Steven Furtick — Making Sense of Sacrifice
It really has been a pretty great year here at Elevation Church. I don't mean we haven't had struggles. I don't mean we haven't had challenges. You've had yours, and I've had mine. We'll talk about it sometime, but today we came to appreciate that God brought us full circle, that he brought us through.
If I could pick any weekend for a first-time guest to come to church, this would be the weekend. It wouldn't be Easter. It wouldn't be Christmas. I would pick this one. I guess people can sing just about anything they want to sing. Sometimes you sing along with songs on the radio you don't even know the lyrics to or haven't thought about them.
I reckon when we sing about our love for God, that's one thing. That is great, and I think we can highlight our Bibles and all of that, but this weekend you will see John 3:16 in action. "God so loved the world he gave his Son."
When you really love something, you give. In just a few moments I am going to preach a little bit. With or without your permission, I am going to preach a little bit today.
I have this bad habit when I preach. I'll be preaching and I'll say, "Can I preach a little bit?" I'm not really asking, okay? It's a rhetorical question. But I am just going to preach a little bit today. It will be a little bit shorter, because we've set aside time to bring our year-end Beyond offering.
The offering on a practical level... That blows my mind that instead of crossing their arms when I talked about giving, people started clapping their hands, excited and delighted to do it. I love it. God loves a cheerful giver.
With big smiles, we're going to bring an offering to God today. I've been praying for someone who would give $1 million. I have. I've been praying that someone would give $1 million today.
I've been praying that someone would give $100. Maybe the $100 in God's eyes might be a bigger sacrifice for that person than the $1 million.
We're not looking for equal gifts but equal sacrifice. I want to come around that word sacrifice today. I won't leave you standing for the whole devotional thought I want to share today, but I do want you to stand for the Scripture I want to share.
The Lord was reminding me of Mark, chapter 14, as a picture of sacrificial giving. In Mark, chapter 14, we read about one woman's sacrificial gift in the context of a larger gift that we're still experiencing today.
Really briefly I want to share these verses. Mark, chapter 14, verse 1: "Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 'But not during the festival,' they said, 'or the people may riot.'"
I just read that to give you the setting. Here's the story. "While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper..." That's a rough nickname. They wouldn't have been in his house if he still had leprosy, but he was still known by what he used to have.
I wonder if he was one of the ones Jesus healed. Maybe so, and maybe out of gratitude for the gift of healing he had received he wanted to host Jesus in his own home. Anyway, just a thought.
When God has done something for you, when God has been good to you in a tangible, specific way, something inside of you ought to want to make room for God to use you, to see what he can do through you...not just for you but through you.
All this is going on. "A woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, 'Why this waste...'" Literally, in the language of the Bible, "To what end this waste?" The literal translation. "To what end this waste?"
Just hold that thought. "'Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor.' And they rebuked her harshly. 'Leave her alone,' said Jesus. 'Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.'"
When I give, when I praise, I'm not doing it for you. In fact, even when I give I'm not giving it to the church. I'm giving it through the church to God. "She did a beautiful thing to me. Mind your own business. She did a beautiful thing to me.
Besides, the poor you will always have with you, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." "...you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.
Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world..." Even in at Elevation Church. "...what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." We're still talking about that woman.
The scent of her sacrifice is still in the air today because she gave it. I want to spend a few moments talking about Making Sense of Sacrifice. Father, bless your Word. Bless your people. In Jesus' name, amen.