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Sacrifice

April 28th, 2017

Squandering life is a terrible waste,

while sacrificing one’s life is a noble gift

“I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as

living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God;

this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “sacrifice.”

Life is a precious, priceless gift. Never regard life as expendable, insignificant, or to be cheaply given. Yet Jesus issued a crucial call to discipleship. “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23 NIV. In 1956, Jim Elliot, a 28-year-old missionary pilot, was one of five missionaries martyred by Huaorani Indians in Ecuador. In his personal journal, he had written, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” How very true!

Jesus issued a monumental challenge that still resonates within the heart that He created, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.” Luke 9:24 NIV. Jesus does not depreciate your life as unimportant or without supreme value. But what did Jesus mean when He required that you, “lose your life”? Would it mean to trade a few years here for an eternity with God? Could it mean to live for something and Someone much greater than yourself? Yes, that must be it, sacrificing something you treasure for something that you would treasure even more, as well as forever.

Jesus told the story about a merchant trading in pearls. Fine pearls were admired by him, acquired by him, and prized by him until the day he saw a pearl unlike any other, more magnificent than any he ever hoped to own. In all his life and journeys, nothing could compare.  “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46 NIV. Its price to some would have seemed extreme, but not to him. Everything he possessed and valued was an inconsequential sacrifice for the priceless thing he would receive in exchange. Jesus Himself and His Eternal Kingdom are that “Pearl of great price.”

Jesus was unapologetic when He said, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29-30 NIV. Squandering your life is a terrible waste, while sacrificing your life for God is a noble gift. Heed Jesus’ warning, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Luke 9:24-25 NIV. The Great Exchange is when you joyfully surrender what was formerly most precious to you to receive what you never imagined could be yours.

Today, I pray for you to surrender your life as a worthy gift given back to God.

Christian Communications 2017

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Noble Sacrifice

May 28th, 2012

“If you give up your life for Me, you will save it.” Luke 9:24 CEV

Squandering life is a terrible waste, while the sacrifice of one’s life is the noblest gift.

My thoughts and comments today are about “noble sacrifice.”

When I see the faces of soldiers serving bravely in Afghanistan, most barely out of their teens, I am intrigued and humbled by the courage of these young men and women who have barely begun their life journey, but are willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their fellow soldiers or countrymen. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” For Jesus, that was His lifestyle and example, much more than mere words.

They do not regard life as expendable or to be cheaply given. In contrast, more than most they see the inestimable value of life and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of giving their life to save the lives of others. Only the person who would willingly give their own life has truly realized how precious life really is.

Squandering life is a terrible waste, while the sacrifice of one’s life is the noblest gift. Jesus crucial call of true discipleship is. “If any man would be My disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23. The people to whom He personally spoke those words had no confusion of their meaning. As a means of Roman judgment, a man bearing a cross was not an uncommon scene. In the historical era of the Roman Empire when Jesus lived, if a man were seen shouldering a cross there was no confusion about where he was heading and what he was doing. That cruel cross meant only one thing to any observer, his own death.

Jesus issued a monumental challenge that still resonates within hearts where He dwells, “If you give up your life for Me, you will save it.” Luke 9:24 CEV. But what does it mean to give up your life? It does not mean to depreciate your life as unimportant or of little value. I think it means living for something and Someone much greater than yourself.

Yes, that must be it, sacrificing something treasured for something eternal and more valuable by far. Jesus told a story about a merchant trading in pearls. They were admired by him, acquired by him, prized by him. Until the day he saw a pearl he had only dreamed of, more magnificent than any he ever hoped to own. Its price to some would have seemed outlandish – “who when he had found one pearl of great price went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46. Paying all he had still seemed a small price for what he could no longer consider living without.

That is what the Kingdom of Heaven is, something for which you joyfully surrender what previously was most precious to you to exchange for what otherwise could never be your own. Jesus Himself and His eternal Kingdom are that “pearl of great price.” But there is another side to the equation. Be aware of Jesus’ somber warning, “If you try to save your life for yourself, you will lose it.” Luke 9:24. Refusing the fitting sacrifice rightly given is squandering life, a tragic loss.

My prayer for you today is that you value your life as a gift to be given back to God.

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Failure Isn’t Final

March 8th, 2010

“I was afraid.” Luke 19:21 NIV

“Life has direction – flowing toward you with blessing, or away from you from lack of that.”

My thoughts today are, “failure isn’t final.”

How would you reward a very capable financial adviser who accepted management of your retirement savings, but did nothing with them? His only explanation? He was afraid to lose your money, and simply held your original investment for safe return. Would you praise him for his caution, or replace him for his waste of valuable time and loss of expected gain?

Jesus told just such a story about the Kingdom of God, illustrating each individual’s responsibility for good stewardship of Kingdom opportunities – both ample resource and generous reward. Read Luke 19:11-26 NLT. Among several people given valuable opportunity for reward, one was overcome with his fear of failing and simply hid what was trusted into his hands for safe return it later. Fear keeps you from trying. His ultimate failure was greater than the failure he originally feared.

Here, in Jesus’ own words, is the principle He is teaching you, “To those who use well what they have been given, even more will be given. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken from them.” Luke 19:26 NLT. “To those . . from those!” Do you notice in Jesus’ words the direction that life flows? Life has direction – either flowing toward you with blessing, or flowing away from you because of your lack of that. What he thought safe cost him more than he knew, until all was taken and entrusted to another more committed to his master’s pleasure.

There’s a life lesson in that. Don’t try to fail, but don’t fear to fail either. Everyone deals a bit with a fear of failing. I don’t think anyone enjoys failing. It doesn’t feel good. It’s embarrassing and discouraging. It seems a waste of one’s time, effort, and expense – and often is. There is a difference between failing and being a failure; anyone can do the first; no one has to be the latter. And there is a distinction between failing something you try to do, or failing to be who you are meant to be.

But here’s another side to consider; some of life’s most valuable lessons can come from attempts that failed. Often future success can be built on past attempts that didn’t work. Failure sometimes is the cost of learning how to succeed. It’s not the end of the world; learn something useful from it.

Thomas Edison, inventor of the electric light bulb, had many failures in his experimentation. Rather than be discouraged by those, he is reported to have reasoned that he had eliminated hundreds of ways that would not work. He was that much closer to success, and he did succeed. He made failure serve his efforts. So can you. Failure isn’t final, unless you let it be.

Being averse to every risk is a sure way to miss any reward. You won’t do everything right the first time; no one does. Keep trying. You won’t do everything well on your first try; no one will. Keep trying. But if you are afraid to try, you will never do anything right or well, maybe not do anything at all. You are gifted and possibly needing to believe that.

“God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you (see that life-direction?) . . do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given glory in everything through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT. God has given you many gifts; gifts for His purpose and use. How you use those determines your life’s rewards.

My prayer for you today is that you freely give your best to God and others, without fear.

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