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Real Love Involves Sacrifice

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Today’s Bible Reading: Lamentations 4-5:22; Hebrews 2:1-18; Psalm 103:1-22; Proverbs 26:23

Old Testament

The people of Jerusalem – God’s people – were once like gold but they had lost their sparkle and value (Lamentations 4:1-2). More precisely, God had taken it from them because of their sin. He had given them everything they could have needed or hoped for (Lamentations 4:4) – the best of the best – yet because they ignored Him and turned to other “gods”, God took it all away. Think of a parent who provides for her children yet gets no appreciation.

The United States was given so much by God: wealth, protection from enemies, influence, power, natural resources and beauty. Yet we are doing the same thing Israel did – we are eliminating God from our society. We are fools if we think God will allow us to keep these gifts He has given us if we continue to act this way. Why should He continue to bless us if we show no appreciation or even recognition of Him?

No one on earth would have thought that Jerusalem could have been conquered (Lamentations 4:12). Likewise, the idea of the powerful United States being defeated by a smaller enemy (just about any enemy would have to be smaller) seemed ludicrous at one point. But no more. I think everyone realizes that we are vulnerable, especially those who hate us. If we don’t turn back to God we can be sure that He will remove His protection from us just like He removed it from Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem.

Sin builds up over time. God is patient and gives people time to repent, even into future generations. Our ancestors who made bad decisions have died and will escape punishment on earth. Those of us who are alive will have to bear the punishment that is required for their sins (Lamentations 5:7). We are all the “victims” of someone else’s bad decisions. The ripple effects of these decisions are felt for generations.

After five years we still live with the effects of the greed associated with the housing bubble. After 200+ years we still live with the effects of slavery. After thousands of years we still live with the effects of Adam & Eve’s sin. That is life.


New Testament

It is important that we pay attention to God’s truth (Hebrews 2:1). This means being in God’s word everyday and keeping His truth on our minds through music, verse memorization, and fellowship with other believers. Like a boat that is not anchored, we will drift away if God’s truth is not holding us secure.

Despite the fact that human beings are “lower than angels” in God’s organization chart He has given us dominion over everything on the earth (Hebrews 2:7-8). God owns the earth and everything on it. But we get to manage it. God has clearly given us tremendous responsibilities that even the angels do not have.

In chapter 1 of Hebrews the author explains the deity of Jesus (He was God). Here in chapter 2 the author explains the humanity of Jesus (Hebrews 2:9). God told us in verse 7 that humans are “lower than angels” and so, too, did Jesus become lower than angels. He did this for our sake – so that He could suffer the death that we deserved. He had to become one of us and die in order to break the power death has over us (Hebrews 2:14). Only God can overcome death.

Real love involves a sacrifice. God demonstrated His love for us by giving up His glory in heaven and becoming one of us – one of His own creations. Only then could He make a sacrifice – and demonstrate His love at the same time – for us. If someone isn’t willing to make sacrifices for another, that person cannot have love for the other.

The ones who can offer the most and best empathy to others are those who have gone through what others are going through. Since Jesus was God in a human body who lived on this earth He was able to experience the same trials we go through. Unlike other “gods” (e.g. Allah, Brahma, etc) who remain far-off in their distant heavenly domains, God knows exactly what it is like to live on this earth. Therefore He is completely able to empathize with us and help us (Hebrews 2:18).


Psalms

Too many people have the wrong impression about God. They think He is aloof, always angry, and gets a kick out of punishing us. Not true. We’re more than 80% of the way through the Bible in 2013 and we’ve seen no passages that support such a theory. The Bible paints just the opposite picture. God is forgiving (Psalm 103:3). He has provided an escape from death (Psalm 103:4). He provides only good things (Psalm 103:5). He is compassionate and merciful (Psalm 103:8). God is our Father who wants to give us nothing but the best of everything He has to offer.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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