A Real Sacrifice!

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 20:22
Date: 07/29/2000 
What does the Bible say about sacrifices? Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. A real sacrifice costs something. We don't give God our leftovers, but our best. It means sacrificing our rights.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Good morning, I’d like to wish everybody a happy Sabbath and I glad to see each of you here. Frankly I’m pleased. I thought that half of you would be up at Redwood Camp Meeting. And maybe we have a number how many visitors here today that are not regular members of central. Let me see your hands. It’s because your pastors are at Redwood Camp Meeting. Right, well we’re glad that you decided to come worship with us today. We’re going to be talking about a real sacrifice. Sermon title today is A Real Sacrifice and I’d like to begin with a definition as we sometimes do. Sacrifice: the act of offering something to a deity in propitiation or homage, especially the ritual slaughter of an animal or person; be a victim offered in this way; forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim; something so forfeited; baseball: a sacrificed hit. These are a few of the definitions of what it means to offer a sacrifice. The Bible has an awful lot to say about sacrifice. Of course first and foremost Jesus is the supreme sacrifice.

He was given that we might be saved and redeemed. A real sacrifice. Sermon title is a real sacrifice because there’s a lot of misunderstandings and counterfeit sacrifices out there. A real sacrifice costs something. You know the Bible talks about King Saul in I Samuel 15:15. He did not have the right concept of a real sacrifice. He attacked the Amelekites. He was instructed by the Lord to annihilate the people, the animals, everything and I won’t go into that, but I’ll just tell you what the story says is he returned from the slaughter and he had all these sheep and goats and cattle. Samuel the prophet said, “You were instructed to annihilate these people, were diseased and they were to be obliterated. They have been plaguing you for years.” He said, “Well we did. We did.” King Saul said to Samuel, “We did what you told us to do. We went and we attacked them all and we spared the king and some of the cattle to offer in sacrifice to the Lord.” That sounds very pious, those platitudes about how they were going to sacrifice the animals that they had spared. Is it a sacrifice if I take something from you to give as my offering? No, a sacrifice that doesn’t cost you anything is not a sacrifice. Here he is given the plunder of the Amelekites as a sacrifice to the Lord. King David had the right concept when the Lord was punishing Israel because of the pride of the people and the King David wanted to offer sacrifice. He went to purchase this piece of land on top of Mount Mariah that ended up being where the temple would later be built. It was called the threshing floor of Ornan and the king said to Ranah, “No, I will surely buy it from you.” Ornan offered to give it to the king. [He] said, “No, I will surely buy it from you for a price, nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which does not cost me anything.” A sacrifice costs something, that’s what makes a sacrifice a sacrifice. You feel it when you give it.

There’s a difference made. Now were going to look at different aspects of sacrifice. When we decide to serve the Lord it may require that we sacrifice our security. If you want to be a Christian you need to live by faith and that means that your trust may not be in a bank, it may not be in a job. You need to trust in the Lord. You may have to sacrifice earthly security. When a person goes to the mission field sometimes they have to sacrifice their security that they might have in a suburban neighborhood with the police and the alarms. But you know, I’m convinced that if you sacrifice your security to do the will of God you are safer in the will of God in the most dangerous jungle than you would be in suburban America with security guards and alarms and video cameras. Amen? If you are in God’s will that’s the most secure place to be to be a Christian. You need to sacrifice security that you won’t be hurt. You have to take a risk to be a Christian. You know why the essence of being a Christian is loving the loving God is pretty safe? He’ll never let you down, but it also requires that you love your neighbor and you love people and you take a great risk there. I want to read something to you from C. S. Lewis. I don’t always agree with all of C. S. Lewis’s theology, but he made some absolutely profound statements and had some incredible insights and this is one case. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. To love anything, in you heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping your heart intact you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it up carefully, round with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket safe, dark, motionless, airless it’ll change. It will not be broken. It will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. If you don’t risk loving you become irredeemable.

The only place outside of heaven where you can be perfectly safe and secure from all dangers of love is hell.” Something to think about if you want to be a Christian. You have to sacrifice your security. That you’re never going to be hurt, you’re never going to be wounded, you’re never going to be persecuted, you need to lay that on the altar. Being a Christian means a real sacrifice of time. Time you need to be able to give time to God and that’s what it it’s all about. Albert Schweitzer, I was reading, was a very talented musician, did a lot of musical arrangements in the high complicated music and he came under great conviction, at the age of thirty, that he was living a selfish life. The Lord began to speak to him and said, “I’ve given you good health, you’ve had a good education, you’ve lived in relative ease, you’ve had thirty years to do exactly what you wanted, why not give your life to me?” And he determined from that day on that he was going to live his life to the Lord. Took a radical change in his life. Entered medical school at thirty; went for several years. Then he went to the equators and the jungle of Africa and he lived the rest of his life, lived till ninety and served God as a medical missionary. And I remember, I wish I could find the quote, reading in his biography, where he said, “I am giving my life to God and that means that I am not going to live for myself. I’m going to give Him my time,” and he really did. And you know I think the Lord honored him with a long life. And he spent his time serving people in just the humblest of means, his little mission statement there, stationed there for oh about fifty years. He gave his time to serve the Lord; that’s a real sacrifice. Amen?

Heard about a Chinese Christian, his name was Lo Fook, he learned some of his comrades who were working as coolies in the mines of South Africa. They were mostly Buddhist and he wanted to share Christ with them. Lo Fook sold himself into service to work in these mines. He gave his life basically so that he could lead the other coolies who, they live in these shanty towns and worked all day long under terribly pathetic conditions without Christ or hope of everlasting life and he sold himself, basically gave his life, that he might work with them. And as a result of that two hundred of the coolies came to Christ in the five years before he died in the mines. Now that’s real sacrifice. When you give your life like that to serve others. You know the Bible tells us that God would like a sacrifice of praise. Hosea 14:1-2, “Oh Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the Lord and say to Him, take away all of our iniquities.” Of course there are words of repentance, “Receive us graciously for we will offer the sacrifice of our lips.” Hebrews 13:5, “Therefore, by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God.” That is the fruit of our lips. You know it’s so easy for us to choose to talk about ourselves or our selfish interests. A sacrifice means doing something that would not come naturally, giving up something. And instead of spending our time verbalizing our accolades, talk about God’s greatness. That’s a sacrifice of grace. You know the Bible tells us that you can experience victory when you do that. You remember the story, II Chronicles 20:22. Children of Israel were being attacked by their three-fold enemies, Edom, Moab and Ammon.

You know the enemy often rises up in three places. In Revelation it talks about the three-fold union of the beast, the dragon and the false prophet. And here the people of Judea are being surrounded by their enemies on every side who were distant relatives. How did they get the victory? The Bible says when they began to sing they put the priests at the forefront. When they began to sing and to praise the Lord, the Lord rose ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seer who had come against Judah and they were defeated. They never lifted a weapon. What did they do? They offered to sacrifice of praise and God gave them the victory. A lot of times when the enemy comes in on you and you’re being oppressed and depressed and attacked you can chose, though it may not come naturally, you can chose to offer God a sacrifice of praise. Start thanking Him for His blessings. Start praising Him for all the good. And by doing that, even though it might not feel natural at first, start singing a song. You ever done that? You deliberately choose, though you may not feel like it, to sing a positive uplifting song and it begins to transform your attitude and that’s a sacrifice of praise to God. And you know you offer a sacrifice, don’t forget you generally offer a sacrifice because you expect some benefit as a result. Even the baseball player when they make a sacrifice hit, they’re hoping to get a run in, aren’t they? They have to sacrifice an out to get the run in. And when you offer your sacrifices of praise, as a result the Lord draws near to you; that’s the benefit. So keep in mind most sacrifices, there’s an exception I’ll talk about in a minute, have benefits attached to them. Somebody said one time, "It is no sacrifice to give what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose." When you think about it, when the Lord asks us to give our hearts to Him that’s not really a sacrifice. When Jesus says that we should forsake everything and follow Him, is that really a sacrifice? You know who wrote these words? A missionary who died in the jungles of South America. He said, “It is no sacrifice to give what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose.”

And when you give your life to the Lord you can’t keep it. Jesus said, “He who seeks to save his life will lose it. He who loses his life for my sake in the gospel,” or sacrifices it, “he will save it.” The best sacrifice; a real sacrifice is the best sacrifice. You know just a few moments ago I fell into the typical trap that we all face as humans. When the offering plate went by; now just for the record, the offering that I give when I’m on the platform is, it’s a demonstration. Karen really gives the offering when she writes the check. That’s the real offering. But I have told you before, you’ll always see me put something in because I want people to see me giving. I think it’s important they see the pastor gives. I was part of a church once where the pastor receives the tithe and he didn’t pay tithe. He was constantly the recipient. I don’t think that’s the Bible principle. So I always put something in. It’s a basically a gift of, you know, letting my light shine that people might glorify God. As I reach in my wallet I had a very old twenty-dollar bill and I had one of the new twenty-dollar bills. And I really like the new twenty-dollar bills. I like the bigger faces that are offset. I think they look better. My other twenty looked like an old one, it was all crumpled up and I thought, “Oh, it’s an offering,” and I reached for the old twenty and right then and there the Lord says, “You’re going to give me the old one? Give me the pretty one.” That was a little thing; it’s a little thing. I know the treasurer will appreciate not having that old crumpled one I had in my wallet and count the nice, crisp one that came out of the ATM machine, but little things. But you know what? It’s so typical of our behavior to give God the leftovers and call it a sacrifice. Malachi 1:8, “And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,” let me back up. What was the Lord’s command regarding offering lambs and goats?

What was to be the qualification, the criteria of the offerings that were presented to the Lord? Without blemish, flawless, healthy, whole specimens. But what have the children of Israel begun to do? They would bring their offerings to the temple and they said, “You know, they’re going to kill it in a minute. Why take my best and healthiest that I can use for breeding when I’ve got a sick one here? I know it’s missing one eye and it’s, it’s kind of gimpy. It’s limping along and it’s half dead because it’s old. But it’s going to die anyway. I mean after all, it’s only going to the church.” So they started forgetting about that command to offer the lambs and the goats and the ox without blemish. And they started giving the Lord the lame offerings. The blind offerings. “When you offer the blind as a sacrifice is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and the sick,” they have these mangy goats and sheep they are bringing as an offering to the Lord, “is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor; will he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably, says the Lord?” We do to God what we would never do to each other. Have you thought about that? You get invited to the governor’s house for dinner; he talks about the governor here. I think most of us would, you know, we’d kind of pilfer through our wardrobe and try and find something that was clean and neat and respectable. We would not show up at the governor’s house for dinner dressed like we’re going to the beach. Am I right? How many agree? Be honest. But when we come to the Lord’s house we say, “I mean, God wants me to be comfortable, doesn’t He?” And we sometimes act like we’re going to the beach and we forget that He is the Exalted King of the Universe. Amen? And we give a lame leftover.

You’ve heard the story of Sir Walter Raleigh. They don’t know if this is true or not, but it’s a legend that’s so popular I can share it. Supposedly one day when he was walking with Queen Victoria [Elizabeth I], they came to a muddy spot in the trail and he took off his scarlet robe, his cape, and he threw it down and she stepped across it with her expensive shoes lest she soil he shoes. How many of you remember this story? You’ve seen paintings and things of it. As somebody once said, “A sacrifice made to royalty is never really a sacrifice.” And I thought, “Well that’s very appropriate and that would be true of the King of the Universe.” Amen? If we give Him our best it is never a sacrifice. And sometimes I think that when it comes to our time and our means, offering plate comes by in church and we give God a tip. Sometimes we tip waiters and waitresses better than we tip the Lord on Sabbath and we’re giving Him a lame sacrifice. A real sacrifice is something that costs you something; it’s something that hurts. Offering a sacrifice of convenience being a Christian. The Bible says make a covenant with Him by sacrifice. I’ll tell you I’ve been convicted. I am selfish. I’ll admit that. Maybe none of you have a problem, but I’ve come to realize I am selfish. That’s the biggest problem I wrestle with every day. Anyone else going to join me in this, or is just me, just your pastor’s selfish? I struggle with selfishness. It’s so easy to be selfish. All you got to do is do what comes naturally; just think about yourself.

You live with yourself all the time. Can’t get away from yourself, so it’s easy to think about yourself, right? And every now and then I am ashamed to admit to you that I act like I’m put out when Karen asks me to watch the children. Because I’ve got so much to do. You know I’m busy and they’re not as engaging sometimes to talk to. And they don’t like to play the same games I like to play. And they require a lot of attention to referee. And I remember one time Dianne Cossentine, I don’t know if she’s here today, a member called me and she asked for Karen. I said, “No, Karen’s gone. I’m babysitting.” She paused for a moment, she said, “Doug, that’s not babysitting. You’re the father. It’s called parenting.” And you know (laughter) I’m sharing it with you because I really stood corrected. (laughter) I’m taking care of my wife’s kids, you know, that’s how I felt about it all. Then I heard this week on the radio about the Emperor Penguin. You know it’s the largest of the penguins. The female, the coldest time of the year, lays one egg and then gives it to the male and he jostles it up on his feet and lowers his belly over it, he’s got extra folds because he’s been fattening up all year and then he stands there and incubates the egg for three months, without going to eat.

Talk about inconvenience. Now that’s a sacrifice, amen? But why do they do it? Because that’s the only way there’s going to be new life. And sometimes it requires us to sacrifice our convenience that other’s might live. (amen) Now this a good place for me to remind you we’re getting ready to have an evangelistic meeting and we need help. We need people who are willing to sacrifice their time and their means and their convenience to come and help with registration and to give out the Bible’s and the materials and to greet the people and to seat them and it takes a virtual army to have a successful meeting and it requires a big sacrifice, it does. Winning souls and giving life. Those of you who are mothers, does it require a sacrifice to be a parent, to give birth, to care for a child? It’s a full time job! If you have another job it’s really hard to do them both well and you know that even if you are a working mom I’m not condemning you, but it’s difficult to be a full time mom all by it’s self. Amen? (amen) It requires a sacrifice. You want to be a Christian; it requires a real sacrifice of your means. Heard about a hiker that was thirsty. Going through the woods one day and his canteen had run out of water. He came to an old deserted hunting cabin, but there was a hand pump there. And a by the hand pump there was a glass jug that was full of water and he got ready to drink the water but on the jug it said this is for priming the pump. Well he pumped the pump and nothing came out. Pumped it furiously and nothing. And a he had to make a decision: do I drink the water in the jug, it was a little warm and tepid, or do I pour away what’s in the jug hoping that something’s going to come out of the pump?

Well when you’re thirsty that’s a tough decision. But he decided to trust that that was priming water for the pump. And he poured it down the pump and pretty soon, cold, clear, clean water came gushing out in all the abundance he could possibly want. He not only was able to drink to the full and fill his canteen, but he filled the jug up, he set it back down and he scribbled on the bottom of the note that said water for priming the pump, “Trust me it works.” Now we sometimes forget that the offerings that we give as a Christian come back. That’s a Bible promise. I don't think you should make these sacrifices just because you believe it’s going to come back, but it is a fact that it comes back. The Bible says, “Cast your bread upon the water,” and what’s the promise? “It’ll return to you. Give and it’ll be given unto you, good measure pressed down, shaken together, and running over will men heap into your bosom. For what measure you meet, to you it’ll be measured.” It’s a principle of life; what goes around comes around and some of us are constantly struggling fiscally because we’ve not learned the principle of making a financial sacrifice. Now a lot of us give to the Lord, but we do not give sacrificially. You know what the difference is? The widow who put in her last two cents, that was a sacrifice.

That’s why Jesus called attention to it. It wasn’t the amount of money. God doesn’t care about the money. He owns everything already anyhow, amen? (amen) It was the amount of sacrifice that moved the Lord to draw attention to this woman, who was a widow, possibly with children, no means of income and gave everything because of her love to the Lord. Most of us when we give it’s not really a sacrifice. You know what a sacrifice is? It’s where you give and it means that you are taking what you were going to use for something else. I’m convicted; we get letters that come to Amazing Facts periodically and people say, “I was saving this money for to buy a boat for our family, to buy something, but we felt impressed that we could do without the boat or we could do without the addition on the house,” or whatever it was and people give thousands of dollars. They say, “We want you to invest this in soul winning. We want our treasure in heaven.” They are doing without something that they could have because; and they’re sacrificing that extra addition or that boat or whatever it was because they want to spread the gospel. That’s a sacrifice. Most of the time when we give, myself included, we go home in the same car, wearing the clothes, sleeping in the same bed with the same pillow, with all the same food. In other words we don’t really feel any tangible vacuum. A sacrifice is where you give something and you’re going to feel it. That’s pretty rare these days. I know somebody that I’ll not name, a very successful Christian businessman.

He gives sacrificially. He would give like half of his income on a project. And I’ve never seen somebody who is followed by so much good fortune. He keeps stumbling into these incredible opportunities to make money and I think the Lord keeps blessing him with these incredible opportunities and contracts that come to him and things because he gives so sacrificially. He can be trusted with those opportunities. A lot of us never realize that kind of blessing because we’re afraid to give sacrificially, to give where it hurts. Not only a sacrifice of means but it should be a willing sacrifice. That’s a real sacrifice. During World War I a French soldier had been wounded and the surgeon had to remove his arm and when he began to wake up the surgeon wanted to be by his bedside to break the very tragic news that he had lost his right arm. He was just a young man in the prime of his youth and he’s lost his right arm and he’s right handed. And when he woke up and regained his scruples the physician said, “I’m very sorry, but you’ve lost your arm,” and without even missing a beat the young French soldier said, “Not so,” he said, “I didn’t lose my arm. I gave my arm for France.” And sometimes sacrifice is especially hard because we feel like something is being ripped from our hands by the Lord. Jesus did not have His life taken. He said, “No man takes my life. I lay it down.” That’s why He was a sacrifice. He gave His life. God so loved the world He gave his Son. Sometimes we think that He was caught off guard and they jumped Him and executed Him. He was a willing sacrifice. Being a Christian means sacrificing your rights. That can be very difficult sometimes. Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live as Christ and to die is gain.”

You remember the story where the king of Israel had the whole army of the Syrians led into his city by Elisha the prophet? They’d captured them and he was getting ready to execute this whole army that was now surrounded by his forces. And he said, “Shall I smite them? Shall I smite them? Give the order. Ready, aim, fire. We’re ready to execute them all.” And Eilsha said, “No, you might have a right, they’re your captives, but why don’t you let them go? Why don’t you give them something to eat and let them go?” You know how hard that was for the king of Israel to sacrifice his right to get rid of the enemy that was trying to kill him? You know the context of the story? The Syrians had been trying to ambush and asassinate the king. Now he’s got them where he wants them and Elisha says make a sacrifice in love, let your enemy go. Shows the principle of loving your enemies even in the Old Testament. Yeah, he had a right, but he let them go. You know where I feel this the most is in driving. We know what our rights are driving, right? I’m an aggressive driver. I drive like Jehu for the Lord. And I know I passed John and Helen on my way to church this morning. We drive the same car. I figure it’s justified because I’m about God’s business, right? The police have never taken that argument before.

They don’t fall for that one. But have you been annoyed when people race ahead when traffic is merging? Instead of taking turns and alternating they race ahead, go down the shoulder and try and squeeze in as though they’re more important than everyone else. Any of you irritated by that? I’m one of those people that does that, no. (laughter) It is really hard for me sometimes. I’ll see someone trying to squeeze in when they ought to have merged a half-mile back. They're racing up the shoulder and they’re trying to butt their nose in and you know my nature; I’m very competitive. My natural reaction is, “You have no right to squeeze in here.” And I like to get my car right on the brake lights of the car ahead of me so they can’t get in. Because this person has no right to go in there. Why didn’t they get in line a half mile back like everybody else? They think they're in a bigger hurry; you know you’ve felt this way before. But you know then Jesus starts to deal with me. He says, “Doug you’ve done this before, let them in, sacrifice your rights.” And have you ever been in a situation where, you know, someone was trying to nose in from the street, into the line of traffic and you know that if you don’t give them a break they’re never going to get in because it’s just a row of cars all the way back. I like to stop and let people in. You know there’s so little Christianity out there that the least we could do is preach while we’re driving, amen? Sacrifice your rights and demonstrate the characteristics of Christ. Sacrifice credit.

Who gets the credit? You know it is often said, “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if we’re not worried about who gets the credit.” Perhaps you remember the story in the Bible where Gideon, under the power of God and through His leading, he attacked with three hundred men and defeated the army of Mideon. Well the people of Ephraim were outraged that they were not in on the battle and they wanted to fight with Gideon. And Gideon said, “Oh, but you managed to capture the two princes and a you won the battle.” He gave them credit for winning the battle against the Mideonites when they didn’t deserve it one bit. They’d done very little and he went on and he waxed very eloquent. He said, “Oh, the gleanings of Ephraim are better than the vintage of our people.” “You are so much better.” He gave them the credit and he was able to stave off a war with his own people by sacrificing the credit. Like the story where Joseph, you heard me tell (?) Pharaoh of Egypt, “I don’t have the answer to your dream, but God has the answer.” Daniel said the same thing, “There’s a God in heaven, He has the answer.” We’re sometimes always vying for credit for something that is done. You know we have evangelism council where evangelists get together from all over North America and Southern California. It’s an interesting dynamic because evangelists are a different breed of people. Of course, they have no ego at all, right? And they all get together and it’s interesting how they manage to squeeze into whatever their presentation is what the numbers are connected with their evangelistic efforts. And you can heat them sort of jostling among one another for who gets the credit for the most successful meetings and it’s a real temptation to a take the credit. Or you know what’ll happen? Somebody will go to Net 95 with Mark Finley, then they also go to Net 97 that we did, then they get baptized. And I’ve talked to Mark before and he said, “Yeah, I heard that so-and-so got baptized.”

How many of you remember the priest Tony Budzick? Catholic priest that got baptized. He went to Net 96, I’m sorry, with Mark Finley then he went to Net 97 and then he got baptized. Mark and I are trying to decide who gets the credit for his baptism. Tony’s been here at our church and he’s talked about going to our meetings and now he’s going around with Mark Finley. He’s talking about Mark Finley’s meetings. I kind of resent that because I really think that it was my meeting that made the difference in his life. But you know a real Christian is willing to sacrifice who gets the credit. It’s like the story, that famous painting that’s hanging in a museum by a famous artist whose name I can’t remember, of this grandfather rowing this boat and next to him holding one of the oars, who can’t even get her hand around it, is a little granddaughter. And he’s got her thinking that she’s rowing the boat with him. That’s really no help at all. God is the one rowing the boat and He sometimes shares credit with us. If we have His Spirit we’ll be willing to sacrifice the credit. Nothing ever seems sadder than what appears to be a wasted sacrifice. During World War II this plane in Europe coming back from a bombing raid made a very rough landing in England. It burst into flames on the ground. Most of the airmen were able to jump out of the plane, but because of the way the plane hit the ground, one of the soldiers was trapped in his seat, they could not undo the seat belt. And hearing him scream inside as the flames began to engulf the plane, the pilot ran back in and tried to help free him. And the man was screaming, “Don’t leave me! Don’t leave me!” The pilot never came back out again even though the door was open and he could have walked right out.

He decided to stay with the man rather than leave him to burn to death by himself. Now you think, “What a wasted sacrifice,” but is it? You know you hear the story about Polly Klass, remember? I used to work right over there where she was kidnapped. This 12-year-old girl that was kidnapped and for months nobody knew where she was. All they knew is some guy had come in her bedroom window where she was having a slumber party with her friends and kidnapped her at knifepoint. And they had her posters everywhere and they had teams and dogs and helicopters and networks and Internet and poll doing everything they could do to find this girl. For months people were working to find her, never knowing the whole time she was dead the same day she had been arrested. Was that a wasted sacrifice of means and energy? You know the people who were involved in it feel that it was a waste. It’s not a, it’s not a wasted sacrifice when your working to save life. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. But will the whole world be saved? He suffered for the sins of the whole world, but will the whole world be saved? Is that a wasted sacrifice? I don’t think so. You know why? Because in Jesus being willing to provide forgiveness and liberty for everybody who’s ever lived and all the sins that have been committed He demonstrates how big His love is. It’s not a waste; it’s a lavish sacrifice. The cup runs over you might say. You’ve maybe heard me tell the story about this Christian woman, dedicated, godly Christian woman. Had a brother named George who was an alcoholic, severe alcoholic, and she had tried to witness and encourage and help him and prayed for him for years. Finally his health began to fail because his kidneys were failing; dialysis wasn’t working.

The doctor said that the only thing that would save him was a transplant, but because of his self-destructive lifestyle he was not even going to get on the list for an organ donation. His sister went to the doctor and said, “What if I gave him one of my kidneys? I heard this has been done before, will you do it?” And they said, “Well if your blood types match it’s possible, but we really discourage you from doing this because your brother is; he’s basically destroyed his health and we have no evidence that’s he’s changed his ways.” And she prevailed on them to go ahead with the surgery. Had to mortgage her own house to get even just the down payment to pay the hospital to go ahead with the surgery. Well they performed the surgery. They removed one of her kidneys, perfectly healthy kidney (their blood types matched) and put it in George. His body began to adapt and receive it as nothing that is any more receptive than a sibling with the same blood type. You’ve got a very good chance of your body accepting that and things went very well for George. But the Christian lady had a reaction to the anesthesia and she was paralyzed from the waist down. Something happened. Some people are allergic to certain anesthetics and one of the chemicals or something, and it just a killed some of the nerves; from the waist down she was paralyzed. When she woke up and they realized that there was some permanent damage, her first question was, “How is George doing?” They said, “Well it seems like he’s doing okay.” She said, “As long as he’s doing okay, it’s worth it all.” But how do you think she felt when after he left the hospital the first place he went was the bar? After all she had sacrificed for him to be healed? Sounds like a wasted sacrifice.

Now let’s apply that to our relationship with the Lord. How much has Jesus paid that we might be forgiven for and saved from our sins? And after we accept His forgiveness and we accept His pardon, if we deliberately abuse that salvation how the angels must weep at what appears to be a wasted sacrifice. Course a real sacrifice is when you sacrifice your life and some people hesitate to sacrifice their lives because, you know, they think, you know, “It’s my life.” But when you're bent on keeping your life you lose it; when you give it you save it. There was a Christian missionary who went to the Fiji Islands named James Calvert. He made a real sacrifice. The captain as he was lowering him and his small team of missionaries off on these islands that were famous for the cannibals and what they had done to former missionaries. They said, “You realize this is suicide, aren’t you afraid?” And the missionary said, “No, we’re not afraid of dying. I died long ago.” You know when you come to the Lord we are crucified with Christ. And if you are really crucified with Christ then you can’t consider anything a sacrifice because you’re dead. Everything’s easy from then on. Right? When you give the Lord all of your heart and when you give Him all of your life it’s downhill from there on because He owns everything. We don’t squirm and writhe and wiggle when God asks us to make a sacrifice because we already died, we already gave everything. We willed all of our assets to Jesus when we surrendered our hearts. John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.” You know many have been inspired to serve the Lord because of how much He showed His love in sacrificing for us. Sort of like the story of the Alamo.

Two hundred and thirty two Americans knew that they would die if they fulfilled the orders of General Houston. “Hold the fort at all costs,” the Alamo. And I remember reading about it where Travis drew a line in the sand and he said, “If you stay and fight we might buy enough time for Houston to get an army big enough to defeat Santa Ana.” Sorry to my Mexican friends who are here, but we did win. And he drew this line in the sand and he; Davy Crockett I understand was the first one across the line, and then one by one they began to follow, finally Bowie, was it Jim Bowie? He was so sick that he had to be carried across on a stretcher. And all two hundred and thirty two of them died. Five thousand of Santa Ana’s army attacked them. When the battle went on the cry was remembered, “The Alamo!” Why was that such a mobilizing cry? Because of the sacrifice that they had made in giving their lives. They thought that we shouldn’t allow that to be a wasted sacrifice and so they fought until they were victorious. What’ll we sacrifice when we sacrifice our lives? I’d like to read a quote from Steps to Christ to you. “What’ll we give up when we give up all? A sin polluted heart for Jesus to purify, to cleanse by His own blood, to save by His matchless love and yet men think it hard to give up all. I’m ashamed to hear it spoken of. I’m ashamed to write it.” Christians, that’s Steps to Christ, 46. This is a different quote and I can’t find the author, it’s anonymous. “Christians are often accused of being morbid when they talk of the joy of sacrificing. I think it is one of the deepest truths of the Christian religion. Far from being the source of sadness, sacrifice is a great joy and a source of illumination. Perhaps the greatest of all.”

Sacrifice is what really prepares us to receive God. When God’s Spirit came down on the temple in such intensity that the priests could not even minister. When did it happen? It happened after they offered a sacrifice to consecrate the temple. Then the Spirit of God came down. When we present ourselves as the living sacrifice, wholly unto the Lord, what do we get in return? He then fills us with His Spirit. When did Pentecost come? After 120 in the upper room made a living sacrifice. For ten days they prayed together and the put aside their differences. I know you’re hearing me talk a lot about that because I’d like to see if we could repeat the experience. Amen? Put aside our differences; present ourselves as a living sacrifice. “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you might prove what is the good and perfect and acceptable will of God.” This is what it means to give everything and it’s not, it’s not a sacrifice, it’s good. David Livingston, listen to what he said. “People talk about the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa.

Can it be called a sacrifice, which is simply paying back a small part of the grave debt we owe to our God? Which we can never repay. Is that a sacrifice which brings it’s own blessed reward in healthful activity, in consciousness of doing good, peace of mind and the bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in view of such, in such a thing. It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it’s a privilege. I never made a sacrifice.” He died in Africa on his knees. Spent years there exploring the country and trying to do missionary work. He said, “I never made a sacrifice.” We ought not to talk of sacrifice when we remember the great sacrifice that He made who left His Father’s throne on high to give Himself for us. Oswald Chambers said, “Our notion of sacrifice is the wringing out of us something we don’t want to give up, full of pain and agony and distress. The Bible idea of sacrifice is that I give as a love gift the very best thing that I have.” God is not trying to pry from us, to wrench our clinched fists open. When you love the Lord it’s a willing sacrifice and that’s a real sacrifice. You know, I’ve had people come to me before. My dad is virtually a billionaire and we don’t get along very well. He thinks I’m a nut. We talk very little.

When we talk we talk about the grandkids and that’s about it and I don’t say much about it, but I could go work for my father. He’s asked me before. He resents that my brother Falcon, who had the brains for it, died. He can’t work for dad and here I’ve got the health and I won’t work for him. And some people have said, “Doug, it’s a wonderful sacrifice you’re making, all the money and the millions you could have to go work for your father.” And I’m not being pious, this isn’t false humility, friends. That’s not true. I mean I am so comfortable I have so much that’s not a sacrifice. But I do make a sacrifice. Do you know what the sacrifice is for me? Not working for my dad. I’d be miserable. So if you’re avoiding what makes you miserable, that’s not a sacrifice. You know what’s a sacrifice for me? You have no idea how I long to be up in the mountains, how I loathe living in the city. Now if I’m going to live in a city, Sacramento is as good as you get. But I don’t want to live in a city. Its hard for me to watch my kids growing up in the city when I know that they could be living up in the hills surrounded by God’s creation and I am constantly pinning and yearning to flee the city. Now that’s hard for me. That’s a sacrifice for me. But I do it because I believe this is where the Lord wants me and you know what?

When I dry my eyes and stop feeling sorry for myself I have to count my blessings. I am so thankful; it’s not really a sacrifice. I am so thankful for the evidence of God’s blessing and the people who are being reached by the ministry of this church. I know where God wants me. But if I’m making a sacrifice, that would be the sacrifice that I’m making. You know I’m a hermit by nature. You live in a cave for a year and a half. You gotta be different to do that, and a so for me this is difficult sometimes. I know that when I’m up in front of you you think, “Well Doug, he’s very sanguine. He’s a people person.” Not really. When I’m here I am; as soon as I leave I like to be alone. And I long to be up in the mountains. But you know I think that Jesus, He longed to be in heaven, He longed to be with the Father. And He left all that and came to our earth out of love for you and me. Then I really have no right to complain, do I? It’s not even, makes me ashamed to even make that kind of comparison. What’s a real sacrifice? Bring your son on top of the mountain, your only son, and be willing to offer him. Leave the courts of Egypt when you know you’re in line to be the next king and have the whole world at your feet and go live with stinking sheep out in the wilderness like Moses, that’s a real sacrifice.

Pray for a son for years and you get a son and then you give him back to the temple, that’s a real sacrifice. I think sometimes we don’t have a Biblical concept of what a real sacrifice is. Give your life, now that’s a sacrifice. I remember looking through the National Geographic and they had this article about the forests in North America and a forest fire and they showed this one picture where the writer was walking through the burnt ashes of a forest that had been scorched and he saw the petrified remains of some wild pheasants. Couldn’t even identify exactly what it was and he had his you know steel toed hiking boots on and he kicked it over and out from under the black charred remains of this hen three little chicks that were still alive came scurrying out looking for cover. This mother bird when she saw the fire approaching she could have flown away, but instead she spread her wings, made a little call and the chicks came underneath, knowing instinctively that the heat and the fire would rise. They stayed underneath her wings and she basically; basically she burnt to death and held her ground that they might live. Now that’s a real sacrifice. You know the Bible says that the Lord says to His people, “How often I would have taken you under my wings.” Lay His life down that we might be saved, that’s what Jesus did.

He sacrificed His life. Now I’ve itemized a number of different sacrifices today you know and I haven’t covered them all. Giving our time and our convenience, our means, sacrificing credit, ultimately our life, but you know there is really only one thing that God asks us to sacrifice. You remember the story of the rich young ruler, he saw Jesus blessing the children and then Christ got up and started making His way down the road. And the young ruler went running after Christ and he threw himself at His feet. He said, “Good master, what good thing should I do that I might have everlasting life?” Jesus stopped and turned around and He said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but one and that’s God. But if you would enter into life keep the commandments.” He said, “Which ones?” Jesus began to itemize the commandments that deal with relationships between fellow man. He left out the first four. Not because we don’t have to keep the first four, but He was emphasizing this man had a problem really loving his fellow man. Let, “honor your father and mother, thou shalt not steal, do not commit adultery.” Before Jesus could even finish, he’d heard these all his life, he said, “All these I have kept from my youth up,” he thought he’d been keeping them. And Jesus said something interesting, “There’s one thing that you lack, one thing,” and then He gave him a little list. He said, “Go, sell all that you have, give to the poor, you’ll have treasure in heaven.” The Lord never asks us to make a sacrifice without offering us something better. Did you hear that? The Lord never asks us to make a sacrifice without offering us something better. “Sell all you have, give it to the poor, you’ll have treasure in heaven and come follow me.”

He said, “There’s one thing you lack.” What was the one thing? “Follow me. Give me your heart.” You know there’s a song, I don’t know if I dare even mention it in church, that country song Willy Nelson used to sing. It’s called All of Me. “Why not take all of me? Can’t you see that I’m no good without you? You took the part that once was my heart”, am I in trouble for doing this, “so why not take all of me”. When we give God our hearts He has everything else. If He’s got your heart, He’s got your wardrobe, He’s got your wallet. He’s got everything if He’s got your heart. What does the Lord want? He wants a living sacrifice. What does that mean? He wants your heart. He says my son give me thine heart, that’s His plea to you. When you give Him your life as a living sacrifice, He gives you everything back. But first you must pour it all out on the altar and then He can fill you. Is that your desire, friends, to give everything to the Lord? Do you want the pearl of great price? What does it cost? You’ve got to sell everything. If you want the treasure that’s in the field, what does it cost? That man went and sold everything he had. Did they regret the sacrifice? No, they got something that was so much better and the Lord will give you something so much better if you will give Him all of your heart. Is that your desire, friends? Please reach for your hymnals, let’s sing about it, I Surrender All, 309, and let’s stand together as we sing this familiar song.


Now I recognize there may be some of us here today who, while we listened to the word this morning, have doubted if we really have placed our lives a living sacrifice on the altar, a holy sacrifice. Maybe you’ve been holding back, you’ve never really given the Lord all of your heart. That’s what He wants. You can do it now. You should do it now. Why would you hesitate? He’ll give you everything in return. What do you give up when you give up all? A heart polluted with sin, a life that’s out of control. You’ll ultimately self-destruct unless you give everything to the Lord. Why would you want to keep your life when you’re going to lose it, when you can lose your life and then forever keep it? It is no sacrifice to give what you cannot keep, if you gain what you cannot lose. If the Lord is speaking to you and you know you’ve been holding back and today you want to make a complete sacrifice to the Lord, then please come as we sing verse two, we want to pray for you.


You know there may be some here today who have made a decision to follow Jesus. You have not yet been baptized and chosen to become part of God’s people and join His church and today you’d like to make that decision. I’d like to encourage you to respond. We’ve got Pastors down here that would be happy to take your information and to visit with you and prepare you for that beautiful event. We invite you to come; we’d like to pray with you. And there may be others who may be still struggling. You know this is the essence of the gospel, isn’t it, to surrender everything to Jesus. He’s already given us an example by surrendering His life that we might be saved. You have everything to gain by surrendering yours to Him. There’s no benefit to clinging to the sins that beset us. Let them go, lay them aside and look unto Jesus and He’ll lead you to the kingdom. Come now as we sing verse four.


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