By the grace of God, we continue to make progress on your building. We bless God who has brought us this far. Indeed, it is the doing of the Lord. Head Office has given us a huge grant of 700,000 cedis for this building; and we believe that if we can raise an amount of 1 million Ghana cedis we could bring this building to a point where we can dedicate it this year, probably in December. Therefore, come next Sunday, we raise a 1 million cedi offering to the glory of God. It is possible. So, as we come next week to church we come with an offering and sacrifice of 1 million cedis. I can’t wait to see that day when the Chairman of the church, Apostle Eric Nyamekye, who has pastored this church before, comes with his team of ministers to dedicate this building. I can foresee that the glory of God will come down that day. In preparation towards next week’s offering I minister a word God has laid on my heart which I have titled “Covenant by sacrifice.”
Let’s read Psalm 50.5:
“Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a convent with me be sacrifice!” (ESV)
This is one of the psalms of Asaph. Some of us think all the psalms are from David but that is not correct. One of the contributors was Asaph and this is one of his psalms. We see here that some people are to be gathered. Those to be gathered are described as faithful ones and the scripture goes ahead to describe who those faithful ones are. They are the ones who have made a covenant with God by sacrifice. There are two key words in this scripture I would like to highlight. One is “sacrifice” and the other is “covenant.” I will however take time to explain some aspects of sacrifice and then draw a link between sacrifice and covenant. So, I am going to highlight on sacrifice: I won’t have time to explain everything on sacrifice, but I will link it up with covenant.
As believers and children of God, when we talk of sacrifice it means giving up something for God. In other words, giving to God something we see as valuable or refusing something we deem valuable for his sake. We need to understand that sacrifice is not about something of no value. Sometimes when we are thinking about sacrifice it is like something that is not important to us that we give up. However, it is about something valuable and cherished as in the case of Abraham where God asked him to bring his son whom he loved. We all know how long Abraham waited to get that child, so it was no joke for God to ask him to give him up as a burnt offering. Secondly, sacrifice is made to God. If you make any sacrifice, the prime person who receives it is God. There are three things about sacrifice I want to draw your attention to.
1. Sacrifice is an expression of one’s reverence to God
When you go through the scriptures, you find out that sacrifices are given as an expression of reverence to God. Reverence refers to admiration, respect, and devotion. Thus, the time and nature of your sacrifice shows how much reverence you have for God.
In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, (Genesis 4.3-4 ESV)
So, Abel did not just bring a sacrifice or offering but went into his flock and brought the best, the ones that were fat and he believed would please God. Sacrifice shows how much we revere God.
I believe the difference between the sacrifice of Cain and that of Abel was that Cain brought an offering but Abel brought his best—the firstborns and their fat portions. But the question is, “What could have influenced Abel to bring the firstborns of his flock?” I believe that what influenced him was that belief that sacrifice is your expression of reverence to God.
Your reverence for God will influence the quality of your sacrifice to him. The extent to which you respect the Lord, the extent to which you admire the Lord, and the extent to which you are committed and devoted to the Lord will determine the quality of your sacrifice to him. If you revere the Lord and admire the Lord, these will determine the quality of your sacrifice to him. Many of us are unable to make sacrifices to the Lord because we have not understood this.
If you admire, respect, and honor the Lord, it will not be difficult to make any sacrifice he demands from you. I want to believe we are men and women who revere the Lord and men and women who are devoted to the Lord so, this week, we will express our reverence to him by the kind of offering we bring to him.
2. Sacrifice is an expression of gratitude to the Lord
It is an expression of appreciation. We mean an act of thankfulness, appreciation, and gratefulness. Thus, sacrifice expresses your thankfulness and gratefulness and, when you look through scriptures, you see that some people came to make sacrifices to the Lord because they appreciated what God had done for them. One person who came to mind when I reflected on this was Noah.
Noah got into the Ark by grace and favor. The whole world was destroyed but Noah, his wife, and family were saved. The Lord provided for them for forty days. When the rain subsided, Noah came out of the Ark. When he came out of the Ark, the first thing he did was to build an altar to the Lord. He looked at all the others who had been destroyed and how the Lord had delivered him. And the Bible says that Noah built an altar of the Lord and took some of the clean animals and every clean bird and offered them as offerings to the Lord as an expression of gratitude. Noah was saved and delivered and there was nothing else he could do but offer animals to God.
And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. (Genesis 8.21 ESV)
I pray that as we come with a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, may the Lord smell the pleasing aroma of your sacrifice. It is just by grace you are living, are here, and are you are a child of God. Sometimes you must remember what the Lord has done for you and give him a sacrifice. Sometimes when you go to your hometown and see the people you started life with and where the Lord has brought you, it is not by any merit you have but just by the grace of God. So, it is good to build an altar and offer sacrifices to God.
Sacrifice is an expression of gratitude. When my children were in school and they came home with nursery rhymes and expected me to participate reciting them, I didn’t know what to do because where I went to school, we didn’t learn their kind of sophisticated rhymes. It is the just by the grace of the Lord that I have come this far. I’ve been in about three PIWCs—Odorkor, Asokwa, and here. I couldn’t construct two continuous sentences in English. So, there was absolutely no way I could have pastored a PIWC with professors, doctors, CEOs and so on. But here I am speaking English and you are listening to me and are blessed. It is by grace.
Remember and let us come to the Lord with a sacrifice that is an expression of gratitude. You go and come and take it for granted and assume it is your right. Do you think you are better than that person who had and accident? Remember your classmate who was sharper than you but look at where you are. Sacrifice is an expression of appreciation and I want you to come to the Lord with an expression of the gratitude you have. I remember Mary whose brother Lazarus died. When Mary met him, they threw a party for him for she remembered what Jesus did for her concerning her brother. She took the best ointment and poured it at eh feet of Jesus and the whole place was filled with the fragrance.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12.1-3 ESV)
3. Sacrifice is an expression of the extent to which one has surrendered to him
When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, God was not just interested in the blood of Isaac. In any case what was the blood of Isaac going to do? It could not have delivered anybody or done anything. One of the things God was doing was to know the extent to which Abraham had surrendered to him.
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22.1-2 ESV)
The way God described the thing makes it even more painful. “Burnt offering” simply means kill him and burn him. Was God interested in the blood or ashes of Isaac? I want to emphasize that God was not interested in the blood or ashes of Isaac because they could not have done anything, but he wanted to test if Abraham was fully surrendered to him. Will Abraham give up his son, the one he loves for my sake? One of the reasons we are unable to sacrifice and give to him is that we have not got to that level where we are fully surrendered to him. If you have surrendered your mind, heart, body, wealth, and everything you have, it shouldn’t be difficult for you. We have not surrendered to him so when he says, “Give me this,” we begin to do calculations.
God is saying give your only son yet he had promised that your descendants were going to be like the sand of the sea and the stars of the sky; I would have checked if this was coming from God and would have concluded that it was from the devil.
I remember we gave an offering some time ago—we were at Odorkor. We had already decided what we were going to give and thought it was a good amount. After preaching my wife Korkor wrote a note saying we should give an amount that was four times what we had agreed to give. I asked for us to meet outside and asked where it was coming from. She said it was from the Holy Spirit. I agreed and remembered that sacrifice shows the extent to which one has surrendered to God. We didn’t have the money at the time but I stood before the congregation and declared were are going to give that amount. They were clapping but I wondered, “You don’t know what you are doing.” Sacrifice is an expression of your gratitude and the extent to which you have surrendered to him. If we understand this, it should never be difficult to make any kind of sacrifice. Your sacrifice will be an expression of your gratitude to God.
God expects us to bring him a sacrifice. There are many kinds of sacrifices we can give to the Lord. Time will not allow me to talk about these—you can give your body, your time, your ministry, and all that. But you can also give your sacrifice of wealth and substance. You bring something he has blessed you with. Remember it is the Lord that blesses you with them and expects you to bring part to him. A sacrifice of substance can be made when not requested. In the case of Cain and Abel God didn’t request it. The Bible says “in the course of time” they came to give. But you can also give in response to a demand from God. In this case God speaks to you and asks you to bring that sacrifice.
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. (Exodus 25.1-2 ESV)
Now I come to you as God’s servant to tell you that God is asking you to bring a sacrifice. God is directing PIWC, Atomic, “Bring me a sacrifice.”
There is a connection between sacrifice and covenant.
“Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!” (Psalm 50.5 ESV)
“Bring my faithful people to me—
those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.” (Psalm 50.5 NLT)
“Gather My godly ones to Me,
Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” (Psalm 50.5 AMP)
This means you can come to the Lord by sacrifice and enter a covenant with him by your sacrifice. Remember that God is a covenant-keeping God and I am yet to see this our God breaking his covenant with his people. It has never happened and will never happen because he is a covenant-keeping God. He is a faithful God who keeps his covenant form generation to generation.
I am inspired by the Holy Ghost to bring to your attention that this sacrifice is a covenantal sacrifice. It is one we bring to the Lord as a covenant. By it we enter a covenant with him. By covenantal sacrifice I mean we come to him with our sacrifice, not just to drop into the bowl but to enter a covenant with him. God is a promise-keeper. Even when we are unable to keep our covenant, he is able to keep his covenant. Even when we have disappointed him he remains faithful and stands by his promise and covenant.
I stand here as the servant of God telling you God is placing a demand on your wealth, money, and you to bring him a 1 million cedi sacrifice; and as we bring him that sacrifice, we enter a covenant with him.
I will read one last scripture and we will pray.
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. (Genesis 8.20-9.3 ESV)
God calls and beckons us to come with a sacrifice to enter a covenant with him. As we bring him a covenantal sacrifice, he will increase and bless us. He will change our lives. Sometimes all you need is one sacrifice to change the course of your life. This is what I received from the Lord, “Bring me a sacrifice so we can enter into a covenant.”
Psalm 50.5, Genesis 8.20-9-3, John 12.1-3, Genesis 22.1-2