Everybody loves to get a compliment! Everybody likes to get some praise once in a while. We all like to hear things like: “good job,” “ ataboy!” “proud of you,” “keep up the good work!” It’s good to be praised like this, it let’s us know that we are on the right track and all of the hard work and time put in is appreciated.
We take this human idea of compliments and praise and apply them to our relationship with God as well, especially when we like what God is doing and how things are working out in our lives. When we praise God, sometimes it’s like we are saying “good job God,” “ataboy God!” “proud of you God,” “keep up the good work God!”
When we think about praising God more often than not we think about Sunday morning service, when we come to church to thank God for all of the blessings he has given to us. But our Bible passage from the book of Hebrews reminds us to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God.” That’s more than on Sunday mornings, it is all day, every day, in every circumstance, offer up praise to God.
Sometimes we take this Biblical encouragement to heart by adding “Praise the Lord!” to our everyday vocabulary. They will say things like:
“I got that parking spot, praise the Lord!”
“I got that raise that I needed, praise the Lord!”
“I actually got good news from the doctor, praise the Lord!”
“I paid all of my bills this month, praise the Lord!”
The difficulty happens when life isn’t going so well and things aren’t working out right. Do we say:
“I didn’t get that raise that I needed, praise the Lord!”
“I didn’t get good news from the doctor, praise the Lord!”
“I didn’t pay all of my bills this month and I’m falling behind, praise the Lord!”
That kind of thing sounds phony and insincere. Like we are trying to be perfect, plastic, happy people living in a perfect, plastic happy world. But we know that is not our world, or how we live, or even how God works with us.
So, how do we follow this Biblical encouragement to offer “constant sacrifice of praise” to God and what does that look like? Going back to our Scripture lesson today God’s word tells us more about what praise is all about.
“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His Name.”
In this passage, we have a really good, biblical definition of praise. Praise is the fruit of our lips that acknowledge His, or God’s name. The Bible often uses this illustration of our lips bearing fruit and that fruit is produced in our hearts. Many times it is done in a negative sense talking about our sinful and broken hearts producing sinful and broken things that come out of our mouths. But it also occurs in a positive sense with a heart that God has reached out to in His Word and creates faith in, this heart that God is working in produces good fruit on the person’s lips, that is acknowledging the Name of God. When we acknowledge the name of God we are confessing who God is, how he has revealed himself in His Word and who He is to us.
So, when we offer a constant sacrifice of praise it is our heart touched by God confessing through our lips who he is.
We offer a constant sacrifice of praise when we confess:
- God is the Lord and maker of Heaven and Earth and yet He still knows my name.
- God loves me so much that He sent His one and only son, Jesus Christ to die upon the cross for me so that I wouldn’t have to die eternally.
- God is my Heavenly Father and He has made me His heavenly child both now and eternally.
Notice that in all of this praise to God we never focused on our own feelings or our own situation that is happening around us. That is because praise to God first and foremost doesn’t have to do with us but with who God is. God is still God no matter where I am or what is happening in my life.
Because praise is about God I can say “Praise the Lord!” when times are good and things are going well because my heart in faith confesses through my lips that God is the source of all good things and blessings in my life.
But I can also say, “Praise the Lord!” when times are rough and I’m hurt or scared or lost, because my heart in faith confesses through my lips that God is my Rock and strength, comfort and hope in every time of trouble. It is like the Psalmist said in the Old Testament “My eyes look up to the hills, from where does my help come from. It comes from the Lord the maker of Heaven and Earth.” (Psalm 121:1)
In any and every circumstance in my life I can offer a constant sacrifice of praise to God because God is still God no matter where I am or what is happening in my life. Praise the Lord!
But before we finish today I want to take a quick look at vs. 16 in our Bible passage…“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” This passage reminds us that doing good and caring for the people around us is also part of our praise to God. Just like praise, helping other people is always easier when we are happy and life is going well but when we aren’t doing well and life is hard it becomes a lot harder. You know how trouble and hardship end up being, they get so big and so in your face that many times its hard to see anything else. It’s like not being able to see the forest for the huge tree in front of you. But even when we are going through difficult times God still calls us to look to the needs of our neighbors, family and friends because they also are going through difficult times as well. And this helps us a little bit to get past that thing in our own life and to see where the people around me also need care and love. Those same people that we then try to care for in their time of need are also called by God to care for us in our time of need. This is done so that no one is left alone and we are all cared for in the family of Christ and together we can say “Praise the Lord!”