It is great to be out and about and be able to say “Merry Christmas” to everyone we meet
It is still an acceptable greeting – so far!
It can be said to both those we know and those we are standing in line with at the Post Office or check-out counter of the many stores we frequent at this busiest shopping season of the year
I am sure few if anyone takes the time to think about “CHRIST”mas … the ‘Christ’ in Christmas
It has become just another secular holiday with little to no religious significance
And, even for true believers, we can simply get swept up in the activities and events of the season and soon miss even the basic meaning of the Christmas season
Christmas has become a time for family, fun, and food

Christmas has become the season when many people travel home for the holidays
Christmas is the time when people spend money they don’t have on gifts for people who already have too much and really don’t need anything, and that few truly appreciate
I know, negative and pessimistic – but simply my observation and often very true
Christmas has lost it’s original meaning and has been redefined by the culture we live in
The original message has been almost totally lost > Culturally and society-wise
Token attention is given to the true message – a baby in the manger
Christmas is really no longer a Christian festival – it has become a secular holiday
Last Sunday … a traditional church service with an Advent theme
Read three Scriptures that were amazing telling about the coming Saviour
But, it would seem to me, that for others they were simply the passages read on this particular Sunday every year … bored, disconnected…
I tested my observation on the men who were at that service and were attending a Wednesday Bible study I was asked to lead
And, no one remembered what was read … the meaning was lost
Just another tradition – with nothing imparted to the soul as a result of hearing God’s Word read
At worst – a waste of time
Middle ground – a religious tradition
At best – a nice warm feeling as we hear familiar words read
In the past several weeks I have been really impacted by the Christmas story as found in the Gospel recorded for us by Luke, a medical doctor
I have been slowly reading and rereading Luke, chapters 1 and 2
The birth of John the Baptist prophesied
The birth of Jesus prophesied
Mary (future mother of Jesus) visits Elizabeth (future mother of John)
John the Baptist is born
John’s father Zachariah gives a prophetic word about John, his son
Jesus is born
Angels announce His birth
Shepherds go to see the child
Jesus, day 8 after His birth, is presented (dedicated) in the temple
Simeon the prophet
Anna the prophetess
At first reading – even the second time through – I noted the events and revisited the Christmas story as recorded for us in the Gospel that Luke wrote
It was good to refresh my memory and revisit familiar verses and the “big picture” for the Christmas story
We can all benefit from a refreshing read of the Christmas story
But, then I took the time to think about what I had been reading – “meditating” on the passages – and realized how supernatural that first Christmas really was … seriously supernatural
Zechariah has an angel visit him with God’s Word for him
Priest in the temple where “no God/no Word for 400 years
Zechariah has a vision in the temple as he takes his turn serving
Zechariah was struck dumb (could not speak) as a sign that the Word was from God
And that his doubts were not from God
Zechariah speaks again nine months later when his son is being named
Elizabeth becomes pregnant in her old age – long after childbearing age
Elizabeth feels John (yet unborn) leap in her womb when Mary visits while pregnant with Jesus
Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit when this happened
Joseph, soon-to-be step-father to Jesus, is visited by an angel in a dream explaining what is happening to his fiancé
Mary has a visitation from Gabriel, the archangel nonetheless
Mary becomes pregnant, by the Holy Spirit, while still a virgin
Mary receives the task willingly … “Be it done to me according to your word”
Jesus is born – perfect God and perfect man
Jesus is the promised Messiah – His people have been waiting for Him for 5,000 years
Shepherds have a visit from an angel announcing what was happening and why
Shepherds see a choir of angels singing to them
Shepherds see the glory of the Lord shining above them
Shepherds visit the baby Jesus … their Lord and future Saviour
John is conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit
John is filled with the Holy Spirit before he is born
John is born empowered and baptized in the Holy Spirit
John is first prophet of God in 400 years
John has been given a fresh Word to be given to God’s people
Simeon comes into the temple under the direction and leading of the Holy Spirit
Simeon prophesies over the baby Jesus
Anna comes into the temple ‘in the Spirit’ and speaks an encouraging Word to Elizabeth and Joseph
There is a release of “great joy and gladness” as the Messiah is born
There is a new message that comes with the birth of the Christ child – love
God is establishing a way to experience “peace on earth…”
Grace and truth are released – setting the captives free
God’s Kingdom is established upon the earth
People are called to repentance
There is a new move of the Holy Spirit – powerful ministry of the Spirit
At the first Christmas we see:
Prophecy being fulfilled
Prophetic words being released
Directional dreams received
Angels and archangels
Praise (Mary – The Magnificat)
Worship (angels and shepherds)
Glorify God (shepherds)
Ministry of a prophet and a prophetess
Miracles, signs, and wonders
Pregnant without sex
God born as a man
An old man not speaking for 9 months
A seriously old woman giving birth
A new star appearing in the sky (Matthew 2)
At the first Christmas we see … it was all about Jesus / It was 100% supernatural
And, at our Christmas celebrations today…
Well, I will leave it up to you to compare
Natural – Supernatural
Flesh – Spirit
Secular – Sacred
Us – Jesus
As I studied the Scriptures – especially Luke … I was seriously impressed (awe struck) by the ministry of the Holy Spirit
Bringing to pass all that needed to happen to fulfill the Scriptures
Luke 1:15 “And he (John) must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”
Luke 1:35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you (Mary), and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”
Matthew 1:18b “she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.”
Luke 1:41 “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit…”
Luke 1:67 “And his (John’s) father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied…”
Luke 2:25-27 “Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law…”
And, the ministry of the Holy Spirit did not end when Jesus was born….
John preaching in the wilderness
Mark 1:8 “I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus Himself relied on the Holy Spirit as He was baptized in the Spirit
Mark 1:9-10 “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Holy Spirit came “upon” Him … Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Jesus testifies to this in His first sermon:
Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
Luke also wrote about it
Acts 10:38 “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
Jesus ministered by the power of the Holy Spirit – using the gifts of the Spirit
Gifts of healings
“He went about healing…” (Luke 6:19)
Working of miracles
Turning water into wine (John 2:1-11)
(Special) Faith
He believed everything the Father said to Him (John 12:49)
Word of Wisdom (about the future)
He spoke about Peter’s death glorifying God (John 21:18)
Word of Knowledge (about the past and present)
Speaking to the woman at the well (John 4:16-18)
Discerning of spirits
Knew the thoughts and intentions of people’s hearts (Luke 6:8)
Speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 21:6)
Speaking in tongues
We have no written record that Jesus flowed in this gift
Interpretation of tongues
We have no written record that Jesus flowed in this gift
Jesus said we are to do what He did
John 14:12 ““Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
      > Context: and will send the Holy Spirit – “another Comforter” (John 15:26; 16:13)
And, we do what He did the same way that He did it… by being Baptized in the Holy Spirit whose ministry still continues today
Jesus said to His disciples
Luke 24:49 “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Remember John’s words…
Mark 1:8 “I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus repeats the same promise
Acts 1:5 “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Acts 1:8a “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…”
So, like Jesus, we can move in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and witness to the fact that Jesus is alive and He is Lord and Saviour
The Holy Spirit today …
Helps us to know what Jesus wants us to do (John 15:26)
Leads us into all truth (John 16:13)
Speaks of future events warning / informing us of what is to come (John 16:13)
He comforts us / challenges us (John 14:16)
He teaches us about all things (John 14:26)
He brings back to remembrance everything we have read or heard (John 14:26)
He guides and directs us (Romans 8:9)
He empowers us to minister through the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)
And, our task as believers and disciples of Jesus is to fellowship with the Holy Spirit so we can walk in the fullness of what the Christmas miracle – the birth of Christ – has made available to us
2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
To fellowship means:
To socially interact with the Spirit
To partner with Him in the work of the Kingdom
To become involved in what He is doing right now
And, as a result of all of this, we are then sent out into the world to make disciples (Matthew 28:19)
For as Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10)
We are sent by Him, in the power of the Spirit, to tell others the Good News…
As the angel said to the shepherds: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”   (Luke 2:10-11)
That’s the message of Christmas
That’s our message to the world – one person at a time
That is what we must speak of to others at this special time when doors are open and hearts are hungry for meaning and purpose …
And the secular celebrations are leaving people empty and tired