Note from Jesus
I began yesterday to share with you the four Immanuel passages in the book of Matthew. Recall that Immanuel is the name given to Me in prophecy (Isaiah 7:14). Immanuel means “God with us.” The first of the Immanuel sayings (Matthew 1:23) was spoken about Me. The remaining three were spoken by Me. I spoke these three Immanuel sayings as promises to My disciples. While these last three don’t specifically use the name Immanuel, they emphasize that I AM with you when you:
- Come together as authentic spiritual family (Matthew 18:20),
- Compassionately care for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40), and
- Step outside the comfortability of your ethnicity and culture to make disciples and lead them to follow Me (Matthew 28:18-20).
In other words, I AM not just the One Who was raised from the dead never to die again, but I AM also alive and present with you. I want you to know how you can experience My presence in your life as My disciple.
Today, the verses below are focused on experiencing My presence and My influence on your life in a community as spiritual family (Hebrews 2:10-11). As Christians, you are not members of an organization, but you are part of My blood-bought family. You are brothers and sisters who share something more important than a physical bloodline or common DNA markers. The Holy Spirit, Our — Father, Son, and Spirit’s — presence, is living in you making you spiritual family.
Family life can sometimes be messy and difficult. However, the Father has given you the power of the resurrection through the work of the Holy Spirit within you (Ephesians 1:17-20; Ephesians 3:14-21). This power can help you live together in love (Romans 5:5) as a true spiritual family. When you choose to live in the radical ways I am calling you to live as My family, you are living with Me. My presence is there with you and among you.
This lifestyle means that you will take special care with how you use your freedom. You will do your best not to cause a disciple to stumble and fall away. You will go directly to a person who offends you rather than gossiping about that person or trying to “get even” with that person. You will forgive any brother or sister who sins against you and asks forgiveness, and you will continue to forgive as long as that person asks for your forgiveness. You will notice and work to reclaim any of your brothers and sisters who have wandered away, have been overcome by sin, or have dropped out of the family.
Being with you as a member of My family is My promise to you. It is Matthew’s second Immanuel saying. What I said reminds you that I AM present and can be experienced in your world as you live as genuine spiritual family:
For when two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.
Verses to Live
As you read My words in the verses below, remember that I AM calling you to live as My spiritual family. My teaching recognizes that this life together as a spiritual family can be messy. Everyone in My family is imperfect just as you are. However, you need each other to be what I’ve called you to be.
Around that same time, the disciples came to Jesus and questioned Him about the kingdom of heaven.
In the kingdom of heaven, who is the greatest?
Jesus called over a little child. He put His hand on the top of the child’s head.
This is the truth: unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. In that kingdom, the most humble who are most like this child are the greatest. And whoever welcomes a child, welcomes her in My name, welcomes Me. And do not lead astray one of the weak and friendless who believes in Me. If you do, it would be better for you to be dragged down with a millstone and drowned in the bottom of the sea.
Beware indeed of those in a world filled with obstacles and temptations that cause people to turn away from Me. Those temptations are woven into the fabric of a world not yet redeemed, but beware of anyone who lures righteous women and men off the narrow path. If your hand constantly grasps at the things of this world rather than serves the Kingdom — cut it off and throw it away. If your foot is always leading you to wander, then cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to hobble, crippled, into the kingdom of life than to burn in hell with two hands and two feet. And if your eye always focuses on things that cause you to sin, then pull your eye out and throw it away. It is better for you to see the kingdom of life with one eye than to see the fires of hell with perfect sight.
Make sure that you do not look down on the little ones, on those who are further behind you on the path of righteousness. For I tell you: they are watched over by those most beloved messengers who are always in the company of My Father in heaven. [The Son of Man has come to save all those who are lost.] A shepherd in charge of 100 sheep notices that one of his sheep has gone astray. What do you think he should do? Should the shepherd leave the flock on the hills unguarded to search for the lost sheep? God’s shepherd goes to look for that one lost sheep, and when he finds her, he is happier about her return than he is about the 99 who stayed put. Your Father in heaven does not want a single one of the tripped, waylaid, stumbling little ones to be lost.
This is what you do if one of your brothers or sisters sins against you: go to him, in private, and tell him just what you perceive the wrong to be. If he listens to you, you’ve won a brother. But sometimes he will not listen. And if he does not listen, go back, taking a friend or two friends with you (for, as we have learned in Deuteronomy, every matter of communal import should be testified to by two or three witnesses). Then, if your brother or sister still refuses to heed, you are to share what you know with the entire church; and if your brother or sister still refuses to listen to the entire church, you are to cast out your unrepentant sibling and consider him no different from outsiders and tax collectors.
Remember this: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. And this: if two or three of you come together as a community and discern clearly about anything, My Father in heaven will bless that discernment. For when two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.
Lord, when someone has sinned against me, how many times ought I forgive him? Once? Twice? As many as seven times?
You must forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven.
Response in Prayer
O Father, forgive me when I have not lived with my spiritual brothers and sisters in love as true family. I know that I have missed receiving Your blessing when I have allowed my own stubborn will and my own injured pride to overrule Your call for me to love my spiritual family as Jesus does. I’m asking You, dear Father, for the strengthening power of the Holy Spirit to help me as I commit myself to Your spiritual family. I trust that as I do, Jesus will be ever more real to me. I pray this in His name. Amen.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Immanuel: In Spiritual Family
Source: Passion for Praise