Monday, December 8, 2008

The Christian Sacrifice

Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year in the U.S. BUT..... it hasn't always been so.

Once Upon A Time, When Christmas Was Banned.....
This ban existed as law for only 22 years, BUT disapproval of Christmas celebration took many more years to change.

The Puritans had several reasons for disliking Christmas.
First: it reminded them of hte Church of England and the old-world customs, which they were trying to escape.
Second: they didn't consider the holiday a truly religious day. December 25th. wasn't selected as the birth date of Christ until several centuries after his death.
Third: the holiday celebration usually included drinking, feasting, and playing games - all thing which the Puritans frowned upon.
Fourth: the British had been applying pressure on the Puritans for a while to conform to English customs. The ban was proabably as much a political choice as it was a religious one for many.

Christmas was outlawed by an act of Parliament in England in 1647. It was not declared a federal holiday in the U.S. until 1870.

BUT - look at us now!! The time, dollars, decorations, parties, effort, emphasis, etc.

One objection is: the biggest part is secular with little or nothing to do with Christ!!
Granted...... BUT much of the 'secular' is "Good Stuff". For example: family gatherings, gift giving, days off, a festive spirit, goodwill toward others, generosity to less fortunate, recognizing our blessedness, enjoying our blessings....
This results in good stuff regardless of the time of year or the motive behind it.

Another objection: so much commercialization!!!
True, BUT Jesus gets a lot of "air" time here as well!!
For example: Christmas hymns playing in Wal-Mart; on TV "A Charlie Brown Christmas" with a very plain gospel presentation in it; Nativity sets on sale; Christmas cards with Christ-centered messages.
Phil. 1:15-18

So: The Christian Sacrifice.

Deut. 16:16-17 "not empty handed"
Contrast "bring/offer" with today's concept of worship - receive. What can it give/do for me. There's nothing wrong with receiving, but we should come to give.

So, what should we BRING?? Here's some suggestions.

#1. A Sacrifice of Praise. Heb. 13:15 Psalm 100:4 1 Thess. 5:18
Praise Chorus: "We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. And we offer unto You, the sacrifices of thanksgiving. And we offer up to you, the sacrifices of joy."

#2. A Sacrifice of Giving/Sharing. Heb. 13:16 Luke 14:12-14 - blessing someone just for the sake of blessing. Prov. 19:17 Matt. 25:40 Acts 20:35

#3. A Sacrifice of Confession. Psalm 51:16 &17.
Hosea 14:1-2 1 john 1:9 - God honors confession when brought with a humble, repentent heart as He used to honor the sin offering.

#4. A Sacrifice of Obedience. 1 Sam. 15:20-22
A Sacrifice is only as acceptable as the Sacrificer. Example: Cain Gen. 4:6-7

#5. (Summary) A Sacrifice of Self. Rom. 12:1
In the Old Testament, they did animal sacrifice. This was visible, tangible, and the sacrifice "stayed" sacrificed.
New Testament sacrifice is our selves. A It's voluntary and B. It's continual. We have the ability to change our minds, and take it back.

#1. to sacrifice is to honor God BUT, WHO BENEFITS? Ans: we do!
#2. Deut. 16:17 - "a gift in proportion to blessings"

SO..... how much should YOU be giving????

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