Memorial Sacrifice

Memorial Day (here in the USA) is a day to remember all our service men and women who have laid down their lives for our freedom. Their blood on the battlefield has been payment for the freedoms we live under in this country. My admiration for these people and their families is and will always be indescribable.

When we are in love with someone, we think about them all the time. Since this past holiday weekend, I couldn’t help but think about Jesus laying His life down for my freedoms as well. The freedoms that transcend the place I reside in; these freedoms gifted to me go so far beyond. They give me peace in the midst of storms, provisions in my needs, love for the “unlovable”, forgiveness for everything not apologized for, forgiveness for myself and all the things I’ve ever said and done, an eternal freedom in Heaven when my time is done here on this Earth. This freedom is like a breath of the fresh air on the first day of spring, breathing in all the fragrance of the budding flowers and grass; all the new life coming into bloom. His willingness to give up His life for me so that I can experience these freedoms leaves me blown away every moment of every day.

Then, I’m left with this question for myself: Is there anything in my life that I’m willing to lay down in sacrifice for Him? When you’ve been blessed with a freedom like this, you want to do something to honor it. Not because you have to or because it’s required, but because your heart is filled with gratitude. How has my life honored this? Am I just enjoying the freedoms or am I truly honoring it.

I wrote about this in a previous blog post (Net-Breaking Blessing) that I’m constantly being reminded of. This story about Simon Peter (Luke 5:1-11), a fisherman by trade, had been out all night long trying to bring in a harvest and was grossly unsuccessful. Pulled his boat to shore early that morning, cleaning off the nets and closing up his day and likely full of frustration and discouragement, is now asked by Jesus to use his boat. He then gets Jesus on his boat, puts out a bit from the shore and Jesus preaches a message to all who were following him. After the message, Jesus tells him to go out into the deeper waters and cast his nets on the right side of the boat. After a long night of unsuccessful fishing, the last thing I’d want to do is more fishing. But, he did it and not only did Jesus fill the nets with fish, they were in such abundance the nets were breaking and the boat was sinking! Once they got to shore, Simon Peter was in awe of this miraculous thing that had just taken place. Jesus spoke purpose over him and Simon Peter’s reaction was to leave his blessing right there on the shore to follow Jesus into an unknown future.

I share this to say, what have we sacrificed out of our adoration of Jesus and the blessings He’s gifted us? How could we become fishers of men if we hold onto the blessing for ourselves? How would we gain wisdom without trials? How would we grasp a hold of peace if it weren’t for storms? How would we recognize the amazing and lush greens of our Promised Land if we hadn’t experienced the elements of the desert? The thing we have to continually sacrifice is our flesh. Our flesh wants the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil when wisdom tells us the Tree of Life is all we truly need. Our flesh wants the blessings without sacrificing some comforts to become all the Lord has called us to be. I suppose Simon Peter could have still been a fisher of men while enjoying the spoils of that net-breaking haul, but I don’t believe he would have been as successful as we was. He still would have reached lives, but not at the level of impact that he had. No matter our choices, the Lord will use us. It’s our choice to learn and understand Heaven’s accounting. Simon Peter became more blessed than that load of fish. Wholly blessed, inside and out, not just isolated to his bank account.

So, my challenge is this: to be willing to lay my life down in sacrifice, walking away from what appears to be the blessing I’ve been praying and hoping for; realizing that if that is so amazing, He has something so much better in store. We have to strive not for the blessings, but for the purpose He has on our lives. It’s not about me, it’s about Him working through me to reach the ones who haven’t met Him yet. Becoming “fishers of men” in this life.

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The Ultimate Valentine

lamb

Picture this.  You’re a kid and your parents bring home this adorable baby lamb. They say it’s yours to care for.  That lamb instantly has your affection.  Over the course of five days you feed it, walk with it, talk to it, cuddle with it, you fall in love with this amazing creature that is now a part of your family; a part of you.  On the fifth day, your parents now tell you this lamb is going to be your dinner.  How do you feel now? This creature has now died to feed you.  Tell me you’re not sobbing with every single bite you take?!

This is a glimpse of the Israelites while they were still in Egyptian captivity (Gen. 12:1-14). This lamb they sacrificed, saved them from certain death (the final plague – death of first born son).  This lamb was their redemption. By eating it, roasted with fire, they were strengthened for the journey and trials that lay ahead of them.  A desert journey filled with trials and miracles!  A trespass offering had been made in order for them to walk out of Egypt under God’s Hand of Grace.  No one went hungry because food rained from Heaven.  No one went thirsty because the tree made the bitter waters sweet.  God was close to them the entire time despite their grumblings. He loved them.

I used to think that I wouldn’t have been one of the complainers after witnessing all those miracles.  Yet, here I am today, realizing the truth of it all.  I acknowledge all His amazing miracles in my life, but still a complaint will trump my gratitude.  Why is that?  It amazes me how quickly the thinking of “not enough” or “not going my way” creeps in and how quickly it distracts from my gratitude for My Lamb.

If you study the Trespass Offering (Lev. 1), you will see the Lamb for the Israelites duplicated, but it’s done more ceremoniously.  That ceremony comes from their acknowledgement of what was done in the past.  They carried on that tradition so to speak.

The ceremony went something like this:

Once a year, the head of the household found a lamb with no blemish (had to be perfect).  He walked it to the Priest. The Priest examined the lamb (not the man). The man laid his hands on the lamb’s head transferring all his sins onto the lamb. Then, he slit the throat of the lamb, spilling its blood and then the lamb was roasted in the fire. The man and his family lived another year under the redemption and forgiveness of their lamb’s blood sacrifice.

Sound familiar?

Jesus was our Trespass Lamb, once and for all. No need for the pomp and circumstance from the old covenant. He made all things new…forever.  We now live under His constant forgiveness, His never-ending Grace, His unconditional love.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, this is what has been on my mind when I think of Love.  Yes, I’ve been blessed with an amazing man for my husband, who is the best manifested presence of my Heavenly Father’s unconditional love. Our four children are another manifestation of that.  But, when I meditate on Christ’s Perfect Love for me, all He’s brought me through, what He’s teaching me now and where He’s taking me in the future; I am indescribably overwhelmed.  I’m filled with an inexpressible love and gratitude for my Heavenly Father’s gift…My Lamb.

Cross

My prayer for you is that you know this love, too! I pray you fall in love with our Lamb, Jesus Christ, all over again or maybe for the first time.  No ceremony needed. The sacrifice is done. Believe and receive this amazing Gift.

I thank God for the Love from My Lamb.

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Ephesians 3: 17-19 “…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”