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Does your praise come with a price tag?

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A recent post from Mitch Teemly struck a nerve with me because it dealt with something that has been heavy on my heart for some time now, that being the subject of the cost of sacrificial praise.

In his post, Mitch uses a picture that contains the following scripture verse to illustrate his point that humility makes us real.

“Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.”    II Samuel 24:24

There are many such scriptures that call for God’s children to bring to Him a sacrifice of praise, but what exactly does this mean?

When we think about the word sacrifice, we might think of it in a way that means there is a cost involved, or we may look at it from the viewpoint of our having to expend ourselves physically.

When we think of the word praise however, our first thoughts are usually of the joy and happiness coming from our heart. When we combine the words sacrifice and praise together in a Spiritual sense, we find that it is hard to think of one without the other.

Sacrifice and Praise. Praise and Sacrifice. Sacrifice of Praise.

So how do these words apply to us in real life?

My wife and I were just talking about this very thing the other day. If you’re like me, there have probably been more than a few times when something you prayed for did not happen. I was telling her that if I were to create a balance sheet with answered prayers on one side, and unanswered prayers on the other, I’m afraid that the unanswered prayer side would tilt the balance sheet that way.

Let’s be honest here, there are many times when God does not come through for us the way we envision He should.

  • The arteries remain blocked
  • The cancer has spread
  • The promotion went to someone else
  • The divorce is going to happen
  • The bank wants the car

When life presents these things to us, the first question from most of us is where is God? When circumstances force us to make decisions that we would never otherwise make, it becomes easy to think that God has forgotten us.

In the midst of life altering events such as these, praise can be hard to come by. Agree?

Yet every child of God has been given the promise that “He will never leave us nor forsake us” (Heb. 13:5). The enemy, of course, tries to make us believe otherwise, yet God remains faithful to His children.

We are also taught to continually offer praise unto our God. Note the word continually.

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15

For us to praise God in times of despair requires personal sacrifice on our part. It’s not easy to praise God when your world is caving in all around you, and I’m sure many of you can attest to this. It also takes a great deal of trust.

It takes a purposeful act on our part to lay aside the hurt and pain that life sometimes throws at us. You have to want to do this. In order for us to lay ourselves upon the altar of sacrifice and give praise to God for outcomes we do not always understand, we have to want to do this.

Its called Sacrifice.

Yes, this kind of praise will cost you something. It is not cheap praise. It is not meaningless praise. It is not a recitation from a prayer book. This praise comes from the depths of our hearts. From the place that extracts the greatest cost from us.

You see, a real sacrifice of praise is not dependent upon God answering all of our prayers with a resounding YES! Real praise comes from a deep sense of knowing that no matter the answer, God is faithful and He can be trusted to know what is best for us.

When we choose to praise God even in the midst of the storm, God is glorified. I have learned through the years that the praise that is tried by fire is precious to God, and He will in no way reject such a sacrificial praise.

After David’s greatest sin had been uncovered, he humbled himself and acknowledged that what God demanded from him was not to be another animal sacrifice. God wanted nothing more from David that did not cost him personally.

No, God demanded something personal from David. He wanted his heart.

“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.”    Psalms 51:16-17 

How amazing it is to find that this same David, who has previously told someone that he would not offer a sacrifice to God that did not cost him anything, is now being brought to the point of realizing that what God wanted wasn’t a burnt offering, or an animal sacrifice.

What God wanted from David was the same thing He wants from all of us. God wanted David’s broken heart, for from a broken and a contrite heart comes sacrificial praise. Praise that costs something.

Does your praise come with a price tag?

Be blessed!

Ron

 

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Let it go

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Sometimes, you just have to let it go and simply trust.

Trust that Someone much bigger than you has it under control.

For most of us, there aren’t too many things more difficult than that.

We just aren’t wired that way. Instead, we’re a people who have to maintain control of the situation.

If you are a get it done, whatever it takes type of person, letting go and putting your faith in,well, faith, is not easy.

 

Yet this is exactly what God asks of us. He asks that we step back and allow Him to take control of our situations.

That thing that we insist upon having…control….He asks us to relinquish it to Him.

As difficult as that can be, what makes it possible is something that Jesus promised to us.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
‭‭John‬ ‭14:27‬ N‭KJV‬‬

Words to live by.

Words of comfort and rest.

Words of assurance that in every situation, we are secure in His love.

Words that remind us that we can trust Him and let it go.

Be blessed!

Ron

Lonely Yes,but Never Alone

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Holidays have a tendency to bring out a myriad of emotions in all of us. When you really think about it, Christmas seems to tug at our emotions more than any other holiday.

Emotions run the gamut don’t they? From sheer joy and excitement as anticipation of the big day grows more intense every day, to the lowest of lows as the realization sinks in that another Christmas must be endured without a precious loved one there to share in the day.

Watching the news at this time of year brings to the forefront a different kind of emotion: DESPERATION. Desperation because once again there isn’t money enough to buy even one gift for the children. Desperation because once again excuses must be invented in order to sooth the broken hearts of the disappointed. Desperation that escalates into despair, so much so that parents will stop at nothing in order to avoid having to look into the eyes of their children who will not be receiving a present at Christmas. Stealing, and much worse, are all part and parcel as seemingly anything goes in order to avoid the inevitable.

As horrible as desperation and despair can be at Christmas, I have found that there is another emotion even more horrific, even more gut wrenching to have to endure, and that is LONELINESS.

What a powerful emotion loneliness is. At times it can reach the point of complete debilitation, rendering a person to the point where they feel worthless, unlovable, even forgotten by God Himself.

As a Christian we have a promise that we will never be alone. The writer of Hebrews made this very clear when he said:

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb 13:5 NKJV

But not everyone has this promise, because not everyone knows the Promise Giver.

And if I’m to be completely honest, many who do know the Promise Giver suffer the pain of Loneliness. Many of God’s children struggle with abandonment, betrayal, and a broken heart. Some would say how can this be? I thought God took away all of the negative things!

Living in this world we are not immune to these emotions. We are not exempt from hurt and pain. Sometimes I wonder if we don’t struggle with them as much as those who do not know Christ!

Again, when we turn to scripture we find that we are not alone in our struggles:

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 2Co 4:8-9 NKJV

In the midst of it all, when the weight of loneliness and despair is crushing us, God’s word declares with the sound of a trumpet: we are not alone! We have not been forsaken! We will not be destroyed! Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!

This Christmas, if you find yourself struggling to keep your head above water, I urge you to look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. The all time, undefeated Champion of love and mercy will make a way where there seems to be no way. He will be your oasis in the midst of your dry, barren desert of loneliness and despair.

Beloved, it isn’t a pretty package that will strengthen you for the journey. It is the peace that passes all understanding. It is Jesus. The Christmas Gift for the ages.

Remember, we are often lonely. The holidays can bring those emotions to the surface.

But we are never alone.

Be blessed!

Ron

Jesus Will Keep Us

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Another cold, cloudy and rainy Saturday in March. Like millions of others who have endured this very long winter, I am so ready for the warmth of spring. Thankfully nearly all of the snow is gone from the yard and the ice on the pond is mostly slush. The geese are making more noise as they begin their annual scrimmage for the rights to the pond out back. Surely the arrival of spring cannot be far off!

Tomorrow is my Mother in law’s birthday and we are going to church with her in the morning and then lunch after that. This will be her first birthday since her husband of 56 years passed last June so it will be quite emotional for all of us. I intend to publish a tribute to my Father in law one day so anyone who reads this blog will know that there truly are real men of God among us.

I’ve been reading John’s gospel this week and have been stuck on the 17th chapter for several days now, in particular the 12th verse which reads as follows:

“While I was with them in the world,I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition,that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

What an astounding statement… “I kept them in Your name”. More to the point, this promise has also been given to us. I am fully persuaded that if Jesus could keep the eleven, He can keep you and I through every storm we go through. We never have to fear being left alone because He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us, but will go with us even to the end of the world.

Be comforted in knowing this…

Ron