Continuing on with the things that God has been stirring in me, I want to talk a little more about sacrifices.
What comes to mind when you hear the word sacrifice? Most likely, especially with a church background, it brings a picture of an alter, with something burning on it. It does for me. Not a real pretty picture. Sacrifice like that is messy. I went to Kali temple in Calcutta, India, and saw the alter where they sacrifice the animals. It was stained with blood. I couldn't imagine having to do something like that, let alone watching it.
However, sacrifice can really be anything. Remember, sacrifice means the giving up of something valuable or important for somebody or something else considered to be of more value or importance. We have several different examples of this, even in the "world".
OK, so I'm not a parent, but I am an aunt. There are several things that I would sacrifice to spend time with them, or help them in anyway. Sometimes, and it's silly I know, I will give up sleeping in so I can have my oldest niece come and have a sleepover with me. She loves these times, as well do I. Small sacrifice, right? But what about me going overseas? I remember when my first niece was a baby. I went to Nepal and India for five weeks when she was three months old. When I got back, she was a completely different baby. She was chubby! And even cuter than before I left. (OK, so I'm biased!) The sacrifice I make with going overseas is not something that helps them, and it's much bigger than not sleeping in. It's messy, mostly from crying, and it's hard.
What about the men and women in the armed forces. Their sacrifice is one of the biggest. The times that we are living in now, with the war over in the Middle East, has been hard. Men have died fighting for the freedom of our country. They have come home injured or with post traumatic stress disorder. They will never be able to get rid of some things that have happened in war; to them or something they have seen. However, these men and women have chosen to serve our country and live with the sacrifice they have to make. Here again, it's messy and it's hard.
Today, I read a story on a news website about some refugees from Bhutan here in Denver that have endured some pretty serious things. They left their country, sacrificing everything they know to come to the U.S. to feel safe. The story was about the persecution they have taken in the last couple of weeks, being beat and robbed. It was all I had to not cry for them. Their sacrifice has not been easy.
Lastly, because it's so close to where my heart is, what about the martyrs? I'm not talking about someone who has given something up or died for just any cause. I'm talking about the men and women who, over centuries, have given something, in most cases, their lives for the cause of Jesus Christ and His gospel. Think about it. There are the stories of the disciples, of course. During the Roman Empire, Christians were persecuted in any way imaginable. There is a story of one woman, Vivia Perpetua, who, having an infant still nursing, gave up her life for her belief in Jesus. There are thousands more stories like these. You can read about them in Foxes Book of Martyrs, Jesus Freaks by DC Talk, and many more.
Why did they do this? Philippians 1:20-21 NLT "For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or I die. For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better." To sum it up, they were willing to give up their lives to bring honor to Jesus and truth to the world. Why is it that no matter how hard governments try to eradicate Christians, that our numbers grow? Because the honor that they have given to God in their act of sacrifice has proven the truth of Christ. God gets all the glory, not humans, not governments, not other religions.
What do we get when we sacrifice, even the tiniest portion of our lives? Try it and find out. I guarantee that you will bring honor to the Father, and in turn, the Father will honor you.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.