Saturday, December 27, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "God With Us" Christmas Eve 2014

“God With Us”
Christmas Eve Candlelighting Service
December 24, 2014 :: Matthew 1:23

Advent means “coming.”  Christmas is coming...tomorrow!

Jesus has come and is coming again...soon.

This year, our Advent Readings have centered on the name Immanuel which means, “God With Us.”

In fact, not just our advent readings but the last 2 sermons were also about the name, title, and idea of Immanuel in the Bible.

The angel that appeared to Joseph in Matthew chapter 1 and told him to go ahead with marrying Mary also told Joseph that the miraculous child that she was carrying will be called Immanuel to fulfill what the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 7:14, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  Which means “God with us.”

The last four weeks, we’ve been meditating together on what that means.

“God With Us.”

And we’ve considered four applications.

It’s kind of like a little poem.

Not Alone
Not Afraid
Not Abandoned
Not Ashamed

Would you say that with me?

Not Alone
Not Afraid
Not Abandoned
Not Ashamed


On the first Sunday of Advent, the Beveridges lit our first candle and reminded us that because Jesus is Immanuel, we are not alone.

Humanity has been visited by Deity. God became one of us. He has moved into our neighborhood. As the Gospel of John says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

We are not alone.


And because we are not alone, we are not afraid.

God with Us means that we need not fear.

On the second Sunday of Advent, Rick and Edie Sipe lit this candle and reminded us that because Jesus is Immanuel, we are not afraid.

They read from Hebrews 13, verses 5&6. Which reminds us that “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”

Do you hear the logic in that verse?

If God is with us, then who can be against us?

If Jesus is Immanuel, and we belong to Him, then what do we have to fear?

Yesterday, I was in the hospital visiting Dottie Isaacson. On Sunday night, she got a major pain in her chest and was taken by ambulance early Monday morning to Mt. Nittany.

She had just been getting over pneumonia, and now she had an unexpected, unexplained blot clot.

And as the doctors were treating that and looking for any others, they found a little nodule that looked suspicious.

So, this morning she had a biopsy of that.

From pneumonia, to blood clot, to biopsy of suspicious little thing in her lung.

But she said to me yesterday, “Pastor Matt, I’m not afraid. I know that God is with me.”


What are you tempted to be afraid of right now?

Is it other people?  What they will do or say or think about you?

If God is with you, then what can they do to you?

Or maybe it’s trials like finances or health concerns or a job or security.

What are you tempted to be afraid of right now?

The little baby born in Bethehem carries the name Immanuel because His very existence says to God’s people, “I am with you.”

“Do not be afraid.
Fear not! For I am with you.”



On the third Sunday of Advent, Davey and Kelly and Kiersten and Brayden lit this third candle and reminded us that we are not abandoned.

I told this story just last year, but it really gets across the idea.

It’s the story of the time I abandoned my daughter Robin.

I didn't mean to!

She was really little back when we had 4, count-em 4 car seats, and none of them could unbuckle themselves, and we went to the Philipsburg library.

Back when it was on Pine Street.  We parked on the street.

We unbuckled everybody (or so I thought) and got everyone across the road and went into the library.

Mommy and the boys went to the children's section. I carried little Isaac in his carseat to the children's section, and then went up and down the adult stacks looking for something to read.

And then I circled back and counted my children. 1-2-3.

Where's Robin?

"Where's Robin?"

Oh no!

I ran back out across the street and opened the van door, and there was my little girl bawling her eyes out.

She had been left alone. Forsaken. Deserted. Abandoned.

And it hurt.

I apologized then and I'm still apologizing for that.

I scooped her up in my arms and carried her into the library and just about never left her side the rest of the day.

Well, God is a much better Daddy than I am.

He says that because Jesus is Immanuel, God Is With US FOREVER.

Romans 8. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Not Abandoned.
Never Abandoned.


That’s what that name, Immanuel, means.

Do you feel like you’ve been abandoned?

I was talking on the phone this week with someone who said something like, “I feel like God has made a mistake and has let me down. God seems far away.”

Sometimes, it feels like we’re alone. Like God has left us behind.

But that’s never the truth.

Because Jesus is Immanuel, God is with us always.

He says, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”



Ildiko and Dottie lit our fourth candle this last Sunday, and they said that it shines to remind us that we are not ashamed.

They read from Hebrews chapter 2 which says, “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”

Here’s what that means.

Jesus joined our family at Christmas. Our human family.

He took on human flesh and became one of us.

And He did that not just as a cool trick. “Hey, look at me, I can become a human,” but so that He could identify with us fully and take our place as a substitute sacrifice.

He was born to die.

And He died to make us holy.

“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”

He would have been ashamed because we are sinners.

We are, natural born sinners. We are rebels.

We are born as enemies of God, separated from Him and needing to be reconciled again.

But because He took on flesh and then died in that flesh for us, paying our sin-debt, then we are made holy so that He need not be ashamed of us.

And we need not be ashamed any longer!

God with us means that our sins are forgiven and washed away because of Jesus.

Immanuel is our salvation.
God is no longer against us.
God is for us.
God is with us.


We have all done things of which we are ashamed by every thing that’s right.

We have broken God’s laws.
We have hurt others.
We have sinned.

But as the angel told Joseph, “‘What is conceived in [Mary] is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’–which means, ‘God with us.’‘”

Not ashamed.

Not Alone
Not Afraid
Not Abandoned
Not Ashamed

Say it with me.

Not Alone
Not Afraid
Not Abandoned
Not Ashamed

Because God is with us.

Now, that’s what it means for Christians.

But if you are not yet a Christian, a faith-follower of Jesus Christ, then it doesn’t mean that for you YET.

You are alone. In fact God is against you because of your sin.
You should be afraid because the wrath of God comes on those who are not with God.
You will be abandoned. One of the most terrible things about Hell is that it is place where the inhabitants can truly say, “I am not with God. God is not with me.” Forever.

If you don’t yet trust and love Jesus, you should be ashamed.

You are still in your sins. And you will reap the consequences.

But you don’t have to be!

Jesus has come.

Immanuel has come.

Jesus has come and died and risen again from the dead to fulfill the meaning of His name, Immanuel.

Trust Jesus tonight. Put your faith in Him and Him alone.

And you will be saved and you will be able to say.

Not Alone
Not Afraid
Not Abandoned
Not Ashamed

Immanuel – God with us.