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“Christmas at CityRise” // Matthew 1:18-25

Mary Ellen Ermis November 27, 2022 sermons, Christmas at CityRise, cityrise, houston, Matthew, Roger Patterson, West U Baptist,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday, November 27, 2022 at our West U Baptist campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.

Today’s sermon title – “we need his presence.”  “Not presents, but presence!”

Our five-year-old niece, Molly, spent the night with us this past Monday night. She is a strong, independent, creative little girl. She lives in New Braunfels, Texas, with Julee’s brother, Jehu, and our sister-in-law, Kristen. Molly’s smile lights up a room, and she is so fun to be around.

On Monday evening, once it was decided Molly could come spend the night with us, Julee got on the phone with her parents. You see, they wanted to prepare us that Molly would want us to be close by, as she had recently had a nightmare after Halloween, and didn’t like going into strange places without an adult, or her 13-year-old cousin, Carson.

Molly loves to go, do, explore, create, laugh, and play…just like every other five-year-old that you and I know. Yet, the scare has gotten her a little more aware of where her trusted adults are, as she needs to know that they are present to give her a sense of peace.

As we kick off Advent today, we are going to be looking at a number of WE NEED STATEMENTS – these are things WE NEED TO KNOW, that God has been sure to tell us.

Around Christmas we think of gifts we would like to receive and we are asked, “what would you like for Christmas?” Great question. In these accounts, God is showing us that:

  • We need His Presence.
  • We need Him as King.
  • We need His Peace.
  • We need Joy.
  • We need Hope.
  • We need His Adoption.
  • We need His Confidence.

Today, we are going to look at the first one of these…We need His Presence.

Matthew 1:18-25

 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[a] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus

Look also with me at Isaiah 7:14.

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.

Emmanuel… God with us.

Notice how Matthew says, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet…”

He then quotes Isaiah 7:14, and adds these words, “which means, God with us.”

What does it mean that God is with us?

In theology, we call this moment, the “Incarnation.”

Definition of incarnation.  Latin – incarnatus –literally means to make flesh.

In Jesus, God became flesh. Literally he is God with us! That’s great news.

As the Apostle John opens his gospel, he says it this way in John 1:14.

John 1:14

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

NIV-  the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us

NLT-  the Word became human and made his home among us

HCSB-  the Word became flesh and took up residence among us

MSG- the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood

Today, I want to give you 5 truths that the incarnation gives us, that will help us go Deeper in our understanding of Christmas. And that ultimately is what we want for you this Christmas. We want you to have a DEEPER DECEMBER. I know it’s not December yet…but we want you to experience a depth of the Incarnation this Christmas…so keep your eyes out for the mail later this week, as we have a little gift coming to you.

Here is the first truth about the incarnation.

5 Truths about the Incarnation:

  • He is NEAR.

He is no longer a distant God. Jesus has closed the gap.

  • He is no longer a distant God. Jesus in the incarnation has closed the gap between God and man and come near.
  • Cf: Acts 17:24-27. “He is not far from any one of us…”

In Psalm 23, we see that Jesus is the Good Shepherd that leads us in every facet of our lives.

In 1 Peter, we are told to cast our cares upon Him, because He cares for us.

In the incarnation, God came near.

As you consider creation, and all that we know of our world, and of our universe, the Scripture says that our Lord holds it all together, fills it all, and yet He is near to you! This is what Jesus gave us the first Christmas, the gift of Gods proximity!

  • Can you imagine the cry in the darkness of that first breath Jesus took, that was God coming close to us!
  • Good news friends, He’s close by!

What’s the second truth we need to know about His presence this Christmas?

Slide: 5 Truths about the Incarnation:

  • He is NEAR.
  • He is AVAILABLE.

Hebrews 13:5b

“… I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 4:14-16

 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 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. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

He is not preoccupied with something else. He doesn’t have bigger and better things to do in such a way as to not be available to you and me. He never says, sorry, not now, I’m too busy!  No…he is always present, and always available.

Psalm 46:1-3

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present
 help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

He is at the ready and available.  He says repeatedly , “call to me , and I will answer you.”

I am very unlike God as a parent…  I must admit, I am often too busy, pre occupied, too limited in my availability. But thank God, He is always right there when we need him and he delights to be so!

God with us declares that he is AVAILABLE TO US!

What else do we need to know about His presence this Christmas?

5 Truths about the Incarnation:

  • He is NEAR.
  • He is AVAILABLE.
  • He is ATTENTIVE.

I want to show you something about your attentiveness of our Lord. Look at how the Lord keeps us.

Psalm 121:1-8

 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

Verse 2 – the Lord is my helper.

  1. 3 and 4 – He keeps us…he keeps Israel…and he will not fall asleep.
  2. 5 – The Lord is your keeper…your shade.
  3. 7 – He keeps us from all evil…keeping our lives.
  4. 8 – He keeps our going out and our coming in…

Notice how attentive our Lord is to us.

  • Isn’t it amazing that the God of the vast universe who upholds everything and sees and hears all is in tune with your needs!
  • He is attentive and he is never unaware of our situation and our need.

One of my favorite verse in Matthew is right before Jesus teaches us how to pray. It is Matthew 6:8, which says…

Matthew 6:8

 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

If you’re here today and you’re hurting and struggling with something, can I tell you, He sees you! He is attentive to you…He is near you…He knows exactly what you need.

What’s the fourth truth that we need to know about the incarnation this Christmas season?

5 Truths about the Incarnation:

  • He is NEAR.
  • He is AVAILABLE.
  • He is ATTENTIVE.
  • He is ABLE.

Notice these two scriptures about God’s power.

Isaiah 59:1

Behold, the Lord‘s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
    or his ear dull, that it cannot hear;

Jeremiah 32:27

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?

God never has a capability problem. He never lacks the wisdom, power, and might to do whatever he wants to do.

He is omnipotent!  There’s nothing that our God can’t do!

Whatever you need today, He can!

  • If your kids are away from the Lord in rebellion, HE CAN!
  • If your marriage is hanging on by a thread, HE CAN!
  • If you don’t know how your going to make ends meet, , HE CAN!
  • If you are lonely or depressed or anxious today, , HE CAN!
  • If you are…fill in the blank… HE CAN!

What’s the fifth truth that we need to know about the incarnation this Christmas season?

5 Truths about the Incarnation:

  • He is NEAR.
  • He is AVAILABLE.
  • He is ATTENTIVE.
  • He is ABLE.

Here’s the best news… not only is he near, not only is available, not only is he attentive, not only is he able, but he actually truly cares!

He understands your need and he cares. He is moved with compassion the scripture says!

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.

Look at what the prophet Isaiah says of the Messiah.

Isaiah 53:3-4

He was despised and rejected[b] by men,
    a man of sorrows[c] and acquainted with[d] grief;[e]
and as one from whom men hide their faces[f]
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.

Here is what we must understand: Jesus experienced every pain, every hardship, every hurt that we experience.

Whatever it is you are going through, he gets it!

  • This is one of the main points of the incarnation. He came and walked a mile in our shoes .
  • Betrayal, being misunderstood, being unappreciated, being rejected, being hungry, thirsty, tired, lonely, physical agony, spiritual yearning, he gets it. He gets it all!

The God we worship and serve is not a god who is disconnected from your suffering and struggle, he is a God who intimately understands!

Because of Jesus, God is truly with us!

  • He is near,
  • he is available,
  • he is attentive,
  • he is able,
  • and he understands!
  • And all of this closeness with God is accomplished for you and purchased for you by Christ’s finished work on the cross!

Here what Emmanuel means for you today:

  • You are not alone !
  • You are not helpless!
  • You are not hopeless!
  • You are loved!
  • You are cared for!
  • You are watched over!

Let me leave you with this verse.

It’s a verse I share with many people as they are walking through challenging times. It’s a reminder to them of God’s presence.

Isaiah 41:10

fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Our great need is His Presence. His greatest Present to us is the gift of himself. He is with us. Emmanuel means God with us.

Let’s worship him together!  Gospel response.  Will you let Jesus come near today?