By Brooke Holt
“Almighty God , you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.” The Collect, Book of Common Prayer
Do people change? Can people change? I sure hope so! Isn’t that the point of our correctional system in America, therapy, or rehab centers? People invest thousands of dollars in institutions and people they believe can help them change. And just think about how many books are sold that focus on self-help, healing, and personal growth. People can change. Sometimes it requires much hard work. Is there another way?
The Collect for today speaks of a different way to change – the way of the Holy Spirit. Could it be that receiving and surrendering to the Holy Spirit is another means to change? This prayer acknowledges that Jesus was born of Mary, that he took on human flesh, and that through his death and resurrection we are adopted as his children. God’s grace is fully demonstrated through this gift of Jesus’ incarnation and means of salvation.
As you open gifts today, it is essential to remember that this gift of Jesus as incarnate Son and the way of salvation is the most glorious and valuable gift you could ever receive. But beyond salvation, the Lord would love to continue giving his gifts, and those gifts come through the renewal of the Holy Spirit. Notice when God’s children are to be renewed: “daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit”. Renewal is not a one-time experience. God has renewal for you each and every day through his Spirit dwelling in you. This is what theologians call sanctification.
Sanctification is that ongoing experience of receiving God’s abundant grace that allows you to recognize the sin in your life as well as opportunities for spiritual growth. This is not spiritual discipline, not a doing but a receiving and releasing. Receive grace – receive the Holy Spirit – release efforts, release control, release the desires of the flesh. And see what God can do in you. That is the place of renewal! And that is what God’s longs to do in you this Christmas and every day until you reach full glory.
As you celebrate Christmas, can you practice receiving the fullness of God’s gifts to you – his Son, grace, and the Holy Spirit? Then release your grip on the things of this world and invite the Holy Spirit to renew you today and every day. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "gift" who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don't experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique Christian small group Bible study provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to "walk in the Spirit" on a daily basis. The Spirit-Filled Life small group curriculum centers on a 6-part video teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Begin to experience the gift today!
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