[reprinted from December 12, 2012]
All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)
Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:17-20 (The Message)
Look at these two Scriptures! Go ahead and read them one more time. Isaiah, a prophet who lived over 700 years before Jesus, is inspired by God to deliver His promise that God will come and live with his people. And then Jesus, that prophesied LORD and risen Messiah, says He, God will be with us every day, every day through eternity. Do I understand what that means?
I just went to Facebook and took a scan at the entries that some of my 300+ friends have posted in the last few days. There are wonderfully cute pictures of children, requests for prayer for themselves or loved ones who are ill or going through a rough time, links to articles about war or rumors of war and economic ‘cliffs’, and invitations to various church events, Christmas concerts and parties. And in every entry I am so very grateful for Jesus’ promise that He is with us. Do you have doubts that God is there in all of this?
Matthew 18. Jesus says that children are important in His Kingdom. He said we are to come to Him with the same faith as a child has. I believe Jesus approves of anything that I do that pours love on a child, encourages a child, or empowers a child to be all that he/she can be in their life, in His Kingdom.
Matthew 14, Luke 22, John 11. Many may wonder where Jesus is when suffering in its many forms and war come. In Matthew 14, I read that Jesus was told of his cousin John’s death and withdrew. He took time to grieve and talk to His Father. Then He saw the 5,000 waiting for Him and He had compassion. In Luke 22, Jesus asked for ‘a pass’ on the suffering that was to come. He wrestled in this spiritual suffering to the point of sweating blood. In John 11, He wept with Mary and Martha as they grieved over the death of their brother, Lazarus. From my own experience, I know that Jesus is right there with me, through every step. From the day that I knew my son had cancer, through every treatment, every surgery, every decision, every dark night, even his death, Jesus was there. He was there in every moment of joy and printed it on my mind. He was there with all my questions, over and over again. And He has been there to wipe every tear.
John 2. Jesus enjoys a good party, even a wedding. The relationship that Jesus forges in three years with these twelve men had to involve some talk around the evening fires that included stories and laughter. The commitment to the mission that they are given including the persecution is forged in the trust and faith that is built during those three years and sealed with the Holy Spirit. God was with them every day and in all ways.
There is no greater comfort to me than Jesus’ promise that He is with me and is not going to leave me no matter what comes into my life. He is here when I am hunched over the ledgers trying to stretch my budget yet a little more. There as I watch a news report about a war or hurricane and know that there are people who will suffer. He is there laughing when I Skype my grandchildren and they tell me a silly story and there holding me when the call ends and a tear or two falls because another holiday has gone by.
God is with us. That is also who Jesus is to me. I am humbly grateful for His faithfulness and great love.
Emmanuel written and sung by Amy Grant