< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Making Great Sacrifices Part 2

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Making Great Sacrifices Part 2

We’ve heard over and over “If you want to know what you really love, all you have to do is notice where you’re giving your time, your energy, your money and your dreams. It might be your spouse, kids, jobs, hobbies, self…” All of these things we’ve allowed to get in the way at one time or another.

Chip Ingram, in his book, Good to Great in God's Eyes: 10 Practices Great Christians Have in Common says we should spend time thinking about what some of those things are. And we should ask God to highlight one area of our life that is not fully surrendered to Him. And pray for surrender and then do it.

He also says we need to grasp how love and worship were intertwined in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. That if we don’t grasp the nature of the relationship between them, we miss both the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice for us and the appropriate depth of our discipleship.

The book of Leviticus is the instruction book for Israel’s priests on how to lead the nation in worship. It talks about all the sacrifices they needed to be offering to God: sin offerings, guilt offerings, faith offerings, thanksgiving offerings.

God was training His people through the sacrificial system. Every sacrifice in the Old Testament pointed to Christ’s ultimate one – the once and for all one. All the sacrifices in the Old Testament had to be done and re-done; over and over. People had to understand; that access to God demanded sacrifice. Our sins needed to be covered. And that fellowship with God grows through sacrifice.

In this section, Chip used the story of Abraham and Isaac. And he had a good thought we should take notice of: “Abraham did what great Christians do, even when they don’t understand why or feel like they can: he obeyed.”

And he said, it’s best to obey early.

Sometimes God just wants us to show our willingness to sacrifice. He’s not proving it to Himself. He always knows what’s on our hearts. He wants us to realize it and admit it and be willing to show it and act upon it. This tells us that our attitude and hearts are important to God.

Chip says God periodically tests us for the singularity of our devotion through sacrifice. How tightly do we hold a relationship, a possession, a dream, a job? And he says it will hurt. The willingness to give it up won’t be easy. That’s why it’s called a sacrifice. Because a sacrifice isn’t a sacrifice unless it’s a sacrifice! But, it will demonstrate to you and others where your true love rests.

He said if that sounds cruel to us, we should know that God tests us out of His own goodness and mercy. He says good people left unchecked with good things overtime will drift away from God and the most important thing will deteriorate. So the tests for us to give up the stuff that gets in the way keep us close to Him.

God’s goal in our lives is to make us like His Son. In order for us to get there, there are a lot of rough edges that need to be filed. A lot of character development worked out. A lot of humbleness worked in.

Chip wrote though: if we really understand who Jesus is, if we really grasp the depths of His goodness and compassion, we realize that He only asks us to leave everything behind because compared to Him “everything” is second rate.

I've told the story of The Plastic Pearls in many Sunday School lessons: I'll tell it in the next post.

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