Christian Sacrifices – A Reflection of Love
February 16, 2011 (Wednesday)
Bible Verses: Hebrews 13:15-16
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifice God is pleased.” (NIV)
Shall we pray. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. For giving us another day to worship you and to listen to your message. Prepare our hearts and minds as we listen to your word. Make thy servant an instrument of your love and sacrifice as I deliver your message. Guide my lips and give me wisdom to share your word. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Happy love month to everyone! Love indeed is in the air. It’s amazing how we Filipinos’ celebrate Valentine’s Day. Everywhere you go you can see, smell and touch the different expressions of love. Giving flowers is still the best, I believe. Before, there were greeting cards; nowadays, texting and FBs are enough to send your message across fast without delays. Well, I hope everyone enjoyed and shared your “Kodak moments” with your loved ones last February 14.
Our message this afternoon is about Christian Sacrifices. As I was saying, all the time, effort, and purse we spent to make our V-day special involves a certain amount of sacrifice. We allot our best time to spend with our special someone; make extra effort to cook his/her favorite dish; we dig through our purse to buy the loveliest flowers and the sweetest chocolates available and what have you. These are all for the sake of our one true love. Question: Can we love without making sacrifice, or, the other way around, can we make sacrifices without love? Personally, in my opinion, the two must always come together. Our bible passage today is found in the book of Hebrews chapter 13: verses 15-16. Here we will see some of the expression of sacrifices a true believer must possess to prove his/her true love!
The Epistle (or Letter) to the Hebrews, one of the most important books of the New Testament in that it contains some of the chief doctrines of the Christian faith, is, as well, a book of infinite logic and great beauty. To read it…is to breathe the atmosphere of heaven itself. To study it… is to partake of strong spiritual meat. To abide in its teachings… is to be led from immaturity to maturity in the knowledge of Christian truth and of Christ Himself. It is to “go on unto perfection.”
Hebrews chapter 11 is the faith chapter (the Christian’s power) of the epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 12 is the hope chapter (the Christian progress), and chapter 13 is the LOVE CHAPTER (THE CHRISTIAN’S PRACTICE). It is the most frequently quoted Bible verse at weddings.
From the book of Hebrews, chapter 13 is the Spiritual Life of Believers and verses 15-16 are the True Christian Sacrifices. Hebrews 13:15 says, ”Through Jesus, therefore, let s continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise the fruit of lips that confess his name.”
There are 4 SACRIFICES OF A BELIEVER:
I) You can SACRIFICE YOUR PERSON
In Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is our spiritual act of worship.”
In the oldest records that can be found of the various nations of the earth, sacrifice is always found to have been part of our religious services. From the time of Adam, our ancestors not only felt the need to obtain pardon for sins, but to express our gratitude to the supreme being or beings whom we regarded as the givers and the benefactors of our life. The religion of Israel, however, taught the necessity of personal holiness”.
Christians like us are called upon to be holy in both body and mind; and Paul seeks to motivate us “through the mercies of God.” ‘Therefore’ we should ‘present our bodies’ [to Him as] ‘living sacrifices.'”
We should believe that we would be held responsible for what we did in the flesh. We will be held responsible before God for what we do in our body. We see from this passage that God requires the service of the body as well as that of the mind.”
We need to understand that our bodies belong to God just as much as our souls do (1 Cor 6:19-20). What we do in our bodies is important! Paul warns us against believing otherwise when he wrote: Romans 6:12-13, 16 … it says, “Do no offer the parts of your body to sin, as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God…. Offer your body to him as an instrument of righteousness.”
Let us present our body, as a living and holy sacrifice. Whatever we do: at home, in the dormitory, in our hospital duty or community, let’s do our best, give our best shot, and stretch our arms. Remember, we are not created to be an ordinary but an excellent one. I encourage you to recognize that God wants to do something new in you, through you, and for you this year 2011. Let’s offer all of it as worship to God and to Glorify His name.
We need to accept Him as our Lord and Savior so that we can offer our lives and dedicate ourselves fully to Him. Believers like us are to dedicate ourselves to God. Thus, to be godly, is to give up ourselves to Him. As Christ gave Himself for us, we now give ourselves back again to Him.
Question? If you are single and involved, or in a relationship, how will you apply this truth to your life? Should you give in to your partner’s wants or to put it bluntly, should you give in to pre-marital sex? Remember: who owns your body at this time. Isn’t it that your body belongs to God? So, you know what the answer is..
Someone has said, “When one truly gives himself to the Lord, all other giving become easy.”
2nd – YOU CAN SACRIFICE YOUR PURSE
2 Corinthians 8:1-5 says, “And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as they expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.”
In 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 the apostle develops 10 principles of Christian giving. Some principles that I would like to share some:
1. Christian giving is an expression of the grace of God (8:1-6).
As we offer our lives, we also have to give. All of us know that… our God is a generous God. He owns everything and He is at work within His people to make us generous too.
2. Christian giving can be a CHARISMA, that is a gift of the Spirit (8:7).
But just as WE excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us – see that we can also excel in this grace of giving. Thus, as we excel in the spiritual gifts of faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness and love, the apostle urges us to excel also ‘in this grace of giving’.
Why is it important to draw attention to this? It is because many of God’s endowments are both a generous gift given to us believers and a particular gift (charisma) given to some. For example, we Christians are called to share the gospel with others, but some have the gift of an evangelist. All Christians are called to exercise pastoral care for others, but some are called to be pastors. Just so, all of us are called to be generous, but some are given the particular ‘gift of giving’. Because we have been entrusted with significant financial resources, we have a special responsibility to be good stewards for the common good.
Example: Look at our Pambansang Kamao Manny Pacquiao. He show his love for people by giving, by being generous with his earnings and his welcoming attitude towards others. This is evidence of his charisma, and his giving definitely adds to that!
3. Christian giving resembles a harvest (9:6-11a).
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
‘He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor: his righteousness endures for ever.’
Harvest principles are here applied to Christian giving. First, we reap what we sow. Whoever sows sparingly reaps sparingly, and whoever sows generously reaps generously (v.6). ‘Sowing’ is an obvious picture of giving.
Example: Darilin’s experience of giving of her tithes in our church.
4. Christian giving promotes thanksgiving to God (9:11b-15).
Through us our generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
If he doesn’t have your purse, He doesn’t have you.
The 3rd Sacrifice is…
3rd You can offer the SACRIFICE OF PRAISE, which we find in this verse: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”
In Psalm 100:2 it says, “Serve the Lord with gladness: Come before His presence with singing.” THE HUNDREDTH Psalm is rightly entitled “A Psalm of Thanksgiving” (R.V.). The Psalmist calls for a “joyful noise,” i.e. an audible expression of worship. Do not be content with a thankful heart, but express it! It is good to let God have “the fruit of our lips.” If we delight ourselves in the Lord, we should serve Him with gladness!
Let us Trust God, and just like the birds, praise Him. Keep that song of praise in your heart. When the praises go up, the blessings come down. Supernatural things will happen when we praise Him.
4th Finally, you can offer the SACRIFICE OF PERFORMANCE or DOING GOOD (THE SACRIFICE OF GOOD DEED), which we find in the following verse:
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others,
for with such sacrifice God is pleased.” – Heb. 13:16 NIV
When you took that basket of fruit over to that dear, lonely, and sick child of God whom everyone has forgotten about, you were a priest offering a sacrifice to God. It was well pleasing to Him – He took delight in your doing that. The Lord Jesus is up yonder at the right hand of God – that is where He is as head of the church-but His feet are down here right where the rubber meets the road. He wants us to be humble. He would like us to put our feet on the ground just like Him.
Let us do good to those who are around us. Let’s share what we have with others. In doing so we will offer sacrifice to God (Hebrews 13:15, 16). Be thankful for God’s many blessings, but be sure to remember those who have less.— (David C. McCasland) But there is more to it than thankfulness. We are to put actions behind our gratitude.
But when an overseas Filipino worker says, “I love my children” and are willing to face the pain of hard work in a foreign country in order to earn a few dollars to feed them; you know that the love here is the desire to provide the best, do the best and offer themselves to serve the children the best and that’s true love.
According to Francis Kong (Feb. 14, 2011) True love on this “Love Month Celebration” should always serve as US a reminder for the model of love when the Father sent the Son to die so you and I in Him may have life. Now that is wishing, doing and serving the best for the object of the Father’s love.
In relation to doing good, love and sharing with others, In Matthew 22, Jesus talked about 2 of the greatest commandments. The first is to LOVE GOD; the second is TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. Notice that there are 3 connections in those two commands: the connection between you and God, the connection between you and others, and your connection with yourself. See, we can’t love others if we don’t love ourselves first. And, we can’t love ourselves without receiving God’s love for us. That’s the love connection. God’s love works in us and empowers us to love others we love ourselves!
Loving yourself isn’t about being selfish; it’s about honoring God’s creation … you! I encourage you today to receive God’s love in a new way. Ask Him to show you His unconditional love. When you understand His true love, you’ll be set free from any kind of inferiority and insecurity. You become more grounded and better able to love others as you love yourself. The more we accept God’s love, the more love we will be able to give in return—both to Him and to the people who matter the most to us.
To conclude, God created us for the purpose that we would live to glorify Him by enjoying Him forever. How do you do that? By living in a
manner pleasing to Him. By coming to faith in Jesus Christ and His shed blood as the only way to be reconciled to the holy God. Having trusted in Christ, we please God by our daily offering our life to Him as a sacrifice of praise and good deeds.
Here are some ways to put this into practice:
(1) Steep yourself in the Psalms. The Book of Psalms is filled with praises to God. Turn the psalms into your praises as you pray them back to God. (2) Get a hymnal, learn, and sing the great hymns of the faith. If you don’t know the tunes, there are some wonderful recordings available. (3) Look for opportunities to serve, rather than expecting to be served. (4) Like George Muller, make it your first business of every day to find delight and joy in God. Your chief end is to glorify Him by enjoying Him forever! Grace be with you all. Amen.