Immanuel

Psalm 73: 23 – 24

Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.

When Isaiah prophesied about the coming Messiah, he said the savior would be called Immanuel. Immanuel means God is with us. That is one of the most important pieces of prophecy in the entire Bible. It is a key piece of theology. God is with us.

Jesus’ coming to earth, his sacrifice and subsequent resurrection change the entire dynamic between God and people. The temple moved. Instead of being an edifice made of stone and mortar, the new temple is you. God has come to live in us and to be with us continually. He is now intertwined with us and us with Him. There is no separation other than that which we create. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him,” (John 14: 23). Jesus and the Father intend to make their abode with us. Jesus also promised that the Father would send the Holy Spirit who would come and be with us forever (John 14: 16). So there you have it, all three persons of the Trinity coming to earth to live in and with you always.

This is the dream and hope of the psalmist. He recognized God with him. He also hints at an important aspect. As long as we are with God, He is with us. He will never leave us nor forsake us, but it is important that we are “continually” with Him also, as the psalmist wrote. He made a decision to be continually with God and then acknowledged that God had taken hold of his right hand to lead and counsel him all the days of his earthly life. Then, at the end of his days, he knew and expected that God would receive him into glory. In other words, their partnership will never end. God was with him all the days of his earthly existence and then the Lord received him into the heavenly abode of God. That is the promise we have, God with us. Grab hold of His right hand and enjoy life with Immanuel.

Show Me

John 14: 23

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.

I don’t know where I first heard it said but this statement has always stayed with me, “Don’t just tell me you love me, show me.” That is what I hear when I read today’s verse from Jesus. Don’t just tell me you love me, show me by keeping my word.

Many people identify themselves as Christians but then there are some who are actually trying to live the Word. Now, that is an entirely different matter. Keeping Jesus’ Word means that first you need to read it. Okay, we lost a few there. You guys read the WORD of the Day every day. You are doing something that we can’t get a lot of “Christians” to do. That is to partake of the Word every day. This is a first step. One cannot keep Christ’s Word if they don’t first take it.

By “keeping” his Word, Jesus meant that we should do what his Word says. If he says, “Fear not” then we must learn to trust in him. When the Word says, “Pray without ceasing,” we have to become people who pray, and often. We are told to roll our cares over to Him which must mean that we should not “take” care. Do not judge and forgive your enemies aren’t suggestions but rather requirements of love.

“If you love me, he says, “you will keep my word.” So, we must challenge ourselves to learn what his word says and then do it. I am not trying to convince you it is easy to follow the word but we have him to help us and all things are possible with him.

Alone and Afraid

Deuteronomy 31: 6

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

This is one of those verses we want to be true. It is also a good verse upon which to test your resolve. Are you a believer? Do you believe this verse is an actual promise from God to you? Can you stand on it? Well, that is the question, isn’t it?

Face it, there are times that despite our spirituality, we just feel alone. Intellectually, we know better. At least we know that the Bible says that God will never leave nor forsake us. Sometimes, though, you look into your spirit, you try to quiet yourself and all you hear is silence. It is in those times we must preach to ourselves and that is exactly what Father told me to do recently in my journaling. He said, “Preach to yourself what you would say to someone else.” That advice and the idea that He is with us all the time has stayed with me a lot lately.

The whole truth is that God cannot leave us even if He wanted to. Of course, you know He wants to be with you 24/7. He said to me, “That has been the point of this whole thing. It’s the reason I sent Jesus to earth.” This brings to my remembrance the promise in John 14: 23, “If anyone loves Me . . . My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” God’s purpose in sending Jesus to earth was so that we could again come into communion with Him. He wanted to establish a community of believers for Himself where He could set up His home within our hearts and be with us forever. Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit said, “. . . but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you,” (John 14:16). If He abides in us and with us, how can we ever be apart from Him? Those verses account for the abiding presence of the Father, Jesus and the Spirit. That’s pretty good company.

This should give us GREAT comfort and confidence. Today’s verse is from the Old Testament. How much greater is the good news since Jesus graced the earth. Even back then it is said, “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed,” (Deuteronomy 31: 8). Why should we be fearful or forlorn? Why should we be depressed or lonely? Our Father, our beloved, is with us every minute of every day. He and His heavenly host even watch over us while we sleep. God gave up Jesus whom He loves so that He can be with us night and day. He is not about to abandon us now after all the work He did to make His home with us.

Jesus said he left his peace here for us (John 14: 27). This verse is only four verses after Jesus said that he and the Father would make their abode with us. Part of that peace, it seems to me, is in knowing that the Holy Trinity is with you all of the time, day and night, at work at home. Whatever you do, wherever you go, they are there, with you. I write this hoping it will help you create more of a “God with me” identity. We need not be afraid or tremble. We can be strong and courageous of whatever tomorrow brings for our Lord and God is with us and goes before us. He will never, for one minute, leave us nor will He ever forsake us. You have a friend, a permanent friend, who, if you will let Him, will be your best friend for all time.

Listen

Numbers 2: 1 – 2

Now the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “The sons of Israel shall camp, each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ households; they shall camp around the tent of meeting at a distance.

One of the grandest precepts for us to accept and subsequently incorporate is that we can hear the voice of God speaking to each of us. Especially on this side of the Protestant Reformation, we should be people who are zealous to talk with God and hear His responses. Yet, we have fallen into a pattern of “praying” to him and then walking away. It is vital that we each hear the voice of God so that we may be led according to all His good intentions.

In the Old Testament, people heard God speak. Obviously, God was able to be heard by these two. Yahweh laid out a complete picture of where each tribe should pitch its tent in the camp and the order by which they should proceed when they traveled. If you were to read chapter 2 of Numbers, you would find that there is great detail in the instructions given by God.

Consider the building of the Tent of Meeting. It was completely designed by God and communicated to people. They heard the voice of the Lord right down to the color of the fabric and precise measurements. How is it that they could receive such detailed instructions from God, and we struggle to hear His voice at all?

I hope you will engage that question. Why are we not hearing God speak? Why don’t we all have a strong dialogue with God? It is not His intention that we live separated from Him. His desire is that we live in Him and with Him. He even said that he wants to make his abode with us (John 14: 23). That means He wants to live with us. Wouldn’t it be odd for someone to live with us but never speak with us, for us never to exchange thoughts and ideas? That seems very odd and yet that seems to be many people’s experience. So, either, we haven’t allowed God to make His abode with us, He isn’t speaking or we aren’t listening. What do you think?

Maybe you should ask Father about this. Maybe you should ask Him if your joint communication is where He wants it. Of course, then you will need to listen for an answer. Be still, turn off the TV and the telephone and listen to the voice within you. Take a few minutes to create quiet in your environment, both on the outside of you and the inside. Then listen. If you have trouble hearing, ask Him to help you but as you ask, believe that He will answer. Then be still and listen. And be persistent. If you are not hearing God or not hearing Him as well or as frequently as you would like, then persist. I promise that if you will allow Him, He will teach you.

Abiding Life

Joel 2:28

And it will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind.

This pouring out is called The Pentecost. The record of this wonderful event is in the second chapter of Acts. God poured out His Spirit for all people. Jesus said of the Spirit, “That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14: 17). This is the purpose of the Pentecost, that divinity would come and make a home with humanity. This abiding presence is not limited to the Spirit of God though. It extends to the Father and the Son. In  John 14: 23 Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make Our abode with him.” God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all want to make a home with us.

Jesus talked a good bit about “abiding”. His ministry, sacrifice and victory have made it possible for us to be united with the Father, Son and Spirit as never before in history. We are now to become one with the divine trinity. Our DNA is being replicated in the image of Jesus (Romans 8: 29). For those who will submit themselves to Jesus’ words and teaching Jesus moves in and takes up residence. We are becoming enmeshed, intertwined with the Father, Son and Spirit so that there is now no separation between us and the divine. We are becoming so integrated that nothing can tear us apart. “I am convinced,” Paul said, “that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” (Romans 8: 38 God’s Word Translation). And since God is love that means that nothing can separate us from Him. 

This abiding in and with the triune presence of God is the key to our Christian testimony, outreach and life. Abiding in Him means that we shuck off the old self and adorn our new selves with the life of Christ which has now taken up residence within us. No longer do we have to will ourselves to act like a Christian should, no longer do we have to contemplate what Jesus would do in our situation. Now we let the life of Christ which is within us flow out of us and into the world. We put on Jesus and let his life, light and love reach out to other people. 

If you want to know if you are abiding in Him and He in you check your love walk. To the degree that you are others centered, that is the degree to which you are allowing Jesus to express himself. Put on Christ and let him abide forever with you.

Extraordinary Spirit

Daniel 6: 3

Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary sprit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.

Doesn’t this sound a bit familiar? I am reminded of the story of Joseph. Both Daniel and Joseph rose from slavery in a foreign country to become leaders in those foreign lands. It is one thing to become great among your own people in your own land but it truly is something extraordinary to rise to the very top level of influence in a country not your own. How much more impressive is it that these men were taken from their country against their will and yet rose to the very pinnacle of success. What made them so special? What made this possible? This verse answers that question. They were possessed of an extraordinary spirit.

God promised humanity that He would pour out His Spirit on all mankind (Joel 2: 28). But that pouring out did not occur until after Daniel’s and Joseph’s life. In fact, the promised out pouring came after Jesus arose from the dead (See Acts 2). We are blessed to be living in the Age of the Holy Spirit. That causes me to consider these men’s lives and great success in a different light. The scripture says that Daniel succeeded because he was possessed of an extraordinary spirit. What then could be said of those who live today? God has now chosen us as the Holy Temple rather than a building in Jerusalem. He has come and made His abode with us, at least for those who love him and keep his word (John 14: 23). So, truly, we are possessed of an extraordinary spirit. Yes? Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit said, “… that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you” (John 14: 17). We have the most excellent Spirit living within us and this Holy Spirit, this Spirit of Truth is the power of God. He is the creative force of the Father which was brooding over the nothingness and at a word from God created the earth and every plant and animal in it (Genesis 1). There is therefore now nothing which is impossible for us. If Daniel and Joseph could rule foreign nations, rise to the very top of management of a whole nation, each of which was the most affluent and prosperous of their time, when they did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, then what can we do? What can we not do? This is huge!  

We have to learn how to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. You can communicate with Him and I believe you should. He is God, you know. I have discovered that He will speak back to you. He will answer you. He will lead you and guide you. This should be “Mission 2015” to get to know the Holy Spirit personally. There are enormous revelations awaiting us. Let us come to know this extraordinary spirit which lives within us. Let us develop communion and a relationship with Him. Become Daniel in your town.

Meaning in Omnipresence

Psalm 139: 7

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence.

We commonly accept that God is omnipresent, existing everywhere at once. If you want a scriptural basis for this concept you wouldn’t go wrong with today’s verse. God’s omnipresence can mean many things for you. If you have been lonely, know that He is with you always. It might help someone else avoid sin knowing that God will witness it. I want to take you to a different place today but in keeping with the thoughts and ideas from yesterday’s examination of Romans 12: 1.

I believe that when we think of God being everywhere we often imagine Him in the empty spaces of our environment. Think about where you are right now. Do you imagine God is somewhere in the room or everywhere in the room? Does He fill all the space where there is nothing else: no furniture, people, computers, lamps, etc.? I would like to explore another idea.

Let’s think about your body. Are you porous or non-porous? We are porous right, meaning that we have pores and are therefore, absorbent.  Body lotions would have little effect if we couldn’t absorb them into our skin. Now imagine yourself surrounded by the Holy Spirit of God. Can you absorb Him? Think of the inside of your body. We know that the Holy Spirit now resides within us; God has made His abode within us as His new temple. Where does He live? Do you imagine empty places within you which the Spirit occupies?

I would like to propose another idea. Imagine the Holy Spirit of God being absorbed into your tissues, your molecules and even the atoms that make up every fiber of your body. Do you have an injury? Suppose you had a back injury. We learned yesterday to give our bodies to God and even to make our gifts specific so give Him your back and then invite Him to fill your back with His presence. He is omnipresent. He exists everywhere, not just where other things are not. See God insinuating Himself into every muscle fiber, every bone, all cartilage, tissue and fluid in your back. Think of that. See the Holy Spirit indwelling your spinal column, filling you with His radiant power and glory. This is the radiation treatment we need, the Holy Spirit indwelling every fiber of our being right down to the smallest sub-atomic particle.

He is the life (John 14: 6), so the more we allow ourselves to be filled up with Him the more we are filled with life. It makes perfect sense doesn’t it? Jesus said he came to give us abundant life (John 10: 10). He also said that He and the Father would come and make their abode with us (John 14: 23). Then doesn’t it just make sense that allowing them to fill us is going to be a life-giving proposition?  But I have one caveat. I would not suggest this is a once and for all prayer. We ought to be praying this every day over our bodies. What I have found is that as I grow spiritually I find additional ways to allow the Father to fill me more. I also, unfortunately, discover places that I have not allowed Him to indwell even though I thought I gave all. We have sentries posted that we have forgotten about. Some of them have been there for a long time. As you retire the sentries and allow God into those barred rooms and spaces you will always experience new life and renewed life.

So, allow God’s omnipresence to be more than God with you. He is with you, around you and in you. Let this revelation comfort you and work healing in your body.