Every time I hear that title, "We Bring the Sacrifice", my mind immediately goes back to my home church in Oklahoma and to our worship leader who would encourage us about every 3 weeks to take our hymnals and "Turn to hymn #41!" And of course we would kick into that that classic tune by Kirk Dearman. As the praise and worship drama of the 90's was unfolding in churches across the country, I can remember that this was a chorus that was deemed"acceptable" for our little church to sing! As a kid, I never thought to much about the song...other then it having a good beat and the people really liked it. But now, as my heart for worship and my ear for worship music is growing and being tuned, I find myself looking at this song and this concept of bringing the sacrifice of praise in a different way! Take a moment and refresh yourself on the lyrics:
"We bring the sacrifice of praise, into the house of the Lord.
We bring the sacrifice of praise, into the house of the Lord.
And we offer up to You, our sacrifices of thanksgiving;
And we offer up to You, our sacrifices of joy."
If you are like me, when you start reading those lyrics, you cannot help but start humming the tune. I have to be honest and confess that when I would sing this and read the lyrics, something did not sit well with me. I felt like the lyrics, and tune were not in tune with each other. Why would a person be joyful about sacrificing something?
To me, when I think of the word sacrifice, I don't think about a feel good song with a good gospel beat...but i do not want to downplay this song that Mr. Dearman has published. To me, sacrifice means that you are giving up something. But not just anything...something of great importance and of great cost! I realize that all people, Christian or not, can experience trials, struggles, and turmoil. There are times in our lives that it feels like there is no end in sight and no light at the end of the tunnel. Our Senior Adult pastor uses this statement all the time"Lord willing...if the creek don't rise." Now for people in my generation, they may not understand what that means, but for Pastor Gary and his generation, they totally grab the meaning of that statement. Now if I take this statement and apply it to this concept of sacrificial praise, and the fact that people are going through their personal trials and struggles, some one may ask "What happens when-according to our standard/needs-God is not willing yet? Whet happens when the creeks of our lives start rising?"
When I thought about those questions, my mind and my heart went out to the people of Haiti. I was watching a news segment the other night and they were talking with some Haitian people and several of them expressed how their faith was sustaining them through this tragic time. The thing that captured my heart were the images of people out in the middle of streets in the midst of the rubble and the mess...and they were praying! Not only were they praying, but they were worshiping...they were offering a sacrifice of praise! Seeing these people helped me understand the importance of the statement "sacrifice of praise." Bottom line, it is truly that...a sacrifice. I believe that God knows it is a sacrifice when say "Praise the Lord' or "Glory to God", when it feels like we are going make it or when or our circumstances are not changing, or we find ourselves standing in the wake of natural disaster. But His word reminds me that these sacrifices are "pleasing" to the Lord.
"Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God."
Nothing is more pleasing to his heart then when we offer him our sacrifice of praise. For it allows Him to see the depest parts of our hearts and it reminds us of our dependence of Him. So when find ourselves in a corner, and not sure what to do...we praise the Lord. When we feel like we have prayed and surrendered our issues, and have asked for guidance and it feels like there is no answer...we praise the Lord. A chorus we sing at our church puts it best:
"I will sing praise, I will lift my voice,
I will sing praise, I've made my choice.
I will sing praise in all I do, I will sing praise to You.
No matter the storms that come my way,
No matter the trials I may face.
You promised that You would see me through, so I will trust in You."
written by Michael Popham & Regi Stone
As a church musician, worshiper, and worship leader, I have seen how praise can have such an impact on the lives of God's people. Our praise, both corporate and private, is our way of expressing our trust, hope, and faith in God. So as the Dearman song states, we offer up to our sacrifices of thanksgiving & offer up to sacrifices of joy because we know in spite of what is happening, we can thank Him for who he is in our lives and we do it with joy because we know that he works all things for good.