As a family, we love to celebrate Christmas, not the tinsel and glamor, but the preciousness of gathering together as a family. Our family gatherings are so special and wonderful. We also love to remember the most amazing event in the world when God sent His Son to this world—into the womb of a woman and to be born as a little baby.
Bible commentators agree that Jesus was not born at this Christmas time when the world remembers His birth. He would most probably have been born about the month of September during the Feast of Tabernacles. However, this is most probably that time that He was divinely conceived by the power of the of Holy Ghost. Incredible. God coming to the earth as a "seed" from the Father. I am in awe.
We sing the words of O Holy Night:
“Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!”
I am sure you are like me and can do nothing less than fall to your knees in wonder and worship!
However, we also love to celebrate Hanukkah. We love to light the Hanukkah candles each night and to also read Scriptures about the Light during our morning and evening devotions. Why do we celebrate Hanukkah?
1. It is a celebration that Jesus celebrated. Read John 10:22, 23.
2. Hanukkah in the Hebrew means "dedication." God's temple was desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 BC, but the Maccabees family led a revolt against the Seleucid armies and called the nation back to God. After they had driven them out of Judea and Jerusalem, the Maccabees consecrated and rededicated the temple. However, God no longer lives in a temple in Jerusalem, but lives in the temple of our hearts. We like to use Hanukkah as time to rededicate the temple of our lives to God.
3. It is called the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22) and also the Festival of Lights. It celebrates the re-lighting of the Menorah. They could only find enough oil for one day, but miraculously the lights kept burning for eight days while they prepared the anointing oil, specifically commanded in the Scriptures. Because this celebration remembers the relighting of the menorah, we like to read Scriptures about God and Christ who are the light and how He also wants us to be His light in this world. We do this at our Family Devotions each morning and evening. And each night we light a Hanukkah candle.
I will post the Scriptures at the end of this article. Read and meditate on them in your personal devotional time. Then choose the ones you would like to use with your family. For each day, you may like to take half the Scriptures at Family Devotions in the morning and the other half in the evening, or whatever works out in your home.
If you have older children, it's a lovely idea for each one to have their own Bible and give a Scripture for each one to read aloud--and to share what they feel God is saying through the Scriptures. If you have little ones, you may only want to take one, or one or two Scriptures from the list and talk about it.
And don't forget to ask your children questions as you read the Scriptures. This is how you learn together.
During the eight days of Hanukkah, I usually send out a post each day telling you a little story about Hanukkah that relates to us as mothers, or a revelation from the Scriptures about the meaning of Hanukkah. I didn't get around to doing it this year and therefore I am behind time! Here they are for you in one big lump. I know you will enjoy them. You will be inspired, blessed, and encouraged.
Don’t forget to read the devotion for Day 8! FULL TIME HANUKKAH PARENTING! You will be inspired.
The following are some very interesting Hanukkah devotions.
MY FAMILY AND I WILL NEVER GIVE UP (Day 1 of Hanukkah)
Hanukkah, or the Feast of Dedication as it is called in the New Testament (John 10:22-23) is a festival of lighting candles for eight days to remember the dedication of the temple and the relighting of the lampstand which God commanded should never go out (Exodus 27:20-21).
It all happened because of a very brave family. Antiochus Epiphanes ruled over Israel and commanded all Jews to renounce their way of life, practice pagan observances, and live like the Greeks. He erected the "abomination of desolation" in the temple. Many Jews assimilated to avoid persecution and being killed. BUT NOT THIS FAMILY!
Mattathias was a godly older man with five brave sons--John, Simon, Judas (known as Maccabeus), Eleazar, and Jonathan. When the officials came to their town of Modein, they tried to get Mattathias to influence the people of his town to turn away from God. Listen to his reply, "Mattathias answered in a LOUD VOICE: What do I care if everyone in the king's entire kingdom turns from their own religion and starts obeying his laws? MY FAMILY AND I WILL ALWAYS KEEP THE PROMISES OUR ANCESTERS MADE TO GOD. WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP OUR FAITH OR DISOBEY EVEN ONE OF GOD'S LAWS. WE WILL NOT OBEY ANTIOCHUS!" (1 Maccabees 2:19-20).
When a cowardly Jew stepped forward to obey the king by offering a sacrifice, Mattathias was so furious that he rushed over, killed the man, destroyed the altar, and killed the official who ordered the sacrifice. He and his sons then ran to the hills leaving everything they owned behind. This began the bravery of the Maccabee family who conducted continual battles against the enemy and eventually delivered Israel and Jerusalem and the temple of God.
We don't face being killed for our faith today here in our Western countries, although this is currently happening in many countries of the world. Will we be those who give in or will we have courage, individually, and as families to stand true to God, even if no one else is standing? The Scripture says, "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4).
May God give us the strength and anointing to be bold and courageous and to raise children who will have courage and boldness to stand up for truth and never give up their faith.
STAND FOR TRUTH (Day 2 of Hanukkah)
Jesus Christ, the Son of God was never reticent to speak the truth, even in the face of death. When he came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Dedication, he walked in Solomon's Porch (on the eastern side of the temple) and people gathered around him.
Jesus knew the Jews would be remembering more than the rededication of the temple and the lighting of the Menorah again. They remembered the great victory over Antiochus Epiphanes, but also how he lifted himself to be god over them. It was Antiochus himself who added "Epiphanes" to his name, which means "God manifest" which was utter blasphemy to the Jews.
In the midst of this thinking Jesus boldly and publically declared, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30). In other words, He confessed that He was God, which of course, He was! This was too much for the Jews who, remembering Antiochus Epiphanes the evil blasphemer, took up stones to stone him (John 10:22-33).
It was no coincidence that Jesus chose this timing to speak these words. Everything about Hanukkah speaks of standing up for truth even in the face of danger.
May we never cringe to speak the truth, no matter what the consequences. "The righteous are bold as a lion" (Proverbs 28:1).
MORE AND MORE LIGHT (Day 3 of Hanukkah)
Are you reading the Scriptures I posted for you? If not, you can still print them off. Go down a few posts and you’ll find them. We loved talking about the Scriptures we read last night, especially how Jesus Christ is the One who lights every person who comes into the world.
John 1:9 tells us that Jesus is “THE TRUE LIGHT, WHICH LIGHTS EVERY MAN THAT COMES INTO THE WORLD." Every person who is born into this world is without excuse regarding their relationship with God. Every new baby is born with a God consciousness, a light from God our Maker. We have a conscience that knows what is good and evil. This only comes from God.
Proverbs 20:27 says "The spirit of man is the candle (light) of the Lord." Have you noticed that when a new baby is born into a family that a heavenly atmosphere fills the home? There is an "awe" that we only experience with a new babe. It’s a new light from heaven. Little children are so open to God. I loved to watch my three-year old grand-daughter sing all day about how Jesus is in her heart and how she loves God.
Why then, do many walk in darkness? The answer is in John 3:19-21. We are all born with a light from God, but we can either push back the light or open to the light. It is a privilege for children to be born into a home where parents love God. These children have an opportunity to receive more and more light. In an ungodly home, the light with which they are born can be gradually extinguished or often smothered completely.
I believe that every time we say Yes to God and obey the prompting of His Holy Spirit within our hearts, we experience more light in our lives. Every time we say No to God and are disobedient to the Word, we accept darkness. Teach your children this principle, dear mother. Teach them that saying Yes to you and Yes to God will bring them to further light (Proverbs 4:18). Teach them that when they say No to you and No to God's ways, their minds and hearts will cloud with darkness.
Job 18:5, 6 says, "Yes, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him." I don't want it to be dark in my home, naturally and spiritually. I hate to have curtains and blinds pulled over and everything looking dark. My curtains are always open (just as well I live in the country!). I love the light and the more the better. And it’s the same spiritually. I want more and more spiritual light in my home and less and less of darkness. I'm sure you don't want it to be dark in your home either.
Let's open our hearts and minds MORE AND MORE to the light of God. Let’s encourage our children into more and more of the light and revelation of God. Begin each day by praying, "Oh Lord God, please flood my mind, my heart, and my home with your light, today. Amen."
FAMILY DEDICATION SERVICE (Day 4 of Hanukkah)
Why do we call this celebration "Hanukkah"? Because "Hanukkah" is the Hebrew word for "dedication." When Judas Maccabee (the hammer) and his army eventually crushed their enemies, Judas and his brothers said, "Let's go up to cleanse and rededicate the sanctuary" (1 Maccabees 4:36). The temple was desolate, the gates burned, and even shrubs were growing in the courts like a forest! But they restored the sanctuary, built a new altar with whole unpolished stones (because the altar had been desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes), brought in the Lampstand, the Altar of Incense and the Table of Showbread, and offered sacrifices as God originally commanded. "So they celebrated the rededication of the altar for eight days" (1 Maccabees 4:56).
How does this affect our lives? God no longer lives in the Holy of Holies in the temple, but in our bodies, which are the temple of His Holy Spirit. We not only the temple of the Holy Spirit, but the "naos" which speaks of the Holy of Holies. This is the very word which is used in 1 Corinthians 6:19 and 2 Corinthians 6:16. What an indescribable truth!
Our temple may not be desolate, but it is very easy for us to allow things to come into our lives which grieve the Holy Spirit and spoil and dirty our “naos.”
It is a lovely idea to have a rededication service one night during Hanukah and dedicate our temples again to the Lord. Choose which morning or evening you would like to do this together as a family. Explain to your children about it, and then ask each one of them to confess to the Lord anything in their lives that grieves the Holy Spirit and to rededicate their "body temple" to the Lord. This includes mom and dad too, of course. Each one can do this silently or orally as you feel led of the Holy Spirit.
When we have all dedicated ourselves individually, then the father can rededicate the whole family to be a living sacrifice to the Lord and to be set apart for His purposes (Romans 12:1-2).
I know that the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily as you experience this dedication service in your home.
A MOTHER'S COURAGE (Day 5 of Hanukkah)
A brave mother watched her son being killed. No, not just killed but cruelly tortured. They cut out his tongue, scalped him, cut off his hands and feet, and then maimed and helpless, fried him alive! In the same manner, they tortured and killed her second and third sons. The third son cried out, "I have received these limbs from heaven, and I give them up for the sake of God's laws." Another cried out, "We are prepared to die rather than sin against our ancestral laws" (2 Maccabees 7:2, 11).
Because they would not bend and turn from God's laws this dear mother watched as Antiochus tortured her fourth, fifth, and sixth sons the same way. The mother had only one son left, her beloved youngest. Antiochus tried to influence the mother to save his life. He promised he would make him rich and prosperous and even a political advisor. She obliged by turning to her youngest son saying, "Son, pity me who carried you in the womb nine months, nursed you for three years, nurtured you, and brought you into this stage of life with care. I beg you, child . . . Don't fear this killer but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death so that in God's mercy I should recover you with your brothers" (2 Maccabees 7:27-29). She watched her last son die before she was put to death herself.
This mother was a nurturing and caring mother. But she had a vision for her children beyond this earth. She raised her sons to fear God rather than man. She raised them to stand for truth, no matter what the consequences. She raised them to see beyond this earth to the endless life of the heavenly.
May God help us to be courageous mothers. May He save us from raising wimpy, mediocre children who are seduced by the humanist trend of an ungodly society. May He anoint us with the mighty power of God to raise children who will have the courage to stand for God and for truth, no matter what persecution they face.
(You can read the whole of this amazing story in the Apocrypha in 2 Maccabees chapter seven).
RELIGHT YOUR LAMPS (Day 6 of Hanukkah)
Hanukkah is also called the "Festival of Lights" because of the relighting of the Menorah. This was a huge thing that happened that day, because the Jews knew that God had commanded the lights in the Holy Place to BURN CONTINUALLY. They were to never to go out--and they had been out for a long time! God said it was a statute that must continue for all generations (Exodus 27:20-21 and Leviticus 24:1-4).
How did they keep the lamps burning day after day, year after year? God said they had to attend to the lamps every morning and every evening. They had to trim the wicks and pour more oil into the lamps, the oil speaking of the Holy Spirit. Once a day was not sufficient. It required attention two times a day to keep the light burning
This is a type for our lives today. When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, He fills us with His light, but it is very easy for the light to dim or even go out. There are many temptations, deceptions, and evils around that diminish our light. To keep the light burning, we must tend to it every morning and evening. We need to do this individually and as a family.
A powerful way to keep God's light burning in every member of our family is to have Family Devotions (or whatever you call it in your home) every morning and evening. Each time we come together as a family, read the Word, and spend time in prayer, we relight our lamps. If we fail to do this, our light can go out very quickly.
How big is the flame in your family? We are not meant to be a flickering light, but a great light. If your flame is only smoldering, get back to God's "morning and evening" principle. It's the only way that works. Let the light in "the holy place" of your temple and your home shine for all to see God's light.
THE WAY TO VICTORY (Day 7 of Hanukkah)
Judas Maccabee and his brothers continually fought battles to save Israel and every time they faced armies far larger and stronger than themselves. But their trust was in God.
Listen to Judas' confession on one occasion: "When all his followers saw the host coming against them, they said to Judas, 'How can so few of us fight against so many? Besides, we have had nothing to eat all day, and we are exhausted.' Judas replied: 'Many can easily be overpowered by a few; it makes no difference to Heaven to save by many or by few. Victory does not depend on numbers; strength comes from Heaven alone . . . Heaven will crush them before our eyes. You need not be afraid of them'" (1 Maccabees 3:17-21).
The Israelites also had to face enemies far bigger than them. Deuteronomy 9:1-3 says: “Hear O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations GREATER AND MIGHTIER than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven, a people great and tall, the children of the Anakims (giants), whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak! Understand therefore this day, that the Lord thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.”
I know that you, too, often face dilemmas that loom much bigger than you can handle. Don't focus on your difficulty. Look to God. He is your Strength. He is your Source. He is your Sufficiency. He will always do what you cannot do. When we try to handle our problems we usually make a mess of the job. Put them in God's hands for He knows what is best to do.
Victory does not come by intelligence or fleshly strength. It only comes from God. Just as God delivered the Maccabees time and time again as they faced insurmountable armies, so God will deliver you as you trust in Him. Make sure you have the right confession. Don't confess your problems; confess your trust in God. It's the way to victory.
FULL TIME HANUKKAH PARENTING (Day 8 of Hanukkah)
AN IMPORTANT POST FOR ALL PARENTS TO READ!
Apart from the official Hanukkah celebration which we finish celebrating today, we read about a number of dedication celebrations in God's Word.
1) Dedicating the tabernacle for 12 days. Each prince of Israel dedicated the altar for a day each (Number 7:10-11, 84, 88). This was the first dedication we read about.
2) Dedicating a new house (Deuteronomy 20:5). It is biblical to dedicate a new house.
3) Dedicating Solomon's temple which he built for the Lord (1 Kings 8:62 and 2 Chronicles 7:5, 9).
4) Dedicating the rebuilt temple when they came back from Babylon--Zerubbabel's temple (Ezra 6:16).
5) Dedicating the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 12:27).
And there is one more! You'll never guess!
It is found in Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." The word "train" is "hanuk," the verb of hanukkah, meaning "to initiate, dedicate, consecrate." It is not enough to celebrate Hanukkah for eight days. As parents, we are FULLTIME HANUKKAH CELEBRATORS!
When we realize that training our children means to dedicate them to the Lord, it gives us a much larger and loftier vision. Everything we do and plan for our children should be done in the light of dedicating our them to the Lord and setting them apart for His service. It's not a one-time dedication. It is a verb which requires daily action.
When our children are disobedient or don't complete what we have asked them to, we can sometimes be lazy and let it go. But not if we understand we are daily dedicating them to the Lord. How can we let things go when we consecrating them to God's holy service? We have the responsibility to train them to obedient so they will be obedient to the Lord!
As children get older, they can become more worldly and want to do what other worldly teens are doing. We could think, "Oh that's the stage they are going through." But not if we understand that we are daily consecrating them to the Lord. We will pray up a storm. We will fight the devil. We will work with our children to keep them on the narrow road that leads to life. We will do everything to save them from the broad road that leads to destruction. WE ARE PROVERBS 22:6 HANUKKAH PARENTS!
When we "hanuk" our children, it determines how we educate our children. It would be ludicrous to send our children into an ungodly education system each day if we are daily consecrating them for God's purposes.
As we consecrate our children to the Lord, we recognize that they totally belong to the Lord for whatever time God has for them on this earth. Above everything else, we know that we are ultimately preparing them for eternity.
Blessings from NANCY CAMPBELL
SCRIPTURES FOR YOU TO READ EACH DAY FOR HANUKKAH
God is the Source of Light and gives Light
Exodus 27:20-21; 40:24-25; cf. Leviticus 24:1-4; Numbers 8:1-3
Exodus 13:21; Nehemiah 9:12,19
Matthew 17:2 (You can read the whole story in Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-13; and Luke 9:28-36).
1 Timothy 6:16
Jesus is the Light of the World
Isaiah 9:2, cf. Matthew 4:12-17
Luke 1:76-79; 2:27-32
John 1:4-9, cf. Job 18:5-6; 21:17; Proverbs 13:9; 20:20; 24:20.
Shine the Light of Jesus to the world
Isaiah 58:6-8, 10
2 Corinthians 4:4-6
Philippians 2:14, 15
God's Word is our Light
Psalm 119:18, 105, 130
Luke 24:30-32 (You can read the whole story in verses 13-32).
2 Peter 1:19-21
Walk in the Light
2 Corinthians 4:4-7
1 John 1:6-9
1 John 2:8-11
Out of Darkness into Light
2 Samuel 22:29 (Psalm 18:28)
1 Corinthians 4:5
1 Thessalonians 5:5
1 Peter 2:9
Living in God is to live in Light
God is the Light of Heaven
Isaiah 24:23; 30:26
Isaiah 60:19, 20