What would you sacrifice to save a life?
(PLAY “SACRIFICE VIDEO”)
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor at Renovation Church.
What would you sacrifice to save a life?
I don’t know if you heard this story on the news or not, but back in January there was a brutal snowstorm in Birmingham, Alabama.
And you know how they are in the South…a few inches on the ground, and they’re convinced Jesus is going to come down out of the snow-filled clouds and end it all right there.
Well, as you might have guessed the city practically shut down when they had a SNOWSTORM.
However, there was a patient at Trinity Medical Center who had taken a turn for the worse.
He needed surgery.
Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw, a neurosurgeon at a nearby hospital, heard about it, and quickly learned that no other neurosurgeon with the skills necessary to perform the surgery and save the man’s life was currently available.
Dr. Hrynkiw was willing to help, but there was just one problem: He was 6 miles away in a brutal snowstorm…with traffic gridlocked and all emergency vehicles currently busy.
So the 62-year old doctor threw his coat on over his hospital scrubs and started walking 6 miles in the brutal snowstorm.
Along the way, he fell, he rolled down a hill, and even stopped to help out a driver stuck in the snow.
He finally arrived at Trinity Medical Center, performed the surgery, and saved the man’s life.
When he was later asked about it at a press conference, he simply said this, “Any good doctor would have done the same thing. The patient was dying…….and THAT WASN’T GOING TO HAPPEN ON MY SHIFT.”
And as we are a week away from a Sunday that will decide much of the future of this church, let me tell you what I love about that story:
Here is a man that understands SACRIFICE and RESPONSIBILITY for his city.
For four weeks of our Amplify series, we’ve been talking about an incredibly important next step for Renovation Church.
(PUT UP ATTENDANCE SLIDE)
As you can see, God has been doing a mighty work in this church, and growing it like crazy.
And a lot of people have met Jesus.
However, we know that in as little as 3.5 years, we will be out of space here at Northpoint Elementary.
And we want to AMPLIFY what we’re already doing (not change it…just AMPLIFY it),
So, we are attempting to raise $500,000 in additional giving over a 3-year period.
Something like $500,000 would allow us to purchase a piece of land…to one day raise money to put a building on.
We’ve talked A LOT about this the past 4 weeks, if you’re just new to the idea this week…I highly encourage you to pick up one of our Amplify Booklets in the hallway.
It has ALL of the info in it.
Like that Doctor in Alabama, we want to feel the same weight for the people of our city…of our area.
Like we said in the video…God has put us here…in this city…as missionaries.
And the task of helping to reach those people for Christ…falls to us.
We can’t wait for someone else to do it.
God wants to use us to do it. He’s given us that responsibility.
But we can’t reach them…we can’t save them…by doing nothing.
It will take SACRIFICE.
An amplification of sacrifice.
What would you sacrifice to save a life?
And sacrifice is an essential part in following God.
For instance, we’ve been studying the great man of faith, Abraham, in this series.
I want to read to you a story from the Bible that shows his combination of FAITH and SACRIFICE.
God is testing Abraham to see where his faith really lies, and He asks Abraham to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him as an offering on a mountain.
So Abraham sets out on a 3-day journey for this mountain, and eventually arrives. Then this happens
(Genesis 22:9-14) – NIV
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
It’s one of the most gripping stories of the Bible.
Abraham’s faith in God is proven to be so great that he would have been willing to sacrifice even his own son.
But the story is even deeper than that.
As we’ve mentioned that past few weeks, Abraham’s wife Sarah was unable to have kids.
And now…Abraham has to seemingly decide if he’s going to throw away (not only his son’s life), but the promise of innumerable descendants.
And yet despite all of that, he’s still willing to sacrifice his son.
The key verse of this narrative is really verse 12
(Genesis 22:12) – NIV
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Abraham is said to have great faith because he would not withhold anything from His God.
If you follow God, you’ll willingly give up anything for his purposes and direction.
This is one of the hallmarks of the true Christian faith.
American Christians tend to overly emphasize the blessings of being Christian (which there are many), but the Bible also speaks often of the sacrifices we will have to make.
Jesus, in the New Testament, paints his followers like this:
(Luke 9:23) – NIV
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Truly following God means following his purposes.
It means aligning your life, your time, your finances, your thoughts, your decisions…with His will.
And to do so often requires sacrificing our own selfish desires
THE COURAGE TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT
It reminds me of one of my favorite stories of history.
I learned about this true story about a year ago, and it’s remarkable.
Back in September of 1940, Witold Pilecki (VEE-told Pi-LETZ-ki), a Polish army captain, did the unthinkable—he snuck into Auschwitz (the horrible Nazi concentration camp where over a million people were killed.
He snuck INTO it!
Pilecki knew that something was terribly wrong with the concentration camp and as a committed Christian and a Polish patriot he couldn't sit by and watch.
He wanted to get information on the horrors of Auschwitz, but he knew he could only do that from the inside.
So his superiors approved a daring plan.
They provided a false identity card with a Jewish name, and then Pilecki allowed the Germans to arrest him during a routine Warsaw street roundup. He was then sent to Auschwitz.
Pilecki was a husband and father of two
And once captured in 1941, he started working on his dangerous mission.
He organized the inmates into resistance units, boosting morale and documenting the war crimes.
Pilecki used couriers to smuggle out detailed reports on the atrocities.
And by 1942, he had also helped organize a secret radio station using scrap parts.
The information he supplied from inside the camp provided Western allies with key intelligence information about Auschwitz.
It was obviously not without suffering.
As he suffered through hard labor, beatings, cold, and typhoid fever…not to mention having to witness ENDLESS murder.
In the spring of 1943, Pilecki joined the camp bakery where he was able to overpower a guard and escape.
He was then able to inform even more people about the actual terrors of one of the worst death camps this world has ever known.
It’s a remarkable story.
When I first heard, my first thought was, “This has to be a movie.”
I was shocked that there wasn’t one.
But I looked again this week, and apparently they are actually making one called “Operation Auschwitz” that is set to come out in 2015.
But I haven’t even told you yet the part of the story that’s always stuck with me
In his report about everything that happened to him, Pilecki wrote this: “There is always a difference between saying you will do something and actually doing it. A long time before, many years before, I had worked on myself in order to be able to fuse the two.”
Which as a Christian…is one of our most basic tasks.
And that is also precisely where we are as a church…now 7 days away from our commitment Sunday where we, the people of Renovation Church, will make pledges to the Amplify Fund.
If we’re going to change the world…if we’re going to Amplify our reach…it will take sacrifice on our part.
For each and every one of us.
And I think, for many of us, what needs to happen in the next 7 days is the closing of the gap of “this is right” and “I will do this”
This is the gap that Witold Pilecki closed.
I’m guessing almost every Polish citizen agreed with him in principle that it was right for someone to sneak into Auschwitz and try and stop it…yet only one person did. Just one.
There’s a big gap between “this is right” and “I will do this”
And right in the middle of the gap is the obstacle of sacrifice.
Because we know that if we, personally, have to sacrifice…we have to give up something.
And that’s hard.
One of the things that’s surprised me in the past 3 or 4 weeks as we’ve laid this out, is that I haven’t had a single person tell me, “David, we shouldn’t do this.”
Everywhere I go and every person I talked to from Renovation seems to be excited about it.
But again, let me remind you that there is a gap between “this is right” and “I will do this.”
There’s a gap between “this is a good idea” and “I will personally sacrifice to make this happen”
So how do you close that gap?
How did Abraham close that gap?
He trusted God. Absolutely. Fully.
How do others close that gap?
It’s really like asking, “How does sacrifice even work?”
It’s simple really…because you sacrifice all the time.
To sacrifice is simply surrendering something you value…for the sake of attaining something even greater.
When Lindsey and I decided to have kids…we sacrificed and gave up a lot of freedom…for the benefit of another (or two others in our case)
But of course, in that sacrifice, we benefit with something greater as well.
It’s no different here.
Why would we sacrifice for this?
Why would any of sacrifice our finances for this?
It’s because we believe that something GREATER will come of it.
I believe, just like the rest of our leaders who already pledged believed, that if we sacrifice our finances for this, lives will be changed all across this city.
And that’s a sacrifice I’m wiling to make.
And I hope you are too.
SACRIFICE COSTS SOMETHING
And we must realize that at this critical juncture, that a sacrifice always costs something.
Please keep that in mind as you pray this week.
In the Old Testament, there’s a story in 2 Samuel 24 where David has sinned against God
And a plague comes upon the people.
To stop it, David is told he must offer a sacrifice at a certain place.
When he gets there, the owner of that place says that he’ll provide all of the oxen, etc. for the burnt offering/sacrifice. But David refuses. He says this:
(2 Samuel 24:24) – NIV
But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them.
And as God is calling him to do this thing, he knows that a sacrifice that costs you nothing…isn’t really a sacrifice.
The whole OT worship system was built upon Sacrifice.
And sacrifice always cost you something.
And so I urge you…as you bow before the Lord in prayer this week about what your part in this is…give sacrificially.
Be willing to make sacrifices to save lives.
Like the Doctor who risked his life to cross the city.
Like the Polish man who entered Auschwitz
And Like Abraham and David who trusted deeply in God…and we’re willing to sacrifice…even if it cost them…because they believed in his purposes.
And this is hard for me to talk about.
I’m a son of a math teacher.
I like my budgets tidy and laid out. Microsoft Excel is my friend.
This whole idea of giving generously…giving sacrificially…giving by faith…isn’t what’s natural for me.
My brain disagrees with it.
My brain wants to just line up the numbers…see what my margin is…and give a nice gift.
But when someone’s life is on the line…that’s not how you act.
What would you sacrifice to save a life?
You sacrifice…whatever it takes to rescue someone from the fire.
And no one’s asking you to empty out your bank account here…but what I am asking you is to pray long and hard about what it means to give sacrificially for this.
This is more than a nice Christmas time donation to the Salvation Army bucket.
This is OUR Church…this is RENOVATION CHURCH’s rescue mission to save lives.
EXAMPLES OF HOW TO SACRIFICE
And as you pray through what your financial part is this week…I want to encourage you again to use the tools in your Amplify Booklet.
Please pick another one up in the Hallway if you need one.
One of the things the booklet has is a list of creative ways to increase your impact.
(Put up CREATIVE WAYS TO INCREASE IMPACT screen)
Maybe you’re thinking you could give $1,000 total over 3 years (which is about $27 a month), but you’d like to give more sacrificially.
The booklet has a ton of ideas for that (you can see some on the screen)
Let me give you a personal example of how this can go a long ways.
On Saturday mornings, I watch the twins.
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to feed two one-year olds lunch at the same time before, but it’s not easy.
It’s doable, but it’s hard to ever find time to eat yourself.
So I got in this bad habit of always taking them out to do an errand (which is fine), but I’d always stop at Subway in Blaine for lunch (because they have a drive-thru!!), which is perfect for a dad with two tiny kids in car seats.
And every Saturday, I’d order my plain foot-long ham and cheese and a Mello Yellow for a total of $7.61.
And as we were preparing for this project, I started to think about giving that up.
So I did the math.
$7.61 x 52 weeks x 3 years = $1,187.
That’s not small.
The sacrifice is small (and I did give it up)…but the results are not.
Here are a few more examples where we did some math for you:
(Put up EXAMPLES Screen)
One less vacation in the next 3 years: $2,000
One less coffee drink a week: $609
Two less coffee drinks a week: $1,218
Lower your cell phone bill by $30/month: $1,080
Put off getting a new car payment for 1 more year: $4,500
All that to say…I want to encourage you to think long and hard about what it means for you to be a part of this.
I’ve already heard some really cool stories:
I talked to a young man last week that was making just over $200 a week.
And he said that he had about $50 a month to spare…and he wanted to, IN FAITH, give it all to Amplify.
In faith, just like Abraham said that “The Lord WILL PROVIDE”
I talked to a woman this week that said that she and her husband were trading in their nice car to get a less expensive car...
Which would allow them to give more to Amplify.
Even our children are sacrificing.
Every week the Preschoolers and Elementary students have taken part in creative projects to help give to Amplify (finding change in couch cushions, etc.)
last week…they each gave up 1 indulgence…going out to eat, etc….and give the difference…
And this week…they are donating 1 of their toys…which we will bring to a consignment shop…and then give the finances to Amplify to help reach people for Christ.
And hear me on this…let’s not ask our kids to sacrifice…but then just give purely mathematical gifts ourselves.
Because what would you sacrifice to save a life?
This is worth it!
(Put GIVING CHART on Screen)
Many of you have seen this already, but you can see on the screen that this is an estimate of how we think it’s possible to raise $500,000.
I encourage you to use this tool (it’s on page 15 of your Amplify Booklets…or on AmplifyRenovation.org)
It’s a great tool to help you see what different gifts look like at a monthly level.
And again…there are no all-star gifts here.
It’s not equal gifts…but equal sacrifice.
If you’re in a place spiritually where you’re not tithing yet (you’re not giving the Biblical 10%), maybe you ask the question of: “What would it take, sacrificially, to use this as a time and a tool to get to 10%?”
If you’ve never given before, that’s fine too…what a great time to jump on board!
On your way out today, you are going to get handed a commitment card for our Commitment Sunday next week
(Put up COMMITMENT CARD slide)
Sometime this week, fill this out, and then bring it back next Sunday.
If you are going to be out of town next Sunday, you’ll all get one of these in the mail tomorrow, and you can mail it back to us by Sunday.
And again, this is simply a pledge of your intentions.
It’s not a binding contract.
When you pledge, we’ll send you out information that week of how you can actually begin to give.
But for now, it’s just a pledge of intent.
So take this card home and fill it out.
And if you’re married, again, we encourage you to pray and talk with your spouse a lot about this during the week.
(Put up COMMITMENT SUNDAY SLIDE)
We know that the only way this is possible is if:
A) It’s a move of God
B) We ALL do this. Together.
And if we sacrifice…together.
One of our prayers for Amplify, is 100% participation. 100%.
Even if you don’t have much, we know that we can all sacrifice SOMETHING…to save a life.
THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS
And we know that our sacrifice is not just modeled after inspiring men of our time…or even David…or even Abraham.
See, that incredible day…thousands of years ago…when God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice instead of his son…
That’s actually one of the most beautiful prophecies and pictures of the messiah, Jesus, who would one day come.
It was God who provided the ram to die in Isaac’s place.
And although God spoke to stop Abraham, he would one day remain silent…as his own firstborn son was sacrificed also on an alter of wood.
And he let his own Son die…in our place…so we wouldn’t have to die!
And why did he sacrifice Him? WHY?
Because He KNEW that a greater good (the GREATEST good) would come of it.
And that is our model!
Jesus was sacrificed for us!
And we want to, following his example, sacrifice so that others may know Him too.
This morning…as a tangible reminder of that incredible sacrifice…we want to take communion together.
In the NT, Paul writes this about the reason for communion:
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26) – NIV
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
And that is what we will do. But Paul also writes in this passage that we ought to examine ourselves before taking communion.
To 1) not do it in vain. To only do it if we truly believe it. And if you’re still just seeking, that’s ok. You’re on a journey. 2) Communion is an opportunity for believers to examine themselves (ask yourself some tough questions)
In the back, there are 2 tables….with pieces of bread and a bowl of juice. When you’re ready, you can get up take an individual piece of bread and dip it in the juice.
However, take some time to examine yourself before you go back.
Sometime to remember what He’s done and what He will do
And when you’re ready, at any time during the next few songs (if you need to wait, wait), you can go back and take communion.
If you would like to pray while you’re back there, we encourage you to do so. With each other, by yourself, or our prayer team will be in the back to pray for you as well (POINT THEM OUT)
We really just want you to encounter God during our service.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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