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But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant. Philippians 2:7 (NCV)

Christmas has long been touted as a holiday when we think of love. We give gifts. We travel across the country (or sometimes the world) to spend time with those we love, all in the name of Christmas. Churches hold extra services, relationships are restored, new relationships are built, all in the name of Christmas!

The ultimate example of love comes in the form of grace. Grace is, and always has been, God reaching out to man. When Adam and Eve sinned, who was it that sought to restore the broken relationship? God, God reaching out to man.

When Moses killed the Egyptian and ran for his life, wandering for forty years when God had chosen him to lead his people out ofEgypt. Who came to restore the broken relationship and restore hope? God did. God reaching out to man.

When David had an affair and spent months in agony and cover up. Who reached out to restore the relationship and offer forgiveness? God did. God reaching out to man.

On a small, dark hillside inPalestine. When religion had a stranglehold on worship. Who came to restore the path to God and eternal life? God did. God reaching out to man in the form of a little baby.

Grace has always been about relationship, not rules. What better example of a relationship than that of a young couple gathered around the bedside of their first-born child. The wonder. The awe. The realization that this little life would change their lives forever and produce a legacy, a heritage that would go on for years.

That’s grace. God reaching down to man in a way that would build a relationship with the people he desires to reach most of all.

That’s grace. God offering forgiveness to you and I when we don’t deserve it. When we’ve rebelled, gone our own way, refused to forgive others, abused others with our fists or our words.

This Christmas, amidst the glitter and brightly colored packages. While you sit at your meals or play your new games. Spend some time with the babe in the manger. The one who gave up the glories of heaven to endure the pain of the cross on your behalf. You can do nothing to deserve this gift. It’s freely given because God loves you and wants to forgive you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, on this Christmas day, I thank you for coming to earth. So often we get so caught up in celebrating the holiday we forget to worship the reason. All praise and honor and worship is due you. Alleluia. Amen.

Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord. Luke 2:11 (NCV)

Jesus is born! The Messiah! The Savior! The Lord! He’s here! Right now! The promised one!

Can we even really imagine the excitement of that night on a lonely hill outside the small town ofBethlehem? We are told the angels sang, that they announced the birth of the savior. But who else was singing?

Years later when Jesus rode intoJerusalemamong the cheering crowds he was rebuked by the Pharisees and told to keep the crowd from praising him. His response? “If these people keep quiet the rocks themselves will shout out praise!”

Later, Paul would write, in Romans 8:22, that ‘creation groans’ awaiting the salvation that Christ would bring on his return.

So, were just the angels singing that night? Angels, remember, aren’t omniscient. They watched this spectacle unfold like the rest of us. This was their king. This was the one who they tended to in Heaven, now he was gone for a few years to walk among the humans! To mingle with this creation that the Bible tells us was made for him and by him. He was THE Lord!

Did the rocks struggle to contain themselves when the angels sang? Did the sheep in the pasture feel an unexplained joy when they heard the news? Were trees of the field stretching just a little closer to heaven that night as they rejoiced?

In the manger scene we see symbolized around the world, were the animals struggling for position to see this one whom they knew as Lord? Did even they feel something we humans didn’t understand?

This was something new! This was something unheard of! The creator of the world would now walk in his creation. The Lord of the universe left his throne to mingle with the very ones he formed from the dust. The master had returned to his home.

Today as I contemplate this verse I think it was much more than an announcement by an angelic choir. That one night all of creation stood in amazement and awe. The master designer was back to walk physically where he hadn’t walked since the day he created the world. To walk once again, side by side with the sons of Adam and Eve.

This Christmas season let us not lose sight of the awesome miracle that took place that night. The earth rejoiced in his coming. We would never be the same.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. Amongst the glitter and lights, nestled in with the brightly colored packages and the joyful music, as I enjoy the company of those I love. Let me not forget that this night, long ago, would change all of us forever. Thank you that as my creator you also came to be my Lord and Savior. May I never lose sight of your extreme love for me. Amen.

“Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the LORD. Zechariah 2:10

Rejoice! He has come to live among us. That babe in a manger, whose birth we celebrate with decorated trees and brightly colored packages. That babe in the manger who shows us how to live in the midst of trials and tribulation. That babe in the manger who heals us with the gentle touch of his hand. That babe in the manger that came for no other reason than to die so that we might live.

Have you ever thought about this? If you were the only one who needed a savior, he’d have still come for you. He didn’t come to save ‘masses’ of people, he came for you. He came to provide a way for you to find freedom from the burden of your own stupid choices. He came to provide comfort for you in the midst of the evil and abusive acts of others. He came to empower you to live victoriously over addictions. He came to lift you up when you fail. He came for you!

Notice something else. He came to live among us. There are many fine organizations around the world that provide opportunities for people to assist those who are down and out. You can pick from any number of places to help the homeless, to help feed the starving, to offer medical, physical and spiritual assistance to those who are desperately in need.

That’s not the same as living ‘among us’. Jesus didn’t come to visit the homeless. He came to be one of the homeless. He didn’t come to offer a hand to the leper, the addict, the social outcast, the poor or the starving. He came to live ‘among’ them. It’s not a temporary position. He holds the hand of the severely sick child, whispers in the ear of the elderly person whose foot is on the threshold of eternity; has his arm gently on the shoulder of the parent who has lost a child…or the child (of any age) who just lost mom or dad.

He never leaves you. Why should he? He lives with you. Your home is his home. He doesn’t have the cubicle next to you at the office…he’s got the desk in your corner. There is no place he has not been with you. There is no feeling that you have had that he isn’t aware of. He’s seen every tear, heard every laugh, felt every fear. He is among you. That’s grace. Grace sent Jesus from heaven to earth to live among you in every situation. Rejoice!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. Thank you for coming to earth for me. Thank you for showing me the way of life and forgiveness. Thank you for loving me and providing a way for me to escape my past and live for you. Most of all, I thank you for the promise that you don’t just live ‘with me’, you live ‘among me’ so that you see and feel everything I feel. Empower me with your Spirit to sense your presence in every place I go, word I speak and action I take. In your name I pray, Amen.

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