by LA UBF   11/14/2009     0 reads




Matthew 1:23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."

About a year ago I bought an electrical meter. It was a multi-digital meter that cost over $200. But I lost it. I looked everywhere, but it was nowhere to be found. However, right before I came to the Philippines, I visited the house of a friend of mine. His name is Philip. He said, "Isaac, You left your multi-meter at my house." I was overjoyed. And each time I think about it, joy still arises within me. 

Once upon a time there lived in Israel a man named Levi. Yesterday we went to a mall at SM City. There I saw tons of people trying to sell things. We ate at the McDonald's. I ordered two Big Mac's, two french fries, and two medium cokes. The price came out to be 328 pesos. I did not have pesos. But Paul had pesos. So he came and paid for the food. Then I thought to myself, "Wow, money is important." The situation was no different with the people of Levi's day. As a young man, Levi soon figured out that money is very important. So he worked hard. He studied hard. Soon he became a tax collector. But in the course of trying to get ahead of others, he lost something very important. At first he did not know what it was. But later, he met the Savior called Jesus Christ. In fact, in order to look for what was lost, Jesus visited his office. Then Jesus said to him, "Follow me." In Jesus then he found himself. The joy of salvation filled him. With great joy he held a great banquet for Jesus. Some people however could not understand why he was so joyful. So they even accused Jesus, saying, "Why do you eat with dirty people like tax collectors?" Jesus said, "The Son of Man came to seek what was lost." 

Today, we are glad to hear from Levi who personally met Jesus, and through him found himself. I do not know all of you very well. But I can tell you one thing: It is very possible that each of you might have lost the "real you," not any you but the original you, the you as God originally created you to be. In Psalms 139:14 the psalmist says, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." God made you fearfully and wonderfully. God's work on you is meant to be truly wonderful, But can you truly say, "Oh, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. That is who I am"? 

Last night in talking with Hanna I learned that she wants to major in psychology. She wants to know what is going on in man's inner world. So let us examine what is inside of us. I would encourage everyone to close his or her eyes. Then try to look at yourself, if you can. What do you look like? Do you like what you see? Now erase in your mind the image you have seen and draw up in your mind an ideal you, the you which you truly want to look like. Use little imagination. And imagine the kind of you, the best possible you, the glorious you, who you want to carry with you all the time, the you which you want to keep for eternity! 

Now open your eyes. Today we are going to meet Jesus, the Immanuel God who can restore this ideal you, so that you would possess and live with this you for good. Let us bow our heads and pray for a moment. 

I. He will save his people from their sins

In order for man to recover his original beauty, one must first set himself free from what causes man to be less than who really is. In the Bible the cause of man’s imperfection is called "sin." In order for you to recover the original you, the first thing you need to do is to rid yourself of the stuff called "sin." It is very much like reformatting your PC. A month ago, my desktop slowed down significantly. Then I learned that it contracted a bunch of viruses. So, using the restore CD, I reformatted it. And the first thing the CD did was to remove all the existing files including all the viruses and all other undesirable stuff that made their way into the computer. The restore CD just got rid of everything. 

Saving people from their sins is very much like reformatting.

After announcing that Jesus was conceived in Mary through the Holy Spirit, the angel spoke of Jesus' mission, that is, "he will save his people from their sins." 

This passage says Jesus' primary mission is to save you from your sins. Imagine a man drowning to death in a body of water like a swimming pool or a river or even an ocean, not the swimming pool of water, but the swimming pool of sin! Jesus came to save us from our sins!

"What kind of sins," you may ask. There are all kinds of sins. Let me give you a quick list, for Mark 7:21 and 22 read, "For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly." There are thirteen categories. These sins are what make us to be less than who we are created to be. Once upon a time Jesus said to his disciples, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." Yet, these sins make us to fall short of who we are really supposed to be.

But the angel said to Joseph, "You are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins." Jeremiah 13:23 asks, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil." But Jesus can save his people of their sins. Then they can do what is good. 

II. They will call him Immanuel.

Salvation from sin is only a preparation for what is yet to come, that is, to unite a forgiven sinner with God the Father. 

However, no human being can come to God on his own, so God sent Jesus Christ. Whoever believes in him and accepts him as the Savior, Jesus can come in, and have the fellowship with him. 

Now what is truly wonderful is that this Jesus is God himself. Speaking of Jesus' deity, the angel of the Lord said to Joseph, “‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’--which means, ‘God with us.’" 

In the Bible we see that Jesus has many different names. One Bible scholar found seven hundred names. One of them is the Word. Jesus, who is God and the Word, performs one truly great miracle for those who believe him, the miracle called "new birth." Speaking of new birth, the Apostle Peter says, "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God" (1Pe 1:23). When you believe in Jesus, Jesus, who is the Word of God, gives you new birth. Speaking of the same phenomenon, the Apostle Paul says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2Co 5:17).

When Jesus gives you a brand new person, then, you can be truly happy. This is what happened to a man named Levi. Before he met Jesus he was born a sinner. He did not become a sinner because he sinned many times. But he became a sinner because he was born a sinner. That is why he became a tax collector. That is why he was driven by all sorts of sins - evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. But after he met Jesus, Jesus the Word of God, not only saved him from these sins, but gave him a new birth. He received a brand new person. He did not like his old self, so he was unhappy. But when he received a new self, he liked him so much, that he was happy. So he held a great banquet for Jesus. 

The greatest blessing that comes to those who believe in Jesus, then, is the blessing to live together with Jesus, Immanuel. About two thousand years ago, Jesus died for our sins and rose again. Then for those who believe in him, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit who is with us. Through the Holy Spirit, we can have fellowship with Jesus, the Immanuel God. By definition, God is perfect. When Jesus is with us, and we with Jesus, Jesus who lives within us, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, makes us to live a life that is truly fulfilling.

One word: Immanuel