Immanuel – עִמָּ֫נוּאֵ֫ל

“So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”” (Matthew 1: 22-23 NKJV)

We are coming to a time of the year where the world seems to go quite mad. In the commercial world retailers rely on people spending millions of dollars, shoppersor whatever the currency is in your part of the world, to keep their profit margin in the correct place. We have days like Black Friday when shops put prices at supposedly low levels so that people will queue up in all sorts of weathers to get that special bargain. No this is not going to be one of those watch out for the evils of shopping blogs. I love a bargain probably more than anyone and have been known to queue outside ALDI’s to get one!! Be patient and I will get to the point.

christmas-light-display-of-gingerbread-house-vandusen-botanical-garden-vancouver-british-columbia-canada-128084682-58f4c8c33df78cd3fc192cf5At this time of year we have houses vying for the prize of the best Christmas lights. People spending hundreds of dollars to light up their houses for a few weeks a year. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas lights and wish they could be up all year. They make such a difference to the communities we live in.

Okay, so let’s get to the point!! AtChristmas star and birth of Jesus 1 this time of the year we have the opportunity globally to remember what Christmas is all about, and yes,  the primary reason we celebrate at Christmas is to remember the birth of Jesus. It is a time when the world can see that something happened in the little town of Bethlehem (did you see what I did there?? Cue the Christmas Carol!!) Yes that one silent night, once, in Royal David’s City, while shepherds watched their flocks by night, angels from the Realms of Glory sang about the first Noel!! Alright, enough of that. We, as nations, have the opportunity to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and yes, often we miss the point.

I have a feeling though, that as Christians we miss something at Christmas as well. Let’s look at the verse I quoted at the start:

“So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”” (Matthew 22: 22-23 NKJV)

“All this was done” – First of all what was the “All this”? Before this verse we have the story of Mary becoming pregnant and Joseph being visited by the angel to tell him that God was the Father. This would be mind blowing in itself. but the angel also reminds Joseph of his lineage. The angel calls him, Joseph son of David. Matthew, the gospel writer kindly puts this into context by telling us the lineage of Jesus from Abraham all the way to Jesus’ earthly father Joseph. As Matthew puts it:

“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.” (Matthew 1: 17)

Putting it simply, Matthew is telling us that all that has gone before, 42 generations of Jewish history has led to this point. “So all this was done“!! This I find incredible, all that had gone before led to this time in history. All those amazing stories that we read in the Old Testament led to the birth of this one child.  Abraham and Isaac. David and Goliath, Daniel, Jonah, Job etc etc. It sort of puts our celebrations into perspective doesn’t it? But that is not all that this verse says. The verse says that it was all done to fulfil a prophecy from the Old Testament. Just to clarify there was no Old Testament when Matthew was writing!!!! For him it was the Law and the Prophets. The prophet in question was Isaiah.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7: 14 NKJV)

For me this verse holds the key to Christmas and why all our frivolity mocks what actually happened. Jesus is called Immanuel which, Matthew kindly tells us non Hebrew speakers, means God with us. Don’t you think this is remarkable. This baby, was God with us. The God who created the Universe, for that short period of time, was actually with us in bodily form. The God of all power and might was living here with us. How can anything we do at Christmas bring recognition to this fact. The Apostle John in his Gospel puts it incredibly simply. Here are some verses from the first chapter,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”  (v1-5 NKJV)

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own and His own did not receive Him.” (v 10 – 11 NKJV)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (v 14 NKJV)

What I would like to suggest this Christmas is that we bring some “awe” into our celebrations . Some wonder, wonderment, amazement, astonishment, admiration, reverence, veneration, respect. That we are filled with wonder, wonderstruck, awestruck, amazed, filled with amazement, astonished, filled with astonishment, lost for words, open-mouthed. Let us not take this for granted, God came down to earth and lived among us and for why? To secure our salvation. To make sure we have the opportunity to be in relationship with Him. He wants us for His own. Immanuel came to be our salvation.

When Jesus was only a few days old, Mary and Joseph took him to the temple to offer a sacrifice as was the Jewish custom. When they were there they encountered a Godly man named Simeon who prophesied over Jesus.

 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word;  For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,  A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2: 28 -32 NKJV)

Let us this Christmas ponder on the life of Jesus, God Incarnate, Immanuel. Let’s look through the gospels and see what an amazing God we serve. Perhaps start in John chapter 13.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.  After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. (v 3-5)

Immanuel was willing to take the position of a servant, willing to kneel and perform the menial tasks a slave would do. Why?……… because He is a God who loves.

 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4: 8-11 NKJV)

This is what God’s love looks like and this is what Jesus came to show us,

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a)

Have the most wonderful Christmas, filled with His love for you.

 

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Perception Part 3

“The mind is a wonderful tool, but a terrible master. Sometimes what God is doing will offend the mind, but the spirit will be able to discern His presence. Don’t reduce God to what you can comprehend!” (Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, Redding, California)

I love this quote. How often do we reduce God to something we can understand. As soon as we do that we create Him in our image. Blaise Pascal a French philosopher wrote

“God made man in his own image and man returned the compliment.”

Basically the way we think of God diminishes Him because we try to make him small like us. We perceive Him to be a God who reacts like us, who thinks like us, whose logic is the same as ours. Our perception of Him has made Him much smaller than He is. Especially in the area of His love for us. Personally I don’t want a God who is similar than me. I want a God who can help me when I get into a mess and is not perturbed at my messes. He doesn’t bat an eyelid when I make mistakes because all I have done or will do is already known to Him. Not because it is preordained but because my God is so big He knows what I am going to do before I do it!! Psalm 139 puts it perfectly,

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.  You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.  You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.  For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.  You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.   Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139:1-6 NKJV)

Verse 4 puts it succinctly,

Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken], Behold, O Lord, You know it all” ( Psalm 139:4 Amplified Bible)
He even knows what you are going to say before you say it. That is so cool!!! Yet, His love you cannot and will not change! His love for you does not depend on what you do because He knows it already. He didn’t choose you, knowing that one day you were going to mess it up so that He couldn’t love you any more. He knows you from the beginning to the end and His love does not waver!
Don’t let your perceived experiences of God , diminish who He is in your life.
“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?” (Romans 11:34 NIV).
Often we think that God’s plan for us has pitfalls and it is to our detriment but that is not what He says about Himself,
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)
Declare this over your life today:
“Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” (Psalm 147:5)
His understanding is without limit. beyond comprehension, inexhaustible, infinite, boundless or unfathomable.
Remember that it is not what we do for God that is important but what we believe about Him. He is a mighty and infinite God who is is interested in the finite detail of or lives. Be willing to allow God to change how we perceive Him. Often we have been “churched’ into believing certain aspects about God’s character that are certainly not based on the God that Jesus came to show or the God in His word.
It is important that we look to Jesus to see the nature of God.
If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him. (John 14:7 NKJV)
If you want to know who God is look at the life of Jesus.
 I and My Father are one. (John 10:30 NKJV)
Read the Gospels and the Letters in the New Testament written by those people who knew Jesus or who had encountered Him as in Saul/Paul. You will see how great is our God! We sing it and shout it but then somehow live our lives as if He isn’t that great. My God is worth trusting, how about yours?
i am
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Perception Part 2!!

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, (Eph 3:20)

I want you to declare this over you as you read it. “My God can do far more abundantly than I can ask or think because of His power that works in me.” Declare it again and again until Holy Spirit writes it on your heart. Synonyms for abundantly include – copiously, plentifully, amply, profusely, exuberantly, prolifically, luxuriantly, in profusion, in abundance, in great quantity, in large quantities, in plenty, aplenty, in huge numbers, freely, extensively, everywhere, all over the place, affluently, bounteously, plenteously, lavishly. This is who your God is. We need to raise our perception and expectation of who God is.  At this point, if you haven’t read the last post on Perception, please do.

Is there a limit on what you believe God can do for you? Ask Holy Spirit to show you. Be open and honest because God knows anyway. We put limitations on God all the time, it is nothing we should be condemned about, Holy Spirit wants to change our Spiritual Perceptions of God. It is something to be excited about and not scared. Ask Holy Spirit to invade your dreams with visions of the Greatness of God in your life.

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“My God can do far more abundantly than I can ask or think”! He is a Huge God. The Heavens cannot contain Him.

The Holy Spirit is changing mindsets at this time and we need to allow Him to do that. There are times when we become scared to allow Holy Spirit to change things in us because we are secure in what we think we know of God, but there is a new move of God and we need to see God’s fullness to partake in that new move.

I really feel we are at the cusp of something new! ( isn’t that a great word? Cusp! It means A point of transition between two different states! Say it again, CUSP!) Anyway, we are at one…… a cusp that is!! A transition that is so important that it is going to change the way the world sees God forever. It will never be the same again. It is the time of Reformation. If we continue to see life through our eyes we will miss it. We have to start looking through Spiritual eyes and see into the Spiritual Realm.

We were created in God’s image. We are three in one just as He is. Body, Soul and Spirit. Often we are very strong in our body and soul but our Spiritual side is weaker. We are Spiritual beings having an earthly experience and therefore we have to exercise our Spiritual Perception to see into the Spiritual Realm. How did Jesus see what the Father was doing except through His Spiritual Perception. Jesus came down and was totally man, He was like us in every way except that He saw the way that Father God saw. We can do the same because we have Holy Spirit living in us.

In her Vinedresser series, Theresa Croft uses this phrase,

“You have a song that only you can sing”

This is so powerful! Unless we sing the song that God has written for us, the people around us, friends, families, our community, our towns and cities will miss out. No one else can sing your song! Therefore we need to have our eyes opened. To have our perception changed. We need to experience life through our Spiritual Senses.

Prayer Starter

Dear Holy Spirit, show me the areas in my life where I limit you, where I limit Father and Jesus. Expand my experience of you! Change my perception. Let me experience life through Spiritual Senses. Allow me to sing the song that only I can sing.

Perception

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55: 8-9 NKJV)

I was praying one day and I saw God standing in front of me. He was my size and He looked at me. He then started to move away but as He did, He got bigger and bigger and bigger. I couldn’t comprehend how big He was. This is the opposite of what our senses have been told. We know that a twenty foot tree looks taller the closer it is and conversely, the same tree seems smaller the further away it is. What God was showing me was that my perception of things, is not God’s. He doesn’t look at things the same way as I do. My perception needs to change to Spritual Perception. His thoughts are not the same as my thoughts.

God does not think as we do! Let me say it again – God does not think as we do. Last time – God does not think as we do. Has it sunk in? We bring God down to our way of perceiving things. It is easy for us to picture the God who walked with Adam in the cool of the evening. That God is relatable to. We can see God as a Father especially if our Father’s were a good role model but what about the God who made this……?

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There are a 100 trillion of these in the universe.

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Each one of these bright stars is larger than our Sun. God made all this. That God lives in you, in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was there when all this was made and He lives in you!

“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power;
His understanding is infinite.” (Psalm 147:5 NKJV)

God’s understanding is infinite and yet so often we make His ways finite. King Solomon grasped it when He was building the temple.

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 NKJV. Also 2 Chronicles 6:18)

All those 100 trillion solar systems are too small for Him. Heaven and all the heavens are too small for our Father.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth,Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall,  But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40: 28-31)

How do you see God at the moment? Ask God to show you who He is at the moment to you. If He is small, ask God to forgive you for not seeing who He really is and ask Him to show you how big He actually is.

Remember, God does not think as we do!! So we need to allow the Holy Spirit to show us how He perceives the circumstances we are in. I can tell you now they will be different perceptions.

Just to summarise….. It is wonderful to see God as a God who wants to walk with us. It is amazing to recognise that He is our Heavenly Dad and His touch is so Gentle. It is even more awesome to see that this God who relates to us so intimately is too big for 100 trillion Solar Systems. We need to start to use Spiritual Perception and not our natural perception. To do this we need the help of the Holy Spirit to see the way He sees.

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Things are not always as they seem!!

Prayer Starter

Precious Holy Spirit, thank you that you live in me and can’t wait to show me how wonderfully gigantic Heavenly Father is. Let me see Him as you see Him. Let my perceotions become Spiritual ones. Holy Spirit ones. Let my Spiritual senses grow.

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