In the movie, Saving Private Ryan, a war general reads a famous letter by Abraham Lincoln to a Mrs. Bixby of Massachusetts:
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
Every war this nation has fought, mothers have sacrificed their sons for the cost of freedom. Through these acts of dedication, devotion, and unselfish resolve, our nation has continued to secure its freedom.
Sacrifice is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as: the surrender of something for something else.
Every true sacrifice is costly, but when it is done for the glory of God, every sacrifice is acknowledged and rewarded by God.
This morning, I will speak on what a gift of sacrifice can do. As we will see from several passages of Scripture, God can do extraordinary things through the sacrifices we make for Him.
Before we look at these passages of Scripture, I want to begin by revealing the origin of sacrifices that bring glory to God and great increase.
Such sacrifices begin with a love for God in response of His love for us:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Such sacrifices are to be a part of our daily walk with God:
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
A Christian’s life should be marked by sacrifice, but we don’t do it because we love to play the victim. We sacrifice knowing that by giving up something, we will receive something better in return. We sacrifice knowing that through it, God will receive great glory.
The Challenge to Transform Campaign is one reason for preaching this message.
There is a poignant quote that many of you have already seen displayed:
There are not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice.
In order for this campaign to be a success, everyone of us are going to have to give sacrificially. It is a form of worship. It is a way that God is glorified. It is way for God to bless you, this church, and our community.
This message is not just about money, it is about a lifestyle that all of us are to pursue: A selfless, God-honoring devotion to God’s glory and not our own.
I would like for us to look at three stories of sacrifice in the Bible, and how through each one, God blessed in awesome ways.
What a Sacrifice Can Do:
1. A Gift of Sacrifice Can Make Your Faith Rock Solid
READ, Genesis 22:1-2
Can you imagine, you have waited for years for God’s promise of a son to come true, and he asks you to offer him up as a sacrifice? The amazing thing is, the Bible gives no inclination that Abraham hesitated for a second to obey God.
“Get up, we have to go to Moriah.”
“Moriah? What for?”
“I’ll explain later, it’s time to go.”
This isn’t the first time that Abraham had to sacrifice and completely trust that God knew what He was doing.
When we first meet Abraham, God asks him to leave his family, his country, and the comforts of home to go to the land that God was going to show him. In order for Abraham to go to the right place, he had to trust God, listen to God, and walk with Him every step of the way.
As you read the book of Genesis, Abraham displayed great faith in God, but this was going to be the biggest test of his entire life.
On their way, Issac asks a flurry of questions:
“Why are we going to Moriah?”
“To offer God a sacrifice.”
“I see the wood and the knife, but where’s the sacrifice?”
“Issac, my son, God will provide the sacrifice.”
They get to the mountain, Abraham and Issac go up and begin to assemble the altar. Abraham binds the hands and feet of Issac, lays him on the altar and before he can slay his son, Abraham hears the voice of God.
READ, Genesis 22:11-12
“Abraham, Abraham, do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
The sacrifice made by Abraham in this story produced a rock solid faith in God that is amazing. The faith that was given to Abraham is spoken of in Hebrews 11 (the Hall of Faith chapter):
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
Did you catch it? Abraham’s sacrifice began long before he got to Moriah. In his heart, he had already offered his son back to God. This heart of sacrifice was given the faith that if he went through with the offering, God could raise his son and give him back to Abraham. God gave Abraham a rock solid faith so that he could be able to make the sacrifice.
When you give to God out of sacrifice, God will give you the faith to see it through. Each step of obedience and sacrifice will increase our faith in Him. If we want a rock solid faith, we must be willing to give Him everything.
2. A Gift of Sacrifice Can Meet the Needs of Others
READ, John 6:1-14
There is a small character in this story that most of the time is over looked: The little boy.
No fanfare, no hype, not even 15 seconds of fame, but God used the gift of a little boy to do a great work. This is such a great work that the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is recorded in everyone of the Gospels.
Even the boy’s gift is not given much thought. Look at verse 9 (what are they for so many?). In the disciples’ eyes, the need to feed so many eclipsed both the gift of fresh and bread and the ability of Christ to meet the need.
Did Jesus need the fish and bread to feed the five thousand?
Absolutely not. Even Satan while he was tempting Jesus in the wilderness knew of Christ’s ability to make bread out of stones.
Jesus does not need our gifts. God is not in poverty that he is waiting for a handout.
But, he loves to use his children and their gifts to do miraculous things.
You may feel like this little boy. You feel that you don’t have much and you feel that are not very prominent. God can use such an attitude to do mighty things.
God’s economy is not like our own.
Little is much when God is in it.
Labor not for wealth or fame.
Theirs a crown and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus name.
As you give to God sacrificially, God can use your gift to reach many with the Gospel. As you give in connection to the Challenge to Transform program, there is not telling how many people will be reached.
3. A Gift of Sacrifice Can Change the World
READ, John 3:16
The ultimate sacrifice was given by God the Father and God the Son, just for you.
Look at what this gift has done: It has changed the world!
It causes great sinners to become great saints.
It causes persecutors of the Church, like Paul, become the Church’s greatest missionary.
If you are a Christian, He has changed your world.
If you are not a Christian, His desire is to change your world.
No one will ever match a gift such as this, but God can use your sacrificial gift to change someone’s world.