Because of my current medical condition, we are not able to attend church services in person right now. If you follow my articles regularly you know that we recently moved from our home of twenty-seven years to a new and more age-suitable home in northeastern Georgia, USA. Due to the distance involved in the move we will no longer be able to attend the church we have been a part of for more than half a century.
Since we are praying that God will lead us to a church of His choice near our new home, we decided to watch a couple of sermons by Jeff W. Crook, Senior Pastor, Blackshear Place Baptist Church. This thriving church has five services each Sunday and all are packed-out. A number of our friends have recommended we give it a try. After listening to these two sermons I can understand why.
Pastor Crook is currently preaching on a topic appropriate to the Christmas season: “His Name is Immanuel.” If you would like to hear the entire sermon, you can access it at this link. This article highlights some of the things I gleaned from Pastor Crook’s powerful message. One of the main points of Pastor Crook’s sermon was that “God Came Down” to us. It was His choice, not ours. He became one of us … a human … born as a baby, raised and taught by loving parents, facing all of life’s difficulties just like us. He walked in our shoes. He personally knows how unjust punishment feels. He was human in every way, yet totally God. I really liked Pastor Crook’s summary statement that went something like this: “He came down to our place to take our place so we could go to His place.”
Scripture: (all ESV unless otherwise noted)
Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.[a]
Matt 1:23 –“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
1 Timothy 3:16 – Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He[a] was manifested in the flesh, vindicated[b] by the Spirit,[c] seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
Hebrew 13:5 – Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
Matthew 28:20 – teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Revelation 21:3 – And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place[a] of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,[b] and God himself will be with them as their God.[c]
John 1:11-13 – 11 He came to his own,[b] and His own people[c] did not receive Him. 12 But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Pastor Crook’s message was chock full of scripture descriptive of God’s purpose for sending Jesus down to dwell among us. Most of the scriptures are recorded above. Each is worth an article unto itself, but I will comment on only a few.
Christmas is not just about celebrating the birth of Jesus. Jesus was born in a perfect time … In His Time. He was laid in a cradle to die on a cross. John says he became flesh and blood just like us. “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true in every way from the start to the finish (John 1:14 MSG). Seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth Isaiah prophesied that He would be born of a virgin and we will “call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) which means “God is with us.” Matthew confirmed Isaiah’s prophecy in Matthew 1:23.
Christmas is all about “God with us” versus “everything else with us” such as Santa, trees, lights, elves, reindeer, presents, toys, family, children, grandchildren, friends, parties, etc.
The Bible contains many, many names for Jesus (see this link listing 198 in the New Testament alone. Pastor Crook mentioned there are 562 references throughout the Bible). One of those names for Jesus is “Immanuel” (also spelled Emmanuel), meaning God is with us. I am in awe that God Came Down! Pastor Crook emphasized that the focus is not on Christ as a baby but on Jesus (1 Timothy 3:16), the incarnation, where God took on flesh and had human blood running through His veins. He, and He alone, deserves the description of Awesome. Nothing other than God/Jesus deserves to be called Awesome. Nothing we do, no one we know is awesome. The word awesome is thrown around and used too much by today’s society. Only God is worthy to be called Awesome. It is awesome that God Came Down, that God came down to dwell among us, to dwell among us in our place. He humbled himself, left His throne with the full intent of taking on sin and the cross! Nothing less! He took on our skin. He walked in our shoes. He grew naturally from a baby born of a virgin to become a man. Fully God, Fully Man!! The Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Almighty God Came Down to Our Place as a human baby to be like us so we can be like him. Jesus lived a perfect life as a man to undo the imperfect life of sin lived by Adam and all of mankind. With His cruel sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary Jesus takes on all of our filth and sin and gives us ALL of His righteousness. Now friends, that is what is AWESOME.
We have the assurance from Immanuel that He is always with us. We are never alone. God is with us. Jesus is with us. The Holy Spirit is with us. God is ALWAYS reachable, always near. The greatest present of all time is His presence. Our children crave our presence. We are to crave the presence of Jesus. Jesus’ presence means His promises are true. He gave us his Word! He promised us! He cannot lie! (Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:17-18). Every time we open your Bible, God is speaking to us. In Hebrews 13:5 Jesus tells us “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He will NEVER, NEVER leave us. Isaiah 43:2 promises “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Jesus emphasizes His continuous presence within us in Matthew 28:20 as he proclaimed “… I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The presence of Immanuel within us is fundamental to happiness. We are assured our prayers are always heard. He is Immanuel. He Came Down To Our Place. He is with us. Every time we pray we step into his presence. Jesus understands our broken heart, he walked in our shoes (Hebrews 4:15). “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). Immanuel, God with us, understands our broken heart … no matter the circumstance.
There is a prerequisite for all of the above to be true. You must be a Christian. To do this You must:
- Realize that you are “lost” – totally estranged from God and separated from God by a sinful nature. (Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.)
- Acknowledge that sin deserves punishment. (Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.)
Acknowledge that Jesus took the punishment for your sins by dying on the cross. (Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrated his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.)
- Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and come into your life. (Romans 10:9 – That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.
If you don’t know how to Become A Christian click the previous link. The Bible promises “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (John 1:9).”
Pastor Crook closed his powerful sermon by saying (paraphrase) “Remember, God initiated the relationship. He loved us first. We did not initiate the relationship. I might be sick of ‘me!’ But God NEVER gets sick of me. God wants to take us to Heaven.” – 11 He (Jesus) came to his own,[b] and His own people[c] did not receive Him. 12 But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:11-13). “He Came Down To Our Place, to take our place, so we could go to His place.”
Forty days after His glorious resurrection, Jesus ascended back to the right hand of God to prepare a place for His children.
John recorded the comforting promise of Jesus: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions;[a] if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”(John 14.1-4, NKJV).[b]
Many Southern Gospel groups have recorded the song “He Came Down to My Level.” I particularly like the version recorded by the Gaither Vocal Band in 1989. If you have read this far, you will surely enjoy this brief live presentation.
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Links to Other Related Material:
- His Name is Immanuel (Part 1) – Jeff W. Crook, Senior Pastor, Blackshear Place Baptist Church
Other Christian Articles by Jim Davenport:
- OMG – “Oh, My God!
- When a : (colon) is not a colon – Medical Update
- Moving On – In Accordance With God’s Will
- If I Were The Devil
- From Persecutor to Persecuted
- The Spindly Grapevine
- Our Source of Courage
- Be Strong in The Lord
- God is Faithful
- Our Comforter
- God Will Provide
- In His Time
- God’s Solution for Anxiety
- Facing Tough Times
- Is Anything too Hard for God?
- Do Not Fear
- An Anchor in the Time of the Storm
- His Grace is Sufficient for Me
- Become A Christian
- Sin’s Earthly Consequences
- Fully God, Fully Man!!
- All of Jim’s Christian Articles
Southern Gospel Music by The Good News:
- Listen to The Good News – includes over 2 hours of southern gospel music recorded by The Good News quartet; once you are there scroll down and click on the tune you want to hear. Share “the good news” from The Good News with your friends.