“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:15-16
We have many important items going on in these two short verses, let’s just look at two, exposited from this text. Our praise, as a peace offering of thanksgiving. And how will we will be available to keep on sharing it.
Are you available to God and others? This is also a form of praise and pleasing to God. Our offerings today are not about dragging our livestock or pets to be sacrificed, because Jesus was our sacrifice. So, then, what do we bring? Our sacrifice today is what flows from our heart, to love, trust and adore our Lord.
Let’s look at a key word, “Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.”
They may sound either scary of comforting to you. What is this mean? Because Christ is the offering, we respond by offering ourselves up to God in devotion and surrender to His Lordship. It is our living faith and piety that pleases God and this is what endures even without the Temple (which would be destroyed in 70 AD, a few years after this letter was delivered).
Thus, all that they know for generations is coming to an end. All that is scared, countable, familiar, trustworthy is closing up for good. Imaging you losing it all? Consider the plight of the refuges today. These Jews will be fleeing in terror their homes with nothing to a foreign land that will hate them and abuse them.
Another main point for the Jew that changes everything and sets up Christianity, Christ the Redeemer is that animal sacrifices are no longer necessary or even desired by God. He desires our intimacy.
So what does God want in our lives, and our churches, even in heartaches and confusion and uncertainty? A living sacrifice. This was and is a lifestyle of worship-that God be continually praised. This motive continues and refers to the fact that we belong solely to God, not to ourselves or the world or anything else. This is a key component of maturity and spiritual growth in the faith. This streams from our trust, obedience, and gratitude for Who Christ is and what He has done for us (Lev. 7:11-21; Psalm 4:5; 27:6; 40:6; 50:7-15; 54:6; 69:30-31; 119: 108; Pr. 21:3; Hos. 14:2, 12; Luke 10:36-37; Rom. 3:25; 6:12-17; 8:13; 12:1-3; John 15:13-15; 37-38; Eph. 4:23; Phil. 4:18; 1 John 3:16),
Offer to God a sacrifice of praise. And to do that as this passage attests, we have to be available, continue it and share it. Just like any Gospel endeavor.
Consider this, we have a God who became Available with us, who elected to choose us, and selected us for a purpose. One of the primary calls is for us to be in touch with our Creator, our loving Lord. His power flowing through the universe is available for us to use if we choose to trust, and obey, according to His Will.
Can you imagine the awesome nature of our Lord; can you fathom the power that is in our hands; can you see the potential you have, and the plan that God has for you? Or, are you too busy watching TV, or are you being driven by the schedule and urgencies of your life, leaving no time to tap into the power at hand, the power that goes beyond any human means or adventure! We can do what God can do to the extent of our capabilities, and what He allows according to His purpose.
What is Availability? It is a character, a Fruit of the Spirit. It is being willing to adjust our own schedule, agenda, and plans to fit the right desires of God and others. It makes personal priorities secondary to the needs of God and others. It is to reflect God’s priorities, so we are always available to Him, and others, when we are serving (Isaiah 6:8; Mark 1:17-18; Luke 16:10; Acts 16:10).
How do we get this Fruit from God that builds our homes and our church?
We, too, must get rid of our old self, and embrace the new life that is available to us in Christ (Col. 3).
We need to be able to admit when we are wrong, to confess, to grow, and to go on from there. This will allow us the fastest and strongest growth, and the building of our character.
But it all starts from our sacrifice of praise. We are to be so full of love for our Lord that it flows to those around us.
Christ shed His blood for us in disgrace. So now, we can be an offering of praise and sacrifice of our will over to His so we can do good, listen, and live properly, thus pleasing God. The sacrifice that pleases God is our obedience and our trust in Him. We can even bear His disgrace, for our home is not of this world. With Christ, we can succeed in sharing His Name and we can do good too. We can obey our spiritual leaders (as they are responsible to look after us) and be accountable to them as they are to God, doing it all with joy. For if we are ingrates, we will be filled with sorrow and miss what God has for us.
The point being for us to live as a response to what Christ has done for us.
If you love Him, then you are to love others too. This Text is almost written as a letter of recommendation to encourage the hearers to continue in the faith and not give up, and to obey their leaders, because if they do not, they will face dire problems. What they were going through then was nothing like what would come.
I can’t, you may say. I am too busy, too disabled, too old, to warn out, too…. But, consider this. The fall of Jerusalem was just two years away when they heard these Words, when all their property and vocations and means would be taken away and families would be fragmented. The author. God, advised them to “shape up” so they could be ready to face it, grow through it with joy and not melt in bitterness. In context, this was also a call to be responsible for one another so they could encourage and equip others, helping them when they slipped or were about to slip (Rom. 12-14; Gal. 4-5; Eph. 4-5).
What needs to be shaped up in us?
Our Lord wants us to be wholly devoted to Him all the time. This will then flow from us to others. There should be no circumstance we could ever face that would cause praise to cease flowing from our lips. Our praise is to acknowledge Christ alone, by His grace alone, with nothing coming from us but faith. What we can sacrifice is our person, our ability, and our availability for His purposes.
When we first give ourselves, everything else will be easy, because pride and hoarding will be eliminated, as well as materialism. We can sacrifice our wallets and purses to His service. Time, talents, and treasures should flow willingly from us to His service, with joy and gladness. The testimony that we are effectively praising God is the difference it makes in our friends, families, and neighbors.
When we are in a healthy relationship of praise, the church reaps the benefits of health and vitality that beckons the world to our Lord-to who He is, and what He does. As do our personal relationships and any undertaking, we do.
This is the sacrifice of praise because it distracts from our ego and self, from our sin and selfish nature, and leads to His presence.
Pray and live honorably so God may produce even more in you. Remember your fellow Christian workers and pray for and support them.
As Christians, we are in tighter community together in Christ; as Christ-followers, we are to be deep friends who are bonded as a family. The purpose of our doctrine and the study of His Word is not just for the knowledge, (which is very important), but our supreme goal should be what we do with that knowledge. This is the relationship that is growing in Christ, then outward to others around us.
Remember: His shed blood paid for us!
You have truly dedicated your right to yourself to Christ! We give Him our all! It is easy to die for a cause, but are you willing to live for Him in perfect obedience, so your life is poured out so that your strength is gone and you must rely on Him? Hebrews is about keeping your faith real and growing. Our relationship with the Lord must be transparent and not secretive (unless you live in a closed Muslim country)!
Let’s say this together: Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Benediction: May the God of peace, who saved you continue to equip you. May you produce effectual fruit for the glory of Christ, our Great Shepherd. To God be the glory!