Advent 2012: Preparing the Path: Sacrifice

As we did throughout Advent 2011 and Lent 2012, we are blogging our way through the Advent 2012 Lectionary Readings. We love this time of year, and sharing with you in this way. Our overarching theme during this season is “Preparing the Path” and our prayer is that as we march together toward the manger, we will prepare the way for Emmanuel.

A reading from the Prophet Malachi

The Lord who rules over all says, “I will send my messenger. He will prepare my way for me. Then suddenly the Lord you are looking for will come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant will come. He is the one you long for.”

But who can live through the day when he comes? Who will be left standing when he appears? He will be like a fire that makes things pure. He will be like soap that makes things clean. He will act like one who makes silver pure. And he will purify the Levites, just as gold and silver are purified with fire.

Then the Lord's people will bring proper offerings. And the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to him. It will be as it was in days and years gone by.

— Malachi 3:1-4 (NIRV)

As pure as gold. As clear as glass. As shiny as a new nickel. Purified. Clean.

When the Israelites were given the laws regarding animals that could be sacrificed they were told that those animals had to be pure. They had to be without blemish. They had to be the one that would have won blue ribbons at the fair. The ones that pedigrees would be made from. They had to be perfect.

There's a story in the Gospels of a man who comes to Jesus. He's lived a pretty good life. He tells Jesus that He's done everything that the law said. What was left for him to be a part of the Kingdom of Heaven? Jesus told him to sell everything he owned and follow Jesus.

Give up his pedigree. Give up his blue ribbons. Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with his God (Micah 6:8).

Jesus told the man to purify himself of those things that stood in the way of walking with his God.

The Prophet Malachi tells us that after purification, then the Lord's people will bring proper offerings. Paul, in Romans 12, gives us a New Testament understanding of what these proper offerings entail:

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

— Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

Place your everyday, ordinary life on the altar as an offering. Living your life–every aspect of it–for the One who came and brought life–abundant life (John 10:10)–to you.

In this Advent season, what are you holding back that keeps you from being that offering? If you had come to Jesus as the Rich Young Ruler did, then what is it that Jesus would have told you to leave behind?

Sports?

Career?

Bigger house?

Jaguar XJ6 Convertible?

What would your response be?

Like the Rich Young Ruler would you leave downtrodden? Or, would you respond as Peter did and leave the nets, boats, and the catch of fish–all 157 of them–on the shore?

Sacrifice.

The idea here is to live your life–the life that God has called you to–for something bigger then yourself. Live your life for the furthering of the Kingdom–in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the rest of the world.

So, lay down your entire life, let God redeem it (how beautiful is it to know that EVERYTHING is redeemable), and then pick it back up. Live it for Him and Him alone. Every area of your life. Live it for Him.

And onward we march to the manger.

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  1. […] And, then, John prepares the path for the coming Messiah. He gives them an answer that leads to a great sacrifice. […]

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