How comforting it is to know that Jesus promised to be with us. And not just sometimes, but he said, “I will be with you always.” (Matthew Chapter 28, verse 20)
That is something I treasure deeply and long for. To know God is with me always. Having felt a bit overwhelmed by my current situation, I need him more. To be honest, I didn’t feel like writing this article!
My wife, the love of my life, recently had surgery to remove cancer. Seeing her suffer, waiting for more test results in the dark, many new life adjustments needed, and some other trials has been really tough to handle.
However, with the comfort God is giving to me and my family, I want to share a word of consolation and encouragement to you, my reader. Anyway, I bucked up in the spirit and asked God what he wants me to write.
I sense he said, “Look to me. My name is Emmanuel. My name is a strong tower”. I feel blessed to know God has promised to be with us always and we can experience his presence, even in the darkest times.
Jesus is our Emmanuel.
Jesus’ name was announced in the book of Matthew as ‘Emmanuel,’ meaning ‘God with us.’ This was to fulfil the prophet Isaiah’s words: “A virgin will give birth to a son and you are to call him Emmanuel.”
God spoke through Isaiah (Isaiah Chapter 7) to King Ahaz and God’s people, who wavered in faith, to put their trust in God, and not in human alliances with other more powerful nations. He said, a virgin will give birth to a son as a supernatural sign to confirm that deliverance is certain by looking to God. Isaiah was told to name his new son Emmanuel!
Maybe like me you have feared what the future holds. Maybe you are also tempted to fear, as you read the news about what appears to be like battle lines being drawn in the South China Sea, as many nations gather and tensions escalate. “Whose side am I on,” you may ask? Will a war break out? Or are new Covid variants going to lead to more havoc?
Look to Emmanuel
God has a message for us. Choose to side with our Father in heaven. So, I give thanks to God for all nations under heaven and all our hard working epidemiologists to find more virus cures. However, let us look to God and shrug off any fears in Jesus’ name. God will protect us.
Our joy is knowing God’s great salvation and kingdom is at hand in all we face. Jesus, our Emmanuel is our guarantee. God is sovereign in all things for our good. What Isaiah wrote about God’s irresistible ability to direct world history about 900 years BC, is just as relevant for us today:
Isaiah chapter 8, verses 10-13 ”Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us.11 This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people:12 “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. 13 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear….”
Emmanuel will protect and heal
Jesus was born in the tumultuous times of the empire of Rome. When born, Jesus eluded the genocide launched to destroy him by king Herod, to live for his kingship. God’s will was for him to “save us from our sins”. God came to save us not leave us.
God protected Jesus by giving his father a dream to leave for Egypt. God the Father was with Jesus to preserve and protect his son from the beginning. Are we experiencing fragility? Praise our God for our Emmanuel.
I thank God for my wife’s reaction to our current situation. Since receiving the diagnosis she has initiated for us as a family to take communion daily. Every day, we join hands and hearts as a family to declare Jesus is saviour and he will return. Her sleep has improved since taking it.
Psalm chapter 23 says, “He prepares a table in the midst of my enemies, my cup overflows.” Try it. That cup of overflow is talking about a fresh anointing and empowerment as we trust our God and walk through valley of the shadow of death. We can pass through it, not remain there, amen!
Plumb the depths of Emmanuel as disciples
Jesus came and proclaimed his kingdom had come. As a type of Moses who received the law on the mountain, so too Jesus taught people, in Matthew chapter 5, from the mountain, about a new exodus: From the kingdom of this world to enter the kingdom of God.
Jesus performed signs and wonders to confirm that his kingdom had come. Many watched in astonishment and were compelled to hear him. However, he cautioned against simply receiving a blessing and getting on with life.
Instead, he called out for people to respond to become his disciples. Jesus raised the disciples and they knew him a deeply personal way. They began to plumb the depths of Emmanuel as they walked in his kingdom authority.
Walking with Emmanuel requires a decision.
Increasingly, Jesus’ messianic credentials came to light in the public sphere. His lamp was not to be hid under a bowl. This led to a sifting of those who wanted to follow the old establishment versus the disciples set on doing God’s will and being a part of God’s family. The latter are his church, meaning the “those called out”.
Jesus made it clear he would die as the Old Testament predicted, and rise again. Jesus’ resurrection is the fulfilment of the Jewish feast of first fruits. He was first to rise from the dead, just as the first of the harvest fruits were raised before God in anticipation of the full harvest.
He can be our Emmanuel always
Friends, we all face challenges, but Jesus our king gave two key mandates to the disciples to spur us on to do his will prior to his return.
He told them to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ and promised as we do that, “Surely, I will be with you always, even till the end of the age.”
Our Emmanuel wants to guide us in his purposes continually, therefore make his mandate yours. Receive his new life and go and make disciples! Impart what you have to others God brings to you.
How do we step out in his mandate? After the great commission, Jesus spoke of a great immersion. He said, “For John baptised you with water, but one coming after will baptise you in the spirit”.
Jesus is also called Christ. Christ means ‘anointed one’. We must be baptised in the spirit of God to be empowered for the king’s work. Being empowered by God’s spirit helps us overcome our weaknesses and hardships. Let’s be his disciple. Let’s embrace our Emmanuel and obey God.
I feel much better having shared this. I hope you can sense my joy in the Lord and have been blessed by God’s word. Do keep myself and family in prayer.
Mark Rusic was born in Melbourne and has a bachelor in Mechanical engineering. He became a missionary to many suffering hardship and poverty on Madura Island in Indonesia, for about 4 years, from 1990. He has worked as a pastor-life coach over the past 17 years in Hope International Ministries. Mark is also an artist and author and has also written two books which are a collection of his own paintings, photography and poetry. These include ‘Iconic Melbourne of Australia’ and ‘Iconic Animals of Australia with a voice to release your giant potential within.’ He has been counted among some of Australia’s best-selling authors since 2014 and is a public speaker in various community groups, organisations and churches. He has a special grace to help people find and release why they were born. See iconiccolours.com for more information about Mark’s services.