July 12, 2020 Speaker: Reid Strahan Series: Jesus is Better - The Book of Hebrews
Topic: Worship Passage: Hebrews 13:14–15
God has called everyone of us to a life of continual praise! This is to be “normal” for us. But we often live far below this experience. We need to honestly face how we have been speaking, and thinking in our hearts. We cannot talk on and on about our problems as if God is not there, then say we are trusting and praising God. We MUST deal with the disconnect between how we are actually talking and this life of praise that we are called to. May God use his word to awaken our hearts to praise him continually!
“Through Jesus, THEREFORE let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name”. There is a REASON we should continually praise God. The author has in mind what he said about Jesus in verse 12, “Jesus suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.” This radical love of Jesus, that endured reproach and rejection, in order to save us, should draw forth two responses from us. First, “let us go to him outside the city gate, bearing the reproach he endured”. Let us become disgraced with him. Let us leave our safety and security in the world and go to Jesus.
Second: BECAUSE we are stunned that Jesus would suffer as an outcast FOR us; BECAUSE we are stunned that he did this to make us holy and acceptable to God; BECAUSE we are so deeply moved that he did this through his own blood and suffering at the cross...Because we are so stunned by this grace that we have been shown in Jesus...let us THEREFORE continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God.
A sacrifice of praise to God, is our only reasonable response to Jesus. Jesus is the final, perfect sacrifice offered to God for us. Jesus saves “to the uttermost” those who draw near to God through him! All other sacrifices for sin are now obsolete and unnecessary. Nothing else ever needs to be done to pay for our sin!! And he alone is now is our perfect high priest! All other priests are obsolete and unnecessary. He did everything necessary to make us fit for God’s presence!! We don’t need any other ritual, or intermediary to bring us closer to God. “THROUGH HIM we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the new and living way that he opened for us...”.
We can draw near to God, anytime and all the time because “Our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.” Nothing else ever needs to be done for us to go right on into God’s presence. With all this privilege in mind, THEN let us continually offer up praise to God!
Praise is a RESPONSE to what God has done for us! Praise begins with LOOKING AT and APPRECIATING our status, and privilege and blessing, and future hope, that we have through Jesus. FF Bosworth said, “Walking by this better kind of sight is the happiest life possible here on earth because of what we are constantly beholding; the best things; joy-producing realities. Supernatural joy is always the result of using our better pair of eyes.” IE Joy is the result of looking at realities that produce joy!! Worship and praise are the result of beholding in our minds eye God’s kindness and mercy and grace in saving us through Jesus.
“Worship starts with seeing You. All You are showing, all we have seen, commands a life of praise.”
Sam Storms said, “Worship begins with thoughts about God that awaken passionate affections for God”. “Worship happens when the mind is gripped with the revelation of great truths about God and the heart and affections are set on fire, with joy and satisfaction and gratitude and gladness and admiration, and the mouth explodes in songs of praise and proclamations of the incomparable greatness of God.”
One of the best ways to cultivate this heartfelt appreciation of God is to connect your heart to the praises in the book of Psalms. If you are not having thoughts about God that stir up praise, then read somebody else whose heart is stunned by the goodness of God...and let that stir up your heart! CS Lewis said, “The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.” When you hear someone else express such happiness in God, that they are dancing, it helps YOU enjoy God!
I go to the Psalms most mornings to help my heart praise! Like Psalm 63: “Because your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in your name. My soul is satisfied as with the richest of foods, so my lips will praise you joyfully. ..For you have been my strength, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.” I read and connect my heart to those words and feelings about God!
Or Psalm 95: “Come let us sing joyfully to the Lord! Let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving. Let us shout with songs of praise to him. For the Lord is an awesome God...”….Come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel in the presence of the Lord who made us. For he is our god and we are the people of his pasture and the flock in his care.”
Or Psalm 103 “Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name”. He forgives all your sins. He heals all your diseases. He redeems your life from the pit. He surrounds you with loving-kindness and compassion...”
Praise will look different on different people with different personalities, but it will still look like praise. It will still SOUND like praise! IE we must not justify our lack of praise on our natural melancholy temperament. Our natural temperament is not the basis or the source of our praise! Our praise is rooted in God’s goodness and grace not our own personality. And it ultimately comes from the Spirit God has send into our hearts!
* Our sacrifice of praise is offered “through Jesus”. Through HIS sacrifice we are qualified as priests to offer sacrifices to God. Peter said, “You yourselves are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy Priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God THROUGH Jesus Christ”. We don’t go to human priests today, because we ourselves have the right of direct access to God, through Jesus! We share in Christ’s priestly status!! We come as priests offering sacrifices of praise to God, through Jesus!
*We are called to continually” offer praise. That doesn’t mean we are always singing, or verbally expressing praise, but it does mean we should be doing it a lot! David said, “Seven times a day I praise you”. Psalm 145 says, “I will speak highly of you my God and King! “I will bless your name forever and ever. I will bless you every day and I will praise your name forever and ever.”
Praise should permeate our lives at home, in the night, in our daily duties, in the car. Praise should be a part of all we do in the church; in Bible studies, at deacons and elders meetings, and especially when we gather as his church on Sunday mornings. One of the best reason for this is found in Hebrews 12:2. That verse says, Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers! And the evidence given for that is that “He says: “I will proclaim Your name to My brothers; (and) I will sing Your praises in the assembly.”
One of the way Jesus associates with us, is by singing praises with us, in the assembly, to the Father. He is pictured here among us, leading us in praise! Spurgeon said, “Does this not bring him very near to you? Does this not make you feel as if Jesus could come and sit in that pew with you”. Christ is here with us and he is singing God’s praises among us!” John Calvin said, "This teaching is the very strongest encouragement to us to bring more fervent zeal to the praise of God, when we hear that Christ leads our praise and is the Chief Conductor of our hymns.”
Because our offering of praise is to go up continually, it must go up in all circumstances. Spurgeon, “we are to praise the Lord our God, not only when we are in a happy frame of mind, but when we are cast down and troubled.”
The Psalms give us a good example of praising God through suffering. In the Psalms we are told to rejoice, to shout, to clap, to sing loudly, to the Lord. But the Psalms also express great pain and suffering. Those who wrote and sang the Psalms were often rejected, slandered, persecuted, and completely overwhelmed.
David begins Psalm 62 “Save me, O God, for the waters are up to my neck. I have sunk into the miry depths, where there is no footing; I have drifted into deep waters, where the flood engulfs me. But he ends the Psalm by saying, “I am in pain and distress...(yet) I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. For this will please the Lord more than sacrificing cattle...Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them.”
WN said, “Perhaps you praised Him a week or a month ago. But one day you (feel) that you cannot utter a praise. You are in pain, darkness, or dire trouble. You suffer misunderstanding and slander. You (feel you) cannot praise because you are wounded, and in difficulty. You do not feel like praising, and...You feel that praise is not suitable under this kind of circumstance and mood. At that very moment, you should remember that God’s throne has not changed, His name has not changed, and His glory has not changed. You should praise Him simply because He is worthy of praise. You should bless Him simply because He is worthy of all blessings. Although you are in the midst of difficulties, He is still worthy to be praised….God desires His children to praise Him in everything and through every situation.
*We are told to OFFER up our praise. The word offer literally means to carry, or to bring. Just as deliberately as the saints in the old testament would bring an animal or food sacrifice, we deliberately bring our praise to God. We used sing this song:
“We bring the sacrifice of praise, into the house of the Lord.
We bring the sacrifice of praise, into the house of the Lord.
And we offer up to you the sacrifices of thanksgiving.
And we offer up to you the sacrifices of joy.” We choose to do this!
Consider how Jesus OFFERED up himself as the sacrifice for our sins by choosing to bring his body to the cross. Jesus said, “I lay down my life”. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. In the same way that Jesus CHOSE to offer up his life, we choose to offer up our praise to God! The truth is, each of us is praising God just as much as we want to! (or choose to!)
*Our praise is called “a sacrifice of praise”. The Old Covenant was filled with animal sacrifices. The offering of the body of Jesus put an end to all blood sacrifices. The sacrifices of the New Covenant are hearts overflowing with gratitude, words of praise, songs of worship. This is what God wants now from us. “With such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
Peter said we are being made into “a holy priesthood, to offer SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES”. “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” The highest work we do now, is to praise God.
*Praise is “The fruit of lips that acknowledge his name”. Praise is to be spoken with our lips. Of course we can worship God in the silence of our hearts but praise is to actually come out of our mouth! Learn to say, “The Lord is good and his love endures forever!”
Fruit means the produce, or the outcome, or the result. What kind of fruit is coming from our lips? The fruit of our lips can be course talk, cursing, complaining or criticism, but God saved us so that the fruit of our lips would be changed from these things, to praise! We are not living as God wants us to, until praise is actually flowing out of our mouths, on a regular basis. May God awaken our hearts to this higher plane of speaking!
Verse 16* “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have”. “For with such sacrifices God is well pleased”. God is pleased with our praise. God is also pleased when we do good to one another and share with them!
Much of the way we serve God, is simply by continually praising him and doing good to others. God doesn’t call us to some complex, burdensome, life of heavy service, that only a few gifted people can figure out and fulfill. Every one of us can please God every day, by offering praise and doing good to someone!
Galatians 6:10 “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Notice how outward focused we are called to be: continually offering praise to God and continually offering good to others. When we start thinking mainly about seeking to get MY needs met, rather than being here for others, we become unhappy and weak and discontent. When we lift our hearts in praise and find ways to share and do good to others we are happier and stronger and victorious over the enemy. And most important we are offering up sacrifices that please God!
***Father, we confess how far short of offering continual praise with our lips we have fallen. Awaken our hearts to this holy calling and enable us by the power of your Spirit to start weaving more continual praise into our talk, our conversations and into our prayers.
More in Jesus is Better - The Book of Hebrews
July 26, 2020God's Work In Us To Please Him
July 19, 2020Submit To Faithful Leaders
July 5, 2020Let Us Go To Him Outside the Gate