12Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.
13So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
14For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.
15Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.16And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
I was hiking the other day. Actually, I’ve been hiking a lot lately. I signed up for a 5.5 mile run on April 11th and I am going to be ready! However, actually getting ready is WORK! As I was huffing and puffing my way up the steep slopes this concept of “Sacrifice of Praise” came to mind. I believe the Lord showed me something. I’ll share it with you and you can decide if God is speaking to you too.
I know I don’t look like it so much these days, but in high school I was a pretty good athlete. A sprinter, football player, one year of soccer even. Games and meets and matches were fun. Practice, not always. It took work to get in shape, to train the God given abilities to be able to perform at a high level (hopefully) on game day. Some of those practices were grueling. Another set of intervals when you were ready to throw up. More wind sprints after a hard practice with the coach blowing his whistle and barking at us to move it. Needless to say, there were days I would have rather been doing other things. The payoff was; being in great shape, and running a good time in the 100, or making a big play to help win the game, etc.
As I was huffing and puffing up Pusch Peak and I was noticed that I really wasn’t in the mood for a hard hike. I was tired. It had been a long day. I almost turned back, but I decided to press on. To make a sacrifice! With a payoff in mind; get into great shape (someday, with consistent training), and be ready to run 5.5 miles on April 11th. I was offering a sacrifice of hiking! I ended up making really good time compared to just the week before. My workouts were paying off! But I don’t always feel like working out.
God started showing me the parallel. Sacrifice of working out when I don’t feel like it builds discipline in my life and rewards here on Earth. Spiritual sacrifice builds discipline in my life and rewards here, and in Heaven! A win win! That is so like God.
How many times in tough circumstances do we run to the TV, or comfort food, or our favorite sin, instead of thanking God in (not for, but in) the circumstance. This is where the sacrifice of praise comes into play. Instead of running from God, or ignoring Him, when the tough gets going, this is the time to run to God! Consistently. Especially when you don’t feel like it! He is always there. He loves us soooooo much! He is close to the brokenhearted!!! He desires for us to rely on Him and to trust Him all the time, not just when life is going well.
When we run to Him we receive all of His benefits. We cry Abba Father to the caring Dad who has already met our needs forever through His Son Jesus and longs to meet them now! Why do I cry in my beer when I can cry on His shoulder? Especially when alcohol is a depressant! No. It’s the sacrifice of praise that will build spiritual discipline. Not so much because our hard work brings us closer to God, but rather, the closer we stay to God the more His presence can change us! Discipline is a fruit of the Spirit. We can only bear fruit when we are connected to the vine. Still, staying close to God can be a fight!
If working out brings a benefit, how much more spiritual discipline.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
Next time you are feeling down. Like God has forgotten your name. Run to His loving arms. Praise His name for giving you life! For giving you His Son as a sacrifice! He hasn’t forgotten your name. He has promised to never leave you nor forsake you. Take Him at His Word, even though sometimes the going is very hard.
Psalm 126:5 & 6
5Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
6He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Keep sowing good even when it feels bad. It will pay great dividends!