our calling and commission as Jesus  said right before he ascended to Heaven, “Behold I am with you always to the end of the age.”(Matt 28:20). This is how we can be women who laugh without fear of the future (Prov. 31)

No matter how bleak your current or future circumstances look….

(Immanuel, God is with you)

All of God.  He has dwelled with us since the beginning of time. He is dwelling with us now.  He will be with us forever.  We just need to open our eyes to see Him and open our hearts to receive this miraculous gift of His presence.  The BIble began with God dwelling in the garden in Genesis and continues to the end of Revelation with this beautiful reminder.

 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-5

 

Pause now and reflect: How do you anticipate God’s dwelling presence in your future?

 

Merry Christmas and God be with you,

Melanie