Archives for posts with tag: sacrifice

Here in our state, we see acres and acres of corn and we know it is one of the most important crops in the entire world.

Sweet corn that is so delicious you swear you’re eating candy.  Feed corn that is used to feed animals and help them grow.  And seed corn… sent over the oceans to countries that use it to grow their own crops of corn to feed their people or animals.

Corn

Corn is used in a multitude of ways.  I can only think of a few, but they are amazing.  Corn oil is used to fry veggies and chicken.  Or corn is used to ferment and make alcohol. And with new technology, corn can be turned into Ethanol to help power engines.

And corn is a symbol of so much of fall.  “Indian corn” with its multi-colored kernels adorns many tables in centerpieces of harvest blessings.  And corn shucks are tied to fence and light posts to decorate our gates and doorways.   And then there’s “candy corn” passed out as goodies for fall celebrations…the yellow, orange and white candies sold in bags and bags at the grocery store, all based on CORN!

candy corn

If you’ve lived around a farm, or driven by one throughout the year, you know the hours of work involved in planting corn.  First, there’s the preparation of the soil, making it soft and rich with nutrients to give the seeds an environment to grow and be healthy.

Then there’s the hours spent planting each one of those seeds.  Can you believe that dried up seed will grow into that awesome ear of Peaches and Cream sweet corn???

Following that there’s watering, weeding, and praying a hail storm or strong wind doesn’t destroy the plant.  Harvesting goes on in billows of dust and into the night.  Ever see those harvesting machines with headlights on working into the night?

God bless our farmers!

Much the same routine goes on for all sorts of produce.  But think for a moment about tomato plants, peppers, green beans, peas, squash, zucchini.  Do you plant those in your home garden?  How many tomatoes do you get per plant?  How many peppers, beans, peas, etc.?

produce

And for an apple tree, or cherry tree, or citrus tree of some sort…how many fruits pull at the branches?

You plant, water, weed, fertilize…harvest.  Same kind of work for each plant, right?

But most varieties of CORN–each stalk so lovingly tended to–yield just ONE ear, maybe two!   Did you know that?  That is why we see acres and acres of corn in order to get bushels to be used in so many ways.

How many of us are willing to do just as much work for ONE thing as we are to get MANY things?

Do you know that Jesus would have gone through ALL he did, being made fun of, taunted, hated, lashed and crucified for ONE person?  For YOU?  That is how important you are to God.

Don’t forget it.  YOU are His child…the fruit of His labor.  YOU!

by Cindy Best

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In the mid-1970’s Linda Creed and Michael Masser wrote a song that was recorded in 1977 by George Benson as an R&B hit and then again in 1986 by a young woman with a powerhouse voice:  Whitney Houston.  According to the song, “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”  The music is stirring and the lyrics are inspirational—but wrong.

I’m not saying that loving yourself isn’t important.  It is difficult if not impossible to love others if we despise ourselves.  But love of self pales in comparison to the truly greatest love of all:  the love God has for his creation, especially for his children.  Mother Teresa said, “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”  What is this great love, and how is it different from other forms of love?  I think the greatest love has at least three important attributes.

First, it is the gold standard for love.  All other forms of love are measured against God’s love.  The other day I was reading an interesting article whose author made a comparison between followers of Jesus Christ and the dogs at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.  She said that the dogs in the show were not compared to each other or competing against each other; rather, they were judged against the breed’s standard.  For each breed, the dog that most closely matched the traits of the standard or ideal was the winner.  Perhaps we in the church, she wrote, could take a lesson from this:  instead of comparing ourselves to each other and competing with other believers for “best in show,” we should be judging ourselves against the ideal human being, Jesus Christ.

Second, great love is sacrificial.  When couples marry, I think the most difficult adjustment they must make early on is submitting to one another.  If you as a single person are used to doing what you want, when you want, spending your money the way you want, then having to consider another person’s priorities, preferences, and feelings can be a real challenge.  Selfishness is poisonous to marriage, as it is to friendship and parenthood.  Years ago, when I told my parents that my husband and I were expecting, my mother said, “When you have children, your life is not your own.”  I didn’t fully understand what she meant until our daughter was born.  Raising her required me to set aside many of my own dreams and desires to help her fulfill hers and to ensure that she always knew that my love was not only unconditional but unshakeable.  To prove His love for us, God made a great sacrifice.  He knew when He gave us free will and laid down the law about sin that we would have to be rescued from ourselves, and it was His plan from the beginning to demonstrate the greatest love of all by withholding nothing from us, sacrificing Himself in our place so that we could have an abundant life with Him both now and in the future kingdom.

Third, great love is transformational.  Something happens to us, or should, when we realize that Jesus gave up his heavenly throne to become one of us, to live among us, to laugh and to cry, to feel joy and pain, to die for us so that the rift between us and God caused by our sin could be repaired.  My daughter frequently tells me that I am the best mom in the world.  Although I appreciate the compliment, it is difficult for me to accept it because I am painfully aware of all my shortcomings and failures as a mother.  She has either forgotten those failures or has chosen to overlook them, and her love challenges me to aspire to become the person she  believes I already am.  God’s love also is without condition but not without expectation.  He does not want us to be content to be less than we can be.  Once we experience His great love, we can humbly ask Him to remake us, to help us become the people He intended us to be when He first imagined us.  We can be transformed by His love into a people who go on to share that great love with others in all the big and small things we do.

If I had to choose one word to describe this greatest love of all, I would have to say “quality.”  God doesn’t just love more—He loves better.  Our love is often impure, tainted with the residue of our sinful nature.  We sometimes hold back our love because we treat it as an investment, and without the assurance of a good return we hesitate.  But love is not capital.  Its quantity is limited only by the degree of our generosity.  God’s love is not only limitless, it is also pure and freely offered.  What could happen if we accepted the full measure of this love and allowed it to overflow us, overwhelming our failures and shortcomings, drenching the world in the greatest love of all?  I believe we would call that living in the kingdom of God.

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