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Immanu - el

G. Campbell Morgan once said, ?A man's concept of God creates his attitude toward the hour in which he lives.? It's like the story of the bible college students who were taking apples from the cafeteria to their rooms. Someone put up a sign, ?Please take only one apple, God is watching you.? Someone else scribbled a note on the bottom of it saying, 'take all the cookies you want, God is watching the apples.? Your concept of God will shape your attitude toward the hour in which you live and the great need of this hour is for a people who truly know God by something more than just hearsay. Perhaps this is why we are seeing epic films like 'the Chronicles of Narnia? come into being, they call our attention and through obvious allegory invite us to increase our concept of God. They point past the world of material reality, past the tumult of war, past the place of the cloaks of resigned unbelief hung as an intimidating wall within a wardrobe. Such stories seek to remind us of a greater reality that stretches our concept of God and His kingdom to such an extent that we no longer live for heaven, we begin to live for Thy Kingdom Come. Turn with me to the book of Isaiah chapter 9, as we read verses 6 and 7.

I. Almighty God Kneels Down To Pick Us Up... The Incarnation.

How often have you done this very thing with your own children, how many pictures do you have of dad crawling around with his two year old or of mom kneeling down to tie that . . .

G. Campbell Morgan once said, ?A man's concept of God creates his attitude toward the hour in which he lives.? It's like the story of the bible college students who were taking apples from the cafeteria to their rooms. Someone put up a sign, ?Please take only one apple, God is watching you.? Someone else scribbled a note on the bottom of it saying, 'take all the cookies you want, God is watching the apples.? Your concept of God will shape your attitude toward the hour in which you live and the great need of this hour is for a people who truly know God by something more than just hearsay. Perhaps this is why we are seeing epic films like 'the Chronicles of Narnia? come into being, they call our attention and through obvious allegory invite us to increase our concept of God. They point past the world of material reality, past the tumult of war, past the place of the cloaks of resigned unbelief hung as an intimidating wall within a wardrobe. Such stories seek to remind us of a greater reality that stretches our concept of God and His kingdom to such an extent that we no longer live for heaven, we begin to live for Thy Kingdom Come. Turn with me to the book of Isaiah chapter 9, as we read verses 6 and 7.

I. Almighty God Kneels Down To Pick Us Up... The Incarnation.

How often have you done this very thing with your own children, how many pictures do you have of dad crawling around with his two year old or of mom kneeling down to tie that bow on just right? Perhaps the time when you most needed to impress upon them some truth or caution, what did you do? You got down to their level, to look into their eyes with their full attention upon you and you spoke to them truth. When you read Isaiah 9:6 and 7, it becomes clear that the child, this son who is given to us is not a simple human being. The very names that are attached to him point to the extraordinary, the particular or anointed roles he is to perform tip us off to the essence of who he is. Consider it for a moment? Prince of Peace, perpetual righteousness and judgment in government, wonderful wisdom or counsel in the leading of all peoples... and what do we call Him? Mighty God, Eternal Father. Does this sound to you like a typical birth announcement of a human king? No, there is so much more here, it describes the intention of God Almighty to kneel down in order to pick us up. So that there is no mistake as to the identity of this child, Isaiah has already told us His name in chapter 7:14, ?Behold a virgin shall be with child and bear a son and she shall call His name Immanuel.? In Matthew 1:23, this very verse is quoted and the translation of the name Immanuel is given as ?God with us?. That's why the title of this message is hyphenated the way it is, Immanu or With us, and El or God. The concept of the incarnation has become to the world today a mythological tale that has no main purpose. It is a romantic image that speaks of the fragility of the poor and the purity of innocence, pasted to sheet of cardboard that lives in the rafters of the garage. But the truth is, ?Immanu ?El?, with us?God. Why would God humble Himself for all future eternity by kneeling down in such a way as the incarnation? Why would He want to pick us up in such a manner as this? The answer to these two seemingly simple questions will change the course of your life and of human history itself.

1. Why the incarnation? The first part of the answer is that you might believe that God exists. Well wouldn't the existence of His handiwork have demonstrated that? Yes, in fact Romans 1:20, 21 affirm that truth. We know the existence of God even through the evidence shown us in creation. A half baked conclusion would be called intelligent design. But you know what a half baked muffin tastes like, the ingredients are there but the conclusion is lacking something. The answer to the ?why? of the incarnation is that we might know personally the character, the desire, the plan, the passion and the love of God through the invisible being made visible. Jesus Christ is the exact representation of the character and personhood of God Almighty. Just look at the names by which He is to be called?Eternal Father, Mighty God. The first step for you and I, is that we come to a place of belief in the existence of God as revealed through the incarnate existence of Jesus Christ. God knelt down in this way in order that you could look into His face and see that He is.

2. Why would He pick us up in such a way? What I mean by being picked up is more a picture of rescue than it is of nurture. A dad picks up his son or daughter to hug them or carry them. I'm using the idea of being picked up by God more as you would pick up a person freezing beside the road and sure of certain death, the way you would pick up a child in a burning house and run outside with them. What that infers is that we need to be rescued, we need to be picked up by the arms of God. Do you see any moral failure in yourself, do you see the evidence of a self focused way of living in yourself that you know is not only not right but is harmful to yourself and those around you? Until we see the reality of the fact that we are people who have sin and are under the penalty of sin we will sense no need of rescue. The incarnation of Jesus Christ occurred therefore for two reasons: 1.That you might see God for Who He is and believe that He exists. 2. That Christ would be perfectly human, never to sin and thus a perfect sacrifice for all who have sinned. To this purpose Christ awakens your sense of a need for rescue and invites you by faith into His arms that He might pick you up.

II. Almighty God Invites Us To Kneel Down and to Lift Up His Name... The Kingdom of God .

I just want to draw your attention to the words used here to describe what God is about, words like ?government?, 'throne?, ?kingdom?. You see God is not building a democracy, He's building a Theocracy where He perfectly does what man has not even envisioned let alone implemented. What God has started to do in you and I is the putting to death of a self that is smeared with sin. He will complete that work through either our glorification at death or our transformation at His second coming. The greater point is that heaven as you and I have imagined it is not God's ultimate goal for us. His kingdom come, which occurs after heaven has been emptied of humanity, this is what God sets before our eyes this morning. A Kingdom of God mind set sees the tasks of God as ongoing, there being no end to the increase or abundance of His government; it is a mind set where there is yet much to be done after death as Christ governs in justice and righteousness; it is a mind set that has no finish line, only transition points where the state of who we are undergoes redesign from mortal to immortal, from sinful to holy, from individual God seekers to a kingdom of priests. Consider such scriptures as:

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God , and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Luke 21:31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

Matthew 6:9,10 Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

To this end Almighty God kneels down in order to pick us up... the Incarnation.

To this end Almighty God invites us to kneel down and to lift up Jesus?, the King of kings over the Kingdom of God .

This is the gospel of Immanu-El this Christmas.

Rev. Spence Laycock pastors at Church of the Open Bible, Ponoka, Alberta, Canada.
www.churchoftheopenbible.ab.ca