Summary: 5th of 5 messages in Hebrews (section 4). This message speaks of the importance of praising God
The Sacrifice of Praise
And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood...
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Praising God is easy when everything is good and working out well. It’s a lot tougher when the world is crashing around you. It’s hard to praise God when you get a pink slip, the union goes on strike, gas is $3.75 a gallon, your marriage is hurting, or your kids are rebelling.
Matthew Henry, the British scholar famous for his commentary on the Bible, was once held up by thieves who stole his wallet. After the incident he wrote in his diary: "Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed." (7700 Illustrations, #6578)
You can always find something to be joyful about can’t you!
Yet, there are times it’s tough isn’t it!
The author of Hebrews calls upon to praise God for the hope we have – even in the middle of everything going wrong. He speaks of the “Sacrifice of Praise”.
In the Hebrew the word altar means “a place of slaughter or sacrifice” (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ©1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers). The altar was a place where the Israelites carried out their spiritual rituals and religious practices of offering up some type of sacrifice to God as a form of worship. It could be fruit, grain, a small bird, a goat, lamb, an ox, or a bullock. It was done as to honor God at great personal cost.
All through Hebrews there has been but one message. The new way of Jesus is better than the old way of Moses. The new way of the covenant of grace is better than the old way of covenant of law. Now we read that we are to worship at a new altar – not with sacrifices of dead animals but with the sacrifice of praise – the fruit of our lips.
But what is this altar of Praise? Is it music? Is it communion? Is it prayer – on your knees before God? It is this but much, much more. The sacrifice of praise is about a place where we can come and be with God as we fellowship with him. I think of what a joyful intimacy that Adam and Eve must have enjoyed as they walked in the Garden of Eden and explored the sights and sounds of their home with the Almighty Creator.
We have come to place of worship and praise where we offer the sacrifice of praise. What is this place? It is a spiritual place that you can only experience. It is a place of complete safety and security.
Our Altar of Worship is A place of Safety
Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Then Solomon was told, "Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon and is clinging to the horns of the altar. He says, ‘Let King Solomon swear to me today that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.’" (NIV)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah (NIV)
The cleft of the rock where you can hide.
Hymn: It is well with my soul…
In Vienna, Austria the authorities have discovered a woman being held for 24 years in the basement of her home by her father. She had seven children by her father. Two, age 17 and 19 have never seen daylight, never been schooled, and have never been out of their basement prison. Contrast this with our spiritual father who has covered us with his hand and protected us with his love.
God has called upon us to make his church a place of refuge and safety. This is a place where you are accepted and acceptable – no matter what you have done, where you have gone, and what you are like. We specialize in broken people. Transformed by the love of God – but broken people who were transformed.
How we live with and love others providing them a place of safety and security is part of the sacrifice of praise… The fruit of your lips.