Evening English Service
Messenger: Don Frank
Date: December 3, 2017
Title: Here I Am!
Bible Passage: Matthew 1:23 (NLT) Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means 'God is with us.'
Introduction: Today we are starting the season called Advent, the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas. Are you starting to get in the mood for Christmas? I couldn't help but be in the mood. I had an English class down at Sapporo Factory on November the 2nd right after Halloween had finished. And when we finished the class and I was heading back to the parking lot, guess what I saw? A huge Christmas tree set up right in the middle of the food court! Talk about early! Thanksgiving hadn't even arrived yet and already the Christmas decorations were up all over the mall! They were even playing Christmas music over the PA system in the parking lot! The Christmas Season IS here! And the verb of that sentence is my theme for this evening's message.
You know, I never thought I would have a career as a teacher, especially as an English teacher. That's the thing about careers. You almost never know at the front end that it's going to be a career! Now, 25 years later, it has dawned on me that my career is being a teacher. And so, being a good teacher, I would like to pass onto you the things that God has taught me about Himself as well as the English verb BE. You didn't think you were going to have an English lesson tonight, did you? Hee hee!
The title of my message tonight is "Here I Am!" and one of several scriptures that I'd like to share with you is Matthew 1:23 about the promise that God' Son was going to come into our world. But before we get to that, let's rewind all the way back to early in the Old Testament.
1. God's Name - Exodus 3:14 - God replied to Moses, "I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you." (NLT)
We start our study this evening in the book of Exodus and God is our teacher. (Read on the screen) When Charlton Heston, oops, sorry about that, when Moses asks God what His name is, God replies with the name "I AM." This is the first time that we learn God's name in the Bible. Until then, the Jews called Him "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
The "I AM" here is the Hebrew word YHWH or Jehovah in English. It's the most holy name for God. Even today, the Jews won't pronounce that name when they see it written on a page. And the key point is that right from the beginning of the Bible, God is telling us something about Himself. He never changes. His Word never changes. He always is, present tense! Nothing is past or future about God. He IS just as much Himself now as He IS yesterday as He IS tomorrow! He always IS! Boy, that'll mess with your mind, won't it?!
2. God's Son's Name - Matthew 1:23 - "Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means 'God is with us.'" (NLT)
Our lesson continues with our main scripture verse for the evening in the beginning of the book of Matthew - and our teacher is Matthew, courtesy of Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 7:14). (Read on the screen) Now, most of us know this Bible passage very well. Every Christmas we read this passage and we even sing some songs about this. But have you stopped to think about it? God not only IS, but He IS WITH US! Of course, God said this many times throughout the Old Testament. Look at Joshua 1:9. We're back with Charlton Heston, alias Moses, blessings Joshua to lead the Jews. "This is my command--be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (NLT)
But this time it was something different, something more. It was a prophecy being fulfilled. It like God was saying, "OK, I'm keeping My promise. I am literally being born like one of you and I AM WITH YOU, right before your very eyes!" God IS with us, direct, personal, believable, touchable - and with the name Immanuel!
3. God's Presence - Matthew 28:20 - I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (NLT)
Moving on now to our next BE verb, we find this at the end of the book of Matthew - and our teacher is Jesus Himself. (Read on the screen) This verb comes from the lips of God's Son Himself. "I AM with you, even to the end of the age" he says. I am (present tense) with you... for how long? The nuance of this last phrase is "to the end of time itself." When Jesus comes back at His Second Advent, when time itself stops and is no longer necessary, Jesus said I AM with you. It's like that last verse of the hymn Amazing Grace:
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
Now, if you think about this, it's kind of strange, isn't it? Just a very short time after this, Jesus blessed them and then took off for heaven! Yeah right, I thought you just said you we're going to be with us always! And that's where our next lesson comes in.
4. God's Home - 1 Corinthians 3:16 - You know that you are God's sanctuary and that God's Spirit lives in you... (ISV)
Now, this brings us to our next BE verb. We find it in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 3 - and Paul is our teacher. (Read on the screen) We are God's home now because God's Spirit lives in us. Right now, God Himself by His Spirit is inside your body. Isn't that amazing? He goes where you go. He hears what you hear. He sees what you see! Uh oh! Now that can be kind of a scary thought! But that's what God's Word is telling us here and in many other passages as well.
Jesus said in John 16:7 (ESV), "I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." And Jesus did send Him. And now He lives right inside of us, just as if our body was His House. Makes me think more seriously about taking better care of my body!
5. God's Promise - Ephesians 2:6 - God raised us up with Christ. He has seated us with him in his heavenly kingdom because we belong to Christ Jesus. (NIrV)
And our final English lesson tonight is found in the book of Ephesians, chapter 2. Paul again teaches us one more eye-opening truth. (Read on the screen) Whoa! Are you serious? Of course we know that when we believe in Jesus as our savior that we are raised from sin and death just as Jesus rose from the grave. That's the whole idea of Easter and that message we know so well. But look at the last sentence. God has seated us (past perfect tense) in His heavenly kingdom. Now the verb here is not present tense, but past perfect. What that means is that God seated us in heaven already and that work is perfectly complete! We already occupy our seat in God's Heaven! We are there right now!
And why has this happened? Because we belong (present tense) to Jesus. Other Bible translations say that we are in union with Jesus. Christ has united us to Himself. We are connected to Him, joined to Him, even merged with Him. So much so that we are becoming like-minded with God's Son!
Conclusion - Now our time is all but gone for this evening. What would I have you take with you from this study? (1) God IS the same, loving, good God as always. He never ever changes. (2) And that same God lives inside the heart of every believer. (3) And finally, though are bodies are still here on this earth right now, we are so connected to Jesus that we are already sitting in heaven with Him!
Closing Prayer - As we usually do, let's take some of God's Word that we've studied tonight and pray the promise back to Him in thanks and praise.
Matthew 1:23 & Matthew 28:20
"Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means 'God is with us.'" " I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you that the Advent Season begins today. We thank you that you sent Your Son, Jesus, to be born into our world. We praise you as our Immanuel. Thank you for always being with us even until time comes to an end. And dear Holy Spirit, guide us everyday and help us to enjoy better and better fellowship with you forever. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.