Sermon Snippets from Sunday, November 24, 2013
Hebrews 13:15-16 “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (NIV)
The Jewish believers who were reading the original letter to the Hebrews had been going through a great deal of persecution since they began believing in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Some had even been tempted to return to their Jewish faith. Yet Paul writes to them, urging them to give a sacrifice of praise.
1. So What is a sacrifice of praise?
A sacrifice is defined as:
- the act of making an offering to a deity in worship or atonement;
- giving up some cherished or desired object, person or idea – usually for the sake of someone else.
- a loss incurred without a return
- to relinquish or give up something valued for the sake of something else.
God desires our praise and he sees it as better than animal sacrifices. Ps 69:30-31
Sacrifices are to be done continually 1 Chronicles 16:40. The word “continually” gives us our first inkling of the sacrifice involved.
- It’s hard to praise when we feel like grumbling or complaining.
- It’s hard to sacrifice when we don’t understand why we’re going through hard times.
It may not always be convenient or easy to praise, but we are commanded to do it.Alexander Whyte, a Scottish preacher, always began his payers with a word of praise. One cold, miserable day his people wondered how he would begin his prayer. He prayed, “We thank Thee, O Lord, that it is not always like this.”
Our sacrifice of praise is to come from our lips – not from things we grow or possess. Consider the opposite of Thanksgiving: grumbling, bitterness and complaining attitudes. These things so easily roll off our tongue. Our praise is to be sweet coming from our lips. Luke 6: 45.
In Africa, there is a fruit called the “taste berry” that changes a person’s taste so that everything eaten after it is sweet. Keeping gratitude in our hearts will do what the African “taste berry” does.
To offer a sacrifice of praise is more than just saying the right words – it’s confessing and giving thanks to the Lord out of a grateful heart.
2. We are to also do good and share with others according to our theme verse in Hebrews.
This calls attention to acts of service or kindness. As Christians we look for opportunities to do good deeds for others as an expression of our worship toward the Lord.All we have to do is look around daily and we can see opportunities to do good things for others.
We are also commanded to share with others which relates to faithfulness in giving.The act of giving is as part of our worship. That’s one reason we put emphasis on giving offerings as part of our worship services. If that is true, our attitude toward giving should always be one of generosity. The first century believers had apparently lost site of this aspect of worship, perhaps because of the persecution they were under at the time. But Paul reminded them of the importance of looking for ways to give to others and bless them even in spite of their own persecution.
Sacrifice is not a painful loss – but rather a joyous thing which is holy and pleasing to God!
The real life of worship or Thanksgiving that pleases God is both what comes from our lips and our lives.
How about you? Are your lips and your lives wrapped up in praising God?