Listen to this devotional:
Isaiah 7:14 – All right then, the Lord himself will choose the sign — a child shall be born to a virgin! And she shall call him Immanuel (meaning, "God is with us"). (TLB)
One of the things I enjoy most about Christmas is the traditional tree. Last year, my daughter and I drove miles before discovering the perfect specimen.
Hiking through deep snow, I was eager to reach and take home my prize. I received a surprise, however, as I bent low with my saw to get beneath the tree's branches. My perfect tree had three separate trees growing from one base. "How odd," I mused.
Once our tree was home, a visitor remarked on what a bushy specimen we had found. As I explained the three trees in one trunk, she said, "Oh that happens when a tree has already been cut once before. Out of the original stump, several new shoots begin to emerge."
In life, we too can experience "cutting down". Our income is suddenly sliced. Our job is cut. Health issues, relationship problems, or a death can all cut us to the quick. At such times, how good it is to know that there is Someone who completely understands what it means to be cut down.
In Philippians 2, we discover that Jesus chose to lay aside His rights as God and to take the disguise of a slave and become a man. He chose to be cut down in His prime, accepting a cruel and totally undeserved death on a cross, so that we could once and for all be cut off from the power of sin in our lives and the eternal death it brings. And when the cutting down was finally over, "God raised Him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11 TLB)
Jesus chose to be cut down so that when we experience a "cutting down", we too can be raised up anew. We can be grown up into even healthier, bushier, spiritually-mature beings, because Immanuel, God, is with us.
Prayer: Father God, how can we ever thank You enough for the gift of Jesus and all that He means to us? We thank You, Immanuel, God with us. We thank You for Your eternal presence and Your power to raise us up again when life cuts us down. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.