Summary: Shouldn’t praise be an easy thing for us to do? How can we praise the Lord when life gets hard?
When Praise Becomes a Sacrifice
15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-- the fruit of lips that confess his name.
16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
A guy walked into a pet shop, and he said, “I’d like a Christian parakeet.”
The other guy said, “What do you mean, you’d like a Christian parakeet?”
“Well, the last parakeet I had cussed and swore, and I had to kill it.”
The guy says, “Well, we don’t have a Christian parakeet, but we have one that’s never said a word. Would you be interested in that one?”
The guy says, “Yeah, but if it swears, I’ll pull all his feathers off.”
They guy says, “Well, he doesn’t speak.”
He brought the parakeet home. The parakeet was with him for two years and didn’t say anything. Then one day he was feeding the parakeet and accidentally dumped water all over it. His parakeet let flow a line of blue, horrible language—questioning the heritage of this man’s background, talking about his mother, terrible things this parakeet said.
The guy reached in the cage and grabbed it by the neck. It was all wet, the little parakeet. He opened the freezer and said, “Now, you will not speak like that in this house, and you’re staying in here until you can decide you won’t.” He threw him into the freezer, and he shut the door.
An hour later he came back and opened the door. There were little icicles hanging off the parakeet. He was still sitting on the shelf where he had landed, shivering imperceptibly. The guy said, “I am sick of cursing. It will not happen in my house. You will not say bad words of any kind. Do you promise?”
The parakeet said, “I promise.”
He said, “I’m not going to let you out. I’ll let you freeze to death unless you promise never to say another bad word.”
The parakeet said, “I promise. But could you please tell me one thing?”
The guy said, “What? What do you want to know?”
The parakeet looked down and said, “What did that turkey say?”
Shouldn’t praise be an easy thing for us to do? Shouldn’t thanksgiving be natural? Times when it is hard to praise: When you are hurting. Or when you are afraid. Or when you have to do without? Or when bad things happen? How can we praise God then? The scripture says,
“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18 KJV)
Do you ever find it difficult to give thanks?
While Corrie ten Boom was living in a German concentration camp, her entire body became infested with lice, making a bad situation worse. She was complaining about it one day, and her sister reminded her of the Bible verse that says, "In everything give thanks," and she challenged Corrie to give thanks for the lice. Corrie’s response was, "How can I give thanks to God for lice?" But she made a choice to offer thanks for the lice anyway. Later, she found out that the lice had actually protected her from the assaults of the German soldiers.
If you had been a Pilgrim, would you have given thanks?
Consider what they had been through, the men and women who broke bread together on that first Thanksgiving in 1621.
They had uprooted themselves and sailed for America, an endeavor so hazardous that published guides advised travelers to the New World, "First, make thy will." The crossing was very rough and the Mayflower was blown off course. Instead of reaching Virginia, where Englishmen had settled 13 years earlier, the Pilgrims ended up in the wilds of Massachusetts. By the time they found a place to make their new home - Plymouth, they called it - winter had set in.
The storms were frightful. Shelter was rudimentary. There was little food. Within weeks, nearly all the settlers were sick.
"That which was most sad and lamentable," Governor William Bradford later recalled, "was that in two or three months’ time, half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases.... There died sometimes two or three of a day."
When spring came, Indians showed them how to plant corn, but their first crops were dismal. Supplies ran out, but their sponsors in London refused to send more. The first time the Pilgrims sent a shipment of goods to England, it was stolen by pirates.
If you had been there in 1621 - if you had seen half your friends die, if you had suffered through famine, malnutrition, and sickness, if you had endured a year of heartbreak and tragedy - would you have felt grateful?