The Spirit of Christmas

What is being in the Christmas Spirit? Is it being geared up to shop or decorate? Is it having an attitude of cheerfulness and wonder? Is it being merry and festive? While the attitude is nice, those things are sometimes just put on by people because they feel that it is expected of them to be cheerful during “the season.” The decorating and the shopping are the ‘fluff’ of the season. But what is the true spirit of Christmas? The word Christmas literally means the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. So if we are celebrating his birth, then why? Who is Jesus to us and what impact has he had on our lives? 

Unto you

For me, Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas, but it shouldn’t only be an annual celebration, it should be an ongoing year round jubilee. Without Jesus, we wouldn’t have eternal life or life more abundantly.  Jesus IS Life and Love. He came to produce life, and extinguish death. He died on the cross so that we (everyone) has a chance to have Eternal Life! And we do this simply by asking him to be our Savior and committing our lives to follow him. Jesus Lived and Loved as he walked on this earth and he is Living through us today, if we have accepted him. That alone should give us cause to celebrate! Anyone who has accepted Jesus as their Savior, carries the Spirit of the Living God within them. We are carrying Christmas, we are carrying the season wherever we go. But how many of us act like it? 

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10

The True Spirit of Christmas has nothing to do with the peripheral things of shopping, decorating, or putting on an attitude. We add those by the traditions of man. The true Spirit of Christmas has everything to do with being in an attitude of loving, giving, showing mercy and grace, and reaching out to others. When we share love to our fellow man, when we carry the example of peace, and bring others to the Kingdom, then we are IN the Spirit of Christmas Every day of Our Lives. You can carry it and so can I. We should go out and greet others in that peace and love each day and then we are IN the Spirit of Christmas all year long, living the life more abundantly. 

The Giants, Our Armor, & Freedom

1 Samuel 17:38-40,45,47,49 Then Saul gave David his own armor-a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again. He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine… David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies-the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled… And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!”…  Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.

Mountain sunset

David was offered Saul’s armor when he went out to face Goliath, but the armor restricted him and didn’t allow him to move freely. He knew that he couldn’t go into battle wearing armor that was intended for someone else. He also knew that the only armor he needed was the protection of God. There are times in our lives that we face battles and we listen to how others faced a similar situation and try to do what they did and it doesn’t work for us. Sometimes we run to others for advice or counsel before we take our problems to God. David as a young man, walked with God and tended his flock of sheep. He had a close personal relationship with God and he knew the voice of his Lord. David knew better than to take on another man’s ill-fitting armor that would only encumber him in battle. Whose armor are we trying to wear instead of the armor that God has provided? David also knew that God would protect him and that he had found favor in his eyes. Have we not favor in our Father’s eyes? You may ask what is favor. Favor is an act of kindness beyond what is due, hmmm, that sounds like grace. Isn’t the fact that Jesus died on the cross favor and isn’t the fact that by grace we are saved, favor? Grace is easy and free, it isn’t encumbering and it doesn’t restrict us.  

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. — Ephesians 2:8-9

So, if there are giants (problems) in our lives, are we willing to go to God first and take on his counsel through the word and hear his voice by listening to the Holy Spirit and not run from one person to the other to seek advice? If we know and have confidence in the Word of God (Jesus Christ – John 1:1) that he has a plan for our life, then why are we looking for the advice of anyone but God? Of course, if it effects our spouse, we should discuss it with them. Another exception would be in ministerial fellowship, where it effects the direction of a church. Our counsel should still come from God, first and foremost and be directed by the Holy Spirit. The people in our life should be in tune with the Holy Spirit also; then they will hear the same message we hear or a very similar message. If we are not making wise decisions, perhaps we need to consider who our confidants are. When we know the ways of Jesus, the armor is easy and the burden is light, as he says in Matthew 11:28-30, which I especially like in The Message translation.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” — Matthew 11:28-30
The plans of the mind and orderly thinking belong to man, but from the Lord comes the [wise] answer of the tongue. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits (the thoughts and intents of the heart). Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed. Proverbs 16:1-3

As we take on the armor of God, (Ephesians 6:10-18) which is all we need, we are fully prepared to defeat any opposition that rises against us, because we realize that our wisdom comes from God and that Jesus defeated the enemy on the cross. Nothing we put on will feel wrong or ill-fitting, it will feel right and we will feel free as we are intended to feel when our lives are lined up with the will of God. We have Liberty to walk in all that he has for us. We, who have accepted Jesus as our Savior, are victorious in our salvation and need to learn to live as victors instead of victims. We need to put away, the thinking of “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.” and remember that we are “Joint heirs with Jesus Christ!” Just think how much there is in an inheritance when we forget the past and look forward to the future! This is a brighter outlook, this is worth getting out of bed for every day. Let’s be giant slayers, victory claimers, and know that no matter what battle we face, Jesus is on our side, because he already fought the battle and won! He never said we wouldn’t have trials, but he gives us a way out. He is there with us and he is For Us! 

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. — Romans 8:31-34

 

 

He is Living in Those Who Believe!

The tomb is empty as well as the cross. They served their purpose, but neither could contain him… Jesus Christ has Risen! He is living in all of those who believe in him. Jesus died so that we could live an eternal Life. Jesus doesn’t hang on the cross any more than he resides in the tomb. Neither of them were powerful enough to stop what God had planned to bring man back to His original purpose. He lives in us and through us by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:9-14 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

Luke 24:12 However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.

Luke 24:46-49 And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

The above verse in Luke was just before his ascension. Then the Holy Spirit was imparted, whom we now have. We should hold onto this enlightenment, for it is a treasure to those who receive. Those who reject Jesus, might as well be hanging him on the cross again, as it says in the Scripture.

Hebrews 6:4-6 For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened – those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come – and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.