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The True Christmas Spirit

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
December 24, 2021 3:00 am

The True Christmas Spirit

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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December 24, 2021 3:00 am

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In all those participants in the first Christmas was praise and thanks and blessing and glory to God in a word that is worship, this time at all times is a time of worship God honoring at Christmas and you put that attitude into practice. Find out today as John MacArthur shows you the true spirit of Christmas. That's the title of John's lesson on this Christmas Eve edition of grace to you, John. I'm sure that today and especially tomorrow are not going to be typical days for you or for most of our listeners and so if I can ask what do you anticipate being most special about the MacArthur households celebration on this Christmas Eve and tomorrow course Christmas day, 20, 21, I think for us. It all starts on Christmas Eve and the thing I like about these two days is nobody has to leave right. There is no risk anywhere to go so we meet on Christmas Eve everybody comes and it's this relaxed and there. There's nothing competing our kids and even our grandkids are old enough now that they've got all kinds of things going on in their lives and in trying to have them do a meal together in an evening together with the whole family there. Any other time in the years pretty tough right so I like the fact that nothing else is going on and they stay and that's Christmas Eve and usually is that one of the kids house and when we love that and then typically we do the same thing on Christmas day. It's that's the longer part of the day and we get together in one of the homes and again everybody gets to be together. We're not in a hurry.

Nobody's going to go anywhere but I just love the fact that we can all catch up because life moves so fast doesn't mean faster. All the kids I saw you last Sunday with the two beautiful little granddaughters at church and I know how precious that is for you and Darlene to have those hours with us kids, but now seems like to take him away but Christmas both on that than the evening before Christmas and the day of Christmas is a is a settled kind of fun. Time to thank the Lord for all that is doing in our family and so that's a precious gift. Once you just stay with us and enjoy the lesson today on the true Christmas spirit as we wrap up the Christmas focus for 2021. That's right. And this is one of John's most popular Christmas messages you'll see why as it helps you prepare for a memorable and worshipful celebration and with that hears John to help you find the true spirit of Christmas. If you're like me, you've heard the world's comments and evaluations of this time of the year and one of the phrases that you hear a lot is the Christmas spirit. I suppose for some people the Christmas spirit is expressed in a card that conveys a sentiment of well-being, but I would just like to get down to the core of this deal. What is the true spirit of Christmas is it fun is it fellowship. Is it giving what is well. As always, the best answer to that question is to go to the Bible and so I would like to take you to Luke chapter 1 and chapter 2 and there we will find out what the spirit of Christmas really is. It will come clear to you as I read some selected reactions to the birth of Christ among people and angels. Let's start with Elizabeth. Luke 141 when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she cried out with a loud voice and said blessed among women, are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. How has it happened to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me. That was Elizabeth's reaction and that conveys the spirit of Christmas in its reality. But before we say what it is. Let's look at another illustration of an over verse 67 in Luke one there would be the husband of Elizabeth that the father of John the Baptist, whom she was carrying and his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited us and accomplish redemption for his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David, his servant now that was Zacharias reaction and that tells us something of his spirit, his attitude let's go to chapter 2 in verse 13 and here we go to the realm of the Angels and we find in verse 13 it suddenly to the shepherds. There appeared with the angel who had made the original announcement a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased. All that was the Angels response to this whole event down in verse 20 we get the shepherds response and the shepherds went back and glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen just as had been told them down in verse 25 we meet another unique individual attending to the period of the birth of Christ, named Simeon that was a man in Jerusalem was name was Simeon. This man was righteous, devout, looking for the consolation of Israel and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Notice how many of these people have an unusually described relationship to the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth Zacharias, the angel with the child in the womb of Elizabeth, Mary, now Simeon the Holy Spirit was upon him, and it been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he wouldn't see death till 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 carry out for him the custom of the law, that would be circumcision. Then he took him into his arms and blessed God and said, now, Lord, thou dost let thy bondservant depart in peace, according to thy word for my eyes have seen nice salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all people, the light of revelation to the Gentiles in the glory of thy people Israel. Another reaction comes down in verse 36 the reaction of Anna, the daughter of Faneuil the tribe of Asher, an older woman advanced in years, having lived with a husband seven years after her marriage and then as a widow to the age of 84.

She never left the temple served night and day with fastings and prayers.

At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God continue to speak of him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem Elizabeth Zacharias Angels shepherds Simeon and Anna basically had one response and that one responses. The spirit of Christmas and the right word is worship.

Worship the spirit of Christmas in all those participants in the first Christmas was praise and thanks and blessing and glory to God in a word that is worship this time of all times is a time of worship. Worship me give you a brief definition is an attitude is a spirit, it is something on the inside.

It is an attitude of the heart that is so filled with wonder and gratitude that what God has done that there is not a thought of personal needs or personal blessings only total abandonment to God in praise and adoration. That's worship now to give form to our worship. I am drawn to another person, none other than his mother, Mary Mary gives form to our worship without question, she gives the most magnificent Psalm of worship and it is her Magnificat is her Psalm of praise to God for the coming of Jesus Christ. Luke 146. Let's look at it. Luke 146 and Mary said my soul exalts the Lord to see immediately. She had the same response and everybody else had worship and praise and adoration and gratitude. My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, for he has had regard for the humble state of his bondslave. For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed for the mighty one has done great things for me, and holy is his name and his mercy is upon generation after generation. Toward those who fear him. He has done mighty deeds with his arm.

He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things and sent away the rich empty-handed. He is given help to Israel his servant in remembrance of his mercy as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his offspring forever. That is the hymn of the incarnation.

That is a Psalm that is a song that is a worship song. Mary knew that she was to be the mother of the son of God and so she bursts forth in the only appropriate response. And that is the response of worship is a hymn of worship from Mary to God, and it is such beauty and such magnificence that it can be looked at like a diamond with many facets and flashing brilliance on many different fronts. Here is a worshiper.

Here is a Christmas if I may borrow the word a Christmas worshiper here is Mary and she teaches us how we are to worship first point and I'll give you three first point we see in her the attitude of worship we see in her the attitude of worship. Now, as we look at this attitude of worship were to see this in the first verse and into the second verse and Mary said my soul exalts the Lord in my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, for he has had regard for the humble state of his bondslave in just those first two, and then into the third verse of this Psalm versus 4647 and just into the first line of verse 48 we get the attitude of worship and I want to give you for comments about number one is internal is internal. Mary said my soul exalts the Lord or magnifies the Lord and then my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, and the term soul and the term spirit, which are, by the way, synonymous, and speak of the inner person and the reason you use two of them is not because of the literary element of it and also because of the all-encompassing element of it. She is simply something her whole interbeing she is saying that worship arises from inside worship comes up from inside is the inner heart of adoring praise. That is the essence of true worship is when the soul of the spirit are overwhelmed is an internal thing. In fact, external, shallow observance of the birth of Christ is distasteful to God and most of what goes on at the Christmas season breaks his heart superficial worship finds no place of acceptance with him. The true worshipers, the one whose heart is devoted, the one whose heart is overflowing comes from deep down inside, and it therefore goes on all the time and it takes me to the second point is intense. It is not only internal, it is intense. Notice my soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. And when you read that in English maybe doesn't grab you.

The word exalts or magnifies is the word Meg Looney you know little about the word Meg that is a Greek word that often gets transliterated over into English when you want to say something is bigger than normal when it is larger than normal or louder, sometimes you see on on a speaker Meg up base it means more base than you need or care to listen to something is a mega thing. It is just takes the word large and what she is doing here is not just exalting but it is a mega exaltation is a large one so you have two components of true worship is internal. It rises from what the heart comprehends it rises from what the mind understands and when Mary came to grips with what was going on and literally captured her mind, her mind transferred to her emotions got every part of her interbeing moving and it just erupted in intensity worship then is the right attitude is internal and it is intense if you look at the history of Israel you will find how God despised superficial worship in Isaiah chapter 1, I am full of the burnt offerings and Rams and fat of fed beasts. I delight not in the blood of bullets or lambs or goats bring no more vain oblations incenses abomination to me. The new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies. I can't tolerate it is iniquity your new moons and your appointed fees.

My soul hates. They are a trouble to me. I am weary to hear them and he goes on and on. This is another way of saying you have to worship them from the heart and Mary did that the third thing about praise. It is habitual it is habitual.

My soul exalts or magnifies continuous action present tense isn't that it's just related to an event or a moment, particularly an event or moment like this that has eternal consequences goes on and on and on.

It isn't just that you rejoiced when you were saved is that you started rejoicing then and never will stop fluctuating circumstances do not say that again fluctuating circumstances do not impact true worship. They don't affect it. They don't have anything to do with it. It flows on the interrupted.

It's not really difficult for one who was a true worshiper from the heart with intensity to be able to fulfill the words of Paul in everything give thanks. True worship becomes a way of life because it's fixed on something that never changes.

God never changes.

Christ never changes. Salvation never changes his promises never change his covenant never changes our future never changes.

The spirit never leaves that never changes.

So why should worship rise and fall. Why should it have been slow true worship doesn't.

And that leads me to 1/4 element in the attitude, the attitude of worship is internal, intense, habitual, and fourthly, and here's really the key. One is humble is humble. True worship only comes from a humble heart only from a humble heart of what is a humble heart a humble heart is a heart that has no thought for itself. No thought for itself. Now we see this in Mary. Look at verse 48 for he has had regard for the humble condition of his handmade, his bondservant, the thing that strikes Mary about this whole deal is that it is. It's just incomprehensible that God would have had such regard for such a humble common girl that's what's amazing she doesn't say anything about herself. Nothing spontaneously. She bursts forth my soul exalts the Lord.

She doesn't have a thought like this well. I think you made a pretty good choice for well I certainly know a lot of women who aren't as godly as me.

Not a thought that almost is unfair to even mention such a possibility meet her immediate thought was directed heavenward, from whom all goodness comes in all gifts and all graces and all blessings and all benedictions. That's the kind of attitude out of which worship rises.

Worship is internal, intense habitual and humble if Mary was exalted above all woman. She might've been the humblest of all, one. I mean, if God lifted her to the highest it must've been because she was the lowest she may have been the godly assist young woman in that whole country. Isaiah 5715 puts it all in perspective.

Thus, set the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy and this all elevating got higher and higher those words. I dwell in the high and holy place really is anybody else out there with you.

Yes, those who are of a humble spirit. What is the attitude then of worship, a deep heart felt inner spring of intense gratitude and joy that bursts forth habitually from a humble soul who knows its utter unworthiness. That's worship and that's that's the spirit of Christmas.

Who are we that we should be so highly favored as to be made, not the mother of God but the children of God. Who are we that he should come to die for us such overwhelming grace undeserved okay. Secondly, the object of worship is so we never miss this and it's obvious Mary said my soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. The object of worship is God all the glory goes to him all the honor goes to him all the worship goes to him. Worship is very central in that sense, very simple, very focused, very one-dimensional. We worship God to worship all of it every bit of it no matter what attribute of God to matter what dimension of his person and work you're talking about all of worship is basically set loose in the great reality that we are saved from our sins, and thus from Judge Deming the whole thing is that the Son of Man is come to seek and save that which was lost. The whole reason he came it was said when they gave him his name shall call his name Jesus, for he shall what save his people from their sins as would Jesus means Savior Savior. If it weren't for the fact that he was saber nothing else would mean anything Savior, so she worship God the Savior is called God our Savior number of times in first Timothy and in Titus God is a saving God. He sent his son into the world to save us from our sin he was manifested to save us to deliver us from sin. So the object is God who is a Savior, not the pleading bag with God like you do pagan deities to be nice.

God is a saving God by nature, and he initiated the whole thing. The spirit of worship is internal, intense habitual and humble.

That is the attitude of it.

The object of worship is the God who saves.

Thirdly, and lastly the cause of worship because of what makes it happen.

What motivates well three things. First, what God does for me, person look at verse 48 middle of the verse four behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. Why Mary because the mighty one has done great things for me, and holy is his name is as if she say can you believe that a holy God would do this for me, a sinner worship starts that an absolutely holy God would do this for a sinful me from this time on all generations going to Me blessed because of what God in his holiness is done for a sinner and that's where it always starts.

It has to start with what the Lord is done for you and anything less is sort of meaningless and superficial mighty one is done great things for me and what I need is to be safe for my sins. Secondly, praise rises, not only from what the Lord has done for her.

But for what he is done for others.

Verse 50. And she doesn't want to single herself out so she quotes from the Old Testament here from Psalm 101103. Rather, verse 17, and his mercy is upon generation after generation. Toward those who fear him immediately. Her humility's comes into play again and she doesn't want think anybody to think that it's just her. This is going to happen from generation to generation.

To those who fear him. She realizes that the Lord is going to do the same for others and that brings joy to work hard.

Why because she has spiritual priorities because she's concerned about what is spiritual and eternal and soul saving. She was absolutely overwhelmed what the Lord was doing for her and what the Lord would do for generation after generation of June after generation. That's the stuff that elicits praise her own salvation and the salvation of others and then the third element she worship because of what God does for his own. This is marvelous. Look at verse 51 and let me just read this a recitation of all that God historically had done for his own people he has done mighty deeds with his arm that is he showing them strength and power. He is scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.

In contrast, he doesn't do good things for those who rejected is brought down rulers from their thrones, and on the other hand, each of these kind of reverses and has exalted those who were humble. He's taken his own were humble, lifted them up.

He's taken his own who were weak and given them power. Verse 53. He has filled the hungry with good things he's taken his own who were hungry and who had need.

And met that need that to comes out of Psalm 107 and on the other had sent the rich empty-handed is given help to Israel his servant. He is remember his mercy and as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his offspring forever. He is kept his covenants. That's cause for worship salvation personally.

Salvation of generation after generation after generation and the faithfulness of God to meet every need his own beloved people only because the mighty God has done mighty things, is there good news to tell only because God is saved does save and remains faithful is there worship and praise and glory and adoration. What is the spirit of Christmas worship in a word worship, nothing more and nothing less. And you know as you look back over the Christmases of the ages, and we do that every Christmas season. We go back through history. I'll tell you how we do it we do it we sing the carols as you go back through the history of the Christmases and you touch those Christmas carols.

You touch the most brilliant poets and articulators of Christmas truth and their attitude is always worship. It's always been worship, listen to some of the Christmas carols. Martin Luther born in 1483, died in 1546 if he had any commitment he had a commitment to bring Scripture and to bring theology out of Latin and into the language of the people, which was German so they could understand and so their praise would have meaning we know him for his great theological work, but sometimes forget his great poetic work on one Christmas season. Martin Luther wanted to write a Christmas Carol for his little son Hans. This is what he wrote from heaven above to earth I come to bear good news to every home. Glad tidings of great joy. I bring whereof I know will say and sing to you this night is born a child of Mary, chosen mother mild this little child of lowly birth shall be the joy of all the earth were earth a thousand times as fair Bissett with gold and jewels rare.

She yet were far too poor to be a narrow cradle, Lord, to the Ninian's dearest Jesus holy child make the bed soft undefiled within my heart that it may be a quiet chamber For the that's worship, take up your place in my heart. Father, we thank you for this marvelous reminder of the focus of life which is worship may come from deep within us directed toward you are saving God for what you've done for us what you have done for generation after generation of saved sinners.

The way in which you've kept every promise to your people. We rejoice in our rejoice finds its focus in this great historic moment when you came into the world as a baby. Thank you. We praise you. We offer you our heart worship in your son's name that's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University in seminary showing you the true spirit of Christmas.

On this Christmas Eve edition of grace to you. Now if I can. Let me make a suggestion take time today to read the Christmas story in Matthew one and Luke chapter 2 maybe read Philippians chapter 2 as well do that with your family and one last thing, if you been strengthened by grace to you this year would you do us a big favor and let us know how God has used this program in your life.

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Our web address again now for John MacArthur and the entire grace to you staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Wishing you and your family. Joyous Christmas celebration and be here next week when John looks at how you can be ready for Christ's return, which could be at any time. Don't miss the next 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you

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