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Monday, December 6, 2010

Sheerlund Forest tree farm (photo by Mike Martin)
Sheerlund Forest tree farm near Reading, PA
(Photo by Mike Martin)

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"When God Stooped Down"

"You stoop down to make me great" (Psalm 18:35).  "
Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness" (Philippians 2:5-7).

There are different approaches to pastoral ministry regarding the ways ministers interface with the people whom they oversee. Brooksyne and I have always been very personable, not only ministering spiritually to the people but befriending them as well. Not only do we hope to challenge and inspire them in their spiritual walk, but we are equally challenged as we closely interface with those whom we serve.  In over 35 years of ministry we've attended many Pastoral Conferences where we mix among our ministerial peers, but we've always felt most at home among the people whom God has entrusted to us in our congregations and in other forms of ministry.

Brooksyne with residentI'm tall (about 6' 3") although I do seem to be shrinking a bit in height as I age! Early in our ministry I learned the value of stooping down to greet children, seeking to be more personable. In fact I still often get down on my knees to be at their level when I talk to them. It seems my size is much less intimidating that way. Brooksyne and I have also learned that stooping down is appreciated by people in wheelchairs or those who are bedridden. There's a special connection we make when being at the same eye level as we seek to express genuine love and care.

But today let us consider the wonderful blessing in Scripture that tells us when God stooped down. One of our favorite Christmas hymns is "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus".  Each line of this Charles Wesley hymn is replete with rich theology concerning the incarnation of Christ, including one pertinent to today's message; "Born a child and yet a King."

The daily text is part of an ancient song to the Lord written by King David some 3,000 years ago (1,000 years before the first coming of Christ).  In his extolling of the Lord David writes, "You stoop down to make me great."

I wonder what David meant when he initially wrote these words?  Certainly he was cognizant of the greatness of God but how much insight did he have about the future incarnation and the very wonder that one day this great God of the universe; the Creator of all that exists would "stoop down" and clothe Himself in human flesh, entering this world as a helpless babe?

But that is precisely what God has done for us. We recall a song from the eighties that had a line, "He came down to my level, when I couldn't get up to His." Theologically we call this the "incarnation," God's ultimate demonstration of grace in sending His one and only Son to this world to die for our sins. (Incidentally the Hebrew word for grace ("hen") has an underlying sense of meaning "to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior.")

God in the incarnation "stooped down". The apostle Paul, in his magnificent incarnation passage states, "Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness" (Philippians 2:5-7).

CS LewisToday what a difference it makes in our outlook when we consider that God has indeed "stooped down".  C. S. Lewis wrote so poignantly, "The Son of God became a Son of Man that sons of men might become sons of God".  That's right!  And remember this wonderful truth today, this season, and all your life!  How blessed we are that God stooped down!  Now let us look up to Him who gave His all for us!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Jesus, You stooped down from heaven to take on flesh and dwell among us as You became the supreme example of God in the flesh. In Your humanness You were victorious in the raging battle against the spiritual forces of evil when faced with temptations and trials common to all people.  We stand in glorious victory as we follow Your example and hold to Your unchanging truths.  It is in the powerful name of Jesus that we pray.   Amen.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus"  Video  
Christy Nockels with lyrics 

"He Came Down To My Level"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

Mike Martin is a friend of ours who enjoys an annual trip with his family to a Christmas tree farm where they cut down their own tree. 
In fact last year I used a photo he took at a different Christmas tree farm.
Elizabeth Farms Christmas trees, Lancaster County, PA

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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