March 20, 2011

Sacrifice of thanksgiving?

"Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High"
Psalm 50:14

When I think of "sacrificing" something, two different scenarios enter my mind. The first, the Old Testament ritual of animal sacrifice, which was necessary because Jesus had not died on the cross yet. Old Testament believers were commanded to sacrifice animals on behalf of their sin. Once the Lamb of God (Jesus) paid the ultimate sacrifice, this ritual was no longer necessary.

The second time of sacrifice I think of applies directly to our lives today. We sacrifice time to help those in need or we sacrifice money to aid the poor and struggling. To me, sacrifice does not always have a negative connotation. I think that love and sacrifice go hand in hand. For example, my parents sacrificed hours of sleep, money, and valuable hours of their time to raise me. Their unselfish attitudes and personal self sacrifice enabled me to be the person I am today. I have also had the privilege of watching my parents sacrifice for one another out of love--ultimately meaning that they put on another's needs before their own needs. It is a beautiful exchange to witness.

So back to Psalm 50: "Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving." Sarah Young prompts her readers to consider this in Jesus Calling today: "As you bring me the sacrifice of thanksgiving, regardless of your feelings, My Spirit is able to work more freely within you. This produces more thankfulness and more freedom, until you are overflowing with gratitude." I had never considered bringing God the sacrifice of thanksgiving. As humans tend to do, myself included, when we are facing a trial or hardship, we zone in on that and forget to see what the trial is teaching us or what other blessings God is providing us.

God knows this, which is why he has told us in his Word to "give thanks in all circumstances" and bring him the sacrifice of our thankfulness. Being thankful during difficult times and sometimes being thankful in general do not always come naturally, because we are sinful. However, it is our responsibility to keep ourselves in check and be thankful at all times.

I challenge you to try it this week. When you feel frustrated or tired or un-thankful, pray to Jesus and thank him for the circumstance he has given you and see if it does not bring you closer to him.

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