Day 4

Christ’s Birth Prophesied

from the Advent 2017: Joy to the World reading plan

Isaiah 7:10-14, Jeremiah 23:1-8, Matthew 1:22-23, 1 John 4:7-10, Revelation 21:3-5

The name Jesus is given—Immanuel—means “God with us.” This name reminds us we are not meant to be alone.

When I was a student at Auburn University, I had no money. My brothers and I had to work our way through college. While there I ate cheaply at every opportunity and longed for my mom’s cooking. I went to every event with free food and took a job at a BBQ joint where I could eat for free at any time.

Since Auburn is a college town, restaurants were always trying to get the students in. There were burger nights and cheap pizzas after midnight. On Wednesdays, we went to a sports bar called Ryan’s where they had 10-cent wings.  

That is not a typo. A dime a wing.

So we went to wing night a lot. It was a crazy atmosphere and was a lot like a frat house full of large, young men eating wings and downing pitchers of beer. You had to wait a while to get a table, but it was worth it. I didn’t drink beer, so all my funds went to those wings.

Those nights are a blur from nearly 30 years ago, except for one night I will never forget. Before our church’s Wednesday night Bible study about a dozen of us went to wing night, where we would join about one hundred other college students. We waited a long time to be seated, and then they just started bringing baskets of wings to us while we waited. It was a little like heaven, seeing all those orange and glowing pieces of deep-fried spicy chicken, garnished with blue cheese dressing and arriving unannounced.

We’d been there for a while and were about to leave when I noticed a very large guy sitting there alone with dozens of wings and a pitcher of beer all to himself. In the midst of this party-like atmosphere, he’d sat and waited for a table, then did wing night alone.

I have not been able to shake that memory. It ruined my evening in the best way possible—I remember that. I remember turning over in my mind that scene of him sitting there all by himself, surrounded by revelry but not really being a part of it. I may have been even sadder about it than he was. But deep inside of me, there was an unshakable conviction that no one should go to wing night alone.

In pastoral ministry—and in the weariness of the business world—I have seen that night played out again and again. Lonely students. Lonely spouses. Lonely pastors. Many of them surrounded by people but crowded in with a loneliness they cannot seem to get away from.

Part of the great news of the incarnation is that Jesus is called Immanuel—God with us. Because of Him, loneliness, that echo of death from all the way back in the garden, is ultimately defeated. We have the promise of being alone no more. We may feel lonely and we may be physically alone, but the reality is our Lord and Savior and Redeemer and friend, Jesus, has promised to never forsake us or leave us.  

The message of Christmas is that we have not been left alone with our sin. We have been left alone in no way at all.

Written by Matthew B. Redmond

Post Comments (12)

12 thoughts on "Christ’s Birth Prophesied"

  1. Bryce says:

    Father, thank you for the comfort of knowing that you are with me. I feel very comfortable by that reminder. I love you Lord Jesus.

  2. Andrew says:

    Praising God that He is with me!

  3. Brian says:

    Feeling a bit convicted this morning. I know that God is with me and I am never alone. However, I don’t always want His presence. I don’t always lean into His companionship. Lord, give me a deeper desire to be with you!

  4. GB says:

    I lament sometimes being alone. I know there Scriptures, but there are still times of loneliness that are to be endured.
    I started reading David Jeremiah’s new book “A Life Beyond Amazing” and in the intro he writes “This book is a manual on how to develop these qualities (fruits of Spirit). You alone can make the decision to pursue this life, and if you do you will never be alone. Not ever”
    That struck me, I started reading his book to see what it was Pastor Jeremiah proscribed for an amazing Christian life. Didn’t expect to see “…never be alone”, especially after today’s Advent study.
    He further writes “When the Spirit of Christ comes to live within us he reproduces Himself, putting these traits at our core so we can achieve godly character.”
    I like that. The Spirit is within us. Not really alone. Wouldn’t have happened without the Advent.

  5. Stephen Perry says:

    Thank you Lord that you are close and not distant. It blows my mind to think of the truth that you sent Jesus on my behalf because you wanted to be with me. Thank you Lord and I pray you would help me to focus on that truth today. Help me to remember you are WITH me today and every day!

  6. Jeff M. says:

    What does it mean for Immanuel to be God with us? Some times I feel a pang of guilt that I am far from God – and it doesn’t send me into a spiral of sadness (that might be better) but into a prolonged hustle and bustle of earning my way back to Him. Sitting in this truth of Immanuel, God being WITH me, allows me to freely be with and talk with God at all times. That might sound elementary on some level, but knowing that access to God is not just found in a morning quiet time, in a specific place as was true in the Old Testament, or when I believe I’m getting it right…what peace and joy that brings to a wearied heart. If you’re reading this response I’m praying for the infinite presence of the Lord to become so real to you today – May He lead us today.

  7. Trevor Gartner says:

    I know that Immanuel means God with us, but rarely have I dwelled on the implications. We can no longer be alone, for we have been saved, rescued, reconciled, in brought in, adopted, for Jesus is ‘God with us’. For we are now and will ever be His workmanship, and His children. He loves us, he delights in us, we are seen as perfectly righteous because of what Jesus did. And He is with us, through every season, through every storm, nothing in this life can separate us from the love of Christ.

  8. Colt Duppen says:

    The main message from today is that we, as people, are not meant to be alone. We should always know that even when we are surrounded by nothingness, we still have God with us, inside of us. I feel like the passage about the wing night was an important example of people coming together and having something in common and enjoying each other’s company. Although the man who waited and ate alone seemed like he had no one, we can always rest assured that he has God and the Holy Spirit inside of him. It is important as well to try to make people feel welcomed when they seem like they’re alone.

    So sort of a mixed bag for me at the moment because I get the urge whenever I’m with a group of people and seem someone on the fringe, to talk to them and help them join into whatever group I’m in at the time. But I should also assure myself that when they or I am alone, that I never truly am. I always have God in my corner and he will watch over me and protect me from the things that I fear.

    One of the top fears in my own life is loneliness. I haven’t truly ever had that one best friend that many people have growing up. I was constantly moving around as a kid and with this I was shifting from friends to friends. As I’ve grown up I have continued a lot of the same trends, moving long distances every so often. So this thought that I should be fine with being alone because I am truly never alone is counter-intuitive to me. I have recently started to surround myself with people that make my life better and easier to understand and navigate but I should always have trust that God has a plan for me and even when it seems like I’m lonely, I’m never alone.

    Lastly a verse that really stood out to me was “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” I think it is important to love everyone. I think this is especially important with the people that you surround yourself with on a daily basis. Not only this but I think you should show your love and appreciation for these people by showing them gratitude, affection, and just giving them the attention they deserve, even when it may be hard for you.

    I am extremely happy that the verse today talked about love and the importance of it, because I believe that it’s a major driving force in our lives and such an important thing that can often get overlooked.

    I would just like to leave with this message for those who ever feel alone and hopeless. It is a great world and we should praise and rejoice for the hints we have.

    “The message of Christmas is that we have not been left alone with our sin. We have been left alone in no way at all.”

  9. Keaton Vander Hart says:

    It’s awesome to think about God loving me so much he wants to be with me.

  10. Chase Ravenscraft says:

    In the midst of my loneliness, God came and He is with me. He never left nor forsook. He came to Earth to be Immanuel, and He will be with us to the end of the age.

  11. Sok says:

    “I have not been able to shake that memory. It ruined my evening in the best way possible… that scene of him sitting there all by himself, surrounded by revelry but not really being a part of it… deep inside of me, there was an unshakable conviction that no one should go to wing night alone.”

    Out of context, the gift of Emmanuel seems incredibly larger than being alone within the revelry. But maybe not, maybe it’s a very clear and uncluttered understanding of God with Us, as Wings Night is meant for community, and we are meant to join in the rejoicing of creation for our Creator.
    Our Creator who is clearing away the sins that so easily entangle, destroying our self loathing, humiliating our arrogated self sufficiency, and leaving us with us, and Him, at peace, in His community.

  12. Cody Walter says:

    I have never really been engaged with a local church or group of Christians. That’s started to change now that I live abroad, but still my life has been notably marked by self imposed isolation. That’s not how we are meant to live though. If Jesus is our model and he came to be with us, how much more ought we be engaged with one another. It is in those times together that we see glimpses of God’s kingdom on earth.

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