Sermon from our Red Deer Church – Daring Faith Pt 3 – Rich Adamkewicz
Today we are going to dig deep, so I hope you’re prepared. God calls us to be prepared when we come to church, and we need to be prepared to hear the word. And the worship team set us up to be prepared, so we’re ready to move on. So, like any good man when he’s got work to do he’s got to roll his sleeves up, and if he goes to the dinner table with dirty sleeves, you might not get dinner. Daring to give God my best, daring faith. We’re going to talk about how to give God my best. This sermon is an adaptation of Rick Warren’s sermon series that some of us groups are studying this next month. And here’s a look at that book right here, Daring Faith, you can see that? See that little white thing at the top? It took me until this morning to realize that it’s a surfer on a wave. Daring faith, it’s all coming together today. I don’t know why I didn’t even clue in, I don’t know if I really cared too much, but I finally realized that is a surfer, that man has faith, or a woman. That’s one big wave, or it’s one very small person.
So, the greatest tragedy in life is not death but a wasted life. So, are we wasting our lives today? We’re going to look at three different analogies from the Bible today – we’re going to look at the soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. And we’re going to look at how do I give God my best; think about that. Am I right now truly giving my best to God? And if I’m not, why not? Why aren’t I giving my best to God? Why not? And why my best? Does God need me to do my best, or can he do without me? There are three things if I want to give my best to God that I must do that every soldier understands, and the very first one is I must define what I would die for. Do you ever think of that? I’m not sure I have really put true thought into what I would die for giving God my best. So what does death have to do with your best? Well, until you know what you’re willing to die for, you’re not ready to live. You’re not ready to live until you know what you would die for, not ready to love until you know who you would die for.
So again, what are you willing to die for? If you don’t know, then you’re not ready to fully live. You see, a soldier knows, they know that freedom is worth dying for, they know that family is worth dying for, faith is worth dying for. There are some things more valuable even than my own life, and they understand it. Let’s look at John 15:13. Jesus said the greatest love is shown when a person lays down his life for his friends. Jesus understands this. The highest form of love, the greatest love right now in our lives, soldiers, law enforcement officers realize that sometimes it’s a matter of life or death; and they put their lives on the line practically every day. Look at the news in the last month, there are things happening in our society, in our province, and in our country without having to look abroad, where people, our brothers and sisters, are putting their lives on the line every day. Edmonton not too long ago when the police officer died, was stabbed, the stuff that happened down in Las Vegas, that’s not very far away. How many people here been to Las Vegas? A few. I don’t think those people on vacation were anticipating death. That’s what Jesus did for us, didn’t he?
The greatest expression of love is Jesus dying on the cross. You measure love not by what people tell you, not by what your boyfriend says to you, “Hey baby, life is good, come on.” No. You measure love by the willingness to sacrifice. And the greater the sacrifice, the deeper the love. Where’s Brad? There’s Brad, wave your hand Brad. Who was here last week, heard Brad’s message? Amen. I listened to it on YouTube through the victory channel because I wasn’t here last week. Fantastic message Brad. Brad is another one of our deacons on the board, delivers a great message. So, those of you that were here last week you know all about multiplication. You’re only going to get what you put into it. You’re looking for a greater sacrifice, for a deeper love, well if you don’t put the sacrifice in you’re not going to receive that deeper love. If you put nothing into something you’re going to receive nothing; if you put into it, you will receive.
It brings us to number two – I must sacrifice my comfort. I know, I enjoy my comfort and I enjoy my time away from work, but you must sacrifice comfort. Effective soldiers to be the best they can be sacrifice comfort. The other day I sacrificed. I decided on the way to work instead of Tim Hortons, I’m going to drink the coffee at work. But it didn’t end there, I sacrificed even further, I decided not just am I going to drink the coffee at work but I’m going to drink black coffee and no sugar no cream. It’s not a sacrifice, is it? For some it’s a sacrifice, but that’s not what we’re talking about here is it? Soldiers sacrifice their comfort, they go out and they serve in the heat and they serve in the cold. They give up their free schedule, if their commanding officer says, “Jump” they jump. That’s right, “How high?” They don’t say, “Well you know, it’s a little cold out, maybe we should wait till the afternoon and then we don’t have to wear our big heavy jacket.” They give up their freedom to perceive the freedom for me, to preserve the freedom of other people. They give up wealth and they endure hardships. How many here know a rich Canadian soldier? There are no rich Canadian soldiers. They give up wealth and they endure hardships.
In life, have you sacrificed? Have your achievements just fallen into your lap? Or have you had to sacrifice for them? You don’t become great, you don’t become great by doing what’s easy, by doing what’s comfortable; you become great by committing yourself to something greater than yourself, and then being willing to sacrifice for that. The greater your sacrifice in life, the greater your character in life is. In 2 Timothy 2:3, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” How many people here served in the military? We’ve asked this before, and raise them high, I want to see high so everybody could see those here that have served. Awesome. Thank you for your service. How many people know somebody who served for in the military? Yes, look around, everybody knows somebody who has sacrificed for our country, for our freedom, endure hardship.
So what does that mean to us? Just like a soldier who puts up with hardship for the greater cause, you need to put up with hardship for a greater cause. We’re not talking about that coffee. So what’s hardship? What is keeping you from following Christ? What’s holding you back? There’s something that’s holding each and every one of us back. No matter how much further we have being in the past, there’s something that is holding you back. It’s not easy, it’s not easy following Christ; anyone here find it to be simple to follow Christ? It is hard. We’ve wronged others, doing the right thing is not always easy. If doing the right thing was easy, man, we would all be doing it. It’s so much easier to do the wrong thing, always easier to do the wrong thing than it is the right. So you have to make choices – you see something that needs to be done and you decide, “I know that this is the right thing but I don’t want to do it.” Well, if it was easy you wouldn’t have that discussion with yourself, you would just do it because it’s the right thing. That’s why it’s harder to tell the truth, that’s why it’s harder to forgive instead of getting even, it’s harder to let go instead of getting revenge. How many people have had to let go this week? It’s harder to be kind, it’s harder to be unselfish than selfish. And of course, everybody’s different, some of these might resonate with some more than others.
But the path to greatness, the path to be the best you could possibly be, first you need to define what you’d die for, and then we need to sacrifice your comfort. You see, we’re all in a battle, we’re in a spiritual battle. And this spiritual battle is brought into the physical that we live every day. In Ephesians 5:2, “Live a life of sacrificial love just like Christ loved us and gave himself as an offering in sacrifice for us.” He gave his life as an offering; see, that’s the goal. If you want to be like Jesus Christ you need to learn sacrificial love. Let’s look at a couple questions. The first one – do you want to be like Jesus? And who are you offering your life for? Right now, who are you sacrificing your life for? Who are you putting up with hardships for besides yourself? You see, I must sacrifice my comfort, my selfishness. And I know that a lot of the things in my life stem from selfishness, that’s my thing, and it manifests into many other hardships that I have to work on and struggle through sometimes. Do I want to be like Jesus? We must live a life of sacrificial love.
I doubt that you will be asked to give your life for Jesus Christ. In most cases, probably most of us here probably won’t be asked to do that in your lifetime. There are people around the world today who have lost their lives because they chose Christ, they chose to be saved through Christ in their lives and they have lost their life. But would you be willing? You have to think about this, right? Because we say things in this society, we say things without thinking, we agree to things without thinking. So are you, would you be willing? It’s a question for each and every one of us. Or, are you a casual Christian not committed to Christ, not committed, not a committed Christian? Are you willing to sacrifice your own comfort for the greater good of other people? That’s what it means to be like Jesus.
The third thing that we learn from a soldier is that I must eliminate distractions. Distractions, my house is filled with distractions. Number one, I would like to say that it’s the children, but for me it’s the TV – distraction number one. Distraction number two, the kids, and I love them, but they are a distraction. They are a good distraction, but still a distraction. Working on my marriage, sometimes that can be a distraction because you have to put so much into learning about one another and working together. But there are other kinds of distractions, distractions that come from outside of your home, distractions that come from this world. So I must eliminate the distractions if I want to be the best I could possibly be, sometimes I might even need to learn how to work with the distractions if I want to be the best. 2 Timothy 2:4 says, “As Christ’s soldier do not let yourself become entangled in the affairs of this life wasting time, for then you cannot please your commanding officer who enlisted you in his army.” I get goosebumps – wasting time. You must have the freedom to respond and to serve. A soldier, to be ready at a moment’s notice you must eliminate distractions.
The Bible has a lot to say about doing without things that are really of no matter. How much of your time is invested in the things that aren’t going to matter in five years from today much less eternity? How much of your energy is invested right now in doing things that in five years it’s not going to matter, but in eternity? How much of your money are you investing in things right now, where are you putting your money that in five years big deal much less for eternity? If you want to be great, if you want to be the best that you can be you must start spending more of your time on things that are going to last forever, and less on things that don’t really matter. Again, this is easy stuff to say. We have to learn to do it. What could you give up to make more time for the things that matter in life, to love, to serve, to know God, to worship? These are the things we learn from effective soldiers. So we need to define what I would die for, sacrifice my comfort for, and we need to know how to eliminate distractions in our lives.
Let’s have a look at the athlete, let’s move on from the soldier to serious athlete. Not just the serious athlete, but the competitive athlete. This is what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “In a race everyone runs, but only one person wins the prize, so run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best.” There’s that, “doing your best”. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a ribbon or a medal that won’t last. But we do it for an eternal reward that will last forever. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step, I fight to win. I’m not just shadowboxing or playing around like an athlete, I discipline myself making sacrifices and training my body to do what it should; not what it wants to do. Otherwise I fear I might be disqualified from the race. Everyone in life is living their life, in a race everyone runs.
The athlete teaches us three things, the very first thing – I must intend to win; you don’t get into a race to ensure that you finish last. Talk to a school-age child who’s in their first race, they’re in that race to win. Whether that child doesn’t know how to run or what, they are in it to win. Whether they’re going to be disappointed in the end or not, they’re intended to win, they’re determined. If I’m going to win in life it’s got to be intentional, it’s not going to be by accident, it’s not going to happen without any effort. We don’t watch the Olympics to watch a bunch of guys who don’t try, they put effort into this stuff. It’s not going to happen unless I have a goal. How can you intend to win if you don’t know where you’re going? You will not become great by accident, you will not become the best you could possibly be just casually. The best you happens if you intend it to happen; that’s the difference between being a casual Christian and a committed Christian.
Look at golf, how many people here play golf? Put your hands up, put your hands up if you play golf? OK, there’s a few. Put your hands up now if you love golf. There’s a couple. Now, put your hands up if you’d say that you’re truly an exceptional player. Alright, amen. I’m never playing with Jerry. For anybody who hasn’t played golf, golf is a tricky sport. Number one, they make the ball too small, and number two the stick you hit it with is too skinny. But the more you concentrate on that ball you are not going to hit that thing. The more you get excited or angry or upset, you’re going to do so much worse. But when you’re focused and you practice and you put the time in, you become a very good golfer. But if you only want to go twice a summer, three times a summer to hang out with friends, you’re probably not going to become an expert in that game. So the difference is a degree of seriousness. When we’re talking about a casual Christian, a committed Christian, there is a difference in the degree of seriousness.
So how serious are you about being what God made you to be? “You know, I kind of like to do some of it in my spare time. You know, God and I once in a blue moon we’ll go for coffee together and I’ll talk to him. Or if somebody asks me about God I’ll think of something just to say to them.” No, it’s not going to happen. How serious are you about being the best you could possibly be? The Bible says in verse 24 from there, it goes, “In a race everyone runs, but only one person wins the prize, so run your race to win.” You’re running your race. I’m not running David’s race or Pauline; I’m not running anybody else’s race but my own. Are you running to win? Because God wants you to win. He wants you to run the race to win, and you’ve got to do this intentionally. The truth is there are some people listening to me right now, you’re never going to be a great person. You’re never going to be the person God intended. You’re never going to be the best man or the best woman you could be. Why? Because you never intended to be. You’re not willing to pay the price, you’re just not willing to pay the price. Maybe you don’t want it badly enough, maybe you don’t want it deeply enough.
So, how deeply do you want to win that prize that God has for you in life? He has the prize for you, he’s waiting for you to get it. What’s the prize? Run your best in the race of faith for yourself. Run your best in the race of faith and win eternal life for yourself, for this is the life that God called you to when you profess your faith before many witnesses. That’s what you win – eternal life, amen. So what’s he talking about here? It says profess your faith before many witnesses, what is that? When do we do that as a Christian? It’s talking about baptism. When you’re baptized you’re professing your faith in front of many witnesses. If you haven’t been baptized, that’s probably what you need to do next, you need to profess your faith in front of many witnesses, and baptism is the way to do that. I can feel that God has changed my life, I can accept Jesus Christ, and I can keep it all to myself. That could be done and you don’t even have to go to church. That’s not what God has called us to do. He wants us to profess our faith to many people, to the people around us, to the people that are our family. You need to run your best race, you need to do it intentionally, and you have to make the choice to go after it.
The second thing you need to do is what an athlete does, must discipline myself. Some hard stuff to take in – discipline myself. I think in our society we lack discipline at times. There are a lot of things, a lot of distractions in our lives right now that contribute to us lacking discipline, because there are so many shortcuts of things that we could do, so many other people that are doing things that I could just follow in what they’re doing. Of course, athletes do this. If an athlete was not disciplined, they would probably not see the prize. No athlete becomes a pro without the discipline, without the training. You don’t become great by doing whatever you feel, you don’t become great by living by your moods. You just can’t make up your own rules. There’s no shortcuts to becoming mature and there’s no shortcuts to greatness. In 2 Timothy 2:5, “If anyone competes as an athlete he cannot receive the victorious crown unless he competes according to the rules.” How many of you watch hockey? If one of the teams isn’t playing according to the rules, how many yell at their TV? 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, “To win the contest you must deny yourself many things that would keep you from doing your best.” An athlete goes into strict training just to win a ribbon, a medal that won’t last. But we do it for an eternal reward that will last forever. So I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.
To win you may have to do without. So what are some things I can do without so I can spend more time with God, so I can give more to God, so I can serve more, so I can be more of what God wants me to be? He wants you to be great. Ask this question again, what am I willing to do without in order to be the best? You want to be the best you. Am I willing to do without popularity? Am I willing to do without wealth? Am I willing to do without comfort? How would your life be better if you’d been just a little more disciplined early on in your life? What are some things that you could be enjoying today if only you had been a little bit more disciplined? The pain of regret goes on and on and on, and we wallow in it, we eat it up, the regret in our lives. I wanted to learn French as a child, and I just didn’t; I wanted to, but I didn’t. I wanted to learn how to play the guitar, and still I haven’t done it. I even bought a guitar. I never did this, I never did that. We all have a story in our lives. I should have never sold that first car I had in my life, that was fantastic and I just let it go because my girlfriend didn’t like it. I’m sure there’s a few guys out there about that one.
It’s discipline. What do you wish you had been more disciplined about? That’s what caused Jesus to be able to endure the cross. The Bible says he looked beyond the pain to the reward that he was going to receive and the benefit and the prize and the payoff. Hebrews 12, “Keep your eyes on Jesus who both began and finished this race we’re in.” Study how he did it because he never lost sight of where he was headed, that joyful finish with God in heaven. He could put up with anything along the way – cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there in the place of honor right alongside God. You can handle enormous pain in your life, and some of you probably have. And you can handle enormous discipline in your life if you realize there’s a better purpose for it. And there’s going to be a payoff at the end. When you forget the payoff, when you forget the reward, when you forget the prize, guess what? You’re going to give up. That’s why Paul says, “Run to win in your life and keep your eyes on the prize.” I’m sure that a lot of coaches probably say that, “Keep your eye on the prize.” Know what God is doing. Paul says it like this in 1 Corinthians 9:26, “I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.” He is so purpose driven. I fight to win; I’m not just shadow boxing or playing around. How many people ever boxed when they’re younger? Few people. Shadow boxing, I just didn’t get it. The problem with a lot of people today is that they’re just shadow boxing, they’re air guitaring the Christian life. They’re pretending, they’re just going playing around, hitting the air, they’re not serious. And he says, “Run straight to the goal.” You need to stay focused on the finish line, you need to stay focused on this, on that finish line.
Everything you see is one day going to be gone, everything. So you shouldn’t be investing a lot of time and money in energy into it. You should primarily be investing your time in things that are going to last forever. So what is that? Love, the word of God, and people, those are going to last forever; everything else isn’t going to last, everything. So, you run your race, you ignore the crowds, because when you’re running your race some people are cheering you and some people are putting you down. You ignore them, you just ignore them because you’re running the race. You keep your eye on the goal and you don’t waste your energy. How many things did I do the last week wasting energy on things that don’t really matter? How many things did I worry about, the little schemes I work up in my head to do something which was a waste of time? I need to be more focused, more purpose driven like these competitive athletes.
We’re going to move on to the farmer, and I love farming. I don’t ever want to have to farm, but I love farming. When I was a kid there was nothing better than being a farmer, am I right? They got cows, they got pigs and they got a whole lot of tractors, fantastic. Milking a cow when you’re a kid, probably one of the best things in the world, as long as you don’t get kicked by the old cow. My grandfather was a farmer, come from a long line of farmers; I just was never a farmer myself. It’s a lot that we can learn from agriculture. You can learn from the farmers some truth about your spiritual life. And there’s a lot of stuff in the Bible that talks about farming. Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 9:6-13, “Remember this, a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop, but the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each make up your own mind as to how you should give, and give reluctantly or in response to pressure, for God loves the person who gives cheerfully. Then God will generously provide all you need, and you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat in the same way he will give you many opportunities to do good, and he will produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched so that you can give even more generously, you’ll be glorifying God through your generous gifts. And your generosity will prove that you are obedient to the good news of Christ.”
Generosity, generously – I just love those words. Your life on earth is like planting a garden, whether you got a green thumb or not. He says that while you’re here on earth, whether it’s 40 or 60 years, 80 years, maybe 100, while you’re here you’re planting a garden. And the kind of seeds that you plant while here on earth you’re going to harvest in heaven. When you sow on earth you will reap in heaven, what you plant earth will be the fruit that you get to enjoy for eternity in heaven, amen, that’s good. He says if you plant generously, if you plant a lot of seeds you’re going to have a lot of fruit in heaven, you’re going to have a whole lot to enjoy up there. But he says if you plant sparingly you’re a miser, and you hold it back, you don’t give it away, you’re not going to have a whole lot up there. If you sow generously you’re going to reap generously. In the Bible it says five times Jesus gives the same command, “I tell you, store up treasure for yourself in heaven. I tell you, store up treasure for yourself in heaven. I tell you store up treasure for yourself in heaven.” If Jesus is telling us this five times, I highly recommend that you store up treasure in heaven; are you doing it? How in the world do I do it? By planting seeds of generosity.
Any of us can spare, even if you’re cranky. I have a lot of cranky moments, you can ask Randy that when I’m not around. But you can plant seeds of generosity. Any time you plant a seed of generosity, and we’re not talking about money or something tangible like that, we’re talking about when you give your life away you’re planting a seed of generosity, when you help somebody else you’re planting a seed, when you’re unselfish, when you serve, when you put yourself out there so that you benefit somebody else, when you’re generous with your time, generous with your money, with your income, when you’re generous with your reputation, your talents, you use what you have for the benefit of others and not yourself. You’re planting seeds in that garden on that farm. He says, “I highly recommend that you sow generously.” He wants you to have a lot of fruit in heaven.
So, we’re going to look at the last lesson of this sermon here. We need to reap a great harvest, we must plant generously in faith, and I must generously in faith. There’s a couple promises of Jesus I want to talk about. Luke 6:38 says this, “Give and it will be given back to you. You’ll be given much, it will be poured into your hands more than you can hold. You’ll be given so much that it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.” God has a number of different examples of this, doesn’t he, in the Bible. There’s the fish in the boat, overflowed in their boat, there’s also last week Brad was preaching and he spoke about the loaves and fishes. How many did they start with? And they ended with baskets, not just one basket leftover, but baskets of food. He wants to pour upon you so much that you don’t know what to do with it. Do you know what that reminds me of? That reminds me of the Holy Spirit, when he comes into you, you just don’t know what to do with it, it just pours out of your body. Mark 10:29, 30, Jesus gives a guarantee about anything you give up for his sake. He says this, “I guarantee you this…” God is guaranteeing us something, we better listen, we can count on this one. “Anyone who gives up anything for my sake and the good news, whether a home or a family member or property will get more than that back multiplied a hundred-fold and in the world to come, they will be given life forever.” A hundredfold, is that possible?
God says that anything that I give up for his sake, and you for his Kingdom, anything I sacrifice for him will be returned a hundredfold; how much is that, a hundredfold? That’s 10,000% interest. I want that financial adviser, 10,000%. Only God and his son can do that, and they’ve been doing business with people like this for over 2,000 years. But if you don’t believe, if you don’t believe it, why do you believe that Jesus will save you and take you to heaven? It’s the same Jesus. You can’t pick and choose from the Bible, you can’t pick and choose what Jesus has for you, what God has as designed for us. So if you can accept God into your heart and into your life, then you should be able to accept. So why do some people trust God with their eternal salvation and don’t trust God with their finances? It just doesn’t make sense. When we look at these three people that we just spoke about, the soldier, the effective soldier saves lives, the effect of athlete wins the prize, and the effective farmer harvests a larger size, a hundred-fold.
So, what is it I might give up or let go in order to have more time for the things that matter in life? What is it that I can let go of in order to give more, to serve more, to share more, to be more, to be all God wants me to be, in order to be the best I can be? The fact is a lot of things in your life you can probably do without, I could probably do without. And you know what? You wouldn’t even miss them, a lot of things. When we went to Jamaica to the mission field, Dewayne made me only take one bag; now you know who made me do it, one bag. I worried about what one bag that I could carry with my own personal stuff, and another little bag, it was like a man purse; I called it a diaper bag. But one big, and I’m a big guy. My pants rolled up look much different than Mr. Perry’s pants rolled up, my stuff takes up a whole lot more room. I was like, “Alright God, Dwayne is the director here. If he says I’m allowed to take one bag, Lord I guess I’m only taking one bag.” And you know what? I did it, I was very proud about being able to do it. And you know what? I didn’t miss anything else. All the other stuff that I thought I might have packed, I didn’t need it, I didn’t need any of it. There’s no hairdryer.
But there’s one thing you cannot do without; you got to have this one. What you cannot do without is a daily deep connection with Jesus Christ. If you’re going to grow and become the man God wants you to be, if you’re going to grow and become the woman God wants you to be, you have to have a daily deep connection with Jesus Christ. You can’t live a day without him, believe me. There are things that God can bring in your life that will make the other hurts and the wrongs of your past disappear. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s so true every day. We just talked about these seven things – three from the soldier, three from the athlete, and one from the farmer. You can’t do these things on your own, you can’t do them on willpower. You’ll do them for a while, and then you’ll give up. We need God’s power; you need God’s power. You need to be plugged in to him, that’s what it takes.
Let’s pray, thank you Jesus. Lord I just thank Pastor Chuck and the leadership of the church Lord God that allow me to speak God’s Word today Lord. Lord as we come to you today Lord God and everybody came in here for a reason today Lord God, they got up and they got here. Everybody has a different reason Lord God. Lord we just thank you for preparing their hearts Lord God, for bringing them in to hear the message, to hear your words Lord God, your teachings; not mine, but your word. Lord I just pray this week that each and every person go into their families, go into their workplace, go into their home Lord God and live their lives for you, to reach out for you. Lord God help them be the best person that they can be for what you have for them Lord God. And Lord, those that are out there Lord God protecting us, keeping us safe in this country and in this world Lord God, and in our cities, Lord God I just ask that we just lift them up to you Lord God for a hedge of protection. Lord God we just thank you that they sacrifice their freedom Lord God so that we can seek ours. I just thank you for this time that we’ve had today Lord God, in your name, amen.
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