Notes from Sunday 10 November 2013..
Speaker: Pastor Okechukwu Ezeobi
Key Passage: Psalms 50: 1-5
During the midweek service last Wednesday, I heard the spirit of God say clearly ‘Prepare a message on Sacrifice’. I wondered when and why this message should be preached, and spent the evening thinking about sacrifice. Later that evening, Senior Pastor asked me to preach today. I believe that our God has word for us today.
A synonym for sacrifice is loss. Psalms 50: 1-5 says;
“The Mighty One, God the Lord,
Has spoken and called the earth
From the rising of the sun to its going down.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God will shine forth.
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent;
A fire shall devour before Him,
And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him.
He shall call to the heavens from above,
And to the earth, that He may judge His people:
“Gather My saints together to Me,
Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”
God is looking for stakeholders: he called the earth, his saints- those who have made a covenant by sacrifice (loss). God chose to confer with these ones before taking a decision regarding the earth. It is these ones who determine the governance of the earth.
There are 2 types of sacrifice:
- Sacrifice to God
- Sacrifice to Man
God reminded me about an event in August 1995, in CPM Aba. The preacher invited people to make a covenant of sacrifice with God. I walked to the altar. Since then, I have enjoyed immense benefits.
There Are 3 Things To Know About Sacrifice
- Sacrifice is an indication of how much you love God, and is a reflection of your walk with God. The thermometer of sacrifice will show how deeply you are walking with God. For example, Abraham in the Old Testament was willing to sacrifice his only son to affirm his love and covenant with God (Genesis 22). In contrast, the rich young man in the New Testament went away very sad when asked to give away his possessions and follow Jesus (Matthew 19: 16-30).
- Sacrifice is a determinant of how much God you have within you. God says come close to me and I will come close to you. Stepping towards God is not easy: we may struggle with reading the bible, i.e., giving time, commitment and dedication to the study the word of God. Sometimes we may struggle to pray: we may adopt the posture of prayers, but our minds wander.
- Sacrifice is evidence of your level of forgiveness. You are only ready to forgive when you suffer loss. When you forgive, you demonstrate grace and ability to suffer loss.
How do I Suffer Loss?
The bible talks about a sacrifice of thanksgiving. This creates a picture of rejoicing in loss.
- We need to suffer loss in our egos. Some people are so full of themselves that they think they cannot be wrong.
- We need to lose pride. Sometimes our forbearance, tolerance and ‘swallowing’ of insults and hurts create the access to preach the gospel of Christ. It is God who created us and gives us everything we have. We should not think ourselves better than anyone else.
- We need to lose our reputations: Philippians 2: 5-6 says “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God”.
- We need to lose our ‘rights’. The day human beings choose to sacrifice their rights, instead of standing emphatically on them, there will be peace in this world. Romans 12: 19 says: “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, ”says the Lord.” Let Go and Let God. God will defend your rights. God is looking for those who will give their rights to him.
- We need to lose our comfort and convenience. How do we treat God?
- We need to lose our talent. We need to put our abilities to use for God. God deliberately deposited abilities and talents within us. We should not become arrogant, but should be ‘hands-on’ in his service.
- We need to lose our opinions and ideas. Some people are immovable. Their word is final. Everyone else is wrong, stupid or ignorant. We need to learn to listen to others
- We need to lose our pleasures and hobbies.
God has sacrificed for creation: he killed a lamb to clothe Adam and Eve. God is calling us to sacrifice. Psalms 50: 7-15 says;
Hear, O My people, and I will speak,
O Israel, and I will testify against you;
I am God, your God!
8 I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices
Or your burnt offerings,
Which are continually before Me.
9 I will not take a bull from your house,
Nor goats out of your folds.
10 For every beast of the forest is Mine,
And the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds of the mountains,
And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.
12 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you;
For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.
13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls,
Or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God thanksgiving,
And pay your vows to the Most High.
15 Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me
But, look at Genesis 8: 20-22;
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”
Did God not say in Psalms 50:13 that he does not eat bulls and lambs? But Genesis 8: 20-22 says ‘the Lord smelled a soothing aroma’: when Noah left the ark, he immediately gave a sacrifice to God. Noah could have said, ‘I do not have plenty, I should not sacrifice’. Noah chose to give a sacrifice of thanksgiving, which the LORD received with favour. God looked at the heart of Noah. Those things we desire to do for God are as good as done. David desired to build a temple for God, and was rewarded with an everlasting covenant (2 Samuel 7: 1-12).
Only those who are willing to sacrifice will be called to the conference of God (Psalms 50). Every-time we sacrifice, we become like God. Romans 14: 15 says;
“Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.
Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
We see that even when we are within our rights, or doing something good, we must be careful not to hurt others.
The Benefits of Sacrifice
Think of sacrifice as advance payment- a painful loss, endured for a purpose to be regained later. What do you gain if you win an argument with your spouse? You may lose the relationship with that spouse as you maintain your difficult stand. God will approve you!! (Romans 14: 18). Philippians 2: 5-7 says;
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”
Forget about who you are. Do what God did.
Sacrifice is difficult. Sacrifice is easy to preach, but it is painful. However we have help: Philippians 1: 6 says “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”. One person thinking like Christ will make a difference in any environment. Philippians 3: 7-8 says;
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ”.
We sacrifice because we want to be like Christ. We sacrifice because we want to be like God.
The bible talks about the ‘fruit of the Spirit’: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5: 22-23). It follows that people should enjoy our presence. If people cannot stand you, know that God cannot stand you. Sacrifice is deep. We need the mind of Christ: Psalms 1: 2-3 says;
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper”
To manifest the fruit of the Spirit, we must be willing to become vessels of sacrifice. God cannot send you on an errand, or give you a task to complete if you will not sacrifice. I forgive because I want to be forgiven (Matthew 6:12)!
What Are The Benefits Of Sacrifice?
- When you sacrifice you receive rewards a hundred fold
- When you sacrifice to God, he prepares the way to you show the salvation of God
Sacrifice hurts but it paves the way for us: Psalms 50: 23 says
“Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright
I will show the salvation of God”