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Thinking about Sacrifice At Christmas


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Musical Instrument + Reindeer = Organ Donner

Really Quiet + Armed Crusader = Silent Knight

Snow + Frankenstein = Snowball Fright

Reindeer + Cow = Sleigh Bulls

Rope + December 24th = The Knot Before Christmas

Christmas Carols + A Dozen Flowers = The 12 Daisies of Christmas

Christmas Carol + Money = Jingle Bills

The 25th of December + A Girl’s Name = Christmas Carol

Telling Santo Your Wishes + Computer = Santa’s Lap Top

Snowfall + Chinese Cooking = Shovel the Wok!

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Isn’t Christmas wonderful?  It really is.  It always seems to approach too quickly and is over before we know it.  However, for those of us who remember the reason we truly celebrate, we know that the offer of sacrifice is the best gift of all.

As Christians, we know that one day long ago our king was born.  He was born to die.  At the appointed time, He chose to sacrifice himself for us.  And I believe we all know that story…we get that picture.  But when it comes to sacrifice for us on a daily basis…as a gift to those around us…we sometimes don’t know what that really looks like.  Some of us do.  Myself, I sometimes need reminded.  Here are a couple of pictures of sacrifice.

The story this week, even though it is the Christmas season, doesn’t focus on the one called the Son of David…Jesus.  This focus of sacrifice is taken from two stories in the life of King David himself.  The first is taken from 1 Chronicles 11:15-19.  The short version of this story is follows.  David is resting between battles with the Philistines.  He is thirsty.  Three of his closest friends and advisors broke through enemy lines to get their king, their friend, a drink.  When they brought back the water, David took it and poured it out on the ground before God.  He realized that these men had risked and even offered as a sacrifice their very own lives on his behalf.  He felt that he was not worthy of their sacrifice.  He had done nothing for it…so he gave their sacrifice symbolically to God.

The next story comes from 1 Chronicles 21:22-24.  The story here sets up the chosen future site of the Temple of God.  Long story short again, David has sinned before God and has retreated to bow before God and offer himself to the Lord knowing that his sin has cause heartache for the nation he leads.  The land he is on is not his.  It is owned by a farmer.  An angel of the Lord is there.  The farmer and his sons, who were seemingly caught off guard by the whole situation, bowed before David his king as David is praying to God and talking to the Lord’s angel.  David, after experiencing God’s mercy, is determined to build an altar there as a way to honor and worship his Lord.  The farmer bows down and on the spot gives him, King David, the building they are in and the land it is on…as well as oxen to sacrifice.  This man shows true humility before David and God…offering nearly all he has minus his family as a gift/sacrifice.  David said to the farmer in 21:24, “…I will not take for the Lord what is yours, neither will I sacrifice burnt offerings I have not paid for.”

Here we have two stories of sacrifice offered on David’s behalf and for his sake.  Because of the weight and value of each, he makes sure his heart is pure in view of them both.  True sacrifice, as David found, has value, comes from the heart, and can’t be asked for or coerced.  The first story wasn’t about a drink of water.  It was about 3 men willing to give all they had for their friend.  Christ later defines the truest love as when one lays down their life for another…willingly.  The second wasn’t about the gift of land and oxen.  It was about a man who willing gave without being asked, nearly everything he had, out of honor and loyalty.  King David realized that this was from someone else’s heart.  He had no sacrifice in it.  He had to pay for it in order for it to be from him.

Do we sacrifice for others around us like David’s ‘mighty men’?  Do we offer all we have on the spot when presented with the opportunity as the farmer did?  Do we recognize what true sacrifice is, as David did in both circumstances, to accept them as holy and with great value?

Let’s let our sacrifice grow this Christmas season to be holy and pleasing to God.  Let’s not wait for New Year’s Eve to make a resolution to live new lives of worship.  Let’s set our hearts today to be open to sacrifice when called and when our gut says give.  This is the truest story of Christmas.  The story of Christmas isn’t for us to keep; it’s for us to give away.

Merry Christmas!  He has been born!  He has been born indeed!

Ed

 

Questions for Growth:

  • When has someone truly sacrificed for you?  Do you remember anyone sacrificing for you?
  • When have you sacrificed for someone else?  Now, I know that most of us won’t even want to mention this out loud because it’s not about us.  But how did you feel when you did sacrifice?  I remember getting calls in the middle of the night and saying, “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”  I remember seeing people who needed something I had and I reached in my pocket and pulled out what they needed…not thinking of what I’d be missing.  You probably have too.  Isn’t our goal to have daily experiences like these…both giving and receiving?  There’s so much that goes into this, but for now, true understanding of who owns everything and how much we have to be thankful for will suffice.
  • Explain in your own words why Jesus isn’t just a story for us to hold dear, but for us to give away.  (Genesis 12:3b)  How do we live it daily?  How will you live it this week?
  • Is God specifically calling you to sacrifice on his behalf or someone elses right now?  How long will you wait before you do it?
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