Pressed But Not Crushed: A Study on 2 Chronicles 20

If you know me, you know I’m not into politics. 

I don’t emotionally invest in global events. I don’t turn on the news unless I have to. 

And for good reason: Growing up, not only did the evening news proceed family dinners but often added stress to the dog days of school. Like most, I could appreciate the voice of Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw on a Taco Tuesday. But given the choice, younger me would rather comb through a newspaper by a fireplace than channel-flip through the five stages of grief. 

Fast-forward to today and the bombardment of information is at a fever pitch. Precipitating our lives is a paradox full of silent scrolls, constant noise, and souls desperate to press ‘mute’ on what they can’t resist: The world at their fingertips. I know I’ve been there and am still there in some ways. After all, the quest for a distraction-less life will always be an uphill battle.

But I suppose that’s why I writing this: To remind us how in all things, there’s a right way to stand, a right way to contend, and a right way to honor.

Even when the news is disturbing, there are ways to walk in our priestly identity as messengers with purposed mouthpieces. The million-dollar question is: What are the ways and how do we walk them when the world around us is falling apart?

To find out, let’s turn to 2 Chronicles 20 and dive right in…

1) The Way to Stand

Imagine waking up to two powerful armies raging war against you. The future of a reformed country, not to mention your life, hanging in the balance. I don’t care what side of the bed you rise from. There’s no coffee in the world strong enough to offset that brutal awakening. 

Yet, for our protagonist, Jehoshaphat – a devout, God-fearing king, that’s exactly where he finds himself. Contending with a stirred Judean ecosystem (thanks to his efforts in ch. 19*), the foreign foundation is fragile. The Moabites are ticked. The Ammonites are incensed. And the result is v. 2

Then it was reported to Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude has come against you from beyond the [Dead] Sea, out of Aram (Syria); and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is, Engedi).”

Hearing this news, Jehoshaphat could have easily yielded to fear and doubt. After all, when you learn a nation’s fate is at stake, staying calm can seem like a tall order.

However, it’s here where Jehoshaphat makes a critical decision: Rather than panic into premature prayer, he seeks the Lord with determination, proclaims a fast and a gathering for His people to do the same (v. 4), and inspires unity ahead of the victory to come. 

Following his prayer in v. 5-12, we see the evidence of Jehoshaphat’s faith through the response of his people (v. 13-14). Not only do they stand and receive from the Lord but discern God’s battleplan through worship and thanksgiving. With corporate praise an official banner, Jehoshaphat’s army charges into war with confidence and is delivered from the men of Ammon and Moab – a thorough breakthrough epitomized in v. 21:

Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Sound familiar? I didn’t think so.

Bottom line: In a few verses, Jehoshaphat provides a template on how we can blend courage with community and perceive conflict without overreacting. Especially in trials and tribulations, the way to stand is never an individual exercise. If you want to lead, you must first learn to lean, dependently with God first, interdependently with people second. 

2) The Way to Contend 

Going back to Jehoshaphat’s prayer

And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying,  ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’  And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

…the structure is notable for a couple reasons. 

  1. Before Jehoshaphat requests of God, He acknowledges who God is. More specifically, Jehoshaphat declares God’s sovereignty and strength into his situation (v. 5-6) and in humility recognizes God’s dominion as infinitely greater than his.  
  2. While Jehoshaphat believes God will be faithful, He praises God for having been faithful (v. 7). This flavor of hope not only allows Jehoshaphat to contend through worship and prayer but anchors his trust in God’s character as opposed to his track record. 
  3. Jehoshaphat pleads in meekness and transparency. He knows God is aware of what’s going on but is still explicit in conveying his concern. To the extent Jehoshaphat resists fear, to that extent he spells it out knowing he has nothing to lose being honest with God.
  4. Jehoshaphat concludes his prayer with a timeless mic-drop: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” With past victories in tact, Jehoshaphat could have easily relied on winning formulas, proven communication skills, even ally relationships. Instead, he boldly professes his weakness and seals his petition in a spirit of expectancy knowing this prayer was key to helping his people stand firm. 

Bottom line: In a few verses, Jehoshaphat provides a template on how we can surrender to God ahead of evil’s surrender to Christ in us. When you feel overwhelmed by clients, colleagues, and/or workload, don’t deny your helplessness but rejoice in the fact you can call on God to go before you.

3) The Way to Honor

While much attention is given to Jehoshaphat’s prayer and victory in 2 Chronicles 20, the epilogue is also worth noting. For starters, Jehoshaphat’s prioritization of consecration over celebration (v. 26) is indicative of a leader who cited his honor correctly. Had Jehoshaphat’s pride surfaced, he could have fallen victim to the same vice he was rebuked for in chapter 19. Yet, as we find, rather than fall into idolatry, Jehoshaphat maintains holy reference by blessing the Lord with his troops. The spoils of war now altars of gratitude with legacy ties to this day. 

After exalting God on site, Jehoshaphat and his men return to Jerusalem to commemorate their freedom (v. 27-30):

Then they returned to Jerusalem with joy, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, led by Jehoshaphat, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem with harps, lyres, and trumpets to the house (temple) of the Lord. And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest on all sides.”

This conclusion tells me two things: 

  1. As an appointed leader, Jehoshaphat accepted conflict with courage, went into battle with assurance, and conquered his enemies with humility.
  2. As an anointed leader, Jehoshaphat accomplished these things in the joy and fear of the Lord.  

Essentially, whatever Jehoshaphat set his mind to, it prospered because he cared more about what God said than anything else. Like today, the man encountered much in terms of noise and despair; however, as a man of valor, he kept his eye on the prize at all times – never wavering to ego, consensus or past strongholds. As such, it’s no surprise the rest of Jehoshaphat’s reign was marked by peace, tranquility, and rest. 

Bottom line: In a few verses, Jehoshaphat provides a template on how we can honor God through victory and achievement. While celebrations have their place, remember gratitude must dictate your gladness not the other way around. If you desire to serve the Lord in holy fear, start with joy rooted in thanksgiving.

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. Fortifying cities from idolatry towards holy reverence

Cover photo creds: Pinterest

Commission U: A Tribe of Iron Sharpeners

Commission U homily as shared @ The Gate Church on January 31, 2021

Many times, we as a church have acknowledged pastoral leaders, trailblazing missionaries, even ministerial entrepreneurs recognizing their calls to churches, nations and organizations. But seldom have we collectively celebrated the unique giftings in vocational leaders and those appointed to corporate frontlines.

For many of us, there’s been a convergence of conviction in recent years centered on the idea that fivefold ministry gifts aren’t exclusive to those with fivefold ministry callings. For instance, like vocational ministers, a CPA with God-given financial skills, a physician with a prophetic voice, a businessperson bent on benevolence can function in pastoral, evangelical, and apostolic anointings.

The question is…

Are we helping professionals, these Kingdom agents, connect their original design to their occupation? Are we helping them bridge the sacred and secular while on the clock?

While many answers could be said, the truth is we, at The Gate, believe works of the Spirit are manifold and meant to manifest in the marketplace. It’s also our belief anyone who is saved and aligned with Christ has difference-making, culture shaking potential as part of their appointed skill and spiritual gift mix…

…which brings us to today where it is with great pleasure we celebrate these [3] individuals who have fulfilled their Commission U requirements as part of Messenger’s initiative to equip marketplace ministers.

For those unaware of what Commission U is, we’re more than a credentialing course, more than a biweekly small group, more than a quest for frameable accomplishment; rather, we’re a tribe of iron sharpeners, a community helping disciple-makers discover and apply their spiritual gifts in worldly systems. Our aim is to train the saints to mature their faith and reach within their arenas of influence. That is our heart, the flow of our lifeblood.

In Scripture, the word ‘commission’ is used several times. In Genesis, we find Joseph being commissioned by Pharaoh as the vizier of Egypt. In Numbers, we find Eleazar the priest and Joshua being commissioned in front of large assemblies. In Acts, we find Paul being commissioned through the laying on of hands by Ananias.

While these cases may seem random, the point is in each of them God appointed his chosen to succeed. And it’s for this reason we are gathered here today: To charge these ambassadors to go and make disciples of all nations as well as their offices – to teach them to obey not only what they’ve chosen to follow, but what they continuously choose to abide in.

So, to our graduates, we employ and empower you to build upon the insight you’ve received and to see the Scriptures as God-breathed in what you put your hands to. As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth [knowing] all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

And as 1 Peter 4:10 charges, may “each of you use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

And for the rest of us, know that we all carry a priestly identity embodying the incarnate – an ‘Immanuel’ (God with us) identity with ignitable Kingdom influence where we work.

On this note, we consecrate this moment by commissioning our Commission U graduates.

The Silver Linings of 2021

I’ll be honest: There’s a lot on my mind and chest right now.

Where to start, where to begin…

To be fair, I’m sure the same could be said about you. After the last year’s whirlwind, it makes sense to hope 2020 is true to its name: In focus and further distanced in the rear-view mirror.

Yet, as we embark on a fresh journey in this brave, new world, there’s one step we must take before the next. One step to fuel them all.  That step…is to stop.

That’s right. Before we step into 2021, we must first stop and consider where we’ve been and where we’re…God is taking us. However, to do this in full, not only must we surrender our desire to change on our terms but be willing to pray for what we press into.

For instance, we can pray for wisdom and strength to be different, to be better…but unless we posture our hearts to receive from God, our expectations will not calibrate to His nature.

As such, I submit we enter into the hope of 2021 with the following three points in mind. Granted, there will be more we discuss in the coming months. For now, let’s start with this trio and see where our dialogue takes us.

Ready, set, let’s go…

  1. Remember Your Aim

We are a people who tend to bite off more than we can chew. Our hearts may desire change but this doesn’t mean they desire what’s best and/or know the proper portions. Left to our own devices, we often crave the quickest road to recovery, reward, and large-scale transformation; however, as the Word attests, progress isn’t achieved by overcommitting to paths we plan but is accomplished through small steps we take with God each day (see Psalms 37:23, Proverbs 16:9; more on this in a moment).

As the Spirit confirmed in my heart last week, God’s best can’t always be measured by magnitude but can always be maximized by attitude. Accordingly, if you reframe your perspective to view change through this mindset, not only will you better scale your goals upfront but seize the strength to scale them when you confront.

Bottom line: Small and steady wins the race. Remember your aim is Jesus, not winning the world to Him. Consider your goals and invite the Lord to help you scale them. After all, you cannot grow if you do not yield and aim for purity in your maturity. As you pray into 2021, understand the road forward and onward is always one step at a time.

2. Delight in the Journey

In recent weeks, I’ve been reminded how central joy is to following Jesus. If we long to live as Christ, then we will take pleasure in what tethers us to His perfect will. In Scripture, we find several phrases that capture this reality…

“I know also, my God, that You test the heart and delight in uprightness and integrity. In the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things. So now with joy I have seen Your people who are present here, make their offerings willingly and freely to You.” ~ 1 Chronicles 29:17 (AMP)

“Finally, my fellow believers, continue to rejoice and delight in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble for me, and it is a safeguard for you. Therefore, my fellow believers, whom I love and long for, my delight and crown [my wreath of victory], in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.” ~ Philippians 3:1; 4:1 (AMP)

“…nevertheless I am with you in spirit, delighted to see your good discipline [as you stand shoulder to shoulder and form a solid front] and to see the stability of your faith in Christ [your steadfast reliance on Him and your unwavering confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness].” ~ Colossians 2:5 (AMP)

…but perhaps the one that strikes me most candidly is: Delight in God’s journey.

Again, I go back to Psalms 37:23: “The steps of a man are ordered by the Lord who takes delight in His journey” which fittingly aligns with Proverbs 16:9: “The heart of man plans his way but the LORD establishes his steps.”

This tells me two things:

  1. How God directs is meant to prompt us to His presence.
  2. What God establishes is meant to be a source of contagious joy and awe.

Consider this flashback from two years ago…

Written January 13, 2019

So today I’m walkin’ to work basking in the joy of winter feeling like winter when out of the corner of my ear, I hear ‘Joy to the World’ playing from a nearby corner street music station. At first, I’m like, ‘December is over. No more Christmas music!’ But almost instantly I hear that still, small voice whispering, ‘But Cam. Why not repeat the sounding joy?’

Of course, what can I say to that? Notes and lyrics that seem out of place by cultural timelines should always be in place by daily surrender. Better put, there’s a reason why certain Christmas songs like, ‘Deck the Halls’ and ‘Joy to the World’ are the only ones that can cure Everly’s nocturnal cries. Seriously, Caeden will start singing his ‘Fa, la, la, la’s’…and even if it’s a few minutes, all is calm and bright in the world.

As you walk with God, receive the practical, prudent reminders of His goodness, peace, and joy even they momentarily disagree with the senses.

Now, I know this may seem frivolous against the backdrop of recent political/social tension; however, we must not downplay delighting in the simple and spontaneous. For in this day, we may feel like we’re walking on eggshells more than sunshine…like we’re sinking in the decay around us. But this doesn’t mean we can’t take pleasure and hold of God’s best or stand in awe of what He has and continually gives.

Especially in seasons of turmoil and transition, our call is to participate in the divine and inspire likewise. While it’s okay to desire change, individually and corporately, don’t let this distract you from pointing people to Jesus as you work, as you wait, and as you champion appointed causes for such a time as this.

Bottom line: As you consider your 2021 riskolutions, make sure to take joy in God’s purposes and declare thanksgiving into places of doubt and uncertainty. Even in difficult situations, remember God only allows us to encounter what He allows (Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 4:15, 1 Corinthians 10:11-13). Whatever we face this year, know it doesn’t surprise God (Jeremiah 33:3) and He will provide a way before, for, and through us.

3. Persevere with Patience

No question, 2020 compelled many to higher levels of dependence with endurance and perseverance atop of the list. Yet, before we contrast 2020 to 2021, we should note endurance and perseverance are not the same things.

For example, endurance is staying the course when you’re tempted to give up; perseverance is leveling up when you’re tempted to get down. As I told LEGACYouth back in the day, endurance says ‘yes’; perseverance says ‘more’, but it all comes back to who we adore.

Consequently, while 2020 may have been a year of endurance and exposure for the church, I submit the pathway for 2021 is as follows: Perseverance, patience, perspective, and presence.

In other words, as we patiently await for the seas to calm, let’s persevere into God’s presence to gain His perspective on matters of culture, politics, and benevolence without yielding to churchspeak and hearsay. As the doxology of Jude reminds us…

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

Jude 1:17-25 (ESV)

Bottom line: As you endure with expectation and persevere in joy, cultivate intimacy. Don’t just engage the ways of God; engage God! Reference Him in what you can and can’t understand…when the waves of doubt cloud your mind. Embrace discovery through seeking and pondering. And dare to seek His footsteps and follow them to clarity.

Selah.

Cover photo creds: Construction Executive

Year in Review: A Look Back at 2020

Written on 12/31/2020

Well, folks. We’ve made it. 

The last day of 2020. What a ride, what a roller coaster. 

Earlier this week, I posted the following on my Facebook page after some healthy reflections over the Christmas break…

As I consider 2021, two words come to mind: “Get up.”

In Scripture, we find good things happen when things that need to be put to rest…are put to rest. We see the phrase in Joshua 7 when God calls Joshua to consecrate His people to purge their idolatry and recalibrate their devotion. We see it during Paul’s conversion when God appoints him to serve as a minister (with authority) and leave his shame/deceptions behind. And we see it during healing testimonies like Mark 10:49 when a blind man takes heart, receives sight, and leaves his discouraging past behind. Even when Jesus is in Gethsemane, He charges His disciples with these words to help them pray and not fall into temptation. 🤔

In each case, a call to surrender, a call to faith, a call to action. Like the 12, you carry life-altering, disciple-making potential with the capacity to inspire change. But before you write off 2020 like a bad dream, dare to ask yourself, ‘Why am I sleeping?’ It may be uncomfortable (preaching to the choir here), but if freedom is an open door, repentance and faith-based endurance are the keys. All the more reason to seek God, lean into Jesus, and embrace movement¹ as you anticipate better things to come.

Selah.

However, as I continue to ponder what’s ahead, I keep coming back to the same question: If we treat 2020 like a piñata (i.e. “I’m so glad this year is over”, “Worst year of my life”, “What a year to forget”, etc.), are we really setting ourselves to ‘level up’ in 2021?

Not to suggest people didn’t have it hard this past year. Surely some, if not most, of us lost loved ones, colleagues, jobs, even dreams once held dear.

My thought is: As we contend for ‘heaven on earth’ in 2021, let’s not discount the good of 2020 at the cost of confronting the bad (and ugly); rather, in our quests to move on, in our counters to revisionist history, let’s make sure we don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. After all, it’s hard to be thankful for something you’re desperate to forget…

which leads me to my key question for today: What’s your bottom line?

With respect to how you view 2020, how will you choose to remember it? 

Exhausting, Chaotic. Disorienting?

If so, you’re not alone.

I know as a local Nashvillian, times have been particular rough the past ten months. From a devastating tornado ravaging our downtown to the COVID-19 pandemic to the Christmas Day bombing, 2020 has been a textbook year for social unrest and political unease.

No one in their right mind would draw up a year like this. 

And yet…it happened. Whatever we say, whatever we do, we can’t erase the year’s narrative. As Rollo in Juno once said, This ain’t no Etch-a-SketchThis is one doodle that can’t be undid.”

So what then? Do we continue hiding behind our false securities? Cursing to the wind how unholy our inconveniences are?

Heck…no.

I mean…yes, there’s a right way to vent. As EMDR therapy has taught me this year, it’s wise to acknowledge raw emotions as opposed to instantly resisting them; however, what we do with them after we’ve come to terms makes all the difference. And I suppose that’s why I’m writing this: To make sure we are on the same page in our aerial processing of a year worthy of gratitude in how it’s made us corporately stronger. 

Take it from a guy who onboards non-profits in their journey towards incorporation and IRS approval. As turbulent as this year has been, there’s been a rise in the versatility of charitable mission and benevolence such as the world has never seen. Can we just pause to thank God for blessing us with creativity, determination and the opportunity to work them through adversity in ways we never thought possible?

For as the Word says…

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12). After [he has] suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called him to his eternal glory in Christ, will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish [him] (1 Peter 5:10).” Therefore, “Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

As for my bottom line, my aim is to step into 2021 the same way I’m leaving 2020: Thankful, humble, faithful, and aware that despite the setbacks, we are a people reset, a body united, and a collection of diverse perspectives working together for greater goods. 

No rose-colored lens. No wishful thinking. Simply hopeful expectations in my heart. Simply Jesus.

That’s all we can be and hope for as we press on in His name…together. Now and forever.

As for what tomorrow brings, all I know is for all the chaos and false doctrines, “…greater is He that is in me than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). I may not agree with you or even the leaders I voted for two months ago. But you better believe, these hands are going reach further next year than they ever have before. How that looks, I can’t say. But I do know if we do this together, the unity in community we crave will happen. One way or another. Why not dare to dream big and be faithful in the small in the days, weeks, and months ahead? 

Even if the despair is stubborn, even if your sky is falling, know we’ll be here rooting for you every step of the way.

As always,

~ Cameron & Lyssah Fry

Footnotes

  1. For many this will be in the form of discovery/recovery shaking. While there may be some aftershocks in 2021, eyes on the prize I believe the gains of strength through reconciliation and restoration will far outweigh (if not, accommodate) the pains. 

Cover photo creds: Pinterest

Yuletide Certitudes: A Truth From Charlie Brown & The Crown of Christmas

Well, folks. Ready or not…Christmas is here.

Time to deck the halls, throw cares away, and shake up the hap…ahhh…who I am kidding. After a year like 2020, after the two years in one the past nine month have been, Christmas just doesn’t feel right. Not to suggest there’s anything wrong being excited about annual traditions happening virtually in more subdued fashion. It’s just that…outside of Elvis, Bono, and Frank Loesser, this December has been hard to appreciate. Call it the fear of being blue with or without you ’cause baby it’s covid outside.

Yeah, yeah…I know that was bad. But in all seriously, it’s true. If it’s the most wonderful time of the year, why does the wonder feel so far off? Is it the fatigue factor, the mountain of forgetful memories in the back of our minds? Maybe the hesitancy to hope for holy nights to invade?

Whatever, wherever, however, the struggle, truth is there’s still plenty of reason to believe in this season. And while one post can only go so far, my hope is these three advent insights will encourage you in your anticipation for Christmas and the new year to come.

As always, let’s dive in…

  1. After rewatching ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ with my kids a few days ago, I find it interesting how Lucy, Charlie Brown’s nemesis, is the one who invites him to direct the school’s Christmas play. For most, the climax of the episode is Linus’s telling of the Christmas story (released blanket and all); however, it’s his sister, one of the most iconic animated bullies of all-time, who allows Charlie Brown to set the stage for this happen. Because Charlie Brown said ‘yes’ to Lucy’s invitation (and ‘no’ to fear by default), not only did he position himself to wrestle through weakness but aligned himself to ask one of the most important questions this side of heaven: “Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about?

As the story goes, Charlie Brown ends up discovering the true meaning of Christmas thanks to the tag-teaming efforts of Linus and Lucy; however, it still took a community of friends to help him arrive.

Accordingly, if you’re feeling alone, perhaps intimidated by a specific person/situation or overwhelmed by a bombardment of anxieties, consider God’s invitation for growth and discovery this season may very well come from someone you least expect. You don’t have to understand the timeline or the characters involved. You don’t have to make sense of your surroundings. Just lean into Jesus as you love unconditionally and give additionally. After all, to piggy-back off Linus, that’s what Christmas is all about.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father! So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” ~ Galatians 4:4-7

2. As Galatians 4 states, Jesus was born under the law to establish the freedom we were to enter into. The essence of Immanuel is rooted in this reality. Through the Incarnation, Jesus matured in holiness under the law so we could mature in His likeness within our new creation identity. Had Jesus not been born under the law, the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5) would have been compromised given Christ had to model the same identity through the fullness of time required for salvation, justification, and sanctification. Additionally, Jesus could not have paid our price, set the captives free on Holy Saturday, and secured our sonship if His entry point was above the law.

Think of this way: Jesus being born under the law laid a foundation for our salvation, freedom, and accordingly our ability to delight in suffering. Because Jesus faithfully endured AND delighted in suffering from ministry to Cross, we can likewise embrace the thorns in our own lives as we lean on Him. As we will discuss in future posts, there’s powerful symbolism and symmetry to how this relates to our new creation identity (i.e. being daily raised with Christ) and how it applies to the marketplace. For now, consider this a teaser for future January/February content.

3. Jesus being born under the law not only helps us grasp its necessity but reminds us to humbly honor appointed authorities, even ones we don’t agree with. Like today, political chaos and social unrest were backdrop realities Christ entered into; still God’s hand was steady and ever moving. This brings the idea of delighting in suffering full circle as we trust God through the temptation of fear into postures of holy expectation. Especially in this season, if we’re to celebrate our redemption as children of God, we must first acknowledge our helplessness in light of Christ’s sacrifice and desire to be forever Immanuel to us. Only then we can fathom the manger through the crown and cross He bore.

Think of this way: While some would say Bethlehem didn’t make sense as a landing spot for a Lord, it made perfect sense for a Savior surrendered to His Father’s will…born under the law. Through weakness Christ entered the world but this was not detached from yieldedness and surrender.

For instance, one can only imagine the pain Mary felt as she labored through greater discomfort and uncertainty. Trudging along in desperation, she likely expressed frustration, perhaps vented her doubts. Still, her soul kept magnifying the Lord. Even when the habitation of our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) was unknown, Mary kept it simple:

Count it all joy as the hope of glory is made known…Christ IN me.

Bottom line: Just as the stars aligned for salvation’s conception, so too can you align to Christ this Christmas through fearless intimacy knowing ‘Abba Father’ is on your side.

Selah.

‘Til next time, may you know the hope that is yours and the breakthrough that will be yours this Christmas season.

Blessings,

~ Cameron & Lyssah Fry

Photo creds: iDiscipleship