Take a look at this passage from Leviticus 23:9-14:
“…When you have come into the land that I am giving to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf bundle of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord [and] you shall offer that day when you wave the sheaf a year-old male lamb without blemish for a burnt offering to the Lord…. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”
From the earliest days, God’s people were instructed to worship the Lord through the act of sacrifice and lifting up a “wave offering” to Him in praise and thanksgiving. The Lord said these things would be “a perpetual statute throughout your generations and in all your dwellings.” Sacrifice and physical acts of worship are always linked together and affirmed again and again in the Bible. Timothy wrote, “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubt.” (1 Timothy 2:8) David wrote, “So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” (Psalm 63:4) The author of Hebrews wrote, “Through Him, then, let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15) It’s important to note that praise and worship should always feel sacrificial!
If you’re willing to be challenged in your worship, the Lord will speak a new thing in you and through you – for as long as He knows you’re someone who will listen and obey!
You’ll have to sacrifice your inhibitions about other people’s opinions and your own abilities. You’ll have to sacrifice your emotions like frustration, sadness, anger, depression, fear or hardness of heart. You’ll have to sacrifice your mindset from things like doubt, carnal thinking and expectations or assumptions. You’ll have to sacrifice your experiences like pain and anxiety, bad choices, victimization, injustice, racism and mistreatment. You’ll have to sacrifice your body by being completely open to lifting your hands, singing to the Lord, clapping, kneeling, bowing, marching, dancing and whatever else the Lord prompts your heart to do in worship. Here’s a challenging thought: If you’re comfortable in how you express your praise, are you really praising Him?
Thought for today
A heart that is filled with worship and gratitude is a powerful place to start, but praise without sacrifice and physical expression is an incomplete act and is not what God, Himself, has asked for. Asaph wrote, “Make your vows to the Lord your God, and fulfill them; let all who surround Him bring tribute to Him who is to be feared.” The words “bring tribute” refer to the sacrifice of praise- the thing you bring to the Lord that is in you that does not want to die! It’s a physical act of surrender through your body. No- you don’t need to wait until a quiet moment in church to shout and make everyone jump! But if clapping has become comfortable, lift your hands. If lifting your hands is a comfortable thing, maybe do a little dance by bouncing on your toes a little!
Psalm 89:15 says, “Blessed are the people who know the joyful shout…” Maybe these sacrifices and expressions of praise conflict with your experiences or the theology of your denomination or the culture or expectations of the church you attend – God is already aware of that! Welcome to sacrifice! There will be days when even just singing is a sacrifice that day. Here’s what’s the most important: Keep your mind open and your spirit sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit for how He wants you to worship – that’s it! It doesn’t matter how other people think you should worship. If you’re willing to be challenged in your worship, the Lord will speak a new thing in you and through you – for as long as He knows you’re someone who will listen and obey!