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Summary: Talk 5 in a series of 8 talks. Again my talk owed a lot to the book by Bill Hybels called Becoming a contagious Christian’. Sacrifical acts of time and resources, especially over the long term will speak to people. Sacrifice demonstrates who Jesus is

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The strength of sacrifice; in May 2002 Robert Bonadies and his fellow instructor Jim Olko were preparing to skydive, along with a novice - Cindy Hyland, in Connecticut. The jump was to be from 12000 ft, falling at 120 mph, which would take just 68 seconds with no parachute. When it came to releasing their chutes, Cindy Hyland couldn’t pull her cord. She lost her balance, and the three of them went into a funnel, one of the most dangerous things that can happen to skydivers. This increased their speed to 170 mph and they would have found it almost impossible to separate their three bodies at this point. However, Bonadies & Jim Olko stayed with Cindy. Jim Olko pulled up at 1100 ft. Bonadies, with 4 seconds left managed to manoeuvre himself under Hyland. They stared at each other with terror in their eyes, but Bonadies was able to pull Hyland’s cord. He stayed with Hyland, and did everything he could for her. She lived, but Robert Bonadies did not.

Robert gave everything for Cindy… This is week five in a series entitled Making Jesus better known; and today’s talk is ‘The strength of sacrifice’.

Not many of us will ever be in a situation like Robert, Jim and Cindy, but every week we have choices to make concerning people we meet. We meet people who haven’t yet experienced the self-sacrificing love of Jesus Christ. Many people in our world are heading for an almighty crash because their lives are messed up. They want to be rescued; they want a spiritual parachute to open, but they need help – our help!

Over recent weeks we’ve referred to the attractiveness of authenticity, and the pull of compassion as we demonstrate the love of Christ; but it is a life of sacrifice that so often causes people to really stop and think, “You’ve done this for me? You’ve given up your time and even your money for me? Why do all this for me?”

The scriptures tell us that Jesus came into our world ‘taking the very nature of a servant’ (Phil 2:7) by choice! His whole life was given sacrificially over to the needs of others and his life was so attractive! Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived for others is worth living.” Sir Winston Churchill said, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”

Can you think of people who’ve sacrificed something over a long period of time for someone else? (Ask)

Jesus was very busy and some of you are too busy.

As Jesus entered Jericho he was surrounded by the usual crowd (12:1, 12:54, 18:36 and 19:3). He was the talk of the town; and Zacchaeus – one of the most disliked men around - shinned up a tree to get a decent view of Jesus (19:4). He wanted to see Jesus for himself (19:3); and as we go about our daily business there will be people who want to catch a glimpse of Jesus; and it could be through you!

Seeing that Zacchaeus was especially inquisitive Jesus looked up into the tree and said, “Come down immediately. I must stay at your house today”. So [Zacchaeus] came down and welcomed [Jesus] gladly (19:5-6); and as a result of time spent with Jesus, Zacchaeus was transformed; and I want to focus upon the sacrifice Jesus made there and then.

What is the most precious commodity or resource in our world today? (Ask) It is time. Jesus gave Zacchaeus his time; and it is a sacrifice God calls us to make. First we may need to slow down, clear space in the diary, stop doing certain things, to make space to sacrifice time and resources for others.

On Friday at our youth club I saw men and women sacrificing their Friday evening for young people. I saw Liz Fisher praying with and counselling a boy I’d never met before, and I found myself having some deeply significant conversations with two young lads.

I was talking to a new Christian believer yesterday. God has changed and turned his life around and he is now giving time and energy to be with others who don’t yet know Christ. He serves tea and coffee to people and he listens to the stories of their lives; and as he does so people are asking about his faith.

As we look at our diaries what are we filling them with? Are they crammed full to overflowing at work and at home and at church? Is there space for people who don’t yet know Jesus for themselves?

Jesus surprised everyone when he stopped the procession and spoke to one man who’d climbed a tree to get a better view. He stayed with that man, spoke with him, and salvation came to his house, as Jesus delayed and sacrificed time for him.

Who are you sacrificing time for? Let’s pray.

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