Thursday, January 26, 2023
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God is With Us 
By Pastor Charles E. Blake II, West Angeles Church of God in Christ
Published December 22, 2022

Pastor Charles E. Blake II and Lady DeAndra Blake (Nathan Brown photo)

 

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)” – Matthew 1:23

Take a moment and think about that first Christmas.  Joseph and a pregnant virgin Mary had traveled miles away from home to participate in a government practice instituted by a tyrannical leader.

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Mary didn’t expect to give birth on this trip, so when the pangs of labor pain hit, she was not prepared.  With no guest room available, Mary gave birth to the baby whom God had promised to her and placed him gently in a manger.

When we think of Joseph, Mary, and a newborn Jesus — a young family together sheltering in that stable on the first Christmas — we realize that they didn’t have anything. They had no place to stay, not even a crib for their newborn. They had nothing but each other and a promise — a promise that God is with us.

Jesus was called Immanuel because He was the physical representation of this promise: “God with Us.” Because of this promise, we have the opportunity to live this life, and the next, as joint heirs with Christ.

I’m reminded of Philippians 3:20 where Paul says: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”  We celebrate because on that first Christmas night, the wait was over!  Christ, our Savior was born!

He left His place at the right hand of God in the heavenly realm to be born on a cold night and placed in a manger — a trough where donkeys would get their food!  On that night, Jesus willingly became a citizen of earth.  But this is good news!  Because Jesus became a citizen of earth, we can become citizens of Heaven.  Hallelujah!

Now what does this celestial citizenship mean?

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The Word of God is very clear about our rights as citizens of Heaven.  The Bible is full of the privileges that we can possess, but there is one in particular that I would like to highlight. Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “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.”

Essentially, because Christ came, we can have eternal life.  Our hope of eternal life encourages us to have an eternal perspective.  This means that you, as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, are not to be swayed by the same desires, fears, and anxieties that plague those who put their faith in the things of the world.

When the troubles of this world come to bring you down, you can rest with a sense of peace in knowing that God is with you.  Yes, these troubles will affect you.  Yes, they may get you down.  But they cannot take away your hope.

So, what is expected of us as citizens of Heaven?  As citizens of Heaven, we are called to love the Lord above all else and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  As Jesus says in John 13:35, “By this, men shall know that you are my disciples: that you have love for one another.”  While we wait for Jesus to come again, we are to love one another because, ultimately, all we have is each other.

During this season, we tend to express this love through physical or monetary gifts; but in our celebrating, let us always remember that the greatest gift we can give each other is love. And, out of God’s love for us, the greatest gift that we have received is the gift we got that first Christmas — the promise that our Heavenly Father is with us and the hope that we will be with Him.

God bless you, we love you, and Merry Christmas.

 

 

Categories: Religion
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