Sermon December 27, 2009: God with us

Posted in Sermons
[Samuel Acevedo]
  • Presenter: Samuel Acevedo
  • Date: December 27, 2009
  • Location: Congregación León de Judá, Boston MA

How many of you had a Merry Christmas? Pastor Omar and I have a prayer before the Lord today. We want 100% response to that before the end of this day. There is something that God has for you today, for you to be merry and glad about. The Lord is with you and he is never going to abandon you or leave you. Let’s go before the Lord.

Heavenly Father we thank you for your presence. We thank you for every song and carol that was brought before you. Thank you for that choir. Thank you dear Lord God, for the drama. Thank you for the many ways that you have created for us to tell you how much we love you and need you. And thank you for this word. Spirit of God this is your word, I ask that you breathe upon it and bring it to life so that souls may be set free, so that bodies may be healed and those who are in chains and in gloom may walk up free. We ask in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

We’re reading from Mathew, chapter 1, verse 18. This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. “….His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph but before they came together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit, because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace he had in mind to divorce her quietly, but after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said: Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit….”

And I’ll ask pastor Omar to share this verse in Spanish. “…She will give birth to a son and you’re 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 shall be with child and she will give birth to a son and they will call him Emanuel, which means God with us….”

What does Christmas means to you? You know, a lot of people would rather that Christmas never arrive, that the Christmas season never comes. I bet that some of you are here today, maybe some of you who are listening by the Internet, maybe this Christmas is not what you were hoping it would be. Maybe you haven’t had a Christmas like the one that you really, really wanted for years and I suggest that there’s a reason for that. I suggest that the reason why you are not perhaps enjoying Christmas, and perhaps even all of the carols that we have sung and everything that you have heard is not making sense for you, and you’re sitting there saying, I want to understand what is the big deal about this. I would love to feel the same joy and celebration that everyone else feels when it comes to Christmas. But if I want to honest I don’t enjoy Christmas and I can’t understand why the people who are singing seem so happy about it. I’ll go even further: I bet some of you might even believe, maybe they’re making it up. Maybe even they don’t really rejoice at the idea of Christmas, they’re just working themselves up for today. Because you have been faking it too. You’ve going Christmas by a Christmas, New Year by a New Year faking it, with a joy mask that you put on, that it just isn’t in your heart. And I suggest that the most important reason why this is so is what you think of when you think of Christmas.

We have all been programmed with one idea or another of what Christmas is. This changes from culture to culture. There are people here from Africa, there are people here from Latin America, there are people here from Jersey. Believe me, Jersey could feel like a foreign country too. But whatever culture you are from, you grew up with an idea that if these things are not in place, a, b, c, you didn’t have a Christmas. If you didn’t have a tree, if you didn’t have a bunch of gifts, if you didn’t have something to give, if you didn’t have a tub of coquito, if you didn’t find somebody I know and thank the Lord for his redeeming blood. Amen. If you didn’t have somebody who could show up with a cuatro, with a Puerto Rican uquelele, then you didn’t have a Christmas.

I want to reconfigure your idea of Christmas. And I have a confession to make: I love Christmas. I love Christmas. I am one of the biggest Christmas fans you’ll ever find. But it isn’t because all of my Christmases have been perfect. I lost a grandmother on December 24th and 20 years almost to the day I buried one of my dearest aunts, also who died on Christmas Eve. People die on Christmas. But it is still Christmas. And I rejoice when Christmas gets here. People lose their jobs on Christmas, but I rejoice with Christmas. And I rejoice when Christmas gets here.

I’ve known to be both a base and about but I love Christmas. Because there is a central idea of sine qua non that makes Christmas make sense. Without this idea there is no Christmas. No matter what else you through at your Christmas, without this idea you do not have a Christmas. And if you have nothing else and you have this truth, no matter what else happens you’re going to have an amazing Christmas. You know why? Emanuel. God is with you.

Behold a 21st century tool in a 20th century hand. God is with us. Oh, praise the Lord. Dios con nosotros. Amen. Now what does that mean? Amen. What does that mean? Everyone say Emanuel. Ok, now say it in Spanish, Emanuel. Ok. What does that mean? All that means is God is with us. Now, this is the central idea of the incarnation. What that means is that God left his throne, came to earth, wore flesh and walked this earth. There are books and books and books on how that can be possible. I’m not here to try to explain to you how God came to earth and became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, I’m here to celebrate the fact that God left this earth, left the heavens and became flesh. I’m here because at this point I can’t imagine life without thinking that God left this throne in heaven and came to hearth.

This isn’t just the central idea of Christmas, serving Jesus Christ you servant of Jesus Christ, you disciple of Jesus Christ, Emanuel is not just a secret to a good Christmas, Emanuel is the secret to consistent Christian victory in a world that opposes the light of Jesus Christ. Emanuel means no matter what hell throws at you, you are guaranteed a victory because God is with you. That’s what Emanuel means. God is with us.

But Pastor Sam of course God is with us. Isn’t he omnipresent? Isn’t he everywhere? Of course he’s with us. Well, you see you didn’t need the incarnation to prove that God is everywhere. Throughout the Old Testament they knew that God was omnipresent. Throughout the Old Testament you had many women who communed with God. Isaiah did not need to prophesize the arrival of Emanuel to prove that God is everywhere.

So this tells me that there’s more to Emanuel that just God’s omnipresence. Don’t let anybody deceive you, there is more to Emanuel than just God’s omnipresence. To make it simple, there are people who understand this idea, oh yeah, God is everywhere, but God to them is like that distant uncle who sends a long distance email on Christmas Eve. Hardly in their lives. You know that he exists, you know that he’s somewhere but he is in the periphery of their existence.

The whole point is that God does not want to be a distant uncle to you. So what does this mean? Emanuel. First of all, it means that God is among us. You know the thing that I love about this idea of Emanuel? This idea of God is with us. Even if you weren’t a biblical scholar and you were just …. And you just loved languages and you were diagramming this sentence, this phrase, God is with us, is one of the most perfect poems in any language because it means all of these things at the same time. And the first thing that it means is that God is among us, not just with us but among us, walking our streets, in our business, with you when you are at that funeral, with you when you are giving birth to that baby, with you when you get that pink slip from your job, with you when you get that diagnosis from your doctor. He is a God that you can get to know and a God who can be known.

The Lord did not have to take on flesh for you to know that he was everywhere. The Lord did not have to become flesh to know what it was to have a broken heart, but he wanted you to know that he knew what it was like to be human, what it was like to go through what you go through. So Jesus took it on just like you do every day.

My Bible says that Jesus wept. My Bible says that Jesus went to weddings. My Bible says that Jesus knew what it was to feel betrayed, to feel backstabbed. Mi Bible says that Jesus knew what it was to feel dissolution. My Bible says that Jesus knew what it was to feel abandoned and alone. It was Jesus who looked to the heavens and fulfilled the prophesy when he said, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? So when it is your turn to look at heaven and see nothing but clouds and say, Lord, why have you forsaken me? You hear his voice say, I’ve gone nowhere, I am with you. God is among us. He wants to be part of your world. He wants to be part your life.

God is with us also means, Emanuel means that God is in your favor, in other words, God is with us in the sense that he is not against you. God is with me, in the same sense that when you turn around and you look at your friends and you’re about to march off, and you’re wondering, who is with me? Who’s on my side? God is trying to tell you that he’s not out to get you, he loves you.

Let me that settle in. he loves you. He’s not out to get you. He wants to be your friend. What we have in Emanuel is God going to crazy, crazy links just to be your friend. And the Bible is full of God’s attempts to befriend us. This mighty, powerful, ……. God humble in himself as we would humble ourselves with a child, trying to be his friend.

You know, it is possible, the Lord does have friends. Abraham was called a friend of God. The Bible says in Exodus, chapter 33 that Moses spoke to God face to face as a man speaks to a friend. The Bible says that David was man after God’s own heart, which means that he knew God’s heart. He saw God’s heart. He spoke to God heart to heart.

When was the last time you had a heart to heart talk with God? When was the last time you felt that you weren’t in the presence of your distant uncle, but you were in the presence of your friend, your divine, all mighty friend? When was the last time the Lord invaded your Bethlehem, invaded your shadows and said, I am here, I am your friend? If you don’t understand this it could be for one of two reasons: it could be because you’re convinced that God has forsaken you, that circumstances have proven to you beyond a reasonable doubt, maybe this God, even if he did exist, is not interested in me. Let me suggest something, maybe those same circumstances, maybe those same trials, isn’t God abandoning you, maybe it’s the opposite, maybe it’s God trying to get your attention, maybe it’s God giving you a reason to call up to him, maybe it’s God encouraging you to go one step beyond your relationship and get to know him. He wants to be your friend. And so you say, pastor Sam, man, with friends like that I don’t need enemies! But you know what? He loves you too much to just let this thing go. The Lord is going to continue to pursue you be he knows how badly you need him. He is not going to relent. As long as there’s breath in your lungs God sees hope. As long as there’s breath in your lungs when the Lord looks at you he sees someone who could become a friend. He sees a soul that he can connect with. He sees a heart that he can dialogue with. He sees a life that he can minister to. He sees a miracle that he can make happen. He sees a forum for his glory. When God sees you he sees a temple waiting for the Holy Spirit to happen. He literally God would literally want to crawl inside you and make you understand, literally. He wants to be not just with you but inside you. He wants to be your friend because he has a purpose for you.

Which brings us to the next meaning of Emanuel: God is with you accompanying you, supporting you, leading you. I’d say encouraging you and egging you on. God is with you in the sense that God is there beside you encouraging you. It’s like the singer performing an opera, and you’ve heard many artists say, I sang like never before because I thought the audience was with me. Well God is with you, applauding you, egging you on, giving you ideas, giving you his anointing, giving you his revelation.

When I think of this idea of God being with me, I think of the book of Esdra. Esdra had a phrase throughout his book, you didn’t have many miracles, you don’t see many miracles in the book of Esdra but what you see is this pattern over and over again. You see Esdra getting an idea from God, some crazy thing that no one has ever done before but God tells Esdra, you go to this. Some dream whispered to him by the Holy Spirit and the Lord plants this idea in Esdra’s mind and in Esdra’s heart.

Now, how many of you know what I’m taking about? All of a sudden you receive; your mind receives a message that only could come from God. No one in your family, nobody has ever done the college, all of a sudden you feel the star of David over you, you feel the light of Bethlehem shine on you, the spirit over shadows you as he overshadowed the womb of Mary and inside your life God conceives life. No one has ever succeeded in anything, but somehow God is telling you, you are the first, it’s you, you’re the one. No one in your family has ever been free from drugs or alcohol, but the Lord’s light shines on you and he says, I have given life, I’ve put life inside you and you are going to be the one, you are going to be the one to bring back the shadows in your family. Go, I am with you. Go, attempt it, I am with you. There you are, you’ve been sitting in……. perhaps for years en León de Judá. You see, this choir, singing like angels. Why don’t you talk to the members of this choir? Why don’t you ask them their stories? Why don’t you ask them how they got there? Why don’t you ask them if they’ve ever had a hard Christmas? Why don’t you ask them if they’ve ever gone through hell? And they reason they could sing the way they sing. It’s that the Lord has whispered to them. And the Lord has said, I have a new life for you, something you can’t imagine. And go do it. Do this thing no one else has done. I’m with you. I’m with you.

You see, there is a difference. With people who live, live day to day, with this idea of Emanuel and those who don’t. There’s a difference.

Brothers and sisters, I want you to walk out of here asking God give me a mission worthy of your glory. Give something impossible. Because the Christmas story is nothing if it’s not, God can do the impossible; all things are possible with God. When you wake up to this idea, God is with me, there’s nothing that can stop you.

You see, take Joseph, for instance, you know, in scripture you never see Joseph say a thing, he never utters a word. Nowhere in scripture do you see the words, Joseph said, but what you do see is the Lord revealing himself to Joseph in dreams. And the Bible says, the very next day, or that moment Joseph walked, or Joseph acted. If God is with you live boldly, if God is with you listen to those dreams and take those risks for the Kingdom of God. If God is with us who can be against us? If God is with you who can stop you?

I’ve tried to live my life and encourage others to hear the voice of God and even if you see nothing but the end of the road around you, even if you believe that this movie is about to end, this much I can say: it’s about to be 2010 and I can tell you with all confidence, I have never ever, ever, ever seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread and that is the same God who’s with you. That is the same God who is inside you, that is the same God who’s making this promise to you. Lion of Judah, God is with you. It doesn’t matter if hell doesn’t like it. It doesn’t matter if hell has a ……. or two for you, God is with you and the gates of hell will not prevail against you.

Let’s stand for a moment. I want you to whisper this word with me: Emanuel. God is with me. Do you believe that? I want you to bow your heads for a moment. Thank you, Master. You have never turned your back on this planet. You have a plan. You are the eternal Father. You are wonderful. You are all mighty, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace. The government is on your shoulders Jesus. There is no one like you. All authority in heaven and earth have been given to you. The angels bow before you and call you King and it is you who says that you are with me, it is you who says that you are with this people. You are mighty, you are invincible, you are amazing and there is no one like you.

Master, if there’s a life for you to invade, I declare the heavens open as they were that day, I declare Gabriel and his post as that day, I declare the host of heaven open declaring, tidings of great joy. I declare the light shining on that one soul who absolutely needs a savior to be born. Bring life where there have only known death and who’ve only known setbacks and have only known trouble. Be with them Jesus. Be with them Jesus. Be with them Jesus.

If you’re here today and this is news to you, you’ve never looked at Christmas this way because you don’t look at God that way and you say, pastor Sam I want God to be with me today, I don’t want to go back without knowing that he is with me inside me, I want to receive him today. I want God for Christmas, I want God for New Year, I want God for Valentine Day, I want him with me. I want him with me today.

Please raise your hand. Especially if you’re receiving Christ for the first time I’m going to ask you to come forward. If this is the first time you’re raising your hand and you’re saying I receive this Christ, I invite you to come forward. That maybe you’re raising your hand because you’re receiving the encouragement and you’re receiving the Lord, and you’re receiving this all mighty God who’s going to…. I want you to receive that as well in Jesus name.

Father, you know the people that are lifting up their hands before you right now. You know what they need for a season such as this. Father as we have heard in this word, we declare one more time that you are with us, Lord God, that you want to be with us, that you want to be our friend, that you are there encouraging us, moving us forward, Lord. That is why we lift up our hands before you right now, Father, we want to be with you as well. We don’t want to leave this place without a shadow of a doubt that you are with us, Lord. Manifest yourself, Lord. Reveal yourself to each one of your sons and daughters that are here, may they be encouraged in the truth, in the fact that you are with them.

Today we declare Emanuel. We declare Emanuel upon our lives. Lord, we declare that you are with us, that you are with our loved ones, that you are with us wherever we go and Father, let your light shine upon us always. We give all the glory and all the honor just to you, Lord God. Be glorified in our midst, Lord.

Sermon delivered by Samuel Acevedo December 27, 2009 at Congregation Lion of Judah Listen | View(100K) | View(350K) | View(1200K)

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