After giving it some thought I decided to say, “No.” to Nerida’s invitation to speak at the 2009 Christmas Eve service. However, the theme stuck in my mind.
“God for us, God with us, God in us.”
1. God With Us
The central theme of the Christmas season is God with us.
The gospel writer,Matthew, in 1:23 recalls the prophet message of Isaiah recorded many years before, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means, God with us.”
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians states, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as aman, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.”
Following the resurrection, Matthew records in 28:18-20, “Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The central theme of the gospel message—God with us.
2. God For Us
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans declares in 8:31-38 that God is for us building his declaration to an amazing crescendo in the final verses with, “No, in all these things we are more than conquereors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God’s heart toward us is always wanting our best. He never wavers—God is for us, which is counter to what some people choose to do when faced with difficulty, blame God. Pain and suffering are consequences of a fallen world where the decision was made to turn from God.
Down through the years many people have found reassurance in Psalm 23, which affirms God is for us and He is with us no matter the circumstances, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff they comfort me.”
3. God In us
Again the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians writes in 1:25-27, “I…present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed…God has chosen to make known…the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
God for us, God with us and God in us brings amazing possibilities for 2010.
By the way Nerida chose to speak herself at the Christmas Eve service. I heard she did a great job.
Acknowledgment: All scripture passages have been quoted from the New International Version.