Gift #1054: Promise of His Presence

And I will make a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant. I will give them their land and increase their numbers, and I will put my Temple among them forever.  I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And when my Temple is among them forever, the nations will know that I am the Lord, who makes Israel holy.” Ezekiel 37:26-28

They will be my people, and I will be their God.  And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants.  And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.    Jeremiah 32: 38-40

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Rev 21:3-5

On Christmas Day we celebrate the ultimate gift – the promise of His presence.  The message of Christmas  a very simple one – God is with us.  But it is profound enough to shake the foundation of the earth and change every life and the course of the future.  The fact that God is with us alters everything.  We are not isolated accidents in an impersonal universe; we don’t struggle through meaningless lives; sorrow, fear, and loss are not our ultimate destiny.  God is our companion through life – He sees us, He loves us, and He never leaves us.  The heartbeat of God ever since the dawn of creation has been to be with His people.  Over and over throughout Scripture God promises to dwell with His people in relationship with them.  I love the wording God used in the two promises from Ezekiel and Jeremiah.  So many of us struggle with a right view of God: we tend to see Him as hateful and harsh, disconnected and uncaring.  But let His words sink into your heart.  He promises a covenant of peace, He makes His home with us, He will be ours and we will be His.  He will give us a heart to love and worship Him, He will do good for us, we will be with Him forever.  These are some of the most precious and tender promises of God.  On days when I struggle with discouragement that I don’t love or obey God like I should, this verse speaks comfort and assurance to me.  He has promised to give me a new heart that will adore Him.

And then on a quiet, nondescript night, the promises came true and God made Himself in the likeness of man.  A strange reversal of original creation, when He first made man in God’s image.  Now the roles were reversed and God was coming to undo the curse of sin.  God became flesh and dwelled with us.  Who can fathom it?  In Him we were permitted to see the glory of God and experience His character as full of grace and truth.  The older I get, the more incredible the Incarnation becomes to me.  The more cherished my God becomes as I contemplate all He does to be with me.  God is not a distant, impersonal force in the heavens.  He is the One who abandons heaven to live our existence just to be with us.  This truth alone is more than enough, but God doesn’t stop there.   He isn’t content to dwell with us in our broken world and forgive our sins.  His plans stretch into eternity.

His coming in the flesh was the first phase; just as “let there be light” was the first order of creation, but it was only the first fruits of what was to come.  In like manner, the Incarnation, the death, and resurrection of Christ are described as the first-fruits of the new creation.  Having secured our release from the curse of sin, God intends to remake us in His image; giving us a new heaven, new earth, new hearts, new bodies that are glorified and that sin will never touch again.  Revelation speaks of the ultimate, eternal fulfillment of His promise to be with us.  All things will be made new and we will enjoy eternal communion with our God and Father.  We will be forever at home.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.  May the promises of  a Savior, a Righteous Branch, and His peace, light, and glory shine on you and fill your heart with joy.  And may the promise of His presence comfort and sustain you in the coming year.  God is with us now and forevermore.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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