Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Sacrifice of Praise’

Constant Joy

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

  ~~  Psalm 100 (KJV)

This is one of my favorite psalms. In the first place it says “make a joyful noise” not “sing sweetly on key.” The criteria for our singing is joy, not musical ability.

But no one can be joyful all the time, can they? That depends on where your joy lies. If the joy of the Lord is your strength, then you can be joyful all the time. God is always with you. If he is the source of your joy, nothing can change it.

When things seem blackest, we can praise the Lord for who and what he is. He inhabits the praises of his people. No matter what circumstances surround us, he is unchanging and always sure. If your security is in him, nothing can shake it.

This truth allows us to be grateful to God for who and what he is, no matter what happens around us or to us.

So at all times and in all seasons, we can bring a sacrifice of praise to him. Blessing his name for who he is.

That sacrifice of praise will hold you together in the roughest of times. It draws you closer to him and reminds you of all his power and righteousness.

In a time when I thought I would drown in grief, the old hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, came bubbling up out of my middle. While the grief was still there, I had an assurance that it would not overwhelm me, that with God’s help I could get through it.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

For that I was and am mightily grateful.

Father, God,

Thank you for being our peace and our strength. Remind us at all times to come to you with praise and thanksgiving so that we may always be blessed of you.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

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The Sacrifice of Praise

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.   ~~  Psalm 138:1-3  (KJV)

If you have never experienced difficulty or tragedy in your life, you are among the very few. Most of us will go through turmoil and trouble at some point or at several points in our lives.

How you handle that trouble comes from who you are at heart. If your heart is set upon the Lord, you will spend as much time praising Him as asking for help.

Our lives may not be happy at all times, but we can still be joyous. As we look at God and Who He Is, there is every reason for a deep-seated, pervasive joy. That joy is multiplied when we praise Him in the midst of circumstances that are not in themselves joyous.

That is the definition of “sacrifice of praise“. We praise Him in spite of circumstances, not because of them. Who He Is and His power are the source of our joy.  He lives in the praises of His people.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.  ~~ Psalm 22:3  (KJV)

When the day is black and circumstances are dire, we can praise Him for Who He Is and all He has done for us. This sacrifice of praise brings us closer to Him, focuses our attention on Him rather than the momentary circumstances of our lives.

Nothing surprises God. He knows all that will happen before it occurs. He knows us – knew who we would be before he called us forth. We can trust Him with everything.

Father, God,

Help us to remember that You are our only security in this uncertain world. Grant us the faith to see You in all circumstances rather than focusing on the distracting machinations of the enemy. Let us praise You with a full heart of gratitude for all You have done for us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Is God Near?

Black holes permeate our world, places where the light seems never to penetrate.  We fall into them from time to time. Catastrophes, terrors and wars claim our attention. Circumstances conspire to separate us from the people we love or from our dreams and desires. Our prayers and thoughts seem to rise no further that the ceiling of our rooms. God seems very far away. But is he?

 Jeremiah 23:23,24:  Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?  Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

The problem with distance from God is that we have put it there. He did not. We have let our eyes wander from him to gaze at other things.  Our minds are occupied with day to day trivia. We have neglected our attitude of gratitude. We have forgotten that he is with us as immediately as our next breath. We may forget, but God never does.

Isaiah 49:1, 16:  Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.  Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

He is constantly with us, whether we recognize it or not. So how do we climb out of these black holes? Hebrews has the answer for us.

Hebrews 13:15:  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

There are times when praising the Lord feels like a sacrifice. It isn’t the natural thing to do. When losses overwhelm us, when children stray from the path we have set before them, when co-workers seek to undermine our livelihood, praise is generally the last thing on our minds.

“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of feeling than to feel yourself into a new way of acting.
~ Harry Stack Sullivan
If you ever saw the movie The King and I, you saw this principle in use when Anna sings to her son, “when ever I feel afraid, I hold myself erect and whistle a happy tune so no one will suspect I’m afraid.”  And later in the lyric it says “The result of this deception is very strange to tell for when I fool the people I fear, I fool myself as well.”
My grandmother used to recite a little rhyme:

Turn the corners of your mouth a little upwards, don’t you know / If you keep a’smilin’ always, discontent ain’t room to grow.

So if we praise the Lord when we least feel like it, we are sacrificing how we feel to what we know we should do.  And as we praise Him, we get closer to him. Well, not really. What we do is become more aware of His constant presence.
 Jesus came to his disciples by walking on the water. Peter got out of the boat to go to meet him. But he got distracted by the wind and waves. When he let his eyes wander from Jesus, he began to sink.
The answer is to keep our eyes on the Lord. He is our salvation, both temporally and eternally.
 Father, God,
Help us to keep our eyes focused on you. Let us not be distracted by the trivialities of life on earth, but keep our hearts attuned to your heavenly purposes.
In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.