The Blessed Life
Part 3 – The Sacrificed Life
I have seen some things happen that could only be attributed to luck. Things like a hole in one, a half court shot at the buzzer, Julie getting me as a husband. Just joking that wasn’t luck that was divine providence! LOL. Any way what we know is that luck is fleeting. It comes and goes. It can’t be counted on for consistency. So, I have been trying to convince you and position you to live a better way . . . blessed!
So, we began this series by stating that there are 4 ways we must live in order to step into a blessed life. The first is to live a generous life. Generosity goes against our nature, but as followers of Christ we should be the most generous folks on the planet. Then last week I said that you must not only live generous, but to be blessed you must also live a shared life. We must move past the surface, shallow relationships that most believers settle for and move into relationships that can handle exposing common pain, struggles, tears and also rejoicing with one another’s victories and triumphs. Who are you together with? Did anyone pass the test of togetherness this week? Remember what the test was? Fellowship together, eat together, pray together, worship together, and get into one another’s homes! Hanging out in His house isn’t enough – open your house to one another. Did you get together this week or did you just hang out in your safe little cocoon?
I want you to be blessed so you must live a generous life, you must live a shared life and then today I challenge you to go one step further and live a sacrificed life!
Just a quick refresher that reveals God’s desires to bless us! In Genesis 5:1-2 that I read to you last week we discovered that from day one of man’s life on the planet God reveals that He desires to bless us.
6You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.
So as we done each week, I want you to say this with me so that I know we are in agreement . . . “The Generous Life is a Blessed Life. The Shared Life is a Blessed Life. The Sacrificed Life is a Blessed Life!”
So what is a sacrificed life and how does that lead to blessing?
You will remember last week I read to you Acts 2:38-47 and in that passage we get a glimpse of the Sacrificed life! 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
This new church was simply acting out what Jesus had taught! Imagine that! That might be a lost concept. In an encounter with a rich young man, Jesus shows us the scope of sacrifice that is expected from those who want to live a blessed life. Jesus says to His disciples after talking to the young man who was unwilling to sacrifice . . .
Matthew 19:29 - “but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life.”
It is as if sacrifice is a foregone conclusion. If Jesus felt the need to make this statement He must have come to the conclusion that our lives would be sacrificed lives.
Let me take you back to an account in the Old Testament that shows us an actual sacrifice, but also teaches us some things about living a sacrificed life.
I Kings 17:1
And then this happened: Elijah the Tishbite, from among the settlers of Gilead, confronted Ahab: "As surely as GOD lives, the God of Israel before whom I stand in obedient service, the next years are going to see a total drought—not a drop of dew or rain unless I say otherwise."
I Kings 18:19-20, 25-39, 45-46
19 Here's what I want you to do: Assemble everyone in Israel at Mount Carmel. And make sure that the special pets of Jezebel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of the local gods, the Baals, and the four hundred prophets of the whore goddess Asherah, are there." 20 So Ahab summoned everyone in Israel, particularly the prophets, to Mount Carmel.
25 Elijah told the Baal prophets, "Choose your ox and prepare it. You go first, you're the majority. Then pray to your god, but don't light the fire." 26 So they took the ox he had given them, prepared it for the altar, then prayed to Baal. They prayed all morning long, "O Baal, answer us!" But nothing happened—not so much as a whisper of breeze. Desperate, they jumped and stomped on the altar they had made. 27-28 By noon, Elijah had started making fun of them, taunting, "Call a little louder—he is a god, after all. Maybe he's off meditating somewhere or other, or maybe he's gotten involved in a project, or maybe he's on vacation. You don't suppose he's overslept, do you, and needs to be waked up?" They prayed louder and louder, cutting themselves with swords and knives—a ritual common to them—until they were covered with blood. 29 This went on until well past noon. They used every religious trick and strategy they knew to make something happen on the altar, but nothing happened—not so much as a whisper, not a flicker of response. 30-35 Then Elijah told the people, "Enough of that—it's my turn. Gather around." And they gathered. He then put the altar back together for by now it was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes of Jacob. He built the stones into the altar in honor of God. Then Elijah dug a fairly wide trench around the altar. He laid firewood on the altar, cut up the ox, put it on the wood, and said, "Fill four buckets with water and drench both the ox and the firewood." Then he said, "Do it again," and they did it. Then he said, "Do it a third time," and they did it a third time. The altar was drenched and the trench was filled with water.
36-37 When it was time for the sacrifice to be offered, Elijah the prophet came up and prayed, "O God, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, make it known right now that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I'm doing what I'm doing under your orders. Answer me, God; O answer me and reveal to this people that you are God, the true God, and that you are giving these people another chance at repentance." 38 Immediately the fire of God fell and burned up the offering, the wood, the stones, the dirt, and even the water in the trench. 39 All the people saw it happen and fell on their faces in awed worship, exclaiming, "God is the true God! God is the true God!"
45-46 Things happened fast. The sky grew black with wind-driven clouds, and then a huge cloudburst of rain, with Ahab hightailing it in his chariot for Jezreel. And God strengthened Elijah mightily. Pulling up his robe and tying it around his waist, Elijah ran in front of Ahab's chariot until they reached Jezreel.
III. The Sacrificed Life
a. Scarce equals sacrifice!
I want you to notice that Elijah goes one step further than the prophets of Baal. They offered a bull just like he did. However, remember what 1 Kings 17:1 said . . . They were in the middle of a 3 year drought. Elijah offers God what was scarce. Water was valuable. Water was liquid gold. Crops were dying. Animals were dying. And yet, he pours out 12 buckets full of water onto the altar.
I want to make sure you understand this because I think some of us think we are sacrificing when we really aren’t. Some of us are giving money as if we are sacrificing, but money isn’t scarce to you. (Millionaire vs. poor man) Some of you give time as if you are sacrificing, but you have time to do everything else you want to do. Time isn’t scarce for you. (Person who serves, but doesn’t lose anything vs. person who serves and has to make a choice.) We are giving out of our abundance and he gave out of his need.
Jesus talked about giving valuable items, scarce items, loved items for His name’s sake. My question is how many of us have really lost anything or given anything to Him. We lose 1 hour of lake time and act like a martyr. We give Him a tip on Sunday and act like we have offered everything. What if this walk with Christ cost you everything? We need to understand that Jesus flips the measuring stick on us and shows us that we must take stock of our lives by what it cost us, not by how much we have gathered. When is the last time you followed Jesus so much that it hurt? Too many of us are like Peter we follow from a far off – out of the reach of the sacrifice necessary to get close.
If you are going to live a blessed life you are going to have to get to the place where you offer a sacrifice of what is scarce. You are going to have to learn to give what costs you!
What is it costing you to follow Jesus compared to what it cost Him so that you could follow Him? If it isn’t scarce it doesn’t count! God gave His only Son!
b. Sacrifice separates the real from the fake.
When you come right down to it the prophets of Baal really didn’t sacrifice anything that cost them. So we see that Elijah’s scarce sacrifice also separated the genuine from the fake.
You show me someone who is willing to sacrifice something to follow Jesus and I will show you a genuine believer. Too many are claiming to be a follower, but haven’t left anything behind. If you are a true believer there will be litter on the ground behind you. There will relationships, ambitions, prejudices, habits, and a multitude of other things that mark where you have come from! Mourn if you want, but also rejoice those lost items are your badge of authenticity!
If you have given up a job, a habit, a preference, a dream to follow Christ then you are legit. We have some real Christians in the house today. To follow Christ some of you gave up friends, you walked away from mediocrity. Some cut ties with a job. Some gave up much to follow Him and we salute you as real today! Look around you and see the price that some have paid!
We have talked before about what marks people as genuine followers. I have told you that according to Scripture love is one of those marks. Pain is one of those marks. Sacrifice is also a mark of a legitimate follower of Christ. Every disciple was marked by sacrifice. Where is the mark of sacrifice on your life? I see some us getting fat and happy spiritually. I want to begin to see the stretch marks of sacrifice. Sacrifice will stretch you and it will grow you. It will test your faith. It will grow your faith. You should be laying something aside this week!
c. Sacrifice corrects perspective.
His sacrifice changes the people’s attention back to God. Our sacrifice makes us realize that stuff is not God. When we live a sacrificed life it forces us to count on and trust God. Stop and think a moment . . . Elijah had to come to a place where he trusted God. What if God hadn’t answered? Some of us are afraid of sacrificing because we wonder if God will come through. Listen that is part of the sacrifice. Sacrifice demands trust! Our sacrifice will break chains of dependency on other things and get us to adjust our perspective to what matters! Plus it will change others perspective so that they see God too.
d. Sacrifice unlocks supply and strength!
In Elijah’s case it unlocked rain. Notice that what he sacrificed opened the door to more of what he sacrificed. If money is scarce sacrifice money. If time is scarce sacrifice time. When we sacrifice it unlocks the supernatural power of God in our lives.
You will also remember the story of the widow who only had enough oil for one last meal for her and her son. She sacrificed and fed Elijah first and guess what her sacrifice produced? An oil well that filled pot after pot. Some us have no supernatural happening in our lives because we have locked the door by lack of sacrifice. Your sacrifice may very well be the key to open the door to your supply! It goes back to that crazy sowing and reaping law.
It also unlocked strength. I am not sure how this works, but something about sacrificing strengthens us! When we follow until it hurts God steps in and puts His hand under us and lifts us up! A sacrificed life doesn’t make us weaker. It makes us stronger. A sacrificed life is a strong life! When you sacrifice you find that you are refreshed, renewed, and reenergized.
Are you living a sacrificed life? What has following Jesus cost you lately? What is littering the ground behind you? If it doesn’t cost it doesn’t count!