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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Power of Personal Sacrifice
I've been reading in Hosea and having an increased number of conversations about the state of our nation.  In my devitions this week the two collided.  It started with the following question... 

"Why do we run from the "call" of thsoe who love us and seek to guide us?"

Read Hosea 11.  The same thing was happening within Israel.  It seems to me to be a function of maturity.  It could be an age issue (physical maturity).  It could be an experience issue (also maturity).  It could be a faith issue (spiritual maturity).  Whatever the lack of maturity, my response at times, just as when I was a teen ager, is to run from the instruction I've received.  My "immaturity" doesn't see the futility nor the impotence of the path I choose over the guidance being offered.  As a result, I think there is some of the "I can do it myself" independence.  In thinking about that I realize it is the same "sin" the compelled Eve to take the Fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

That is part 1.

Part 2 came today in thinking about our current social/political environment.  One of the things that I think differentiates our time from that of our forefathers is the idea of Personal Sacrifice.  I don't believe that those who first settled here and our nation's founders were in the middle of a "Woodstock-like love fest".  I think they were willing to sacrifice their very lives for the principles they believed in.  It wasn't a "do what makes me feel good" approach.  It was more of a "do what establishes the principles and way of life we believe in" approach.  It was a "I'll sacrifice my life" for the well fare of others.  Many times it came to that. 

There is a power in popularity of an idea.  There is power in the mass of a movement.  But the power of personal sacrifice far exceeds any other power.  It is the power of love.  I yield myself and my desires for the wellbeing of another.  It is the power of God displayed through Jesus Christ.

Personal sacrifice is at odds with "I can do it myself".  They don't complement each other.  They conflict.  Personal sacrifice is about others (and myself).  "I can do it myself" is about me.

In James 1:2-8, I think there are three things that can help us mature from "I can do it myself" to experience the power of personal sacrifice.

1.  Attitude of learning and gratitude.  I don't know it all.  I don't have it all.  I don't own a thing.  All I am and all that is around me is a gift for me to steward.  I need to continually learn about it and be grateful for it.

2.  Tests of Faith.  When what we believe and are willing to act on is tested AND we pass the test, we get stronger.  That strength builds up our endurance for future tests and the rigors of life.

3.  The process of enduring does the work of perfecting.  Did you get that?  The PROCESS of ENDURING does the work of perfecting.  It isn't learning something.  It isn't accomplishing something.  It is enduring that perfects.  No matter how long.  No matter what the cost.  Endure.

Willingness to endure a test for something you believe in, is the power of personal sacrifice.  I pray that I submit to this process and allow the perfecting process to work itself out in me.  I pray this for you also.
9:08 am edt 

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