Tag Archives: Sacrifice

Acts 20:24

Acts 20:24
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Dear God, I’ve never thought about this verse in terms of Memorial Day before, but it’s the verse of the day on Bible Gateway so perhaps someone there did. It is still so tragic to me that for thousands and thousands of years, what I’m sure numbers into the billions, people have died fighting each other. You’re born, your parents put uncountable hours into caring for you, you spend uncountable hours learning and growing, and then your life is gone. Just gone.

So many people have died nobly for their country or a cause. In the case of what we honor with this day, women and men of our country saw their earthly lives end to fight for whatever we felt was right at the time. The sacrifice they gave, and that their families gave, is immeasurable. I’ve said before that I tend to have a guilty feeling on days like this because I never served in the military. I admire veterans so much for even the sacrifice they made to take time from a civilian life to serve so that I could live my civilian life.

Of course, there is a spiritual aspect to this passage because that is what Paul was talking about. He knew that he was going to put himself at risk for his faith and what you were calling him to do. As it turned out, he was right. He was arrested. He was imprisoned for years. He ultimately died. But that sacrifice of his life ended up being the catalyst for the spread of Christianity to the West. He considered his life worth nothing to him. Had he considered it worth something–had he given in to the temptation those around him were making to him and not gone to Jerusalem, I might not be sitting here praying to you today.

Father, help me to consider my own life worth nothing to me. Help me to only consider the call you have given me. Help me to hear your still small voice. Help me to not let the sacrifice of Paul, the veterans who died, or even Jesus be in vain. Do it all so that your kingdom will come and your will will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

In Jesus’s name I pray,


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Posted by on May 27, 2019 in Acts


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1 Peter 1:18-19

1 Peter 1:18-19 [NLT]
18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.



Dear God, when I read this and the comparisons with Jesus life/death/resurrection and silver/gold I thought back to last week and the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. There was an image that showed the inside of the burned cathedral and the shiny gold cross noticeably undamaged in the charred room.


Some posted online that it was a sign of your protection over it. Others countered their point that the fire just wasn’t hot enough to melt the cross. One person pointed out that wood fires often burn in the 600-degree range while gold needs it to be two to three times that temperature to melt. Was it a miracle or just chemistry?

My point is, the sacrifice that Jesus made is will never perish. It is more durable that the 900-year-old gold cross in Notre Dame Cathedral. It reaches deeper than the darkest parts of my heart. It gives me hope that my life can not only be meaningful now, but I can also expect to be in relationship with you for eternity.

Father, I inherited a sinful life from my ancestors, sure, but I’ve done enough on my own to add to it. I’m sorry. I really am. But I thank you for what you did, are doing, and continue to do. I worship you as my Passover Lamb, my Lord, and my God.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


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Posted by on April 24, 2019 in 1 Peter


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The Binding – Genesis 22:9-18

The image above is from Redeemed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-ups by Ned Bustard. This particular piece of art was done by Kevin Lindholm and is called “Knight of Faith.”

Genesis 22:9-18 [NLT]
9 When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”
12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15 Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. 16 “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants[a] beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. 18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”

Dear God, I’ve spent some time with this story in the past. So much time, in fact, that I’m curious to see what I might have missed.

It’s interesting to me that Bustard chose, in this book’s telling of the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac, to start with their arrival at the place for the sacrifice. I’ve usually spent more time in verses 1-8 than I have 9-18. So what is here that I might have missed in the past? Or what have I seen before of which you need to remind me?

Verse 9 alone must have really done something to alter the relationship between Isaac and Abraham. Frankly, I’m a little surprised that Isaac even worshipped you after that. If I had been him, I would have thought my dad was crazy and that would have included his worship of you. If I try to imagine this scene, it’s horrific. I almost need to just set that aside before I get deeper into the story because if I start to look at this story through Isaac’s eyes it freaks me out a little.

The thing I’ve noticed in this story in the past is Abraham’s possible idolization of his son and the promise that you gave him about his descendants. In verses 1-8, as he is lying to Sarah, to the servant, and to Isaac; as he is walking for a few days to reach the site; as he is eating and talking with Isaac; as he is silently thinking and praying; I am sure that he was doing a lot of repenting and wondering how much he had failed you by taking his eyes off of you and giving in to his own vanity.

With all of that said, let me see what I notice in this image:

  • The most prominent thing in the image is the knife. It seems like it’s the first thing Lindholm wants me to see. The knife, gripped by Abraham’s fist. Something horrific is about to happen and I don’t think the artist wants me to miss that fact.
  • The next thing I notice is Abraham’s face. He is staring up. Is the look in his eyes desperation? Despair? Anguish? Surprise?
  • There is a hand with two fingers touching Abraham’s hand. The fingers are no bigger than Abraham’s. They are a different color.
  • There is the boy. His eyes are closed. Given the comments I made earlier about the horror of verse 9, it would have been an interesting choice to leave Isaac’s eyes open. Did Lindholm consider that? Was that perhaps just too hard to see so he closed them instead? Was Isaac just waiting for the end? Another choice would have been to make Isaac look afraid. Terrified. But Lindholm chose to make him asleep. Interesting. Perhaps he envisioned that Abraham knocked him out.
  • There is the ram, already there, with his horns stuck in the thicket. If I had been the artist I might have shown a larger, more dense thicket, but perhaps Lindholm is suggesting that you didn’t need to do much to provide this ram for the sacrifice.

In the description of this picture, Bustard quotes Tim Keller: “God saw Abraham’s sacrifice and said, ‘Now I know that you love me, because you did not withhold your only son from me.’ But how much more can we look at his sacrifice on the cross and say to God, ‘Now we know that you love us. For you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love, from us.”

Father, search me today and help me to see what I have not sacrificed to you. Which parts of my vanity are still too important to me? Deal with me gently, Father. I know I am proud. I know I am vain. I know I can be selfish. Help me, Father to not get to a point where you have to go to these lengths to get my attention and repentance.

In Jesus’ name I pray,



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The Redemption of Gomer — Hosea 3

The image above was done by Ned Bustard and is part of a book he put together called Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups. I am using it for my Bible studies on Saturdays as a way of integrating the arts into my Bible study.

Hosea 3 NIV
[1] The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes. ” [2] So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. [3] Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.” [4] For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. [5] Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.


Dear God, this is a hard story. Why did Hosea have to go through this to make your point? Was his sacrifice necessary for us to read all of these years later?

Of the image that Ned Bustard made, he wrote: “In this piece a spurned husband dresses up in a tuxedo and comes out to the street corner with a wedding ring and an offer of marriage to his unfaithful wife who is standing under the street light, working as a prostitute.” As I look at his image, her face is expressionless–only lips. Her dress appears to be torn–perhaps from her customers tearing at her clothes. Her hair is not particularly smooth, but unkempt. And as he said, she is “under the streetlight.” She is showing off the merchandise, her body being the only thing that is important–not her face.

On the other hand, the husband has brought her her wedding ring that she left behind. He has made himself up as nice as he possibly could for her. His face if visible, and his hair is perfect, in contrast to her invisible face and unkempt hair. He wants to love her and take care of her. Will she accept his love?

Father, thank you for loving me. I have been the whore who has left you for others. I have pursued my own interests and sold out for advancement. I have also taken advantage of others for my gain. I am so sorry. I know I’ve repented of these things before, and you probably don’t remember what I’m talking about, but things like this bring them to mind again. And I am also reminded that, just like Hosea was called to a life of pain and sacrifice, I have no right to expect any different. I am amazed I have as much as I have. I am amazed you have answered my prayers in such powerful ways. You have been doubly good to me when I didn’t even deserve for you to be single-y good. Really, thank you!

In Jesus’ name I pray,



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Emails to God – “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:9-17)

9 Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.

Dear God, first, Esther’s request for the Jews to fast is the closest we get in Esther to seeing someone involve you—if only by intimation. But what I really admire about this story is the last sentence of verse 16: “And if I perish, I perish.”

It kind of reminds me of my favorite verse. It’s Acts 20:24: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me. If only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord has given me—the task of testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace.” At some point we all need to consider our lives worth nothing to us. At some point we need to do what we know is right regardless of what it means for our comfort. I’m not saying that I do these things very well. I do consider my life when I decide moment by moment whether or not to testify to the Gospel of your grace. I do consider myself too much when I decide whether or not to confront someone who is speaking hatefully.

Father, I think of some of the heroes of the world and the selfless decisions they made. Of course, there are those in the military who have died for their country. There are parents who work hard to sacrifice and provide for their children’s futures. There are wives who sacrifice their careers for their children and husbands. There are fathers who sacrifice their careers for their children. One doesn’t have to die to show they are selfless. One has only to die to one’s selfish ambitions and desires. Help me to do this as I make decisions on what kind of husband, father, employee, leader, son, brother, and friend to be.

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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Esther


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