Emmanuel: God is with us
Nothing can compare to the simplicity and devotion of Christmas carols. During what is usually the busiest season of the year, we’re all blessed to sing carols, whether in church or at an informal gathering in our homes. These messages are based on the background and the text of various carols that are familiar to us all. You will be encouraged to go deeper in your own understanding and appreciation of the One who was born in Bethlehem.
Something To Talk About:
Of the many beautiful hymns that have been composed in celebration of the birth of Christ, few in my mind equal the depth of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. So what is this central message, and how is it that this message still resounds with us today?
- God is with me: God is with us, even though we at times cannot sense His presence. There may be situations where we feel really close to Him, yet on other occasions, He might seem distant and uninvolved in our life. As believers, however, we can be certain He is our constant companion whether we’re aware of Him or not. This truth can empower and transform your life. Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth… ” (John 14:16-17). Later on, he said, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” (v. 23). What an amazing reality—the triune God has taken up residence in those of us who have received Christ’s forgiveness and salvation. With this truth anchored in our minds and heart, we can know that no matter what we’re going through we are not alone. Being in Christ, we have His peace in the midst of storms. That’s because there are none more powerful than almighty God, and we can live in His comfort and strength.
- God was always with me: God is exactly where He always has been — loving you, watching over you, and taking care of you in the midst of life’s hardships, even when you weren’t aware of it. Isn’t it reassuring to know that God is always with us, even in difficult times? Throughout the Bible, God promises He will never leave nor forsake us; that He will be with us always. God is with us – always and in every way we need Him. He is with us, for us, and – through the Holy Spirit – in us. As A.W. Tozer has said: “An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.” There aren’t some elite children who can receive Jesus fully. Each and every person can receive Jesus as much as they open their hearts to receive Him. Not occasionally, but every single day of our lives. Through the Holy Spirit, God is with us – always. “I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” (Psalm 16:8)
- God will always be with me: Matthew 28:20 says, “…And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Just before ascending to the Father in heaven, the Lord Jesus commissioned His followers to go and make disciples, of all the nations – teaching them to observe all things whatsoever He had commanded them, and then He made the most astonishing claim: “And never forget that I am with you every day, even to the completion of this age.”(TPT) The Lord Jesus promised to be with His disciples forever and for always. He promised to be with each one of them. He promised to stay in union with each of His followers. He promised to remain in the midst of all of them. And that promise continues today. No matter what difficult life circumstances we face. He’s promised to be with us forever and always, no matter what burdens press in on us – no matter what personal difficulties embroil us, and no matter what impending evil is crouching in the shadows.
- What is your favorite Christmas carol? Why?
- Jesus didn’t just come to be our teacher, a miracle work, or a prophet. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. Agree or disagree and why?
- What do you know about the word Emmanuel? What is significant about Jesus being Emmanuel? Does the concept of God being with us still carry meaning today and if so, how?
- What do you personally appreciate the most about the fact that God came to earth to be in a relationship with us?
- How does the reality of Emmanuel – God with us, impact your daily walk of faith? In good times? In bad times?
- What have you learned about God’s presence through your setbacks and in the hard places?
- God is with us in the midst of things not going as planned. He is a safe place to hide. Safe doesn’t mean perfect or with prosperity. He is a refuge, a strength, and is ever-present. He is in control. He is not surprised by our circumstances nor is He shaken by them. Agree or disagree and why?
- When we set our minds on our ultimate future (Revelation 21:1–5), we know our God is making all things new. That’s a future we can know for sure. How can we cling to this promise in the years ahead?
- When was a time that you had to wait in hope for God to fulfill His promises? How did it build your faith? What are some ways that you have experienced God keeping His promises to you or your family?
- What point in this message was most impactful for you? How did this message challenge, change, or affirm your thinking?
- How will you or your group put into practice what you’ve learned today?
Take one thing home with you:
I hope you will take a moment in the next couple days to be quiet and spend a few moments reflecting on the fact that God came to us in Jesus. God is with us. Reflect on that. Think about the marvel of the nativity. How did God fit all of his divinity into a baby? And what kind of God would do this? Of course, the more wonder-filled question is why would God do this? Why would God come to us this way? Why would God set aside his greatness and majesty, humbling himself to come live amongst us?
As we long for the second coming of Emmanuel, there is much we cannot understand about our world. We cannot fathom why the innocent suffer, why evil has such an opportunity, why God does not make things better right now. But, in our confusion, we do know something that keeps us going, something that strengthens us in the midst of sorrow and confusion. We know that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. In our pain and puzzlement, God is with us. In our sadness and yearning, God is with us. In our doubt and fear, God is with us. Through Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit, God is with us. And not just with us, but for us, beside us, before us, behind us, within us, and among us. So we are comforted, even as we pray, “O Come, O come, Emmanuel.”