This past few weeks, Jesus has been speaking to my heart about giving and sacrifice, and seeing the gifts wrapped within both. Not often do I think about the gifts of sacrifice, especially when it is my sacrifice I’m contemplating, but I am beginning to see that there are gifts nonetheless. And as I grow in this area, I am beginning to realize that the gifts are beyond my imaginings and far outweigh the sacrifice given!
I wouldn’t think that I could find a clue about these gifts in the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament of the Bible. But today, as I read the long list of rules given for the priests to follow, (Leviticus 21:1-22:33) I was struck with a thought. The list of the things they had to “give up” in order to be God’s Priests were immense – everything from who they could marry to how they wore their hair! Yet, throughout the passage, God reminded them that he was their God and they his people, and so they were to “be holy for I am holy”. (Holy means “set apart for special use”.) God wanted them to know that he wasn’t limiting them, he was giving them freedom! Freedom to know him. Freedom to fellowship with him. Freedom to have a depth of relationship with him that only he could provide. Freedom to discover through that relationship his personal protection, his personal care, his personal provision through his strength, his hope, his grace and his mercy. Those who realized that their relationship with him wasn’t based upon the rules they kept (those were to visibly show them as set apart, and for the purpose of reminding them that they couldn’t ever reach God’s holiness on their own) but upon the sacrifice that was to come in Christ, would experience this type of freedom with God in spite of all the rules, the benefits of freedom far outweighing the sacrifices they daily made. Theirs was a special calling – God doesn’t ask such things in this way of us today. But he does still call us to holiness – that hasn’t changed. He still wants us to be a people set apart solely for him. And that requires obedience to him alone. And that obedience often requires sacrifice.
Life for most of us can be hard and filled with sacrifices we must make daily, and yet when we get to this Christmas Season, the difficulties don’t miraculously go away as the Hallmark movies insist. “Christmas Magic” is a nice thought, but has as much substance as wishing on a star. However, I do know that in the middle, there is immense hope because Christ came, and so I am going to attempt throughout this month leading up to Christmas, to daily focus on the gifts that Jesus has given us. Gifts that make the sacrifice worth the cost. In this way, I hope that we will be able to look at our sacrifices with greater hope. The circumstances don’t necessarily go away because it is Christmas, but our God is big enough to grant us fresh eyes to see them, and renewed hearts to experience him in the middle.
Please feel free to join me as I blog Advent, 2015. For those of you who don’t know what Advent is, it begins December 1 and ends Christmas Day. The word comes from a Latin word meaning “coming”. It is a time preceding Christmas where followers of Christ prepare for his coming – looking back on the first time he came to earth as a babe in a manger, and looking forward to his second coming when he will come as reigning King. For many, this celebration includes lighting candles on an Advent wreath. If you are interested (I love the candles!) click on the link above and you can get some information on this.
Celebrating Advent prepares my heart and draws me closer to Jesus, rather than the materialism of the season drawing me away. This time of busyness and flurry are slowed down a bit, and I have the opportunity to enter Christmas refreshed rather than burnt out. Advent gives me the opportunity to experience renewed relationship with Jesus – which is why Jesus came in the first place. Please join me on this journey to Jesus as we will together look at the heart with which Jesus sacrificed, and the gifts he distributed to us in the giving. Blessings! Robin