A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious. - Isaiah 11:1-2, 10
It happened: the wondrous impossible. It came right out of that chopped down stump-the miracle no one ever dreamed of. Except for God. God never stopped dreaming of the miracle, the one He’d dreamed right from the very beginning, because love never stops dreaming of ways to draw close again.
If you slowed and looked very close, you could actually see it, coming straight out of that family tree that had been cut down-a miraculous shoot was springing up out of the stump! A tender and vulnerable green shoot was growing hope again! Growing love again!
Think of small ways you can help people during this season of Advent. Keep a prayer list for the people you want to show love to, and ask God to use your actions to produce great results.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years. Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, ...Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.
You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
- Luke 1:6-8, 11-17
This is what the angel said: “John will help people get their hearts ready for the coming of the greatest Gift ever!” That’s really all we have to get ready for Christmas-our hearts. We need to get our hearts ready to welcome Jesus into every part of our lives. And guess how best to get your heart ready for Jesus? Come to Him just as you are.
It’s like your name has been drawn! And you get the miracle of Christmas! You get more than just proof that God exists-you get the gift of really knowing God’s presence.
You always get the greatest Christmas miracle. You get God with you!
Have you ever experienced a miracle?
Have you heard about someone else who experienced a miracle?
Why do you think the miracle of Christmas is one of the greatest miracles of all?
And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. … Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. -Luke 1:28-35, 38
The Son-King, Jesus, who laid out the paths for all the stars, chose to fold Himself up small and lie in the space of Mary.
When you make space in your words, in your wants, in your ways for Jesus, He comes and lives in the most miraculous way in your heart too.
It’s the strangest, most wondrous things: when you open up your hands and says yes to whatever God wants to give you, you are really holding onto the hands of God. And no matter what your day looks like, no matter what happens, no matter how bad things get, your very big God can make anything, no matter how bad, into a gift.
Right now, God wants to hold your unsure hand.
Right now, God wants to hold all your needs.
Right now, God wants to hold you and all your fears.
Right now, God want to whisper gently, “I’m here-you have nothing to fear and everything to rejoice about. Nothing is impossible for Me!
Mary nodded happily and whispered, “I will help God give His love out to the world.”
Christmas is close now. Only one thing is necessary-just let your hands and your heart be a space for love to come into the world.
Close your hands in fists and then open them again. As you do, think about giving God whatever is bothering you. Find one way to open your hand and say yes to God.
But just when he had resolved to do 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 as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us.” - Matthew 1:20-23
Joseph couldn’t sleep for the excitement! The words rang in him like a hammer.
Jesus. Will . Save.
God. With. Us.
God with us!
He is the God who is so for you that He can’t stay away from you! The God who so loves you and likes you and isn’t merely a little bit for you or halfway for you or kind of for you but is always, fully, completely, totally, entirely, all the way, 100 percent for you-this is the God who chooses to be right with you.
So God threw open the door of this world and entered as a Baby.
He came as a Baby because He was done with barriers.
He disarmed Himself so that you could take Him in your arms. God came as a Baby because He wants to be unimaginably close to you.
What God ever came, came so tenderly you could touch Him! So fragile that we could break Him? Only the God who had come back to get you, to free you, to be with you.
Hear it everywhere, the best news of all: “God is with us! God is with us!
Father God, help us stop and ponder Grace unfathomable. Help us to be still and remember Love unstoppable. We welcome you, Lord Jesus. Amen.