WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
DECEMBER 23, 2020
TOPIC: GOD WITH US
BY T. O. BANSO
“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 1:23 New King James Version).
Jesus Christ was both God and man! He is God incarnate. This truth is too hard for some people to believe. Nevertheless, it remains the truth. As the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:8, we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. By the birth of Jesus in the flesh, God became man and lived with us.
Prior to the birth of Jesus, God had sent prophets with specific messages for the nation of Israel and other nations. But, largely, they didn’t listen to them. In fact, they maltreated them and in some cases, killed them. In Matthew 23:37, Jesus described Jerusalem as a city that killed the prophets and stoned those sent to her. Earlier in verse 31, He called the Scribes and the Pharisees the sons of those who murdered the prophets.
Jesus said, “Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar” (Matthew 23:34-35 New King James Version).
In the parable of the wicked vinedressers in Mark 12:1-8, Jesus illustrated how the messengers that God sent to the world before Him were maltreated – beaten, stoned, wounded, or killed. “Therefore still having one son, his beloved, he also sent him to them last, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those vinedressers said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard” (verses 6-8 New King James Version). Jesus was referring to Himself as the son. He was eventually killed, as the vinedressers had killed some of the servants sent by the vineyard owner.
The birth of Jesus was because of God’s love and concern for the world that had rejected all the servants or prophets He had sent in the past. God’s love for the world didn’t make Him abandon her, despite the wickedness of the people. God was determined to save the world; He didn’t want the world to perish (John 3:16). Therefore, He decided to come Himself through Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 1:1-4 captures this well: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (New King James Version).
The apostle Paul says in Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (New King James Version).
In Isaiah’s prophecy about the birth of the Messiah, he said, “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 New King James Version).
Commenting on the fulfillment of this prophecy, the apostle Matthew refers to Isaiah’s prophecy and gives us some understanding of the meaning of the name Immanuel. “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 New King James Version).
Isaiah 7:14 says the virgin shall call the name of her baby Immanuel while Matthew says they (the people) shall call his name Immanuel, which means, “God with us.” In other words, the people shall acknowledge and confess God is with them. This is indeed the essence of the birth of Jesus. The baby, Jesus, would not impact only Mary’s life but the world. Therefore, they could personalize what Isaiah said concerning the birth of Immanuel, the symbolic name of Jesus Christ.
Simeon talked about this at the presentation of Jesus in the temple by His earthly parents. The Bible says Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, the mother of Jesus, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35 New King James Version).
The birth of Jesus means that God sent His Son to save the world from sin, but it also means that God came Himself to save the world. Jesus says in John 10:30 that He and the Father are one. Therefore, God is with us. Prior to the birth of Jesus, sin had separated man from God, but God came in the flesh to live with man and eventually died to save the world.
As you have read, Matthew 1:23 says, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us’” (New King James Version). Jesus was both man and God. Isaiah 7:15 says about Immanuel, “Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good” (New King James Version). In other words, Jesus would be fed with curds (butter) and honey, like other children, until He was old to make decisions for Himself between evil and good. That scripture refers to His humanity.
Making reference to Jesus Christ, John 1:14 says 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. The New Living Translation renders the scripture thus: “So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.” That’s another way of saying, “God with us.”
Speaking along the same line, the apostle Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:16, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, received up in glory” (New King James Version). That’s talking about God with us.
Romans 1:3-4 says Jesus Christ our Lord was born of the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Also, the Bible says in Romans 9:5 that Christ Himself was a Jew as far as His human nature is concerned and He is God, who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise.
In the Old Testament, the people enjoyed some measure of the presence of God. However, the relationship between God and man took a different and higher dimension with the birth of Jesus Christ. In Psalm 46:7, the psalmist says, “The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge” (New King James Version). Verse 11 says the same thing.
This relationship could be described as inferior to the relationship in the New Testament. God came down to dwell among men. Jesus Christ was born to save humanity from her sins (Mathew 1:21). He eventually died on the cross. Those who lived prior to the birth of Jesus didn’t enjoy this.
God with us. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. God is with you not only with regard to the coming of Jesus to save the world from sins. He wants a personal relationship with you. He wants a Father-son relationship with you. He wants fellowship with you.
Have you given your life to Jesus? Do you have a living relationship with God through Jesus Christ? Do you fellowship with Him regularly? Give your heart to Jesus today if you haven’t. He will save you from your sins and you will enjoy other benefits of having a living relationship with Him.
He told His disciples in Matthew 28:20 that He was with them always, even to the end of the age. He will also be with you always. He will stand with you and strengthen you (2 Timothy 4:17). He will never fail you or forsake you no matter what you are going through (Hebrews 13:5). Because of this, you can say, as prophet Isaiah wrote, “Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; Speak the word, but it will not stand, for God is with us” (Isaiah 8:10 New King James Version).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, thank You for being with me/ I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour today and invite You into my life to be with me forever. Every power hindering sinners from coming to Jesus Christ is destroyed in Jesus’ name.
(For over 400 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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