He is indeed God Immanuel

God Immanuel, God with us

  • Prayer: God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit help us to see your glory as we reflect on your scripture together.

    One of the most central Christian beliefs is in God Immanuel, God with us… and it is a belief that I hold very dear and near to my heart. I believe with every fiber of my being that God is with us in all things..

    I believe that God is with us in our joys and celebrations and triumphs. God is with us in those mountain top experiences.. I believe God is also with us when we are just plugging along, fulfilling obligations, taking care of our responsibilities, going through the motions. I believe that God is with us when we are going through hardship. He promised us that he would walk with us through the valley times. Our God did not skip over the cross. He did not run away from suffering. He knows our pain. So when we are suffering, when we are angry, anxious, sad, he is right there with us…his arm around us.. to give us comfort and that peace that surpasses all understanding. He is indeed God Immanuel…

    This belief and awareness of God with us through it all has sustained me through some pretty big ups and downs in my life, and I have had the privilege of seeing how it has sustained others… but I have also come to learn that it is not the whole story… and of course Jesus knew this and so he showed us so much more of God.

    Today as we reflect on the Trinity, we learn that God is glorified by Jesus and Jesus is glorified by the Holy Spirit and God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is glorified by us.

    We hear about this exchange of glory throughout scripture in fact.

    In the middle of Jesus’ last meal with his most devoted followers, he points out that Judas, one of his disciples, will betray him. He then tells Judas to go and do what he is going to do quickly. Judas gets up and leaves the meal and at this point, Jesus… who knows that the process has started that will lead to his crucifixion… says, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.”

    Notice that Jesus does not say, “Now God the Father is with me and he will comfort me as I suffer.”
Yes God is God Immanuel, God with us, but this is another side of God, “In the suffering, I will be glorified and God will be glorified.”

    Have you ever heard someone say “I just want to glorify God through all of this.”

    Before I ever heard someone say they wanted to give God the glory… Glory to me meant shining angels… I thought of the famous verse we hear at Christmas time… when Jesus is born and the angels appear to the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night… “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them.”

    It makes sense that the glory of the Lord shines around angels… and that we glorify Jesus as he is entering the world… We want to glorify God when there is so much hope and promise…

    but most often I hear people talking about wanting to glorify God when things are not bright and shining and full of promise.

    There is a contemporary Christian song that sums up this line of thought pretty well…

    Your picking up toys on the living room floor 
For the fifteenth time today
Matching up socks or…
    Maybe your that guy with the suit and tie
Maybe your shirt says your name
You may be hooking up mergers
Cooking up burgers

    And while I may not know you
I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes, does it matter at all?
Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long
    As you do everything you do 
To the glory of the One who made you, 

    I mean a little bit… who are these people… What does this even mean? How do we glorify God when we are matching up socks and cooking up burgers at work…

    How do we give God the Glory when we are going through the every day… when we are agitated… aggravated… worn out… done…

    In the most practical sense… it means that you know that you cannot control other people and you cannot control situations… but you can control how you handle a situation and you hope that the way that you handle things reflects God’s light and love. You hope that you can deal with that extra long work day in such a way that the people around you see God in you…

    It also means that you are leaning on God and depending on God completely especially when we are stressed… worn out.. out of our earthly resources of time, energy…

    There was a missionary in Germany in the 1800s who established an orphanage. George Mueller. You may have heard this story before…One morning the housemother informed George that there was no more food in the orphanage. George asked her to take the 300 children into the dining room and have them sit at the tables. He thanked God for the food and waited. George knew God would provide food for the children as he always did. Within minutes, a baker knocked on the door. "Mr. Mueller," he said, "last night I could not sleep. Somehow I knew that you would need bread this morning. I got up and baked three batches for you. I will bring it in."
    Soon, there was another knock at the door. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. The milk would spoil by the time the wheel was fixed. He asked George if he could use some free milk. George smiled as the milkman brought in ten large cans of milk. It was just enough for the 300 thirsty children.

    There is so much in this story.. I'm sure I will tell it again… but look at what George did not do… he did not go into a downward spiral… He could have started to worry about the kids, how they would not do well in their classes make without food… where would he find lunch… they would all start to complain and whine.. how would he keep the doors open… maybe he shouldn’t have opened an orphanage in the first place… I am so good at this downward spirals… Maybe it’s just me, but I think many of us go there… But George did not downward spiral… Instead he stopped and asked God to work. He leaned on God completely and because he leaned on God completely we could see God so clearly working through him and the baker and the milkman. His dependence on God allowed God’s movement to shine. His dependence on God glorified God.

    And in fact his actions that day gave so much glory to God that we are still talking about it today centuries later in churches all over the world…

    Now you don’t have to have an orphanage to lean on God… This act of stopping for a moment in the midst of any stress and asking God to work then really trusting that he will… that will glorify God…

    I know that people are desperate to find ways to let go of the anger, the fear, the anxiety, the stress.. so even if you are not sure you really believe everything in Christianity… this simple act of stopping yourself like George did… interrupts the downward spiral… it gives your brain a chance to settle down and let go of worry… and for those of us who believe we then know that God is with us all the time and we can hand our worry over to God who made us and loves us… we are not just turnout our worry over to an abyss.. And then many of us have had these incredible experiences of God, the Father of the universe, stepping in and if you haven’t had an experience like that ask around. I am sure there are incredible stories throughout this church of God stepping in… please share them with one another… These stories of our complete surrender and leaning on God and God stepping in… and this is what it means to glorify God…

    When we lean on God completely, when we turn our worry over to God and ask God to work through us.…. Our actions will inevitably reflect and glorify God….

    So glorifying God in all things… means hoping that your actions reflect God’s love and mercy. It means lean on God completely.. stopping to turn our worry over to God and ask God to work.

    Because you are, in fact, not alone. Your actions can glorify God. You can ask God, the father of all, to work through you.

    So in the week ahead… find ways to give God the glory…

    If you are having a great week… that will be easy… but if there are any less than stellar moments… especially find a way to give God the glory….

    Hold on to the hope that your actions in the midst of this will glorify and reflect God…

    Lean on God completely…

    Stop and Say to God… I want to glorify you right now in this…. So please God work through me right now.