“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:4-7)
In church circles today an often mentioned statement is something along the lines of, “just need to dwell in the presence of God”, or maybe, “wasn’t His presence so real tonight”. In all cases good to say, and perhaps referring to the sense of feeling the presence of God in a spiritual way. If we go a little deeper this is an expression of the heart that reveals our yearning to be in the very presence of God, where heaven and peace abound.
And yet, I wonder how often we miss His presence. Consider this first Christmas. Revealed to Mary and Joseph was something of their Child’s identity, reiterated by some visitors. It would seem they would have had the head knowledge this was the Anointed of God, and their Lord. But did they really see that in their midst was the very presence of God, and in fact they were in His dwelling place? No one could blame them for not fully comprehending this awesome truth, for the place of birth, and loneliness of it, would have not brought to mind the throne of heaven, or the imagined home of God.
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; (Colossians 2:9)
Or, did they just stop, take a deep breath of the atmosphere around them, still their hearts, look in to the eyes and heart of this Child and His promise, and receive that overwhelming sense that they were, here in a stable in a smallish town called Bethlehem, dwelling with the Creator of the Universe?
Our every day circumstances, or even worse, can easily distract us from the greater truth that their is a presence of God even more real than this encounter. And this is a place of God’s dwelling, where we can abide in His heart.
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:18)
For in Christ is indeed the fullness of the Creator, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is in the very heart of God, where pure love dwells. And this fullness is a close as a breath and heart beat for those who do not believe, and for those who do, it is their with in them. For as we believe in Him, He promised to make His home in us, right within our spirit, where He takes over. So much closer than being near Him, as the Bible says, for He is in us and we in Him.
Our challenge is look beyond the pain or challenges of life, hurtful relationships, or our own earthly desires, and choose to focus on the One who dwells with us, and not on ourselves. As we gaze in to His eyes, and seek His heart, searching for our Lord, His Spirit meets us and draws us in to this home of God. This takes faith, trust, humility, and stillness. There is a grace, a heavenly empowerment, that opens this door for us. A God enabling is their to trust this relationship, where others have failed us, and with it an understanding that He knows our eternal needs much better than we do. Here we can find the everlasting love our spirit deeply desires, but we need to tell our soul this is not like the love of this world, which so easily hurts.
This heavenly love is the One, the heart of God, and He sacrificed all so we could dwell with and in Him. This Father is like none on earth we have ever experienced on earth, where His love and care is so complete. This presence has a depth and breadth that we cannot comprehend, and yet is so completely safe to be lost in. We are called to dwell here, and allow this place of dwelling to overflow in to our life, and those around us. The key for preparing for Christ’s return to earth from the Father’s bosom, is to wait in Him in this place…together spiritually and also physically with God’s other sons and daughters.
Let this Christmas be a time to remember there is this place of heaven available for us now, on this side of the curtain of life. In the name of Jesus Christ, may the Lord grace us with the enabling to look beyond ourselves, our struggles and desires, and deep in to His heart, and so join Him there. This is a true miracle of Christmas, really knowing God with us, Immanuel.