When was the last time you witnessed a great personal sacrifice? Maybe it was in a movie or a news story. When's the last time you saw something of such great sacrifice that it melted your heart, it moved your soul? Something unexplainable happened inside that said that is what life's all about.
All of us want to be that kind of person, but how does it happen? Stay with us and find out how. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Druey, and the mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. Thanks for joining us as we continue our series, Good to Great in God's Eyes. For the past several programs, Chip's been sharing with us several ways to grow our faith through essential practices that God finds valuable.
And right now, we're going to dive into the seventh one. So if you have a Bible, go to the Gospel of John chapter 15, and let's join Chip for his message. Well, we're learning some things about great Christians, and we said that great Christians have some things in common. If you go all the way back, you'll learn that great Christians, I mean, people that are great in God's eyes, they think great thoughts. They read great books. They pray great prayers. They dream great dreams.
In our last session, we learned that they take great risks. And in this one, this is a little delicate because the title of this one sometimes scares people. Great Christians make great sacrifices. Don't let that word sort of, oh boy, you know, your human nature just says the word sacrifice and yick go together.
But I want to help change that by the grace of God. Let's look at what sacrifice is. Definition. It's the act of giving up, destroying or permitting injury to, or forgoing something valued for the sake of something having more pressing claim. That's Webster's. I like that. It's giving up. It's being willing to be injured.
It's doing whatever it takes, but it's for the sake of something that is more important, that has a higher claim. I was in China and one of our world teachers met us in Hong Kong. We did some training and we went out to dinner. And as we were talking, he began to share what was going on in his life and where he was at. And he's a house church pastor of an underground church and he's an evangelist and he was out traveling and often he does that.
And then his wife and children be left at home. And so while he was gone, the police came and they came into his home and his wife convinced them that she was the pastor, not her husband, which is not at all uncommon, especially in China. And that actually the church had moved all around and the people had dispersed and she was the only one left and she was the pastor.
And they try and make a point of punishing the leaders to really discourage people walking with God. And so they took her down to the police station and they beat her to a pulp. And I remember just sitting around that table and looking into this Chinese man's eyes as he was recounting the story. And somehow I was visualizing what it would be like if that happened to my wife and my emotions and, you know, what would be going on in my heart.
And so I asked him, I said, well, how did you deal with this? And in my mind I'm thinking, you know, your frustration, your anger, your wanting to have vengeance. And I'll never forget, he looked at me and he said, well, he said, my wife was beaten badly, but as we talked about it later, she said to me, isn't it amazing that Jesus would give us the privilege to suffer for his sake and in some measure make that kind of sacrifice to say thank you for all of his suffering for us. And I'm thinking to myself, I didn't say it, that is not exactly what came to my mind.
I'm thinking, could I control my anger of trying to go down and bust a police officer right in the mouth and take my own vengeance and trust God. And I just thought, I mean, he's looking at life through a different lens, isn't he? He didn't see the suffering as necessarily even negative, but he saw it as something that if you're going to walk with God in that country to sacrifice and to suffer was a way of expressing his love. When we witnessed great sacrifice among the human species, it triggers, this is just an observation, it triggers a powerful, magnetic, awe-inspiring response deep within our souls. I mean, that story is a true story, but when you see sacrifice, when you observe it in Christian contexts or non-Christian contexts, I mean, when you see great sacrifice, even in a movie or when you read a book or even when they're doing those little clips for the Olympics, you know, and you hear the story of this little girl that's been up at three in the morning and practice her whole life for this one moment on a balance beam. I mean, I have to confess.
I mean, I start tearing up over that stuff. There's something about sacrifice. There's something about the Rosa Parks and the Mother Teresa's and the Martin Luther King's and the stories of a Gandhi walking through the streets. And, you know, every time when you see sacrifice played out, there's something about how God made us that, you know, I may not want to be the person who is involved in the sacrifice, but every time I see it, it's like there's this wonderful thing that touches me deep in my soul. And I just thought I made a little list of, I thought of the Corrie Ten Boom, of Lincoln, even back to Joan of Arc, Fox's Book of Martyr.
I was in South Africa. If you understand the story of Mandela, you see people that for 25 years in a prison and then coming out absolutely says to people, we will not retaliate. No retribution. We will forgive, but we'll get the truth on the table before we forgive. Amazing, amazing sacrifice. And as I observe, what I saw is that we admire people who make great sacrifices. We enshrined them, you know, you know, their statues, you can go all around the world and you know, here's the person who gave his life for this.
And here's the person who did this. And their statues or in the church, when you make a great sacrifice, sometimes you get in stained glass, right? You know, and they put you up on the wall. We honor them. We reward them.
We emulate them. And here's the question I have for you and me as we think about making great sacrifices. Why?
Why? I mean, even when unbelievers make great sacrifices, why, what is this mystical union and the soul connection we unconsciously make when we witness a great sacrifice for a noble cause or a personal relationship? And I think the answer is that sacrifice is the clearest and greatest evidence of the extent of one's love and devotion toward a person, a cause, or a thing.
I think the reason it resonates in your soul. I mean, are you ready for this? This is almost embarrassing. I'm watching the Animal Planet channel the other night and this mother didn't have any food for her little lion cubs, you know, and she's a small lioness and she finally kills something. And then her cubs are over here and she drags the prey and then she can't do it. So she go get, gets her little cubs and on the way about eight or 10 hyenas surround her.
And I mean, I mean, I mean, I mean, I'm getting scared watching TV. And then here's this one lioness. And I mean, she doesn't, I mean, she's got one opportunity run and she's willing and you just see built into the animal kingdom. She is takes on six or seven or eight or 10 hyenas in order to save those cubs. And there's, there's something about that picture. There's something about that picture that as I watched it, I thought, God, what have you built into the life of all creation that makes my heart so resonate? See, she will give her life for those cubs because she's devoted to them because, you know, take this right, she loves them.
She's for them. And you know, then I got thinking, I thought, you know what? This is, this is really clear. What did Jesus say? John 15, greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friend. What I want you to see is that sacrifice, the measure of our sacrifice represents what matters the most. What we are willing to sacrifice for is what we're most devoted to, what we love the most, what we care about the most.
And so if you ever want to know what you really worship, all you have to do is take you and draw an arrow. And then what's in the box toward the arrow. What do you give your time to?
What do you give your energy to? Where are your dreams? Where are you willing to sacrifice?
What are you willing to do? And in that box for many of you would be your children, wouldn't it? And in that box for many of you would be your job. And in that box might be, many of you, a guitar or a painting. You know, many people sacrificed amazing amounts of time and energy to be a great musician or a great artist or a great athlete. But whatever you would put in that box is the object of your worship.
Great Christians make great sacrifices. Now, you need to kind of do a little, okay, a little pause because I need to do a research project with you before we go on. All right.
Are you ready for this? I don't do this very often and I'm going to have to go through it very quickly. And some of you are thinking you go through everything very quickly. But what I need to do is do a Bible study with you where I walk through the concept of sacrifice and the concept of worship because they're so intertwined. But if you just sort of get a top level, oh yeah, sacrifice worship, I think they're connected.
No, no, no, no. You miss it completely. Until you understand from all the way in the beginning of the Old Testament and the sacrificial system, Leviticus, it's a book about worship. And what's the whole book about? Sacrifices.
And so I'm going to take you on a little journey and you're going to have to really put on like your thinking cap and track with me. And I want to go through an overview study, Old and New Testament, about the relationship between sacrifice and worship. This is sort of the required course of worship and sacrifice. Good Christians do what's required and make the sacrifice required to demonstrate that Jesus is in fact the object of their worship. Great Christians, what we're going to find is they go above and beyond everything that's required to express an overflowing love and commitment to the relationship with Christ.
So are you ready to roll? If you have a pen, you might want to pull it out because I am going to guess that you're going to want to make a couple notes and I'm going to go pretty fast. Understanding biblical sacrifice and worship. Lessons from Leviticus. This is the first 10 chapters.
I'll cover 10 chapters here in about two minutes and you'll say, that's the best journey I've had through Leviticus. In Leviticus, there's five offerings prescribed for worship in the Old Testament. Two are compulsory offerings. In other words, they're required.
You have to do them. One is called the sin offering for atonement. And you make you bring a bull, you'd bring a goat and it's to cover your sin. The other is a guilt offering. If you would lie or if you would steal or do something wrong, then you would bring an animal for your guilt and come to the priest.
And so these were required. You had to bring at certain times an atonement offering and a guilt offering. But there were three non compulsory or voluntary offerings. The burnt offering was one to express your devotion.
It was voluntary. The grain offering was for God's provision. You know, the fruits and the crops came in and you would bring in the first portion of it and you would wave the grain before the Lord in Thanksgiving. And then the peace offering had to do with any time you had, are you ready for this? You're an Old Testament Saint and you had just the overwhelming feeling of how good God is to you.
You just say, you know what, honey, what do you think? Why don't we go to the temple today? Why don't we give a peace offering? And the way it worked is you would bring this peace offering and you would offer it to the Lord. The priest would get to keep part of it. Oftentimes you would have to eat it right there and it'd be like a little party, a festival, and you would eat it there before the Lord giving thanks for what he's done. And the only observation I want you to get is this. Access to God demands a sacrifice.
Okay? In other words, to come into God's present, you need to be atoned for or covered. That's a sacrifice. And then fellowship with God grows through sacrifice. Voluntary offerings were from the heart.
Compulsory offerings were required. Second, a lesson from the life of Abraham. I wish we could open Genesis 22 and read through it, but we don't have time, but many of you know the story. Abraham has been waiting for a son for a long time.
God finally gives him a son when Sarah is 90. The boy now reaches about probably 12, maybe 13 years old, and God is going to test Abraham. And he says, Abraham, I want you to take your son, your only son, whom you love. And this is what I want you to do and go to this mountain that I'll show you. And Abraham does what great Christians do.
You always obey early because later in the day you don't have the courage or the motivation. And the text says he got up very, very early, set off with his son, his servant. And the boy along the way says, you know, Papa, you know, where's the offering? He says, the Lord will provide.
And you know the story. He goes up, he ties his son, he builds an altar. The knife is up.
And this isn't like a little, you know, rubber knife. And this isn't like, well, he knows for sure. What we know is Abraham believed from Hebrews 11 that after the knife would be plunged into his son, the Lord would resurrect him. And the reason he believed that was this is what God told me to do. But God promised it's going to come through this boy. You talk about a test.
And so what you have here is you've got the requirement is to give his son. The response is obedience. And then as the knife, I mean, he fully willfully made the decision. And just as the knife was starting to come down, angel of the Lord, stop Abraham, stop. Now I know, now I know you fear God. Now I understand where your priorities are.
Now, are you starting to get this? Sacrifice. What did he ask him to sacrifice? The most precious thing that he had.
Why? To find out actually God knew, but he wanted to test Abraham so Abraham could learn and be confirmed of what matters most. What do you worship the most, me or this boy? And for us, it's me or this wife or this husband, me or these children, me or this job, me or success, me or money, me or fame. Do you get it? In way of summary, we learn from Abraham, God periodically tests the singularity of our devotion through sacrifice. And before you start feeling like, wow, this is really heavy, let me tell you why. It is out of his goodness and his mercy and his grace that he does that.
And you're thinking, now, wait a minute, are you trying to spin this chip? This does not sound like a merciful, good, kind thing for him to say to this guy, give me your son, your only son. Good things and good people left unchecked over time will drift from a great gift from God to becoming an idol in your heart. When something that is good becomes an idol in your heart, it will destroy your relationship with that thing and it will destroy your relationship with God. And so out of his great mercy and kindness, there are times where he'll tap you on the shoulder and he'll say, I want you to give me this job, this only job that you love. I want you to set apart this, how you're thinking about this child or your mate. I want you to take this money, this security that you think is and he'll out of his mercy and his grace test you so that it does not become an idol in your heart and begin to break down the relationship that you have with him and not allow the thing that was meant for good as a gift to become a God because then it'll destroy you and destroy it.
I think we often resist this because we don't understand the difference between sacrifice and worship. I kind of hit that time as men do sort of in your mid forties and you kind of spend your whole life, you know, trying to figure out what you're supposed to do with your life. And then you finally lock into this is what I'm supposed to do. And then it takes about 10 years to figure out how to do it. And then, you know, about another 10 years that if by God's grace, he gives you a window and a great team of people, you know, it was like, well, here's this amazing church and all these buildings got built and it seemed like an accident, but this radio ministry just popped up out of nowhere. And I did this 10 year run with, you know, six or eight pastors that we became great friends and buddies when we hung out together. And pretty soon we looked up and we got a staff of 70, 80 people and 30 pastors and thousands of people.
And man, this is great. And you live on the coast and your kids like the surf and someone has a little cabin up in the mountains. So when you want to get away and pray and life is wonderful, God.
No, no, no, no. You don't understand. My wife really likes it here. My kids, they've gone off, but they're all going to move back here. We're going to sing Kumbaya Thanksgiving.
All my daughter-in-laws they're from here. Lord, you don't understand. This is, and I think there's times where God will do what feels harsh and painful to protect you from you because he loves you. And it changed the relationship. I'll tell you what, the first year, I'd like to say everything went wonderful. My wife had two oral surgeries.
Neither of them worked. Her mother died. It was in intensive care for over 90 days during that journey.
The first year and a half in Atlanta was as bad as I can remember of any season in our married life. Not that we had a problem, but I mean, when you come home and someone's either in pain, hurt, depressed, unhappy, or in the middle of the night, waking up and some of you guys have been there. You wake up in the middle of the night and you hear someone sobbing and they have the pillow over their head.
So they don't wake you up. This is not fun. And yet it was required to wean my wife's heart, to wean my heart, and for us to make sure that the good things that he gives don't turn into bad things and idols. The third thing we learn is lessons from the life of teaching. Please open your Bibles to Luke chapter 14. When Jesus speaks on this one, you need to get this very directly, not kind of just hearing me describe it. We know from Leviticus, there's compulsory and non-compulsory sacrifices. We know from Abraham that there's times where he will test you and the way he will test you is he'll ask you to make a sacrifice about the thing that's most precious to you. And now what I want you to see from this passage, Jesus is going to speak on the relationship between worship and sacrifice. And what I want you to see is what he's going to talk about is normal. We tend to think what you're about to read, you think unconsciously that this is for like pastors, missionaries, Billy Graham's, Mother Teresa's.
We think there's some elite group of superstars and this kind of sacrifice is probably for them. What God wanted you to know is that this is for every believer of every age. These are required courses. This is 101, 201. This is freshmen, sophomore stuff. Luke chapter 14, beginning at verse 25, large crowds were traveling with Jesus and turning to them. Notice this isn't private. This isn't with the disciples. This isn't for the elite.
This isn't for full-time workers, large crowds. Here is the call. If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and his children, his brothers and his sisters, yes, even his own wife, he cannot be my disciple. If you have a pen, underline, he cannot be my disciple. There's some things in scripture that are hard to understand.
This isn't one of them. It may be hard to do, but he cannot be my disciple. And he's talking about priority. Obviously, there's a picture here that we don't actually hate, but in comparison to our love for him, every other relationship is so secondary.
It is though we hate them. And then he says, and anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. In other words, if you didn't get it the first time, carry your own cross. Now in our day, you know, we think of, you know, crosses and chains around people's neck.
He could have said, and anyone who isn't willing to go to the electric chair or to have lethal injection, it was just a common way to die. What he's saying is if you can't die to your agenda, if you can't put to death your agenda in order to take on my agenda, you can't be my disciple. And a disciple is what? A follower, a learner.
It means the teacher cuts the path and the disciple or the learner or the follower, he follows the path. Now, you know what? I bet there's a large crowd.
I think the crowd dwindled after this one. So that's the call and it's for every believer. And what's he really saying here? To worship me demands absolute sacrifice. I must have supreme position above every relationship and every issue in your life. And you know, you think, well, boy, that sounds pretty narrow. Who do you think you are?
God. Do you get it? And then notice he says now, but I'm not looking for emotional knee jerk response.
I'm not looking for people that are, you know, going to wail and cry and say, oh yeah, you know, you're the greatest teacher in the world and you fed 5,000 yesterday and you know, I'm, I want to be a Jesus groupie. He kind of stops them and he says, you better count the cost. So he says, suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not sit down first and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays a foundation, isn't able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him saying this fellow began to build and wasn't able or suppose, you know, a King is about to go to war with another King. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he's able with 10,000 men to oppose one coming against him with 20,000?
If he's not able, he'll go and take a delegation while the other is still a long way off and we'll make terms of peace in the same way. What's the, what's the point in the same way as you would say, following him. Wow. I got to count the cost.
I could evaluate. He comes before stuff. He comes before my dreams. He comes before every other relationship. These are the demands of following him. He says, don't do it tritely. He says, weigh it out.
And then notice at the very end, if in the same way, any one of you does not give up everything he has, cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, its distinctiveness, how can it be made salty again? It's neither good for soil.
They used to use small parts of soil for fertilizer, nor for the manure pile. It's thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. From Jesus, we learn he demands absolute supremacy in our hearts as a condition for being his follower. And what I realized over time, a very good thing and a wife that I really loved little by little was creeping into the idol.
You know, I want to please her. I don't want conflict. I don't want tension. And usually they, you know, it wasn't in conflict, but God tested the most important relationship. And I look back now, I just can't imagine our marriage being better. I can't imagine how it's opened doors.
I can't imagine the freedom that it's created and the next level of maturity, both in my relationship with God and my wife. And then what you see is, cause some of you are getting a little nervous and it's okay. You know, you're thinking everything is like, that's a big word, like everything. You mean my job? Yeah. You mean my, yeah.
You mean yes. And what you're going to learn is if you really understand who Jesus is and if you ever, ever grasp the depth of his compassion and his goodness and his kindness, the only reason he ever asked you to leave everything is because anything else is so second rate. It's like God coming to us and seeing a little child, you know, down on the beach playing with plastic pearls in the sand and having priceless pearls and saying to the little girl, you know, give me those pearls cause I want you to have these. And the little girl, no, these are mine. These are mine.
These are my favorites. And they're just plastic junk, but it's all she knows. And I think the sad, sad thing that has occurred in our world is I think we have believers all over the world, but probably, especially in America because persecution and pain kind of helps you see what real pearls are and where plastic stuff is. But I think especially in America, we have Christians hanging on to the plastic pearls of our jobs and our careers and our families and our money and God going, oh man, I guess you don't believe I really love you, do you? You just don't believe I'm a good God. These commands are for our good, but there is real sacrifice involved.
Chip will be back in just a minute with his application. You've been listening to the first part of his message, Make Great Sacrifices from his series, Good to Great in God's Eyes. Are you tired of living the status quo Christian life? Are you looking to get a fresh infusion of faith and spiritual passion? We'll join Chip in this 10 part series as he shares 10 specific practices every great Christian has in common and how you can put these attitudes and routines into action. If you're ready for a genuine spiritual breakthrough, then don't miss a single message.
For more information about this series or our resources, go to livingontheedge.org, the Chip Ingram app, or call us at 888-333-6003. Our Bible teacher, Chip Ingram, is with me now and Chip, as we look around the world, it feels like things are starting to open up again and people are getting more and more comfortable meeting together face to face. As we get ready for the fall, you have a very specific challenge for all of us, don't you?
I sure do, Dave. I want to say to the Living on the Edge family, do whatever you need to do this fall to get in community. We cannot, we simply cannot allow the world to move forward and to fall back into simply watching online unless we have health issues. And it's not simply even going to church.
Hearing God's word is absolutely critical and it's, make no mistake, a priority. But we have to have meaningful community. We need to pray for one another in the same room. We need to share meals together. We need to hug one another.
We need to cry and lament some of the difficulties and the challenges and the pain that we've been through. We literally can't live this life in Christ alone. And yet I see so many people trying to do it. And part of it is our habits changed. I get that. Literally, are you ready?
It's an old word. We've become slothful in our intentionality for face to face communion. And then we begin to drift in ways that we don't see. Could I challenge you in gentleness? Do whatever you need to do this fall to get in community. Launch a small group. Join a small group.
If nothing else, do it with your family. But let me encourage you. Don't let the pattern of not meeting face to face in a small group where you share hearts, where you hold one another accountable, where you bear one another's burdens.
Don't let that go on for another season. You have to meet. The Lord will show up in your presence. Let me encourage you. Make that decision and then decide when, how, and with whom you'll do a group.
You'll never regret it. Great word, Chip. Well, here at Living on the Edge, we have a growing library of small group resources on a wide range of topics, and they're so easy to use. Chip provides the teaching, then you'll have time to discuss what you've heard with our helpful study guides.
So if you're not in a small group yet, or you aren't sure what to study next, let me encourage you to check us out. And for a limited time, all of our small group resources are discounted. For more info, go to livingontheedge.org or call us at 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or visit livingontheedge.org.
App listeners, tap special offers. Chip, today you focused in on the word sacrifice, which is an idea that makes people a little uncomfortable. How can we remove the negativity surrounding this word and reframe our thinking? I think I would say first and foremost, we need to change the word sacrifice and connect it to another word that Jesus connected it to, and that is love. Where there is great love, there is great sacrifice.
I think we have made the entire Christian life about my success, my happiness, my joy, my positive thoughts. And so sacrifice kind of comes in in a rude kind of way like, that's not the Jesus I want to follow. I got news for you. That's the Jesus that saved you. If any man will come after me, let him take up his cross.
That's an instrument of death. Deny himself and follow me. If you do not do that, it's not like you're a bad disciple.
You can't be my disciple. What we need to understand is that love and sacrifice are interchangeable. And when you die to your selfishness in your marriage, you have a great marriage and your mate is loved.
When you die to your selfishness, you end up with great friends. Give and it'll be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over. Great word, Chip. Thanks. Before we go, you know a great way to get more out of every message is to use Chip's message notes while you listen. They include his outline, all of his scripture references, and lots of fill-ins to help you remember what you're learning. Use them personally or even with your small group. They're a quick download at LivingOnTheEdge.org under the Broadcasts tab. App listeners, tap Fill-in Notes. We'll be sure to join us next time. Until then, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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