God Encounters: Emmanuel

This morning, we’re continuing our message series entitled, “God Encounters.” As we look forward to what this Christmas season holds, we also look ahead to what God has planned for us in the midst of it.

So far, we were challenged to seek after God encounters in the midst of our daily routines as to avoid missing them as Jacob almost did and proclaiming, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” We were reminded that God has a reason for the seasons of waiting in our lives and He has given us hope as a placeholder until we’ve received what He has promised.

We learned how God’s word is failproof. It may not come to pass when or how we think it ought to, but God’s word never fails! Last week, we learned how humility was a key aspect in the entire Christmas story and how it can bring us into powerful God encounters. We were challenged to be considerate of those around us and to look for ways to serve them just as Jesus did.

This week, just a few days before Christmas, we look to the greatest God encounter of all time; Emmanuel, God with us.

Speaking of it now being just a few days before Christmas… Guys, if you you’re looking for a last-minute gift idea for your wife, here’s an idea.

* Pandora Commercial Skit *

Just like the jelly of the month club, it’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year round!

In all seriousness, though, we gather together this morning to remember the greatest gift ever given that keeps on giving for all eternity! From the very time that Adam and Eve chose their own way over God’s, His plan of salvation was gradually revealed and implemented. His own Son planned to step down from Heaven and wrap Himself in flesh completely humbling Himself.

This gift was prophesied about long before Jesus was born in the flesh:

Isaiah 9:6-7
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.

About 750 year later, this prophecy came to pass. The greatest gift ever given was knitted together within the womb of a young teenage virgin girl, Mary, engaged to be married to Joseph. 9 months later, the time for this gift’s unwrapping arrived. Now, we can read through the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2, but we’re going to get a fresh perspective on this account given a few years ago by the Southland Christian Church.

* Christmas According to Kids *

Luke 2:1-20
Good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger lies the greatest gift ever; Jesus Christ!

In our ever-darkening world, everyone can use some good news to brighten up our days! Jesus, the light of the world, guiding us home through this rough country full of trials and tribulations. Jesus, our anchor of hope who keeps us confidently seated in the heavenly realms while we also continue to walk through this adventurous life full of unknowns.

The birth of Jesus was described in this way:

Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 4:16; John 1
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”

Jesus, the light of the world. He came in a most unexpected way; in complete humility. Mary, a young teenage girl engaged to be married to Joseph had the course of her life radically redirected as she said those simple words to the angel, “may God’s word to me be fulfilled.” She alone in all of mankind’s history and future carried God in the flesh within her own womb. Talk about God encounters!

Jesus still today is radically transforming lives from the inside out. He is still able and willing to set the course of our lives. Paul said it this way:

Ephesians 3:16-21
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Still to this day, our lives can be full of the fullness of God. We can throw off our cares, anxieties, doubts, fears, and every single thing that weighs us down and trade them in for the joy, peace, and love of God. He simply extends the invitation to us and awaits our response. He, who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, will fill our lives with His very Presence through the Holy Spirit.

The infilling of the Holy Spirit is one of the greatest God encounters we could ever have. It enables us to walk through life together with God never alone. It all became possible because Jesus chose to step down out of Heaven and wrap Himself in flesh. The King of kings and Lord of lords humbled Himself to become just like you and I. He experienced our weaknesses and temptations and yet overcame them all.

In a manger in a stable in Bethlehem, light broke through the darkness in such an incredible way that we would never have to walk in darkness ever again. The light of Christ could fill our lives and shine into the lives of those around us so that all can know God in all of His fullness. Not only is this the greatest gift that one could ever receive, but it truly is the gift that keeps on giving!

Psalm 103:1-5
1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Today, don’t miss out on the opportunity and invitation that Jesus is extending to you and I. Forget not all of His benefits. He’s ready and willing to take us just as we are and do an amazing, miraculous work in and through our lives. He’ll transform us from the inside out into His plans and purposes which far exceed what we can ask or imagine. He is able to heal us completely, forgive us totally, redeem fully, strengthen immeasurably, and satisfy generously all of our desires with good things.

He promises to return once again. This time, He won’t come in humility as a helpless babe, but as King of Kings coming to put an end to the current order of things and to make all things new where there will be no more sickness, no more mourning, no more pain, no more crying, and no more death.

Christ our savior is born! He’s alive! He lived the perfect, sinless life and then willingly gave it up for you and I. He paid the price for our sins and rose three days later to defeat both sin and death. He now freely offers us life and life abundantly. He loves you so much that it was His joy to pioneer the way of your salvation. He offers to each and every one of us this morning the greatest gift that we could ever receive; the fullness of His salvation and the infilling of His very Presence!