Moving in the Neighborhood!
Dr. Jim Bohrer
It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...
It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...
I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So, let's make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we're together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please,
Perhaps you know Fred Rogers and his theme song. A song he wrote. He wants to live in your neighborhood. That is a good feeling. The God of this Universe, the one who in the first verses of John, the first verses of Genesis made everything that is seen and that which is unseen wants to be your neighbor. In fact, He could sing the very song above about you! From the beginning of time, Jesus wanted to be your neighborhood. He wanted to live in a place where you are! Notice, Mr. Rogers did not say, “I wanted to live in Carmel, Brownsburg, Fishers, or Avon.” I wanted to live in your neighborhood because YOU are there.
NIV John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Dwelling: ἐπισκηνόω; σκηνόω; to dwell as in tents, to tabernacle.
GOD MADE HIMSELF KNOWN TO MOSES.
Ever since the cool bowers of Eden, God has longed to restore the relationship with everyone!
NIV Genesis 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
See God was taking a stroll around the neighborhood. Adam and Eve ran off like hoodlums. They hid from God.
It reminds me of pastoral visitation:
It was a Saturday and pastor went out members. At one house, it was obvious that the couple was home, cars parked in the driveway, lights on, music playing, but nobody came to the door even though the preacher knocked several times. Finally, the preacher took out his card, wrote out "Revelation 3:20" on the back of it, and stuck it in the door.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me. - Revelation 3:20
The next day, the card turned up in the collection plate. Below the preacher's message was written the following notation:
I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself. - Genesis 3:10
God is not cliquish. He wants to move into your neighborhood. He wants to dine with you and spend time with you. Christmas reveals once again God’s desire to be with you.
I had a friend, Mark, tell me recently when I asked him about God, “Oh, God doesn’t want me.” I don’t know what Mark has done or what he thinks he could have done that would make the Lord avoid him. I am confident that it is nothing along the lines of what Cain did.
Have you ever thought how different God really is than what people think of Him? I thought how odd. Back in Genesis, Jesus came to the porch of Cain:
Genesis 4:6-7 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
The Lord sat down with a cold hearted killer and tried to reason with him. Cain, you are going to destroy the neighborhood if you go this direction. Lets stay together. Lets work this out. But the Bible says Cain went away from the neighborhood into the field. He moved away from the Lord’s presence and killed his own brother. And yet God had mercy on him. God tried to keep a brother in the neighborhood but Cain fled the Lord’s presence to the land of Nod. I truly believe the Lord would have forgiven Cain, but Cain had let his heart lead him astray. He didn’t want to be a good neighbor.
I would say to anyone who wants to be in God’s presence, no matter what you have done, where you are at now, the Lord wants to be your neighbor. He wants you to belong to His family. If He could reach out to Cain, I can guarantee you He will reach out to you.
We see this at the other time God pitched His tent among people. He made this comment to Moses.
GOD WANTED TO MOVE INTO ISRAEL’S NEIGHBORHOOD.
Exodus 25:8 "Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.
Notice that Yahweh does not say I need a box to live in or I want my own space or tent. But, I want to DWELL among you. I want to buy a house next to yours. He didn’t ask what the quality of living was where you were. He didn’t check out Fishers, Carmel, Upper Meridian Street. He said, “I want to dwell with you.” Have you ever thought about that Christian, the Lord of Creation wants to move next to you? Christmas says, He wants to be part of your life, your community, your neighborhood.
Don’t wander into the field or get stuck on the mountain:
God met with Moses personally on the Mountain. He gave His law to Moses. The Lord gave the instructions on how to build the Tabernacle to Moses on the Mountain. But Moses was not to stay on the mountain with just His personal experience with God. God did not intend for Moses to keep this personal relationship private. Moses did not intend to stay on the mountain away from the congregation.
Within 1 year of the Exodus, the People of the Lord had built the Tabernacle and worshipped the Lord and God had a tent in their midst! Exodus 19 tells us that the Lord gave the Commandments to the people in the third month after they began the Exodus. It is reasonable to conclude that shortly after that covenant, the people began the work on the Tabernacle. In Exodus 40:2 The Lord tells Moses to set up the Tabernacle in the first day of the first month. One year after the Exodus!
And by the way, once Moses had overseen the construction of the Tabernacle, he never goes off to the mountain again. He stayed in the neighborhood of the congregation because God was in the midst of the people. Think about the importance. The God who created the Universe in 7 days has His people take 9 months to make the Tent of Dwelling so He can be with the People! He utilizes just the front and back of a page in most of our Bibles to talk about the great work of creating the entire universe and all life… Genesis 1 and 2. But He spends exodus 25 to lev. 10 giving instructions about the Tabernacle! 26 chapters devoted specifically to the DWELLING PLACE!
Did you notice that God gave the covenant and the people began to build the Dwelling place after the 3rd month and it would be 9 months later that the Tent goes up? Gabriel came to Mary and said, “Behold, favored of God… Luke 1:31, you will be with Child… and give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus.” 9 months later… We have Emmanuel, God pitching His tent among us! Living in our neighborhood!
John says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelled among us.
HOW WILL YOU MAKE ROOM FOR JESUS IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.
You don’t Fill Jesus up. He came FULL of GRACE and Truth!
Jesus Fills you up.
Let me tell you something: Your sin and mine will not prevent God from filling you. God came to the Israelites camp after some serious sin on their part. Yet He still filled the Tabernacle. Israel had lost their true relationship with God and was occupied by enemy forces the first Noel. Jesus still pitched His tent in their midst. There is GRACE and FORGIVENESS.
Vanderlaan: “Part of what it means to partner with God… Remember, you and I do not fill God, He fills us. He does it all. He has all the fullness to overflowing within Himself. You and I are commissioned to CREATE SPACE for God. We need to make room for God in our lives. And if you have no space for God, Don’t expect Him to fill your life!
So let me ask you, “In your family is there space for God? Not just devotions, praying, and Bible reading… Praise God. But in everyday and in everything you do, “Is there space for God?”
Is there in your school?
Is there in your church?
Is there in your work?
In your heart?
God wants to live with us. He wants to dwell in our heart.
Let me assure you if you make room for God, He will be your neighbor;
You want more love? Make room for Jesus? You want more peace? Make room for Jesus? You want more life? Make room for Jesus.
Jesus sings to you:
Won't you please?
Please won't you be my neighbor?
How will Jesus’ presence FLOW from you this Christmas?
“And the end of it all, the God who came 2000 years ago and was seen in Jesus, He has now returned to heaven. He cannot be seen, but he still speaks. ‘The Word became Flesh.’ May he speak through us!”
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