Posts Tagged 'sacrifice'

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 receive 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 upon 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 genuine believer must embrace sacrifice.  Some common sacrifices may include wealth, a potential career, power, property, prestige, or any number of other selfish indulgences.  Because the path to peace with God includes enduring some manner of present pain, most will reject the gospel and continue in sin.

    To more easily understand this scripture, we need only look at the modern day credit card crisis.  Right now, Americans possess more debt than many previous generations could’ve ever possibly imagined. This current epidemic is often the direct result of extreme self-indulgence.  When a person goes out shopping and they can’t afford an item, they might use a credit card to avoid denying themselves the joys 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; indulging in pleasurable endeavors instead. However, their suffering hasn’t been eliminated; its only been deferred.  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.  So then, self-denial is the way to inherit eternal blessings.  Volunteering, using our excess wealth to bless the needy, spending time listening to others, evangelizing, as well as visiting widows and orphans, are just a few of the ways we can practice self-denial in this life.  Where are we currently denying ourselves?  What do we have in excess?  Is it time, money, or even knowledge? What can we give away?  By denying ourselves, we will become servants of the living God; and in the coming kingdom, we will receive the blessings of eternal life.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to willingly endure the pain of sacrifice in the present time; 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!

Letting Go, Grabbing Hold

JESUS SPEAKING

     “Again, the kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Mathew 13: 45-46.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     The message of “The kingdom of God,” is priceless; it is a treasure more valuable than gold and silver, and more precious than diamonds.  For contained within it is the love of God and the gift of eternal life.  As Jesus preached the message, a fortunate few recognized the truth and were willing to trade in everything they possessed to receive the Lord’s everlasting gift.  Many who came to believe willingly sacrificed great wealth, time, relationships, homes, and positions of prestige within the community, in order to take hold of the true riches of God’s everlasting kingdom.  As believers, we too are called to let go of the world in order to fully embrace Christianity.

    Interestingly enough, some people make a living letting go of one thing so they can grab hold of another.  Trapeze performers for example, swing effortlessly back and forth, high above cold concrete floors.  For these men and women, timing and precision can mean the difference between living and dying.  The individual who risks their life to spin through the air must know when to let go of their swing and when to grab hold of their partner dangling from the opposite swing.  So too, the gospel is a message about ‘letting go’ and ‘grabbing hold;’ no one can ‘grab hold’ of the Kingdom of God unless they fist ‘let go’ of whatever they are clinging too in this world.  For the believer, the pursuit of empty rewards must end, and the pursuit of Godly rewards must begin.

     Sadly, during the Lord’s public ministry, thousands simply passed by Him as He spoke; they chose to cling to their own lives rather than to grab hold of God and the life He was offering them.  Today, the Lord is still speaking; His message is still being proclaimed throughout the world.  And yes, even today many still choose the temporary pleasures of this life over the eternal peace of God.  They refuse because the Christian life is not easy.  There are many trials and hardships that accompany genuine faith.  Self-sacrifice and self-denial aren’t always popular, but they are necessary.  May we all choose to let go of our selfish pursuits.  May we loosen our grasp on the things of this world and grab hold of and embrace the free gift of God.

   “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask that You give us the strength to avoid selfish pursuits; we long to serve others, and to sacrifice our lives to accomplish Your desires.  May we receive your kingdom with gladness, and may we let go of anything that is hindering us from completely submitting to Your perfect will.  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 we pray, amen.”  God bless all of you!

Sacrifice is Love

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, robbed, and left to die on the side of the road. Two supposed religious leaders simply ignore the man’s desperate condition; placing their own desires ahead of God’s will.  In general, the Jews considered Samaritans to be Godless degenerates; and yet in this illustration, the only one to show compassion and love for the wounded stranger, was the Samaritan.  His love was expressed in the form of sacrifice.  Unlike the priest and the Levite, the Samaritan sacrificed his time, his wealth, and his reputation to assist the injured man.  Without sacrifice there is no real proof of love.

    In life, 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 countless 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.  Similarly, newborns must be burped, bathed, clothed, held, and played with every day; actions which require a great deal of 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 that He has promised to those who faithfully serve Him.

  “Lord Heavenly Father, please give us the courage and strength to embrace selflessness and sacrifice. May we be filled with compassion; may we always seek the lost; and may we continually display love for those in need.  Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, make us 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, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!


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