What would happen if you had to cancel flights for your entire family after another flight time was changed and your travel insurance said ‘we don’t cover that as per article 4.2.9, episode 12, level 2 on page 1,426’? And what if booking new flights cost more than the original ones? You would have a right to feel frustrated, confused, angry and sad. Trust me, I know. In desperation I was about to complain to God about it until He asked me to offer Him a sacrifice of praise.
Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. Hebrews 13:15
It’s not always easy to be obedient, but there is nothing that God asks us to do that isn’t for our benefit, and His. So what’s the deal with a sacrifice of praise? And what’s the purpose besides doing it because the Bible says so? Well, when we are obedient to God in anything – we shift heaven and earth.
For me, obedience meant a change in perception. Instead of seeing a canceled flight I began to see that perhaps God changed an international flight for us because He had a different destination in mind. Turns out He is also more reliable than travel insurance (go figure).
There is a story in Acts 16 that shows quite vividly what happens when we offer a sacrifice of praise.
It’s the story of Paul and Silas. They were not only beaten unfairly, but their feet were clamped in the stocks and they were thrown into the deepest darkest part of the dungeon. If anyone had a right to their feelings it was them. Instead they chose to sacrifice their right to those feelings and decided to sing hymns and praise God instead.
Through their experience (you can read it in full in Acts:16:16-40) we see what can happen in our own lives (and those around us) when we choose to sacrifice our right to fear, anger, sadness, frustration etc. and instead offer up to God a sacrifice of praise.
1. Others will be listening
Verse 25 “Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.”
If Paul and Silas had cried out that they had been mistreated and that they were innocent, I don’t imagine anyone would have been paying much attention. In the world, when you find yourself in difficult circumstances but continue to trust God and give him praise, those who don’t know Jesus will be paying attention, probably thinking you are crazy…but it just sets them up for what happens next.
2. From Captivity to Freedom
Verse 26 “Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!”
Notice that nothing about Paul and Silas’ circumstances had changed. They were still in prison, but they were now free.
When God asked me to offer Him a sacrifice of praise, I was obedient. As I prayed, the atmosphere changed. All the feelings of frustration I had, melted away. Nothing had changed except my attitude, but I found I had the faith to trust God for my situation.
3. Freedom to forgive
Verse 27-28 “The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, ‘Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!'”
Paul could have allowed the guard, who made their lives miserable, to kill himself. That would have been a great responsibility for him to carry. But instead, he took the opportunity to offer him something greater – eternal life.
His sacrifice of praise brought life not only to himself but to his enemy as well.
4. Light brought into the darkest places
Verse 29 “The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.”
If Paul and Silas had sulked instead of praised, they would still have been set free the next day, but they wouldn’t have set anyone else free. Because they were obedient and offered a sacrifice of praise, God was able to use the situation to bring His light to a whole jail full of people.
Through a sacrifice of praise you can allow God to change your perspective and see your situation for the light bringing opportunity God can make it.
Verse 30-32″Then he brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.’ And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household.”
The other prisoners started out listening to the crazy Jesus followers and ended up being exposed to the power of God.
When we praise God in the midst of hardship we expose others to the Light of the world. The outcome is the opportunity to bring salvation where it might have never gone.
6. Understanding your position
Verse 35 “The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, ‘Let those men go!’ So the jailer told Paul, ‘The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace.'”
As children of God, we should never look at our circumstances from the bottom up.
What Paul and Silas couldn’t have guessed was that they would gain their freedom the next day, but they knew enough to trust the One who had the power over life and death. They were able to enter that jail and see it from a God’s eye view. They knew their position in Christ, and that circumstances should never dictate to them, but they should be dicating to their circumstances.
A sacrifice of praise is about more than doing what you are told. God is waiting in expectation for us to be obedient so that he can move our mountains.
What can you sacrifice to God today to offer Him praise instead?
Make a commitment right now to choose to bring light into the darkness of your situation. Not only will it bring God incredible joy, but it will transform your life and the lives around you.
If you have a testimony of God’s power in your own life through a sacrifice of praise, leave a comment so we can be encouraged through your own story!