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Friday, December 20, 2013

Advent Day 18: Keep In Step With the Spirit of Christmas

Day 18: Keep In Step With The Spirit of Christmas

Meditation (3-5 Minutes)
Begin by being still before God.  Read Psalms 5:11-12 and meditate on the words.

Ps 5:11-12 (NIV)
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them,  that those who love your name may rejoice in you.  For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

1)    Be still and know he is God. 

2)    Be glad you can take refuge in God.

3)    Sing for joy.

4)    Enjoy him spreading protection over you.

5)    Rejoice in him.

6)    Think of his blessings.

7)    Feel him surrounding you with favor as with a shield. 

Prayer (5-10 Minutes)

1)    Ask God to speak to you during this devotional time.

2)    Requests of the Christ Child (Appendix 1):
a)    Ask God to help you “Keep in step with the Spirit of Christmas.” 
b)    Ask God for:
i)    Love
ii)    Joy
iii)    Peace
iv)    Patience
v)    Kindness
vi)    Goodness
vii)    Faithfulness
viii)    Gentleness
ix)    Self-control
b)    Appendix 1: Pray and update.

3)    Gifts from the Christ Child (Appendix 2):
a)    Thank God for the Spirit of Christmas.  Add to Appendix 2.
b)    Thank God for the promise of the Fruits of the Spirit.  Add to Appendix 2.

4)    Gifts to the Christ Child (Appendix 3):
a)    This Christmas, offer God your:
i)    Love
ii)    Joy
iii)    Peace
iv)    Patience
v)    Kindness
vi)    Goodness
vii)    Faithfulness
viii)    Gentleness
ix)    Self-control
b)    Appendix 3: Pray and update.

5)    Ask God for knowledge of his will for you this Christmas and the power to carry it out. 

6)    Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.

Bible Study (10-15 Minutes)

How is your Christmas Spirit this year?  Are you experiencing the joy of the Holy Spirit?  Are you bearing the “Fruits of the Spirit?”  As Disciples of Christ, we can choose to “Keep in step with the Spirit.”  God the Father sent his son to earth.  His son, Jesus Christ is the reason for Christmas.  The Holy Spirit remains on earth and is the Spirit of Christmas. 

Background Scripture

Read Galatians 5:22-25.  When we accept the love of Jesus Christ our sinful nature is crucified.  Our gifts, if we accept them, are the Fruits of the Spirit.  List the nine Fruits of the Spirit in your journal.  As you list them, ask your self the question, do I exhibit them? (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read the scripture carefully.  Whose attributes do you think these nine characteristics describe?  (Write your answer in your journal.)

What do you think it means, “Against such things there is no law?”  (Write your answer in your journal.)

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, the Holy Spirit enters our heart and life.  What do you think it means, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit?”  Does it imply a choice on our part?  (Write your answers in your journal.)


The world is at war.  There is pain and suffering everywhere.  Greed infiltrates the holiday season.  People are difficult during the holidays.  There are layoffs at Christmas.  People are rude in the stores and in traffic.  You wonder how the world can be so hateful, especially at Christmas. 

Stop!  “Keep in step with the Spirit.” Choose love. 

See the world as God sees the world.  God is the God of our circumstances.  What is going on around you is God’s business.  Give him every circumstance in your life.  Accept your surroundings and allow nothing in your heart except love.  Nothing justifies your bitterness.  Love God.  Love what God loves. 

Read Galatians 5:13-15.  God sums up the entire law in a single command.  What is it?  What will happen if we ignore this?  (Write your answers in your journal.)


Memories from previous Christmas’s flood your mind.  You remember people that will not be with you this year.  Grief washes over you.  You remember happier Christmases.  Maybe you cannot go home for Christmas.  Self-pity threatens your Christmas Spirit. 

Stop!  “Keep in step with the Spirit.” Choose Joy. 

Give Him your grief and loneliness.  He understands.  It will pass.  Do not allow self-pity to have one single moment of your Christmas!  Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional.  Honor your grief.  Take a few moments every day to remember your loved one.  Look at pictures.  Cry if you need to.  Then get up and have a glorious day. 

Read Psalms 98:4-6.  Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Spend your days bursting into jubilant songs. 


People around you may be tense.  They are demanding.  Children add requests to their gift list.  Spouses may be complaining about expenses.  You may be worrying about the money spent this Christmas.  Bosses may be asking for more from you.  No one around you seems satisfied with your best efforts.  Hopelessness overwhelms you. 

Stop!  “Keep in step with the Spirit.” Choose Peace. 

Your best is good enough.  You are perfect in God’s eyes.  Claim that perfection.  If the people around you are telling you that you are not good enough, laugh at them.  They are wrong.  Live as if you are forgiven for everything.  Ask God for knowledge of his will for you and the power to carry that out.  Check His instructions against the Bible.  Follow God’s commands.  Your confidence will be a witness.  Live in God’s peace. 

Read Isaiah 48:17-18.  How do we find peace?  What will it feel like?  (Write your answer in your journal.) 


Today is going to be busy.  Christmas is almost here.  There is shopping.  People will want to break in front of the line.  There are presents to wrap.  No one wants to help.  Family is coming to visit.  No one wants to clean house.  There is food to prepare.  The lines at the grocery store are long.  Your work pressures have not stopped just because it is Christmas.  Health issues have not suddenly improved just because it is Christmas.  Everyone is tense. 

Stop!  “Keep in step with the Spirit.” Choose Patience. 

Pray while you are waiting in line.  Invite people to go first.  Find a way to make gift-wrapping, cooking, and cleaning fun.  If people simply cannot help, accept it with grace.  Do not complain.  Smile.  Remember your priorities and be patient with people that are not feeling well or are overwhelmed.  Persevere through your difficulties.  Have the compassion and mercy that comes from the Lord. 

Read James 5:10-11.  The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.  He is willing to share that with us.  How do we manifest patience?  Blessed are those who have _________.  (Write your answer in your journal.) 


You remember your disappointments with Christmas.  People may have hurt you this Christmas season.  Family dynamics are often difficult during the holidays.  Are you dreading seeing certain people on Christmas Day?  Yes, that family member was rude.  You get aggravated and are tempted to respond in the same way. 

Stop!  “Keep in step with the Spirit.”  Choose Kindness. 

The future can be different from your past.  If people around you are rude, respond with kindness.  Do not allow rude words to hurt.  Tell those closest to you that this year, your goal is to model kindness to everyone.  No matter what, be kind to those around you. 

Read Hosea 11:4.  Do you see anyone who has a yoke on his or her neck?  How can you lead others this Christmas?  (Write your answer in your journal.)


People are rushing.  Cashiers make mistakes.  You just realized you have been undercharged.  You are tired and the line is long.  You do not want to go back.  People at work make mistakes and you are tempted to point to them.  You make mistakes.  Now the temptation is to hide the truth to make you look better.  Your boss invites you to go somewhere or do something you believe is immoral.  You feel the pressure of keeping your boss happy. 

Stop!  “Keep in step with the Spirit.” Choose Goodness. 

Make a decision to go without a dollar before taking a dishonest one.  Confess all of your mistakes before confessing the mistakes of others.  Do the right thing even if it hurts or inconveniences you.  It will be worth it in the end.   Sleep this Christmas with a clean conscience. 

Read Romans 15:14.  What are we to full of?  (Write your answer in your journal.) 


You were probably up late last night preparing.  You know tonight will be no better.  You are facing parties and shopping on the weekend.  Exhaustion threatens your Christmas Spirit.  You are tempted to miss an event where people are depending on you.  You may want to give up. 

Stop!  “Keep in step with the Spirit.” Choose Faithfulness.

There are twenty-four hours in every day.  Christmas will come and go.  Things will get done.  Give God your exhaustion.  He will give you extra strength.  Get eight hours of sleep.  Our bodies are God’s Holy Temple and we must care for them.  Accept that every minute of your waking hour will be busy.  Know that you will be able to rest after Christmas.  God is faithful.  He is faithful to the faithful.  Decide that he will be able to call you faithful at the end of this Christmas Season. 

Read Psalms 108:4-5.  How far does God’s faithfulness reach?  (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Psalms 18:25.  What is the simple way we are faithful?  (Write your answer in your journal.)

Read Matthew 25:23.  What do you want Jesus to be able to say to you at the end of the Christmas season?  (Write your answer in your journal.)


The unexpected will probably happen today.  Someone will leave something undone.  You have no time for sloppiness.  Someone may need an explanation you have given before.  People ignore your good advice.  You want to speak sharply.  Time is of the essence.  You are tempted to push people harder than ever. 

Stop!  “Keep in step with the Spirit.” Choose Gentleness. 

Correct those that need correcting, gently.  Only raise your voice in praise today. 

Read Galatians 6:1.  How are we supposed to restore someone?  (Write your answer in your journal.) 

Self Control

You look at your Christmas gifts.  They seem small.  You want to run to the store and buy more.  You think of food that you could add to the Christmas menu.  Have you let your Christmas Season become too complicated?  You may be tempted to take your frustrations with the season out on your family.  You may be eating or drinking too much at celebrations. 

Stop!  “Keep in step with the Spirit.” Choose Self Control. 

The brief moment of elation is not worth the aftermath of bills that are difficult to pay.  Avoid temptation and keep your life and season simple.  Do not allow too much food or drink to dull your ability to feel joy. 

Read Galatians 5:16.  If we live by the spirit, we will not gratify the desires of our sinful nature. 

Fruit of the Spirit:  A Chance to Witness

The line was long.  I was busy and tempted to just leave my gifts and just go.  I persevered.  As I got closer, I realized that the cashier was new and making mistakes.  On more than one occasion, she had to call a manager to help.  Finally, it was my turn.

As the young lady began to ring up the purchases, I remembered seeing a Christian Bookstore nearby.  “I saw a Christian Book Store somewhere.  Do you know where it is?”  I asked.  She did and gave directions. 

While she checking me out, she made several mistakes.  The scanner would not work and she had to call the manager.  I was tempted to sigh but had just asked about a Christian Book Store.  I suspected exhibiting patience and self-control was important.  She apologized and I responded with, “You are new.  You will get better.” 

She took so long correcting her mistakes that people in the line were complaining and glaring at both of us.  For some reason, I felt guilty.  I just wanted to leave.  I signed my receipt without really thinking about it.  As I took my bag, I realized that the bill was $25 less expected.  There were at least 10 people in line behind me.  She had closed out my account and was punching in the numbers for the next person.  Normally, honesty is easy for me, but this time, I almost left.  The voice of temptation said, “This was their mistake and going back will inconvenience all of those other customers.” 

I felt God speak, “Do the right thing.”  This time, I did sigh as I turned around. 

“I don’t think you charged me enough.”  Audible sighs came from the line.  I had visions of a riot breaking out.

“You are right,” she said, going through my bag and scanning the receipts.  Correcting the mistake took fully as long as everyone was dreading it would.  She had to call the manager to help. 

As the manager showed her what to do, she apologized.  “I am so sorry.  $25 is a significant amount of money and this is taking a lot of your time.  I can’t believe you came back.  Most people would have just left.”  Suddenly I knew why God had put me in this circumstance. 

“I am a Christian.  My opening question to your cashier was about finding a Christian Book Store.  What kind of Christian would I be if I had not come back?” 

“Besides,” I joked, “If I had left, God would have just continued speaking to me.  Eventually, I would have confessed and then have to drive all the way back to this city just to pay you.  Believe me, coming back now was easier.  No amount of money is worth putting distance between God and me.” 

The cashier gasped.  “You did ask me about a Christian Book Store.  Thank you for being honest.”  The people in the line heard the conversation.  I do not know to whom God was speaking but I felt honored to be used.  I was glad I had “Kept in step with the Spirit.”  In all honesty, if I had not asked about the Christian Book Store first, I am not sure I would have been so patient.  I left the store with the “Spirit of Christmas.”

Demons like discouragement, self-pity, frustration, greed, and perfectionism are alive and well at Christmas.  This Christmas, do not allow these demons to have control of your Christmas.  Just say no!  If you have found yourself giving in to demons, take heart.  None of us “keeps in step with the Spirit” perfectly.  When you falter, depend on grace.  Celebrate your victories.  This year, choose to Keep in step with the Spirit of Christmas.

Application (5-10 Minutes)

2)    Making It Personal
a)    What do you think Christmas Spirit is?  Do you have it?  (Write your answer in your journal)
b)    Check Yourself.  How can you exhibit more: (Write your answer in your journal.)
i)    Love?
ii)    Joy?
iii)    Peace?
iv)    Patience?
v)    Kindness?
vi)    Goodness?
vii)    Faithfulness?
viii)    Gentleness?
ix)    Self-control?

3)    Praying Continuously  (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
a)    Pick one of the “Fruits of the Spirit” to work on:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  
b)    Throughout the day, ask God to help you. 
c)    As you go through your day, pay special attention to the “Fruit” you picked. 
d)    Choose to “keep in step with the Spirit of Christmas” through this “Fruit.”

4)    Ending The Day
a)    Did you keep in step with the Spirit today?
b)    If not, confess to our God of grace. 
c)    Do you owe anyone an apology? 
d)    Commit to allowing His leadership in your life tomorrow.

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