By Reverend Dr. Fontella Irons
Bible Texts: Isaiah 7:10-16 and Matthew 1:18-25
(The following is an except from the sermon. You may listen to the sermon in its entirety by clicking on the headphone button.)
God loves us so much that he named his only Son, “Emmanuel” — meaning “God Is With Us.” We must never forget this fact — God is with us. No matter where we go — God is with us. No matter what we do — God is with us. No matter what we say — God is with us. This is God’s promise — I am with you.
This is always true. This is true when we are living in obedience to God and when we are living in disobedience to God. Yes. God is with you when you are obedient. God is with you when you follow the plan that God has for your life. God is with you. Also, what is just as true is that God is with you when you are not following the plan that God has for your life. God is there — even when your life is not what it should be. God is waiting for you to turn or return to God. Even when you say things that you should not say. Even when you think things that you should not think, which is why we must monitor ourselves, especially our thoughts. The Holy Bible teaches us this: “For as she/he thinks in her/his heart, so is she/he,” (Proverbs 23:7). God is with us. Lord, guide our thoughts. Keep us in agreement with your Holy Spirit.
In the Scriptures today, Isaiah, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, wrote: “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14). The passage is prophetic and it also instructs in a very important way: God knows our hearts and God knows when we are simply saying things that sound good, but without integrity. That is the problem with Ahaz. He sounds right. He sounds religious. He sounds like he loves the Lord, but he does not trust God.
Jospeh, in the Matthean text, has the right kind of heart. He hears from God through the angel and he does what God demands. If God is with you, and God is with you, why not do what God demands? Joseph responds to God with sincere obedience. This still true today. The true servant of the Lord must respond to God with sincerity. God is with you, but only you can choose to respond to God.