Immanuel, God with Us

Although as mothers we may think about what it would be like to have a moment of peace and quiet to ourselves, imagine living with someone and not communicating with them at all.  I am not talking about walking around on eggshells, like you would with someone who is an abuser.  OR giving someone the silent treatment to prove a point when you’re upset.

I mean really loving the person but for days and weeks on end not taking the time to talk with them.  Being physically present with them, but completely ignoring them, acting as if they don’t exist and are not even there.  Talking about how much your partner means to you, how much you love them, but not taking time to talk with them. Or maybe just getting together with a group of people and talking about your partner.  Allowing someone else to speak to your partner but being content with that being enough. You can imagine the result of this behavior in any relationship.

When I think about intimacy, my mind immediately goes to my husband.  After twenty-four years of marriage and thirty-two years together, we can often occupy the same space without communicating.  In part, it is our personalities; the other is the familiarity that we have with each other.  However, there have been very few days in our marriage where we have not talked and the few that have passed without communication one of us was traveling. Even before my relationship with my husband though is my relationship with God.  God designed each one of us to be with Him.    

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:22-23

Immanuel – God with us. 

With is defined as in the midst of, amid, denoting association, union, accompaniment.

We often speak of God’s presence, we sing songs about it, we pray for it, but I question if we really want to pursue it.  From the very beginning of the Bible and all the way through God was with His children. He showed up just in time, in just the right way.

  • His presence hovered over the waters. Genesis 1:2
  • He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve Genesis 3:8
  • His presence shut Noah, his family and the animals in the boat and protected them during the flood.  Genesis 7:16
  • He was in the blessing of Abraham. Genesis 12:2-3
  • God wrestled with Jacob. Genesis 32:28
    His presence allowed Joseph to understand prophetic dreams Genesis 37, 40, & 41
  • He met Moses in a burning bush Exodus 3:6
  • He was with the Israelites as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Exodus 13:21
  • He spoke through a donkey to warn Baalam,  Numbers 22:22-34
  • He showed up for Samson in strength. Judges 16:17
  • His presence delivered David from the bear, the lion, a giant and gave him victory over his other enemies.  I Samuel 17:37 and 1 Chronicles 18:13
  • He was with Solomon giving him wisdom, great wealth and honor. 1 Kings 3:11-14
  • He was in the furnace with the three Israelite boys. Daniel 3:25
  • He shut the mouths of the lions for Daniel. Daniel 6:22
  • He spoke through the prophets (Isaiah through Malachi)
  • Then just as prophesied, He became flesh and walked among man.  John 1:14
  • He impregnated Mary. Luke 1:31
  • You can read through the Gospels and see Jesus teaching the disciples healing the sick, lame, deaf and delivering the demon possessed.

I read these stories, and I wished I could have walked with Him like Peter, James and John.  Have you thought about what that would have been like?  Then I remembered it didn’t keep them by His side. They only lived with Jesus in the flesh for three years, I have a benefit they only received after Jesus’ death.  I have Holy Spirit living within me.  As believers we have Holy Spirit within us.

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

I do not know about you, but I take my body everywhere.  While there are times, I wish it was a smaller temple, I still know it hosts Holy Spirit. 

So do we really have a revelation about Immanuel.  Is it just a name we think about at Christmas, or do we realize the God of all creation is with us?  Do we take time to consider God is not just as Omnipresent, someone who is everywhere, all the time. He is a personal God.  Isaiah 43:1-7 reminds us that He is a God that is really with us.

Israel, the Lord who created you says, “Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you.
When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. For I am the Lord your God, the holy God of Israel, who saves you. I will give up Egypt to set you free; I will give up Ethiopia and Seba. I will give up whole nations to save your life, because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor. Do not be afraid—I am with you! “From the distant east and the farthest west I will bring your people home. I will tell the north to let them go and the south not to hold them back. Let my people return from distant lands, from every part of the world. They are my own people, and I created them to bring me glory.”

While this was written about the Israelites, an encouragement while they were in captivity, we have been adopted into God’s family.  He does not want us to be held captive by our past or the lies of the enemy.  He wants to speak and remind us that He is with us, just as He was with the Israelites.  Those seven short verses remind us that God created us.   He saved us. He called us.  We are His.  He is with us.  He will protect us.  He is our God.  He set us free.  We are precious to Him.  He loves us.  He honors us.  We are His own.  He created us for glory.  When I read this, I am overwhelmed by the truth that He is with us and for us. 

It is easy to focus on the us.  But God is not just with us as a whole.  He is with me.  He is with each one of you.  As His children, we get to choose to stop and acknowledge His presence.  We need to invite Him into our daily lives, our everyday decisions.  He wants to help us carry the load, but we must turn to Him with it.  Instead, we often retreat in shame and guilt.  We look at our problems and think they are too small to bother Him with.  We look at ourselves with accomplishment when we “don’t have to bother Him.” And yet, more than anything He wants us to rely on Him, for everything.  He wants us to seek Him.  He wants us to draw near to Him.  He wants us to stay connected to Him, to abide in Him.

So how do we really take the time to really press into Immanuel?  We give Him first place and end all things with Him. I heard a message by Pastor Kris Jackson many years ago that really stuck with me about keeping God first.  So, I will start with the acronym FIRST

F is for finances.  Proverbs 3:9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the first and best part of all your income.

God wants to be with us in our financial decisions.  That means we have to acknowledge Him with our finances.  We give the tithe and then we count our blessings when we can give an offering to support other ministries, organizations or causes.  Look at your expenses for a month, track everything.  What part does God play in your finances.  Do you let Him instruct you with what you have?  Are you giving a tithe?  Are you giving more when led? This is one people like to complain about, but if we understand all that comes with honoring God with our finances, we want to be the giver. 

I would encourage everyone to go back and really study Malachi 3:8-10

Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.

You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

I  -Interests Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. 

God wants to be with us in the things that interest us.   Do you press in to know more about Him?  Do you desire to read His Word?  Do our hobbies and extracurricular activities honor Him?  He wants to be part of every area of our life.  He wants more than just a morning devotion, prayer, worship, and a church service.  He is with us; He wants to be included in the things that interest us. 

R – Relationships 2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

Our influence in relationships should being glory to God.  When it does not, we are unequally yoked.  That is not just about marriage, but in our other relationships also.  There is a theory that most people have only five really close friends.  Who you are around influences what you are thinking, saying, doing and becoming — this sets the course of your life and affects the decisions and choices that you make daily.  According to research by social psychologist Dr David McClelland, “the people you habitually associate with determine as much as 95 per cent of your success or failure in life.”  Consider the five people you are closest to, that you really share life with, not just spend time with, like at work.  Do those people draw you closer to God or pull you away from Him?  Do we allow God to be with us in our relationships?

S – Stuff Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

It is easy to let stuff consume us.  We like to have the latest fashion, beauty products, electronics, books, décor, or anything else that qualifies as stuff.  Maybe as moms we want to make sure that our kids have all the things we didn’t.  It is okay to have stuff, as long as the stuff doesn’t have us.  I think about King Solomon, he had a lot of stuff.  I won’t read it but some of his stuff is detailed in 1 Kings 10:14-25, we, like Solomon just need to make sure that God is more important in our lives than our stuff.  Solomon didn’t ask for wealth, he asked for wisdom.  God can be with us in our stuff if we seek Him first.  If God asked you today to give away some of your stuff, would you be willing?  What if it was just to bless someone else, even though you just got it?  Is getting new stuff on your mind more than blessing God or someone else?  Those are good indications of if your stuff has you, or you just have stuff.

T – Time Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to gain, And a time to lose;

A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time of war, And a time of peace.

It isn’t as important what piece of your day you give to Him, but that He has time in your day.  Time that is just for you and Him.  The time can include others, but not always.  He wants you to want to spend time with Him.  You would not expect your marriage relationship to be healthy if you never had one on one time with your partner.  So how do you spend your time?  Do you allow God to occupy time in your day?  Does He take first place, or does He get the left overs?  As you develop the discipline of spending time with Him, He will develop your passion for more time with Him.

And then God wants to be with us in the END.

E – Eternal 1 Peter 5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you

I know sometimes I lose sight of God being with me when I am going though trials and am amid the battle.  But He is with us even then, working out things for His eternal glory.  If we keep our focus on the eternal, we can remember that God is working out all things for our good even as we walk through the trials.  What do you need to do to remind yourself there could be an eternal purpose to what you are walking though?

N – NightPsalm 16:7 I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.

God is with us through the night.  Many people tell me they have problems sleeping, they wake between 2 and 3 a.m.  They just want to sleep through the night.  My advice is the same as what was given to me when that started happening to me.  Get into prayer and the Word.  If the enemy wakes you, he will let you go back to sleep.  If it is God, He wants to instruct you.  You may be interceding in prayer, or you may be getting a Word that someone needs, but He will use the time to prepare you for what is to come.  Let Him counsel you. I have always found that when God keeps me up, I am still rested for the day.  Do you find yourself waking in the night? Purpose to use the opportunity to acknowledge God is with you.  Ask Him to show you what to do. 

D – Day Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

We can remember that God is with us every day.  As the day starts, before you even put your feet on the ground, acknowledge He is with you.  Praise Him.  Rejoice for the day ahead.  Ask Him to guide your steps, protect your family, and to provide you opportunities to glorify Him and bring someone else closer to Him.  Choose to be glad, it doesn’t take any more effort than starting your day with complaints.  Ask yourself what you have to be glad about? You can start with He is with you!

I encourage you, take time to look at how God wants to be with you each day.  Don’t let a day go by where you have not talked with Him and really spent some time with Him.  Get in your Bible, pray, praise.  Yes, go to church to, but don’t just limit God to the four walls of the building.  Invite God into the little details of your life.  Let Him be with you in your finances, your interests, your relationships, your stuff, and your time.  You will not regret it.  Keep your eyes on the eternal, knowing that God is with you in the battles.  Start your day with Him and let Him counsel you in the night.  Let Him be not just Lord in our life, but Lord of our life. It is not us having more of the Holy Spirit, but rather the Holy Spirit having more of us that allows Him to show up more in my life. God is always with us but let’s make sure that we are also taking time to be with our Immanuel.

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