The Sacrifice of Praise: Hebrews 13:15-17
“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. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:15-17).
A relationship with God cannot exist without worship. There is no impersonal way of expressing praise to God.
Worship is a Celebration! Rejoice, you have been pardoned. The Psalmists celebrated God. They worshiped with all their emotions…they thirsted and, hungered for God, longed for God, panted for God, shouted to God, cried before Him, danced before Him, lay prostrate, they had a passion for God, an insatiable desire for a touch from God.
Psalm 42:1-3, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, “Where is your God?”
Psalm 63:1-7, “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.”
Psalm 149:1-3, “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise His name with the dance; let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.”
1 Chronicles 16:29, “Give to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
John 4:23,24, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Revelation 5:11-14, “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four[e] elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.”
Worship is a collective exercise that brings God into our very presence. God lives in the midst of the praises of His people. When we worship Him we place Him on the throne…Psalm 22:3, “But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.” God lives in the atmosphere of praise. So praise is not just a reaction from coming into His presence…Praise brings us into the presence and power of God! Praise and worship is the vehicle that allows us to enter into His glory.
Psalm 100;4, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalms 100:4).
Psalms 16:11, "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Acts 2;28"You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of joy in Your presence."
Worship is a collective evangelism that declares to all observers, God is real and Jesus is the only way of salvation. John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
I heard this from a friend. “As a young adult I tried to find out what worship was so I visited several churches in my town. The first was a great cathedral with vaulted ceilings, a massive pipe organ, the minister in flowing robes, speaking in hushed tones in the dimly lit sanctuary. I said, ‘This is worship.’ Then I visited a little Pentecostal church. There were guitars, drums, loud shouting and singing, a minister in a three-piece suit, pounding the pulpit. I said, ‘This is worship.’ Then I visited a church that was very simple in design, a quiet dignity filled the sanctuary. The music was very tasteful, with just a piano and small organ. The people were involved in singing praises to God. The minister opened his Bible and gave a very simple Bible study, after which he gave an invitation to accept Christ, I went forward and received salvation. Then I knew what worship was. It pointed me to Christ!”
Now I’m not saying that people cannot find Christ in any atmosphere! But the whole idea of praise is to glorify God and proclaim Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Back to our text, Hebrews 13:15-17:
Verse 16: We worship the Lord when we offer our voices to praise Him 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.”
Verse 16: We worship the lord by our treatment of others. “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
Verse 17: We worship the Lord by our obedience to God’s leaders in the church. “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
Look at the sacrifices believers are to offer:
The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving: Psalm 116:17, “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.”
The Sacrifice of Righteousness: Psalm 4:5, “Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.”
Our bodies as a living sacrifice: Romans 12:1 NLT, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” 1 Corinthians 6:19,20, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.” God is more pleased with a broken heart about sin, than with all the blood of the animals sacrificed in the Old Testament.
What is a Sacrifice? It is something given, a gift or a tribute. The presentation of ourselves to God implies the surrender of the offerer. 2 Corinthians 8:5, “They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.”
What do we sacrifice? In the New Testament economy we do not offer the blood of slain animals, or grain as the Old Testament saints did!
•The sacrifice of the fruit of our labor. The giving of our finances to God represents our work. The fact is that if God has you, he has everything you own. Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 50:10. “…Every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.”
•The sacrifice of our time. Ephesians 5:15-17, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore do not be unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” Psalm 31:15 MSG, “Hour by hour I place my days in your hand.”
I’ve only just a minute, only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it, didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,
But it’s up to me to use it. I must suffer if I lose it,
Give an account if I abuse it, just a tiny little minute,
But eternity is in it.
–Dr. Benjamin E. Mays–
•The sacrifice of our effort to be used for God. Jesus said, 1 Corinthians 6:19,20 NLT, “You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” In Matthew 25:40, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
•The sacrifice of our gifts. Every believer has spiritual gifts! God gives us spiritual gifts for the edification of the Church. I Corinthians 14:12, “Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. to build up the Body of Christ in love and unity, that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 4:11, “Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.”
•The sacrifice of our mind. Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” Ephesians 4:23, “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 NLT, “We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”
•The sacrifice of obedience. Acts 5:29, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Hebrews 5:9, “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” Galatians 5:7, “You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?”
The Sacrifice of Praise:
There is no impersonal way of expressing praise to Almighty God! The favorite book for many believers is the Psalms, a book about music and praise. We find in the Psalms expression to our inmost thoughts, our moments of great joy. The Psalms have everything, music, beauty, wisdom, theology and experience.
The Greek word psallein originally meant “to pull” or “to pluck.” It then came to be used with the meaning “to play a stringed musical instrument.” From this verb came the noun psalmos, which literally meant “the twanging of a harp.” Since harp music often accompanied singing, psalmos took on the meaning of “a song sung to harp music” and later simply "a song or poem." It was borrowed into Latin as psalmus and came into English as psalm.” (Webster’s Dictionary). And in Hebrew, “Tehillim” meaning “Songs of Praise.” (Wikipedia).
The longest book in the Bible is a book about music, praise and worship. I get just a little troubled by the Psalmists, they expressed so much emotion in their worship and praise. They sang, danced, lay prostrate, shouted, covered themselves with ashes, and lifted their hands to heaven. That seems to be way to undignified for many churches today. I submit to you, that a Christianity without emotion is a farce! Just to know that I am saved eternally is enough to make anybody shout!
Sacrifice costs something. Let’s take a journey with King David to the home of Ornan the Jebusite. The Angel of the Lord commanded King David to erect an altar to the Lord on Ornan’s threshing floor. Ornan offered the King everything he would need for the sacrifice, his threshing floor, the animal for the sacrifice, the wood for the altar, and grain for the offering. Here was an easy out for King David, an easy way to satisfy the demands of God without the sacrifice touching his own life. But the King realized that the key to sacrifice involved himself. God demanded a sacrifice from David, not Ornan. So King David says, “I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing” (1 Chronicles 21:24).
Every time we come to church we are faced with the offer of Ornan. We must Praise God for ourselves. We cannot allow the worship leader, worship team, choir, soloists, or even the people around us to worship for us.
Worship is a sacrifice when we don’t feel like it. The best time to worship is when we do not feel like it. People sometimes stay away from the fellowship they so desperately need. We need only remember the Israelites in Babylonian captivity, “We put away our harps, hanging them on the branches of poplar trees. For our captors demanded a song from us. Our tormentors insisted on a joyful hymn: “Sing us one of those songs of Jerusalem!” But how can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a pagan land? (Psalm 137:2-4 NLT). When they desperately needed to sing the songs of Zion they could not! 1 Peter 1:6, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.”
Worship is a sacrifice when you are suffering depression. In Psalm 77, the Psalmist is suffering from a deep depression. He laments his condition for much of the chapter, then he remembers his blessings and begins to praise, “I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders…” (Verse 10-14).
Worship is sacrifice when you harboring bitterness towards anyone. Matthew 6:23,24, “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” In other words, you can’t worship if you have an unresolved issue with anyone! All earthly relationships must be right when you come to worship the Lord.
Praise is sacrifice when your are persecuted for Christ. Act 5:41 NLT, “The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.” Paul and Silas were singing praises when they were in a dungeon, imprisoned for their faith in Christ. Acts 16:24,25, “He (The jailor) put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God…”
“Why is praising God a sacrifice? The word “sacrifice” in Greek is thusia. It comes from the root thuo, a verb meaning “to kill or slaughter for a purpose.”
“Praise often requires that we “kill” our pride, fear, or sloth—anything that threatens to diminish or interfere with our worship of the Lord. We also discover here the basis of all our praise: the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by Him, in Him, with Him, to Him, and for Him that we offer our sacrifice of praise to God. Praise will never be hindered when we keep its focus on Him, the Founder and Completer of our salvation. Paul reminds us to ‘present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service’ (Romans 12:1). Jesus’ cross, His blood, His love gift of life and forgiveness to us remind us to keep offering continual praise as a living sacrifice before the Lord!” –Jack Hayford
John Huffman describes one unforgettable moment with his daughter. He had been away from home for several weeks on an overseas missions trip. When his airplane landed, he could hardly wait to see his wife and four children, but he and the other passengers were detained in customs for two hours. Finally the custom’s officials allowed them to proceed to the lobby, where hundreds of people were anxiously waiting for family and friends. Huffman writes, “There was such a press of bodies, I knew I would not be able to pick my children out until I walked up the ramp, past security, and got out into the open. But my three-year-old daughter, who had managed to squeeze her way to the front of the crowd, began screaming, ‘Daddy! That’s my daddy!’ She must have shouted that at least five times, when suddenly she broke free from the crowd, and bolted past the security guards, still yelling, ‘daddy, daddy, that’s my daddy!’ She literally flew into my arms and began kissing and hugging me. What a welcome! I have never felt so loved and acknowledged in my life. It was a wonderful. fulfilling moment that even today brings a warm and happy feeling. That’s what God feels like when we acknowledge Him in worship.”
Another touching story I heard years ago was about a little girl who was terminally ill. Her daddy took her up into his big strong arms, and began to sing God’s praises to her. Every time he paused, she would say, “More, Daddy, more!” I wonder sometimes if God, even though He is the Sovereign of the Universe, doesn’t sometimes say to us, “more, children, more?”
Why sacrifice praise? Just look at what we were without Christ! Blind, hardened, unclean, unrighteous, unholy, just a bunch of hell-deserving, poor, hungry, thirsty, and naked sinners before God, lost and undone! Isaiah 6:5 NLT, “Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
Listen to how the Holy Spirit describes those who are “In Christ.” “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:3-14).
We are “In Christ, blessed, chosen, predestined, adopted, accepted, redeemed, forgiven, with an inheritance waiting in heaven…Why wouldn’t we praise the Lord?
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