How Christmas Influences My Perspective Today

You know that feeling where you simply cannot shake the conviction of the Holy Spirit? I’m convinced of my salvation in Christ Jesus because the Holy Spirit dwells within and draws me toward repentance. I may be stubborn and not repent right away but that often leads to literal, physical sickness for me. Christ within me cannot stand sin, but my flesh loves it. I know what Paul means when he wrote “I know the good I ought to do and yet don’t do it” – something along those lines.

I’ve been thinking about some life situations recently, along with my own sin faults over the last few years of my adult life, and one passage in particular keeps coming to mind.

Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It’s a humbling reality to realize that even as a “good Christian” and someone who has been in good standing most of my life, even I have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. I think this is why it can be so dangerous to allow ourselves to develop a moral superiority complex toward others. “Well at least I’m not an alcoholic…” or “at least I’m not as gluttonous and obese as they are,” or “at least I haven’t killed anyone.” I’m not an alcoholic, but I have certainly been drunk and that is sin. I am not morbidly obese but I am overweight and have an impulse control problem. And I haven’t killed anyone but I have had hatred and bitterness in my heart toward others, and Jesus says that hatred in our hearts towards a brother is the same as murder.

That’s some rather heavy stuff. I found myself sulking in that reality, that heaviness and dread of my own folly and lack of righteousness. I found myself humbled and wishing that it were not so.

The good news is that verse 23 of Romans 3 is followed by a comma, actually, not a period as portrayed above. Here is what follows in verse 24 – “And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

I was thinking about things like depression and addiction and these pitfalls that even the best of people fall into sometimes, and it made me think of a world without hope. I saw a post on Facebook the other day about depression and how inescapable it can be “I know I will be fine but I don’t feel fine.” We should not willingly allow ourselves to be led to the slaughter to sin, but if you find yourself there this morning and realize your own capacity to mess up, then that is the first step toward freedom. The next is realizing that no matter how f’d up you may think you are, ALL are justified FREELY by HIS GRACE through the redemption that came by Christ JESUS! (Read that again.)

If that isn’t a reason to celebrate Christmas, then I don’t know what it is!

This morning, I’d like to remind all of us that conviction does not have to lead to shame and guilt. In fact, if our brains are trained to go that way, it’s because we’re listening to the whispers of the devil rather than the still, small voice of Almighty God.

The Father’s voice sounds a lot different. Conviction can lead to repentance, which can immediately lead to full restoration. Think Prodigal Son. Wasted His entire inheritance and the Father still celebrates his return home, throwing a party which requires even further financial sacrifice on his part. We simply cannot outrun or out-sin the love of God. We can always come Home. “Let the children come to me.”

I think about my love for my wife. I do not love her because she loves me. I love her because I choose to and because I’ve made a covenant to do so every day for the rest of my life. But I am also motivated and encouraged to new levels of love as I witness her beauty, spiritual growth, and acts of service and kindness toward me – they are a sort of motivating force behind my love toward her and becoming increasingly less selfish so that we may both benefit.

My prayer for us all would be that conviction would lead to repentance which would lead to full restoration, and that we would be quicker to live a righteous life out of a deep love for God. A love that we have learned from Him, that is encouraged and strengthened by His love for us. And that we would choose Him daily.

If you’re having a hard time doing that, maybe you’re simply not looking for Him in your life anymore. When I find myself having a hard time loving Allie, it’s because I’ve gotten lazy in noticing all she is and all she does and the way she loves. We have to be intentional with what we fix our eyes on. If I fix my eyes on a woman, then I am bound to lust after her and be led away to sin. But if I fix my eyes on Christ, then I am bound to be led toward holiness, a cleansing of my sins and a deeper understanding of who He is and why I’m loved.

From that discovery and outpouring and life with eyes fixed on Christ, I can love others because I’ve learned what Love is from the Creator Himself.

You get the point.

Stop thinking you’re better than…Be quicker to admit your faults…Admit your failures don’t claim them as your identity. Fix your eyes back on Jesus and let Him remind you who you really are. Then live and love out of that reality.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

BUT…

Christmas happened.

Jesus came. Freedom is ours for the taking.

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Christmas Grace

The baby wasn’t the one that was helpless that night. We were.” – Louie Giglio.

Are there any truer words? Something comes with age – a certain understanding of the depth of the world’s struggles. Yes, I’m not 50 (shout-out to my parents about to have their 50th Birthdays), but I am nearing my 25th year on this earth. So I don’t get to play the youth/young-adult card anymore.  And I’ve learned much more than it may appear.

Have you ever walked into a coffee-shop or bar and seen the light gone from someone’s eyes? I have. In fact, I’ve been there – in that spot, where darkness has washed over and there seems to be no light in sight.

That’s the state of the world – in all of its drunken endeavors and pursuits, for more.

The thing is, until Jesus entered the equation, we were all helpless to that pursuit.

The “pursuit of happiness” was all that we had.

But now that He is, indeed, here. Our world collides with an awe-striking phenomenon called grace. Not just any world leader (King, President, Pope, etc.), but the King of Kings and LORD of Lords, entering the world in the form of a baby – a “helpless babe” and yet we are still the helpless ones.

We were helpless in our pursuits of better selves; helpless to addictions and the seeking out of immediately self-gratifying pleasure; helpless even to see the light.

So God sent a Helper.

The prophecies had been told and the Old Testament’s promises held onto dearly, but the world was losing hope. Little did they know that evening in Bethlehem that their prayers had been answered in the filth of a stable. I can barely drive past a farm on the outskirts of Olathe, KS without rolling up my window and holding my nose. But wise men and king’s men and others came far and wide to see this baby – in this barn.

And there was hope – so much hope – more hope than any present there had experienced in their lifetime. Prophecies could be fulfilled and prayers could be answered.

Joy filled the Heavens and angels lit up the skies. Heaven met earth. Light overwhelmed darkness. And death began to lose its sting.

On this day, I remember. On this day, you remember. Our minds are redirected to this precious gift. The gracious outreach from Heaven into the midst of our longing and directionless endeavor.

This Christmas, be still and know that He is God. Tomorrow, wake up grateful for immeasurable grace that you and I could be forgiven. More so than that – we could be redeemed.

There will be some of you (perhaps even myself) that struggle to find the Christmas Spirit and Light in the midst of an internal war. But together, we can find joy in the remembrance of renewed hope in something far more powerful than ourselves.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Christmas Grace

Innkeeper

Just a minute ago, it hit me that I’m an inn-keeper! Well, technically speaking I’m a Front Desk Agent for a local hotel. But that’s beside the point. It’s Christmas Eve and if I had been employed 2000+ years ago, I might’ve been the inn-keeper that had to turn Joseph & Mary away from the inn due to being sold-out. That’s a crazy thought, right?

Joseph was a carpenter and Mary was a virgin who was pregnant with a child, which made her and her husband an outcast in that society, as no one believed them of course. The concept of them being outcasts really has me thinking this morning. NUMEROUS strangers (total outcasts in our society) have hung out in our hotel’s lobby, waiting for the bus, getting out of the cold, and sometimes just looking for someone to talk to. How many times have I turned these people away? How many times have I not been willing to engage them in a warm conversation? I’m sure it’s happened many times…

We have a way of classifying people; don’t we? If you graduated from college, work an 8-5 job, are married to an attractive and seemingly loving spouse, then you are deemed “approved”. You’ve earned the “respect” of your peers, right? The reality is even with all of those excellent resume-builders and various life-accomplishments you will never find the approval you’re looking for from others and that’s a sad reality of the world we live in.

So what does this mean for Believers?

Well, we serve a God of grace, mercy, and unconditional love; right? Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth in the flesh, lived a sinless life, was crucified (taking the punishment for OUR sins), died, was buried, and then rose from the grave (conquering both death and sin), so that we may have the freedom to be in fellowship with Him for all eternity! He’s rescued us from eternal torment and desires to be with us; desires to shower blessings of mercy and grace upon us, and desires to guide us lovingly towards righteousness for our own good; as any loving father should. THEREFORE, if we serve such a God, such a loving and gracious Father, shouldn’t we be willing to return that love, grace, and mercy to those we encounter in daily life? As an “innkeeper”, shouldn’t I desire to love and serve total strangers with as much love as Christ has offered me; regardless of whether or not they have been labeled as “outcasts”, “rebels”, “worthless”, “punks”, “gangsters”, and various other negative classifications.

You might not be an innkeeper of course, but I would venture to challenge your way of approaching your particular job and interactions with strangers on a daily basis. Whether you be spending leisure time in a coffee-shop (my favorite), walking the streets of downtown, shopping hastily for last-minute Christmas gifts, working, or ordering fast-food through the drive-thru (I worked at one for a whole summer once; be gracious with those cashiers. They work HARD and receive VERY little in return), you should be willing to love and serve the “lowest” of people. The Savior of the entire world served prostitutes, tax-collectors (corrupt government officials; we have plenty of those), insane, demon-possessed, and the like. If your King and Savior served these people…and you claim to be His servant; how much more so should you be willing to lay down your life, time, and resources to serve these people that they might have a chance of seeing the light of Christ in your hearts?!?!

Anyways, these are the simple ramblings of a gentleman in his early 20s attempting to serve the Lord as an “innkeeper” and as a student in college for the time-being. I don’t expect to change the world through my attempt at writing, but I’m simply sharing what the Lord has placed on my heart. I pray those of you that read anything I’ve written have been blessed and that the Holy Spirit has romanced your hearts towards righteousness!

Merry Christmas and many blessings to you and your families,

Justin Meyer