“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2:1-14 ESV
Surprise! They say good things come in small packages, I don’t know about that. Good things can also come in unexpected ways. Who’s ever heard of a King being born in a stable? Yet no one else on earth has ever had a choir of angels singing at their birth either. Jesus’ arrival was expected but missed by those who had studied His birth, written about it prophetically centuries earlier. Yet God chose to share the good news with shepherds. I wonder why🤔 because the elites would never believe that a King would be born in this way, but those humble enough to believe that anything is possible with God would. Notice that the announcement wasn’t made in the city but on a hillside on the outskirts. As a matter of fact news didn’t hit the town until foreigners showed up enquiring about a King that had been born at least a few years after. The shepherds saw a baby, the wise men saw a young child or toddler. Matthew 2:1-6
“And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.”
Matthew 2:11, 16 NKJV
Our God is full of surprises but never surprising. If you have been studying the Bible for a while, you understand that our God will never be boxed in. Not finding room for her delivery wasn’t an oops on God. Maybe it was for Joseph and Mary but not to God. This was always a part of the plan. The element of surprise in the plans of God is what keeps us from thinking we’ve got Him figured out. Just look at the ways in which He’s chosen to answer and deliver us. How can a baby deliver the world from sin? Surprise! By dying. What!? Yup. To deliver us He had to die. The humble got it, the elites missed it. Just read the gospels again. Who were the people most attracted to Jesus? And who gave Him agida? Who constantly asked for a sign? Who plotted to have Him crucified? You’re getting it. Herod and the elites didn’t go looking for Him in a stable, that was the last place they’d look. So God sent the angels to people like us.
The gift isn’t about the packaging, it’s about what’s in it. Some of us will miss out on God’s best for us by paying too much attention to the packaging. My daughter’s husband didn’t come in the packaging she was expecting. And was it a surprise? Not to me, but to her. The Lord showed him to me in a dream a year earlier. She told me it was a nightmare. What was the problem? Packaging. God never gives us anything according to our fleshly desires,
He gives us gifts in accordance with His will for us. He sees our future selves, whilst we’re stuck in the now. He only gives good gifts, as a matter of fact the scripture says “good and perfect gifts.” How could a nation miss the birth of their Deliverer? Packaging. There was no pomp and regal banquets, or heralders with loud trumpet blasts. Yet, in a little town called Bethlehem, in a stinky stable, resting in an animal’s feeding trough filled with hay, shepherds met their King.
How many opportunities have been missed because it didn’t come wrapped the way you expected? How many singles are still waiting for the “one” when he or she has come and gone because you were distracted by the packaging? How many business opportunities have passed by because you didn’t believe that the simple unassuming character that showed up with the offer wasn’t wearing a suit and tie driving a Maserati, but an old beat up car? There’s a young man in my city that has the smallest, most successful diner with the best food ever, that if you saw him in the kitchen with a bandanna on his head doing grunge work you’d mistake him for a hired helper. Unless he comes over and introduces himself the packaging doesn’t fit. He’s never in a suit or even a dress shirt and pants. If he showed up and offered someone a partnership they’d look at him and laugh. Why? Packaging.
Never judge a book by it’s cover if you’ve never read it. Never write anybody’s story unless you’re the Author. Never write anyone off based on how they look or even speak. Some of the smartest, most successful people don’t live in fine houses, drive fancy cars, or wear designer clothes. When God is writing your story, you too will be a surprise. The best gifts sometimes come in brown paper wrapping. And some horrible gifts have been known to show up in beautiful packaging with bows attached. Just ask someone stuck in a horrible marriage, a high powered job, a beautiful mansion with all the wealth in the world. But joyless. What happened? Packaging. We’re people of our senses. We measure life more by what we see. But God has given us His Spirit to help us see beyond the packaging to what’s on the inside.
God’s best will always show up in unexpected packaging. He loves to surprise us, He blows us away. That’s why trusting when we can’t see and don’t have the answers is key to receiving His best. Isaiah says His thoughts and ways are higher than ours. He has a better vantage point than we do. He’s not limited or confined. Watch the face of a child when he opens a package to find something he wants or doesn’t want. But also watch the child who didn’t expect to receive what she got. The reaction is not the same. But when she’s discovered that that gift offers her more than anything she’s ever wanted, that’s life changing. Perspective on the giver as well as the gift changes everything. When we realize that our King was born in a stable, crucified like a criminal, it makes us appreciate the packaging even more. He came through humble means, but He was by no means poor, He became poor, so that we through His poverty might be made rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9
The scholars and teachers of the law so despised the packaging that they missed out on their Savior-The King of kings and Lord of lords. They gave up true freedom for a life of bondage to a law they couldn’t keep. They gave up true love, true Bread and the Living Water for their thirst. Why? PACKAGING. Are you turned off by the simplicity of the Gospel? Does the preaching of the cross and the blood of Jesus offend you? Be careful that you don’t miss your one opportunity for eternal life because you don’t like the packaging. Good things have been known to come in surprise packaging.
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
November 22, 2021