December 19, 2018
This time of the year Christmas oozes into everything. It is in our decorations, the music we hear, the food we eat, the movies we watch, the concerts we attend. It is difficult to get through a single day without a reminder of the season.
Some relish this time and welcome it in with open arms, putting up their tree at the first possible moment. Others just go with the flow, entering into the spirit but not really creating any of their own. Some take the “duck and cover” approach, overwhelmed and just hoping to make it through in one piece. Some people ache the entire season, wanting to get into the spirit but too heartbroken over loss to feel much else. Then there are the “bah humbugs” of the bunch who cynically state to all who will listen that Christmas was dreamed up by retailers to ensure that sales were in the black at the end of the year.
In my family we are blessed to have a 7-year-old daughter that is the epitome of Christmas spirit. She wants to sing all the songs, write letters to Santa, decorate the house, make cookies, watch Christmas movies… if it has to do with Christmas she is all in. Her 5-year-old brother isn’t far behind. As her parents, we’ve decided to embrace some of this wholesome spirit of wonder and excitement by cutting down our own Christmas tree, initiating the month-long pretend game of Elf on a Shelf, and watching Christmas movies every week — bad acting and all.
After seeing so many Christmas movies, I’ve noticed a bit of a theme. It seems in every one, someone has lost their Christmas spirit. Then the others in the movie must work to find a way to help that person find their Christmas spirit again. That spirit can be awoken in a myriad of ways (depending of course on the movie)… family, singing, festive lights, generosity, falling snow, choosing to believe, and the infectious joy of others. When the movie is over, Christmas is saved, everyone is happy, and the spirit of Christmas enables there to be magic in the air.
On the surface the giving, magical spirit of Christmas seems to be a good thing. I’m all for the movies we watch teaching my kids that it is much better to give than get, but I am wondering if the “Christ” in Christmas is getting lost in all the glitter and glitz. The messages of Christmas portrayed in the movies have started to ring hollow in my ears because each is just a little taste of what can truly be found in Christ. Let’s not settle for the candy coated taste of what the World tells us is the Christmas spirit. Instead let’s be satisfied with the true Christmas spirit found in Jesus.
Family – While it is wonderful to spend time with family, sometimes it can be hard… especially when part of our family is missing or if we live in a dysfunctional family. Focusing on being part of God’s family, His adopted child … His chosen child, can fill our hearts the way nothing else can.
Singing – What instantly pops into mind is the famous quote by Buddy the Elf, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” If this is true about songs like Jingle Bells and Here Comes Santa Clause, just think of how our hearts will soar when we sing about Jesus the Risen King.
Lights – Seeing beautifully decorated trees and houses are a feast for the eyes. It’s even better when those lights remind us that Jesus is the Light of the World and there is no darkness in Him.
Generosity – It feels good to give to others. After all it is better to give than receive… unless the gift that we receive is Jesus. God is the ultimate giver and He gives us salvation when we accept His son, Jesus. Remembering God’s generosity will put Christmas in perspective.
Snow – For some, Christmas without snow makes the world feel flat. Snow does make the world look like a cleaner, brighter place. What snow does to the world, God’s forgiveness does to the inside of our hearts. This Christmas, let’s ask God to clean us again and enjoy the feeling of a soul washed as white as snow by His blood.
Belief – Back in 1897 the New York Sun assured eight-year-old Virginia that Santa Clause exists “as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist.” While this post is not about the difference between belief in Santa and belief in Jesus (although the conversation in our car the other night was), I do want to point out that belief in Jesus stirs up our spirit in the way that nothing else can. True belief in Him ignites a testimony and fire in our spirit that cannot be extinguished. Let’s stir up our belief and feel that fire be renewed in our hearts.
Joy – Some of our moods and feelings can be imparted to others. Joy seems particularly easy to pass on. That is what the Holy Spirit does in our hearts. As we fill up our hearts with Jesus and what He has done for us, the Holy Spirit fills up our hearts with joy… inexpressible and glorious joy.
Jesus is more than just the reason for the season, He embodies every part that makes Christmas so great.
Below I have several verses focusing on each element of the spirit of Christmas that I identified above. Now before you scan through the verses and get all glassy eyed, I would like you to take a moment and identify where the spirit of Christmas may be lacking in your own life. Ask God to use His word to fill you up. Then find that section below and see if one of the verses jumps out at you. If it does, spend some time meditating on that verse. You could even print out the related printable and place it somewhere you can see it often. As you allow God’s word to fill up spaces that are lacking you will see Christmas come to life in amazing ways.
May God richly bless you this Christmas season and may the true spirit of Christmas invade your heart all year long.
John 1:12-13 – Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (NIV)
Galatians 4:4-5 – When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (HCSB)
Romans 8:14-17 – All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (HCSB)
Psalm 40:3 – He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. (NIV)
Colossians 3:16 – Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (NIV)
Psalm 95:1 – Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. (NIV)
John 1:4-5 – The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it. (NLT)
John 8:12 – Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (HCSB)
1 John 1:5 – Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. (HCSB)
James 1:17 – Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. (HCSB)
Isaiah 9:6 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,Prince of Peace. (NIV)
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)
Isaiah 1:18 – The Lord says, “Now, let’s settle the matter. You are stained red with sin, but I will wash you as clean as snow. Although your stains are deep red, you will be as white as wool. (GNT)
Psalm 51:7 – Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (HCSB)
John 20:31 – But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name. (HCSB)
Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (NIV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 – Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (NIV)
Romans 15:13 – Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (HCSB)
Psalm 94:19 – When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy. (HCSB)