God with Us: Part III

Are you enjoying these “God with Us” posts? I just LOVE that God is near to us, close to us, walking along beside us. He is behind us and He is before us. Our God sent Jesus to be human, along with us.

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We are created as relational beings, and so we get lonely sometimes. We feel alone-ness rather than comfort. Sometimes, we have sorrow rather than joy. But Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us.

Read this part of the Christmas story and really imagine what it must have been like to be Mary and Joseph:

Matthew 1:18-25

 

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

 

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”

 

(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Jesus was born to a young village girl. His father on earth was a simple carpenter. There probably wasn’t anything outstanding or extraordinary about them (other than that Mary was pregnant out of wedlock). In fact, the people around town may have looked down on them. But, those two people were Jesus’ parents.

We can read stories throughout the gospels where Jesus goes to the “forgotten” people. He went to the “sinners“. Emmanuel was born to and lived among the outcasts, the poor, and the sorrowful. He was born among regular, every day people like you and me.

“God with us” does not mean “God with the rich and righteous”. It does not matter who you are – because Jesus came, like the angel says, to “save his people from their sins”. He is the great rescuer, so he does not need for you to be perfect and happy already. He is comfort to the lonely. He is joy to the sorrowful.

And he can be those things because he is God with us. God on earth, born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth. He was a kid who laughed and cried. Maybe he was teased by his peers. He probably felt alone sometimes.

He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is mighty and so much higher than us. But he came down to be here with us.

So Emmanuel is such a powerful idea for us! It means that Jesus can relate to us. He has been here. He is with us. He knows what it’s like to lose a friend. He knows what it is like to feel betrayed. He knows how it feels when no one believes him – to be the centre of gossip and slander.

Jesus knows and he understands.

At the end of your week, going into the weekend, spend some time thinking about the humanity of Jesus. Read parts of the gospels where he is tempted, angry, weeping, or praying. Realize that when Jesus came to earth, he traded perfection in heaven for the pain on earth. He knows your pain and mine. And he walks with you through it all.


 

Missed something? Check out these Christmas posts:

Comfort  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-comfort/

 

…And Joy  http://alittlesanctuary.org/and-joy/

 

Summer Christmas  http://alittlesanctuary.org/summer-christmas/

 

God with us: Part I  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part/

 

God with us: Part II  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-ii/

 

God with us: Part III  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-iii/

 

Storying Christmas: Waiting  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-waiting/

 

Christmas Eve & The Miracle Fern http://alittlesanctuary.org/christmas-eve-miracle-fern/

…And Joy

Let’s talk about the other half of the phrase Comfort and Joy. Joy. More specifically, joy to the world.

Christmas is such a time for joy. Glad tidings of comfort and joy. The Lord has come. Let earth receive her king.

But let’s look at the time before that joy. Let’s look at the conflict in the story.

STORYINGCHRISTMAS (1)

There was a young teenager named Mary who was engaged to a man named Joseph. A good man – a man of God. But she becomes pregnant. Imagine becoming pregnant while engaged to a good man. And the baby is not his child. There’s so much grief in that – for Mary, for Joseph, for the families of both, and for the village in which they live. It’s not something that is easy. Nine whole months of people talking about you. They say Mary is crazy and a harlot. They say Joseph should get rid of her, leaving her and her baby to fend for themselves.

There was a man named Zechariah who had no children with his wife Elizabeth because she was barren. They were old and childless, but they had prayed for a baby. That is so hard.

There were shepherds, keeping watch over their flocks at night. They were doing what they did every single day – the lower class life of working and herding sheep. No kings came to them. They had no ambition – no dreams. They could not hope for joy.

Long before any of this, there were these two nations, divided from one nation: Israel and Judah. They had been united in the glory days of David and Solomon and they longed for that time when God would bless them once again. They felt abandoned, punished. All they had was a cryptic prophecy that a leader would rise up and be their uniting king once more. The Babylonians came and the Assyrians and the Romans. They lived in a war-torn land. They were oppressed and afraid. Many were forced to immigrate. They were spread out – families torn apart.

So much pain.

Can we imagine what all of this was like? Can you identify with any of these stories? A couple with an unplanned pregnancy. Another couple with no hope of having children. A lower class citizen, feeling hopeless – feeling that there is no place you can go to escape the life you have. A displaced people, longing for the glory days – or even just for home.

But then, joy.

All of these stories end in joy.

For Zechariah and Elizabeth, God gave a baby. So much joy!

For the shepherds, God sent the Lamb of God – and proclaimed his coming with angels!

For Israel and Judah, God sent the Messiah, the hope for which they had prayed for centuries!

For Mary and Joseph, God sent Jesus – a baby, the Lamb of God, the Messiah. A small child who would take away the sins of the world.

God sends joy to us. He has already done so. And what we see right now as pain, sadness, or hopelessness, we will one day see as joy. What a beautiful thing to remember this season – that in Jesus the baby, we have been given eternal comfort… and joy.

 


 

Comfort  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-comfort/

 

…And Joy  http://alittlesanctuary.org/and-joy/

 

Summer Christmas  http://alittlesanctuary.org/summer-christmas/

 

God with us: Part I  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part/

 

God with us: Part II  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-ii/

 

God with us: Part III  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-iii/

 

Storying Christmas: Waiting  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-waiting/

 

Christmas Eve & The Miracle Fern http://alittlesanctuary.org/christmas-eve-miracle-fern/

The Power of Pause: Painful Pausing

the power of pause painful

The act of pausing is, indeed, powerful. Often, a relieving kind of powerful, and other times not. Stopping, even for a moment sometimes, can be painful.

A few weeks ago, these “Freedom in Christ” sessions started at our church on Tuesday nights. My husband and I thought it sounded good, but he had a lot of assignments coming up so I just decided to do it and report back.

Based on the verse in Galatians and books by Neil T. Anderson, the course is meant to help Christians claim their “freedom in Christ”. This is done by focusing on scripture instead of on distractions, finding God’s promises, and believing them – letting go of hurts and lies. Basically, it gives you time and space to pause and pray and just deal. By the end, you have a toolkit of principles and scriptures to help you live in freedom.

But, the course made me stop and think about some stuff that I didn’t really want to stop and think about. And that was not a nice feeling.

Pausing can be painful. Because if we let our bodies stop, our minds might wander. And they might wander to our past. They might wander to our present. They might even go on a longer trip all the way to our future. They might take hold of worries and hurts we didn’t want to admit we had.

So… Is it worth it to stop and let yourself feel something painful?

I don’t know. I am neither a doctor nor a therapist.

painful pause

I do know that pushing on a bruise doesn’t make it go away. Push too hard and it’ll even make the bruise bigger. Time is the only remedy.

But there’s something magical about Christianity. Christ was a healer.

So, I believe that if we pause and listen to what God says about us – if we claim his promises and take him at His Word – we can be content. We can be free. We don’t have to be in pain.

But for this to happen, we have to stop and take time to follow him, push through the crowd and the junk of our lives to touch the hem of his robe. He will just turn around, love us, heal us, and always be with us.

Check out “Freedom in Christ Ministries” and print out some of their free downloads. I love the “Significance, Security, & Acceptance Restored In Christ” list that they encourage you to read out loud every day for a week or a month. Most importantly, take time to pause with Jesus – no matter how painful it might be at first – because Jesus can take that pain if you claim the freedom He gives you.

Much love and blessings,

Ashley Ruth