HE IS WITH US

*Audio is below.  The written message below is drastically different than the audio.  Also, the first 6 minutes is a beautiful moment of worship captured with music by Mr. Schafer Gray.  The song is “Sinking Deep” by Hillsong Young and Free.  We hope you are blessed and come see us every Sunday at 8:55am!

1 KINGS 8.56–61 NIV

“Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us. May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors. And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each dayʼs need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.”

 

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We’re looking at God the Father’s love for us this Advent season.  Last week we looked at what God gave, which was and is His Son, Jesus Christ.  We saw that Christ gives us life if we have faith and that through faith we are made sons and daughters of God.  This message is the real message of Christmas, that God brings salvation in Jesus.

Today we look at the phrase HE IS WITH US.  God’s desire is to be with His people but first He must rescue His people from the grip of sin and eternal death.  The most significant testimony to all of this is captured in Joseph’s experience, the one who would father the child, as found in Matthew’s gospel.  It goes like this, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means ‘God with us’).”

The “God with us” part is so important because that was the desire of both God and His people Israel from the very start.  God wants to close the gap that sin has caused.  His love is for His people.  The suffering that sin introduced to the world broke the heart of God.  And so He has set out to make things right.  In His infinite wisdom, God chose to come to this world as the Son of God and live among us, as us, and draw us into Himself.

Scripture records many examples of God desiring to be with us.  But the Scripture that touched my heart this week is actually an example of God’s people desiring that God come and be with them.  In the book of 1 Kings, King Solomon dedicates the temple and its worship to God.  His hope and prayer is one of the best I’ve read in Scripture.  Listen to this…

What is so beautiful about being on this side of Jesus life, death, and resurrection is that the “may God” or the “may He” of Solomon and the entire Old Testament has become the “He is.”  In Jesus, the relationship and salvation of God is no longer a hope or a prayer but a living reality.  We have a confidence that Solomon never truly had because God has now reconciled all things unto Himself through Jesus’ work.  No longer is it “May God be with us.”  It is now “God is with us”

We spend a lot of time envious of the works and wonders that are displayed in the Old Testament times.  But there is no greater work or wonder than having the presence of God taking up residence in our hearts.  John 14.23 comes into play at this point, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”  The promise has become an actual experience.  Something Solomon longed for is now something we get to have.  And the life of obedience and devotion to God that Solomon prayed for becomes instantly possible through the Spirit being poured into our hearts through faith.

Through Christ we now have peace with God.  Through the presence of God in our hearts there is peace amidst our sin-induced life.  Jesus is the Prince of peace, come to bring the desire of God’s heart to pass.  But that peace is costly, as it only came through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  Through His death our sin was paid for.  But through His resurrection, we have the assurance of eternal life.

I hope that you can see all of this today.  That as we read the Bible, we see God’s chasing after us; that we hear the call to come home to God; that we have a place made for us with Him through Jesus Christ.  Whatever you are holding back today, stop.  Whatever you are waiting for today, stop.  If there is anything keeping you from God, let it go and let the peace of Christ surpass your fear and your doubt and let God be with you.  For He is with us.

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