Summary: There is a single unifying theme that runs throughout scripture, the theme is redemption and it is revealed by Emmanuel.
God With Us:
THE REALITY OF EMMANUEL
This morning I am going to share with you a message that has become a Christmas tradition for me. I have preached this message more than any other since I began preaching in 1983. If you would have told me 25 years ago that I’d preach the same sermon 19 times I would have said that you were crazy. But that is exactly what has happened. Today will be the 20th time I have preached this message! I first preached this sermon in 1990 at a small country church in Aguila, Arizona, and have preached this sermon another 18 times since then. You may find it hard to believe but I preached this message 10 years in a row at Michigan Heights Baptist in Stockton.
This message holds special significance to me, and I hope that it will be one of the things I am remembered for when my ministry comes to a close. Back in 1990 I was at a crossroads in my life. I was going to school full-time, I was working as a Minister of Music at Central Heights Baptist Church, and I worked 20 hours a week as a security guard at the college. Lindsay was just a few months old, Brittany was just starting kindgergarten, and Blake Jr. was 2 (boy was he 2)!
Our Pastor was preparing to retire in January, and there was a whole lot of uncertainty in the Church, and in our lives. An opportunity presented itself for me to preach at this little Church which was looking for a Pastor. It was Christmas time and I wasn’t sure what to preach considering the possibility of this Church looking at me as their future Pastor. It was then that God impressed upon me a single theme that I believe transcends all of life, and a solitary expression of that theme that ties together all of human history. It was not a thought original to me then, nor is it today, It is a theme that is as old a life itself.
I hope that this theme is not a new thought for you, but if it is, it won’t be from now on because I will probably refer to, and preach on this theme more than any other in the years ahead. The theme is REDEMPTION, and its key can be expressed in a single word: EMMANUEL.
In the years ahead you are going to hear me challenge you to watch for what I call “Emmanuel” passages in scripture. Passages in God’s Word where it protrays His desire to be “with us.” Why? Because God’s Word is His divine revelation of Himself and His redemptive work for mankind. And within His Word there is a common thread woven around this expression of God’s desire to have a personal relationship with the crown of His creation.
Today let me take you on a journey through God’s Word and show you His most basic desire for mankind, that He might “Be With Us.” If you are one who highlights in your Bible, I would challenge you to mark the passages that contain the phrases where the Lord says, “I am with you,” or, “I will be with you,” or “God is with us.” If you don’t like writing in your Bible, then I would suggest starting an “Emmanuel” note page to keep in your Bible. If you begin keeping track of these beautiful expression in scripture I believe you will discover how important these phrases are. This morning let me share with you some of those special “Emmanuel” passages.
1. GOD WITH US: A REALITY IN OLD TESTAMENT LIVES
Adam & Eve God walked WITH THEM in the Garden of Eden
Noah “I will establish My covenant WITH YOU” (Rainbow) (Genesis 9:9)
Abraham “I will establish My covenant WITH YOU—I will be God to you” (Genesis 17:7).
Isaac “I WILL BE WITH YOU and bless you and your descendants” (Genesis 26:3).
Jacob “I AM WITH YOU wherever you go” (Genesis 28:15).
Joseph “The LORD WAS WITH HIM and caused all that he did to prosper” (Genesis 39:3).
Moses “I WILL BE WITH YOU” (Exodus 3:12).
Joshua “Just as I have been with Moses, I WILL BE WITH YOU, I will not fail or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5).
Gideon “Surely I WILL BE WITH YOU, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” (Judges 6:16)
Isaiah “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I WILL BE WITH YOU…(Isaiah 43:1-2)
Jeremiah “Do not be afraid...for I AM WITH YOU, and I will rescue you declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 1:8)