By Benjamin H. Liles
Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off. ~ Nehemiah 12:43, New King James
Do you know what impresses God more? Some will say God enjoys our sacrifices, others will say He enjoys our praise. Would it surprise you if I said God enjoys both? I mean think about it. God enjoys it a great deal when we're cheerful, singing songs of praise about Him to Him. But also along with that He enjoys the sacrifice that we bring Him. But I thought Jesus sacrificed Himself for all time on our behalf. He has and He did.
Paul tells us, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship" (Romans 12:1, New American Standard). If we put off all forms of impurity to become His children, then our daily act of sacrifice means a great deal to Him. We do it to show Him we are His, but at the same time other people mean more to us than we do.
Because Jesus bought us at a high price so we can have fellowship with the Father, why would we continue to be selfish? Would you want to put yourself ahead of another person when you sing praise and worship Him who gave Himself up for you? This is the point being made. You can't do two contrary things and say you honor and glorify God. If you love God as well as other people you will sacrifice yourself for their behalf, singing songs of praise to Him on High.
Since Jesus the Messiah died for us in our place, granting us access to the Father we ought to give Him the same amount of gratitude at all times. We have now put off sin, which once kept us from the Father, to live life eternally in Him. And in this, we do things that bring life to others through our Messiah Jesus' Spirit. It is why we lay down our agendas, our ways, and live to bless others. It is our "...garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified" (Isaiah 61:3, New American Standard).
Father, You alone are holy. You are lifted High and on Your throne. Remind me of all those things I should be grateful for. Help me to sing praise and to worship You at all times. Help me to focus so much on You that my natural inclination is to not simply seek after You, but to also do well for others You bring into my life. Show me how to be a better man. Show me Your love, Your grace, and Your beauty so I may give the same to others. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.