Episode 1. Sacrificial Faith
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Sometimes God calls us to make sacrifices – real sacrifices – on our journey in following Jesus. Sacrifices hurt. Sacrifices can be scary – and that’s why they take faith, and help grow our …
Sometimes God calls us to make sacrifices – real sacrifices – on our journey in following Jesus. Sacrifices hurt. Sacrifices can be scary. And that’s why they take faith, and help grow our faith.
Christians talk a lot about faith, our faith walk, faith this, faith that but faith isn’t something we just talk about, faith is something you live and living it as anyone who’s tried it will tell you, often times is a whole bunch more difficult than talking about it.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the faith that it takes to give up something that we really love, something that we really want. People want to call Jesus Lord, right? You hear them praying, dear Lord, thank you Lord. Lord is a term too that we bandy around but to call someone lord is an act of submission.
Back in the days when the Bible was written someone called lord often had the power of life and death over you. “Lord” means that we accept that we have to do things his way and not ours and sometimes, not surprisingly, the priorities of our lord are quite different to our own.
And when we really, really, really want the thing that we want which is the thing that Jesus is asking us, apparently to give up in order to be about doing His will and living out His priorities for our life, then you know something, that is going to take some faith.
That’s the sort of faith we’re going to be looking at today on the program because for anyone who’s heart is set on following Jesus this clash of priorities between what we want and what He wants for our lives is anything but a theory lesson.
The more we set our hearts on following Jesus the more this clash of priorities is going to confront us and not just a clash between the bad things we want to do and the good things that Jesus wants us to do but in fact very often it can be a clash between the good things we want to do and the good things but different things that Jesus wants us to do.
I want to tell you about a man today whom I know quite well. He is the head of a ministry organisation and whilst for many years he led that organisation and performed his work with great skill there came a time when it was obvious to everyone and sundry that God had taken His anointing off the man.
God was ready to appoint a new leader and it was time for this faithful servant to move on. The world had moved on, he hadn’t changed with the environment and so his ministry was no longer being effective. That’s not a criticism; it’s just the way it happens sometimes.
Sometimes the Lord will have us in a place doing marvellous things for Him but it’s only for a time and when that time is over, when God is ready to move us on for His plans and His purposes, you know it doesn’t matter how much of a blessing that time has been, it doesn’t matter how much fruit there was out of that person in that time, when God is finished with it He’s finished with it.
Now the man didn’t move on, he clung to the leadership of that organisation and so this healthy, vibrant ministry, a very large ministry, a ministry that was having a huge impact around the world, went into decline.
It found itself in massive debt and after many decades of being used powerfully of God because this man didn’t move on it started to lose its relevance, its supporter base and its impact. That’s what happens when we hang on to something beyond the time that God has set.
So you see it’s difficult to let go of even the good things we’re doing for God because it’s easy for them to become more important than God. We begin to do what the Bible says, we begin to worship the works of our own hands, we begin to put even the ministry of God and our role and position in it ahead of God and His will.
Does that make sense? Here at the ministry of Christianityworks producing these radio programs and sharing the Good News of Jesus with millions of people each week around the world, can I tell you, I absolutely love doing what God has me doing?
It’s such a joy and such a delight to see the reach and the impact of the ministry grow, to read the letters and the emails from people whose lives have been touched and transformed as they’ve received the Word of God.
There’s absolutely nothing I’d rather be doing with my life right now but a prayer that I regularly pray is:
Lord, when you’re done with me, when my time in this place is over, please make it clear to me because at that time I want to move on and at that time I want to hand it over to the next person and go and do what you want me to do Lord.
Even when that time comes, I have to tell you, having poured my heart and soul into this ministry, that’s not going to be easy. When that time comes I know it’s going to take faith to let it go, to lay it down and to move on to the next thing that the Lord has for me if that’s the way He’s thinking.
So let’s now meet a different man, Abraham, who had exactly this problem. At age seventy five God called him out of his comfortable ancestral home with a promise of many descendants. Abraham and his wife Sarah were childless. And at this age, well you’d have to say that there was really no prospect of them ever having children and with the promise also of a new land, the Promised Land.
So at aged seventy five Abraham and Sarah headed off on a journey which took them over hill and dale for over a quarter of a century but eventually, when they were just over a hundred years old, God fulfilled His promise and Sarah bore a son to Abraham and they named him Isaac.
Can you imagine how they doted on this boy? Obviously too much because God called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to Him on an alter. Man how could the Lord our God do that? And so Abraham went and did that, you can read the original version back in the Book of Genesis but here’s how the New Testament author of the Book of Hebrews puts it a couple of thousand years later, Hebrews chapter 11 beginning at verse 17.
By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son of whom he had been told ‘it is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you’. He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead and figuratively speaking he did receive him back.
Now the chances are that you probably know this story. Abraham put Isaac on the altar, was about to kill him and at the last minute an angel of the Lord appeared and stopped the sacrifice. God didn’t want the child dead, God wanted to deal with what had happened in Abraham’s heart.
The Lord wanted to make sure that Isaac hadn’t supplanted Him as the Lord of Abrahams life. And here’s the key phrase in the passage we just read, here’s the crux of what I’m rabbiting on about today.
By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac.
Isaac was Abraham’s miracle child, born as the very promise of God when Abraham was already a hundred years old and yet even this good, wonderful, fulfilment of Gods promise, young Isaac, Abraham laid down by faith at Gods feet.
And my friend that’s the sort of faith God is looking for in us, the faith to make Him Lord of our lives, the faith to put Him ahead of everyone and everything else in our lives, even the good things, even the things God blesses our socks off with, everything.
And so calling Jesus Lord, well, that’s easy, living out the Lordship and the Kingship and the reign and the rule of God in our lives, placing Him above everything else, that’s hard. It was hard for Abraham back then, it’s still hard for you and me right now.
That’s why it takes faith to call Jesus Christ Lord, sacrificial faith to put Him first in our lives.