“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” – Luke 2:7
Do you have the Spirit this Christmas? Is your spirit what it should be this Christmas? There’s a lot of reasons for the Christmas spirit to be dampened. That’s especially true if you keep abreast of the news. If you watch the news it’s easy to be distracted and discouraged from having any hope let alone gleeful spirit of Christmas. And even if things globally or nationally are going the way you want, personal problems often suck the spirit out of us. But I want to encourage you to seek the Spirit this Christmas. I want to encourage you to make room for Jesus in your life this Christmas. Have you room for Jesus? Do you have the Spirit this Christmas?
Yes, there’s a lot of things that can puncture us and make us hole-y so that we leak out the spirit of Christmas. There are those who tell us we shouldn’t be observing or involved with Christmas in any way. They say Christmas is rooted in pagan idolatry and false religious imagery. They aren’t altogether wrong. They are right in many ways. But I think they miss the spirit fo Christmas too. 
Politics can not only suck the life out of you, it can tap into your spirit too. This past midterm election was a source of verification for some and consternation for others. Politics is like that you know. Just when you think you’re making some headway, just when you think the House is coming to order, some politicians come in and wreck it all. Politics can be so discouragingly divisive.
The newly elected democratic House majority is hell bent on getting the president out of office. They are still licking their wounds over Hillary’s 2016 defeat. Their globalist agenda has been stalled. They seem stuck in the angry stage of grieving. They are trying to dig up trash on the president. The Mueller investigation is a thinly veiled political effort to obstruct the opposition. They are threatening to impeach President Trump no matter what the evidence of the Mueller Russia-Collusion investigation produces. I can hear them singing “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, let’s impeach-the-pre-si-dent.” Or, “I’m dreaming of a White [House] Christmas, [without Trump] with every comment that I make.” They are enraged over the President’s agenda. They’re blind to his unprecedented accomplishments. They don’t care if the citizenry has benefitted. They just want him “out!” They don’t like the way he talks, the way he walks, the way he twitters and tweets. They just don’t like him and they’re going to find a way to impeach him facts be damned! Are you in the Christmas spirit yet?
President Trump on the other hand points out that Republicans gained seats in the Senate and that’s all he really wanted. There is a push to drain the swamp of political dead fish. That’s not a very Christmassy image is it? Maybe that gets your egg nog noggin, but to me, there seems to be a lot of start and stop in the effort to clean the Washington swamp. “This is the week!” “This is the day!” Then a delay. Then more obfuscation and return to reinterpret “Q-posts.” Let’s just get it done already! Truthfully, I’m having a hard time getting and keeping my noggin around this political fumigation. When (if) it happens, well, now that would get my ginger breaded.
We need to find some mistletoe and bring the Democrats and Republicans together under it and see what happens. Can’t they just kiss and make up? Can’t we get along together. Can’t they at least set aside their lust for power in order to work on behalf of the constituencies that elected them? Isn’t that their job description? Aren’t they supposed to serve “we the people”? Christmas is supposed to be about giving. The politicians seem embroiled in a fight over taking. That will sure pour water on the flame of your Christmas candle.
Unfortunately, when we look at scripture, light can have no fellowship with darkness (e.g. Ephesians 5:11). Don’t take this as choosing one party over another. There’s light and darkness on both sides. Don’t fall into the trap of Party loyalty over loyalty to the Lord and His word. What I’m saying is that politics is not going to get us all the way to where we want to go. And that, that can suck the spirit out of Christmas for us.
What about Christmas music? That can lift our spirit. Have you heard Baby It’s Cold Outside yet? That gets some in the Christmas spirit. Oh wait, it’s “sexist.” Radio stations are freezing it out of their programming because they view it as “sexist.”  It’s admittedly not a very spiritual song. But fond memories can be associated with it. Oh well.
What about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, what about him? Nope, he’s racist.  Okay, well what about Vegie Tales, they’re always good for a laugh that lifts the spirit. Nope, they’re racist too. In fact, did you know they’re dangerous for children? Yup, say it ain’t so! But they’re saying it’s so.  Humbug!
The Supreme Court, with newly elected supposedly conservative constitutionalist Justice Brett Kavanaugh, just refused to hear a case that might be a step toward the defunding of the abortion factory Planned Parenthood. That get your spirit of Christmas going? No, I didn’t think so. Judicial means can be frustrating too. In fact, Republicans have thrown in the towel and given up trying to defund Planned Parenthood. What’s it going to take to stop the killing of the unborn? (See what I mean about politics not getting us where we want to go?) That development can’t help us toward the Christmas spirit.
Oh, what about the Virgin Birth? What about being inspired by God coming into this fallen world to reach the lost? Nope, a psychology professor is trying to put the damper on all things incarnational by claiming that God impregnated Mary without her consent?  In other words, he’s accusing God of raping Mary. That’s got to get your Christmas juices flowing even if in the wrong direction. No? Well how about this? At least 30,000 health professionals are lauding President Trump’s promoting the idea that gender should be biologically not whimsically determined.  That’s good news isn’t it? Yes, until you begin to think of the state of our world where people don’t even know their own gender!
Oh, did you see how Face Book has unblocked the picture of Santa kneeling before the baby Jesus in the manger? So precious. Well, good ole Saint Nick may have been a good man originally in history, but today he’s a gigantic distraction from the true meaning of Christmas, notwithstanding him kneeling before the manger. Santa is serving the purposes of Satan when he distracts from the true meaning of Christmas with the facilitation of greed.
Did you ever think that “Santa” is one letter removed from “Satan”? Which brings to mind the news that Satanism is on the rise. Did you know that? Yes, it’s become pretty trendy since the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, to show one’s rebellion by joining the Church of Satan. Satan-Claus is coming to town folks. And similarly, another article states that people are expressing their displeasure and rebellion by turning to witch craft. It’s reported that witches in the United States now outnumber Presbyterians. How about that?  Witches are actually gathering together on a regular basis to cast spells against President Trump and his conservative agenda! Enough already! They have their mojo working. How can I get the Spirit into my spirit this Christmas?
How can we get in the Spirit of Christmas? There are a lot of reasons people choose to shut the door on Jesus at Christmas. There’s a lot of reasons and situations that can crowd Him out. Are you in a catatonic spiritless Christmas spirit? Have you shut the door on Jesus? Have you room for Jesus? Let me suggest some insight from God’s word that will steer you in the right direction.
If there’s no room for Jesus in your holiday season it wouldn’t be the first time there was no room for Jesus. The first time He came there was no room for Him. In the Gospel of Luke, it states, “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7).
Theologically this speaks of the incarnation of Jesus. It speaks of the humiliation of Jesus. And it speaks of the providential workings of God to carry out His redemptive plan in Christ. There are down to earth revelations intertwined in the incarnation of Christ. They speak to our present state of affairs; especially this year.
God’s ways are not our ways. God works in ways that we don’t readily understand. His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:7-11). And sometimes it can be difficult to discern His ways at all. How can we discern the will of God?
In Romans 12:2 it tells us not to be conformed to the world. A reason for this is that God regularly works in ways that the world and even those in the religious community cannot relate to. The ways of God are nonconformist and unorthodox by secular and religious standards. Who would have thought that a single Teacher with an inner core of 12 rag tag disciples would turn out to be not only God in the flesh but the Savior of the world? Who would have thought the Savior of the world, God in the flesh, would be born in a stable because there was no other place for his mother to birth Him? To us, the stable birth of Jesus looks more like coal in our stocking than priceless gift. I’ve seen what such “stables” look like. They are dark and dingy. They’re hewn out caves. Only a poor needy family would resort to birthing their baby in such a place. But maybe there’s a message for us in that. Maybe, from the start, God wanted us to know He was and is approachable. Maybe He came into this world in a humble way, so that the humble of this world would not fear approaching Him. Sure enough, Jesus grew to teach we have to lose our life to find it and the greatest is the servant of all (Matthew 10:39; 18:4). That little baby Jesus was a symbol of greatness in God’s economy.
Maybe there’s a diamond in the rough in the stable cave. We have to look a bit deeper to come to the realization and truth that the Child Jesus would be the way the truth and the life and the only way to eternal life with God. God’s ways are not our ways. Everything comes through Jesus. He’s our Door (Matthew 10:7-9). He opens all things to us. And there are some things He shuts up to us. Think about that and let is revive your spirit.
Our plan can be opposed to His plan. Maybe you’re being drained of the Christmas spirit because of some loss or deprivation. Maybe you’re suffering great disappointment. Maybe your plans haven’t panned out. To you I’d say, “God’s ways are not always our ways.” God’s plans may keep us from things we think are best for us. But God’s plan is always the best plan. He has only the best of intentions for us. If He says, “No,” to a request of ours, it is only because He has something infinitely and eternally better for us. We are limited and finite in understanding. He is infinite and all knowing. It’s always best to trust the LORD; even when we don’t understand. Trust the Lord and His plans. Let the hope of His best breathe life into your Christmas spirit.
And, at the risk of turning people off with a political statement, I would say to those who are disgusted at the election of Donald Trump to be president and disappointed at the results of the midterm elections, take a step back and consider that maybe God is at work in this. Maybe we’ve misread God in some way. Hopefully, we have called on the Name of the LORD and humbled ourselves before Him and prayed and sought Him. We are in the process (I hope) of turning from our wicked ways. It’s admittedly an arduous task. But if we do, if we proceed “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” (cf. Zechariah 4:6), then God is going to hear from heaven and forgive the sin we repent of and heal our land (cf. 2 Chronicles 7:14). That’s a promise that can fill our spirit sails as well as our sales with the Spirit of Christmas. If people can trust “the plan” of an anonymous poster named “Q,” surely, we can trust the plans and promises of God Almighty. Breathe deep Christian. Breathe in the Holy Spirit of God.
Yes, God has a plan. His plan is likely very different than our plan. We need to trust Him. If we want to be energized with all that is good about a spirit of Christmas, we need to trust the Lord and His planning. I would say that to my liberal friends. I would say that to my conservative friends. God’s ways are not our ways. He is always at work. And maybe, just maybe, God is planning a great big Christmas present for us and our nation. We can only hope and pray.
God is able to accomplish His will even when all seems lost. Mrs. A. E. Gadsby of Niagara Falls, Canada, in December 1940 mailed a Christmas parcel to her daughter in Prestwick, Scotland. The ship carrying the mail was torpedoed off the west coast of Ireland. All seemed lost in terms of that letter ever reaching its destination. But a favorable tide floated the package unerringly ashore on the beach of Prestwick. The contents were soaked but perfectly usable. The address was still legible and the package reached the addressee two days after Christmas. God has a plan and He will work it out come hell or high water (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Hope in Him (Psalm 42).
God incorporates human free will in His plans. Human free will does not take God by surprise. But it does make for an interesting journey in God’s plans. Because of human free will Joseph in Old Testament times was sold into slavery by his treacherous brothers. He was preyed upon by a lust filled woman of the house. Then he was falsely accused by this adulterous woman. He was unjustly imprisoned despite the facts of his case. He was forgotten for a time. All seemed lost. But God had a plan. To Joseph and his brothers ultimate surprise (but not at all surprising to God) Joseph was exalted to the second in command in the Egyptian empire. Ultimately Joseph was used by God with all of his circumstantial hardship. God worked it all out for His good. And God’s good purpose was to save and preserve the nation of Israel and the Messianic line (Genesis 50:20). God works His providential ways in spite of human free will. Human free will is no great obstacle to our sovereign Lord. God saves nations in such ways. Remember that and let your spirit rise.
In the New Testament Christmas story, because of human free will, there was an order that forced Joseph and his wife who was great with child, to travel from Nazareth nearly a hundred miles to their city of origin, Bethlehem. Because of human free will, there were innkeepers who had no room for Jesus. By human free will, a stable was open and a Birth was safely accomplished. God is working even when there seems to be no room, even when people are left out in the cold. God is always working.
Because of human free will Jesus was ruthlessly betrayed by one of his closest and most trusted disciples; the one He put in charge of the money (John 13:29). But that didn’t deter God’s plans. God is not surprised by human betrayal. He wasn’t surprised when all the disciples chose cowardice. The same is true today. God wasn’t surprised when fallen humanity nailed His Son to the cross. In fact, God was in His Son reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). It was all part of His plan. God used all of this to bring salvation to the world through His Son. God uses human free will and because of that we can’t always see His plan. God unfolds His plan bit by bit. As we follow His lead we begin to see. Sometimes the full plan won’t be seen until glory. Through it all, no matter what, the best plan is to trust in God, hope in God, love the Lord and let Him bring to pass His good plan (Romans 8:28). Let that breathe the Spirit of Christmas in you.
Obstacles don’t necessarily mean we are out of God’s will. What if Joseph and Mary said, “Okay, there’s no room here for us to have the baby, let’s go to the next town”? If they had done that Jesus would not have been born in Bethlehem according to Messianic prophecy (Micah 5:2). And that would have disqualified Him as Messiah. But they trusted in the Lord, they trusted His plan and made due with what God provided. There is no record of any complaints on their part. There is only a record of humble submission. Humility, humble submission, is often the means to experiencing the true Spirit of Christmas in our spirit.
Christmas is a time notorious for combustible complaints and chaos. It starts in the stampedes of Black Friday, continues on the chaotic cyber Monday, and rushes on through Christmas. Then it avalanches to an end after Christmas returns and an even better sales period of after Christmas shopping. God’s word tells us to “do all things without complaining and disputing” (Philippians 2:14). Maybe we should take action so that there’s room for Jesus but no room for bad Christmas attitudes. Maybe we should be filled with the Spirit so we have the right spirit of Christmas.
When we encounter obstacles, we should follow the leading of the Spirit. Mary and Joseph were humble enough to follow the Spirit. They didn’t come to Bethlehem expecting to have Mary give birth in a stable. But that is where the Spirit led them and that is where they went. The Spirit will never lead in a way that is contrary to God’s word. In fact, the Spirit most often leads us by the word of God (Romans 8:14). We discover God’s will by giving ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. To discover His will we have to surrender ourselves and our own agendas to Him and His will (Romans 12:1-2). In other words, trust His plan. Don’t be so quick to give up your heaven-sent dreams and God ordained life purposes. There may indeed be some obstacles, but seek the leading of the Holy Spirit. Remember, no test no testimony. We’re God’s poetry (Ephesians 2:10). He’s writing a book with us. Every good book has some twists and turns. Don’t stop reading and writing because things aren’t going as you expect. Just press on because we know the end is going to be great. God “only does wonderous things!” (Psalm 72:18).
It’s a holy season. Christmas is a special time. God tends to speak to people during this time. He spoke to a young teenage girl named Mary about an incredibly impregating plan. He spoke to faithful prophets like Anna and shepherds in a field. He spoke to a husband named Joseph who was perplexed by it all. But God spoke. God has a way of shutting doors that need to be shut and opening doors that need to be opened. Learn in the Spirit to discern between the two (cf. Isaiah 22:2; Revelation 3:7-8).
There is an enemy who wants to shut Jesus out. The devil wants to destroy Jesus and all who love Him. We see this in the slaughter of the innocents ordered by Herod (Matthew 2:16-18). Herod and many other people in history have been enemies of Jesus and His people. But the ultimate enemy of Jesus is Satan. It’s not the Satan is in any way on par with Jesus. Satan is a created being. Jesus is eternal (Hebrews 1 and 2). But Satan is a vicious adversary which we should be aware of. He is fallen, he is down, but he’s not yet out. And he’s angry at his impending defeat.
Of Satan it is stated: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9). You’ve heard of wolves in sheep’s clothing? There are also wolves that look like reindeers, elves and the scary demons like Krampus. There is evil waiting to use Christmas as a Trojan Horse to infiltrate our lives. An unwritten chapter in A Christmas Carol might be entitled, “Santa is bogus!” Let’s keep in the Spirit. Let’s keep Jesus Christ in Christmas.
Jesus came to destroy the works of Satan (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8). We have an enemy and he seeks to distract, deceive and destroy everything connected with Jesus. We have seen our own version of the slaughter of innocents through Planned Parenthood. Sonogram technology is exposing such wickedness more and more each day. The genocide is undeniable. But it continues. We look at such evil and it tempts us to allow the Spirit to be punched out of our spirit. Were ready to tap out on Christmas. But don’t tap out, open up. Open up to Jesus.
The enemies’ objective is to make sure there is no room for Jesus in your life. He is ruthless and merciless in this effort. Don’t let him succeed! Be strengthened and filled up spiritually by making a conscious effort to have meaningful regular devotional times. Meet with the Lord each day during this time of year. This will help you make room for Jesus each day. This will help you maintain the Spirit in your spirit of Christmas. Cultivate spiritual sensitivity to how Jesus might want to use you to help others make room for Him. It’s always uplifting to lift up others.
Not everyone has room for Jesus. Jesus states, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20). Jesus especially knocks on the door of the Church seeking to come in and fellowship. But not everyone has room for Jesus. Not everyone has the true Spirit in their spirit of Christmas. Some have their own petty ideas or agenda to follow. Some are too angry to let Him in. There are porcupines at Christmas who have so many opinion points that they can’t get close to others and others can’t get close to them. They are like Point-settas. (I know that’s bad but I couldn’t resist.)
Some people are as warm and inviting as pinecones. To such people I’d say, it’s not always about your “points” or opinions. Yes, we are to speak and obey truth. But if all we do is lay out points and legalistically order obedience, well, there is little Spirit in that. Truth spoken and obeyed by a child of God must be done in love (Eph. 4:15). That love is the true Spirit of the spirit of Christmas. Some are too proud and busy; they don’t hear Jesus knocking. Others are so caught up in self-love and their Christmas dress that they won’t take the time to open the door for Jesus. And still others want to rule on the throne rather than have Jesus be Lord. They want to drive the sleigh. And so, they stray. When Jesus, by the Spirit, knocks, open to Him. He is the reason for the season. Don’t forget that. Don’t be cheated out of the presence of Jesus this Christmas (Colossians 2:8, 23).
Do you have the Spirit this Christmas? Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart right now. You may have never paid attention to His knocking but now He is getting your attention. Will you open the door of your heart and invite Him in? But how can I open the door to Jesus? How can I have the Spirit of Christmas so that I have the right spirit of Christmas? I suggest prayerfully doing the following.
Admit you are a sinner. The Bible says we all have sinned against God’s holy law and deserve eternal damnation (Romans 3:23; 6:23; 7:1-25; 1 Timothy 1:8-11). The severity of sin is not merely measured by the sinful act, it is measured by Whom the sin is against. If I have a snowball fight with friends and hit one of them it’s no big deal. I can pummel them mercilessly and it’s still all in fun. But if an elderly senior citizen happens to be walking by and I hit them, it’s much more serious. And if I happen to hit a police officer, I’m in trouble. That snow ball becomes a weapon under the law and I’ll be hauled off in handcuffs; not so innocent anymore. And let’s just say the President of the United States just happens to walk by and gets in the way of one of my snowy fastballs, well, I’ll be swamped by secret service officers and doing time in a federal prison before you can say “Merry Christmas.” Any and every sin is ultimately against God Most High, Creator of the universe, Almighty Holy God! Therefore, any and all sin is a serious offense (Romans 3:23; James 2:10; Galatians 3:10). Jesus came calling people to repent or turn from their sins (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3, 5; cf. also Acts 2:38). ) The first step therefore involves acknowledging your sin and that you need to repent or turn from it.
Acknowledge that Jesus died for your sins upon the cross. Jesus died in your place on the cross. He paid the penalty you deserved for your sins on the cross. The “wages” or penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). Jesus death pays our debt for sin. It’s an incredibly holy gracious just transaction God in Christ worked for us. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). That is the greatest Christmas gift of all. And we should to acknowledge that truth before God and in the sight of humanity (Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:9-10). By faith we believe that Jesus died on the cross for us personally. That is the basis for the next step.
Ask God by faith to forgive you of your sin based on your accepting what Jesus as Savior has done for you on the cross (Romans 6:23; 5:8). We need to receive by faith, God’s forgiveness (e.g. John 1:12). This isn’t a pipe dream or any empty gift box. This is God’s promise to us. Every one of God’s promises are “Yes,” and “amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Believe that and receive forgiveness for your sins based on Jesus’ atoning work for you on the cross. When you do this the Holy Spirit will indwell you providing you a second birth; a spiritual birth (John 3; Romans 8:9-11). You must be “born again” as Jesus said, if you want to enter heaven. You have to receive God’s gracious gift by faith in order to be blessed by it.
Advance in the Spirit (who is now in you) and depend on God to help you bear spiritual fruit and live for Jesus. The Holy Spirit residing within us is the One who will help us understand Jesus and build our relationship with Him (John 14-16). The Holy Spirit will help us live right before God (Romans 8). The Holy Spirit will help us understand the things of God and illuminate the word of God for us (1 Corinthians 2:9-14). The Holy Spirit will produce the spiritual fruit of love in us (Galatians 5:22-24).
God knows us and knows how easily we are tempted to sin. He promises to show us a way around sin so that we can stand up to every test (1 Cor. 10:13). That is true for the “little” temptations as well as the “big” ones. What causes people to stumble varies greatly, but God’s promise to all is to show them how to overcome and march through to victory.
So, do you have the Spirit of Christmas yet? Is the Holy Spirit in you lifting your spirit this Christmas? I hope and pray the Spirit helps you wade through the swampy Christmas stuff and to the true Spirit and substance of what Christmas is supposed to be all about. Christmas isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it can be greatly used to lift our spirit. May we all experience the Holy Spirit in His fullness this Christmas. Have a Spirit filled Christmas! In Jesus name. Amen.
 See my blog teaching on Keeping Holidays Holy at www.shepherdofhope.org .