Emmanuel [Christmas Eve 12-24-2021]



One of my favorite hymns of Advent is, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."


O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer our spirits by thine advent here; and drive away the shades of night, and pierce the clouds and bring us light! Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!


I love this song. It is rich with truth from God's Word.


Let's begin with a little history. This song was written sometime between the 8th and 12th centuries. It was originally written in Latin. It belonged to a style of music known as "O Antiphons." What that means is they would either sing or chant these phrases, all of which started with the letter "O." That's how "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" came into being.


We're going to focus on one word from the song. Emmanuel. If you're

taking notes, you might want to write down what it means:

God With Us

Let's say that together…God With Us.


How many times have you prayed, God be with them? Or God be with us? Or God be with me? If you're going on a trip, perhaps you pray, God be with us as we travel. {Before plane takes off, I add, "God help is all."} We say it for a lot of situations and circumstances.


We pray it a lot. So what does it mean? Matthew 1:21-23 gives us some direction:

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" {which means, God with us}.

God with us. When you hear that, if it were in a movie, the music would get really dramatic. That was huge news for people to hear. Earth shattering news. 2,000 years ago, people knew when the Hebrew Scriptures talked about the holiness of God, it meant you couldn't look on His purest essence and live. Moses had to hide his face when God passed by because no person could handle even the reflection of the glory of God. They knew that when they said God's glory dwelt in the temple, nobody was allowed in the temple, except for the high priest, when once a year he would enter to make atonement for the sins of the people. Even then, they had to tie a rope to his leg, so if he died in the holy presence of God, they could pull him out. God is beyond our ability to comprehend Him.


God has reached down to us. The Creator and Sustainer of the universe is a relational God who stripped Himself of His glory and became like us, in the form of a baby, who was fully God and fully man, yet without sin. Here's how John 1:1 puts it, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." And then, verse 14 adds, "And 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." Did you catch the difference? We see God's glory and live. Why? Because the gospels look at everything through the cross. We can now stand in the presence of the One, True, and Holy God because Jesus died on the cross. Because of the cross, when God looks at us, the first thing He sees is Jesus' sacrificial death. Our sin is covered by the death of Jesus. That's

why we can see God's glory and live.


Some of you are in a tough spot right now. You're facing a hardship and you need to know you are not alone.


Some of you are facing an empty chair this year. Someone is not here for Christmas. It could be death, or divorce, or distance, and it just wrecks you. You need some good news.


Some of you are facing relationship tensions. You wish they would go

away for the holidays, {I'm talking about the tensions, not some of the

relations} but they never do. You could use some good news. Some of

you might be thinking, I've done some pretty bad things in my life, why can't I trust the good news enough to finally let go of the bad news?


Regardless of what's going on your life right now, I want you to be able to celebrate Christmas with the full knowledge that God was, is, and will always be with you, no matter what. For God so loved the world…the Bible says. God is with you, no matter what. God seeks you, searches for you. Remember Jesus told the story of the shepherd who went searching for one lost sheep. In Christ, God has come to rescue you. God is with you. If you believe that, you will never be the same.


Let's break Emmanuel…God With Us, down into three thoughts.


First, in Luke 1:28, we read, "And he came to her and said, 'Greetings, O

favored one, the Lord is with you!'" That's the very first thought the angel

conveys to the girl. God knew it was the first thing Mary needed to hear.

The angel says…and let's say it together:

The Lord is With You


Some of you have tried to push the hurt away, because it's Christmas Eve, but the hurt still lingers. God is with you in a powerful way. The Bible says our God is the God of all comfort who comforts us in our trials. The Bible uses a Greek work for comfort that means "to come along side of." That's what God does. No matter what you are experiencing or going through right now, God is with you…He has come alongside of you. And that promise changes everything. Christmas means Jesus is always with you.

Earlier in the year I shared the story of a young boy, about 9 or 10 years old, who saved his toddler sister's life. She was about to be attacked by a ferocious stray dog. He covered his sister's body with his own, taking the brunt of the attack. As he said later, "If someone was going to die, it should have been me, not my little sister." His body bears the scars from over 90 stitches. He is scarred because she was saved. He was with her to

save her from certain death.


Here's the thing. When you understand that the God of the universe, the

All-Knowing, All-powerful, Ever-Present God, when you understand that

that God is with us, it changes everything. When you're lost, He is your guide. When you're hurting, He is with you as your friend. When you are in the middle of a trial, He is your comforter. When you're sick, He is your healer. When you're weak, our God is your strength. When you're trapped

in sin, God is your Savior. And when you die, He is your eternity.


Second - if you're taking notes you might want to write this down:

Our God Was With Us

Let's say that together…

Here's what I mean. When you look over your life, you see God in the

rear-view mirror. You look back over a series of events, you see God in the chaos. God was with you, all along. You are moving toward spiritual maturity when you do that more often than not. In other words, if, instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you remember God's grace from the past, it

will move you into a more positive present and future.

There was another Joseph, this time in the Old Testament. He had a lot of mean, jealous, older brothers. They sold him into slavery. Who could

recover from that, right? How could you ever get over that?


After a series of events, Joseph rose to a position where he could save lots

of people from a terrible famine. And here's where God was through all of

this. Genesis 39:21 says:

But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

Where was God? He was with Joseph. You look back, and you see that's where God was. He was with Joseph. God was with you. Think back to a time when you were hurting. Things weren't going right. The Bible says, even though you might not have seen it, God was there. God was helping, comforting, bringing other people into your life, pushing you up and out of whatever bad place you were in. Though you couldn't feel it in the moment, God was there.


Third:

God Will Be With You

Let's say that together…


No matter what you go through or experience in life, God will be with you.

Think about Mary. She's young. Probably 14, give or take a year or two.

Imagine if she could have seen the future. When the angel said, "The Lord

will be with you," imagine if she could have seen the future. If she could

have seen it, she would have said, "The Lord will be with me when I conceive this child." She would have said, "God will be with me when I tell Joseph." She would have said, "God will be with us when we have to travel 100 miles to register for the census." She would have said, "The Lord will be with me when I give birth in a stable and place my baby in a feeding trough." She would have said, "God will be with me when my son is 12 and I can't find him, but I will eventually find him at the temple, asking all kinds of questions." She would have said, "The Lord will be with me when I'm at a wedding reception and my son turns water into wine. And God will be with me when my son is put on trial and crucified." And Mary would have said, "God will be with me when they take his dead body down from the

cross, and God will be with me when he rises on the third day."


Mary knew that no matter what happens, God will be with her because of Emmanuel. That's why Paul writes:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

- Romans 8:38-39

There is nothing that can separate you from God. Not your fears, or your doubts, or your insecurities, or your brokenness, or your failures, or your mistakes, or sickness, or broken dreams…there is nothing that can separate your from the love of God. Why? Because of Jesus…because of Emmanuel…God is always with you. You are never alone. Never.

In Revelation 1:8, Jesus said:

I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Because of Christmas, you are never alone. The angel said, "Fear not." Why? Because God is with us. Emmanuel…God with you.


Never forget the hallmark of our New Testament faith:

SALVATION BY GRACE ALONE, THROUGH FAITH ALONE, IN CHRIST ALONE.

God saves us by His grace. We receive His grace when we put our faith in Christ as the One who died for our sins and rose from the dead on our behalf. We cannot work for our salvation nor earn it through any human merit. We receive salvation as a gift from God. God gets all the glory and honor and praise and we receive the gift of eternal life in Christ.


O come, Thou Key of David, come And open wide our heavenly home Make safe the way that leads on high And close the path to misery Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel


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