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Return of the King - Advent 2016

December 15, 2016 – Immanuel – God-Is-With-Us

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14

When Difficult Times Come, We Need…

When difficult times come our way, the last thing we want is someone to ‘explain’ things to us. We don’t need Job’s comforters, letting us know what we could have done to avoid all of our problems. If they could’ve been avoided, we likely know what we could have done to avoid our problems. But they’re here. And what could have been, doesn’t matter. When our feet are to the fire, we don’t need explanations or excuses or trite sayings.

In those moments when we aren’t sure what to do – when we may not want to do anything – our greatest need doesn’t consist of words. It consists of presence.

When we’ve lost a loved one or we’re suffering from a debilitating illness or some other disaster has torn our world apart, we don’t need to hear, “God will never give us more than we can handle.” In fact, we don’t need to hear anything. We just need someone to be with us. We need to know that we’re not alone.

This is the reason Paul commanded the Romans to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Notice, he didn’t say, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and to those who weep? Explain why they’re weeping and give them advice that might help them avoid weeping next time.”

Immanuel – God-Is-With-Us

This is also the reason that, when Isaiah prophesied of the coming King, he said, “she will call His name Immanuel”.

Immanuel – God is with us.

And truly, God is with us.

We see it in the pages of scripture. We see ‘God-is-with-us’ when Jesus wept alongside Mary and Martha over their dead brother, Lazarus. We see ‘God-is-with-us’ when he touched lepers and healed blind beggars. We see ‘God-is-with-us’ as he ate with sinners, cared for children, and loved everyone he met. We see ‘God-is-with-us’ when he prayed “Not my will but thine be done”. And ultimately, we see ‘God-is-with-us’ as he hung on a cross – dying the same death we die, though he didn’t have to.

This Advent season, remember that Jesus is Immanuel. He is the God who is with us. No matter what you’re going through – no matter what this past year has brought or this new year will bring – he is with you. And he will be with you always, even to the end of the age.

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