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Sacrifices of Praise, Obedience and Service

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. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (NIVUK)

Much of the worship in the Old Testament involved sacrifices. There were five major types of sacrifice which were offered to God. Each was costly and was offered to make peace with God or a fellow Israelite. There were the: Burnt Offerings for atonement (Leviticus 1:3-17); Sin Offering for propitiation (Leviticus 4:1-5:13); Guilt Offering for repentance (Leviticus 5:14-6:7); Fellowship Offering for reconciliation (Leviticus 3:1-17); Grain Offering for consecration (Leviticus 2:1-16). But in Christ all these have been fulfilled: He is our atoning sacrifice whose blood is the propitiation for our sins, removing our guilt and reconciling us to Himself and His family, and through Christ we consecrate ourselves to God.

But these verses say that there are still sacrifices for believers to make. These cannot reconcile us to God, for Jesus has already completed that work (Hebrews 10:12). But they do express our gratitude for what He has done. Praise is a sacrifice for human beings. Our sinful nature adores the praise of others. But in order to praise God in spirit and truth we must desire that He shall be the centre of attention, and not us. Although many say and sing praise, how much is a personal sacrifice as we lay down our rights to supremacy and delight in the authority of God over us?

Obedient service is the mark of a humble servant of the King. His Word tells us what pleases Him and it is our duty to find out what will delight Him – as in any close relationship (Ephesians 5:10). So, our commitment to reading, understanding and applying the Bible to our lives is an integral part of our lifestyle (2 Timothy 3:15-17), leading to us doing what is good and sharing with others what the Lord has given to us (1 Timothy 6:18).

Sacrifice is costly and once it is given it cannot be taken back. Our time and energy and giving and serving belong to the Lord because we belong to Him, and He has the ownership right over all of us (Romans 14:8). But our old, sinful nature is still far too active – often when we least expect it, we become self-centred, proud and greedy. We wrongly believe that we have the right to be served and to take what we want. So, the cure for greed is giving, the cure for pride is honouring others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3), and the cure for self-centredness is genuine praise. For most of us, life is so busy that we go through the day largely on auto-pilot, programmed to do what we must and survive. Let us stop and consider if our lifestyle is truly sacrificial, and ask, 'Is the Lord pleased through my sacrifices or does my life merely please me?'

Sovereign Lord. Thank You for revealing who You are and how I can please You. Forgive me for the times when I have taken Your place, expecting others to sacrifice for me, and not me to sacrifice myself in praise and service for Your sake. Please give me a fresh view of my indebtedness to You for all You have done in saving me, and give me a new heart to praise You verbally, and serve You practically. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams