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Sample Topical Sermon




Preached: _______________

Text: Mark 14:3-5 "And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her."

Introduction: This may sound like an unusual question, but let me ask you something, WHAT IS SACRIFICE?

The reason I asked that question is because a sacrifice means different things to different people, such as:

  • What I might call a sacrifice, you might not call a sacrifice
  • What you call a sacrifice, I might not call a sacrifice

For example, there are people in this congregation that enjoy packing up and going to some God forsaken jungle on their vacation. They pull out a pup tent, then crawl inside of a mosquito infested tent, and say, "Wow! This is really living!"

Now you might call that a vacation, but to give up a nice comfortable bed for something like that, would be a tremendous sacrifice for me!

In fact, I think a sacrifice is staying in an air-conditioned room in a Holiday Inn, having to watch a black and white television.

What I call a sacrifice and what you call a sacrifice may not be the same thing. But when it comes to SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES we cannot have a difference of opinion. God knows what a sacrifice is, but it is important that we also know.

Illus: A father gave his young girl a generous weekly allowance, on the condition that she kept good records of how she spent the money. At the end of the month, the dad was going to check on how she spent the money. When he checked on how she did, he was delighted that she had kept good records. But he came across several items that were listed as TLOK. In fact, about 1/5 of her money was listed this way. He asked her what TLOK meant.

She said, "Well, itís this way. Sometimes I did not jot down the amounts I spent. When I sat down to try to jot down all that I spent, I couldnít for the life of me remember where I had spent all that money. I couldnít make my accounts balance, so I placed several dollars under TLOK."

The father said, "But what does it mean?" She said it means, "THE LORD ONLY KNOWS!"

That is true, and the Lord knows what a sacrifice is, but we also need to find out what a SACRIFICE IS!


Look at Ps 4:5, we read, "Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD."

To live righteously means we must sacrifice some of the activities of this world. We will not be involved in:

ē Drinking alcohol

ē Using drugs

ē Immoral sexual behavior

ē Vile language

There are many sacrifices we Christians have to make. But we need to make sure that what we call a sacrifice is the same thing as what Godís Word calls a sacrifice.

In order for a sacrifice to be classified as such, it requires three things.


A sacrifice offered by an unwilling heart is not acceptable.

Look what the Psalmist said in Psa. 54:6. "I will FREELY SACRIFICE unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good."

Suppose your wife told you that if you did not pull your lazy body out of bed and come to church with her this morning, you were going to have to start washing your own dirty socks. You decided it might be a good thing to come to church today because you did not want to wash your dirty socks. THAT IS NOT A SACRIFICE!

You did not come of your own FREE WILL; you came because of a threat.

A sacrifice must be FREELY GIVEN.

Illus: Dr. Odell Belger, while he was attending South Eastern Bible College in Lakeland, Florida, worked at the local hospital in the Intensive Care Department. While he worked there, he also was asked to serve on the cardiac arrest team. He went through extensive training about how to take care of these emergencies. But as he started taking that training, he had some concerns. One of them was that he had a very weak stomach, and he was not sure he would be able to do the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But he never expressed that concern with anyone. He completed the training. One day the team got a call to rush to a certain room. They all showed up with the equipment they needed and revive this man. This is the way they did it: they took turns doing the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, while the other one pushed on the patientís chest. A couple of days later, they all were instructed to come to a certain room where another man had to be revived. One of the team members jumped down and started pushing on his chest, and another team member jumped down and did the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. This process kept taking place, and each one of the team members took their turn. Dr. Belger would not take a turn doing the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. They finally came to him and said, "Listen, if you are going to be on the team, you have got to take your turn." They were very adamant about it, and he said, "Alright, the next time we have a call I will take my turn." Several days went by, and they got a call and they were to go to the emergency room. The team rushed down with the equipment. One by one they showed up within minutes. Finally Dr. Belger arrived, and he looked and saw this old woman laying on the floor. She had no teeth, and tobacco juice was running out of the side of her mouth. She gave a new meaning to the expression, "Itís a dirty job but somebodyís got to do it!" He started not to do it, but his supervisor was right there watching, and she had already told him if he was not willing to do this he would loose his job. With great reluctance he took his turn. Finally, he shut his eyes and did what he had to do and the lady was revived.

Now listen, when he gets to heaven, and the Lord starts to go over the sacrifices he made in his life, and the Lord does not mention this particular thing, he canít say, "Lord, I believe you overlooked something. Remember that great sacrifice I made when I gave that old woman with tobacco juice running out of her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation?"

If he does try to remind the Lord about this situation, the Lord is going to remind him that a sacrifice is something FREELY GIVEN! The only reason he did it was to keep his job. He did not do it freely, he got something for it; he got to keep his job.



For example, partial sacrifices are not acceptable Ė sacrificial animals had to die, not just SUFFER A LITTLE WHILE.

This is the kind of sacrifice that people today are offering to the Lord. That is, they do not mind suffering a little bit, but they are not willing to give themselves COMPLETELY, to the point that they are willing to die for the cause of Christ.

Illus: We have too many of these "Letís Make A Deal" Christians. They say, "Lord, if you are willing to compromise a little here, then I am willing to compromise a little there."

But listen, if you are waiting for the Lord to compromise, you are going to be waiting a very long time, because God does not compromise with anyone.

A sacrifice must be COMPLETELY GIVEN.

Remember the story in Mark 12 of the widow who gave all?

Look at Mark 12: 41-44. We read, "And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."

Notice that the Bible tells us that Jesus sat over against the treasury to watch people cast their money in the plate.

And the Bible says many there were rich, and they cast in much. That is, they gave a good offering.

But then a poor widow came in, and when the plate was passed before her, she threw in TWO MITES.

The Lord called his disciples and said, "Let me teach you fellows something." With eager ears they started listening. He told them that when the offering was just taken, the rich put in some large offerings.

But in verse 44 He told them the reason for them giving large offerings. "For all they did cast in of their abundance."

In other words, they gave out of their abundance, it did not hurt them in the slightest to give a big offering.

But when that Widow came in and threw in those two mites, she gave more than all of them put together, because, "..she of her want did cast in ALL THAT SHE HAD, even ALL HER LIVING."

In other words, she met the criteria of a sacrifice because a sacrifice must be COMPLETELY GIVEN.

Illus: A man was walking in the basement of a store and he saw tons and tons of sugar. He turned to the owner and said, "You sure must know how to sell sugar." He said, "No, I do not know a thing about selling sugar, but that fellow who sold me all that sugar knows how to sell sugar."

Listen, that woman who gave her all, knew how to sacrifice. SHE GAVE HER ALL!



  • Through the years, we all have seen folks who love the Lord, and who worked all night on Saturday night, but on Sunday morning they were in the house of God. THESE PEOPLE KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT SACRIFICE. Their bodies were crying for sleep, but they sacrificed their sleep to come to the house of God.
  • Through the years, some of Godís people have had to work until it is almost church time. They get home tired, take a shower if they have time, and they gather the kids and they head for the house of God. THESE PEOPLE KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT SACRIFICE.
  • Through the years, some of Godís people have worked hard, and when they came to church they were good stewards of Godís money, and placed Godís tithes in the offering plate. But the preacher talks about a missions work that needs a new roof on their little tin hut they worship in. The hard working man thinks to himself, I have money to spare, but I want to buy a new boat to go fishing in, and if I give the money to missions, I wonít be able to do that. But the need seems so great that he takes that boat money that he had been saving, and sends it off to this little church. THIS MAN KNOWS SOMETHING ABOUT SACRIFICE.


But when we think of SACRIFICES, we need to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ gave the greatest sacrifice that was ever given.

Does His sacrifice meet the criteria of being a genuine sacrifice? For example:


Yes, it was! Look at John 10:15. We read that the Lord said, "As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: AND I LAY DOWN MY LIFE FOR THE SHEEP."

We do not know exactly how many Roman soldiers came into the garden to arrest Him. But we do know that if He so chose, He could have used His divine power and driven every one of them to their knees.

∑ It was not the soldiers that put Him on that cross

∑ It was not the spikes that held Him on that cross

It was His love for us that caused Him to FREELY LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR US.



Yes, it was! The Lord could not have come off that cross, because had He come off the cross, He would not have met the criteria of what a sacrifice is. HE HAD TO COMPLETELY GIVE ALL!

Look at Romans 5:6-8, we read, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, CHRIST DIED FOR US."

He did more than just suffer for us, the Bible says, HE DIED FOR US!



Yes, it was!

Look at Matthew 20: 28. We read, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

1 Timothy 2: 6 says it this way, "Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."

Look at the word "ransom". This is the word "antilutron" which means a redemption price.

For example, evil men may break into a home and kidnap a loved one, and hold them for ransom. They might send a note saying, "I want a million dollars or else I will kill your loved one."

We all have been held ransom by Satan, and the Lord paid the ultimate price by giving His life that we might be free.

Had He not, we all would have died, but He died for us.

What a tremendous COST He paid for our sins. This is the greatest Sacrifice that has ever been made.

Never has anyone who had so much, given it all up to die for us.


Now the Lord tells us He wants us to offer up our bodies as a living sacrifice unto Him.

(1) It has to be FREELY GIVEN

(2) It has to be COMPLETELY GIVEN

(3) It has to be GIVEN AT A COST

Are you willing to give such a SACRIFICE to the Lord, who has given such a great SACRIFICE for you?

The woman in our text knew something about sacrifice. Look again at Mark 14:3-9. "And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her."

The Lord told this crowd of complainers to, "let her alone". Why? Because the Lord saw the sacrifice she made, and He is always pleased when one of His children sacrifice for Him.

Listen, when you make sacrifices for the Lord that meet these three criteria, there will always be people complaining and finding fault with what you do. Do not worry about that crowd, the Lord will always come to your defense and will reward you for eternity.





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