“Therefore let us… bear the reproach He endured….
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us,
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Today, on Thanksgiving Day, we are focusing on what we’re thankful for.
It’s easy to be thankful for the good stuff in our lives, to count our blessings.
When things go our way.
When we have answered prayers.
When we have enough.
When everyone we love is safe, healthy, and near us.
But, we are called to give thanks in all things, to praise God regardless of what’s going on in our lives.
“Give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
He is God and worthy of our trust, thanksgiving, and admiration regardless of how we feel about momentary struggles we’re enduring right now.
“Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.”
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
So what about the unpleasant things?
This is where the concept of a sacrificial praise comes in.
We are called to be like Christ, sacrificing for God.
A sacrifice of praise is a praise to God that requires sacrifice on your part.
It takes dying to yourself, your rights and your desires to praise God for things that seem to pain, upset, or even grieve you. It is demonstrated by Jesus’ selfless act on the cross.
It is a sacrifice to praise God even though you can’t understand what He’s doing and why.
It isn’t hard to praise God for pleasant and wonderful things, but praising Him even when you’re in pain?
When you struggle?
When your prayers haven’t been answered?
That takes sacrifice.
That takes faith and courage.
That takes self-denial.
That kind of praise is life-altering and faith-deepening.
That’s the kind of praise we’re called to.
That’s the kind of praise that keeps me sane even when I can’t walk or when I’m in pain.
It keeps me focused on Him above all else.
As you think about what you’re thankful for today, don’t just focus on your blessings.
Make sacrificial praise to God.
Thank Him even for the things you don’t yet understand.
Thank Him for the things that make your life hard but develop your character and make you more like Him.
Thank Him for all He’s doing in your life regardless of how thrilled you are about it at just this moment.
A sacrifice of praise trains your heart and mind to be completely dependent upon Him and see Him in everything that happens.
It serves as a reminder that we are utterly and completely dependent on Him.
Just like the sacrifices of the Old Testament, our sacrifices are sweet to God. Sacrifices we make for the Lord are:
…a fragrant offering,
an acceptable sacrifice,
pleasing to God.
See this article for more information about things that are a sweet fragrance for God.
Habakkuk declared his unwavering determination to praise God no matter what.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
Job proclaimed his dedication to serve God regardless of the circumstances, too.
Though He slay me yet will I trust Him.
“If there’s no cross in our Christianity, no denial in our own lives, we have to wonder if we’re following the real Jesus.”
May each day bring you closer to Jesus.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving,
PS For more information about how an attitude of thankfulness has changed my life see this post from earlier in the month.