From the earliest days, God’s people were instructed to worship by presenting a living sacrifice to God 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.” (Leviticus 23:9-14) 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! What does that mean? It means that you won’t always feel like worshipping the Lord and that is “natural”, but pushing past your feelings to offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God is where the true power of praise is seen in your life.
The thing about sacrifice is that something that is living has an internal, inherent, instinctive desire to live and it will fight back in order to avoid death. This is true in the natural world, but it is also true in the spiritual realm. Your spirit and your flesh are in a constant battle. Paul wrote, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (Gal. 5:17) The enemy tries to keep you in the natural realm as much as possible because he can defeat you there! He wants you trapped inside of your feelings and experiences so he can torment your thinking and speak his lies. However, when you “walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16) Worship is set ablaze when you sacrifice the things within you that do not want to die.
The Most Powerful Qualities of a Living Sacrifice Start With Death
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!
It is natural to struggle at times in worship. Your heart and spirit may cry out and desire to praise Him, but the battle against your flesh may be difficult depending on the season of life you’re walking through. However, the sacrifice of praise is just that – the dragging and forceful, aggressive, demanding requirement that your flesh submit to the spirit. Here are five deaths you will need to die if you’re going to present yourself as a living sacrifice to God:
You’ll have to sacrifice your inhibitions about other people’s opinions and your own abilities. The author of Hebrews wrote, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us.” (Heb. 12:1) This applies to worship as well. Some people feel more free to express themselves in worship and some don’t, but feelings are a natural state of being that prevent the spirit’s freedom. The Bible is filled with physical expressions of praise to God, proving that it is a vital and important part of praise. Inhibitions and people’s opinions and self-consciousness block your spirit’s ability to remain God-conscious. Who cares who is watching- your worship is for an audience of one. It’s time for inhibitions to die as the sacrifice of praise!
You’ll have to sacrifice your emotions like frustration, sadness, anger, depression, fear or hardness of heart. For the people in the Kingdom of God, faith and feelings will always conflict. Paul wrote that we must “walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7) The joy of the Lord will be your strongest weapon when you’re in a battle against depression, anxiety and fear. The peace that passes understanding will be the strongest weapon when you’re in a storm. The love that covers a multitude of sins will be the most powerful weapon when you’ve been betrayed, hurt or mistreated. Your emotions will block your connection with God in worship if you give them that permission. It’s time for emotions to die as the sacrifice of praise!
You’ll have to sacrifice your mindset from things like doubt, carnal thinking and expectations or assumptions. Being transformed by the “renewing of your mind” is a bloody, violent process that takes place over time, but the Lord promised that “we will be like Him” when we see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2) You’ll see Him in worship – He dwells there! (Psalm 22:3) That is why the enemy wants to keep you snared by your own righteousness, your own perspectives, your own opinions and by the definitions that you’ve learned through your experiences in the world. God’s Word is the only source of truth in existence and everything you believe must line up with that. After all, “how can two walk together unless they agree”? (Amon 3:3) Know Him through His Word and pattern your life after His principles. If you want to go deeper in worship, it’s time for your mindset to die as the sacrifice of praise!
You’ll have to sacrifice your experiences like pain and anxiety, bad choices, victimization, injustice, racism and mistreatment. Every, single person on earth experiences difficult season in life. Sometimes we invite problems through our own bad choices. Sometimes we are under a spiritual attack of the enemy who works through people to cause harm. Sometimes “life happens” and people make mistakes or don’t intend to cause harm, but hurt us nonetheless. Your experiences aren’t God’s fault. God doesn’t partner with darkness. (1 John 1:5) He is good, and is a misunderstanding of His Word to think that God causes bad things in order to produce good results. No! Romans 8:28 is clear: God uses bad things (which He did not cause) to work out good for His people, making a show of Satan openly! You may have had bad experiences, but turn to a good God and He will help, guide, provide, heal and restore. If you want to experience a greater intimacy with God, it’s time for your past experiences to die as the sacrifice of praise!
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. This is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do if you’re not comfortable with physical expressions of worship. Many Christian traditions downplay the role of your body in worship and it’s unacceptable in some churches to clap or raise your hands. What an atrocious deception of Satan! Even Jesus danced in worship. (Luke 10:21) That’s not to say you have to wave your hands and shout at every moment, but there is a time and place for each of the 7 Hebrew Words for Praise in your personal or corporate time of worship and they’re all physical expressions of thanksgiving. Paul wrote, “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship.” If you’ve been asking God for more, it’s time for your body to die as the sacrifice of praise!
Here’s a challenging thought: If you’re comfortable in how you express your praise, are you really praising Him?
Thought for today: Being a Living Sacrifice to God is Death to the Old Nature
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!