Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sacrifice of Praise

Hebrews 13:15 (AMP)
Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.

Have you ever noticed that we are commanded to offer up a sacrifice of praise at ALL times? I used to think that praise was for Sunday morning church services. I didn't even really like it then. The singing part wasn't my favorite part of the service. I just wanted to be taught. Nowadays though, I could spend almost all day in worship.
About 15 months ago, during the hardest time of my life, God had a come-to-Jesus-meeting with me about giving a sacrifice of praise. It was to be part of my "way out" of my hard times. The thing is, I didn't WANT to praise. I didn't FEEEEEEL like it. Nothing in my body, heart, or soul felt like praising anything last year. A sacrifice is an offering, and I felt that I had nothing to offer anyone, especially God.
Then I realized I didn't have to feel like it in order to obey God.
I needed to do what God said, whether I felt like it or not. As God reminded me, "Those are the Ten Commandments, not the Ten Suggestions." I needed to obey even on a bad day, whether my heart was broken or not, whether I felt up to it or not. And if God told me to praise, I would praise.
It started simple. I couldn't even think of a way to lift up God's name. I couldn't think of anything that I was thankful for, there for a little while.
And then a song came to me. A little song I used to sing with some young campers:
Oh, the Lord is good to me/
And so I thank the Lord/
for giving me/
the things I need/
the sun and the rain and the apple seed/
The Lord is Good to me.

And that was it. That was my beginning. My beginning of praise, my beginning of thankfulness-- my Johnny Appleseed song from Camp from 20 years ago. Every time I started to wallow in self- pity and heart break, I purposely began to see that song over and over...and over and over. Sometimes with tears running down my face, my voice cracking and my heart pounding with it's ache. Over and over. Oh, the Lord is good to me...
a few weeks later I added
Jesus Loves Me/ This I know/ for the Bible tells me so...
a simple childrens song.
I really believe that I would not be here today if I had not learned to offer up to God a sacrifice of praise. Now the Lord has allowed me to see many things I have to be grateful for. Now God has allowed me to increase in my thankfulness and gratefulness to Him, and has given me even more to be thankful for. I truly believe it is because I started with that one song, in the middle of my heartbreak, empty handed but alive in His hands.

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