Immanuel, Maranatha

So much has happened in the time gap since I last updated. Among other things, I had the opportunity to preach 4 times at 2 different churches during November, and I finished my first semester of Seminary with (I hope) pretty decent grades, and I was asked to serve as interim Pastor in one of the churches at which I preached.

I am speechless at the grace of God and how He has orchestrated my life in the past months. He brought me here to Kentucky, sustained me, gave me tremendous opportunities, and now has opened the door for me to serve in church leadership already. How very exciting! And how very terrifying! If it were not for the fact that I know the Lord has set my life aside for just such things as this and has thus promised to uphold me, I would run in the opposite direction. Who am I that I should lead? Who am I that I should preach? It is only the Lord who set my feet upon the path He chooses for me. All glory be to His wonderful name!

I have been constantly going back, over and over again, to a simple phrase in scripture. It’s found in Matthew chapter 1: 22-23:

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:’Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,and they shall call his name Immanuel'(which means, God with us)…”

Immanuel – God with us. What a treasured people we are, that God might reside with us! In all things, at all times, God is with His people. That means that God is with me everywhere He brings me, no matter how He brings me there. That means that I have no need (and no right) to fear for my life or my ability or lack of ability…it is God who is with me, who works through me. We are the spiritual Israel, the sons and daughters of those people who walked with God. But now we have received grace heaped up upon grace over and abundantly more than they ever did, because we have the gift of the Son, the baptism of the Holy Spirit! God is not only with us, He is IN us; He has written His law on our hearts; He has called us by His name and redeemed us as sons and daughters. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Immanuel – God WITH us!

The other phrase that has been swirling in my mind often lately is this: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20)

Yes, Christ is our Lord Immanuel, God with us…but I long for the day when I am with God! Maranatha, which mean return Lord Jesus, has been my prayer constantly. I love my family, and my friends, and the beautiful things of God’s creation…but I would leave them all without a glance back if the Lord beckoned me home. I long to be before the throne, and would rather be there than here. I thank God that life is so fleeting – a mere 80 years, 90 if you’re blessed, and then glory!

How often do you pray like the apostles did, that Christ would return quickly? Do you? Do you even desire it? Or are you so enthralled with this world that you are unconcerned with our Lord returning? The actions of most seem to deny any desire to be with God. At the end of 1 Corinthians 15, after his discourse on our promised resurrection with Christ, Paul applies the truth of that promise by saying, “…therefore, be abundant in the work of the Lord…”. We should live right now like we’re living before the throne already, because truly we are. The world is no shade in front of God’s eyes that obscures His view of us, even though it obscures our sight of Him. You ARE living before the face of God, and so therefore you should use every opportunity to please Him, just as you will when you live before His presence for eternity.

God has been so very gracious to me. I hope that as Christmas approaches you are reminded of His mercy to you.

Immanuel, our God is with us! Maranatha! Maranatha that we might also be with you, Lord Immanuel!

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