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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. David Jeremiah » David Jeremiah - God is With Us

David Jeremiah - God is With Us

David Jeremiah - God is With Us
David Jeremiah - God is With Us
TOPICS: Emmanuel, Christmas

It was 1944 when this happened. The German city in which Dietrich Ritschl was living was bombed, and thousands of people were killed, and after the bombing stopped, Dietrich was lying on a bench in the railroad station that was serving like a makeshift hospital, and he was looking up through the partially destroyed roof as the fires were burning all over the city. He caught a glimpse of an inscription that was carved into one of the remaining sections that was still intact in the ceiling, and the inscription read as follows: "Beyond the stars, there must live a gracious Father".

Lying there, looking at that inscription, he thought, "I don't want such a God. I do not want a God who is beyond the stars. I need a God who's here. I need a God who's present, a God who's available, a God who knows and understands my situation," and while we understand the transcendence of God and his majesty and his greatness, a God who does not reveal himself to us is unknowable and ultimately unlovable, and we don't want such a God. Let's be honest. If the only God we have is beyond the stars up there somewhere where we cannot ever reach or know, he is of no value to us whatsoever. We do not want a God who only dwells beyond the stars. We want a God who dwells with us and who understands what it is like to live as we live here on this earth, especially at times like this. We want someone who understands our pain and our suffering. We want a God who is near, and that is what we have in Jesus Christ.

That is the wonderful message of Christmas, that God has come into the midst of our suffering to help us face the challenges of life, and the Christmas name for our Lord that reminds us of this wonderful truth is Emmanuel. Say that with me: "Emmanuel". And God has written his name only three times in the Scripture, once in Isaiah 7:14, where we read, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son. You shall call His name Immanuel". You will also find that name in Isaiah chapter 8 and verse 8, and Matthew 1:23 records a quotation from Isaiah. "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, 'God with us.'"

In Matthew's account, the name "Emmanuel" is given by the angel who is announcing the birth to Joseph, and as you probably noticed, the angel was quoting the prophet Isaiah from the Old Testament. The prophecy by Isaiah was given when the southern kingdom of Judah was in a lot of danger. The kings of Syria and Israel had joined forces against Judah, and they were threatening to destroy Jerusalem. At that time, the king of Judah was a man by the name of Ahaz, and on one occasion, Ahaz went out to secure the safety of the city's water supply, and he was met there unexpectedly by Isaiah the prophet, and Isaiah assured the king that he didn't need to worry about Syria or Israel, but Ahaz didn't believe him. And so, the Lord told the king to ask him for a sign, but the King refused.

Isaiah 7:12, "Ahaz said, 'I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!' And Isaiah responded the king saying, 'Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but you will also weary my God? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.'" Now, there's a lot of history that should be inserted right here, and we don't have time to go into all of that, but let me just remind you that the name for Jesus, Emmanuel, was given to a king at a time when he was afraid for his life and for the life of his people. Have you ever thought deeply about what it means when the Bible says, "God is with us"?

There are so many thoughts wrapped up in that idea. It would be impossible to talk about them all in one sermon. It's an idea that only God could have originated, and it's a truth that he could only bring forward himself. One of the men that I have so admired as a pastor, from when I was a young pastor to being an older pastor, is in heaven now. His name is W. Criswell, and he was the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas for many years, a great student of the Word of God. Here's what he wrote about Emmanuel. He said, "God is with us. He shares our labors. He knows the dull, drab drudgery of life's common tasks, the heavy misery of backbreaking work. He shares our trials. He shares our limitations. He was poor once with no place to put his head. He was hungry, grateful to the converted women who ministered to him of their substance. He was thirsty, begging water from the Samaritan woman. He was weary and exhausted, and He bore our sorrows and our heartaches. For instance, if there was a death in a home, it brought tears to his eyes, and Jesus wept. When he looked upon the crippled, the leper, the blind, the helpless, his heart was moved to compassion. Anybody could approach the Lord Jesus and be welcome, whether they were poor or weak or sinners. God is with us in all love and infinite blessing. God knows what we're going through, and God is with us".

It's wonderful to think of that, but perhaps you're thinking, "Well, that was a great Bible truth. I'm sure the people back in the Bible days really enjoyed that, but does that work for us"? The last thing Jesus said before he went back to heaven after his sojourn on this earth was this, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age". So, Emmanuel's not just a Bible truth. It's a truth for today. It's a truth until Jesus comes back. He is with us always. Let us not forget that Emmanuel is an eternal presence. He's with you. He's with me. I love this name, probably more than anything else, because I have needed to know this so many times in my life. There's a lot of times in my life when I don't know what to do except to cry out to God, and when you cry out to God, it is so incredibly important to know he is here. He hears us. He knows. Not only does he answer our prayer, he knows what to do about our requests.

So, God is with us is a really important truth, and I'd like to take just a few minutes today and give you four or five reasons why we should really embrace this truth, especially now, and here's the first one. We need to know that God is with us in our service. You know, serving the Lord is the most wonderful thing you can do apart from becoming a Christian. To be called to serve the Lord in some special way is the greatest thing you can ever know, but sometimes even in the serving of the Lord, whether it's in a class or whatever you do, however God uses you, it can become wearisome as well. People have served and served and served and sometimes your body is just weary, and you look up and you got all this stuff to do and you're just tired, and I wanna remind you that God has specifically, throughout the Old and the New Testament, given his promises uniquely and wonderfully and purposefully to people who are involved in serving him. Let's just take, for instance, Moses.

Moses had that incredible experience with the burning bush, and God called him and said, "Moses, I want you to go and talk to Pharaoh and tell him, 'Let my people go.' And Moses said to the Lord, 'O, my Lord, I'm not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I'm slow of speech and I'm slow of tongue.' So, the Lord said to him, 'Who has made man's mouth?'" That's a good start. "Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, Moses". I love this. "And I will be with your mouth. I will be with your mouth". Did you ever know anybody that you wish God was with their mouth? Maybe you should suggest this verse to them that they need to pray this prayer, "God, be with my mouth". It'd clean some stuff up, wouldn't it? But God said to Moses, "You don't have to worry about what I've called you to do 'cause I'm gonna be with you, not just with you personally. You're worried about what you're gonna say, I'll be with your mouth".

And then, of course, there was Joshua. He was Moses's successor. Joshua was given this incredible assignment to go in and settle the Promised Land for God's people, and he was afraid. The Canaanites were very vicious people, cruel people, and God said to Joshua, "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go". How many of you know how important it is to know that God is with you? And then there's Jeremiah, one of the great, great personalities of the Bible, maybe my most favorite personality of the Bible: Jeremiah. I can't understand why. The weeping prophet, he's called. One day God called to Jeremiah and told him he was gonna give him a role as a prophet. He was the go to speak to his people. And he said, "Jeremiah, before you leave, let me tell you how it's gonna turn out. Nobody's gonna listen to you, and nobody's gonna do what you say".

I mean, what an assignment. I think if God had called this Jeremiah like he called that Jeremiah, I probably wouldn't be here today. I mean, who wants to do that? But then God said to Jeremiah, "'Do not be afraid of their faces For I am with you to deliver you,' says the Lord". I'm just trying to make the point today, men and women, that when we go to serve the Lord, whatever it may be, in some formal position or some informal, everyday situation, we're all servants of the Lord. When we serve the Lord, God has promised that he goes with us. We don't have to do this by ourself, and frankly, if you try to pull this off on your own, you're gonna be very tired, discouraged, and frustrated, but when you have God as your partner and you go together and God is with you, it is a wonderful thing.

In late January of 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King received a threatening phone call at his house. He was in the midst of all of the battles that he was fighting for the freedom of his people. It was not the first bad message he'd received, but on this night, as his children and his wife lay sleeping, the weight of the Civil Rights Movement was too heavy. He decided that the risk was too great, and he began to map out an exit strategy. At midnight, he bowed his head over the kitchen table, and according to him, this is what he said. He said, "God, I'm afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they will fail. I'm at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I've come to the point where I cannot face it alone".

Martin Luther King Jr. said, in a moment that he can never forget, "I experienced the presence of God in my life. It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of the inner voice saying this, 'Martin, stand up for righteousness, stand up for truth, and God will be at your side forever,'" and I wonder if that's not a message we should know in our day today. So much is going wrong. So much is south. So much is beneath the surface, and we all know in our hearts there's something just not right, and the God of Martin Luther King says to us, "Stand up for righteousness, stand up for truth, and God will be with you forever".

God is with us when we serve him, and secondly, God is also with us in our struggles. We have at least two things that bind us together as Christians. Let me tell you what they are. First of all, we're all in the body of Christ. We're all in the... you may not like it. You may not think you should be in the same family with somebody, but if you're a Christian, if you know Jesus Christ, you're a part of God's forever family. We all have that in common, but here's the other thing we have in common, we all have problems. There's no such thing as getting from the cradle to the grave, or from the cross to the grave, without problems. The Bible doesn't tell us if you become a Christian, all your problems will go away.

Most of us discovered when we became Christians, we got some problems we didn't have before. We got some new problems. Everybody has problems, but in the group of people who have problems, there are two kinds of people: people who admit they have problems and people who don't, and if you don't admit you have problems, you got a problem. Friends, if you don't admit your struggles, you don't have any way of getting help. God isn't gonna swoop in and save you from your problems until you come and acknowledge that you have them, and the Bible says that he is always here for us when we're going through stuff. Here's what it says in Hebrews 13. "He Himself has said, Jesus has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; And I will not fear. What can man do to me?'" Or Psalm 27:1, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid"?

And if you don't know this one, write this down in your notebook. Here it is, Isaiah 41:10, "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand". That's who God is. That's what God does. He has come to help us in our struggles. Sometimes when we're going through stuff, we think God has left us, and we only think that because we're hurting so much, we don't know how to look around and find him, but I promise you, he's there. He's there with you in the midst of all of this, and when you don't know what to do, you know who you talk to. You know that God is there. He is with us in our service. He is with us in our struggles. He's with us in our sorrow. When you have God with you, it doesn't make the sorrow go away. I mean, a lot of people think if you become a Christian, your problems are reduced, and I've already said that isn't true.

When you become a Christian, you don't lose your sorrow, but here's what the Bible says. The Bible says you sorrow, not as others who have no hope. If you have a Christian sorrow, it's not despair. It's sadness. I mean, who isn't sad when you no longer have the opportunity to interact with somebody that you love, someone in your family, a grandparent, a parent, a child goes to heaven unexpectedly or in due time? And sorrow comes, but God is with us in our sorrow. He draws near to those who are hurting. That's what the Bible says. Especially when you're hurting, God draws near to you. Isaiah says it this way, "When you pass through the waters, I'll be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned Nor shall the flame scorch you".

When Jesus went back to heaven, the last thing he said to his disciples, "I know you're upset and you don't know what's gonna come next, but here's what I wanna tell you. When I go back to heaven, I want to send somebody in my place". He called him another comforter. Jesus was the first comforter, and he's gonna send him another comforter. So, when Jesus went back to heaven, he dispatched, 40 days later, the Holy Spirit into this world, and the Holy Spirit came to be with us. The Holy Spirit now is God with us, and the Holy Spirit is, in many respects, better than if Jesus had remained on this earth. Let me tell you why. If you study the life of Jesus when he was on this earth, he helped people because they came to him. Jesus was localized. He lived out his whole ministry in a very small country the size of Vermont, would you believe? He never went outside the borders.

So, if you needed Jesus to help you, you had to go where Jesus was, and that limited his ability to help everyone. So, when he went back to heaven, he put in Plan B, the second part of this, and he sent his Holy Spirit, and guess what. The Holy Spirit lives within every person who has put their trust in Jesus Christ. When you ask Christ to come and live within your heart, he comes to live within your heart, and the Spirit of Jesus comes to live within you as well. So, the Holy Spirit fills everyone. So, Jesus isn't in Palestine. Jesus isn't in Israel. Jesus is in you. He's in you and you. He's in your heart. He is with you. So, when you go through these issues, you don't have to go somewhere to get help. The someone who gives you help is within you himself. He is with you. He is the Holy Spirit, and I wanna tell you, when you're feeling alone, you're not.

If you're a Christian, you are never alone, and that's why Christians say this to me, "When I was going through that, Pastor, I never felt the presence of God like I did during that time". When everyone else is gone, God draws near and makes his presence known, and that is the wonderful truth of Emmanuel, and then God is with us in our stumbling, in our sinfulness. You say, "Well, I've sinned. God's gone. I messed up. I won't see God again". No, God doesn't leave you when you sin. That is both an encouragement and a conviction at the same time. You may think that if you do this, God'll leave you alone, but if you're a Christian, he's not gonna leave you alone. The Bible says that Christmas is about something very special, the forgiveness of sin. "She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sin".

Why did Jesus come to this earth as a baby, be born into human flesh, and walk among us for all these years without sin and go to the cross, hang between two thieves, give up his life? He did it because that was the only way that we could ever know God. Our sin had to be paid for, and the only one who could pay for it was someone who was like us and someone who was God. And so, Jesus came and he took that upon himself and paid the penalty for all our sin. 1 John 4:9 and 10 says it this way, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us He sent His Son to be the satisfaction for our sin". That's what the word "propitiation" means. So, when we mess up, when we do things we shouldn't do, don't get the idea that when you do that, God leaves you. He doesn't leave you. He may discomfort you. He may come after you. He may give you a bad time until you get right, but he doesn't leave you. He never leaves you.

A few years ago, someone gave me a book called "America's Least Competent Criminals". It's gotta be the funniest book I have in my library, in many respects. For instance, in 1989 in Lakeland, Florida, 14-aged delinquents decided to steal a car from a shopping mall. So, they go to this shopping mall, and they try to pick a car that they wanna steal, and they had stolen cars before, but in the middle of the shopping mall, they see a van and they'd never stolen a van before. So, they think they're gonna go for the big bucks and steal themselves a van. They're gonna steal this van, so they jimmy the lock in the van. They crawl in where they find four undercover police officers who are trying to figure out who was stealing all the cars from the mall. Isn't that a wonderful story? Here's the one that's even better.

In 1989 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, this guy is arrested on suspicion of being a criminal who's breaking in all the vending machines all over town and stealing all the money, and nobody can prove that it's him. They think they know it's him, but there's no cameras, and no one has caught him in the act, but he gets in a lot of trouble, and they bring him before the judge for an arraignment. The judge was pretty convinced that he did it, but lacking any significant proof, they decided to let him go on bond. They set his bond at $400, and the guy opened his backpack and paid for the bond in quarters, and we laugh and say, "Who are they kidding, thinking they're getting by with all this"? But before you indict these guys, let me tell you something, and I don't want this to be a down moment, but I want it to be a truth moment. Everything you have done that you shouldn't have done this week, you did it in the sight of Almighty God in his presence.

We think we're so smart. We think we get by with stuff. We think we can do things that are wrong, and nobody will ever find out, but let me give you the distilled wisdom of being a pastor for 50 years. I've watched this over the years. Here's what I've learned. Nobody gets away with it. Nobody ever gets away with it. The Bible says it this way, "Be sure your sin will find you out". Be sure your sin will find you out. I put the Scripture on the screen. You might wanna write that one down. You may have a seven-year fuse. You may have done something seven years ago. You think you finally got past it, you beat it, but you better not relax because be sure your sin will find you out. Just think what it does to your relationship when you sin and you don't deal with it. Just think of the stain it puts on your relationship with God.

Let me give you a little illustration. This comes out of having also been a father of four kids, and nothing like what I'm gonna tell you has ever happened in my family, but I understand all this. There was this young man who was told by his father not to go to a party, because his father knew that something was going on at that party that he didn't want the son to be involved in. "Okay, Dad, I won't go". But when he left the house, he began to realize that all of his buddies were at the party. So, he goes to the party. Unfortunately for him, someone at the party calls his father and said, "Did you know that your son was at this party"? Worst thing that could ever happen to a kid, and his father said, "No, but I'll take care of it". So, his boy comes home and his father says to him, "Well, what'd you do tonight"? "Well, Dad, I went bowling". "Well, you've been gone a long time, son". "Well, there was a long line at the bowling alley". "How'd you do"? "I did good". "What did you bowl"?

Now, I could go on with that interchange, but let me just stop the story right there and ask you this question. You're the father. At this particular moment, what is most upsetting to you? The fact that your son went to a party that you told him not to go to, or the fact that he's lying to you about what he did? And if you're a parent, I don't even ask for a vote. You know what the answer to that is. So, let me ask you this question, friends. Do you think our Father in heaven is any different than that? Isn't that an interesting thought? Do you think when we stumble and fall, he wants us to go trying to cover it up when we know that he knows everything that we've done? Don't you think he would be more blessed if we would just come and say, "Please forgive me. I did wrong. I acknowledge my sin".

Let me ask you. Go back to the story for a moment. Suppose that nothing is said on the part of the father after that confrontation and nothing is said on the part of the son. What kind of relationship do you think you have in that family, when the father knows you lied to him, you know you lied to him, and nobody's talking about it? You see, the only way you can make that right, the only way you can clean that up is to confess, and that's what 1 John 1:9 says. "If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin", and what's, "Cleanse us from all unrighteousness". You know, like any human father longs for reconciliation when something is wrong in the family, so our Emmanuel longs for reconciliation from those who have stumbled and walked away from him. God loves you. He's gonna be with you no matter what you do, but if you have failed him, don't try to cover it up.

Can you just stop for a moment and think of the absurdity of trying to hide something from God, who knows the very heart of heart, the intention that was there before anything ever happened? So, just acknowledge it, get it right, and God says he will forgive you and restore you, and you can go on with your relationship with him. Finally, God is with us in his searching. The Bible says that Jesus Christ came to this earth "to seek and to save that which is lost". God is with us to save us. He came into this world for one purpose: that he might bring many sons to glory. I like to say it this way, don't forget this, God is with us so that one day we can be with him. God came here to save us from our sin and make us heaven-ready so that when we die, we can go to be with him forever.

That's what he said to his disciples when they were so discouraged. He said, "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would've told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also". That's the whole key to his coming to this earth, that where he is, we may be also. He wants us to be in heaven. He wants you to be in heaven. He came down here. He was born as a baby, became part of humanity. He was Emmanuel, God with us. He is with us so that one day we can be with him. Are you ready to be with God? Have you put your trust in him? Have you trusted him as your Savior?

You see, that's the whole meaning of Christmas. If we don't get it right, we miss the whole deal. Christmas is the greatest salvation story in all of the schedule of the year. Christmas is "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life," and I wanna ask you today, if you haven't trusted him as your Savior, will you do it? Will you allow the ministry of our music, the ministry of the Word of God, the Scriptures, the reminder again from the Bible that God loves you, and he sent his Son to save you? Will you accept him as your Savior?

I wanna show you a verse that I probably have read this many times, but I never saw it like I saw it this week. Here it is. This is the whole message I've preached today in one verse. It's Deuteronomy 31:8. Here's what it says, "The Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; so do not fear and do not be dismayed". Wow. That's one you put on the dashboard in your car, up on your mirror, by your bed, and then you will know that the Lord is the one who goes before you. He will be with you. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you, so don't be afraid and don't be dismayed.
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