“He is thy praise and He is thy God.” Deuteronomy 10:21
The bright light escaping from behind the shades shook me awake and I sat up quickly straining towards the clock. Only 6:35. I pulled the shade down and it snapped up, making more noise than I wanted. My eyes were instantly assaulted so much so that I sat back on the bed and gasped. Who would guess? Who could imagine? Snow! At first glance about 6 inches of powder, glazing the trees, fences, roads in immaculate white, bringing the mounds of snow and ice beneath back up to it’s original three feet. In my pre-caffeinated state, I slowly pondered my first response. More snow. That’s just…then remembering my vow to Jesus that I would stop being such a whiny curmudgeon, I smiled at the winter wonderland and said, “Wow, that’s pretty!”
Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. Hebrews 13:15 NLT
Sacrifice of praise. That little phrase has never ceased to give me pause in the 27 years I have been hearing it. It seems like an oxymoron; that sacrifice and praise should inhabit the same thought. Wouldn’t praise be natural, spontaneous and just…right? Sure, when it comes to worshiping Jesus Christ, there is no one that deserves more praise. And when life seems grand and expectant with blessing that comes from above, it is right and tough to stop praising our God in heaven. Then why is it a sacrifice?
Flip back to the Old Testament. The fruit of our labor, the first- fruits (meaning the best) was set aside for God and His holy altar. It wasn’t that He needed a bunch of lambs and oxen and turtledoves. But he wanted to see if we would trust Him, especially when things looked bad and without hope, when giving was hard, especially our best. Sometimes the best was someone else’s worst, but it didn’t matter. God was looking for trust, for bold faith.
I can be on every church outreach, leading a Bible study, paying tithes and exemplary in church attendance, but still holding my best from God. Jesus has already provided the ultimate sacrifice. He is both the sacrifice and the altar for us. Now he just wants the fruit of our lips. Words. Beautiful fruit that glorifies His name. Not rotten fruit that complains; about the pastor, the music, the temperature in the sanctuary. I stand guilty more than once on all charges. Rotten fruit, with those pesky little fruit flies flitting around. Gross.
So I decided to turn my world upside down this morning. Instead of job, school, people I want to fix and more snow at the top, I set Jesus on the altar of my heart. How? Praise. Prayer. Worship. Beyond my routine, until it felt a little like…sacrifice. And then I did something I hadn’t done in a while. I went out and knocked on a few doors and caught a couple of people in parking lots. “Do you know the love of Jesus Christ?” Some stopped to talk, some were busy. But here’s the thing. I want to give Jesus my best, not just the usual, the 99 cent special. And right now that means getting out of my snuggly warm comfort zone and looking hard at the people Jesus died for, who still haven’t heard this glorious truth. It doesn’t matter if I see results or if any one else does. It pleases the One I love the most.
Hebrews continues, “And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.” v.16.
Wow. So simple. Wake up and say Thanks Jesus, because with You in charge, it’s going to be good. Even if the snow piles up to the roof, if the car breaks down, the bank account circles the drain, the door slams in your face. Turn your world upside down and give Him the best seat. He is my praise, He is my God.