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Rock Report by Pastor Paul

This is a blog that comes from my personal devotions each day. It will also include sermons as I have to delete them from the audio section of the website. This blog will also keep you up to date with what is happening at the Rock in Strathroy Ontario 

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  • Dec20Sun

    Sermon: “Immanuel - God With Us!”

    December 20, 2020
                As this year winds down and Christmas is upon us once again, 2020 has left quite an indelible mark on this world. Not only has this pandemic ravaged our world but has literally turned the world upside down and continues to do so. Everything is not as it was. Even though the vaccine has started distribution, there is a long road ahead. This pandemic has also shown how fragile the world really is, although us humans like to think we are in total control. That myth was shattered very quickly as this virus spread across the world and continues to rage. Even with all the chaos that surrounds us, our only hope is Immanuel. Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” This year I have not focused on each particular week of Advent as I have done in the past but this season shows us how desperate we should be to have God dwell among us once again. Each day that goes by means that the Second Advent of Jesus is closer now than ever before. Will you be ready to meet Jesus on judgment day?
                The First Advent came with the arrival of Jesus bringing salvation to the earth; our Immanuel had come and God was dwelling among us. John 1:14 “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.” Christmas was just the beginning and Easter and Pentecost must be included in the salvation story. Even though Jesus our Savior, Immanuel was crucified, Peter makes it clear that Acts 2:24 “God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” Then Acts 1:3 “after his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Our only hope of salvation is to repent. Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Then Paul summarizes 1 Corinthians 15:3 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
                Yes when talking about the Christmas Advent, you also have to talk about Easter and Pentecost because Jesus not only came to save us but to empower us as well to go and do as He did. Luke 2:11 “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger,” but after being crucified, He rose from the dead and gave us the power and authority of His word to defeat satan. Jesus is the Messiah. Mark 14:61 “The high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Matthew 28:18 “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
                The Second Advent is when Jesus returns to take us home where we will dwell with Him forever. Acts 1:1 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Over two thousand years have gone by which means we are getting very close to the end of time as we know it. 1 Corinthians 15:51 “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We have been told 2 Peter 3:3 “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (Just a side note. I have talked enough already about the false teaching of the rapture, tribulation and millennium, so I will not discuss it here but only to say this teaching in the church is a cancer, doctrines brought on by demons.)
                Not only must we be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him, Paul said 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” He started the chapter 1 Corinthians 15:1 “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” He also said Galatians 6:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” So we know the end is coming but we also know that most who call themselves Christians are worshipping in vain and following false gospels but no one seems to be too worried about it. There is no fear of God in the land. Can you imagine what Paul would say now even though he warned us Acts 20:29 “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” If you are still not sure just pick a church around you and then compare it with the bible. The very fact that most do not even know they are worshipping a false gospel is how deceptive the deception is.
                The gospel in the church today is not the good news of the Kingdom of God that Jesus spoke of when He said repent for the Kingdom is near and not the gospel Paul spoke of when he said by this gospel you are saved. Therefore most are worshipping in vain. The true gospel is the one Jesus and Paul preached; the one that gave them power. Lukewarm is not where the church is meant to be because Jesus warned us that the lukewarm would be spewed (Revelation 3:16) out of His mouth and He warned us that many would not find the narrow gate (Matthew 7:14) and most would not make it through the narrow door (Luke 13:24). By the way just because you are busy doesn’t mean you are not lukewarm or cold. Today’s church has confused passionate with just being busy. Jesus warned us not to be deceived yet today the church is so deceived and the deception has made the church completely powerless. When you look at the ministry of Jesus, He preached the true gospel and power flowed from Him so much so they were not all even written down. John 21:25 “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” Take a moment to reflect on that verse. Can you imagine what His church could do if the church just believed God at His word. The disciples preached the gospel and Mark 16:19 “the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Paul also preached the gospel and Acts 19:11 “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” We also saw another disciple named Philip who went out in great power. He was selected with Stephen. Acts 8:4 “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.” Again pick a church and compare it to scripture. And no it is not the circus you see in charismatic circles.
                In order for us to dwell forever with Jesus, He must dwell with us. He must be our Immanuel but that is not how it has gone. Here we are, the end of the world is coming upon us and the church is deceived, delusional and desolate all because of our disobedience and not at all doing as the church was called to do. Have you noticed how fast time goes by? But as the months and years go by, the church has veered further and further from the truth. Men and woman go their own way, do their own thing and teach their own words and then say to God what have I done; why do I need to repent. Jeremiah 23:36 “But you must not mention ‘a message from the Lord’ again, because each one’s word becomes their own message. So you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God. 20 In days to come you will understand it clearly. 21 I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.” Prophets speak from their own minds, doctrines of demons are taught and antichrists prevail in the pulpits. 1 John 2:18 “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” This is also why testing the spirits is crucial. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” That is not the condition we want Jesus to find the church when he returns. He stated already in Luke 18:8 “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Too many people who call themselves Christians have put their faith in false gospels and worship in vain. We saw what happened with Israel when they turned from God; God turned His face from them and their enemies defeated them. The same has happened to the church.
                Jesus came to save us and is coming again at His Second Advent to take the saved home. If you are undecided at that point, it is too late. If you have not tested the spirits and have been deceived, it will be to late at the Second Advent. The time is now to repent so that the kingdom of God will come near before it is too late. Romans 13:11 “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” That was Paul talking way back then. As John said this is the last hour but time has been ticking and we are nearing the end of that hour. On the final return of Jesus it will be to late to repent, as Jesus clearly taught when he said not all would make it. If you do not repent Matthew 25:46 “they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” There is no second chance. The rich man named Lazarus was begging for someone to warn his brothers. Luke 16:27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” How many who have died would be saying the same today. Today’s church has written before them that Jesus rose from the dead yet refuse to repent and turn from their wicked ways. Wicked ways are following man’s way not God’s way.
                The only opportunity you have to be saved from God’s wrath is here and now because you do not know when that final date is for you. Most will handle this uncertainty by being certain in themselves, certain of their doctrinal distinctives (what each differing church believes) that God would never allow them to go to hell and certain of what those at the front have told them. They have certified that their own words will keep them safe and secure. But Lamentations 2:14 “the visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” There is no fear of God in the land thus there is no knowledge since the word of God has been rejected. So even though we have God’s word before us, there is a famine of hearing the word of the Lord. Think about it for a moment there are churches everywhere but nothing is happening as this pandemic has exposed. These days have been here. Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. 12 People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.” There are churches everywhere and people are still not hearing the true gospel. Jesus said in Matthew 13:13 “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” Do we not want to be healed? If you do, turn and repent. Jeremiah 29:10 “This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
                The First Advent has come and gone as Jesus is no longer a bay in a manger but as Peter said 1 Peter 1:25 “the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached to you,” yet the church is still singing away in a manger while watching sheep during a silent night while Hebrews 5:12 “in fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” Even though God was with us, the church in apathetic stubbornness refuses to turn from their own ways. John 3:19 “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” As the years have gone by the church has gone backward, not forward. Jeremiah 7:23 “I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.” We were supposed go to the ends of the earth in power to speed up the return of Jesus, not slow it down. We were supposed to be freed, not taken captive. Our unbelief brought upon us desolation. The bible is about belief. Do you believe that God created the world by a word? Then you believe that God is God and there is no other. Do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah? Then you believe that God is God and there is no other. Do you believe He rose from the dead? Then you believe God is God and there is no other. Do you believe that Jesus will return to take us to be with Him? Then you believe God is God and there is no other. If you believe God is God then you will believe His word and the power available through His word. As Moses said Deuteronomy 32:47 “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” These are not empty ways passed down from our fathers and empty words taught by false teachers. Ephesians 5:6 “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” 2 Peter 2:18 “For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.”
                The First Advent when Immanuel came to be with us brought with it truth and power and authority over darkness and the evil one. The sick were healed and demons cast out. 1 Chronicles 29:11 “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.” We are told in Malachi 2:5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.” 7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth.” But here we see the church doing as Israel had done and turned from the truth. 8 “But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty. 9 “So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law.” Paul said about the Jews they had Romans 3:2 “been entrusted with the very words of God,” What an awesome responsibility that was yet as Peter said Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” We also see a continued rejection of the word made flesh today. John 2:11 “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” In order to receive him we must accept Him at His word.
                This rejection of God’s word led to the Gentiles (that’s us) having the opportunity to also be freed from captivity and have eternal life. Paul and Barnabas spoke to the Jews. Acts 13:44 “On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” Then Paul spoke to the local Jewish leaders Acts 28:23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” 27 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ 28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!”
                This is why we still have an opportunity to be saved. What Jesus stated in Luke also applies to us. Luke 4:8 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners    and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” As does what Paul was told us when he said Acts 26:17 “I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” We are told in Isaiah 42:5 This is what God the Lord says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: 6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” Isaiah 49:5 “And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength—6 he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Jesus made a way for all the lost to be found even though Jesus went to the lost sheep first. Jesus answered the Canaanite woman Mathew 15:24 “He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” but she persisted and 28 “Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.” He also healed other non-Jews because of their great faith. Jesus even said to the centurion, Matthew 8:10 “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Matthew 10:5 “These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.  Paul saw sent first to speak to the Jews but they did not listen so he went to the Gentiles. So even though the plan was Jews first, Gentiles were also given eternal life. Romans 1:6 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
                I share this because we Gentiles have been appointed to receive a great gift; the gift of eternal life to all who would believe. This means like the Jews as Paul talked about in Romans, we have also been entrusted with “ the very words of God.” This is an amazing responsibility that has been given to us. This also means we must speak the truth and these words cannot be changed. Like the priests in Malachi, we are also under a covenant to speak the truth and like the priests we must not break covenant with the truth. Only the truth of the gospel can come from our lips. I am sure you have heard someone say this is the gospel truth which means “a completely true statement: the absolute truth.” The church is supposed to be the bearers of truth. We are supposed to spread the good news but the good news must be the same good news of the gospel. Zechariah was told about the birth of John Luke 1:19 “The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” The shepherds were told Luke 2:8 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” John then proclaimed the good news. Luke 3:15 “The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.” Then Jesus proclaimed the good news of the gospel Mark 1:15 ““The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Luke 4:16 “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Not only did people hear the good news, they were healed. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” Matthew 11:4 “Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Then the disciples proclaimed the good news. Acts 5:42 “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” Our Immanuel was here.
                I trust you can see that not only was the good news of the Kingdom of God preached, but healing and casting out demons followed where the good news was preached just as Jesus said they would. Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” So here is the problem. We Gentiles followed in the Jews footsteps and turned away from truth. The church also fits with this verse. Isaiah 30:9 “For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. 10 They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11 Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” The message proclaimed by the church today is not the good news because what is being taught is not being confirmed by the signs that should accompany it. Hebrews 2:4 “God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” These signs wonders and miracles are actually what the church should be celebrating when we say Immanuel God is with us. We can’t say God is with us if we do not follow His word. John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” When the church turns from its wicked ways and preaches the good news, once again we will have power present in the church and once again we can rejoice. You have to have Christmas, Easter and Pentecost together. You can’t have one without the other but the church has definitely tried.
                Power as described in the gospels should be flowing from the church but it does not. This year has been an exposé (the act of exposing something serious) of the church except not in a way we should look back and be pleased about. 2020 will be the year when the world realized the church, no matter what denomination was not what it claimed to be. This exposé can be described Revelation 3:17 “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” Instead of proclaiming the kingdom of God in the power and authority of Jesus name just as the disciples were sent out, the kingdom of darkness grew instead and the church went into captivity and remains in desolation until the time of God’s favor. We were supposed to be like the disciples and have the same power. We were supposed to go out to the ends of the earth clothed with power and have all the gifts of the Spirit. Luke 9:1 “He gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 6 So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.” 1 Corinthians 12:7 “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” The church does not have this power but continues the masquerade of pretending the church is how it is supposed to be. We were supposed to continue to defeat satan just as Jesus did but we have not.
                Before I go on I want to give a reminder that the bible is not a book. Yes it looks like a book but it is not; the bible is the living word of God. The bible is not an autobiography of a man (though it does look like it) who did amazing things or the memoirs of a particularly famous person that you have no hope of ever being like. This is not like reading a book about Queen Elizabeth or Bill Gates knowing full well the average person will never be like them. Concerning the bible we are told 2 Peter 1:20 “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The amazing part about the bible is this book is about God and written by God which actually sounds like the definition of an autobiography. So you may be thinking the definition of autobiography is “a history of a person's life written or told by that person.” How is it not the same? Here is the difference. You may pick up Wayne Gretzky’s autobiography having never skated or played hockey and read it cover to cover, maybe several times and then hit the ice. This will be a literal event where your face or rear end will literally hit the ice. No matter how many times you read his book, you will never be like Wayne Gretzky. You will never have a rookie card sell for 1.29 million dollars. You won’t be able to skate like him, pass like him or score like him. The bible on the other hand not only tells you the accounts of Jesus and some of His miracles, but the bible also tells you how to be like Jesus but also empowers you to do as he did. Wayne Gretzky may teach you but you will never be like him. And yes the answer to the question you just asked yourself why is no one like Jesus or doing as He did is the church is not doing what it is supposed to be doing. The bible on the other hand tells us Matthew 10:24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!” Not only does Jesus say we can be like him; he tells us to do as he did. Not only does he tell us but also empowers us to do as He did. John 14:2 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Wayne Gretzky cannot tell you this nor can any other autobiography. You have to ask yourself why hasn’t the church taught that we are supposed to do as He did and have the power to prove it? The proof is in the power! This is the living word we have in our hand and actually if the Spirit of Truth was moving among us in power, it would already be in our minds. Jeremiah 31:33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Not only will we have knowledge, we also have power, the ability to do as Jesus did. Luke 24:46 “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
                It is obvious the church does not have this power. This pandemic has exposed the church as powerless. It didn’t matter what man or women you followed or what doctrine you believed, or power you thought you had, every church in the world was shown to be powerless almost at the same time. By the way gathering is not power and no the church has not been protected from this pandemic. As time went on you began to see a portion of churches here in Canada but more so in the States begin to say there was no pandemic. They said it isn’t real and if they did say it was real, they said it was just a bug like the flu. They protest against the health orders saying it is against their constitutional rights. I don’t think the constitution meant you had the right to be a super-spreader event. That’s just absurd. They also believed it was some plot for the new world order to take over the world. The frightening part of al this was a connection to President Trump. The anti-maskers / vaccines and pandemic naysayers seem to also be Trumpites who have been deluded into believing all the nonsense that surround Trump and his failed election and his view of the pandemic. They seem to be living in an alternate universe, which I believe is called delusion. Some who call themselves christians are also completely delusional when it comes to the election and this pandemic. So between the pandemic and this recent election the church is seen as powerless, deceived and delusional. It is strange to see people online quoting scripture and conspiracy theories at the same time. I watched a nonsensical video the other day that was asking a church leader (false prophet) why all the prophecies about Trump did not come true. Instead of saying they were spoken by false prophets, he said it was not over yet. He said the Supreme Court would rule in Trump’s favor. Oops, he said that before they had met. Be warned false teachers and prophets are everywhere in the church. As far as the church being essential, I do believe the true church is essential but as we stand now, we are not. Just to gather so you can call yourself the church is not the church. If you are preaching the kingdom, healing the sick and casting out demons then we are essential and everyone will know it. The hospitals are filling up and what is the church doing about it other than adding to those numbers through their super-spreader events.
                As far as the election goes it shows the great divide in the United (not really) States and in the church. As far as the church goes, this is not the church of Jesus Christ. If it were, the church would be able to say; of course we are essential; we are the church! Why because Matthew 11:5 “the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Take a moment and read Matthew 8, 9 and ponder everything Jesus did in those few chapters. This is what happens when Immanuel is present. Three possibilities could happen during and after you read. There will be a voice that says its’ just a story book, a myth; it’s not real. Or you might hear yes it is real but that was just Jesus, just for those few disciples; He doesn’t do that any more. Or you hear the voice of God and your heart speeds up and you plead for God to turn His face to shine on us once again and clothe us with power, believing that at any moment the remnant will rise up in power once again and go to the ends of the earth. Most fall into the second example. Yes some will flat out say God does not do that anymore (ceasationism a doctrine of demons) and others just don’t know it is possible in our day and fail to repent so that the Kingdom of heaven comes near.
                One of the Christmas hymns that are sung is “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” As I listened to many different versions of this song, all had that haunting melody (one definition described as beautiful, but in a sad way and often in a way that cannot be forgotten.) When you look at the words to this hymn and listen to its haunting melody, it really doesn’t give you the feeling that Immanuel, God with us, hasn’t actually come yet. It is written from the perspective of someone in captivity hoping to be freed. It’s a plea for salvation from exile. So as I see it there is a slight problem here unless you are a Jew and believe the Messiah has yet to come or a dispensationalist and you are waiting for the king to come and set up His kingdom, then this would be your song. The first verse says, O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.” The other verses continue to call out for God to come like “free Thine own from satan's tyranny; From depths of hell Thy people save, disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death's dark shadows put to flight. Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery.” Then after each verse the words “Rejoice! Rejoice!  Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.” So yes that would be wonderful but it already happened. It may be just me, but the song seems to have missed an event that already happened. For the Jew no and for the dispensationalist no but for those who believe the Kingdom of God is upon us or should be, then this song really misses the point of Immanuel, God with us.
                Though it is spelled differently Isaiah tells us Isaiah 7:4 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Matthew 1:18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” So the world celebrated. Isaiah 12:1 “In that day you will say: “I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. 2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. 5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. 6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
                There was great joy in the world. Why did the world celebrate? Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” God had dwelt among His people just as He said He would. How great our joy but then the shouting of Hosanna changed to crucify Him. They tried to kill him because Jesus did not fit with their plans and what they thought the Messiah would be and should be. So they ended up rejecting Immanuel and decided God did not need to be with them.
                If you are singing the song so that Jesus will return and save us at His second Advent, that will be to late. Sadly many Christians are just trying to get by until the end comes only to hear from Jesus, I don’t know who you are. God did send us His Son to save us. He then showed us His kingdom and gave us the power to do the same but the church turned away from His word and went their own way, only to be further and further from the truth until now when this pandemic has revealed the completely powerless church. The question is what do we do with this exposition of powerlessness. It appears that the church wants to adapt and proceed as if nothing is wrong in the church, which is a faulty proposal. The only answer is to repent so the Kingdom of God will come near and once again we will have power to defeat our enemies.
                At this point in time due to the churches present captivity, this song is actually fitting as we the church should be crying out from our captivity. The church lies desolate, deceived and powerless as it fades away in desolation. The church turned away from the word of God who came to save us. Millions have died without the truth and those millions can’t warn anyone but everyone has already been warned this would happen. Daniel 8:11 “It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 12 Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.” Go look for gospel truth; you won’t find it. Over time men and woman felt that the bible needed to be changed, words added to and subtracted from so that it would suit our lives better. It needed to be modified to reach the world but instead the church became the world and due to our unbelief, disobedience and rebellion, satan was allowed to reign over the church just as Daniel described and Jesus warned us about. Truth has been thrown to the ground and the evil one has set up in the temple of God. Daniel 9:27 “And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” We are that temple, as there is no building. Just as the Israel was taken captive until the wrath of God subsided, so too has the church been taken captive. We too are waiting for the wrath of God to subside. Ezekiel 16:42 “Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry.” Jeremiah 31:28 “Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord.” God will punish our enemies. Isaiah 10:5 “Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath! 12 When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes. 20 In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. 21 A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. 22 Though your people be like the sand by the sea, Israel, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overwhelming and righteous. 23 The Lord, the Lord Almighty, will carry out the destruction decreed upon the whole land. 24 Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord Almighty, says: “My people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians, who beat you with a rod and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did. 25 Very soon my anger against you will end and my wrath will be directed to their destruction.” Isaiah 62:11 “The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.’” 12 They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.” So there is hope for the desolate church but we must return to Jesus by turning from our wicked ways. Luke 13:34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
                So though this song is somber and speaks of something that has already happened, we are desperate for God to move and look on us with His great mercy even though we do not deserve it. God did amazing things for Israel. He freed them from slavery in Egypt and then gave them the Promised Land but they rebelled and even then God said, Isaiah 54:7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you, says the Lord your Redeemer.” Jesus then came and freed us from slavery and gave us the world. Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” Even so Jesus had warned us Matthew 24:15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.”
                We the church did as Israel did and rejected our savior. We also decided we did not need God with us. But like Israel there is hope as Isaiah 30:18 “the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 8:17 “I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob I will put my trust in him.” Isaiah 64:4 “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” It we believe and trust God at His word, we will wait for Him to act. At the same time it should be our heart cry just as Daniel called out to God to free them, to free us. Daniel pleaded Daniel 9:17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
                If you go to the end of Daniel you will see this amazing passage which coincides with Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” Daniel 12:1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. 11 “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.” (Wait and wait some more)
                So far few churchgoers are going to make it to the end, as they have not stood firm and were deceived. Jesus told us this would happen. He warned us not to be deceived yet the church has drastically been deceived and decimated because of it. We were told there would be great distress like no other. Today the worldwide church has been under siege and loosing the battle. Daniel makes it clear to us that the holy people would be defeated and we have seen that already happen to the church. Daniel 7:21 “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.” Daniel 8:24 “He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. 25 He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.”
                The good news is that even though the enemy has caused astounding devastation to the church, our enemy will be defeated. No wonder Daniel when he saw the vision said, Daniel 8:27 “I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.” Just as Israel was released from captivity so to will the church be freed. The church you see today is not the church. There is only a remnant left of the true church but according to God’s promise to David the true church will rise again but you need to stand firm and not be deceived as most have. Amos 9:11 “In that day “I will restore David’s fallen shelter— I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins— and will rebuild it as it used to be.” Jeremiah 33:19 “The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 20 “This is what the Lord says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, 21 then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. 22 I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.  For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them.’” We have this promise to hold on to so if you are going to make it through this devastation you have to hold on to the word of God and believe. Revelation 7:9 “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” 13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Jesus warned us Matthew 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” As Paul told us 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
                As the church returns to God’s word, this means that once again God, Immanuel will dwell among us. His words will be in our mouths and His power will go before us to defeat our enemies. No man will stand against us and everywhere we step will be ours but we must obey. John 14:23 “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” Revelation 21:3 “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. 4 ‘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.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”
                Immanuel means God with us. If God is with us that means He dwells among us. His temple is no longer built with stones 2 Corinthians 6:16 “for we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Ephesians 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” God sent His son Jesus to save us but then we rejected that great love and went our own way bringing disaster upon ourselves. Jeremiah warned the people but they refused to listen and were taken captive. Jeremiah 40:1 “He had found Jeremiah bound in chains among all the captives from Jerusalem and Judah who were being carried into exile to Babylon. 2 When the commander of the guard found Jeremiah, he said to him, “The Lord your God decreed this disaster for this place. 3 And now the Lord has brought it about; he has done just as he said he would. All this happened because you people sinned against the Lord and did not obey him.”
                The church has sinned against God and has been devastated because the church rebelled against God. Today the decision is yours. Turn from your wicked ways and repent or pretend there is nothing wrong. If you turn, God promised to restore us. Malachi 3:7 “Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.” Jeremiah 30:18 “This is what the Lord says: “ ‘I will restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt on her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. 19 From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing.”  Isaiah 37:31 “Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. 32 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. 35 “I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!”  Joel 2:32 “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.” Or John 3:18 “whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
                Christmas represents salvation, not desolation and captivity. The church has turned from the salvation message by distorting the word of God and ended up a whitewash wall with just a form of godliness and a lack of power. Salvation means we are saved from God’s wrath. John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” Romans 5:9 “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” Salvation isn’t just saying a prayer and then going to church for the rest of your life trying to get by until the end. This is war! Jesus came to defeat the work of satan and we are to carry on the battle. On your own you will be defeated but if you stand firm on the word of God the battle is the Lord’s and like David you will be able to say to our enemies, 1 Samuel 17:45 “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
                Today our war is spiritual but we can only be victorious if the battle is the Lord’s. Are you not tired of seeing the enemy defeating the church, those you love, you yourself? Do you even realize the devastation and desolation the church is actually in. The church is supposed to be invincible. Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” 2 Corinthians 10:3 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. declares the Lord.” Matthew 10:1 “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 11:4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
                This is Christmas, Easter and Pentecost put together. This is the church Jesus is the head of. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
                If our Immanuel is to turn His face to shine on us once again, we must repent. So we pray Jeremiah 33:25 “Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our ancestors; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the Lord our God.” Ezekiel 33:11 “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’ Lamentations 5:21 “Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old.” Nehemiah 1:5 “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. 8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ 10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name.”
                Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is our Immanuel. He will be with us once again if we return to Him. Deuteronomy 4:39 “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.” Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Isaiah 45:22 “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. 23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. 24 They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are deliverance and strength.’” All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. 25 But all the descendants of Israel will find deliverance in the Lord and will make their boast in him.”
                This Christmas, take a new look at who Jesus is and what He taught and the power He gives to those who believe. Don’t be afraid to repent and start over. Read the Gospels and Acts asking God to open your eyes to His available power. Ask God to protect your mind as you read and to show you the doctrines and false teachings you need to demolish. Fear God and ask Him to give you a new understanding of what it means to have God with us. Don’t be afraid to submit to Him. Even as the world is falling apart around us, we have hope. No, science is not our hope. No, the vaccine is not our hope. No, a new president is not our hope. Gathering in a building is not our hope; God is our only hope. He is our salvation. Psalm 119:81 “My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 33:20 “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. Micah 7:7 “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” Isaiah 35:4 “say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
                Even in the midst of the church’s desolation, because of God’s promise to David the good news will once again bring joy and our enemies will once again be defeated. Luke 1:68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us— 72 to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. Luke 2:10 “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” God will dwell among us once again.