And just like that, Advent has begun and we arrive at the end of another Life in the Valley November series. I hope you have had as much fun as I have watching God give us things to ponder and to try this month. Every year I am surprised by how He works during the November series, providing me with content each day and blessing me with feedback from you kind readers. I credit my friend Kit for getting me into this back in 2011; she wrote a great series about Loving the Church, if you're looking for another series to read. It's excellent. Also, hat makes this the 5th Annual November Series - throw the confetti!
Now, get this! My New Testament reading was this morning was Hebrews 10. So cool! After spending a month thinking mostly about verses nineteen to twenty-five, it was great to give the whole chapter a read again this morning. Here are some incredible things the author says about Christ and the efficacy of His ONE sacrifice for us:
But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. ... And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (3-4)
because by that one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (10)
And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. (18)
Under the Old Covenant, once a year a priest would go in to offer sacrifices of atonement for himself and the people. All that bloodshed was a shadow of things to come, namely Christ! And finally, God fulfilled His promise to set us free by the blood of His Son.
You know that is what Christmas is all about right?
Not as sentimental a season when you put it that way! But that truth is the very fuel of our drive to encourage others. IF YOU ARE IN CHRIST - have accepted His sacrifice as the atonement for your sin - YOU ARE FREE! No longer do you do good to make up for all the bad; Christ took care of that in the only way it could be fixed. Rather, in the joy of your salvation you can consider others, spur others on toward love and good deeds, meet together, and encourage one another. Because not only did Christ come to die, but He rose again, and He is coming again to judge and rule forever.
I urge you to celebrate your freedom in Christ by encouraging others this Christmas season, and beyond! The Lord has a lot of work to do in our hearts to transform us into people with an Attitude, Availability, and Attention to minister to others, but He can and He will.
Before telling you who won the giveaway, I'll give you one more Crabb and Allender quote for the road. They are specifically talking about developing a vicious of becoming an encouraging community in churches, but it applies to individual life as well.
The development of encouragement in the body may be a slow and barely visible process. But faithfulness in well-doing, even when fatigue sets in will be rewarded. The Christian life is not a short sprint on a fast track; it is a marathon race over rough terrain. An initial burst of speed ("Let's have an encouragement seminar!") is less important to success than a steady, sustained pace. p135
Look to the manger, the cross, the empty tomb, and the promise He will come again, and press on in faith. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
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Now, drum roll please. The winner is...
Congratulations! I'll get your little treat to you soon.