Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“For God loved the world so much that He gave His Son. God gave His Son so that whoever believes in Him may not be lost, but have eternal life.”
John 3: 16
The Everyday Bible
“God’s Plan Is Implemented”
“Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name, Immanuel, God with us.”
“Implement” – To put into effect. A means for accomplishing an end.
When God implemented His plan on this earth, what was the end result He wanted to see happen?
“How can God stoop lower than to come and dwell with a poor humble soul? Which is more than if He had said, such a one should dwell with Him. For a beggar to live in the King’s court is not so much as for the King to dwell with the beggar in a cottage.”
“But when the right time came, God sent His son.”
The Everyday Bible
With technological advancement, when my niece, Aimee, was pregnant, I received an email from her with a message that said: “Effie, here’s what a 31-week belly looks like.” Along with the note were several pictures that showed me exactly what Aimee and baby-to-come, Alton, looked like from an outside view right then.
For Aimee, the “fullness of time” was just around the corner. And what excitement this engendered in the entire family.
The Bible has a lot to say about “time.” Especially as time relates to God’s schedule, which I might add, is not identical to ours. The apostle Paul says that in the “fullness” of time God acted to implement His well-thought-out plan to bring oneness, wholeness, and redemption to His children on earth. In Greek this word “fullness” means to take a container and make it copiously full or complete. Something is ready – or as we say in English, “the time was ripe.” Everything was in order and God acted. How? Well, most of the time we think that when it was the right moment, Jesus was sent to earth and was born in Bethlehem’s manger. Every year at Christmas we celebrate this “fullness” of time by getting caught up in the frenzy of holiday shopping and decorating in order to be part of Christmas traditions.
But today, I want to lift our thoughts above a celebration that has, in many ways, obscured the actual meaning of the “fullness of time” and how it relates to God’s intervention and implementation of His healing plan for the inhabitants on planet earth.
While it is easy to be swept up into the traditions associated with the Christmas story and the baby Jesus, the bigger picture is our focus today as we look at God’s original intent when Jesus came to earth.
One of the first indications of how God planned to implement His plan of redemption is shared in the Old Testament by the prophet Isaiah who told us that a baby would be born and He would be called “Immanuel” – or “God with us.” Centuries later, when Matthew wrote about the birth of Jesus, he referred to the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah as he told of how Jesus was named “God with us.”
You see, what makes the Christmas story one of great wonder and awe is not the fact that a baby came to a manger, instead it is that God Himself came to earth in a manger.
God didn’t send Jesus just to show us the Father from a distance: Jesus embodied the Father, the Father’s kindness, graciousness, and love. For we have a Father who didn’t tell us from afar what He was like, He came to be “God with us.” This is the story of Christmas – all too often passed over by blinking lights, festive carols, and fancy food and gifts. It is a story of a God who loved us so much He came to earth, in the life and body of His Son Jesus, so He could be “God with us.” A God who feels my pain, who walks in my shoes, who knows my heartaches, and who understands my problems.
What a surprise that the Creator and ruler of the universe would come down to the lowly huts of earth…into the hearts of sinful humans, just to be with you and me.
Author Joyce Rupp so wonderfully describes the way God came to earth in this poem:
long awaited, eagerly anticipated,
delicious dreams of royal robes,
a messiah enthroned with elegance.
False notions and easily accepted illusions.
A few open ones, full of surprise,
hear the fresh, full cry of life
echoed in the uninhabited haven,
the only place ready for a birth that was ripe.
Shepherds, sages, and scribes,
drawn by angels and stars,
discovered the divine simplicity,
then hurried from the hillside
with news that amazed them all.
But many years later the cry goes unheard,
stifled in the roar of unyielding opinions,
submerged in the noise of hasty judgments,
masked in the false folds of cultural glitter.
(God-with-us) continues to come.
Entering the world in endless disguise,
concealed in those we have forgotten,
secreted in the hearts of people we despise;
found in the rejected and unacceptable
hidden in the ones we ignore and criticize.”
The implementation of God’s plan has at its centerpiece – Immanuel – God with us. A God who came not only to show us but to be with us. So that as we see His love, we too will be filled by the Father who, as the apostle Paul so eloquently wrote to his friends in Ephesus, “fills all in all, for in that body lives the full measure of Him who makes everything complete, and who fills everything, everywhere with Himself.” (Ephesians 1: 23, Amplified).
May this fullness of God make you whole today – a free gift from the Father who came in the Son to be – God-with-us. He became like us so we could become like Him.
“Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and second advent splendor.”
C. H. Spurgeon
“All this happened to make clear the full meaning of what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a Son, and they will name Him Immanuel. This name means, “God is with us.”
Matthew 1: 21, 22
The Everyday Bible
“Seed of God,
be born in me,
thrust new-life forward
like a sap-filled tree
Your pool of grace
rooted in my womb’s embrace.
Seed of God,
Burst forth from me,
let me stretch
that God might be.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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