I was born into the world of Major League baseball, and some of my earliest childhood memories are of large baseball stadiums filled with tens of thousands of people, team mascots, large men shamelessly walking around naked and practically living out of a suitcase. As I grew older, athletics remained almost an every-day part of life, so they played a significant role in shaping my view of the world. Through my participation in league sports and competition, the successes and failures of my life were often related to athletics in some way, and they were measured by trophies, rings, ribbons and championships. We celebrated the ones we earned and sacrificed our effort and resources to win more. Family decisions were usually made around athletics and sporting events that essentially dictated and controlled our schedules. All of our time and energy was given to sports in hopes of building a legacy and security for our families in the future. It’s no wonder that I thought it was strange when I met people who didn’t know or understand sports! Sports were my world…my very little world.
What else was a part of my little world?
- Sports and Athletics, therefore everything that I was gifted to do
- The morals and values of Christianity were a part my world
- A stable household with two loving parents
- The absence of crude sin such as drugs, alcoholism, sexual explicitness and even cursing
Our little worlds shape the way we perceive everything about us. The things we covet and desire, the values we live by, the decision we make, the successes we pursue and the parameters by which we measure our life’s work are all formulated by our little world. Everyone can have their own world, but our problem is trying to make other people live in it.
The Problem With Our Little Worlds
The problem with our “little worlds” is that they make us “little gods”, expecting everything and everyone to be subservient to our world’s power and existence.
- we become jealous.
- we praise those who praise us and vilify those who don’t.
- we expect everyone else’s values and perspectives to align our own.
- we dictate what is worthy of worship, and who is a worthy worshipper.
- we work to serve ourselves and immortalize our image
Only God, the Creator of the whole world, is worthy to demand such things. All worlds will destroyed by His or assimilated into it. As believers We aren’t to view ourselves “as gods” of our own world, but as possessors and keepers of the things within our spheres of influence. Even in His world, Jesus exemplified what is good and righteous.
Exodus 20:3-5 “3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;”
Revelation 11:15 “15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
REVIEWING THE WAR WITHIN
In the last couple of messages, we talked about winning “The War Within”, which means defeating “The Enemy Within”. That enemy is is our flesh, otherwise known as the little gods of our little worlds.
Romans 8:7-8 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God*:* for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
If these gods are still standing when Jesus returns, our worlds will be destroyed. But, if we have crucified our flesh and it’s enmity toward God, our worlds are surrendered and our eternity secured with the only sovereign God. If our eternity is determined by the death of our flesh and the suppression of false gods within our little world, how do we ensure our survival? Jesus is our example.
Ephesians 2:11-16 “11Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances*; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:”*
THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE
Jesus was successful in abolishing the enmity that existed between God and us, but how exactly did he accomplish that? The Answer: He stepped outside of His world!
*Philippians 2:1-11 “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:**7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.*9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus essentially sacrificed his position in favor of ours. Because of this, He is worthy to receive all power and honor. Thankfully, He is gracious and merciful enough to allow our little worlds to exist, but only if we turn them over to Him. The requirement is that we sacrifice exactly as He did.
Here are three ways that Jesus sacrficed. He sacrificed… (“Position”, “In Preparation”, and “for people”)
Jesus is already the God and ruler of His own world, and restriction and death were not a part of it. No form of limitation was a part of his world, but He caused Himself to be more familiar with our little worlds. If we are to abolish and crucify our own flesh, we must sacrifice our position as well. We must come down from the throne of our little worlds, and enter the worlds of others. Our salvation begins with sacrificing our position! It is impossible to receive Christ and remain the ruler of your own heart and your own world.
Matthew 16:24-26 “24Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
1 John 2:15-17 15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Sacrificing our position means “abandoning our limited perspectives” and forsaking our selfish desires.
Our Salvation and continues by not loving the world (things with no eternal value in God’s kingdom). If Jesus did it, so can we…so should we. With He who is all powerful, it wasn’t even mandatory, but with us, there is no other option for our eternal existence. If we fail to sacrifice our position or if we return to that position after we have come into the knowledge of Christ, we are still in danger of being destroyed when Jesus returns.
Jesus left His position for empathy towards us, and the capacity to be a loving judge. When we refuse to sacrifice our position and/or perspectives, we unrighteously judge everything and everyone.
Matthew 7:1-2 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
There is nothing worse than religious elitism – those that consider that they are better than others, possessing a right to judge because they believe they are in a better position. Sadly, today, far too many sermons are preached around a failure to sacrifice position or a desire to reclaim it before due season. Religion is often based on the little worlds of people. Denominationalism is the prime example of this. People force religion into their little worlds instead of taking pure religion out of it. It’s all “come here” and no “go ye”.
Questions to Consider:
- How has your history or upbringing shaped your world?
- Are you using it to judge others within your world?
- Are you leaving your own little world, thus challenging yourself to learn the perspective of others?
- How is God currently working to get you out of your own little world and broaden your perspective?
2.) Sacrifice in Preparation
Matthew 4:1-11 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
NOTICE: Jesus was tempted through reminders of His own world.
He was reminded of where He came and what He had power to do in from His domain. In the same way, we are reminded of our own little worlds world and what we believe we have power to obtain. We are reminded of our perspectives, our goals and our desired successes whether they are inherently good or bad. Jesus had every right to claim the things He was tempted with, but He forced His flesh and His own desires to bow to the will of the Father. He was sacrificing “in preparation” for what would be His greatest sacrifice of all – the sacrifice of His life “for people”.
3.) Sacrifice for People
- Even after salvation, we must sacrifice. Jesus left a GOOD thing in heaven. He didn’t leave heaven because it was bad, nor did He choose not to leave because it was good. His sacrificed His position in His own world, and He did it for others! So it’s not just about where we’re leaving or what we’re sacrificing, but who we’re sacrificing for! Jesus gave His live for the salvation of the world, so we must surrender our lives to Jesus, towards that same purpose.
Mark 12:30-31 (KJV) 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Ministry is considering others before ourselves. Once we have sacrificed “in preparation”, we are more equipped to sacrifice “for people”. This is the ultimate purpose of our lives in Christ. This is where we should now aim our sacrifice.
Philippians 2:3-4 “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
The purpose of our ministry is for others, not ourselves. Only the first and smallest portion of our saved lives focuses on us.
After our security is established, the entirety of our lives should be given towards to eternal well-being of others.
Romans 8:3-4 3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us*, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”*
1 Corinthians 10:24 King James Version (KJV) “ 24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.”
– When you make decisions, answer questions and solve problems, do not first think of how convenient it is for you. Do everything for the benefit of others.
– Our personal circumstances are not an excuse for abandoning our command to live our lives in servitude and love of others before ourselves. Anything that causes you to worry or be anxious or worried or focused about ourselves effectively takes our attention away from our ministry.
Read Matthew 6