Living or dying, we answer to our Lord. Let’s make sure that Lord is Jesus Christ and His Spirit within us!
2 Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is Maker of them all.
Today is the equinox, the shortest day of the year. It is also the beginning of Hanukkah for the Jews, when God kept the lamps burning in the temple for 8 days until the holy oil could be made (a consecration of the priests, a ritual that took 7 days).
“One Rabbinic tradition says that the Hasmoneans (Maccabees) may have needed eight days to become purified, after being in contact with the dead on the battlefield. Purification consisted of being sprinkled with clean water that had been mixed with the ashes of an unblemished, sacrificial red heifer. The sprinkling would have occurred on days number three and seven, and only the next day could the Hasmoneans, now ritually cleansed, produce a new batch of purified oil. Another explanation, the one heard more often claims simply that it took eight days to obtain olives and crush them into oil.” Why Seven Days?
We Americans celebrate Christmas. Christians celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25; non-Christians celebrate for other reasons. Jews celebrate Hanukkah. What we should keep in mind is what Paul wrote to the Romans:
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. Romans 14:5-9
Our lives and even our deaths are to be lived for the Lord. The Spirit works within each of us according to the lives we live. Our culture, our upbringing, and our experiences all play into our faith. God knows all through which we have walked and uses these experiences and our background to BUILD our faith in Him. Verses 10-13 put it all into perspective:
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put [or be] any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
Do we have different opinions about Christmas? Sure! Which one is right? If the Bible addresses the issue, then we go with the Bible. If it’s a matter of opinion and custom, then we leave it to each person’s conscience. Paul said,
15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
As we worship our LORD today, let us worship with our whole hearts. Let’s not allow anyone to interfere with our focus and our intent to honor Him with our lives–and even our deaths. “Come and magnify the LORD with me; let us magnify His name together, for He is high and lifted up and worthy to be praised! Let us magnify His name together; come and magnify the LORD with me.”
Abba, I love reading about how You worked in the lives of the people of Israel. It gives me hope that You will work–and, indeed, are working–in my life, as well. May You continue to shape my thinking to become Your way of thinking about Christmas and the reason for Your Coming. Praise Your name, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Yeshua Messiah! Amen.