Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Sacrifices We Make

As we enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend, many of us, I hope, take time to remember the sacrifices made by those who wear a uniform and their families. It is all too easy to get caught up in the excitement of a three-day weekend. Memorial Day is traditionally the official kick-off of summer and many rush to the lakes, have cook-outs and spend time just enjoying the time away from work. But, Memorial Day is more than just those things. This holiday was started years after the American Civil War and became officially recognized in 1971. It was created for Americans to remember and thank those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” upon “the altar of Freedom”.

When I see the parades and ceremonies dedicated to those brave individuals, I cannot help but think of their sacrifices and what courage it took for each of them to step forth and lay down their lives for their nation so that that nation “shall not perish from the earth”. To those who survived the conflicts, I say, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your dedication to the great dream of freedom and to this nation will never be forgotten by me.”

The great statesman and Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II, Winston Churchill, said this on August 20, 1940, of those who gave their lives in the Battle of Britain, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Mr. Churchill could not have better captured the feelings of a grateful nation in such a deeply touching way. We, the many, do owe so much to the sacrifices of those few. In every conflict that this nation endured, those who rallied and came to the aid of this great nation knew the meaning of the word sacrifice and what they might have to do to preserve the nation and defend the freedoms of those opposed.

Of all of the words I used in such a short period of time, one word should stand out above all others. It is a word that should give us all a moment of pause in reverence to those who gave so much to so few. That word is “sacrifice”.

When you look up the definition of the word, you will read, “To suffer loss of, give up, renounce, injure, or destroy especially for an ideal, belief, or end.”

In the Bible, you will read other instances of the act of sacrifice. It is the spilling of blood on an altar for a specific reason. It could be done as an atonement for sin or to give thanks. Another form of sacrifice could be that you are asked to give up something that means so very much to you.

In Luke 9, Jesus, while walking along a road with his disciples, came across a man who tells him that he will follow him wherever he goes. Jesus responds, “58 Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

When you think about Jesus’ reply, you realize that Jesus is telling him that should he decide to follow him, it would require giving up the things that make life comfortable. In this case, a roof and a bed would be the sacrifice. If you were the man on the road that offered to follow Jesus, could you give up your home and those items that make your life comfortable? 

Several months ago, I had a person say this about her cellular phone, “If I didn’t have my cell phone, I would just die.”

Really? Would a person die if he or she was not able to tweet, friend someone or send a text message? Could that person make a sacrifice of going without the latest and greatest phone? It would probably be difficult to find individuals who would give up their devices just for a day.

As in the passage, Jesus calls out to a man to follow him. The man responds, “59 Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”

Jesus replies, “60 Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”

Could you do what Jesus asked that man? Could you drop everything to preach the Word of God to those in darkness? That is another example of a sacrifice that Jesus asks of us. We should be willing to drop everything and preach the Word to those who desperately need to hear it.

Another man calls out to Jesus and says, “61 Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”

At the end of the passage, Jesus says this to him, “62 Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Think about the words that Jesus uttered to the man. The example that he gives is a farmer who is plowing his field. If he looks back at the furrows he has just plowed, he will, in all likelihood, have crooked furrows and they would make it difficult, if not impossible, to seed, grow and harvest a good, bountiful crop. 

If we are to make a sacrifice, we need to look ahead to the future and the potential of the fields we work. If we are constantly looking back at what we have done or have, we may decide that what we have is more important than anything in the future.

When you think about the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for our freedom, think about the words of Jesus. Those individuals who put their hands to the plow and did not look back, but, rather, looked forward and to those who would benefit from their work made their decision and gave their lives so that others might live and be free.

Are you willing to give up hearth, home and family in order to take up the cross and follow Jesus daily? That is the sacrifice that missionaries and those who are called upon have to make. If you accept Jesus’ call to serve and put the things of this world behind you and look to the future, you are indeed fit for the kingdom of God and can stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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