According to Custom

According to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. Luke 1:9

family-traditionsThere are a plethora of customs at this time of year.

Customs, traditions, call them what you will, there are so many different things that so many different people just have to do during the holiday season.

For example, going to church.

On Christmas Eve, my family has been going to a candlelight service as long as I can remember.

I can still remember one Christmas Eve in the early 1980’s. My grandfather, who didn’t go to church except on Christmas Eve, was sitting next to me singing Silent Night. In my memory I can still smell the cigar smoke on his clothes. He would die not long after that and I know that he heard the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and I’m sure he’s in heaven awaiting a happy reunion with the rest of us.

As a pastor for the last twenty-one years, I haven’t been able to sit with my family in the pew, but we still all go to the Christmas Eve candlelight service.

It is one of my favorite services to participate in and lead. The music is wonderful. The message of the birth of Jesus to save us from our sins is timeless. And singing Silent Night Holy Night in just the light of a candle is awesome.

As we have begun this journey to the birth of Jesus, we hear that Zechariah – the father of John the Baptist – followed a custom as well.

It was the custom of who would serve in the temple. It almost sounds like it was just chance and coincidence that Zechariah was in the temple when an angel of the Lord appeared to him to announce the coming of the forerunner of the Christ.

But even though the custom was to choose by lot who would enter, this was no coincidence.

Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

This custom was all part of the plan of salvation to put Zechariah in the right place at the right time.

God often works like that. A situation could seem to be totally random and chance yet it is God who works through every detail of the situation, custom, or tradition, to carry out his plan.

Another example: I was in a music singing group while a student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. We happened to be booked for a gig at one of the local churches. It was a fundraiser for that church’s youth group so they could go on a trip.

It appeared to be just another job for our group – one of many that we did while students to help make ends meet.

But that night I met the most wonderful of women and a few years later married her. Twenty-five years and three sons later, I still look back on that seemingly random chance and see the hand of God in all of it.

Whatever your traditions or customs are for this time of year – how or when you get your Christmas tree, decorate the house, bake cookies, take a trip, travel to family – take some time to see how God has orchestrated that custom for your sake and his glory.

Because that’s what God does for his children. He works through all kinds of means, even customs, to bring about his plan of love and mercy.

©2016 True Men Ministries


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