(Jesus said) "... I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. ...." John 10:17b-18a
Pastor's Note: On the Fourth of July we would normally share a devotion that deals with God and country. Since our Friday Daily Devotions are written by volunteers from our international ministry offices, we have shared that patriotic devotion today. Pastor Klaus
William "Kyle" Carpenter was a dead man.
It's true. Carpenter was declared "dead" by the officials at an Afghan field hospital and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Although he was revived by the medical teams, he should have breathed his last because of the wounds he sustained on November 21, 2010.
It was on that day that Carpenter and another Marine were stationed on the roof of a building during a firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. Manning his machine gun, Carpenter saw an enemy hand grenade land near their position.
Rather than running away from the grenade, Carpenter ran toward it and used his body to shield his comrade. The blast collapsed one of his lungs, destroyed his jaw, cost him an eye, and shattered his body in a horrible manner. His injuries kept him in the hospital for almost two-and-a-half years.
Still, it should be noted this once-dead man is now leading a most exceptional life.
Carpenter says, "The enemy killed me. I came back, ran a marathon, completed a mud run, and jumped from a plane."
He didn't mention the fact he has also thrown out the opening pitch at a Padres baseball game, and he has also stopped by the White House where the president has bestowed on him the Medal of Honor, the highest military award America can bestow.
Reading Carpenter's story, I was reminded of our Savior who sacrificed Himself so that those who believe on Him would be forgiven and saved. Rather than running from death and saving Himself, Jesus dedicated Himself to the cause of offering His life so we might live.
Now, because of the risen Redeemer's gracious and selfless sacrifice, believers are freed from sin's condemnation and are given new lives -- lives that are filled with blessing and hope. Looking past His resurrection, Jesus shared the purpose of His work when He said in John 10:10b, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
And if you're wondering how we who have been given an abundant life ought to respond to this great blessing of salvation, I would reply that our thanks will not come in the form of a most honored medal. No, our response ought to be shown when we join our voices with the multitudes in heaven who say, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" (See Revelation 5:12.)
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, there are times when humans will be willing to lay down their lives for a comrade or friend. Your sacrifice is especially gracious because You died and rose for sinners whose actions had made them enemies of heaven. Now may we offer up thanks for the gracious life of salvation You have won. In Your Name. Amen.
All too often the job of reaching others is left to others. That can be unfortunate. After all, there are times when YOU may be the best person to reach someone who is lost or wandering. If you have always wanted to know how to do such a sharing of the Savior, you may want to attend Lutheran Hour Ministries' SENT Outreach Conference which is July 24-27 in Detroit. For more information, visit www.lhm.org/conference.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries