Wow! We’ve had quite the ride through the 23rd chapter of Leviticus, haven’t we? I have loved every minute of it and it’s been a joy to have you alongside me - thanks for joining in!
Now what? We have all this glorious information, these beautiful truths, now what do we do with that?
I Corinthians 8:1 exhorts us Knowledge makes arrogant but love edifies. So we have a choice what to do with all this newly acquired knowledge - will we be proud of what we know or will we instead seek to apply it in ways that build up our families? I know what your choice is :) - you want to build up others! So let’s see how we might do that…
First, let’s summarize the principles we have learned - not the fact, the principles. Here are a few -
These are THE LORD’S appointed times. They are HIS and HE has purpose for them
Time to gather together for worship and fellowship
Time for thanking Him and to express our trust in His provision
Time to magnify His glory
Time to increase in knowledge of Him
Time for examining our relationship with Him
Time for looking forward to what He is going to do
Time to celebrate HIM
So, to take these principles and apply them to our own holidays, we must first see them as HIS. Instead of a holiday, we can make them HOLY days by purposing to dedicate them to HIM. That doesn’t mean we spend all day at church, refuse to bake cookies or wrap presents, and ban participation in neighborhood parties! Rather, we see these days as opportunities to glorify Him - in whatever we do, doing all to the glory of God! Let’s see how we might do that….
As I have studied these feasts, the Lord has shown me four major themes. Themes that I believe we can apply in ways to make our holidays honoring to Him. The themes -
Let’s explore these concepts together….
The word “remember” has two layers of meaning in Scripture and both apply here. One is “to recall”, and the others is “to intimately know”. We can employ both meanings in our holiday celebrations as we not only recall precious memories but especially as we review what God has done for us. Sometimes, our memories are tender and sweet and delightful. But other memories bring hurts and pain to the surface and we’d just as soon stuff those down.Memories can tempt us to feel bitter or angry and that just doesn’t feel fair. We feel like holidays should be free from any unpleasantness and it just doesn’t seem right to have to deal with pain when we should be festive!
God is so very much aware of the hurts we have, from the past and the present. And He does not leave us without instruction. Instead of ignoring or pretending,He encourages us to face them. Lamentations 3:19-25-
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
What glorious counsel! Remember! Remember - the good, yes but also the hurt and disappointments and press through to see how God has worked in all those things. See Him and His compassion in your life.
Psalm 105:5 – Remember His wonders, which He has done, His marvels, and the judgments uttered by His mouth
As appropriate, share these things with your family and create a time of focus on the Lord. Thank Him and glorify Him by expressing confidence that, indeed, He is good to those who trust Him. You can find lots of ways to personalize this for yourself but here’s a simple idea (those are the ones that work best in our family - easy and simple!) - we have a “Thanksgiving book”. Every Thanksgiving as we gather together, we go around the table and have each person express 5 things from the past year they are thankful for. We try to be specific for that year but we give lots of grace and rejoice over a 3 year old saying “pizza” 4 times!! :) We record those in our book and review them the following year before we share the new ones. This is one of our very sweetest times as a family - full of hilarity and tears - but always a renewed focus on God’s faithfulness to us.
While it is so good to remember, to remember the faithfulness of God and what He has done, it is also so beneficial to spend time of reflection. Reflection on who God is, what our walk with Him is like right now….and what does He want for us coming up. Hebrews 10:23-25 is good counsel -
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Reflect on who God is - His faithfulness and His call on our lives. Reflect on what He wants for you, His plans for you. The holidays can be a great time to “circle the wagons” and ponder goals for the future. This can be done privately (setting personal goals) and as a family (what are the things we want to focus on this next year, etc) Write the goals down, think through plans to reach them, and then review throughout the year as reminder! This doesn’t have to be all heavy duty stuff - one of my dearest friends gathers her troops together to make "bucket lists” for summer and for the holidays! Everyone gets input of what goes on the list (as in, flying in a rocket ship can get nixed by Mom! AND the 3 year old’s request of watching Charlie Brown Christmas is valued and included!). With guidance, service to others becomes part of this list. Much joy and satisfaction comes from not only completing “the bucket list” but especially participating in its development. Reflection. Considering how to encourage one another. Love and good works. Beautiful.
Rest is a major theme of God’s appointed times. And to that, we all say hallelujah! But secretly we think - HOW can we accomplish that? We would love to relax, to rest, of course! But how is everything going to get done? Hiring out our entire to do list is not an option!!
I get it, I really do. But it is so clear as we study the appointed times of the Lord that He does not want us to run ourselves ragged. The hectic, frantic, chaotic pace that often characterizes our holidays benefits no one. No one. Not ourselves, certainly, but not even the ones we think we are doing it all for. When we push and stress and stretch ourselves (and our finances) to the edge, we wind up frazzled and exhausted and worried. That creates tension and stress for all those around us. Not good.
So, what are we to do?
Here are our new mottos -
Bless, not impress
Sounds good, right? But how?????
God always has a word for us. He is not blind to our needs - He stands ready to help. Here is what He says in Luke 10:40-42
But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her
We see from this that stressing out from serving our family is an ancient issue! Martha was “distracted” - the word actually means “worried and bothered, encumbered” - with all she had to do. Haven’t you and I felt that same way when it comes to holiday demands? We can become burdened with endless to do lists, expectations from others, and a fervent desire to make everyone’s holiday wonderful! That leaves us stressed, not blessed. Nor are we able to be a blessing when we’re in that state. So as Jesus counsels Martha, so He urges us - all this is not necessary.
The way I see it - two keys to a holiday of REST -
We need to pare down - or get rid of some of the things we think have to be done. God never calls us to meet every expectation or fulfill every imaginable demand. He calls us to Himself. And in that, we find that He will direct our actions, make clear our paths. Ask Him before you add anything to your plate. Ask Him what are the things that are on your plate right now that need to be taken off. PARE DOWN. Leave some margin in your life (remember Leviticus 23:22?) Just because there is “availability” on your calendar doesn’t mean you should schedule that event. Just because someone you love wants you to do a certain thing or be a certain place or buy a certain something doesn’t mean you should. ASK HIM.
The other thing that can help us find REST for the holidays is to PREPARE AHEAD.
Seriously this sounds like such a worldly concept but it is actually very Biblical. Proverbs 30:25 tells us The ants are not a strong folk but they prepare their food in the summer. The word “prepared” carries with it the idea of being ready, equipped, set in order so as to make certain and established. What great counsel for us as we seek to have holidays that are restful! We can plan ahead, spreading our work out over days and months prior so that we can rest on the holiday. I feel sure that the Old Testament feast days required much planning and prior preparation so that the HOLY day could be observed in rest. So we, too, can plan to have foods that can be prepared ahead, requiring minimal effort the day of serving. We can begin our gift shopping months ahead. And we can be prepared to manage without panic the inevitable unexpected things that will arise!
The final suggestion I have to offer to help us make our holidays Christ-exalting is to REJOICE!
The best counsel ever is found in Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
REJOICE! Rejoice in the Lord! Be happy! Celebrate! Have some FUN! God commands us to! And did you catch that last phrase - it is a safeguard for you ? Whatever does that mean?
It means that if we don’t find our joy in the Lord, we will look for it elsewhere. And all other elsewhere’s will eventually disappoint us. The safest place to find our joy, our satisfaction is in Christ. As you look ahead to this holiday season, make sure you plan for time to REJOICE. That bucket list we mentioned earlier? Make it fun! You don’t have to spend a fortune or exhaust yourself in order to have fun. To celebrate. To enjoy the gifts He has given. Have some fun decorating your tree. Sing Christmas carols at a retirement home. Sip hot chocolate in front of a fire. Let your kids camp out underneath the Christmas tree one night. Make cookies and deliver anonymously to a neighbor. Have some fun. REJOICE.
Let’s purpose to glorify God in our holidays. Let’s be intentional to
I love you and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!