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Why isn’t the promise of God-With-Us (Emmanuel) in the New Testament? (Don’t worry, it’s good news!)

God is WITH ME. I’m hanging on tight to that promise.

HE IS WITH US. That’s good news, but it isn’t the end of the story.

In this season I feel God inviting me deeper.

When I searched the Bible and pulled a long list of God’s WITH US promises, I saw that they are all over the Bible… Until you hit the end of the Gospels.

Then you don’t see “WITH YOU” promised again until it’s fulfilled in the Revelation, with “the tabernacle of God … among men…”

In all these years of clinging to the promise of God with us, I never noticed that the promise doesn’t come up in Paul’s writing or any letters from the early church in our New Testament. Paul and the other NT Writers don’t talk about God WITH US.

The primary promise of the new covenant is God IN us. CHRIST IN US, the hope of glory.

The turning point is Acts 2: When the Spirit comes and fulfills the WITH YOU promise of Christ by indwelling – coming to LIVE IN – His people. Emmanuel, the WITH US God, is now through the Holy Spirit IN US. And Yahweh who once led His people in a pillar of cloud and fire, has actually taken His people – us – and placed us IN CHRIST.

He is IN US and we are IN HIM.

Once again, we could do a 12 week study:

Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:9-11 …If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you….

1 Corinthians 1:30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption…

Ephesians 1 is a long list of the beautiful gifts we have IN Christ, beginning with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies” and ending with the promise that we … “having also believed, were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

This is new covenant living: To see ourselves only and always as IN CHRIST, and Him in us. Intimately and beautifully connected, inseparable.

Can I plant my stake in the ground here? Can I pitch my tent, or even better, dig my foundation and build my house right here: Living in the truth that Jesus is IN ME? Can I refuse to see myself as separate from God in Christ? Can I enter every circumstance, face every fear, every challenge, by stepping back and seeing myself as IN CHRIST? When my world is shaken and I feel insecure: Can I remember that I am not orphaned and alone? I am in Christ and He is in Me.

I’ve spent years practicing believing that God is WITH me, so I felt very confident inviting you to join me, reaching out to hold on to Him.

But I’m just beginning to wade into what it means that Jesus is in me, so I’m not sure how it looks practically. In my mind’s eye, it seems less like holding hands with Jesus and more like a deep breath, a settling, a reality.

I’m trying to spend at least a little time at the beginning of every day, sitting with this truth: God is more than with me, by His Spirit He is IN me, and I am in Him. We are one.

And I will invite you to join me here: Let’s together ask God to show us what it means to live In Christ, with Christ in us. Let’s believe that the indwelling that happened in Acts 2 at Pentecost hasn’t stopped happening, that the actual Spirit of the living God dwells with us and in us.

Will you join me and say a big fat YES to our God who wants to live in us, intimately and beautifully connected, inseparable.


 

If you’d like to join me in trying to practice and live in this truth, take a few minutes to journal, think and pray through the following steps:

Think for a few minutes about the promise that Jesus is IN you, and that God has placed you in Christ. Sit with that for a moment.

 

Take a deep breath, and imagine breathing Jesus in.

Imagine being totally safe, totally connected, one with Him.

 

What difference does it make to believe that Christ is in you?

How does it change how you view your physical body, the temple of the Holy Spirit?

If this is hard for you, that is OK too. Just be where you are, with Jesus, in Jesus.

 

Take a few moments and write out a prayer (or prayer out loud), thanking Jesus that He is in you, and you are in Him. Ask Him to help you live aware of this intimate connection with Him.

Hanging on to the promise: God with us

God is WITH us. This is gospel, this is good news.

We invite people to become Christians.  And we’ve hopefully responded to that invitation ourselves. But do we live the truth that believing Jesus is just the beginning?

Trusting Christ opens the door to a life WITH Jesus. John says, “THIS Is eternal life, that they may KNOW YOU, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

What difference does it make, as you think about walking with Jesus, to know that you are more than just a Christian? You are one who lives her life WITH GOD. You are more than “saved”, you have a WITH YOU God.

I don’t know what you are facing today. But I do know that God is WITH you.

Will you respond? Will you say YES to the great with you promise of Jesus? Will you welcome Him in, remind yourself that you’re not alone, put out the hands of your heart and hold on to Jesus, with you in whatever you’re going through?

I hope so. Because I personally am hanging on TIGHT to this promise.

For the last 2+ years my family has been in a season of great instability and transition. It’s a First world issue, not our health or safety, but we’re facing things that require forgiveness and wisdom and a willingness to wait on God to deliver and save and lead and guide, and I am not always that willing to wait. Our circumstances stand ready to undermine my sense of security and identity.

And I am not sure a good outcome is guaranteed. I am trying hard to believe the best of everyone involved, and I absolutely trust God to bring good out of it in the long run.

But I don’t know how long that run is going to be. And I’ve been running for a while already.

I also don’t know how rocky or dangerous the path is going to be, for me…my husband…my kids… the people I care most about.

I am certain I am not the only woman walking a path she didn’t choose, a path she wouldn’t have chosen for herself or those she loves.

I don’t know what God is doing, in my life or yours. I don’t know where it will lead , I don’t know what tomorrow holds.

But I do know God is WITH ME. He is WITH  my husband, He is with my boys, He is even WITH those who – in my mind – made the decisions that put us in this position.

God is WITH ME. I’m hanging on tight to that promise.

And He is WITH YOU. So I invite you to hang on tight as well.


 

If you are also wrestling with what it means to live in uncertainty but hold tight to God’s promise that He is with you, I want to invite you to journal or pray through the following questions. These have been helpful for me, I hope they’ll help you as well.

Take a moment and think about the promise that God is with us – a promise that is in the Bible from beginning to end. Sith with this promise for a a few minutes.

What does this promise mean to you, practically?

In your present circumstances, what difference does it make that you are not alone?

Close your eyes, and picture yourself lifting your hands to God. Maybe you can only reach one hand out to Him, that’s OK. If this is hard for you, that’s OK too, just tell Him it’s hard, and ask for help.

If you can, reach out in your imagination and hold hands with Jesus.

 

 

Picture the hardest thing you’re facing right now. Picture Him, facing it with you.

 

Write out a prayer (or pray in your mind if you’re not a journaler), thanking Him for being WITH you, always.

Do we need to ask God to “be with us”?

I’ve rarely prayed in a group where SOMEONE hasn’t asked God to “be with us”, I’ve prayed it myself. And it can’t be wrong, since Paul prays it: Now the God of peace be with you all.  (Rom15:33, also 16:20, 24, end of many of his letters)

But I try to catch myself, I try not to pray this anymore, because I don’t know that we have to ask God to be with us. We can thank Him that He IS with us. He’s already promised that He is.

God with us is part of the Original Design

  • Eden: God’s people, in God’s place, in God’s presence. God walked with Adam in the cool of the garden. God With us.

God with us is the great promise of Yahweh through the Old Testament: I am WITH YOU

  • Joseph: God was with him.
  • Leading the nation of Israel in a pillar of cloud and fire
  • Joshua: Be strong and courageous, I am with you
  • The Lord is my Shepherd… Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow…
  • The promise of the coming Messiah: Emmanuel, “God with Us.” “Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”

Jesus came as Emmanuel, a living embodiment of this “WITH US” promise.

  • The angels’ greeting to Mary: Luke 1:28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
  • The life of Jesus is a living representation of God’s WITH YOU promise. The original design was God’s people, in His place, in His presence. In Jesus, we have the very presence of God walking among His people, in His place.

There’s gospel good news buried here: In the life of Jesus, God with us, who was He WITH?

  • The elite, the powerful, the rulers of the world?
  • Jesus was with sinners, prostitutes, traitors, political enemies. Jesus was with religious leaders, the prideful ones who mostly wanted to trap him and the fearful ones who came at night.

It doesn’t look like there was anyone whose social ID or lifestyle kept Jesus from being WITH them.

This is the beauty of the gospel: We can try to exempt others or ourselves from this with you promise of Jesus, but His NAME is Emmanuel. His arms are open wide.

Jesus finished His time on earth with a promise: After commissioning His followers to go out into the world and teach others what they’d learned from Him, He leaves them with the words, “I am WITH YOU ALWAYS.”

In Revelation 21 we’re given a beautiful picture of the City of God, the city whose lamp is the Lamb. The new heaven and the new earth are introduced with these words: Behold, the tabernacle (or dwelling place) of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people and God Himself shall be among them.” Back to the original design: God’s people, in His place, in His presence.

There’s so much in the promise of Emmanuel, God with us: I could easily write a full 12 week study and not run out of things to talk about.

What if we stopped praying and asking God “be with us”, and started living as if He is already? What if we stopped praying for others that God would be with them, and started treating everyone we interact with as if God is with them?

What would change if we lived in this truth?

Love Drives Fear Away {Free Devotional: No Fear}


 

So far 2018 has had more than enough change for me: I’ve graduated a kid from high school, registered another for middle school, quit one job and started another. Every time my youngest son sits on my lap, I know it could be the last. I updated my resume and interviewed for a job for the first time since the 1990s. I let go of work and ministry that have been a part of my life for longer than my husband or children, and am learning something new.It is exhilarating and terrifying and overwhelming and great and in 2 months I’ll be 3 years from 50 (FIFTY.)I’ve needed every lesson I’ve learned about the Biblical command, “Do not fear.”

I’ve needed to know that God sees me. That His promises are worth waiting for. That He loves and chooses me. That the Lord is my Shepherd. I’ve reminded myself over and over that He is with me, no matter what happens. And I am still reminding myself that sonship (my belonging to God as His daughter) may be the antidote to fear.

The changes in our life aren’t over, but I’m learning to embrace even the scary parts. The things I fear open a door for me to wrap God’s good words around me like a blanket, to run to the truth like a fortress, to put God’s promises on like shoes and walk in them.Especially the best and most beautiful promise of all, the love of God.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)

So much in our lives tempts us to look at obstacles, at our lack, at the things we fear. And God invites us to look to Him, to look to love.
How do you fight fear with the knowledge of God’s love?

What would it take to for us to be so sure of God’s love of us that His love would drown out our fears?

This post is the last in the NO FEAR Devotional Series. You can read all of the posts in the series hereIf this devotional resonated with you, feel free to share it using one of the links below: That really helps people to find this site, which hopefully will bless them as it has blessed you!


Love Drives Fear Away {Wrapping up the No Fear Study}


So far 2018 has had more than enough change for me: I’ve graduated a kid from high school, registered another for middle school, quit one job and started another. Every time my youngest son sits on my lap, I know it could be the last. I updated my resume and interviewed for a job for the first time since the 1990s. I let go of work and ministry that have been a part of my life for longer than my husband or children, and am learning something new.It is exhilarating and terrifying and overwhelming and great and in 2 months I’ll be 3 years from 50 (FIFTY.)I’ve needed every lesson I’ve learned about the Biblical command, “Do not fear.”

I’ve needed to know that God sees me. That His promises are worth waiting for. That He loves and chooses me. That the Lord is my Shepherd. I’ve reminded myself over and over that He is with me, no matter what happens. And I am still reminding myself that sonship (my belonging to God as His daughter) may be the antidote to fear.

The changes in our life aren’t over, but I’m learning to embrace even the scary parts. The things I fear open a door for me to wrap God’s good words around me like a blanket, to run to the truth like a fortress, to put God’s promises on like shoes and walk in them.Especially the best and most beautiful promise of all, the love of God.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)

So much in our lives tempts us to look at obstacles, at our lack, at the things we fear. And God invites us to look to Him, to look to love.
How do you fight fear with the knowledge of God’s love?

What would it take to for us to be so sure of God’s love of us that His love would drown out our fears?

This post is the last in the NO FEAR Devotional Series. You can read all of the posts in the series hereIf this devotional resonated with you, feel free to share it using one of the links below: That really helps people to find this site, which hopefully will bless them as it has blessed you!


Audio Books for your SUMMER ROAD TRIP {Update!}

As we head into summer vacation season, I regularly get asked for audiobook recommendations, entertaining books to listen to on long drives.

Last summer I shared audio books the whole family will love (click here to see a very long list of books people of all ages will enjoy.)   I somehow failed to mention the Wrinkle in Time series, maybe I thought I’d talked about it enough online since I yelled at people all year to read the book before seeing the movie? (Really good advice, the book and the movie are two totally different things…) I read Madeleine L’Engle’s first three Time books (one, two, and three) dozens of times as a child, and listened to them with my kids a few years ago – the narrator is wonderful, and the stories stand the test of time (I can only vouch for the first three, I didn’t learn that there were more in the series until I was an adult. I’ve never read the 5th, and thought the 4th was really weird.)

This summer I’m sharing Audiobooks for Grown Ups: I’ve listened to and loved all of these, and think they’ll make your road trip fly. I organized them by topic/interest area, so you can skim through and find the categories that look like the most fun for you.

Love Drives Fear Away {Wrapping up the No Fear Study}

So far 2018 has had more than enough change for me: I’ve graduated a kid from high school, registered another for middle school, quit one job and started another. Every time my youngest son sits on my lap, I know it could be the last. I updated my resume and interviewed for a job for the first time since the 1990s. I let go of work and ministry that have been a part of my life for longer than my husband or children, and am learning something new.It is exhilarating and terrifying and overwhelming and great and in 2 months I’ll be 3 years from 50 (FIFTY.)I’ve needed every lesson I’ve learned about the Biblical command, “Do not fear.”