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A Special Offering

Every where you go in Israel, you find groves of Olive trees. They are part of the culture and history of this country. If you go all the way back to when Moses received the Law, you will find that olive oil was used in anointing, in offerings and in the lighting of the lamp stand that stood in the Temple. Leviticus 14:24 says, “The priest will take the lamb for the guilt offering, along with the olive oil, and lift them up as a special offering to the Lord” (NLT). Just like in the Old Testament, olive oil was a part of the offering Jesus made for our guilt.

Gethsemane means, “Oil pressing”. When Jesus prayed in the garden, we know that He was being pressed by the weight of the situation. He knew that He was about to be betrayed and handed over to be killed. He knew He would feel the stinging of the whip, the piercing of the nails and the crushing of the weight of our sin on Him. The Bible says He sweat drops of blood that night as He prayed because He was being pressed so hard. The oil from the pressing that night was the special offering because it was the first pressing that would have been used to light the lamp in the Temple.

Today, you and I are the light of the world. We must keep ourselves filled with the oil of being in His presence so our lives can burn bright until He comes. When we spend time in prayer and in His Word, we keep oil in our lamps. If your lamp is running low on oil, then take time to get a refill from God by spending time in His presence. We can’t afford to run out of oil that was paid for with such a high price. Our lives are to be living sacrifices that are pleasing to God. Your guilt is gone through Jesus’ sacrifice, so lift up your life now as a special offering and keep it lit with His oil.

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Under God’s Press

As many of you know, I went back to Israel this past summer. One of the most visited places in Jerusalem has to be the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s filled with Olive trees as pictured here. On this trip, I discovered that the name Gethsemane means the olive press. We got to see an olive press to understand how it crushes the olives to make oil. That first pressing of the Olive is holy and belongs to God. I think that’s important to know when considering what happened there the night before Jesus was crucified.

Matthew 26 tells us that Jesus went there with the disciples and that grief and anguish came over Him. In verse 38, Jesus said, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me” (GNT). He was being pressed like an olive in that moment. His prayer in the next verse is what I want to focus on today. He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.”

Each of us have times in our lives when we are being crushed by problems and things going on. Just like Jesus, our first instinct is to pray, “Father, if it’s possible, get me out of this!” We cry and we pray for God to help us. But what if God wants to use that time to create a holy offering in your life? What if He is allowing you to be crushed so what’s inside comes out? I’m sure the olives in the press don’t appreciate the stone mill rolling over them, but what comes out is more useful than just the olive by itself.

Jesus understood this. That’s why His next breath was, “Yet not what I want, but what you want.” Instead of praying for God to get us out of the press, ask God that His will be done instead of ours. James 1:12 says, “Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him.” Remaining under the press, like Jesus did, is the way to receive the life God promises us.

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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