FOR 2009 | IMMANUEL
“Immanuel- ‘God With Us’ Means a Lot More Than We Ever Dreamed”
God has been downloading a word to me for 2008-2009 which involves the name, “IMMANUEL.” How can the name, IMMANUEL, represent an entire word for the coming year, you might ask? Let me explain:
Most Believers know that the meaning of IMMANUEL is God with us and it applies specifically to Jesus, the Messiah. This of course was not understood fully until after Jesus’ ministry and ascension to Heaven. But, IMMANUEL can also be understood to mean God in us, as evidenced by what Jesus Himself said as He walked the earth.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.” John 14:18-20 [emphasis added]
Jesus also said, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you” (John 15:3-4).
We are coming to a day and an hour this year, when God is more emphatically revealing that He is indeed, in us! Yes, we knew that before, but a greater revelation of this truth is now coming. This year we will see more miracles, and at the same time, we will realize this is specifically because Christ is in us!
Most people I’ve spoken to recently have experienced one of the hardest seasons of their lives in the last 12-18 months. Yet, while God did not cause this difficult time for us, I believe that neither did He (oftentimes) prevent it. God has a plan for each and every person-for every moment of their lives-put into motion before the world was ever created.
“…Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16 [emphasis added]
Somehow, before the beginning of time God knew all future while simultaneously giving us the freedom to choose everything; to serve Him or not, and to obey Him or not. As I have spoken about this many times to people, I oftentimes remind them, “You can’t pick a side. Both facts are true! Jesus, the great I AM, knew all future which He had pre-written. And yet, at the same time, He gave us the choice to serve Him or not. Those are just scriptural facts.”
So, I would not try to pick a side on the issue. God has things already planned, and yes, we must make the right choices. Both facts are true-end of story! That adds power to this statement, “This year, through our trials, we’ve had to learn to come more and more to the end of ourselves, and to put our trust, our faith and our confidence in Him and Him alone-IMMANUEL…GOD WITH and IN us!”
There are many things we used to be able to pull off, fake, or just appear to accomplish on our own. We could serve God (to a certain degree) merely with determination or even self-control (which is good and is one fruit of the Spirit). But God-control and God-dependence concerning our lives is even better than self-control. We must abide in Him or self-control will become a useless exercise.
In fact, God is bringing His people to the end of themselves-to the end of INDEPENDENCE it seems-in 2008 and 2009. Instead, He is bringing us to “being in dependence upon Him!”
I had recently told my wife, Derene, and many of my close friends, that I have discovered myself praying more in the last 12 months than in all of the 52 years preceding this year combined. I can’t prove it, but I’m quite certain this is true, because I find myself constantly in prayer, either alone with God or with others. This year we are in dependence upon God, or we are certainly learning to become dependent upon Him.
MY UNEXPECTED VISITATION and WHAT it MEANS for 2008-2009!
Not many weeks ago, I sat in the same chair where I am now writing this article from, my computer on my lap. Little did I know God was about to visit me in a very unusual way. I remember it had been a tough day and I was not feeling very well.
Now remember, Immanuel is both God in us and God with us. This means that while His home is in our temple, He sometimes shows up in the most unusual and unexpected ways! I have lived on the same 20 acres in Oregon with Derene and my family for the past nine years. It’s a gorgeous location that, quite frankly, is beyond our ability to afford. Yet, God made a way for us to live here through a good financial deal, which was miraculous to say the least, and is an entire prophetic story in itself (but unfortunately I have not the time to tell of it here).
Well, I decided to go to bed early that night because of how I felt. There was still some summer-light in the sky. Outside the small window by my computer is a view where the tall wheat the neighboring farmers grow can be seen right up to our property line. And the wheat was RIPE FOR HARVEST!
I’ve always liked our view, which is slightly elevated on a hill. But on this particular day, unlike any other day, on my way to bed-I, for some reason, decided to take one last look at the view, and then suddenly turned to my wife and said, “It’s so BEAUTIFUL!”
It actually startled me to feel this emotional about the beauty. Suddenly, tears were in my eyes-tears of gratitude for this location and the beauty of the wheat, ripe for harvest. Never, in nearly a decade of living here, had I looked at the view and experienced this reaction.
Now, you need to understand that our doorbell wasn’t working at that time, so if someone came to the front door, we wouldn’t have seen nor heard them. They would have had to find our window and knock on it.
After a short while, my wife burst into the room and said, “Honey, get up, Yehuda is here! He just came to your window and knocked on it!” Now, Yehuda is our Israeli-born, Jewish friend. We hadn’t seen him in six years. Suddenly, he tapped on our tiny window where I had been just a short while ago. Because of the doorbell problem, he needed to come to where he saw people in the family room, right next to where I had just been sitting-where I had just looked out and literally wept at the beauty of the harvest fields.
Yehuda is a Jewish Carpenter, by the way! He makes cabinets for a living.
I quickly got dressed and came out to greet Yehuda. We hugged, and then we all visited for a few hours. I told him about our intense year and he told us about his. Both of our years had been filled with challenges and painful things. Yet, it seems we were all brought closer to the Lord during the process. I told Yehuda how this year I’d prayed more, and for more people, than any time in my history.
Yehuda then said, “Steve, I have a word for you!”
“What is it?” I asked.
He spoke the word to me first in fluent Hebrew. Yehuda had never before spoken in his native tongue to give me a word.
Obviously, I asked him, “What is the translation, Yehuda?”
He said, “It means, ‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work…'” (John 4:34-35).
This same passage also mentions the harvest, by the way. Here’s the rest of the passage:
“…Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest?’ I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
You guessed it! More tears-I was undone!
Listen to this-at harvest time, God sent to me a JEWISH CARPENTER at one of the very moments of my greatest gratitude of the beauty of the wheat harvest fields outside my window-where normally they grow grass. And Yehuda had arrived just in time to hear me tell the story of my prayers and my gratitude of the beauty of these harvest fields. For the prophetic-minded, this could be no coincidence.
As Yehuda heard of my gratitude, he was quick to add this, “Steve, you have always known me as YEHUDA, but my real given name is Abba Yehuda.”
“What does your name mean, then?” I asked.
“It means, ‘Daddy, Father God, THANK YOU!'” Yehuda told me.
What I had experienced was Christ-IMMANUEL Himself, working with and in me. A word spoken was given to me at just the right time through a close friend, a literal JEWISH CARPENTER by trade! And I believe it was just in time to share this story with you, because the Church needs to hear that it is harvest time, and that there are a few more harvest facts we yet need to know.
God is telling us we are in for a year of harvest, a year of prayer, and a year of gratitude for our Abba Father, like never before. We are in for a year of “grabbing hold of IMMANUEL-Christ in us, the Hope of Glory!”
IMMANUEL, MARY and the TRUE MEANING of CHRISTMAS
When Gabriel appeared to Mary, the soon-to-be mother of Jesus (Yeshua), little did she know at the time the literal Christ was about to come and make His abode for the next nine months in her-the Hope of Glory for all of the world!
Now, while I can’t prove it, this is what I believe:
When Gabriel told Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus [Christ in you]. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His Kingdom will never end…” (Luke 1:30-33, emphasis added).
And then, when Mary immediately responded in verse 38, “I am the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you have said,” my guess is (and it’s only a guess), God being who HE IS, at that very second of her response, impregnated Mary with the Son of God, whom she was instructed to call JESUS (Yeshua).
She likely did not yet know that she was carrying the Savior of the world. She didn’t yet know Jesus would later reveal Himself on earth, before the Cross, as “I AM”-the same “I AM” who Moses spoke to in the burning bush.
Matthew later tells us concerning Immanuel, a more complete story-when the angel visited Joseph in a dream and gave him the following instruction (please read it close):
“…’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. 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.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel’-which means, ‘God with us.'” Matthew 1:20-23 [emphasis added]
This is almost bizarre, and yet true! The angel commands Joseph, “…you are to give Him the name JESUS…” and then Matthew goes on to clarify that this fulfills the prophecy which says, “…they will call Him IMMANUEL.”
Now, I can’t prove this, but I have an idea that around the house, Joseph and Mary may have actually called their Son-whom they named, Jesus, according to the angel’s instructions-by His heavenly name, IMMANUEL, in order to fulfill the Scripture that says, “…they will call Him IMMANUEL.”
Imagine, around the house Mary calling out to her Son, “IMMANUEL! Can you come and help with the dishes?”
Now, while I don’t have time to develop all that I’d like to in this article, I do want to point out what happened when God came down as IMMANUEL to be with and in us. Here it is in a nutshell-a word for what we will witness in the HARVEST which is beginning in a new way this year:
- Jesus would pick His disciples from Gentile territory-the other side of the tracks, so-to-speak-the least of the least.
- Peter would deny his Master with cursing before the story was over.
- Matthew, who is never recorded as asking for forgiveness, was a cheating tax collector hand-picked by Jesus, and yet ended up writing the most complete Gospel in the Bible! Now, surely Jesus foresaw this when He called Matthew from his tax collecting booth.
- Nathaniel, the man in whom was found “no guile” according to Jesus (see John 1:47), was also on the boat with the others shouting, “Jesus, don’t You care if we drown?” The same Nathaniel was in the group arguing about who was the greatest. And he was the same Nathaniel, in the same group, who would in fear, desert Jesus in the hour of His greatest need.
I could go on and on with many examples of the failures by those who Jesus picked because His Father told Him to.
So, what can we conclude about Jesus, who was also to be called IMMANUEL (God with and in us)? I can only conclude by saying that when God sent His only SON, the Godhead’s plan was to demonstrate what God can do with those He chooses-what God can do when He starts with almost “nothing” to work with. This is a picture of what God did with you and me, as well as a picture of who He is yet to reveal as His upcoming choices of leaders.
And that, my friends, is not only one of the most encouraging Christmas messages possible-but it is what God is going to demonstrate with great power in this season, 2008-2009!
by Steve Shultz