RUN WITH SACRIFICE

We are ALL IN. We know that requires sacrifice, and that is how we are running. This week we considered what God has to tell us about the significance of sacrifice and the difference it makes in our race.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV

Successful runners know they are running to win.

THEY . . .

ACKNOWLEDGE GOD’S OWNERSHIP.

You know what it’s like.You order a large fry for your kid. You instinctively reach over to get one, and your child says “No! These are my fries!”

The child has forgotten or does not realize three significant things:

Who is the source of the fries?I brought him to McDonalds, I walked up to the counter,I bought the fries. He doesn’t realize that without me he would have no fries. I am the source of the fries.

Who controls the fries?I could take them away from instantly. On the other hand,I could bury him in fries because I have the means to do that.

I don’t need his fries.I could buy my own. What I really wanted is for my son to learn to be unselfish.

That is simply a microcosm of how we are with God. We are grabby and selfish, and forget how we were blessed to start with.

King Solomon got it right: “Who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” 1 Chronicles 29:14NIV

He recognized that everything he had came from God.

FOCUS ON THE ETERNAL.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

I brought nothing into the world and I can take nothing out of the world.When I realize I am going to live longer on that side of the grave than this side of the grave, it should compel me to make sacrifices and live for what would be the benefit on the other side.

My father and mother were two of the most sacrificial givers you will ever meet. Dad was asked why, and he replied with a happy twinkle in his eyes, “I don’t want any spare nickels hanging around in my pockets when I stand before Jesus.”

REALIZE THE BENEFITS.

Sacrificing for God and His mission benefits us more than we can actually imagine.As the benefits begin to be displayed, we find ourselves growing in significance and satisfaction.

•Makes me more like God. God was and is always the great sacrificial giver.
•Draws me close to God. Your heart will be wherever your treasure is.
•Breaks the grip of materialism. We live in a materialistic society—the only antidote is to give to break it.
•Makes an investment in eternity. The things we give to God are the only things we can keep.
•Blesses me in return. I can’t outgive God.

Your heart will be wherever your treasure is. Matthew 6:21 NVC

Your emotion and your real value is shown by where you put your money. If your money is in investments, then that is where your heart is. If your money is in a boat, hobby,or anything else, that is where your heart is.

Jesus says that money is a like a magnet: Wherever we put it tends to pull our hearts. When I give my money to God, it is like a magnet and pulls me closer to God.

Now, God doesn’t need your money. He can buy all the French fries He wants. What He wants is what your money represents—your heart. Giving is spiritual aerobics; it is good for the heart. It enlarges your heart and makes it stronger.

As parents, nothing makes us much happier than watching our children be unselfish. You like seeing your kids be unselfish, sharing their toys and being generous. So does God your Father. When God looks down at you and sees you giving, being generous, and sharing what He gave you in the first place, He says “That is my boy, my girl. You are doing what I asked. You are growing closer to me and more like me.”

As we have prayed, Patty and I are making the biggest sacrifice of our lives. We are going to give one third of my salary over the next two years. We are going to be creative and give God room to do above and beyond. We are going to give all the money that I would receive from outside speaking engagements, and we will see how God shows up. We’re not scared—we’re anticipating God to do something great!

But we acknowledge that it sounds crazy. So why are we doing it?

•We want to keep growing. I want to develop spiritual muscle. I don’t want to live off some commitment I made years ago.
•We want God to challenge us more, and we want to see more miracles. I want to see Him do more in my life. I want to grow and not coast.

I want you to know that as your pastor, I will never ask you to sacrifice more than I do. I feel that as a leader I need to lead the way. Patty and I have learned you just can’t outgive God. He will never shortchange us. Every time you make that commitment and follow through on it, God will always bless you in return. It is so exciting to see what He does.

RECOGNIZE THEIR DEEP DEBT.

I am a debtor.Romans 1:14 NKJV

One of the highlights of our entire family history was ten days before Dad went to heaven, when a Frenchman named Thierry Ferrey came from his home in Carentan, France to visit Dad. He was coming to repay what he said was a debt of gratitude for Dad being one of the 101stAirborne that liberated his family in World War 2. He told Dad with great tears and humility, “You are my hero. I am forever indebted to you.” He wasn’t even alive then—it was his parents. But he came all this way and paid his own expenses to make the trip. He did incredible research to find out who Dad was, and then to find him.

What caused him to do that?The sacrifice Dad made.

We have an even greater debt: For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NIV

Remember the sacrifice of Jesus. Think about these words:“Remember the generosity of Jesus Christ . . .”2 Corinthians 8:9

“We aren’t saved by knowing the commandments of God because we can’t and don’t keep them. But God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours . . . and destroyed sin’s control over us by giving himself as a sacrifice for our sins.” Romans 8:3 TLB

“So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy . . . offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him . . .”Romans 12:11 NCV

“When you think of what He’s done for you, is this too much to ask?” TLB

Would you be willing to ask God this? “In view of all You have done for me, what do You want to do through me so that Your vision for NewPointe will be fulfilled?”

How do you know when you have decided upon the right amount? C.S. Lewis says, “How do you know you’re giving enough? It scares you,and people question your sanity.“

That is how you run with sacrifice.


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