Listen to this devotional:
While his older brother is preparing for university, my youngest grandson and great-granddaughter are learning the alphabet, and reading and writing new words and their names each day. This is Matthew's and Jorjah's preparation of the basic foundation of their educational life. At the time I came to write this, they, in spirit, soul, and body agreement, were all set and telling everyone, "I'm going to daily prep school in the New Year."
In exactly the same way, we need to learn, and sometimes relearn, the important basic principles of Christian daily life if we are to be fruitful. But these basic principles in God's Word are not only for our earthly life; our education in Christ Jesus' ways is forever. So we need the most solid foundation of His teachings for His eternal purposes as well.
Hebrews 13:15-16 – Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (NIV)
In my beginning basic foundation, at first take, the phrase "offer to God a sacrifice of praise" was deeply puzzling to me, because all the praise hymns and choruses, and the freedom to sing out, clap, and raise our hands, arms, and feet in dance and praise, according to the many descriptions in the Psalms, were so wonderfully enjoyable in our church, that it really didn't feel like sacrifice to me at all.
Down the track, however, as the tests and trials came, I found that offering praise continually was not so easy or readily enjoyable, especially when not in a church service. All the same, I believed that if God's Word was teaching us to praise continually, it must be possible for me to do.
I came to understand the meaning of the word "praise": to celebrate, applaud, compliment, magnify, glorify, honour, venerate. And I came to understand where the sacrifice bit comes in. Offering praise to God, when all was not exactly smashing, and I was not where the music, hymns, choruses, and other folks were, meant that I had to discipline/sacrifice my sour, trial-beleaguered self, get up, and "go to church" — at home.
Praise may not be offered in exactly the same way for every church and person, but this is how it worked for me!
In the tradition of my church teachings, even though I had to push myself, I thanked, praised, sang the songs I knew, made up songs, clapped, and raised my hands, arms, feet, in dance, until I felt my spirit, heart, and mind rising above my natural, fleshly, carnal thoughts and feelings. Then as my trials faded out, I would see and feel the great love and significance of the majestic Lord whom I praised.
This ever-so-gradually-formed habit of praising God continually began this way: "going to church" at home. Then slowly, this extended to praising the Lord any time, any place, until eventually, my heart became filled continually with praise to the Lord. For me, the really good news is that of feeling Jesus' pleasure through the praise offering. I'm ever amazed at His fulfilled promises when we trip/apply His principles, "for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (Hebrews 13:16b NIV)
The other "good news" is that to our faithfulness in anything, Jesus adds His strength and blessings. As we use the measure of anything He gives, so He increases our measure and abilities to the point of His derived pleasure and purposes, so that obeying His principles no longer feels like a discipline/sacrifice at all, but a great joy that we don't want to miss!
Psalm 119:164 – Seven times a day and all day long do I praise you because of Your righteous decrees. (AMP)
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus Lord, for every quality, life-freeing revelation from Your ever-faithful and fulfilling Word, which is our privilege to share with others — the "good news" — as we go about in the world as Your living witnesses. It is all joy to offer praise continually, and to testify of You, bringing all the glory that we can to Your perfect, holy name. Amen and Amen!