Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Sacrifice That Gets You Everything

March 9, 2014, was a very interesting day for me. Our pastor was away in Israel on a special Christmas present trip from the church. So one of our church members (who is a former preacher) was filling in for him preaching that morning.

However, he had just been in the hospital one week before, and trying to preach Sunday morning was more than he could handle. During our first service, as he wrapping up his message (very quickly, I might add), I knew that this morning would be a little different than I planned. I knew I would have to preach for him during the second service.

It was 9:30 am, and I had a little over 1 hour to prepare a sermon for 11 am.

So, I did what most church staff would do in this situation - I drew upon what God had been speaking to me recently.

March 5, 2014, marks the beginning of the season of Lent - a 40-day preparation time for Easter. Now I'm not one that usually joins in with more "liturgical" styles of worship and offerings. However, this year my wife and I have been talking a lot about the idea of self-denial and what Lent is all about.

So that's what I preached on!

I've decided not only to practice self-denial during Lent (by giving up carbonated beverages - especially hard for me with my dear love of Mountain Dew) but also to replace that sacrifice with scripture and meditation. You can find my reading plan here.

So here is the basic gist of my sermon that Sunday morning: (you can watch the entire 30+ minute sermon here.)

Luke 9:21-27

And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.”

1) Prepare for Suffering

If we identify with Christ (who suffered beatings, betrayal, whippings and crucifixion), we WILL have suffering.

2) Practice Self-Denial

God doesn't want us to be unhappy, but He DOES want to be on the throne of our lives. We must supplant anything that takes precedence over Christ.

3) Preserve Your Soul

We are more than our 70 or so years on Earth. We are eternal beings that must either choose to follow Christ or reject Him. Choosing Christ will save your soul but will also require you to give up control.

4) Proclaim the Savior

Don't be bashful about whom you serve. If Christ is your everything, let people know!

That's the Clif Notes version. Hope it serves as something for you to chew on this Easter/Lent season.

Late Worship Service (03-09-14) from Matthew Cobb on Vimeo.

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