The true spirit of Christmas ... is the Holy Spirit
by Gini Crawford
11/29/2008, revised 2/3/2020
At times I have tried to work up what I thought was the so-called Christmas spirit, but have failed miserably. And if we are honest with ourselves, “How can anyone humanly have the true spirit of Christmas in our hectic American society?” As I revise this Christmas devotion that I wrote many years ago in Idaho, I remembered people from other countries are reading it now too. I would imagine in other cultures things are simpler, so you are probably thinking Americans sound like we just make work for ourselves. I would say, you are right, but please keep reading - to get a laugh and to know how to have the true spirit of Christmas, who is the Holy Spirit, fill your life. (I am sitting here working on the third revision of this devotion. At 65 my life has changed, but I still seem to overwhelm myself around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don’t send out many cards now. I have defaulted to texting and Facebook.)
The Christmas hustle and bustle
There are so many gifts we seem to want to give at Christmas time. So we buy or make and never have enough time or money. Of course you can't just get any gift; it has to be the right gift for the right person, so your mind starts intensely trying to come up with that prefect, you know, Martha Stewart type idea of a gift. That in itself wears me out. And I haven't even run around the stores with my head cut off yet.
Then there are those cookies to bake and of course eat. Now that wouldn't be too hard to accomplish with joy, except when you burn over half of the cookies you have baked, it certainly enlarges the work load. Not to mention that diet the doctor told you to go on right before Thanksgiving, so every bite of cookie makes you feel guilty. I guess the cure for that Christmas downer is to never go to the doctor before Thanksgiving or Christmas again.
Then there are those once a year, keep in touch with friends and family cards. Now you would think a woman who can whip out stuff on the computer would have enough sense to whip out a form note for her cards and not feel this huge need to write a personal note in each of the 50 cards. I guess this woman's sense sometimes doesn't make sense.
How about Christmas activities? Sometimes I wonder why all the fun things have to happen between Thanksgiving and New Years, and then we sit around bored the rest of the year. I just get plain overwhelmed trying to decide what to go to and what to restrain myself from going to. I think what really happens is that people mean to have a party all year long and don't, then when Christmastime hits, they get the Now or Never Syndrome.
It seems this season can bring on so easily "tis the season to be disagreeing" instead of, "tis the season to be jolly." This is probably because everything seems to be on high speed, overdone, and too much this and too much that. I bet Santa Claus ain't too jolly either with all he has to accomplish between Thanksgiving and Christmas!
Yet, God in His unceasing love whispers to me (though at times He has been known to have to yell at me), "Gini! You have forgotten in this busy season to make Me more than just the reason for the season, but to make Me the reason for everything in this season!" Ouch! The rest of this Christmas devotion I will answer some questions that we all need to know to have the true Christmas Spirit fill our lives. These questions are: Who is the true Spirit of Christmas? And why does He live within us? How can we make Jesus the reason for everything in the season, and let Him fill our lives through out the New Year?
Why we have Christmas
The Incarnation. Because of Jesus' passionate love for each one of us - He let go of His rightful dignity as God by descending to an inferior condition (becoming one of us). In other words, Jesus willingly stripped Himself of His self-interests, not His deity, when He was on this earth. He let go of His rights as God and stepped out of eternity some 2000 years ago, and became an embryo and was weaved in His mother Mary's womb. He did this so He could grow up and die in our place - to be our substitute - which saved us from our sins. (Read Isaiah 7:14, 9:6; Matthew 1:18-25)
...who, although He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8 NASB®
To have our sins forgiven and to have eternal life, the only thing He asks of us is to believe in Him. We can safely say, our salvation through Jesus Christ is the most precious gift ever given.
...that whoever believes may in Him (Jesus) have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:15-18 NASB®
Do you believe in Jesus?
The best Christmas gift - the Holy Spirit
There is a gift we all need but we can’t buy it with money. It is given to you through believing in Jesus Christ. It is the promise of Jesus’ Spirit living within you. (Read John 14:16-20, 26, 16:12-15; Romans 8:9-11)
In Him... after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise. Ephesians 1:13 NASB®
The Holy Spirit gives us what we need
We have God's wisdom, knowledge and understanding, His power and strength, His justice and righteousness, His mercy and goodness, His truth, patience and faithfulness, and of course His love dwelling in us. In other words, we have all that we need to live a godly life through out the New Year because the true Christmas Spirit, the Holy Spirit, lives within us as Christians. We even have Who we need living within us to survive a hectic Christmas season with God's joy and peace. (Read Acts 1:8; Ephesians 3:20.) Yet, the evidence of the Holy Spirit sometimes is lacking greatly in our lives, and not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.
Lacking the Spirit's power
Why do we lack the evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives even though He lives within us? To put it simply, as Christians we need to obey God and His Word, and if we are not, it is sin. Sin is equivalent to us resisting the Holy Spirit's leading. This is because the Spirit leads us in God's will. So when we sin, we are pretty much telling the Spirit to get out of our way, so we can do what we want, not what God wants.
A better way of explaining obedience to God as Christians is to say, we need to obey Him out of love. We are told in God's Word to do everything out of love for Him. So if we aren't obeying God out of love, we are falling short of what God wants. If we are not doing things out of love for God, I believe what happens is, it is easy to develop a mentality of legalism. Legalism simply put is - obedience to a set of laws, not to God. When we obey God because He loves us and we love Him - He is the "why" we are doing or not doing things. Both legalism and lack of love for God can put us in a mode of obeying what we want or others want, and not what God wants. As you can guess, this is sin. Sin suppresses the Spirit's power in our lives, so we end up being empowered by our overwhelmed selves and not by the Holy Spirit. This means we are celebrating Christmas in our own strength, leaving the One we are celebrating out. Doesn't make sense but we can all do it. (Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9 also Matthew 22:36-38; Isaiah 59:1-2; Ephesians 5:1-2, 15-18).
Loving God puts us in the real Christmas Spirit
We can sing in our church's Christmas musical, we can buy many gifts for this or that ministry (I love to pack the Samaritan's Purse Christmas shoeboxes.), we can send out those "Jesus is the reason for the season" cards, we can cook up a storm for our family, friends and neighbors, and so on, and all these things are good to do. Yet, the first and foremost thing Jesus Christ commands us to do is love God. In other words - "be" not "do" in a love relationship with God. Mark 12:28-30 says,
And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him (Jesus), "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'" Mark 12:28-30 NASB®
What these verses are saying is, our love for God needs to saturate our personality, emotions and will, and fill our thoughts, words and actions. Our whole life from the inside out, should shout love for God.
If loving God is our most important passion we will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and the joys and trials of Christmas (of life) will be done in and for our Lord Jesus. Loving God puts you in a strong relationship with Him that naturally makes you want to have faith or belief in Him - walk with Him - be led by Him and His Word - filled with His Spirit. When we are led by His Spirit, this certainly gives us an awareness and desire to not sin. When sin, or our sinful nature/the flesh, isn’t controlling us - the Spirit is! (Read John 14:23; Romans 8:4-8; Galatians 5:6, 16-26).
So ladies, this Christmas season let's make loving God our first priority! This will enable us to make Jesus the reason for every gift given, every cookie baked and eaten, every card written and sent, every activity gone to or not, and of course for every relationship. And the true Christmas Spirit, the Holy Spirit will fill our lives with the joy of Christmas and through the New Year.
We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ. We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-6 (NLT)
Have you ever meditated on the fact that the God of the universe, the Baby in the manger, wants to be loved by you? If you haven't, this is a great season to. As you do all that Christmas stuff, ask the Holy Spirit daily to give you the desire to do it all because of your love for God. This would be a good time to make a list of all the reasons you should love Jesus and thank Him every day for those reasons. Also, when you love someone don't you want to sing their praises? Well then, play some Christmas music, and sing or make a joyful noise to God like I do.
Please eat a bunch of cookies for me, at my age the smell of them makes me gain weigh...I love you!
Because of God's love - Gini John 3:16
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