November 29, 2014

The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me." - Psalm 50:23

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. I hope you were able to celebrate with loved ones, spend some time with good friends, and reflect on the abundant blessings in your life. We are blessed, far beyond what we even realize most of the time. Thanksgiving is a good time to reflect on those blessings.

Psalm 50:23 says that "the one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me." When's the last time you offered thanksgiving as your sacrifice? But what does that even mean?

Thanksgiving equals gratitude. Gratitude is acknowledging appreciation for something someone has done for you. What kind of sacrifice does that really require?

Sacrifice implies surrender, suffering, giving something up.

When's the last time your thanksgiving was a sacrifice?

Here are three things to keep in mind as we consider the sacrifice of thanksgiving:

1) The sacrifice of thanksgiving is to be a lasting sacrifice.
Hebrews 13:15 says "through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God." Through Jesus Christ, we are to continually, without stopping, offer our thanksgiving to God. It is to be a continual offering, a neverending thanksgiving. More than one day a year set aside to eat turkey and watch football, our thanksgiving is to be lasting, non-stop, continual praise for all that we have received from God.

But how can we offer thanks even when we don't feel like it, when things are going all wrong, when there is so much to complain about all around us? The answer is simple, yet extremely difficult. "Count your blessings. Name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done." When you're feeling down, lonely, sad, as though everything and everyone is against you, stop, think, count your blessings and thanks God for each and every blessing in your life.

That requires surrender. That means looking beyond yourself, beyond your self-pity, and being thankful for all with which you have been blessed.

2) The sacrifice of thanksgiving is to be a living sacrifice.
Romans 12:1 says "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

As we continually offer our thanksgiving to God, we are to live our lives in such a way that we reflect the God we are thanking. Holy and acceptable means that we surrender what our flesh desires, instead chasing after our holy God with everything that we have. To be a living sacrifice requires that I offer myself completely to the Lord. I give Him total control of every area of my life. Everything that I say and do and think and desire ought to be holy and acceptable to him. That takes sacrifice. That takes surrender. This requires that I continually check my heart and my motives, that I continually monitor my thoughts and desires. Live your lives as continual and daily worship to God.

3) The sacrifice of thanksgiving is to be a loving sacrifice.
Hebrews 13:16 says "Do not neglect to do good, and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." This is where our sacrifice of thanksgiving intensifies. It goes beyond ourselves. It requires that we lay not only our thoughts and desires on the altar of worship, but our actions as well. 

It's easy to say "Thank you" with our mouths, but to actually get out of our comfort zones and say thank you with our actions is tough. Do not neglect to do good. Share what you have. How many times do we pass on opportunities to help someone who needs a hand? How often do we neglect to share our finances with someone less fortunate? It's not enough to say "I love you." It's equally important to get out and show your love to others.

When's the last time you offered thanksgiving as your sacrifice? 

Are you offering yourself as a lasting, living, and loving sacrifice?

"The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me." - Psalm 50:23