The Sacrifice of Praise

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. (Rom 12:1)

 

This is one of my favorite and one of my least favorite verses in the Bible. It is one of my favorite because it calls me to view the mercy of God in such a way that I can see my life as an act of worship. Least favorite in that it calls me to be a living sacrifice.

This verse has been on my heart as we have wrapped up our Don’t Forget the Lyrics series on worship. We have looked at several Psalms and the different forms of worship found in them. Through this series I have been challenged to consider the depths of what worship really is – what it looks like and sounds like.

God has challenged me with the idea that often our worship falls so short of what God deserves. But in some ways that is the whole point. Worship is the unworthy declaring the worth of the Worthy One to the Worthy One. I have been encouraged and challenged to really look at the idea and concept of worship during these days. I have also been willing to take a long look at my own life. I have done this in view of that fact that my act of worship is to give the living sacrifice of myself. Sacrifices are by definition deaths. Am I truly giving all of my life over to the cause of Christ to the point of a living sacrifice?

I have asked this question of the Lord…although I realize I will never be able to offer to you what you are truly worthy of, what in my life is preventing me from truly offering to you all that I can?

Through this question, the Lord has led me to several truths, some of which apply directly to my life, and some others that apply generally to all of our lives. I want to share with you those that are in the general category.

  1. You must speak the Gospel to those around you.
    It is impossible to be a faithful follower of a Lord you refuse to speak the truth of to the world around you. This one issue is the number one issue for the majority of us when it comes to being a living sacrifice given completely over to the cause of Christ. I see the unwillingness in myself too often and in the church of today constantly. We must change this before our lives will ever declare the worth of the Worthy One.
  2. You must give God what is best in your life not what is left.
    The biggest obstacle here is money. Do you give from abundance or obedience? The second one is time. Do you give what is convenient or what is commanded? The third issue is talent. Do you give what others see or what God sees?
  3. You must be honest with God. Worship is always honest. There is a difference between feelings and belief. Sometimes we will sing that which we do not feel yet we still believe. But when we stand before the Lord and sing in unison things such as “Here I am send me” but then we stop the song and live a life that refuses to be sent is it worship at all? Simply, don’t lie to God and call it worship or praise. Come with that which is authentic and honest. If that means standing in silence and praying for God to change your heart while others sing of their commitment then do just that. The Worthy One will feel much more honored by that than a lie.
  4. Public worship is a result of personal worship.
    If we are going to gather in a corporate and public setting to worship, we must first be people who worship in private settings. A person will never find a level of comfort in expressing themselves to God personally in public until they are doing it personally in private.
  5. Worship has many forms and is always a privilege.

On the personal side of this issue…

  • I have been challenged to see sharing of my faith as worshipful obedience instead of a burdensome requirement.
  • Giving your best as worship can never be about how good your best is but must always be about who you gave your best to for it to be an act of worship.
  • I have grown more in love with God through times of personal worship.
  • There are many styles and formats of worship I have never grown to appreciate the experience of. I pray that I can and will learn to enjoy those more than I do now.

Praise Feast – Day Six (Saturday, November 21, 2009)

Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals.

Today is LSU game day. (Pretty much true of every Fall Saturday) Today many of us will turn on the tv or drive to the stadium and go nuts over a football game. We will yell and jump and give opinions that matter no one in the world about how LSU could be better than they are.

We will invest a great deal emotionally in a game that will not matter beyond the sound of the horn, except in the BCS rankings which will not matter but for a few more weeks.

Yet – most of us – bring to God the blandest of emotions when we praise him. We shout at touchdowns but remain silent at salvations…We jump up and down over defensive stands on 3 and 1 but don’t jump up and down when someone in our church stands up and gives a testimony of God’s great work in their life.

Do you see where I am going here?

Praise in the Bible includes LOUD cymbals and CRASHING cymbals and DANCING and all kinds of instruments. It was not tame. It was NEVER old. Actually in the Bible we are commanded to “sing a new song” several times and we are never commanded to sing an “old song.” What that means is that praise should be fresh and present and real and personal and emotional and powerful.

So right now I dare you turn the music up loud and get down with God for a little while. Sing it loud. Sing it hard. Dance around before the Lord and let him know that there is no first down or no touchdown that is as meaningful to you as the fact that he came down to this earth and gave his life for you.

Praise him LOUD. Praise him with JOY.

And then show up at church tomorrow with the same attitude and heart. Don’t come ready to watch or listen. Come to participate and to praise and to express to the Lord your praise.

Some Loud Songs you can praise to with your lips and your feet…Great is the Lord by Elevation Worship
We Unite by Elevation Worship
We Have Overcome by Elevation Worship
Shout unto God by Hillsong United

Praise Feast – Day Five (November 19, 2009)

Let Everything that has breath praise the Lord…

The key to understanding this passage is to understand that breathe meant life to the culture of the Old Testament people. God “breathed” life into man. So basically this means let everything that has life praise the Lord. The essential truth is that praise is the meaning to life. Giving God the glory due him is the very purpose of our creation.

We praise God with ALL of who we are and what we have…

Today praise the Lord for being a God that has made you who you are. Do this by choosing to do something in another person’s life to simply speak to and show them the love of Christ in a real and authentic way. Praise God by being who He made you. This praise challenge is not one where you sit alone in the silence in ponder but a praise of the “living” sacrifice. It will not be over when you 7:07 gets here, it will begin then.

Praise the Lord with some act of generosity, love, kindness, compassion, mercy, grace, forgiveness, etc. with the sole purpose of sharing with someone that great truth about the character of our great God.

Scripture to Ponder

Matthew 5:16

Songs to Praise by

Give my Your Eyes by Brandon Heath

Proper Praise – Day Four (Thursday, November, 19, 2009)

Praise him according to his excellent greatness…

Exactly how great does something have to be to be excellently great?

Praise is the simple yet difficult act of expressing the greatness of God that is beyond expression to a God that is beyond comprehension. I believe our most difficult obstacle to doing this is that we consider our praise to be insignificant and unimportant in comparison to such a great God.

God, however, inhabits the praises of his people. He chooses to dwell in them. Praise is personal and powerful expression of our reverence and awe of God.

Magnify his majesty…

Magnification is to bring into greater focus that which already exists.

Spend some time today focusing on the things that are already true of God. Things that you know to be true of him. Magnify that to God. Focus on it and express it to God.

One good way to do that would be to take some of the names used for God in Scripture and focus on their meaning and depth in your own life.

Lord – what does it mean to you that Jesus is your ruler or king?
Savior – what does that mean to you? What does it say about his love for you in the midst of your past?
Messiah – which means chosen or sent one. What does that mean to you?
Rabbi – or teacher. How does that translate to your life
High Priest – meaning the ultimate mediator between God and man. How do you valued that truth?
Heavenly Father – A personal name of endearment. Do you know him that way?
King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Emmanuel

Some Scriptures to Praise by…

Exodus 15:11, Psalm 8, 1 Chronicles 16:23-34 and 29:11-13

Songs to praise his majesty…

Majesty by Delirious
Majestic by Lincoln Brewster (I love this song)
Here I am to Worship by Tim Hughes or by Randy Travis if you prefer
Revelation Song by Gateway Worship

Praise Feast – Day Three

Praise him for his acts of power…

What have you seen God do in your life that only God can do? Speak to the Lord today the truth of your wonder at his power and majesty.

We acclaim his actions…

What does that mean? It means to brag on a God a little bit. Or as Paul would say, “If I boast, I boast in the Lord.” Thankfulness and praise are not all that different. We must be thankful at times to praise God. Here is the difference. Today, thank God for being the God that would do what you are thankful for.

Don’t just say thanks for the blessing. Tell God I praise you for being a God that would think to do such an act. Think of the characteristics or names of God that might describe these actions.

Here are some verses that give to God particular praiseful names that are connected to his actions

The Lord our Provider (Gen 22:14)
The Lord is my Banner (Ex. 17:15-16)
The Lord is my Peace (Judges 6:24)
God is my Salvation (Isaiah 12:2)
The Lord is my strength and my song (Ex. 15:2)
The Lord is a warrior (Ex 15:3)

Fill in this statement (maybe several times) You are the Lord my              and I have seen that in you when you                         . I praise you for being my             .

Songs to praise his actions…
Amazing Grace (my chains are gone) by Chris Tomlin
God of Wonders by Caedmon’s Call
Your Love Oh Lord by Third Day
You are so Good to Me by Third Day
Rock of Ages by the Statler Brothers (I bet none of you knew I owned that one)

Two more songs that hit me as I ran and listened and praised this morning.
He Knows My Name by Tommy Walker
Everything Glorious by the David Crowder Band.

Great question in that last song. “You make everything glorious, what does that make me?

Praise Feast – Day Two

Praise him in his mighty heavens…

Today as you praise the Lord I encourage you to spend some time seeing his creation. If you simply sit at the window and look outside and see the beauty of the world through the window.

We declare the wonder of his works…

Spend some time declaring the wonder of God’s work that you have seen in your life. You can express praise by expressing to God his greatness in giving you the many blessings in your life. Perhaps it would be good to think of some of the things you are most thankful for in your life. Praise is different than thankfulness but they have a lot in common, too. So spend some time praising God for the wonder and the blessing of the things you are thankful. Not just a simple thank you but wonder at the fact that God chose to bless you with such wonderful things in your life.

Scriptures to praise the wonderful work of God by…
Psalm 8, Psalm 19, Psalm 33:1-8, Psalm 36:5-7, Psalm 57:7-11, Psalm 89:1-19

Songs to Praise God for his wonderful works…

Indescribable by Chris Tomlin
Made to Worship by Christ Tomlin
Then Sings my Soul many artists have performed it

Critical Construction – Part Three

So to wrap up this series of blogs, I decided I will tackle the obstacles that prevent us from the wholesome insights, helpful conversations, and critical construction that God intends us to have in each other’s lives. I hope you understand that in these blogs, I have not said do not share your insights. The Bible says “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We have to be willing to hit up against each other some to become the people God intended us to be.

So I want to share two lists. One is for the person that is trying to critically construct in another person’s life. The second is to the person that is being constructed on.

Hindrances from Helping others grow…

  1. It is hard to construct what you have no clue about.
    – Don’t consider yourself an expert because you have an opinion.
    – Don’t try to become an expert because you have an opinion.
  2. It is impossible to construct where there is no foundation.
    – Don’t try to build on someone’s life what they don’t have the foundation to hold up.
    – If a person is simply not qualified or capable of a job or a position, your criticism will never change that. Either help them find something else to do or let them go.
    – In the spiritual life, do not put standards on people that don’t know the Savior. They cannot live up to them.
  3. Most construction needs a plan.
    – Don’t just react. Take some time. It is not as big an emergency as you are making it out to be. Stop and really think through what you need to say.
  4. Don’t cast your own shadow on God’s work space.
    – It is not about you. So get your personal agendas, desires, and goals out of the way.

Hindrances from being Helped to grow…

  1. Don’t think of yourself as perfect.
    – I mean come on…do you really think you are doing everything the best way possible all the time?
    – Be willing to listen to imperfect people…remember you are imperfect, too.
  2. Don’t defend yourself.
    – If what you are doing is right or is from God…it will defend itself.
    – Not defending allows you to hear what they are saying instead of only thinking about what you already thought.
  3. Put your “big boy” pants on.
    The longer you lead the more you will have to deal with criticism from people who stink at it. Many of them have decent intentions but they are just not as spiritually mature as they think they are. They simply fail to see past themselves when they share their insights.
    – So, what do you do? You listen and you learn.
    – Allow yourself to learn from God even when the people that he is using are imperfect.
  4. Sift, save, and throw away.
    – Sift through a review or a critical conversation. Sift looking for the GOOD not the bad.
    – Save the good stuff. Save the truth – even if it hurts.
    – Throw away the rest and don’t hold it against the person – even if they did a poor job sharing it.
  5. Acknowledge your own personality.
    – If you are a more sensitive personality, then be honest about that with yourself.
    – Don’t hold others to an unrealistic expectation of pampering your feelings. Especially a boss. They have to review you. It is a part of their job. Let them do their job.

So this wraps this up. I hope it is helpful. I know many of you have to face reviewing others and being called upon to help build others up. Remember the catch words in these processes. Improvement and Progress are the most common words. So improve and help people progress. Allow others the right to do that in your life, too. This role is one I have dreaded and wanted to do at the same time. This year God has simply brought me to a more wholesome place with these processes and responsibilities. I look forward to sharing insights with those I lead this year. I know that God has a plan in that for me and for them.

As Christians, remember, that criticism is not Biblical, construction is. Don’t go out and make your opinion heard, go out and help God’s truth be used to build up his people.