Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘sacrifice’

Sacrifice

“Sacrifice” is a word often used nowadays to speak of giving up something for a greater cause.  Examples would be military heroes who gave up their lives or health for the sake of their country, or people who give up some financial or lifestyle advantage for the sake of what they see as higher priority.

“Sacrifice” in the Bible always refers to gifts given to God, or to false gods, in worship.  In Old Testament times, people would bring an animal to God to be slaughtered and often burned entirely.  Grain offerings would accompany these gifts.  But these were external acts that could be done regardless of one’s attitude toward God.  Often, via the His prophets, God insisted that he doesn’t want people’s sacrifices of cattle, sheep, grain, etc. so much as he desires their obedience…

Since Jesus has come and has become the ultimate and final sacrifice to put us right with God (Hebrews 9:26), we might think that sacrifice is a thing of the past.  And so it is, if we’re speaking of the kind of sacrifices described above.  However, the following “sacrifices” are listed in the New Testament as appropriate and necessary gifts to God from His people:

Our bodies 
       …present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1 NET)  Contrary to public opinion, my body is not my own!  (See also 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Our faithful service to God 
      But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. (Philippians 2:17 NLT)

Our support of those who are spreading God’s message
     …the gifts you sent…are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. (Philippians 4:18 NIV)

Praise to God 
     …let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. (Hebrews 13:15 NLT)

Doing good and sharing with others 
     And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. (Hebrews 13:16 NLT)

Queen for Two Hours

As I fish my mini-Hershey bar out of my purse, I remember how it felt to be “Queen for Two Hours.” (Some of you may remember the TV show “Queen for a Day” from the early 60s.) A couple of days ago I was promoted to first class on a domestic flight!  I’d always wondered how it would feel to be boarded first into the front seats and then sip one’s drink while watching the ordinary people (“the unwashed masses” according to comedian Tim Hawkins http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_xV4NL9aSc) coming through on their way to the nether regions of the plane (which is normally my own lot). 

Though I felt totally unworthy of the special treatment, I settled in to enjoy this experience for all it was worth.  As I sipped coffee and nibbled on chocolate, I pulled out my Bible and read once again the story of Queen Esther.  In this fascinating story, not one word is said about Esther enjoying the perks of her office.  Instead, she is honored for risking her life to save her people from certain genocide. 

Her cousin urged her to action:

Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?

Her reply: 

“Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”

What might be the special purpose God has for me to fulfill in this life?  Or even in this day?  What will be the risks?  God, give me the wisdom and commitment to fulfill Your wise and wonderful plan for me no matter what it may cost me! 

P.S. To find out what happened, read the book of Esther yourself.  It’s a real page-turner!

From Horror to Hope

I’m a bookworm, but I don’t buy, keep, or re-read books unless they’re very, very special.  Those that merit a permanent place on our bookshelves are the exceptions.  Today I want to share an exceptional book with you which my husband and I have just read together.  It is truly a keeper!

River Kwai2

Miracle on the River Kwai, by Ernest Gordon, is a story of grace in the worst possible of circumstances.  Under the most extreme duress, despair and hopelessness were transformed to faith in God, redemption, and selfless love for one another.  It began with a few POWs who sacrificially served and even laid down their lives to save others in what had been a dog-eat-dog environment, every man for himself.  The power of God changed lives long-term as they served, taught, shared and worshipped with one another for several years as the war raged on.  When they were finally released, one of the men said, “I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.  It was rough, all right.  But I learned an awful lot that I couldn’t have learned at the university or anywhere else.” 

When hard times come for me, I pray that God’s grace and power will do the same, shining through the darkness to refine my character in ways that may not be possible through peace time.

If only I’d done more…

“If only I had not kept the car, we could have gotten out more,” Schindler is quoted as saying at the end of the movie bearing his name.  This line haunts me.  After all the heroic and sacrificial things that this man did to save Jews from the Holocaust, he wished he’d given up more of the things he took for granted in his privileged life.  In the end, those things didn’t count.

What will I feel and say when I stand before my Lord on that final day?  Will I regret wasted time, self-preoccupation, attention squandered on things that have no eternal value?  I am challenged to daily re-evaluate my priorities and invest my life in the things that really matter, even if it means sacrifice.  I’m also deeply moved by this song:

By and by when I look on His face,
Beautiful face, thorn shadowed face;
By and by when I look on His face,
I’ll wish I had given Him more.
More, so much more,
More of my life than I e’er gave before
By and by when I look on His face,
I’ll wish I had given Him more.

In the light of that heavenly place,
Light from His face, beautiful face;
In the light of that heavenly place,
I’ll wish I had given Him more.
More, so much more,
Treasures unbounded for Him I adore,
By and by when I look on His face,
I’ll wish I had given Him more.

–by Grace Reese Adkins

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