Give a Sacrifice of Praise to God This Thanksgiving

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The Bible commands us to give thanks as a sacrifice of praise.   The writer of Hebrews penned, "let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name . . . for with such sacrifices God is pleased" (Hebrews 13:15–16).

When our prayers are answered, when healing comes, when financial blessings rain down upon us, most of us are liberal to give thanks and praise to God (as we certainly should). But that is not what is meant by a “sacrifice of praise.” Hopefully, it is not much of a sacrifice to give praise for the great things in your life.

But how do we respond when our prayers are not answered as we had hoped, when healing does not come, and when we are let go from yet another job? When we give thanks in the face of things we do not understand, we affect God’s heart.

“God is pleased,” as Hebrews says.

This Thanksgiving, would you take a short self-evaluation of your ability to offer up to God a sacrifice of praise?

With regard to the following ideas, do I . . .

1 = strongly agree, 2 = somewhat agree, 3 = undecided, 4 = somewhat disagree, 5 = strongly disagree, N/A = not applicable

  • I am thankful to God for the challenges He has placed in my life.

  • I thank God for my spouse and family as it currently is.

  • I have never resented God for the difficulties that have come my way.

  • When there is suffering in my life, I give thanks to God regardless.

  • It is my routine to "be thankful" in everything.

  • I am thankful in and for everything since God works all things together for good.

Some friends told me of an extraordinary worship service in Uganda among Ugandan Christians. Though they had been living in the midst of real evil and suffering, including genocide, the worship leader requested everyone to “give thanks to God for all that we have.” The group then participated in the kind of spirited worship African believers are known for and which can shame many of us. They were dancing about and thanking God for all that they had, which by our standards fell below the poverty line!

While the Americans visiting with the Ugandans that day could not help but be amazed at the incredible thanks being offered to God by these people who by the Americans’ standards had so little, the leader’s next request truly caught the American group off guard. “Okay, now let’s really worship and thank God for what we do not have.” The Ugandans escalated their thanksgiving and praise. My friends were stunned at the deep spirituality. Yes, God is honored when we fill the moment of our need with the power of praise to Him.

When Paul instructs, “In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), he means in everything—in plenty or poverty. Such thanksgiving should arise independent of circumstances. Though good things should prompt our gratitude, the absence of good should trigger our praise as well.

Painful circumstances must not fool us into concluding that only bad will come from the situation. If we lose the hope that God is working all things together for good, we have lost faith in our sovereign God (1 Timothy 6:15). We must trust that our Bad Friday possesses an unseen good so wonderful that we will soon refer to it as our Good Friday. The cross leads to the crown. A thankful heart declares to God, “I believe all things are working together for good” (Romans 8:28).

How did you do on the short self-evaluation? Did your honest answers reveal something about you that you need to pray and ask God to help change in your heart?

This Thanksgiving, what in your life do you need to offer up to God as a sacrifice of praise?

-Dr. E