Sunday, March 1, 2015

Lent:The Meaning of Sacrifice

What is the meaning of sacrifice?
The Merriam -Webster Dictionary has many definitions, one being
"The act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone."

Examples of SACRIFICE

  1. The war required everyone to make sacrifices.
  2. No sacrifice is too great when it comes to her children.
  3. He made many personal sacrifices to provide help to the city's homeless people.
  4. The runner went to second base on a sacrifice.
Observing Lent for many believers, means giving up, or sacrificing, something they enjoy or love for a period of time. I had never tried this tradition before and this year I felt compelled to see how it may help me grow in my understanding of the Easter story and in my relationship with the Lord. Well, I had no idea what lie ahead for me, as I began this journey, a little less than 2 weeks ago. 
What I gave up - Being my first experience with this, I decided to go simple, and give up my favorite drink, vanilla chai latte' for 40 days. 
I thought it would be fairly simple, but it hasn't been. 
I thought it would be nice to show I could give something like tea, up and it would bring me closer to God. But, God had something different for me in mind...

The physical and emotional pain and hurt I have struggled through may seem tiny, compared to the suffering of many martyrs and in the life and death of Christ, Himself, but for me, it has had a monumental impact!

This past week was a really rough one...I think God may have planned it that way as a part of my lesson during Lent. 
He was saying, "Ann, you think giving up tea for 40 days is a sacrifice? You have no idea what sacrifice REALLY is, until you feel physical pain, too." 
So, I have been having some really painful digestive issues, which has been an issue for me on and off for several years. (I have seen doctors, but not had a diagnosis. I had my gall bladder removed 5 years ago, and that may be part of the issue.)
Then He said, "You also don't really understand sacrifice, until you feel the pain of rejection...even by those who are closest to you." 
The past few weeks, I have been hurt emotionally by the actions of some close family members. 

With all the stress of these things around me, I sought relief through prayer and reading Scripture, but there was little relief. I pleaded with God, but felt like I wasn't being heard. 

Then, when I felt like I was at the end of my rope, I turned back to the one earthly thing that have given me relief (as temporary as it is) vanilla chai latte'. I had every excuse in the book for my reasoning to doing what I had wanted to NOT do for Lent, but ultimately, I gave in. I felt awful for giving in, on top of the fact that my physical ailment and emotional state were/are still there. I guess that's why it's been so difficult also for me to not be so hard on myself.

I had been so disappointed in myself, as I was reminded of how difficult it was for Jesus, when He went through so many trials, temptations, and sufferings.
 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent  submission.   Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered  and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Hebrews 5:7-9)

Today, though, I was given some real encouragement during our church service!.

The theme was: Into Thin Air - "God is calling each of us to take a step of faith towards Him. We can have confidence that despite the difficulties and uncertainties of the journey, He is there for us. There is no better time than right now to stop, consider the moment, and move beyond our fears and failures to follow Him as he leads us Into Thin Air."

Yes, He calls us to sacrifice and obey:

Psalms 51:17 NLT

The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
A Call to Remember and Obey
Deut. 8:1-3
“Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the lord swore to give your ancestors.Remember how the lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
We often wrestle with the reasons behind our perpetual consumption. When we decide to relinquish that thing that fails to truly satisfy, we come face-to-face with some tough questions. 
Can we believe Jesus when he says, "People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God"? 
How can we make room for the Savior in our buried and burdened lives? 
Can we grasp the reality of Good Friday and live within its irony?

Paul said some very wise words, as he experienced some of the very same setbacks and shortcomings
Philippians 3:7-14,  
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:1-5
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 
The failings of my own life reminds me of my mortality, which is an important part of Lent. As we recognize our humanness and need for a Savior, we are reminded that Jesus saves not only by the blood He shed for us to deliver us from our sins, but also in His resurrection, which gives eternal life for all who believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord, giving Christian believers hope for healing, being saved from our sins, and victory over death. 

While we are humbled by the wrongs of this world and our own sinful ways, we are encouraged by the hope we have in Jesus the Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Nothing can separate us from His love.(Romans 8:35)  No matter where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or where we are in our lives now, Jesus loves and saves.
ROMANS 8:35,37
 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

God of life and death, teach us to hold out for a deeper life, for the prayerful consciousness that enables us to transcend our petty desires for security, comfort, and self-image, so that we may be free to rest in communion with you. We do want life, but we want the Big Life, which includes You. Thank you for the ultimate sacrifice of Your Son in order that we might live. Because of it, we are cleansed, forgiven and promised a place with You in your heavenly home! May we always give of ourselves in appreciation. Amen.  ~Rev. Dr. Jerry Chism   
We also sang this very familiar song in church. What a great reminder that Christ alone is our Cornerstone, Whose grace is always available, even when we fail Him!

Linking up at these blog hops:


  1. True sacrifice is hard,and without Christ it's impossible. I am so thankful He's there to catch me when I fall, and that He loves me despite my shortcomings. He alone gives us the power and ability to make those sacrifices. Thank you for sharing at The Weekend Brew!

    1. Absolutely, Barbie! I am truly thankful for God's strength and grace!! I cannot even imagine not having either of these available to us!! But, to God be the glory...we do have these readily available every day for us to accept!! Have a blessed week!!

  2. Stepping out into thin air must be something like walking on the water. :-) Sorry the vanilla latte did not help as much as you though it would. How about a cup of tea that will settle your stomach. Mint or green or chamomile might be a good choice. Thanks for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

    1. Hmmm, that may be true, Hazel...I think I would definitely be blown away if God allowed me to actually walk on the water! Actually the latte helped for a brief while, but eventually, the pain came back. Interestingly, once I posted this on my blog and expressed what I had learned, my pain had completely subsided! I truly think God really wanted me to learn from my experience and share it here. He has such an amazing ability to do that!

  3. Great post, Ann! I love it when my eyes are opened and I learn important lessons through my own trials, you know? God is constantly growing and shaping us, making us more and more into His image. What a blessing to remember that He loves us so much He is WILLING to teach us! Blessings, Joan

    1. Me too, Joan! I've been quite joyous and giddy the past few days. Because of His great mercy, I am clean! Because of His love for me and through His power, I am healed!! Thanks for stopping over!

  4. Wow - I love what you wrote in response to Hazel's comment. I have struggled with letting earthly things bring me relief, even when they are a poor substitute for God and His Word. I'm thankful that we have been privy here to what God is doing in your life so that it may resonate with us as well.

    1. Thanks, Jen! I seem to have to learn some lessons the hard way, but what a blessing to know that He never gives up on us and always wants the best for us!

  5. Counting on Him is all we ever, ever, ever can do! So much goes on around and about us in our present-day world, and it break my heart. Turning to Him, worshiping, and praying, and rejoicing is the best I can do at any time of the day. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Yes, prayer and worship, and praise are vital! Sometimes it takes me a bit longer to realize the importance of that.

  6. Thank you for sharing your humble honest journey with us. I can see myself in your words. It may not be Chai Vanilla Latte, but I too easily return to temporary soothing before I surrender to His grace and love. I've been overwhelmed lately as I've thought about Jesus love and sacrifice that gives me forgiveness. Blessings!


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