Summary: It is “through Jesus” that your sacrifices can be acceptable. Anything short of that is totally unacceptable. The only person God told that he is pleased with was Jesus. When a man does not listen to Jesus, such a man cannot please God.

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)

Hebrews 13:15-16

Quite a lot to identify in this scripture.

1. The first thing to note is that before ANYTHING can be done, it must be “THROUGH JESUS”.

It is “through Jesus” that your sacrifices can be acceptable. Anything short of that is totally unacceptable. It is through Jesus that our lives can be pleasing and acceptable to God. No matter how much of a moralist you think you are, without Christ in you, everything you do is displeasing God. No man cometh unto the Father except through Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the door to eternal life.

“As many that receive him, confess him and believe in him, to them… God has given the power to become His Son.”

The only person God told that he is pleased with was Jesus. It was recorded twice in the scriptures that God said to him, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” – after the baptism by John. The second time was the place of transfiguration where God spoke and said again, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased…” and the voice did not stop there, it added, “… hear him, listen to him” – Matthew 17:1-9.

When a man does not listen to Jesus, such a man cannot please God. Listening to Jesus qualifies you to pleasing God. What is Jesus saying to you that you are refusing to heed to? What instructions are you disobeying?

It is better and safer to obey Jesus and please God and receive the benefits than to disobey Him. It is a well quoted scripture that, “To obey is better than sacrifice…” Which sacrifice are you offering when disobedience to simple instructions is present in your life?

Your obedience to simple instructions defines who you are – your character, your attitude and your personality.

Your life is your sacrifice to God. When God was to accept the first-ever sacrifice given to Him, the condition was “doing the right thing”. God told Cain, in Genesis 4:6, ‘Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door… - (NIV)”

Before that verse, it was said that, “and the Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering, he did not look with favour…”

The first thing is “YOU”, before your offering or sacrifice. Who are You? Your character shapes whom you are. Your attitude shows whom you truly are.

Then doing what is right is achieved by obeying simple instructions. But come to think of this, if you do not know the instructions, how will you obey them? And remember, “Ignorance is no excuse” as it is popularly said.

The scriptures say “My people (God’s own people) are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Information, instructions, commandments).” God’s word is the Bible, which is the written instruction for our daily living.

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Pastor Peter Amenkhienan, the Assistant General Overseer on Youth Affairs in RCCG said in his book, “God’s word is that instruction you need for the construction of your destiny. And once you have that instruction, every obstruction on your way will give way”.

John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God…” Jesus is that word and He represents instructions for you and I. If you do not have the Word, you do not have Jesus in your life, you do not study the scriptures, how will you know what he is telling you about the blueprint of how to give that sacrifice to Him? Everything has instructions. Everything comes with an instructional material just like any manufactured product. Just like you do not take a drug without following the prescription, you should not offer any sacrifice without going through the Lord Jesus. The drug that was supposed to heal you and bring life back to your health if the prescription is duly followed can likewise hurt or kill you if the prescription is not properly followed. That is why everything MUST BE DONE “THROUGH JESUS”.

2. Secondly, after getting access through Jesus, what should you do? “A CONTINUAL OFFER TO GOD”.

There is the need to know that a seasonal lifestyle to offer to God is also not acceptable. Obeying God today and disobeying him tomorrow is not acceptable; read the bible today, skip tomorrow; pray today, skip tomorrow; live a righteous life today and live a dirty life tomorrow; all these are not pleasing to God.

You cannot be cold and hot at the same time. God said he will spew you out.

You cannot serve God and Mammon together. You are either for God or for the devil. You cannot say you love God and then still engage in the affairs of this world. Your love for God should be total and continuous, not one-leg in and one-leg out.

A wife cannot be said to be loyal to the husband only for today and by tomorrow, she goes to sleep with another person. That is unfaithfulness.

Remember, God said, “He is a jealous God”. He takes no nonsense. “Choose you therefore this day whom you will love to serve” is the main factor. There is life and there is death. It is by choice: a choice which needs to be taken. You cannot sit on the fence forever, neither here nor there.

Your life should be a continual offering unto God and must be done wholeheartedly. Scriptures says, “Thou shall love thy God, with all your heart, your soul, your body, your might and power -” (paraphrased). Everything you’ve got needs to continually be in service to God. Do not keep some things away from him and present others. God needs to be fully in charge of your life.

Keep offering to God continual service without ceasing. 1Thessalonians 5:17-18 says, “Pray Without Ceasing, and in everything, give thanks, FOR THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD CONCERNING YOU”.

The will of God is that you consistently offer to him what he requests for: your whole being.

3. A SACRIFICE OF PRAISE: Having gained access through Jesus and having a heart to continually serve God without looking back, that which God now expects from you is “The Sacrifice of Praise”

That is the very essence of your living, the very reason for your being alive. God created you for the specific purpose of giving Him praise and worshipping Him. Let’s consider the following few scriptures: Genesis 3:8; Psalm 150:6, Revelations 4:11 and John 4:23-24.

Genesis 3:8 shows to us that God created man so that he could come down and have fellowship with him. God wanted fellowship then, and still desires to be worshipped and praised today. He still desires to be adored. He came so that man can reverence Him only. However, he was disappointed when he came on an occasion and saw that man had lost the breath (Jesus, the life) in him which was the very access to fellowshipping with him. And when God could not see that life/light in man (Adam) again, he called out to him, “Where art thou?”

Imagine a scenario: if you have been to an airport at night before, you will know that a plane requires light to show the pilot where to taxi it through the runway and eventually land it. When the plane from the sky sights the light, he knows he is to land but where the light is not available, the plane or pilot will keep rotating in the sky, making calls and trying to connect with the tower to help give light so he can land safely. That was the same scenario that happened when God was to come down and have fellowship with man. He could not see “the life which is the light of men” (John 1:1-3) in Adam anymore. God had to shout out unto Adam, “Adam, where art thou?”

God does not accept worship or praises from a sinner. The first qualification for intimacy with God is a life that is pure and clean. “Who shall ascend to the hill of the Almighty, he that hath a clean hands and a pure heart.”

Holiness and righteousness are important keys to gaining access to God and can only be gotten through His dear son, Jesus.

The scriptures in Psalm 150:6 declares to us that, “Let everything that hath breathe praise the Lord”.

Again, I would like to refer to the Assistant General Overseer, Youth Affairs, Pastor Peter Amenkhienan who said, “Praise is the tax you pay for your living on earth”. Your sacrifice of praise is what God desires to hear. How often do you render this sacrifice of praise to God. Even Jesus in teaching us the “Lord’s Prayer” addressed the fact that “Thanksgiving and Praises and Adoration to God is crucial” he started by saying, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name, ...”. He gave God praise first. That is the perfect example of how a Christian should pray.

We have been admonished that we should pray without ceasing. Hence, while praying, praises should first be given to God. This equates that virtually everything will be continually done as we offer to God a sacrifice of praise. That is the meal of Christ. He derives pleasure in praises.

Revelations 4:11 says “Thou art worthy to receive glory, honour and power, for thou hast created all things and for thy pleasure, they are and were created.”

God created you and me to be a blessing, to give Him pleasure. Once your life is not giving God pleasure, it definitely will be displeasing Him. Can you say your life is pleasing God or rather, is it displeasing Him? Only you know that.

4. The FRUIT OF YOUR LIPS: God expects that the fruit of your lips should be seasoned with goodness and praises.

The lips of some “so called” believers is loaded with curses, abusive words, vulgar and unseasoned words. They worship God with their lips and afterwards, use the same lips to rain abuses on anyone who offends them. Their mouths are so swift to utter cutting words. They talk like parrots and have no control over their mouths. The proceeds from such a mouth are unacceptable to God. That is the channel by which the sacrifice is being given to him, and should not be defiled by vile words.

5. LIPS THAT CONFESS HIS NAME: The mouth or lips used in praising God should also be used to confess the name of Christ.

Do not deny Jesus in times of challenge or temptation. After the departure of Jesus, everywhere the disciples of Jesus went, they were easily identified to have been with Jesus because of their character, their speech and their conduct.

Peter’s speech betrayed him when Jesus was being led to the cross. It was so obvious that a little girl could discern that Peter was not like them all. His speech betrayed him. He spoke like Jesus, talked like him and acted like him and when he tried pretending, the little girl said to him, ‘are you not one of Jesus’ disciples?’ Though Peter denied it, it was pretty obvious that Peter probably had the same mannerisms with Jesus. Can people conclude that you know Christ whenever you speak? Like one of my pastors would say, “If as a Christian, you are talking for five minutes and people cannot observe anything in your speech linked with God, there is something wrong with your Christianity; it should be re-examined.” Not necessarily that you start talking God, God, God. But in your statement, there are indices that point to the fact that only a believer could talk in this manner.

6. DO NOT FORGET: A call to remembrance that having come through Jesus to continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise using the fruits of your lips to confess his name, another important thing is that You need not forget.

Forgetfulness is not a good thing. A man who easily forgets things is likely going to miss great opportunities, especially when you forget things pertaining to life and godliness (spiritual things). Peter was one man that had a good sense of remembrance. When he denied Jesus three times, immediately the cock crew, he remembered what Jesus had said. When Jesus cursed the fig tree also, he was the one that remembered that the fig tree was cursed and that was why it had dried up. On several occasion, he exhibited this trait of remembrance and little wonder, in Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. Only those with good memory and can remember the words of Christ will great things be committed into their hands.

7. TO DO GOOD: One of the key things which will make your sacrifices pleasing to God is when you do good. The act of doing good is very good.

A good man is known by his works and when people can testify concerning the good he or she has done, be rest assured that such a man has a level of acceptance by God also. When the above six points earlier talked about are further added, such person is unstoppable. The good you do today is never a waste as it will speak for you in times of need. On several occasions, we have heard of how people did good to a person years before and somehow by divine arrangement, it spoke for them when the receiver of their good deed gets into a position of wealth and affluence and repays them accordingly.

We have several case studies in the bible of people who did good and they got rewarded for it as well as those who did not do good and they also received a negative reward.

Dorcas is a typical example of those who did good and it spoke for her even when death came knocking. People whom she had done good to started weeping profusely that death could not take such a person with a good heart. In fact, her kindness and good deeds was what caught the attention of the disciples and Peter enough to draw upon the power of God for her sake. When you read the account in Acts 9: 36-43, you will understand better the power of good works. Verse 36 says, “Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms deeds which she did.” The people thereafter were showing Peter the good she had done to them and Peter was moved with compassion and with the power of God, he brought her back to life.

Many do not know the good they need to do that will speak for them later in life. Continue doing good and surely, you will be adequately rewarded for it. Even if you are do not receive praise for it initially, it will later be appreciated, acknowledged and rewarded, if not by people, then by God. In fact, the good you are doing might be scrutinized and challenged. They might say, “it is eye service”. Do not be discouraged. Keep doing it, do not stop doing good. It is unto God and he will surely reward you. God is not a debtor. He will surely fulfill his promise of rewarding you according as your work is (Revelations 22:12). He said, “Behold, I come quickly and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be”. God is not just looking out for the reward. The reward is with him already and he comes quickly. Just hold onto him and he will surely come to reward you accordingly.

8. TO SHARE WITH OTHERS: Having spoken so much about doing good, the need to share with others is very critical.

Do not hoard the good news to yourself. Share with others the goodness of God upon your life. Spread the good tidings. Share with those in the household of God and those without. You see a brother in your place of work, or church or neighborhood in need and you have the grace to be of help, do not withhold to render assistance. Jesus said, “While I was in prison, you did not visit me ….”, they asked, when were you in prison that we didn’t visit you?

“The truth is what you do unto your brethren and every other person, you are doing it to God.”

In conclusion, remember, the scriptures again, “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)

Only with such sacrifices will God be pleased.