Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Sacrifice, an Offering, of Praise . . .

I've been reflecting a lot on two different verses in the Bible. The first is Hebrews 13:15 which says, "Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name." The second is Psalms 119:108 which says, "Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O LORD, and teach me your rules."

These two passages are ones I have a sense are loaded with a depth of meaning I can only scratch the surface of. I wonder, what does it mean to give our praise unto God as an offering, and as a sacrifice? I have to believe this is so much more than the casual praise we lift up to God so often, or the way we might sometimes simply sing songs of worship and praise without fully being cognizant of each word and fully lifting them to Him as if from the depth of our hearts. I am thinking out loud here, and I might be wrong, but to me praising God and talking about Him can be easy. I don't normally think of the word "praise" in terms of God in a context of a sacrifice or offering. To me those words imply a cost and a determined, purposed gift.

I wonder if I am too casual in my worship and praise. Well, I know I am. There is no way my worship or praise could ever match what He is worthy of as God—holy, Creator, the One in Whom all time and goodness and love and life and light find their very origin. So I know I am too casual with my praise. I could never give Him, or express to Him, what He is truly worthy of. But that being said, I know my praise is pleasing to Him and accepted and loved. But I am wondering, is there a level of praise that I could lift to Him beyond what I am? A level of praise that is costly to me and emanating from the very core of my being?

Obviously to praise Him—to choose to praise Him—in the midst of suffering, in the midst of circumstances where His hand isn't evident, in the midst of seeming "unanswered" prayers is "costly." It is choice we must make, contrary to what we might feel. I think I get that and how that choice could be an offering and sacrifice of praise.

But what about when life is going good? When it seems like I can see Him moving in my life, providing, answering prayers, and praise is easy? How can I then give Him my praise as a sacrifice and offering? What level of meditating on Him and His attributes and His holiness and His love might I need to make the effort to do to come to that place where my praise is a sacrifice, an offering? What does that mean?

I have a picture of Him on the throne, and my handing Him my praise as a gift. My praise must be a fragrance of my life. It comes before even my requests . . . "Our Father in Heaven. Hallowed. Holy be Your name . . ." I am so casual, so quick, to speak to Him (and I know that is my privilege as His child) that at times I believe I need to just pause, and collect myself, and to wrap myself around Who it is I am about to speak to, and to breath deeply and to be in awe, and to praise Him. To worship Him. To give Him my praise as an offering. A sacrifice.

And I am still trying to figure out fully what that means. But I believe when I do it will forever change my life.


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