The Spirit of Christmas

An Invitation to the Manger  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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The Spirit of Christmas was never meant to be enjoyed just during the time between clearing the Thankgiving plates to picking up the Christmas wrapping paper. The Spirit of Christmas was meant for all year round.


The Spirit of Christmas

We are now just 1 week away from Christmas! Are you in the Christmas spirit? If you are not there yet, a search of the internet would encourage you to put on some nostalgic music or bake some holiday cookies. You could stream Miracle on 34th Street or Elf. Decorating or shopping could help. There is nothing wrong with any of these things, but Christmas Spirit can often be elusive, especially when life doesn’t seem so spectacular.
A couple years ago we did a Christmas series based on the movie/book about the Grinch. IN the story, Dr. Seuss uses the Grinch to make a very insightful statement, “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”[1] Of course, he is right. Christmas is certainly more.
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t enjoy our traditions as families and remember pleasant memories from years gone by. Absolutely! Celebrate! But The Spirit of Christmas was never meant to be enjoyed just during the time of clearing the Thanksgiving plates to picking up the Christmas wrapping paper. The Spirit of Christmas was meant for all year round.

24/7 365 Christmas Spirit

Imagine staying under the constant influence of the Christmas Spirit! I’m not talking about wearing Christmas sweaters and playing Christmas carols all year long. I’m talking about the influence of the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives. We know that the effect (fruits) of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). These are amazing characteristics that we would all agree we would like to experience all the time.
Charles Dickens speaks of the “Spirit of Christmas” in A Christmas Carol. For Dickens, the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future showed Ebenezer Scrooge what his life could have been and still could be. The Spirit of Christmas is the Holy Spirit, who played a prominent role in Christ’s birth (see Luke 1–2) and who “continues to deliver every good and perfect gift that comes from the Father.” If we want to celebrate Christmas all year long, we must be filled with the same Spirit who filled Jesus Christ.[2]
The influence of the Holy Spirit can be overlooked in the Christmas story but let’s take a little bit of time this morning to discover the impact of the Spirit around the time of Jesus’ birth.

The Spirit Invites Us to the Manger

The Spirit Wants to Overtake You

Let’s go first to the beginning.
Luke 1:26–35 NIV
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
We know this to be referred to as the immaculate miraculous conception. His mother, Mary, who did not have sexual relations with His earthy stepfather Joseph, conceived our Lord in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then Mary gave birth to Jesus without a human father.
The verb “come” can be translated as “overtake”. I like this thought. Of course, the interaction with Mary was unique but Jesus Himself promised that the Holy Spirit would ‘overtake’ his disciples:
Acts 1:7–8 NIV
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
We can have the Spirit of Christmas if we allow the Holy Spirit to “overtake” us! What is the Holy Spirit ‘birthing’ inside of you? The Bible tells us that there are gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:1-11). Is there an unexplained excess of faith being born in you? Do you sense the Holy Spirit speaking to you prophetic words or words of knowledge?
The Holy Spirit wants to overtake you!

The Spirit Wants to Fill You

There are two ‘songs’ in the first chapter of Luke. The 1stis Mary’s song, a response to the blessing of being chosen to carry the Son of God. The 2nd song is a response by the father of John the Baptist.
Luke 1:67 NIV
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
Because of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is available to fill us. In the OT He filled men like Joshua, David, Othniel, and even Saul but this was temporary. When the Spirit filled them, they were able to do amazing things.
On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on believers. As believers we understand that the Spirit fills us at salvation but there is also available a baptism in the Holy Spirit available to every Christian. The Holy Spirit empowers us to live for Jesus.
We need the Holy Spirit because Jesus himself taught that the work of the Kingdom cannot be done without the Holy Spirit. All the things the Lord wants to do in the Church and in the world cannot be done unless we are filled with the Spirit. Many things can be done without His fullness. But the totality of what God wants to do will not be done.

The Spirit Wants to Move You

7 years ago I taught on the book of Acts. I love the book because it chronicles the work of the Holy Spirit. Stanley Horton offers a better title as The Acts of the Risen Lord by the Holy Spirit In and Through the Church. I think that that would be a good title. It gives place to Christ, the promised Holy Spirit, and the work of the church.
In Genesis the Spirit hovered over the waters. In the OT we’ve already seen that the Holy Spirit moved on individuals. The Holy Spirit is active! The Holy Spirit is always about Kingdom business.
[Early last week I had an HVAC salesperson show up at the office. He introduced himself and I felt an immediate connection. I felt the Spirit encourage me to have a conversation with the young man. It wasn’t long before his need was revealed and we had a great time of sharing, encouraging, and empathizing. Grace Chapel had not been on his contact list but he had found himself in our parking lot. The Spirit has a beautiful way of orchestrating His purposes and plans.]
In Luke 2 we see the Spirit’s work in a man named Simeon.
Luke 2:25–32 NIV
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
The Holy Spirit revealed a truth and then ‘moved’ him to the place that he would see the child Jesus. The excitement of being a spirit-led Christian is making ourselves available to be moved by the Spirit. In just a few weeks we begin a new year that is filled with possibilities. I urge you, as I’m challenging myself, let’s allow the Spirit of God to move us into strategic situations for the Kingdom of God.

Increasing Your Christmas Spirit

Christmas marketers will tell you that all you need to do to get in the spirit is to listen to Christmas music, light some scented candles, go shopping, or watch a Christmas movie. I’ll bet that you know that those things don’t last. The right way is to be spiritual!
When you are operating in the Spirit, we know that there will be evidence of the Spirit’s influence:
Galatians 5:22–23 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
In January we will be emphasizing activities/spiritual disciplines that will increase your spiritual capacity but let me give you a couple of things to think about for 2024.
Jesus modeled certain things that gave Him strength. He passed these disciplines on to His disciples and then on to us. These disciplines are typically organized into two categories: the disciplines of abstinence (or “letting go”) and the disciplines of activity.
Prayer —Talking to and listening to God about your relationship with Him and about the concerns of others.
Find time to pray to God without the distraction of people or things. Combine your prayer time with meditation on the Scriptures in order to focus on Christ.
Study—Spending time reading the Scriptures and meditating on its meaning and importance to our lives.
We are nourished by the Word because it is our source of spiritual strength. Choose a time and a place to feed from the Word of God regularly.
Solitude—Spending time alone to be with God.
Find a quiet place to be alone with God for a period of time. Use the Bible as a source of companionship with God. Listen to Him. Remain alone and still.
Fasting—Skipping a meal(s) to find greater nourishment from God.
Choose a period of time to go without food. Drink water and, if necessary, take vitamin supplements. Feel the pain of having an empty stomach and depend on God to fill you with His grace. (Sept 15)
Let me add a couple more:
Praise and worship.
There are lots of styles of Christian music available today. What music encourages you or inspires you? What music instructs you? Try to find something that fills you with hope, joy, and peace.
Celebrating with the local church.
We like to explain the church as “Christian people, demonstrating life, under Lordship”. We are not perfect but follow a perfect savior. We love one another as brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.
Better than eggnog or Amazon shopping! The Spirit of Christmas should never end for the Spirit-filled believer!

Be Filled with the Spirit

[Ask the prayer team forward]
The Spirit of Christmas was never meant to be enjoyed just during the time of clearing the Thanksgiving plates to picking up the Christmas wrapping paper. The Spirit of Christmas was meant for all year round.
Buddy the Elf suggested that we should sing Christmas carols at the top of our voice to be able to stir up Christmas spirit. The reality is that the Spirit has always been active and present. From the beginning of Christmas as He hovered over the waters to the influence of the Spirit throughout the book of Acts and into today – the Spirit is available.
[1] Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! [2]Wood, George P. “Unwrapping the Reason for the Season”. Book review. Joseph Castleberry, 40 Days of Christmas: Celebrating the Glory of Our Savior (Savage, MN: BroadStreet, 2018).
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