What is the essence of Praise?
Is it just knowing God is? How often does it come easy when He paints a wondrous sky? When He does anything to make us smile? How does one apply the sacrifice of praise? This question lays heavy on my heart theses days. Almost every believer I know (almost) doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of sacrificial praise. When asked in a poll, nine out of ten believers could not quote a scripture that speaks of sacrificial praise. May seem rather inconsequential unless you realize how often its referenced in the Word. 218 times the word sacrifice is in the Word, half of them include praise with them. In the half that doesn’t refer to praise directly with it, it gives strong indications of it being in conjuction to or related to, or a result of. ..pretty incredible.
To sacrifice means to give something up. To praise means to lift something or someone up in exaltation. Put together, as the Word repeatedly states it, we sacrifice the opposite of praise for praise of God . After all it would hardly be a sacrifice to praise God when I’m happy. It would seem these days that we have this assumption that we are entitled to our feelings. So praise can come after I’ve had my pout, rant, disappointment, hurt, anger – especially if it comes on the heals of injustice. Yet as I enter into the presence of God, and He teaches me, He clearly says to sacrifice my feelings and with all my heart, mind, and soul praise Him, especially when I can hardly dredge up a thin whisp of His praise-worthiness, this is true sacrifice. It requires faith. Faith in the God who is working at all times to and for the good of those that love Him. This is a foundational truth that must be lived. How better to live it than to practice it? Or do it. Something can’t live, as dead words on a page, it must become active to live. Dying to oneself will always come with the sacrifice of one’s feelings. Not the ignorance of them, or denial, but the will turning towards the Father and actively willing itself into the Kingdom of Praise. It’s the arm wrestle of me and my view verses God and His. Every promise He has made can be used to contradict a complaint from human lips. Yes, every single one. Noone keeps their promises like God, not one.
Someone once said, “I really can’t see one thing today that is worth praising“. For those in throws of this temptation let me share a perspective. Everyday, in order for the day to be called a day, the sun must have risen(God be praised), in order for one to be able to call a day a day, one must have been given breath to enter into it(God be praised). One may argue, “what if I wish God had taken me Home instead?” Simply put, then your will has not entered into His, for if you were willed to go Home to be with Him, your breaths would have ceased and there you would be. So. ..sacrifice your will to the sovereign God you say you believe in and thank Him for the day He has made, ask Him to change your heart and open your eyes to the gift of the day you are in and thank Him for your purpose in His will to be here, now.
What does it cost you to call yourself a follower of Christ? Have you been stoned (with real rocks, not weed) for your belief in Him? Do you know the sacrifice of not doing the thing you think you can’t live without, just because He said “Live without it.” Do we truly know that when He says that He is prophecying? Literally, if you give it up, you will really and truly live, actively putting His Word to action, faith being a real live thing working inside you. This is Life, the Life Yeshua (Jesus) came to give. The Life He lived, and now we can by the power of His Spirit live too. I can honestly say I never succeed at such sacrifice, until I’ve admitted my defeat in ability and asked for the Spirit to give me praise instead. I can’t drudge praise up on my own. So, you see the denial of the feelings that cause complaint, pout, rage, bitterness, doubt, comparison, etc – may indeed be acknowledged but not lived instead they must be sacrificed, exchanged for what we don’t possess. The only reason we reason to our advantage to keep our feelings and “work through them”, is simply because we don’t want to let them go. Not one person has ever worked through their feelings leading to life, faith in God. Read Hebrews 11. There is no mention of one hint of one person of Faith who “worked through their feelings But had faith. Not one. Every single one, sacrificed their feelings and turned towards God to obtain faith. Often our feelings are cronic lairs. Why? Because they are hitched to our comfort, our perspective, our desires, our failures, the fallen nature of this world. But, what about delight, joy, love, compassion. ..aren’t theses feelings, you ask? Depends. Depends on Who gives them to you. Do you delight at the sunset? Any question as to Who gets the credit for it? And love? This is constantly being defined by feelings, it’s not a feeling, Love is and always will be a choice. Love is sacrifice, if you don’t sacrifice for the one you say you love, you don’t love them. To sacrifice in love, one must give up something of themselves for the other. It must cost something. Another long subject for another blog, but love is not a feeling, it’s a result of feelings being yielded to Love Himself. What does the Word say about joy? I won’t answer this for you, look it up, study it, it’s not a feeling we come by as good little human beings in and of ourselves. All things good – every single good thing ever only and ever will come from God. If you experience it, thank Him for it, cause we don’t get joy without Him or compassion, or delight. One may argue; “but non-believers delight in sunsets“. So? This is evidence of the contrary of what is true about sunsets? Whether one believes or not, God made sunsets, and if one delights at one, they delight in Him, whether they acknowledge it or not. The Author of the sunset does not change, and why wouldn’t He give delight to anyone for admiring His work? That is the amazing thing about God, He doesn’t wait to be who He is, do what He does, on us to believe Him or acknowledge Him. Never has, never will. He came while we were yet sinners, remember? Yes, indeed, even the sinners are given delight in the things that come from God alone.
But, praise, sacrificial praise, this is only given to them that believe and acknowledge Him. Those without Him are quite incapable of faith. But lest, we who follow and live for God be proud, we, too are incapable without Him. The difference is, we who have let Him take over our lives, have been given the power of the Spirit of God to do the things of God. So we see, it all comes from Him, not us. This why, I believe, that nine out of every ten of those believers in that poll, had no clue about sacrificial praise. It’s the stumbling stone we trip over, living a life we get credit for vs. living a life He gets credit for. Indeed it’s a contradiction to even say, I can live my own life. My life is dead if lived for me. Only Life and God go hand in hand. Without Him, death is the only result of anything.
I belabor, but I do so at the lead of the God of Life. Read up about sacrificial praise in His Word, ask Him to expand upon it into your limbs. You’ll find, much of the walk with Him will have this sacrificial praise as it’s hallmark. It takes faith to praise God when bills are due and money is no where to pay, it takes faith to believe He is working in such detail while the over due notices are stamped out. It takes faith to praise God for accidents and floods. It takes faith to praise God for hiccups and delays. Faith is trust in action. A moving, living trust that moves our lips towards praise and our hearts, minds and bodies in line with them. Every single person on the planet has trust issues. Don’t claim that as special or unique to you. Hint, God never said to trust anyone but Him. Most the time we have trust issues, it’s because we trusted the people He made, or ourselves instead of Him in the first place. Trust issues are cured only by trusting only in God. Faith can only come from a living active trust in God. Sacrificial praise is the epitome of faith!
Trusting is being confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see.
Through Him, therefore, let us offer God a sacrifice of praise continually. For this is the natural product of lips that acknowledge His Name.
Offer thanksgiving as your sacrifice to God, pay your vows to the Most High, and call to Me when you are in trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor Me.
♡ Grace and peace in Yeshua the Messiah ♡
Firstborn of the Creating Voice!
Ministering of God’s Spirit, who was sent
Waiting upon Him first, what time He went
Moving about the tumultuous noise of each unpiloted element
Upon the face of the void formless deep!
Thou who did come unbodied and alone
Ere yet the sun was set his rule to keep,
Or ever the moon shone,
Or e’er the wandering star-flocks forth were driven!
Thou garment of the Invisible,whose skirt sweeps, glory-giving, over earth and heaven!
Thou comforter, be with me as Thou wert when first I longed for words, to be
A radiant garment for my thought, like Thee!
– George MacDonald – Enlighten Us, O Father of Lights – first stanza
♡ Grace and peace in Yeshua the Messiah ♡
Thanksgiving as a sacrifice…what does this look like?
Sacrifice means it cost us something to give; whatever the thing may be. Something that is hard, to the point of rendering one destitute. Lets look at the widow Yeshua (Jesus) praises in Luke (21:1-4) as she was poor, she likely had no way to know how she would pay for food or her bills, but God moved her to give all that remained of her money. Look at the depth of this story.
The widow knew the church (the body of people in the temple and it’s leaders) was corrupt. She could see very well that the money given to it was hardly being used to help the poor such as she, and likely most the people she knew. Yet, she obeyed, trusting God, not the church, giving her money to God, not the church. The sacrificial give here? Her own perspectives, way of thinking – rationalizing, she instead thanked God for what she had to give and gave it all to Him.
Verse 4: “…but she, out of her poverty, has given all she had to live on.”
She could have fallen back on the hardship of her widowhood, made her circumstances the terms by which she negotiated her thinking and giving. I’m sure times we’re hard. Instead she thanked the God who gives and takes away. The sacrifice of praise, even in circumstances that feel hard – don’t initiate praise inside; she chose instead to see her standing as unchanged in His sight. The outward circumstance may look different but the reality of her standing in the Kingdom was what she chose to live by. The sacrifice of giving up our own perspectives and praising God instead of pleading for help and staying in the sorrow – this is the greatest and most costly sacrifice we will make to God. It is most precious in His sight.
So she gave up everything she “owned” both in the physical world and in the inner world where transformation is done. We often make the people in the stories of the Bible inhuman, meaning above those human responses, just because they did indeed rise above them in the stories. The widow thought and felt just like we do, rationalized as best she could, as we do, but her knowing God, changed her choices. Isn’t this what it says?
And eternal life is this: to know You, the One True God, and Him whom You sent, Yeshua the Messiah.
Most don’t sacrifice with thanksgiving, because they don’t know God. Knowing about Him is not the same as knowing Him.
Do we teach our children how to do this? How young are they when they are exposed to the concept? When they scrape their knees and we tend to them with love, do we then pray with them saying,
“God we praise you for scraped knees, we don’t need to know exactly why they are given, but we trust You. May You open our eyes to look for You the most in painful circumstances. We welcome all opportunities for You to show Your love, healing and power as greater than anything on earth we experience and see. Thank You, Father, for scraped knees and the opportunity to praise You. Amen”
This contradiction to all our senses to think and act on such sacrifice is profound. Some may call it extreme, crazy and taking things “too far”. Some may, some do, always have, always will…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Yeshua praised the Father for what He was doing when Lazarus died. He waited to go, I bet He didn’t want to, but He waited till The Father told Him to go. Sacrifice is always what we give up of ourselves for another. We trade our desires, wants, needs, thoughts, perspectives, feelings etc…for God’s instead of our own. And we know that they will be strikingly different, as Isaiah was faithful to write it down – “My ways are not your ways, nor My thoughts your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8)
So read the first part of the Psalms above again.
“Whoever offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors Me…”
Then the next part comes into focus.
“…and to him who goes the right way, I will show the Salvation of God.”
The sacrifice of praise in all ways that seem contradictory, hard, and awkward…this sacrifices our view, our opinions, our perspective (which we know is always but a speck of the whole picture) and our lean or bent; this is what this Psalms is speaking of. Without the first, the second is impossible.
Show us our Father, open our eyes, for great is the need for this lesson to be applied to us, cemented in our hearts. We depend on You to teach us, as we know this action takes You, Your Holy Spirit, Your Word to enable us in action. Our lean is to complain, fall back on excuses, run towards a “help me” prayer (though we know that we need help, and this is not wrong) instead of trusting that You are working as hard for us when the hits come as when all is well. To say, “Praise You God” for the broke down car, loss of a loved one, hurt and pain of those who misuse, abuse and mistreat us – this is not our first response, and without You it shall never be. We want to be like Your Son, our Master, and be able to turn our cheeks to those who smack them, to give without looking and calculating whether we have it “in our opinion” or not. To simply obey, without hesitation, praising You the whole way, knowing nothing will happen that You can not provide for. ..this is what we pray.
It’s easy to think of sacrifice horizontally (with people). But vertically? What is sacrifice for God? How could it be anything other than our ways, and our thoughts? It’s easy to praise Him, when things are well, or even in the “norm”, but in hard times? To actually say “thank You.” when we are in a tough spot, experiencing great pain, hurt and anger? What else could it be but the sacrifice being spoken of so often in the Word. Is this not what we watched our Lord do, to our own perplexity? That even, steady, consistent example of His inner world (very human) completely sold out to trusting the Father. Oh how all who watched Him, walked with Him, knew Him, we’re touched by Him wanted this that He had. Peace.
Those who walk with, watch, know, and are touched by Him still do. They bare the hallmarks of it as well, as it begins to change them from the inside out. It’s more than a simple “I trust You, Lord”, it goes way down deep and pulls up a “Hallelujah, glory glory glory to the Most High”. Joining the constant refrain of Heaven (read all the refrains in Revelation) at times when doubt, fear, frustration, anger, and resentment lurk around looking for the opportunity to steal from this joining in with heavenly discourse. Do we remember how our enemy is described? A thief, searching for someone to devour, rob joy, pull down and snuff out the light? It’s not his delight to do this because it brings us down. No! It’s because it steals from the glory of God, which resides in the praises of His people. Not just the kind of praise of a thousand voices ringing in song to Him, but most importantly the praise that comes from a child whose tendency is to become self absorbed focusing with earthly eyes; instead – those eyes track with the eyes of the Savior and begin to lift up with heart, mind and soul a “thank You” and chorus of “glory” that heaven itself turns towards and joins. Sacrificial praise, points us to the Way, and we can not help but see the Salvation of God. He has and always will ‘out-sacrifice’ us! Glory to God, in the highest! And Shalom – peace to His people on earth!
Selah – Amen!
♡ Grace and Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah ♡
The limitless Love of the Lord never ends, His pardon for sin never finds itself matched for the sin itself. These are new at the first rising of the Sun, everyday, everyday! Great, mighty awesome in Power is Your commitment to us, O Ruler of my soul! Great, mighty, awesome in Power is Your commitment to us, O Ruler of my soul!
(The steadfast Love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness, oh Lord. Great is Thy faithfulness.)
The two stanzas of this famous Song are the same. To meditate on things, often is best done when we take the words and fill up the space with all they mean in detail to us. One is not more precious than the other, for they tell the Good News. Glory to the One for which all songs are worthy to be sang! May our spirits rise up to meet Him!
♡ Grace and Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah ♡
Shadows ands dust
That’s what you’d like me to believe I am
Floating on the winds of human illusions
Left to the chance breezes of monetary bondages
Cast into the shadow of man’s invention
Shaped by their slave molding institutions
Oh, but most of all!
Most of all you’d bind me to the chains of me-ism
Every thought revolving towards myself
Caught in the lightless shade of self-absorbtion
This is your highest prize
But by the Grace that shaped the universe
I speak the Name – Yeshua
My eyes begin to light
The world fades dark as night
Yeshua, Yeshua, the Great Light
Fear falls like the shadows and dust you intended for man
Your jealousy crawls in darkness
Yahweh has loved these weak-kneed creatures
Fear follows His thought to the pit
Loosened now, are the chains that perpetuate the self-full soul
The pin point flame of Grace begins a roaring fire
Refining the weakness into His strength
The me-ism loses desire
The inner soul turns instead to the Glory!
Glory, glory in the Highest!
Worthy is the One to be praised!
The envied little weaklings you so abhorred
Now turns from themselves to stand in His gaze!
You screech and paw, and maim and kill
But you are weakness imbodied still
Cast out as the dust and shadows you offered us instead
And what more do or did you have to offer?
You Liar, son of deceit!
I stand in the coat of Blood that’s been offered
Shaking your dust off His feet!
Hear and harken, dust and shadows
You’ll play no tricks on my Savior
My ears will close up to your shadow
My eyes shall see only His Light
HE! HE has decreed it! It will be so
So even if, I shall become dust again
His breath will again wake me and I will look upon His face, forever!
This is the program planned for all the earth, this is the Hand stretched out over all the nation’s. Adonai-Tzva’ot has made His decision. Who is there that can stop Him? He has stretched out His Hand. Who can turn it back?
There is coming a King who will reign justly and princes who will rule uprightly. A man will be like a refuge from the wind, like protection from a storm, like streams of water on arid ground, like a rock cliff shading a weary land. The eyes of those seeing will not be closed, the ears of those hearing will pay close attention. The minds of the impetuous will learn to weigh carefully, the tongues of the stutterers will speak readily and clearly.
From a distance Adonai appeared to me, saying, “I love you with an everlasting love; this is why in My Grace I draw you to Me.
Yes, I will pasture My sheep; and I will let them rest, says (declares) Adonai Elohim. I will seek the lost, bring back the outcasts, bandage the broken, and strengthen the sick. But the fat and the strong I will destroy – I will feed them with judgement.
I will proclaim the decree Adonai said to me, “You are My son; today I became your Father.”
But in my mind I keep returning to something, something that gives me hope -that the Grace of Adonai is not exhausted, that His compassion has not ended. On the contrary, they are new every morning! How great is Your Faithfulness! “Adonai is all I have,” I say; “therefore I will put my hope in Him.” Adonai is good to those waiting for Him, to those who are seeking Him. It is good to wait patiently for the saving help of Adonai. It is good for a man to bear the yoke from his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when He has laid it on him. Let him submit absolutely; there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to the one who strikes it, and receive his fill of insults. For rejection by Adonai does not last forever. He may cause grief, but He will take pity, in keeping with the greatness of His Grace. For He does not arbitarily torment or punish human beings. When anyone tramples underfoot any of the prisoners of the land; when anyone deprives a person of justice, in defiance of the Most High; when someone is cheated of justice in court – does Adonai not take note of such things? Who can say something and have it happen without Adonai commanding it? Don’t both bad things and good proceed from the mouth of the Most High? Why should anyone alive complain, even a strong man, about the punishment for his sins?
In union with Him, through the shedding of His blood, we are set free – our sins are forgiven; this accords with the wealth of the Grace He has lavished on us. In all His wisdom and insight He has made known to us His secret plan, which by His own will He designed beforehand in connection with the Messiah and will put into effect when the time is ripe – His plan to place everything in heaven and on earth under the Messiah’s headship.
♡ Grace and Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah ♡