Sermons

Summary: Heightening your ability to enjoy the presence of God promised through Emmanuel, God "with us."

Practicing God’s Presence – Isaiah 7:14 & Matthew 1:22-23

Second in four-part series, "What Christ Came to Give"

Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us]. Isaiah 7:14 (Amp)

All this took place that it might be fulfilled which the Lord had spoken through the prophet, Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel--which, when translated, means, God with us. Matthew 1:22-23 (Amp)

We’re in the Christmas series, "What Christ Came to Give." We’re looking at ancient prophecies about Jesus and His birth and how they still have something valuable to say to us centuries later. It’s wonderful how amazingly accurate the prophets of God were at predicting the specifics of Christ’s birth. We humans, on the other hand, are not so good at predicting the future.

Here are some predictions made by trusted individuals that didn’t pan out.

Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM in 1943, said, "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."

Popular Mechanics magazine in 1949 made this prediction: "Computers in the future will weigh only 1.5 tons." (How’d you like to lug one of those into your home or office?)

The Decca Recording Company made a big mistake when they made this prediction in 1962. "We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." The band with whom they passed up signing a contract with was The Beatles.

Contrast those poor forecasts of man with the success of the prophets of God. God’s prophets foretold the precise town of Christ’s birth - that His mother would be a virgin - that He would come from the tribe of Judah and family of David – and more. They not only revealed specific details of His birth, but also of His life, death and resurrection.

Because of their pinpoint accuracy on Christ’s birth, we can trust everything else the prophets said about Jesus. When they tell us what Christ came to give, we can rest assured that these things are ours if we receive them. And that’s the key: opening the gifts. Even the best gifts must be received. So in this series we’re unwrapping the presents God gave us in His Son.

Last week we appraised the gift of HOPE. One of the things Christ came to give us is HOPE. Against the backdrop of the seemingly hopeless situation in ancient Judah, God promised HOPE in a child. Not only was this hope for ancient Judah but it was for all of us. Remember we read what the Bible says in Isaiah 9:6. "For TO US a child is born, TO US a Son is GIVEN…" In these current series we’re talking about what we were GIVEN when God sent His Son.

Today we’re going to look at the wonderful gift of GOD’S PRESENCE that can be ours because of the birth of Christ.

This is the second thing that Christ came to give us that we want to investigate further. Christ was born as a baby in Bethlehem so that we could have God WITH US in a very unique and personal way.

First let’s clarify what we’re considering. The Bible clearly teaches that God is present everywhere. So what’s the significance of Isaiah’s prophecy, reiterated in Matthew’s Good News Account, that, upon Emmanuel’s arrival, God would be WITH US? Wasn’t God already with us since He is present everywhere?

To answer that question let me remind you that the Bible says that there are two ways of living: there’s life with God, and life without Him. Jesus came to make it possible for us to live with God’s friendship, with His companionship, with His personal guidance, watch-care, and love, evident in every moment of every day.

You see God is everywhere present but many people don’t invite Him into their lives as their intimate friend.

Perhaps I can explain it by telling you about a book by British photographer Martin Parr called "Bored Couples."

[PHOTOS FROM BOOK ON SCREEN]

It contains photos of couples sitting "together" but they don’t look like they are enjoying being together. They look bored. At least at the moment the picture was snapped they weren’t really "with" one another.

Its one thing for God to be everywhere present. It’s another thing for Him to be a vital part of your life. Jesus came so God could be with you in a personal way. Not just sitting at the table but interacting with you. Not leaving you with a bored life but giving you a full life.

Having God "with us" fulfills what Jesus meant when He said, "I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness." John 10:10 (GNT)

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