Sacrifice

What will I have to give up to pursue my dream?

Text to read: 2 Samuel 23:13-17 NLT

Main Points:

  • Following Jesus often calls for personal sacrifice.

    • Hebrews 11:33-40 NLT

  • From your human perspective, sacrifice is the enemy.

  • Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross stripped death of its power and opened the way for you to find an eternal purpose.

  • In the grand scheme of God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will, eternal gain infinitely offsets earthly pain.

    • Revelation 21:1-4 NLT

  • Action Step:

    • Put eternal reward above earthly comforts: ask the Holy Spirit if there is something you need to sacrifice that is holding you back from Christ’s eternal purpose for you.

Prefer to listen? Search for “Abundant Springs Sermons” in your favourite podcatcher or listen below:

Better: Isaac -- Jesus' sacrifice saved you

Jesus can be known better through the Old Testament

We all know people who are choosing to carry the burden of their sinfulness on themselves, even though Jesus already paid the price to take those sins upon himself.

Read: Genesis 22:1-18

This isn't an easy passage to read. Why would God do these things? This is the only time in the Bible when God tested someone in this way. He wanted to ensure that Abraham's trust was in God himself, not just the promises that God had made him. By asking Abraham to offer up Isaac, he was asking him to be willing to give up the promises God had given him.

As well as serving as a test for Abraham, this story foreshadows the coming sacrifice of Jesus. Isaac and Jesus have many similarities. Both were born miraculously, both were to be sacrificed, both were dead for three days (Isaac in Abraham's eyes during their 3 day journey, Jesus in reality for three days), both carried the wood that would be used to sacrifice them up the hill, both were raised to life (Isaac through God staying Abraham's hand, Jesus being raised to life from the tomb). 

In fact, where Abraham's obedience with Isaac caused God to promise again to build a nation through whom the nations of the world would be blessed, he was speaking about Jesus who was to come and whose sacrifice on the cross truly would bless the nations with the gift of an eternal, life-giving relationship with Jesus for all who believe in him. Jesus was the lamb God would provide for himself, mentioned in Genesis 22:8!

God sent Jesus to die as a sacrifice so you could find life and freedom.

Jesus’ sacrifice has saved you. If he went through all that for you, what are you willing to do to share His message of hope?

It's a scary thought for many of us--sharing our faith. But we must remember that God is the God who provides. He provides the growth of faith in the people we share the Gospel with. He is the one who provides us the courage and the wisdom and the words as we do so.

Additionally, while you may be wary of putting yourself out there if it doesn't get you anything, remember the testing of Abraham: consider if you trust in God himself, or just in the benefits you get out of following him. He has commanded all who follow Jesus to share the Good News, and we must do so out of our faith in Jesus, not because of any benefit it may bring us personally.

Action Steps:

  • Consider: are you willing to obediently share your faith if there is nothing in it for you?
  • Tell people about Jesus: engage in spiritual conversations, invite people to church and to our Easter Extravaganza!

Listen to the whole message:

The King is Coming: Bow Before the King

The King is Coming: Bow Before the King

There are three ways to respond to King Jesus: the way of the Scribes, the way of king Herod, and the way of the Magi (wise men). Pastor Stephen talks about how we can identify how we tend to respond and how we can respond in the way God wants us to.

Reconciling the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New

Cima_da_Conegliano,_God_the_Father Creation_of_the_Sun_and_Moon_face_detailHave you ever heard someone say that they feel like the Bible talks about two different Gods? One that is angry and vengeful, which we see in the Old Testament, and one that is merciful and loving, which we see in the New? I have heard some people try to explain this seeming difficulty by trying to say that God changes, but we can't say that because God never changes (see Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, and James 1:17)! I know that each of us only has so much time in our day, so this post will not go too deep. I'm going to try to keep it short and simple, just giving you an understanding of how we reconcile the picture of God we see in the Old and New Testaments. Firstly, there is only one God who exists as three persons in the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). God is the same yesterday, today and forever. What has changed is our route to God. One of the reasons it is so important for Christians to read books of the Bible like Leviticus is to give us a reminder of how holy God is. He is so perfect he cannot allow sin to even approach him. He made us perfect, but left us a choice so we could have the freedom to choose to love and obey him or turn away. We chose poorly.

Fortunately, God had a plan in motion from the moment that he created us--because he knows everything (see Isaiah 55:9, Job 28:24, 1 John 3:19-20). I don't know why he chose the plan that he did, but I do know that, coming from God, His plan is a perfect plan. After the Fall (see Genesis 3) the world quickly spun out of control; so God, seeing one righteous man (Noah) cleared the earth of the horrid things that were happening with a worldwide flood (which he promised to never do again). Then God picked a righteous man named Abram (later named Abraham) and made a covenant with him, to make him into a nation that God would personally bless. The intention was that this nation would show God's love and power to the world. Unfortunately, it became an exclusive club.

When we read of God laying out the rules to approach him we get the sense that nothing really makes us quite good enough. In fact, the whole sacrificial system (killing animals as atonement for our sins) was based around the fact that all who sin are deserving of death in God's eyes. Therefore, we see a God who, when the people he revealed himself to turn away, was (justly) a God of wrath and would often wipe out large numbers of people. At the same time, he was a God who loved his people and would listen to the prayers of these peoples' godly leaders.

Come the New Testament, where--it now being the fullness of time--"God so loved the world that he sent his only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Jesus' whole mission is to die on a cross. Why? Because up until that point in time a sacrifice only atoned for past sin, which didn't work so well as people were always sinning. When Jesus (who was perfect) went to the cross God put the burden for all mankind's sin upon Jesus, making Jesus the perfect and final sacrifice for humanity's sins.

All we have to do is believe that Jesus Christ, God's Son (but also the One God), came to earth as fully man and fully God, bore our sins on the cross (because God loves us and wants us to be saved), died, descended to hell and took the keys of life and death from Satan's grasp, rose again three days later, and now lives in heaven again. If you believe that and in the fact that belief in Jesus is the only way to spend eternity with God in heaven, you're saved!

Now, back to our reconciliation of just and wrathful God vs merciful and loving God. They are one in the same and have never changed. God is still just. People that do or think bad things (in other words, sin)--as we all do--justly deserve death for working against their perfect Creator: God. God is justly wrathful at what they have done. God has also always been merciful (saving Lot from Sodom is an Old Testament example) and loving (he desires to be with his children). But now, because of Jesus, those of us who are Christians are now covered over by Christ's blood and our sins are no more. God looks at us and sees his son's perfection. He could justly send us to live an eternity in hell, but his Son paid that price for us. So now, even though we mess up, we're forgiven because we are standing in the identity of Christ.

However, we still live in a fallen world--that doesn't get fixed until all the events in the book of Revelation have taken place. Therefore, the question of "why does a loving God allow..." can be summed up with God being just and the fact that God created a perfect world and handed us its future--which we decided would include imperfection when we sinned in the Garden of Eden. So now we (justly) have what we have until God institutes the New Heaven and New Earth. And I'm looking forward to that day.

In conclusion, we can see that there is no reconciliation of the God we see in the Old and New Testaments. He has never changed, but Jesus' sacrifice for us has changed our approach to him.

We would love to hear from you. Leave your comments below or on our Facebook page!

--Pastor Stephen Valcourt pastorstephen