Episode 4
27 December 2021

God With Us | Always

As the prophet Isaiah foretold, Jesus came to earth to be God with us. “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).”

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well hello
it's so good to see you and you and you
welcome uh welcome to service today um
and uh not just us in the room but
anybody joining us online or our friends
at other campuses um and actually this
may be the first time we're meeting if
you're meeting me online or if anybody
happens to be visiting for the first
time this weekend let me introduce
myself my name is michelle i'm your
campus pastor here at the brighton
campus and i am so glad uh that we get
to do this together today it's actually
a family service if you see somebody
holding a baby or keeping a toddler
it's because we are all together today
and i think that is
um and so everybody is included today
it's a family affair
uh oh so family how was how was your
yes do you have a good day i we we
enjoyed our time together everybody came
to my house we had parents and in-laws
and brother-in-law's and everybody was
together and i hope that your day was
exactly the way that you wanted it to be
too you know you woke up
at just the time that you wanted to
sipped your
morning beverage leisurely
and um peacefully opened presents with
all the people that you love and
everything fit exactly the way it was
supposed to and everybody was so
grateful for what they got
and all of your meal preparation was
and the dishes washed themselves
might as well right
is that oh is that not is that not how
it went for you
i thought so because i saw your social
media posts
it was looking pretty good at your house
i thought i was the only one who um woke
up to a dog who had gotten into the
yeah that happened
so we just kind of watched him for the
rest of the day
it was as bad as you think it was um
just just over at my house did the house
fill with smoke because the casserole
had dripped a little bit and you yeah we
had prime rib though oh that was good
first time ever i didn't make it that's
why it was so good it was delicious
um but we did have that that smoke uh
incident um
so are you saying that like maybe our
christmases aren't always the way i'm
not the only one who maybe just had that
perfect picture uh in front of the
fireplace while a disaster of a living
room was just outside the frame not just
me i'm not the only one
oh good
i feel i feel justified like
right now it's uh i appreciate that it's
because that's kind of normal isn't it
like i'd like to think that was normal
it was my experience and i'm getting
from around the room maybe it was your
experience too
because for everybody christmas is this
this contrast between
um expectations and
reality you know the magic of the
holiday versus just the everyday
stuff of life
and then
for many of us christmas is a
combination it's this mix of of joy
uh sorrow
it uh is a can be a little bit magical
and christmas can be a little bit
and if that's true for you i want you to
know that you are not alone that we are
in the middle
kind of stuck between god's perfect
intent for this world
and the brokenness
of sin
christmas isn't insulated from that
brokenness it feels magical but it's
real life
tragedy still
happens during the holidays
we can still be
and if you're struggling before the
you can still be struggling going into
the holiday
and so today
the day after christmas as we look to a
new year together i just want to spend
some time looking at the story of jesus
birth from from that perspective with
the understanding that even in his story
there was wonder and mystery
and there was tension
and there was struggle
their reality that mary and joseph were
really just not much different than our
jesus came to us in the midst of that
a perfect man
for an imperfect
so if you'll turn with me in your bibles
today and if you did bring your kiddos
with you um show them what we're doing
in scripture today um you can use the
the bibles that are in the seats in
front of you if you want to do that with
them or open your bible app as you
normally would we're actually going to
hang out for a little bit in matthew 1
and luke 1. matthew the very first
chapter of the new testament the telling
of jesus life uh by matthew and then uh
mark's in the middle we're gonna skip
that and go right to luke matthew 1 and
luke 1. while we're doing that um why
don't why don't you uh tell the folks
that you came with maybe somebody who's
kids if you want to
tell this to your parents
tell the the person that you're sitting
next to the gift that you really enjoyed
getting this year or maybe giving this
year what uh what was it i'll give you a
couple seconds just two
just like throw it they probably know
what it is already
can i tell you mine real quick it's real
it was a 12 inch glass lid for a pan
because i broke mine
and you know what it told me told me my
husband was listening he was listening
me every time i go to reach for the that
pan and reach for the lid i'm like oh
i forgot i broke it i really need to get
a new lid and i repeated this for months
and then he finally got it for me it was
so sweet it was touching it was better
than roses
this year we're looking at the fact that
jesus was the perfect gift
whether we're on the naughty list or the
nice list because really uh we kind of
flip back and forth all the time don't
we we just kind of live right there on
the naughty list jesus uh wasn't the
gift that we deserved he was the gift
that we
and that's how jesus came
he was announced to his mother his
mother mary an angel came to announce uh
his arrival god's plan to her can you
imagine an angel visiting you at any
time it doesn't matter if he wakes you
up when you're sleeping in the middle of
the day you're having your coffee like
that's always an amazing stunning once
in a lifetime for most thing
here's here's what he said to her
don't be afraid mary
you kind of have to say that when you're
an angel coming to a human because
that's the instant reaction don't be
afraid mary the angel told her for you
have found favor with god you will
conceive and give birth to a son and you
will name him
and then it goes on
he says he will be very great and will
be called the son of the most high
the lord will give him the throne of his
ancestor david
and he will reign over israel forever
the angel just told him that she was
going to have a king his kingdom will
never end
mary asked the angel
but how can this happen
i am a virgin
i think she was
she was uh asking that literally oh if
we do have any kiddos watching not too
much in the room right now uh virgin
just means that she was a young girl
she wasn't married yet
and she hadn't had any kids
and she's blown away by this
and i think that mary meant that
literally how could this happen
how does that happen i know where i've
been and what i've been doing how how
do you pull off something like this
angel and and he goes on to tell her how
god's plan was to give her that son but
i also think
after you talk about logistics and
i think she meant that in every other
when you're stunned how how is this
happening how is this happening to me
now why
what is going on
is it possible in that moment
even though she believed what was being
told to her that maybe jesus
jesus didn't feel like a gift
or there's a mix of emotions like the
miracle was real she accepted that but
well she had to tell her parents
can you imagine how that conversation
an angel came to me and told me that i
was going to have a baby and that he was
going to be the savior of the world
how do you think that went off
and she had to tell her fiance
how does that feel like a gift
that feels like
that feels like a plan for my life
completely derailed
what was his experience like
well that's why we're looking at uh
matthew 18 he tells us
perspective this is how jesus the
messiah was born his mother
mary was engaged to be married to joseph
but before the marriage took place while
she was still a virgin she became
pregnant through the power of the holy
joseph to whom he was she was engaged
was a righteous man
and didn't want to disgrace her publicly
so he decided to break the engagement
and as he considered this an angel lord
appeared to him in a dream
joseph son of david the angel said do
not be afraid to take mary as your wife
for the child within her was conceived
by the holy spirit
and she will have a son and you are to
name him jesus for he will save his
people from their sins
and all of this occurred to fulfill the
lord's message through his prophet long
time ago
the virgin will conceive a child she
will give birth to a son and they will
call him emmanuel which means
god is
with us during this whole series we've
been examining that phrase god with us
and we've talked about how god is with
us he's with us in the valleys in those
low points of life and he's with us in
the wilderness in those times of need
when we are alone and we can learn to
depend on god and he's with us in the
storms and those difficult times of life
that just seem to blow in out of nowhere
and we learn in those moments to trust
on god as our stability our anchor
today we're going to see that god is
with us
and that we can trust what he will do
because we have seen what he has
will do is kind of a funny phrase isn't
it's because it's all about the future
it's the unknown we haven't gotten there
yet the that story hasn't been written
yet and in fact
i think
i bet i bet a lot of us are talking
about will do
right now aren't we we're going to spend
the rest of our week planning for what
we will do
come the new year any resolution makers
in the room just give me a quick like
please feel okay
i will
uh change this i will
gain better habits i will
will we
we don't know yet we don't know it's in
the future it remains to be seen
it's not written yet
i brought i brought with me
the best example of
to me at least that the future is
unknown this is how i proved it to
myself the future is unknown and it's
it's right here
this is
my five
journal my mom bought it for me five
christmases ago five years ago and um
because i asked for it and i had this
that for five years i was going to
journal and that's what this journal is
meant to do um it's it's written so that
you start this first year that was 2017
for me and and then you just grab a
snippet of the day like a log every day
on the same day
five years in a row and so you're
revisiting those journal entries every
time you're writing the next journal
entry it's kind of cool huh at least
conceptually i thought it was cool
and and in my five-year journal
this this first year 2017
37 year old me
live in my best single life i was
working here
had um
great relationships i i was loving life
and and i was recording it day after day
for a whole year because i was kind of i
was i was sticking with it i was doing
and and i thought that every year after
that was just gonna be kind of a
rewashed version of that first year
but little did i know
that that early on in that second year
of my journal
this guy
named rick he was gonna ask me out
he was good looking so i said yes
and and he didn't seem too weird i
needed to give him like one date to
figure it out
and so i recorded that day
on january 19th
in 2018
and and that
that yes
changed the course of my life
because all of 2018 was this record of
each date afterwards and each thoughtful
moment and and how he was with me uh
didn't run through struggles and getting
peaks at my life
and then
and then here we are
on october 28 2018
and this happens
see my sunday
michelle from a year ago
never saw that coming
she had she had totally written off that
possibility in her life
she was gonna settle in happy and single
to be aunt michelle for the rest of her
life and that was good that was okay i
liked my life
and after recording i recommend this by
the way if you if you have an
opportunity to grab a five-year journal
do it because what i saw
as time unfolded
why i'm sharing this with you is that i
could see
through looking back every year that
life is unpredictable and the rest of
this journal it is filled with good days
and it is filled with bad days because
that's life it has plenty of happy
moments and it had some really
tough seasons
and you know what
if that date in 2018 had never happened
life would be just as unpredictable
and it would have contained just as many
ups and downs
i think christmas reminds us that jesus
is in
all of those moments emmanuel is with us
he came to us in the unpredictable
that was part of his plan
and mary and joseph
now they they have this choice how will
they respond
matthew 1 24 says this
when joseph woke up from his dream when
the angel was talking to him
he did as the angel of the lord
commanded and he took mary as his wife
what about mary
luke 1 38 tells us i am the lord's
servant mary answered
may your word to me be fulfilled
and the angel after
they just said yes
and it was impossible to know what was
ahead and we can imagine what the next
nine months were like it was this deluxe
combo of moments that uh that were a
combination of moments you cherish and
plenty that you just wish you would have
could forget
and you don't know what each of them are
going to be until you're looking back
why do you think mary and joseph were
able to step into this unknown future
well i think i think it's because they
chose to believe god not just what god
had told them that's essential you had
an angel telling it to you like probably
take him at his word
but they also believed who god
they already trusted his character they
put stock in his reputation
they knew all of those angel came
moments of their ancestors and they knew
that the stories of god
and how he he used men and women in the
past in amazing ways they believed in
god's faithfulness
and that gave them
in hebrews the apostle paul kind of
gives us the definition of faith
here's how he describes it
he says now faith is a confidence of
what we hope for and it is assurance
about what we do not see this is what
the ancients were commended for
all of those people that mary and joseph
knew about the folks who came before and
then paul goes on to list
all of those ancient people and the ways
that they had faith a long list for the
rest of the chapter noah and abraham and
moses and rahab and david
and so mary had this and joseph had this
this whole long
gold star list of ancestors who pushed
ahead of faith and hopeful confidence
and blind assurance and they knew that
they could trust god because they had
seen how he had already been
this is what we need to put our faith in
today the day after the magic and the
decorations are starting to come down
and we're looking ahead into another
unknown year
what we know
is who god is
we trust what god will do because we see
what he has already done
what he has done in jesus the god who
came to be with us so that we can know
him like really know him face to face
not just know about him
given this track record of god
the fact that we can know him we see
what jesus was like on earth and so we
know what god is like in heaven what
what do we do
what do we do next how do we go into the
next year
well let's keep going in hebrews paul
has taught told us all about the
ancients and their record and then we
move into hebrews 12 and he says
and so
since we are surrounded by such a great
cloud of witnesses
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles and
let us run with perseverance the race
marked out for us
fixing our eyes on jesus the pioneer the
starter and the perfecter of our faith
now that we see how god used the
ancients faith and obedience to bring
out his plan of salvation let's embrace
that salvation
we believe that god that jesus is the
way to god
and we can throw off and run away from
the sin
the sin that he came to give us freedom
and then lock in on jesus and follow him
having a faith like that that allows you
to go
wherever he takes you unencumbered quick
the future is unpredictable
so i recommend
that you live it like jesus
i mean it's worth a shot right we don't
know what's ahead how can we go wrong
so how do we do that how do we how do we
i'm not going to blow your minds here
folks everything i'm about to say you
already know but we need to be reminded
are you ready
how do we move forward into this race i
think this is true for all the kids and
all of the adults in the room first we
have to know god be rooted in the
knowledge of his love for us we know him
through jesus and what is our best way
to know what jesus was like and how god
how he is god on earth we know him
through scripture
into this new year
help your kids develop a habit of
knowing god through scripture if this is
a new habit for you start small
but start and begin to know god's love
through the way he describes it to you
in his word start in the new testament
just read about jesus what is he like
that will tell you what your creator is
but don't do any of that alone
the next thing that we do is to to put
ourselves in the community of people who
are doing that same thing
a group of people who are
being rooted in god's love who know the
good news of the gospel
and they are our companions in that
journey they are here to listen to us
when we take on a sin or a stronghold
again and it's slowing us down and
they're cheering us on and hearing our
confession and helping us throw it off
again and they're reminding us of that
gospel and why we are free in christ and
what that means for us put yourself in
the company of people who are running
alongside you
and lastly
live it
with that team of people
if i am living an unencumbered life
where i am confident of god's love and
his grace
i am going to live in such a way where i
want other people to have that freedom
and so with my team
we're telling folks my story about jesus
we are um involving ourselves in areas
of the community that give other people
freedom fixing what's broken that i see
around me because i won't stand for it
because god has saved me from brokenness
and i want others to know it too
yeah we don't know what the future holds
for any of us but we know that god is
we know that for us
one obedient day after another it builds
this story
of how he uses
every decision every experience to
perfect our faith
and through that faith he continues to
reveal his goodness to the world around
us drawing all people to him
i got a new journal
this one rick bought because he's a good
the next five years is going to be
another record of god's faithfulness
what if we all did this what if we all
kept record of the next five years we
could all collect our own five-year
journals of different but same stories
of how god is changing and using you to
change your community you could become
of the great part of the great cloud of
witnesses to god's glory
let me pray for you
heavenly father
we say yes
we say yes because we trust you because
we know we can because we have seen how
you have worked not just in our life but
in countless before us we trust you
because of what we see in jesus
use us
to reveal your love and your plan for
our community
lord use us
to make things right
wherever we see that they're wrong
we pray that in your son jesus name amen

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