Earlier this year, one of our local radio DJ’s decided to see what it was like to be homeless. He created a backstory in case anyone asked him how he got there. He also had a police officer go undercover with him to protect him. Each morning he would slip away to call the radio station to report his findings. I looked forward to his calls each day just so I could gain more insight into how we as Christians can help these people who have been displaced from their homes and our society. The experience changed him and the listeners. Even though it was only for a week, his experience allowed him to identify with the homeless population in a way that he never had before. From not being able to get into the shelter on a cold night, to not being able to eat, to having people pretend he was invisible changed his perspective and how he would help going forward.
As we begin celebrating Christmas, I can’t help but think that this man was mirroring what God did a couple of millenniums ago. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, God walked with them daily. After they sinned, they were cast out of the garden and became wanders on the earth. Their sin also separated us and created a fallen world of people far from God. We became guilty of breaking God’s laws and fell under the power of sin. God gave us the Law through Moses, but we were unable to live up to it. We continuously fell short of the desires God had for us. Our sin created a barrier that kept us from being able to cross over to Him. However, when we couldn’t go to Him, He came to us to set us right with Him. He was able to bridge the divide from our side.
Romans 8:3 says, “Yet God sent us his Son in human form to identify with human weakness. Clothed with humanity, God’s Son gave his body to be the sin-offering so that God could once and for all condemn the guilt and power of sin” (TPT). Because He took on flesh and lived among us, He is able to identify with you. He was tempted like you are, hurt like you do and felt the separation from God. He also broke the power of sin over your life and removed the guilt from your name. Christmas is much more than the birth of Jesus. It’s God coming into the world so He could relate to us, be with us and save us. As you celebrate and share gifts, don’t forget to celebrate your freedom through Him and the new life He has given you.
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Have you ever made the wrong assumption about something? If we’re honest, we all have. There was a guy who wanted me to hire him for sales, but he didn’t dress the part for the interview. Everyone else showed up in a suit, but this guy wasn’t even wearing a tie. When I asked questions, everyone sat up, looked me in the eye and gave confident answers. Not this guy. He slouched in his chair and barely looked up at me when answering. He seemed to lack the confidence to be in sales, but he had all the answers I was looking for. My wife suggested it was easier to train him how to present himself rather than to teach someone else the core values I was looking for. I hired him, and he was one of the best hires I ever made.
It’s easy to look at someone and make judgments about them because they don’t measure up to our expectations. That’s what happened to Jesus. He was born in the right town, but the people expected great fanfare for the Messiah. He became a great teacher, but He didn’t teach what they thought He should teach. They assumed He would fight the Romans and free Israel, but when that clearly wasn’t His plan, they assumed He wasn’t the Messiah and crucified Him. They thought they had God’s plan figured out, but their assumptions were wrong. They’re not alone.
We all make incorrect assumptions about who God is and what His plan is. One of the biggest misconceptions is that God is angry and is waiting for us to do something wrong so He can zap us. John 3:16-17 says, “For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life. “God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!” (TPT) God didn’t send Jesus to condemn you to Hell. He was sent to reconcile you to God. He loves us so much that He didn’t conform to our expectations, but instead died in our place so that we could live eternally in His place. If you’ve made the wrong assumptions about God, Christmas is a great time, to change your mind.
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I can’t believe Christmas is almost here. Every day, when I drive by the mall, I can’t help but notice how many people are there. Other retail stores are packed as well. Everyone is looking for gifts, but they want a good deal. They want to give a good gift, but they don’t want it to cost them a lot. I understand being frugal and wanting to get a good deal, but as I thought about it, the gift God gave cost Him everything. It wasn’t cheap though we often treat it that way. He gave us the gift of Emmanuel.
The most famous scripture, John 3:16, says, “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son.” He loved us so much that He gave us His most prized possession. He sent His Son here to be God wrapped in flesh, to feel our pain, to breathe our air, to walk our paths, to know our feelings and to understand our ways. He wanted to show us love by giving us the gift that cost Him everything. At just the right time, He humbled Himself and was born as a human. Philippians 2 says that “He set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human.”
Not only did it cost Him His deity, it later cost Him His life. He laid down His life so that we could have life. His sacrifice opened the door for you and I to find forgiveness for our sins. It made a way for us to get to Heaven. When I think about that gift and what it cost Him, there’s no gift that I can give that would ever compare. The only thing I can do to show my gratitude for such a gift is to offer my life to Him. I’ve got to be mindful every day of the sacrifice He made for me. It can’t just be at Christmas when I think about the gift of His Son. It’s got to be an every day thing.
I heard a quote years ago and I can’t find who said it, but it’s powerful. It says, “Blessed are those who can give without remembering and receive without forgetting.” That’s how I want to be all throughout the year and my life. I want to always remember what God did for you and me. I want to be so grateful that I never forget what it cost Him to show me love. I don’t want Him to have to constantly remind me of the price He paid. I’d rather be the one who constantly says to Him, “Look at what you did for me. I’ll never forget it.”I believe a life of gratitude will never take gifts for granted.