Unwrapping The Gifts of Christmas Sermon Series
In the second week of our series "Unwrapping the Gift of Christmas" we encounter John the Baptist, and his prediction of the ministry of Christ.
You may find todays Scripture an unusual choice for a Christmas series since in Mark we find the only gospel account in the Bible that has nothing at all to say about the birth of Jesus. In fact Mark mentions neither the miraculous conception nor the birth of Jesus.
Even though Mark doesn’t give us a classic Christmas story, when he opens his book, he essentially wraps up the Christmas message in just a few words, and were going to unwrap it this Morning.
There is nothing wrong with Christmas trees and tinsel and the unwrapping of presents and food and laughter and the making of family memories. All those things make Christmas special.
Our task at Christmas is not to chop down the tree of celebration – rather it is to rediscover the cause of celebration – “What is this good news?”
When John spoke these words Jesus was already 30 years old. John is not speaking in anticipation of Christmas, he is relating to his hearers the effect that Christmas—or what the birth of Christ--had on human history.
(Mark 1:8) "I have baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
John's comment is one of tremendous historical and theological significance, because it signifies a dramatic change in the way that God relates to people. Specifically, God promised the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Luke 11:13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
The Holy Spirit had been active all throughout the Old Testament, but Christ made it possible for us to have a new relationship with God--different from anything anyone could have imagined.
Today were going to examine three aspects of how the Gift of the Holy Spirit affects our relationship to God.
First of all, our relationship to the Holy Spirit is...
A Personal Relationship
Most Christians believe in one God who exists in three persons. You've heard the words of the hymn "God in three persons, Blessed Trinity." We believe in God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, One God, three persons.
The Holy Spirit is God, just as the Father is God and just as Jesus is God. In the same way that we pray to the Father, in the same way that we pray to Jesus, we can pray to the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is God.
Also, the Holy Spirit should be referred to as "He", not "it". The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal "force."
The Bible says the Spirit knows--He has a mind.
The Bible says the Spirit desires certain things for us--He has a will. And
The Bible says we shouldn't grieve the Spirit--this indicates that He has an emotional attribute.
He is personal, and our relationship to the Holy Spirit is a personal relationship.
What makes this relationship so personal is that He indwells us. He lives inside us. In the Old Testament the Spirit would "fall upon" an individual, but it was always a temporary experience. The Spirit would come and the Spirit would go.
But since Jesus came into the world that has changed, Now the Holy Spirit comes to us and dwells within us and stays…
Sometimes you hear preachers and I even say "Invite Jesus to come into your heart."
If you grew up in the church, you're probably familiar with hymns like Since Jesus Came Into My Heart and Come Into My Heart Lord Jesus.
Actually, if we were to split theological hairs, we would say it is the Holy Spirit which lives inside us. When a person is saved, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in them. But, when Jesus made this promise to His disciples, He didn't make a very strong distinction between Himself and the Holy Spirit. In John 14, Jesus said to His disciples...
V.16 "The Father will give you another Counselor to be with you forever--the Spirit of truth. V.18...I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. V. 20...On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
Notice how Jesus identifies Himself with the Holy Spirit. When we say that Jesus is living in our heart, or that the Holy Spirit indwells us, we are saying the same thing. One of my college professors and my Sunday school teacher was Dr. Daffy and he said it like this, "The Holy Spirit is Christ in the Christian."
So it is that the Holy Spirit that always directs us to a closer walk with Jesus.
John 15:26 When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, He will testify about me.
The Holy Spirit's ministry is not to draw attention to Himself, but to glorify Jesus. Jesus is the central figure of creation.
He is the author and finisher of our faith.
He is the one who came into the world as a child, who lived a perfect life, and died on the cross for our sins,
He is the one who gave us the Holy Spirit. and
The Holy Spirit always points us to Jesus.
Secondly, the Gift of Holy Spirit is...
A Consuming Relationship
John the Baptist said, V. 8 "I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
The word "baptize" means literally "to immerse" or to "dip into". In Bible times the word "baptize" was used to describe someone dipping their bread into their drink, or used to describe a ceremonial washing.
John used this word to describe how we are to experience the Holy Spirit.
We are to be immersed by the Holy Spirit.
Consumed by the Holy Spirit.
Controlled by the Holy Spirit.
On the day of Pentecost, after the Holy Spirit had filled those waiting in the Upper Room, Peter stood and said, "These men are not drunk as you suppose." (Acts 2:15) In the book of Ephesians, Paul said, "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." 5:18 Paul said this because there is a similarity. (let me explain)
When a person is drunk, the alcohol controls him. The State describes it as "Under the Influence." The alcohol influences a person's decision making abilities, and it affects the way they respond to situations. Unfortunately, this influence is always negative.
It is the same when we are filled with the Holy Spirit:
He influences the decisions we make,
He gives us boldness and courage to do God's will.
He helps us respond the right way to situations that we face daily.
We are to be Under the Influence of the Holy Spirit in everything we do. And, of course, His influence on our life is always good.
(Talk about CASA) You'll never hear a social worker say about one of their cases, "Those children have such an ideal home life. After all, their parents are alcoholics."
However, every social worker in the world can you tell stories about how families have experienced a complete turn-around when parents stopped living under the influence of alcohol and started living under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We are to let the Holy Spirit control our lives.
What does our life look like when we're under the influence of the Holy Spirit? There are at least two passages of scripture that give an indication.
Ephesians 5:19-20 Be filled with the Spirit, as you sing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to the Father.
Galatians 5:22-23 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
When we live under the influence of the Holy Spirit, He shapes the way we think, the way we react, the way we make decisions. And He fills us with love and joy and peace.
Thirdly, The Gift of the Holy Spirit is...
An Empowering Relationship
We get the strength we need for daily living from the Holy Spirit. Our power comes from Him. Jesus said,
Acts 1:8 You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses.
The Holy Spirit increases the effectiveness of everything we do in life.
When preachers preach under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we have more impact.
When teachers teach under His influence, they have more impact.
Parents do a better job of parenting
Bosses do a better job of bossing, when we allow ourselves to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
We have been given an unlimited supply of God's power. All we need to live a holy life has been given to us. The Holy Spirit's ministry is to strengthen us so that we are able to live a life that is pleasing to God. Paul said,
2 Thessalonians 2:13 God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit
Another way the Spirit empowers us is through His gifts that He gives us.
We talked about this last week, The Spirit has given each one of us a gift--or gifts--that we can use to do God's will.
Whatever God has planned for your life, He has gifted you to do it. (No-Limit Living) As long as we live under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we can accomplish what God wants us to accomplish with our lives, and we will experience joy and peace and happiness.
On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter preached a sermon and 3000 people were saved. A few days later, Peter was walking into the temple and he saw a man who couldn't walk and Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ...walk!"
A few days later Peter spoke with boldness before the Sanhedrin. Eventually, the Bible says that Peter had such power that people would bring the sick into streets where Peter was walking so his shadow would fall on them and they would be healed!
It is hard to remember that this same man deserted Jesus just a few weeks earlier. He denied knowing Jesus and ran away when Jesus needed him most. What made the difference? How did Peter go from weakness to power?
It was the Holy Spirit. Before Peter preached the sermon at Pentecost he was immersed in the Holy Spirit and received the power the Jesus had promised. And that power remained with Peter for the rest of his life.
The gift of Christmas is God's gift to the world; it is the gift that keeps on giving. (un-wrap this gift)
Because there is so much more to the Christian life than just having your sins forgiven. We also receive the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit--and the Holy Spirit changes everything.
When we live under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we have a more personal relationship with God than we could ever imagine.
When we live under His influence, He controls and directs our steps.
When we live under the influence of the Holy Spirit, He gives us the power to live life day by day.