Posts Tagged 'sacrifice'

Why did Jesus Have to Die?

JESUS SPEAKING

            Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  So it was, while they conversed and reasoned that Jesus himself drew near and went with them.  But their eyes were restrained so that they did not know him.  And he said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”  Then the one whose name is Cleopas answered and said to him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have you not known the things which happened there in these days?”  And he said to them, “What things?”  So they said to him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and crucified him.  But we were hoping that it was he who was going to redeem Israel […] Then he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter in to his glory?”  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24: 13-27.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            After the annual Passover feast, millions of pilgrims were leaving Jerusalem to return to their homes.  Two of Christ’s followers joined in the mass exodus; their hearts were broken and their minds filled with confusion; they like many, had believed Jesus to be the messiah; their hopes were shattered at the foot of the cross, and buried with Christ in his tomb.  Supposing him to be dead, the two disciples debated the meaning of his brief existence.  Suddenly Jesus Christ himself drew near to them in the guise of another pilgrim traveling along the road.  The men could not comprehend why the messiah would need to suffer and die.  Quoting the Old Testament scriptures, Jesus cited prophesies that foreordained his punishment and affliction.  The cross was not an example of weakness, but rather, an illustration of strength; neither was his blood a symbol of death; for every drop that was shed, has come to represent God’s forgiveness.  Jesus Christ took the punishment for sin upon himself; he died so that others could live. 

            In 1943, a ship named the USS Dorchester was sailing to Greenland as a part of a World War 2 navy convoy.  The Dorchester was carrying 903 American soldiers and 4 chaplains.  One evening, as the ship slumbered through the icy waters of the North Atlantic, the men were abruptly awakened by a loud explosion.  A German U-boat torpedo had torn a hole in the bow of the vessel.  All of the men immediately appeared on deck.  The four chaplains began distributing the life vests to the soldiers as they abandoned the sinking ship.  Within a matter of minutes, they ran out of vests.  One of the chaplains bravely removed his vest and gave it to a soldier; the other three chaplains followed his example; these brave men then locked arms and began to sing and pray before drowning in the frigid waters.  They chose to die so that others could live.  

          The disciples did not initially understand why Jesus Christ had to die.  He died, because the punishment for sin had to be administered; and the punishment for sin is death.  He perished in our stead.  He embraced agony and suffering so that we could inherit eternal life.  He took our place because he loved us.  Return that love today by embracing him.  Thank him for his sacrifice and honor him for his courage; you are only alive today, because he was willing to die for you.

            “Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you and praise you for receiving our punishment.  We understand that it was necessary for you to have suffered for our sins.  You loved us when no one else could.  Because of your sacrifice we have eternal life.  May we never forget what You have done; may we always remain grateful; and may we continually serve You and worthily magnify Your Holy name.  We love You Jesus, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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Producing Fruit

JESUS SPEAKING

            “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.  Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12: 23 – 25.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Utilizing an agricultural metaphor, Jesus makes reference to His upcoming death, burial, and resurrection.  A single grain of wheat, when planted, can produce hundreds, thousands, and even millions of additional seeds.  Similarly, the Lords’ suffering and agony upon the cross (and ensuing resurrection) has produced much fruit.  His selfless sacrifice has inspired countless conversions, and enabled millions to receive the mercy and grace of God.

            In the 1800’s there resided a little girl from Philadelphia name Hattie Wiatt.  She lived in close proximity to a popular and very crowded Grace Baptist Church.  One day she approached the Church and asked to attend the Sunday school.  Sadly she was told that there was no more room.  Less than two years later, Hattie fell ill and passed away.  A pocket book containing 57 pennies was found underneath her pillow; it was wrapped in a piece of scrap paper; written on the paper was a note that read, “To help build the little temple bigger, so that more children can go to Sunday school.”  She had saved her pennies for 2 years intending to give them as a donation to the church.  The pastor told his congregation of Hattie’s selflessness.  Immediately donations began pouring in until they had collected nearly $250,000 dollars.  Soon the church was seating 3,300 people; the parishioners also chose to build a hospital as well as a university accommodating approximately 1,400 students (today, attendance at Temple University has grown to nearly 28,000.)  Hattie’s sacrifice, although small, has gone on to produce much fruit.

            Like Hattie, we are called to selflessly lay down our lives to “build the little temple bigger.”  To sacrifice our own wants and desires so that others may come to know the love of God.  When we serve our fellows, love our neighbors, and give to those in need, we bear much fruit.  Those who strive to live selflessly will come to know peace; true peace; heavenly peace; eternal peace; “the peace that surpasses all understanding.”

            “Lord Heavenly Father, You are truly an amazing and awesome God.  We desperately desire to be selfless; we yearn to lay down our lives so that others may come to know You.  Help us to enjoy and embrace serving, giving, and loving.  May we produce much fruit and bring many souls into Your everlasting Kingdom.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Producing Fruit

JESUS SPEAKING

            “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.  Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12: 23 – 25.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Utilizing an agricultural metaphor, Jesus makes reference to His upcoming death, burial, and resurrection.  A single grain of wheat, when planted, can produce hundreds, thousands, and even millions of additional seeds.  Similarly, the Lords’ suffering and agony upon the cross (and ensuing resurrection) has produced much fruit.  His selfless sacrifice has inspired countless conversions, and enabled millions to receive the mercy and grace of God.

            In the 1800’s there resided a little girl from Philadelphia name Hattie Wiatt.  She lived in close proximity to a popular and very crowded Grace Baptist Church.  One day she approached the Church and asked to attend the Sunday school.  Sadly she was told that there was no more room.  Less than two years later, Hattie fell ill and passed away.  A pocket book containing 57 pennies was found underneath her pillow; it was wrapped in a piece of scrap paper; written on the paper was a note that read, “To help build the little temple bigger, so that more children can go to Sunday school.”  She had saved her pennies for 2 years intending to give them as a donation to the church.  The pastor told his congregation of Hattie’s selflessness.  Immediately donations began pouring in until they had collected nearly $250,000 dollars.  Soon the church was seating 3,300 people; the parishioners also chose to build a hospital as well as a university accommodating approximately 1,400 students (today, attendance at Temple University has grown to nearly 28,000.)  Hattie’s sacrifice, although small, has gone on to produce much fruit.

            Like Hattie, we are called to selflessly lay down our lives to “build the little temple bigger.”  To sacrifice our own wants and desires so that others may come to know the love of God.  When we serve our fellows, love our neighbors, and give to those in need, we bear much fruit.  Those who strive to live selflessly will come to know peace; true peace; heavenly peace; eternal peace; “the peace that surpasses all understanding.”

            “Lord Heavenly Father, You are truly an amazing and awesome God.  We desperately desire to be selfless; we yearn to lay down our lives so that others may come to know You.  Help us to enjoy and embrace serving, giving, and loving.  May we produce much fruit and bring many souls into Your everlasting Kingdom.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Blessings and Cursings

JESUS SPEAKING

            “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled.  Blessed are you who weep now for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you […] for the Son of Man’s sake […] for indeed your reward is great in heaven […] But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.  Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6: 20-26.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            The pronouncement of blessings and cursings was an intimate part of the Jewish culture.  Many Israelites would bring their children to the Rabbi’s to undergo a formal blessing.  A blessing is a prophetic profession of some future good in an individual’s life.  A cursing however, foretells of some impending calamity.  The blessings that Jesus pronounced over the crowds were entirely dependent upon their reaction to his message.  Those who chased after the passing pleasures of this life would ultimately enter into unending sorrow.  Those who chose to deny their own desires in order to serve God would eventually inherit eternal rewards.  Without question, every true believer must embrace sacrifice.  Some common sacrifices include wealth, a career, power, property, selfish indulgences, and even a good reputation.  Because the path to peace with God includes enduring some form of present pain, the majority of individuals will continue to reject the gospel message.

            In order to understand this scripture, we need only look at the modern day credit card crisis.  Right now Americans possess more individual debt than any time in our nation’s history.  This current epidemic is the direct result of extreme self-indulgence.  When a person goes out shopping and they can’t afford something, they will often use a credit card to avoid having to deny themselves of some passing pleasure.  But paying for things with money we don’t have doesn’t make the pain disappear; it simply postpones it.  Eventually the credit card company is going to come looking for their money; causing those who have fed their fleshly appetites to endure the suffering they so desperately attempted to avoid.

            Many people have spent an entire lifetime avoiding pain and indulging in pleasurable endeavors.  However, their agony has only been deferred, rather than eliminated.  They will eventually be required to ‘pay the check.’  Chasing after wealth, material possessions, careers, and even a good reputation can lead to an eternity of pain.  Still, self-denial is the way to inherit eternal blessings.  Volunteering, giving our excess wealth to the needy, spending time listening to others, evangelizing, as well as visiting widows and orphans, are just a few of the ways we can deny ourselves in this life.  Where are you currently denying yourself?  What do you have in excess?  Is it time, money, or knowledge? What can you give away?  By denying yourself, you will become a servant of the living God; and in the coming kingdom, you will receive the blessings of eternal life.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to willingly endure pain in the present; that we might refuse our own desires in favor of fulfilling Your purposes.  May we deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow You.  Reveal to us where we can be more selfless; where we can be more giving; and where we can be more loving.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Producing much fruit

JESUS SPEAKING

            “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.  Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12: 23 – 25.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            Utilizing an agricultural metaphor, Jesus makes reference to His upcoming death, burial, and resurrection.  A single grain of wheat, when planted, can produce hundreds, thousands, and even millions of additional seeds.  Similarly, the Lords’ suffering and agony upon the cross (and ensuing resurrection) has produced much fruit.  His selfless sacrifice has inspired countless conversions, and enabled millions to receive the mercy and grace of God.

            In the 1800’s there resided a little girl from Philadelphia name Hattie Wiatt.  She lived in close proximity to a popular and very crowded Grace Baptist Church.  One day she approached the Church and asked to attend the Sunday school.  Sadly she was told that there was no more room.  Less than two years later, Hattie fell ill and passed away.  A pocket book containing 57 pennies was found underneath her pillow; it was wrapped in a piece of scrap paper; written on the paper was a note that read, “To help build the little temple bigger, so that more children can go to Sunday school.”  She had saved her pennies for 2 years intending to give them as a donation to the church.  The pastor told his congregation of Hattie’s selflessness.  Immediately donations began pouring in until they had collected nearly $250,000 dollars.  Soon the church was seating 3,300 people; the parishioners also chose to build a hospital as well as a university accommodating approximately 1,400 students (today, attendance at Temple University has grown to nearly 28,000.)  Hattie’s sacrifice, although small, has gone on to produce much fruit.

            Like Hattie, we are called to selflessly lay down our lives to “build the little temple bigger.”  To sacrifice our own wants and desires so that others may come to know the love of God.  When we serve our fellows, love our neighbors, and give to those in need, we bear much fruit.  Those who strive to live selflessly will come to know peace; true peace; heavenly peace; eternal peace; “the peace that surpasses all understanding.”

            “Lord Heavenly Father, You are truly an amazing and awesome God.  We desperately desire to be selfless; we yearn to lay down our lives so that others may come to know You.  Help us to enjoy and embrace serving, giving, and loving.  May we produce much fruit and bring many souls into Your everlasting Kingdom.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Sacrifice leads to blessings

JESUS SPEAKING

                So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18: 29-30.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                All valuable things have a price; and eternal life is no exception.  Although salvation is free, reconciliation requires sacrifice.  The cost for following Jesus Christ is high; most endure persecution, affliction, and hardship (many are ridiculed and socially ostracized.)  Obedience frequently produces loss; the loss of wealth and possessions; the loss of a home, a career, a family, or a friend; (there are even those who have laid down their lives for the sake of the gospel.)  From the time of the resurrection until today, not one righteous sacrifice has ever been committed in vain; for God has promised to replace every offering with something far greater.  To die as a peaceful martyr is to live forever in the His Kingdom.  To lay down earthly possessions is to grab hold of God’s eternal riches.  To suffer affliction for righteousness (here and now), is to one day experience unending freedom, and everlasting peace [Note:  God doesn’t just provide heavenly blessings; he also provides the faithful with many earthly blessings (wives, husbands, children, friends, etc.)]        

                Some time ago while serving at my church, I met a pastor named Greg.  A few years earlier he had been the starting quarterback for a division one college football team.  As he headed in to his senior year, his future looked promising.  Many expected him to excel, and to eventually enter the NFL draft.  According to the world, his life was an example of success.  Yet God had other plans for Greg.  Before the start of his senior year, he felt the Lord calling him in to full time ministry.  After much contemplation and prayer, Greg chose to sacrifice his probable fame and fortune to serve God.  When he announced his decision not to return for his final season, his coaches were mystified and his friends believed he had gone crazy.  In the eyes of the faithless he was making a very serious mistake.  Nearly four years after making his decision, Greg has never been more satisfied.  He is joyfully serving the Lord and has a beautiful wife, and has one young child.  He has sacrificed much, yet in return, he has received many priceless blessings (“and in the age to come, eternal life.”)  [Note:  Many necessary sacrifices often deal with sin.  Some years ago, when God began to remove the sins from my life, I was separated from many of my friends.  Because I no longer partied, the invitations to social functions became scarce.  I was no longer the irresponsible potty mouth that many had come to know and love.  One friend even remarked, “I like the old Jess better.”  I lost many friends when I gave up certain sins; but I gained far more.  God replaced the old with the new, and today my life is filled with healthy, loving, and caring individuals.]

                The Christian life requires sacrifice.  Letting go of what is evil and grabbing on to what is good, is not without consequence.  Obedience to the Lord produces loss; yet, for every earthly surrender there is a heavenly reward.  Trust in the Lord; sacrifice any sinful areas of your life upon God’s Holy altar; submit yourself to His leading, and you will experience all of the blessings he has promised to those who love and serve Him.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to sacrifice our lives to serve You.  May we accomplish Your will no matter the cost.  Remove any sins that stand in our way.  Give us a new heart; give us new desires; may we die so that You may live.  We thank You in advance for the blessings You have promised us.  We submit our lives to You now in faith.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Love is Sacrifice

JESUS SPEAKING

          But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.   On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’  So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves.” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10: 29 – 37.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            In this parable a man is badly beaten, and left to die on the side of the road.  The Jews considered Samaritans to be Godless degenerates; yet in this illustration, the only one to show compassion and love for the wounded stranger, is a Samaritan.  His love was expressed in the form of sacrifice.  Unlike the Levite and the priest, the Samaritan sacrificed his time, his wealth, and his reputation to aid the injured man.  Without sacrifice there is no real proof of love.

            Infants undeniably demand a great deal of time, attention, and resources.  ‘Good parenting’ is therefore a synonym for ‘Sacrifice.’  New parents can expect to forfeit many privileges on behalf of their children.  It is estimated that in the first year of a child’s existence, they will need to be changed 2500 times and fed every 4 hours (although the number varies widely.)  Similarly, newborns must be burped, bathed, clothed, held, and played with regularly; actions which require great selflessness and sacrifice.

            Like the Samaritan, and like any good parent, Jesus Christ has asked His children to lay down their selfish pursuits to love and care for those in need.  If we embrace a spirit of sacrifice, then God will provide us with opportunities to love our families, our friends, and our neighbors.  As we accomplish the will of God, our hearts will know peace and we will inherit the eternal blessings He has promised to those who faithfully serve Him.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and ask for the courage and strength to embrace sacrifice; may we be filled with compassion; may we always seek the lost; and may continually love those in need.  Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, may we become more like You each and every day.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.


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