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With a tender heart, a drive for learning and a gift for sharing, Margaret brings her years of experience as a licensed professional counselor and a woman of faith to all her writings. Her insights and biblical understanding bring home principles we all can use - no matter the circumstances we are in.



By Margaret Cook, M.Ed., Licensed Professional Counselor, Life Coach

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light – a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow. Israel will again be great, and its people will rejoice as people rejoice at harvest-time. They will shout with joy like warriors dividing the plunder.  For God will break the chains that bind his people and the whip that scourges them, just as he did when he destroyed the army of Midian with Gideon's little band.  In that day of peace, battle gear will no longer be issued. Never again will uniforms be bloodstained by war. All such equipment will be burned.  For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the LORD Almighty will guarantee this! Is 9:2-7New Living Translation

Dedication is a rare quality these days. We live in the fast lane where everything happens now or never and dedication may exist in many people but we scarcely notice it in the rush of daily tasks.

Look around your life – your family, colleagues, neighbors, friends and church members. Is there anyone you readily describe as “dedicated?” Think about that person. Maybe you will journal about that person this week – what makes him/her dedicated? Pray for that person this week. In a frenetic culture those who live a life of dedication are battered by the insensitivities of daily existence.

I am thinking of this as we near the holidays and begin to dwell in Advent. It might be a special test of faith to be dedicated while waiting. The children of Israel give us chapter after chapter of narratives depicting the struggle of remaining dedicated or even faithful. The Old Testament teaches us many lessons. Remaining faithful to God is an ever-present theme that is redeemed verse after verse in God’s faithfulness to his beloved children. The people struggle, but God remains true.

While we look to the Light of the world for Christmas, our Jewish brothers and sisters will be celebrating an eight day miracle about dedication. Hanukkah commemorates the dedication of the temple to the worship of God after the Israelites triumphed over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 BCE. The battle itself is a remarkable quest. It is sparked by a handful of dedicated Jews who revolt against the demands of oppressive rulers. The Greeks have ordered the Jews to worship idols and they desecrated the temple at Jerusalem and made it a worship center for Zeus. A priestly Jewish family refuses to worship an idol and the stage is set for God to deliver the temple into the hands of the faithful remnant. To restore the temple to God, priests are chosen who are characterized by blameless conversation and who took pleasure in the law. When the battle is won and the temple is cleansed and consecrated back to God, there is one obstacle remaining for worship – an oil crisis.

Only the purist oil was used in temple worship and it took six days to make it because of the process of using only the first drop of oil from each olive. The temple only had enough oil for one day. The miracle is that God kept the oil in supply for eight days to allow time for them to replenish the supply.

It is a beautiful image of God being the Light in the temple. Think about the story of Hanukkah as you light your Advent Wreath, put lights on your house and put candles in your windows. You can read the story in the Apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees in the 3 rd and 4 th chapters. The description of the miracle of the oil God supplied for worship is in the writings of the Talmud.

The Lord, our God is one. God is the only one worthy of worship. Christ the incarnation is able to inspire our dedication to living to glorify the one true God. Try to focus on the Word this Christmas season. Pray to be a person of blameless conversation or someone who obviously takes pleasure in the Law.

It isn’t easy to stay away from idols in our culture, but if we pray for those who live lives of dedication, we will grow in the knowledge of salvation and we will shine with Him as the Light of the World.

Lord, draw our hearts to live our lives dedicated to you and for your glory. Protect our minds from the idols of our day and give us the desire to see your name glorified in all the earth at the holidays. Let us be a light to those who believe in you and to those who remain in darkness. Provide us with the miracle of pure light for as many days as it may take for you to come again. Come Lord Jesus and remain with us forever. Amen.

For further reading:

The third chapter of Maccabees

The fourth chapter of Maccabees

Consider doing a word study of “Light” during Advent.


Copyright © December 8, 2006 – Margaret Cook. All rights reserved.
Permission to use or duplicate this article is available by contacting the author at


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