The Holy Spirit of Christmas
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”—so the angel declared the mystery of Christmas to the Virgin Mary. Mary then traveled to visit her aunt Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist at the time. At their meeting “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” and given clairvoyance to announce Mary to be most blessed among women as mother of our Lord. When Elizabeth gave birth to John, it was Zechariah’s turn to be filled with the Holy Spirit and declare the plan God had for his newborn son. Joseph and Mary brought the newborn Jesus to the temple. The Holy Spirit led the octogenarians Simeon and Anna to the temple that day where they met the baby and declared him to be the savior. (Luke 2:26, 30) The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism in a tangible yet inexpressible way “like a dove”. Full of the Spirit, Jesus began his ministry. (Luke 4:1). His first sermon was an announcement about the Holy Spirit: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” (Luke 4:18) Jesus is the Son of God who bears and gives the Holy Spirit.
Do you have the Holy Spirit in your life? He is the Spirit of Christ and he wants to live in you. He is the source of supernatural and transforming power. His first effects are to awaken you to your sins. He creates a thirst in you for God and for holiness. He leads your mind to the truth in Christ. He prompts you to trust Christ and he fills you with blessed assurance that you are forgiven, loved and free to serve God. The Holy Spirit won’t give you superpowers like the “Justice League” but he will produce in you love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
How can I be filled with the Holy Spirit? When we repent and believe in Christ we are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the word of God and we accept it by faith—if not by our feelings. Yet the presence of sin can block the work of the Spirit in a believer’s life. So our first task is to deal honestly and completely with every known sin in our lives. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). Our next step is to surrender ourselves fully to God and His will. “Do not present your members to sin…but present yourselves to God…and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” (Romans 6:13). Third we walk in faith. The filling of the Holy Spirit is first and foremost a matter of faith. “So you must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ.” (Romans 6:10) By analogy newlyweds tell themselves they can no longer live as single people do. They are married and must act accordingly. This is a fact newlyweds must absorb before it becomes a feeling and a way of life. So believers must tell themselves they belong to Christ and walk accordingly.
Finally believers should remember that the filling of the Holy Spirit is not a once-for-all event but it is a continuous reality. “Be filled with the Spirit” advised Paul, inferring a need to sustain a constant flow of the Spirit’s presence and power. Like watering the lawn—you don’t do it just once a summer! You keep the water moving and regularly refresh the grass. We do this by habitually seeking and serving God and our neighbor.
The first Christmas was a work of the Holy Spirit. The second Christmas is when Christ is born in you, grows in you and lives in you. This too is the work of the Holy Spirit.
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