A Sacrifice of Praise

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. - Hebrews 13:15

Last night, after all things were right with my world again because my blackberry was mysteriously able to reconnect with my email, I was spending some random time in God's Word just following some "rabbit trails" through the cross-references in my bible.  I love it when I have the time to do this, because inevitably after some prayer and relaxed rambling, God gives me a treasure that really speaks to me.  Last night, my treasure was the verse above, Hebrews 13:15. 

I was in a thankful mood yesterday, even though my connections were a bit awry with my email.  I was thankful for several new friends I've made within the past year that I had never known before.  They are gifts from God, and I think they know who they are.  I was thankful for the CBS bible study in which I've participated in that has provided me some small group bible study and continuity in my life while I search for a new church.  I was even thankful for my job, which although it is not very challenging for me at times, it provides me with the flexibility to do more of the things I love to do. 

But am I thankful continually, always giving a sacrifice of praise to God through my words and actions?  Is anyone?  Who even knows what kind of "grade" I would get on the curve of God's grading scale on this one.  That is irrelevant anyway, because God "grades" us all individually anyway, doesn't He?

As I think about the verse today (I put it on a 3x5 notecard to carry with me throughout my day), I will ponder the folowing pieces of the verse with a little more energy:

By Him- One of these days I'm going to start relying on God's power more than I rely on my own.    I'm getting better every day with this, but still have a long, long, way to go. 

The sacrifice of praise, giving thanks… - I want to be thankful today, for everything, even the things that I'm not always thankful for.  For the traffic, for the inevitable slow checkout person at Office Max, for everything. 

I'll close with the following prayer today before I get back to the job I love.  :)  Won't you pray with me?

Dear Father in heaven, I thank You for all of the blessings you bestow on me each and every day.  I know that I don't even notice half of them because I'm tend to not always be content with what I have but want something more.  Forgive me for that. Show me how to love and appreciate You completely and continually.  Make the words of my lips and thoughts of my heart be acceptable to you, my Lord.  Help me to rely on You, because it by You only that I can be pleasing to You.  Amen.

Hall of Faith

What have you given up for your faith?  Think about that for a minute.  As I finished Beth Moore's Patriarchs study last night with my small group I was reminded once again of how much the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob gave up to follow God.  Abraham gave up his life as he knew it for a God he really didn't know very well at the time in order to play a part in a grand story of which he would never see the ending.  Abraham never saw the promises of God fulfilled in his lifetime.  Now that is faith.

So was it a coincidence that upon finishing the Beth Moore study that I came to the Hebrews "hall of faith" in my daily reading?  In my bible I have notes taken from a sermon years ago that mention what each of the main "hall" members gave up for their faith.  But first of all, what is faith?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Now that is a sentence worth mulling over, isn't it?  I find it interesting that in order to have real faith, we must give up something in our lives. Let's look at the famous ones, shall we?

Abel (v4) - Gave up the best of his flock. 
Enoch - Gave up his life. (v 5)
Noah - Gave up pride and reputation.  (v 7) How foolish must he have looked to his fellow man?
Abraham - Gave up his family and security to just go. (v 8)
Sara - Gave up doubts of not being able to have a child. (v 11)
Isaac - Gave up control of his life. (v 20)
Jacob - Gave up deception. (v 21)
Joseph - Gave up anger and revenge. (v 22)
Moses - Gave up law, government, riches and his profession (v 23-24)
Joshua - Gave up fear (v 30)
Rahab - Gave up her sins (v 31)

That is quite a list isn't it?  Quite a list of sacrifices as well. 

So my question for us today is: What am I hanging on to for dear life that if I gave it up might change my life in the way I live it for God?