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Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.

CHRISTMAS "SPIRTS"

IT WAS A COOL CLEAR MORNING,
THE END OF AN ERA OF NIGHT WORK,
THE DAWN OF DAY WORK.
AND HE WAS GLAD.

HE WOULD NOW REVEAL HIMSELF TO PEOPLE
INSTEAD OF SNEAKING AROUND AT NIGHT.

HE WOULD ENTER HOUSES IN THE DAYLIGHT,
THE WAY NORMAL PEOPLE DO.

NO MORE SLIDING DOWN DARKENED CHIMNEYS,
NO MORE PICKING CHARCOAL OUT OF HIS BEARD.

THOSE WEREN'T THE ONLY PROBLEMS,
TALKING TO ELVES ALL THE TIME GAVE YOU THE "STOOPS"
TALKING TO DEER GAVE YOU THE "STUPIDS."
HE COULD HAVE REAL CONVERSATIONS WITH REAL PEOPLE.

REAL PEOPLE COULD THANK HIM PERSONALLY,
INSTEAD OF LEAVING HIM COOKIES AND CARROTS.

HIS HEALTH WOULD IMPROVE TOO.

HE COULD USE U.P.S. 
AND SAVE HIS BACK.

SAVE HIS EYES TOO.
THEY SAY IT'S TOUGH TO LAND A PLANE ON AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER AT NIGHT
CAN YOU IMAGINE LANDING ON YOUR ROOF AT NIGHT USING NOSE LIGHT?

MY NOSE HAS ALWAYS BEEN RED AND SHINY, 
BUT I CAN'T FIND MY WAY IN MY OWN BEDROOM WITH THIS NOSE.

HE COULD GET HIMSELF A LINCOLN AND JUST PRESS THE GAS PEDAL
INSTEAD OF HAVING TO YELL OUT "ON DASHER, DANCER, PRANCER, AND
VIXEN," AND SO FORTH, EVERY TIME HE WANTED TO GO.

PEOPLE WOULD FINALLY GET TO KNOW HIM,
THAT WAS THE GOOD NEWS.

THE BAD NEWS WAS THAT HE HAD TO LEAVE THE NORTH POLE
THERE THE ELVES LOOKED AFTER ALL OF HIS NEEDS.

HE HAD A BIG RED RECLINER SO HE COULD PUT HIS BOOTS UP.
HE HAD A BIG RED FLUFFY BED TO SLEEP IN.

AT THE NORTH POLE HE WAS THE KING.
EVERYBODY LOVED HIM,
EVERYBODY NEEDED HIM,
EVERYBODY WANTED TO HELP HIM.
THEY EVEN POLISHED HIS BOOTS AND TRIMMED HIS BEARD!

NONE OF THE ELVES COULD REALLY UNDERSTAND WHY HE NEEDED TO GO,
BUT HE WAS.

HE HAD LEFT LOTS OF MESSAGES LAST CHRISTMAS SAYING, 
"I'LL SEE YOU NEXT YEAR."
HE WAS NOT CERTAIN THEY HAD UNDERSTOOD.

HIS ADVANCE MEN IN THE MALLS TOOK ORDERS 
AND TOLD THE PEOPLE HE WAS COMING.

BUT THE REALLY BIG ANNOUNCEMENT WAS TO THE PRESIDENT.
HE HAD WRITTEN THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES;
DONE IT HIMSELF, IN HIS OWN HANDWRITING:

DEAR PRESIDENT:
ALL THESE YEARS, JUST AS YOUR MOTHER TOLD YOU, I'VE BEEN BRINGING
YOU PRESENTS.
LATELY, IT HASN'T BEEN EASY ENTERING THE WHITE HOUSE,
SECURITY AND SUCH.
BUT NOW I'M COMING TO AMERICA DURING THE DAY.
I PLAN TO LEAD THE CHRISTMAS NEW YORK PARADE.
TO LEAD THE PEOPLE TO A BETTER WAY OF LIFE.
PLEASE MAKE ALL THE ARRANGEMENTS.
HO, HO, HO.
          SIGNED
          S. CLAUSE

AND SO ON CHRISTMAS DAY HE LANDED IN NEW YORK CITY.
HE EXPECTED A CROWD, 
MAYBE THE PRESIDENT,
SURELY THE MAYOR,
CERTAINLY THE KEY TO THE CITY,
BUT NO ONE WAS THERE TO GREET HIM.

WHEN HE WENT TO THE PLACE THAT THE PARADE BEGAN,
NO ONE RECOGNIZED HIM AS BEING SPECIAL.
THE POLICE TOLD HIM TO "MOVE ALONG" OR HE WOULD BE ARRESTED.

NO ONE SEEMED TO CARE,
EVERYONE SEEMED BUSY WITH THEIR OWN LIFE.

WHEN HE TRIED TO FIND A NICE HOTEL TO STAY IN,
EVERYWHERE WAS BOOKED.
OR AT LEAST WHEN THEY SAW THIS GUY IN RED AND WHITE WITH 8 ANIMALS
THEY SAID THEY WERE BOOKED.

AT ONE SMALL HOTEL THEY OFFERED TO LET HIM SLEEP IN THE GARAGE,
AND THAT IS WHAT HE DID.

WHEN HE CALLED HOME, THE ELVES WERE SHOCKED.
THEY COULD NOT UNDERSTAND.

THAT VERY MORNING THE SANTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY HAD CALLED THE NORTH
POLE.
THE SOCIETY HAD BEEN STUDYING SLED TRAILS IN THE SKY.
THEY HAD BEEN READING SANTA MESSAGES,
AND THEY HAD BECOME CONVINCED THAT SOMETHING WAS AFOOT,
SOMETHING HAD CHANGED,
THAT SANTA WAS PROBABLY COMING DURING THE DAY.

THE ELVES CONFIRMED HIS COMING,
BUT NEITHER THE ELVES NOR THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY COULD UNDERSTAND
WHY MORE PEOPLE DID NOT KNOW.

SO THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY CALLED THE PRESIDENT,
AND SUDDENLY SOMEONE AT THE WHITE HOUSE REMEMBERED THE MESSAGE FROM
S. CLAUSE.

WITH THE CALL FROM THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY, 
THE WHITE HOUSE DECIDED IT WASN'T A JOKE.
AND SO THEY READ AND RE-READ THE MESSAGE 
UNTIL THEY WERE SURE THAT SANTA PLANNED -- TO TAKE OVER THE
COUNTRY.
AFTER ALL, ANYONE WHO COULD FLY WITHOUT FUEL,
CHANGE SHAPES TO CONFORM TO ANY SPACE,
AND BE IN  HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PLACES AT THE SAME TIME
GIVING AWAY FREE STUFF-- MUST BE A THREAT TO DEMOCRACY.

A THREAT TO THE PRESIDENT, TO BE SURE.

AND SO THEY SENT OUT THE FBI TO SEARCH ALL THE NEW YORK HOTELS 
FOR OLD GUYS WITH WHITE HAIR AND WHITE BEARDS.
THEIR ORDERS? LIQUIDATE!

KENNY ROGERS, GONE. 
BURL IVES, HISTORY.
COL. SANDERS, HE'S OUT OF HERE.

AND SO SANTA WENT INTO HIDING.
THERE WAS NO PLACE OF REST OR SAFETY FOR HIM
AMONG THOSE HE HAD COME TO HELP.

HE WAS DESPISED,
REJECTED,
FULL OF SORROW,
ACQUAINTED WITH GRIEF.

THAT'S A PARABLE.

FRIENDS, WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT CHRIST, WHAT COMES TO MIND?
WHEN WE THINK ABOUT CHRIST, I THINK WE FOCUS ON THE END OF HIS LIFE
--THE CROSS LOOMS SO LARGE.

WE THINK ABOUT HIS UNBELIEVABLE LOVE.
HIS WILLINGNESS TO BE TORTURED AND KILLED FOR US.
HIS SACRIFICE -- GIVING US, 
OUR FAMILIES, 
OUR FRIENDS, THE POSSIBILITY OF ETERNAL LIFE.

WE THINK ABOUT HIS TRIUMPH OVER SATAN.
HOW HE PROVED TO THE UNIVERSE THAT:
HIS WAY, 
HIS LAW,
HIS LOVE,
WAS RIGHT.

SO WE FOCUS ON THE CROSS.
BUT HOW MANY TIMES DO WE CONSIDER THE BEGINNING OF HIS LIFE?
HOW MANY TIMES DO WE CONSIDER WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE BEGINNING
OF HIS LIFE?
I THINK BOTH ENDS OF CHRIST'S LIFE HERE TEACH US IMPORTANT LESSONS.
SO THIS MORNING I WANT TO DISCUSS WITH YOU THE FIRST PART, THE
"FRONT-END" OF JESUS' LIFE.
-----------------------
TURN WITH ME TO GALATIANS 4:4. 
IN GAL 4 WE LEARN ABOUT THE TIMING OF JESUS BIRTH. READ "WHEN THE
TIME HAD FULLY COME, GOD SENT HIS SON, BORN OF WOMAN, BORN UNDER
LAW."

THE BIBLE TELLS US THE TIME WAS RIGHT FOR JESUS TO COME.
HOW CAN THAT BE RIGHT?
DOESN'T JESUS ARRIVAL SEEM A LOT LIKE MY SANTA STORY?
DOESN'T IT SEEM THEY HAD THE WRONG YEAR,
THE WRONG DECADE,
MAYBE EVEN THE WRONG CENTURY?

AT FIRST GLANCE IT SURE SEEMS TO BE TO BE THE WRONG TIME.
AND I'M A GUY WHOSE SORT OF AN EXPERT ON WRONG TIMING.

I HAVE ALWAYS HAD TROUBLE WITH TIME. I REMEMBER WHEN MARGIE AND I
WERE DATING. I INVITED HER TO GO TO A PARTY WITH ME ON SUNDAY
AFTERNOON.  
WE GOT ALL DRESSED AND I DROVE TO THE HOME.
MY FIRST SURPRISE WAS THAT THERE WERE NO OTHER CARS PARKED ON THE
STREET. YOU KNOW HOW IT IS WITH A PARTY; CARS PARK ALL OVER.
WE WERE APPARENTLY THE FIRST.
WHEN I RANG THE BELL, MY NEXT SURPRISE WAS THAT THE MOTHER COME TO
THE DOOR LOOKING LIKE SHE HAD BEEN CLEANING THE ATTIC.
WE, OF COURSE, WERE DRESSED UP.

BASICALLY, SHE ASKED US WHAT WE WERE DOING,
AND WE ASKED HER WHAT SHE WAS DOING,
SINCE THIS WAS THE DAY OF THE PARTY.
AFTER WE GOT ANSWERS TO ALL OF OUR QUESTIONS, IT

TURNED OUT I WAS A WEEK EARLY.

WHEN MARGIE AND I WERE DISCUSSING DATES FOR OUR WEDDING.
I KNEW I HAD TROUBLE WITH TIME.
AND BEING A MAN OF VISION --

THAT IS BEING ABLE TO ENVISION ALL SORTS OF TROUBLE IF I FORGOT OUR
ANNIVERSARY--

I PICKED THAT LAST DAY OF THE MONTH FOR OUR WEDDING. 
FIGURING I SHOULD AT LEAST BE ABLE TO REMEMBER THE MONTH WE GOT
MARRIED.

SO IF YOU ASKED ME, THE RESIDENT EXPERT ON BAD TIMING, I WOULD SAY
THAT JESUS COMING WAS A LOT LIKE THAT PARTY, HE WAS EARLY OR LATE
OR SOMETHING.

BUT GALATIANS TELLS US "ABSOLUTELY NOT."
IT WAS EXACTLY THE RIGHT TIME.

I'M SHOCKED. WAS IT GOD'S PLAN THAT JESUS SHOW UP AND NOBODY
EXCEPT FOR A FEW STAR GAZERS AND SHEPHERDS WOULD REALIZE IT?

IS THAT POSSIBLE?
I KNOW WHEN I PREACH, I WANT THIS PLACE PACKED. 
I'VE SPENT A LONG TIME PREPARING THE SERMON,
I'VE GOT TO STAND UP AND PREACH IT,
THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO HEAR IT DOESN'T CHANGE THE PREPARATION OR
THE PREACHING,
SO I VOTE TO HAVE MORE, RATHER THAN LESS.

JESUS WAS BRINGING A LIFE OR DEATH MESSAGE.
PEOPLE HAD TO HEAR IT. 
JESUS OBVIOUSLY WANTED PEOPLE TO HEAR IT.

SO WHY NOT PACK THE PLACE?

WHY WEREN'T THE ROADS TO BETHLEHEM JAMMED WITH PEOPLE LOOKING FOR
THE MESSIAH?
WHY WERE THERE MORE ANIMALS THAN HUMANS ON HAND TO WITNESS HIS
BIRTH?

DO YOU REALLY THINK GOD'S SON ARRIVED:
UNWELCOME, 
UNREGARDED,
UNRECOGNIZED,
BECAUSE THAT WAS THE PLAN?

I THINK THE ANSWER LIES IN A PARABLE FOUND IN LUKE 14:16-23. READ

YOU SAY, "THAT STORY IS THE ANSWER, BRUCE??"
YES, I THINK THIS STORY TEACHES US: "SPIRTS."

"SPIRTS?"
YES, "SPIRTS."

DO YOU REMEMBER RICH HALL AND "SNIGLETS?"
PUTTING TWO WORDS TOGETHER TO MAKE UP A NEW WORD IS A "SNIGLET." 
SORT OF.
A SMALL SNICKER OR SNIGGER IS A "SNIGLET"
IF I WERE PREACHING A BORING SERMON, I WOULD BE UP HERE "SPORING."

WHEN YOU EAT JUNK FOOD, YOU KNOW THE STUFF THAT REMAINS ON THE
INSIDE OF THE WRAPPER?  THAT IS "TWINKIEDEW."

WHEN YOU ARE EATING PEAS OR CORN, YOU KNOW HOW ONE PEA OR CORN IS
ALWAYS ROLLING AROUND TRYING TO GET AWAY FROM YOUR FORK? THOSE ARE
"VEGELUDES."

LARGE PIECES OF RUBBER LEFT BY TRUCKS ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD ARE
"RUBBAGE."

SO RAISE YOUR HANDS IF YOU REMEMBER SNIGLETS?

I WAS WORRIED THAT YOU WOULD NOT REMEMBER.
I WAS DISCUSSING THIS SERMON WITH THE PASTOR,
AND HE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT A SNIGLET WAS.
(OF COURSE, HE DOESN'T KNOW THE COLTS MOVED AND THEY NOW CALL HIS
TEAM THE RAVENS.)

A "SPIRT" IS "SPIRITUAL MATTERS FIRST"
"SPIRTING" IS THE ACT OF MAKING SPIRITUAL MATTERS FIRST. 
"SPIRTATION" IS THE STATE OF GIVING SPIRITUAL MATTERS OUR FIRST
ATTENTION.

YOU HAVE HEARD OF JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION?

"SPIRTATION" COMES FIRST.
IT COMES BEFORE JUSTIFICATION, 
WHICH COMES BEFORE SANCTIFICATION.

IF YOU DOUBT ME, CONSIDER AGAIN OUR STORY.
WHEN DID PEOPLE RECEIVE THE ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS?

FOR OUR SCRIPTURE READING WE LOOKED AT MATTHEW 22 WHICH GIVES A
SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT VERSION OF THE PARABLE I READ TO YOU FROM LUKE
14. 

WE LEARN IN MATTHEW 22 TWO ADDITIONAL FACTS:
     1. THE BANQUET IS A WEDDING FEAST.
     2. THE GUESTS RECEIVED THEIR WEDDING GOWN AT THE WEDDING
     BANQUET.
          --IT DOESN'T GIVE THAT PARTICULAR DETAIL IN THE TEXT, BUT
          CONSIDERING THAT PEOPLE WERE BROUGHT IN OFF THE STREET --
          AND THE CONVERSATION IN MATT 22:11-12 ABOUT HAVING A
          WEDDING GARMENT -- THE WEDDING ATTIRE, BY FORCE OF LOGIC
          WAS NECESSARILY PROVIDED BY THE HOST AT THE WEDDING!

THE WEDDING GARMENT IS CHRIST'S RIGHTEOUSNESS, 
IT IS JUSTIFICATION. 
AND IN THIS PARABLE THE GUESTS GET IT WHEN THEY CAME.

BUT THEY DID NOT COME UNLESS THEY HAD SPIRTATION.
THAT IS WHY I SAY SPIRTATION COMES BEFORE JUSTIFICATION.
IN CASE YOU JUST WOKE UP, AND SAID "WHAA? SPIRTATON?" 
SPIRTATION IS THE STATE OF GIVING SPIRITUAL MATTERS OUR FIRST
ATTENTION.

LETS LOOK AT OUR STORY AGAIN.

DO YOU SEE IN LUKE 14:17 THE REFERENCE TO TIMING?
ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS WE LEARN IS THAT THIS BANQUET TAKES PLACE
AT THE RIGHT TIME.
JUST LIKE IN GALATIANS 4, WE LEARN THAT THE TIMING IS RIGHT.
EVERYTHING WAS READY.

BUT THE WEDDING GUESTS DID NOT COME.
THERE ARE LOTS OF PARABLES AND STORIES ABOUT JESUS' COMING
UNEXPECTEDLY. THAT WAS PART OF THE FOCUS OF THE SERMON LAST WEEK.
PASTOR SALI JO HAND TOLD US TO EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED WHEN IT COMES
TO THE SECOND COMING.
SHE REFERRED TO THE PARABLE OF THE 10 VIRGINS WHICH COMPARES JESUS
TO THE BRIDEGROOM
AND WARNS US TO BE READY FOR AN UNEXPECTED COMING.

BUT IN THIS PARABLE, THE EMPHASIS IS NOT UPON SURPRISE.
IT IS NOT ABOUT THE BRIDEGROOM COMING WHEN THEY DID NOT EXPECT IT.
HE CAME EXACTLY WHEN HE TOLD THEM HE WAS COMING.

THEREFORE, I THINK THIS IS MORE OF A CRADLE STORY THAN A CROSS
STORY.
THIS IS ABOUT OUR LIVES HERE AND NOW INSTEAD OF THE SECOND COMING.

THE MURDER AT THE CROSS TAUGHT US HIS LOVE.

THE SOLITUDE OF HIS CRADLE TEACHES US SPIRTATION.

LETS LOOK AGAIN AT LUKE 14 AND THE EXCUSES.

VERSE 18 SAYS "I JUST BOUGHT A FIELD AND MUST GO TO SEE IT."
VERSE 19 SAYS "I JUST BOUGHT SOME OXEN AND MUST TRY THEM OUT."

THE CAMERON MODERN TRANSLATION IS:
"I JUST BOUGHT A FACTORY AND NEED TO SEE IT."
"I JUST BOUGHT A CAR AND NEED TO DRIVE IT."

WOULD YOU BUY A CAR YOU HAD NOT DRIVEN? A FACTORY YOU HAD NOT SEEN?

THESE EXCUSES IN LUKE 14 ARE LIKE ASKING A GIRL OUT FOR A DATE AND
SHE SAYS SHE IS WASHING HER HAIR.

I'M NOT SUGGESTING THAT THE EXCUSE-MAKERS WERE LYING.
THE POINT OF THE PARABLE IS THAT PUTTING YOUR BUSINESS FIRST IS
STUPID ON YOUR PART,
AND INSULTING TO GOD.

LOOK AT THE NEXT EXCUSE. VERSE 20: "I JUST GOT MARRIED AND CAN'T
COME."
IT WAS NOT A CHOICE BETWEEN GETTING MARRIED AND COMING TO THE
BANQUET.
THE PERSON WAS ALREADY MARRIED. THE MARRIED COUPLE COULD BE
TOGETHER AND BE AT THE FEAST.

THESE PEOPLE PUT THEIR:
BUSINESS INTERESTS, 
THEIR WORK INTERESTS, 
THEIR SCHOOL INTERESTS, 
THEIR LOVE INTERESTS,
FIRST.

AND THE RESULT WAS THAT THEY NEVER GOT CLOSE TO WEARING THE WEDDING
GARMENT.

THESE PEOPLE WERE NEVER TROUBLED ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION. THEY NEVER MADE IT TO THE
STARTING LINE. NEVER MADE IT TO THE WEDDING.

IT WAS A SPIRTATION FAILURE.

MY FRIENDS I'M WORRIED. 
THE FAILURE OF THE PEOPLE TO PUT SPIRITUAL MATTERS FIRST 
MEANT THAT JESUS CAME THE FIRST TIME UNWELCOMED.

WILL HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF?
IS IT REPEATING ITSELF IN YOUR LIFE?
WILL YOU MISS YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO SALVATION BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT
PAYING ATTENTION?

WILL THE RIGHT TIME FOR DECISION ARRIVE,
AND WE WILL BE PREOCCUPIED WITH OTHER MATTERS?

THE MURDER AT THE CROSS TAUGHT US HIS LOVE.

THE SOLITUDE OF HIS CRADLE TEACHES US SPIRTATION.

THIS CHRISTMAS AND FROM NOW ON:
PUT SPIRITUAL MATTERS FIRST.