Sermon:  He is Immanuel

Summary:  God no longer comes near through a burning bush, tabernacle, prophet, or
vision.  He has come near through Jesus, who is God in the flesh, in order to reconcile us
to him so that we can serve him and also carry the message of reconciliation to others.

Know:  Jesus has come to live in our hearts through faith so that we can serve him and
carry his message to those who need to hear it

Feel:  A desire to be near to God and fulfill his will

Do:  Reflect on the extent God went to in order to draw you near to him and how being
near him should change your life.  Identify specific ways God can use you to draw others
near to him.

Text:  Matt 1:18-25

Scripture Reading:  Deut 4:7

1.  Have you ever heard of heavenly beans?
	a.  Carrie thought Christmas for heavenly beans, everyone singing about it
	b.  Song - Silent Night - Sleep in Heavenly Beans
	c.  No, brother said - "It is heavenly peas"
	d.  Commentary on how can hear over and over and not get it
2.  Last several years, surge in interest in Biblical stories in Hollywood
	a.  Movie about Jesus have abounded
	b.  Most of them just don't get it
	c.  Used to say, most more comfortable with divinity than humanity
	d.  In the world it the other way around.  Portray a Jesus too human
3.  I believe greatest misunderstanding this time of year is NOT
	a.  Jesus born on Dec 25th - Most likely not 
	b.  Christmas is an official Christian holiday - It is not
	c.  Greatest misunderstanding - Significance of who Jesus is
4.  Text:  Matt 1:18-25 - Announcement given to Joseph
	a.  Joseph thought Mary unfaithful, God intervened
	b.  Call his name "Yeshua" - means savior/deliverer
	c.  Save people from their sins
		- dishonesty, envy, violence, exploitation, adultery, fornication, 
		- Led to droughts, enemy attacks, hardship, capture and captivity
		- Came between the and the protection and blessing of God
		- Jesus came to save them from their sins
	d.  Jesus came to do more than just save people from their sins
		-  From Isaiah - Immanuel - God with us
		- God came near

I.  God came near in the past
	A.  God was "with" us in the garden
		1.  Walked in the garden with them until the first sin
		2.  They stopped walking with God.  Result - Alienation
		3.  God didn't give up.  Promise to Abraham, blessing for us
	B.  God was "came near" at the base of Mount Sinai
		1.  Instructions for a sanctuary, tabernacle
			a.  In it was the holy of holies and in it was an ark
			b.  On the ark was the "mercy seat
		2.  (Ex 25:21-22) - God meets with his people there
			a.  God's presence symbolically enthroned above Cherubim
			b.  God dwelt among his people in this tent
			c.  Reason it called the "Tent of Meeting"
				- God "met" with is people there
				- High priest brought atonement to him there
			d.  Even though alienation, God comes near again
		3.  God's presence leaves the sanctuary
			a.  They didn't walk with God, sinned over and over
			b.  Without God's presence and blessing, vulnerable
			c.  Captivity for the north and south
		4.  But God was not through yet.  Still had a plan
	C.  In the past, God appeared usually in the form of fire
		1.  Whether burning bush, at Sinai, over Tabernacle, call of Isaiah
		2.  Why?  Think about Fire.  At camp - Camp fire
			a.  People see it and drawn to it, fascination
			b.  Fire offers light and warmth
		3.  But it is not completely safe
			a.  Both draws and repels
			b.  Get close, but not too close, get burned
		4.  Fire can be comforting or terrifying
			a.  Ask anyone who has lived through a fire
			b.  If not treated right, it can destroy
			c.  Need to have a healthy respect for fire.
	D.  This communicates the Holiness of God.  
		1.  You feel drawn to God, not too close or burned
		2.  You can't treat him any way you want or you will get burned.  
		3.  By nature, God is holy and worthy of respect and honor.

II.  God Comes Near again
	A.  God is now about to appear in a way no one expects.  
	B.  John puts it very clearly.
		1.  (John 1:1-5) - God and the word are one
			a.  He and his word create the universe
			b.  Spoke everything into existence by his word, us too.
		2.  (John 1:6-8) - John the Baptist prepared the way
		3.  (John 1:9-13) - He came to his own
			a.  "Came near" in his sanctuary, tabernacle
			b.  People did not receive him, disobedient
			c.  God's presence left, but his plan was still in motion
			d.  About to come near in a new way
		4.  (John 1:14) - Word became flesh, dwelt among us
			a.  Dwelt - lit:  tented or tabernacled among us
			b.  God came near, but not in tabernacle, but in flesh
			c.  Came nearer than he had ever been before
	C.  We saw his glory
		1.  In the past no one could see his glory
			a.  (Ex 33:18ff) - Moses asked to see God's glory
			b.  God put him in the cleft, covered him while he passed
			c.  Moses got a glimpse of God's back
		2.  In Christ we get more than a glimpse
			a.  John did not say, "we got a glimpse of his glory"
			b.  (John 14:6-9) - Jesus says that God has come near 
				- If you know Christ, you know God
				- Only way to know & be reconciled is through Jesus
			c.  When God became flesh, like he said two things -
				- Let me make a way
				- Let me show you the way to God
	D.  In the past, God spoke in many portions and many ways
		1.  Burning bushes, mountaintops, prophets, visions
		2.  God has a message of reconciliation.  Still does.
			-  Not through burning bushes, mountaintops, visions
			- But through word become flesh
		3.  God's ultimate message or reconciliation - flesh and blood 
		4.  Why the ultimate message? - Was both man and God
			a.  Could bring man and God together
			b.  Did this through becoming flesh, and dying for sins
			c.  THAT is the significance of his birth

Concl:  How should we respond?
1.  If not a Christian, respond to the Gospel
	a.  If believe and ready to accept, obey Gospel
	b.  God will come even nearer
	c.  Eph 3:17 - Christ dwell in our hearts through faith
	d.  Came from Heaven, to tabernacle, to a manger, now ready for your 
2.  If you have already done this
	a.  Consider God's plan and how he communicates it
	b.  Ultimate message not vision, burning bush, radio, tract, newspaper, 
	c.  Word became "flesh" - message was a person
	d.  Not only did he teach holiness and mercy
		- Demonstrated through acts of kindness
		- Still his plan today - His message is in you
3.  You know the significance of the incarnation and the rest of the Gospel
	a.  Be ready to share that message not only now, but all year
	b.  Do it not only by acts of kindness, but sharing the Gospel

Questions for Small Group Discussion