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Do You Offer God a Sacrifice of Praise?

Embrace a Different Way to Worship God

The term “sacrifice of praise” is only found in one verse in the Bible. It’s a curious phrase. What does it mean?

Whatever it may refer to, the first thing we see is we are to do it continually. We are to offer a constant sacrifice of praise to God. To do this, we must adopt a wider understanding of praise as more than just singing.

It certainly includes the things we say, as well as the things we don’t say—praising God with words we use as well as the words we keep to ourselves. This offering of praise could also encompass our attitude as we go about life, even our demeanor.

A sacrifice of praise could include everything we give up for God as an act of praise. Click To Tweet

While sacrifice of praise could include everything we give up—that is, what we sacrifice—for God as an act of adoration, I don’t think that concept ties in with this verse because we can’t continually offer sacrifices.

We can indeed praise God through our sacrificial living and giving, but this isn’t what phrase means.

Let’s look at the Old Testament for insight. Prior to Jesus, animal sacrifices are common—and commanded according to the law of Moses. Those sacrifices must be repeated because their covering is only temporary.

When Jesus comes along to become our sacrifice it is permanent. It doesn’t need to be repeated. It’s once and for all. This means that in the New Testament, the sacrifice of animals is obsolete. Could it be that a sacrifice of praise replaces it?

May we continually offer our praise as a sweet sacrifice that to God the Father, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit for their glory.

How do you praise God? Should you add anything to your practice?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Hebrews 11-13, and today’s post is on Hebrews 13:15.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Is Our Relationship With God More Important Than Obedience?

The Old Testament Law talks a lot about offering sacrifices to God, but what if he really wants something more?

King Solomon writes in the book of Ecclesiastes that we need to be careful when approaching God. “Guard your steps,” he says. This is wise advice.

Then he adds something more: “Go near to listen.” He even places listening over offering God the prescribed sacrifices. Though the Old Testament Law gives many commands about offering God our sacrifices, I don’t recall one that tells us to listen.

Yet Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, places listening to God over offering sacrifices to him.

Listening is about connecting. Solomon realizes God wants a relationship with us. He talks to us, and when we listen, we hear his voice, his words.

A deeper relationship with God starts when we listen to him. Click To Tweet

Communication with God isn’t a one-way street, with us just asking him (praying) for things. God can communicate to us, too, through the Bible and through his Holy Spirit, “a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12, NIV) or his “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12, KJV).

In Psalms we read we need to “be still and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10). That is the best way to listen to God. That’s what he wants from us: our ears, our attention, a relationship.

Our relationship with God starts when we listen to him.

Ask yourself: How do you listen to God? How does God speak to you?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ecclesiastes 4-6, today’s post is on Ecclesiastes 5:1.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Living Stones: What the New Testament Says About Temples and Priests

Through Jesus we become his priests and his temple, which should change everything

In the Old Testament the people go to the temple to encounter God. The priests help them in this. They act as a liaison between them and God.

In many ways we still do this today. We go to church to encounter God. We look for our ministers to help us in our quest, to act as a liaison between us and God.

But this is a wrong perspective. We cling to the Old Testament practice and largely forget how Jesus fulfilled it. Peter helps us understand this in his first letter.

He says we are living stones built into a spiritual temple, prepared for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus (1 Peter 2:5; also see Ephesians 2:22).

Yet from our perspective of going to church to encounter God, this verse is confounding. It turns what we do upside down, and that’s the point. Jesus came to turn the old ways upside down and make something new for us.

We need to embrace this. We need to change our perspectives.

Living Stones

As living stones our actions matter. We live for Jesus. We live to honor him, praise him, and glorify him. We live to tell others about him through our actions and even through our words. Our faith is alive, and our actions must show it.

Spiritual Temple

As living stones we become part of the construction of his spiritual temple. And if we are part of his temple, we don’t need to go to church to meet him because, as his temple, we are already there and can experience him at any time.

Holy Priesthood

As living stones we are being made into a holy priesthood. If we are truly priests through what Jesus did for us, then we don’t need ministers to point us to God, explain him to us, and assist us in encountering him. God is preparing us to do that for ourselves as his holy priests.

Spiritual Sacrifices

As living stones and holy priests, serving God in his spiritual temple, we offer to him a spiritual sacrifice. This spiritual sacrifice negates the need for many of the animal sacrifices and offerings we read about in the Old Testament.

Through Jesus we can do things in a new way. Click To Tweet

This thinking is so countercultural to the way most Christians live today that it bears careful contemplation. Through Jesus we can do things in a new way. We are living stones built into a spiritual temple, being prepared for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices.

This can change everything—and it should.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 1 Peter 1-3, and today’s post is on 1 Peter 2:5.]

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

His Love Endures Forever

We Should Praise God for the Many Ways He Loves Us

Love is a recurring theme in Scripture (686 verses). It shows up in most every book of the Bible (60 out of 66). The word is most common in Psalms (157 verses). Psalm 136 leads the way with 26 mentions of love, all in the repeating refrain “His love endures forever.”

This Psalm is a song of praise to God. It affirms who he is and what he’s done. In response to each phrase of thanks and appreciation, the singers repeatedly chant, “His love endures forever.”

What are these characteristics of God? Read Psalm 136 to find out all the details. Here’s a summary:

  • God is good.
  • He is God of all gods and Lord of all lords.
  • He does amazing feats.
  • He created everything.
  • He guided his people, protected them, and brought them to his promised land.
  • He remembers us when we’re down, frees us from our enemies, and feeds us when we’re hungry.

And for each one of these, our response is to praise him, for “his love endures forever.” Forever is a long time. It’s eternal. Just as God is eternal—living forever with no beginning or end—so too is his love for us.

Paul says that three things will last forever. These are faith, hope, and love. Of this amazing trio, love stands in first place. Love is the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Jesus died so that we may live. You, me, everyone. That’s true love. Click To Tweet

John writes that the highest, most excellent, expression of love is to die so another may live (John 15:13). John is quoting Jesus. In this passage, Jesus obliquely references God’s plan to save us.

To do so, Jesus will offer himself as the once-and-for-all, ultimate sacrifice to make payment for the sins (mistakes) of all humanity, for all time. This will reconcile us with Papa.

Jesus died so that we may live. You, me, everyone. That’s true love. His love endures forever.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalms 135-139, and today’s post is on Psalms 136:2.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Jesus Fulfills the Old Testament by Becoming the Ultimate Sin Sacrifice

Consider What Jesus Did for Us

Today’s church still follows the Old Testament model for church: we have a church building where we go to worship God, hire a minister who represents the Almighty to us, and take a collection to support the whole thing.

This is not what Jesus has in mind. Instead Jesus fulfills the Old Testament, not to perpetuate it or to eliminate it. Here’s how: Through his sacrificial death, in one single action, Jesus does away with the need to go to a building, hire staff, and take an offering. (More on what Jesus did here.) We should do the same.

This all hinges on Jesus.

Jesus draws people to him—both then and now. The words he speaks and the hope he communicates attract them. Two thousand years ago, people assume Jesus comes to replace the Old Testament Law and the work of the prophets, but this isn’t his calling.

Jesus doesn’t come to do away with what the Old Testament teaches. Instead his mission is to bring the Old Testament into fruition, according to God’s plan, set in place from the beginning. Jesus makes this clear. He says, “I have not come to abolish the Law and the prophets but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).

How does Jesus do this?

Jesus Becomes the Ultimate Sacrifice

The Old Testament is packed with instructions for making sacrificial offerings, commands that show the people’s relationship with God. These sacrifices have various meanings, but one key sacrifice occurs—and recurs—to redress sin. An animal must die because the people have sinned. Since the people continue to sin, animal sacrifices persist as a requirement. These sin sacrifices must happen over and over, day after day, year after year, century after century.

Jesus, in his sacrificial death on the cross, becomes the ultimate sacrifice for sin to end all sin sacrifices. This is the main way Jesus fulfills the Old Testament. In his once-and-for-all sacrifice, he dies to make us right with God, to reconcile us into right relationship with the Almighty.

Jesus Turns Law into Love

Despite Jesus’s fresh way of looking at the assumptions of his people, his disciples struggle to understand what he means. They wrestle to reconcile his teachings with their traditions.

Jesus removes a set of impossible-to-please laws and replaces them with one principle: love. Click To Tweet

One such person asks Jesus to cite the greatest commandment in the Old Testament. Jesus’s answer is love. He says to “love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.” This stands as the greatest commandment, but then he adds one more. He says to “love others as much as we love ourselves” (Matthew 22:36-40). These two simple principles summarize the purpose and intent of the entire Old Testament Law and the writings of the prophets.

Jesus removes a set of impossible-to-please laws and replaces them with one principle: love. This is another way Jesus fulfills the Old Testament.

May we love others because Jesus loves us.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

How Much Did Jesus Suffer When He Died for Us?

Jesus Died as the Ultimate Sacrifice So That We May Live

The Old Testament of the Bible overflows with instructions about offering sacrifices to God and how his people but them into practice. One of those sacrifices served as an annual sacrifice for the sins of the people.

The people had to repeat it each year because the sacrifice offered only partial coverage.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Jesus came as the ultimate sin sacrifice to end all sacrifices. He accomplished for all time what the Old Testament sacrifices could only cover annually.

When followers of Jesus look at his sacrifice, some celebrate him as the suffering Savior who died for our sins and others laud as the risen Savior who overcame death. Which is it? Both. Jesus died and defeated death so that we may live.

In his death as the ultimate sacrifice for all the mistakes we’ve made, Jesus suffered greatly. Each of the Bible’s four biographies about Jesus include the account of his sacrificial death: Matthew 27:32-61, Mark 15:21-47, Luke 23:26-56, and John 19:28-42.

Physical Pain

The first-century people who read these passages knew too well about the physical pain and suffering that crucified people endured. They witnessed it firsthand many times. Therefore, the writers of these accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion didn’t need to give details of the agony he endured.

The people understood it. They comprehended what Jesus underwent.

For us in the twenty-first century, we lack this firsthand understanding of the physical pain brought about by death through crucifixion. Yet a medical description of what Jesus underwent is truly horrific. But there’s more.

Emotional Pain

Beyond the physical trauma of receiving a beating beyond recognition, being nailed to a cross to suffer, and then dying, Jesus also endured emotional pain. All around him people mocked him, taunted him, and belittled him and his mission.

He worried about the future of his mother, Mary. He carried concern about his disciples wondering if they could manage without him. And when Jesus needed it most, his Father had to look away.

Spiritual Pain

Yet even more than the emotional agony and the physical trauma of his execution, Jesus endured a spiritual pain. It was most horrific.

Recall our embarrassment over the most shameful thing we’ve ever done. If you’re like me, you’d rather not. Now multiply that over a lifetime of mistakes. It’s a huge weight to shoulder. When King David considered this, he said that his guilt overwhelmed him. It was a burden he couldn’t bear (Psalm 38:4).

Now multiply one lifetime of shame times several billion people. That’s what Jesus bore when he died as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. At that one moment, the sins of everyone who ever lived and ever will live all fell on Jesus.

What an overwhelming, incomprehensible weight to bear. Yet Jesus took all of our sins, for all people, for all time and sacrificially bore them so that we wouldn’t have to.

Jesus suffered, died, and overcame death so that we may live with him forever. Thank you, Jesus.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

There’s a Time to Wait and a Time to Act

Fear Causes Saul to Make a Bad Decision

Though God chose Saul to be the first king over Israel, Saul has some character flaws that lead to his undoing. One time the Philistines come up against Saul and his army. Overwhelmed by the force opposing them, Saul’s men cower in fear.

Impatience and Fear

Samuel had told Saul to wait seven days. Then Samuel would come, offer the sacrifice, and seek God’s favor. Then Saul and his army could go into battle with confidence that God was with them.

Saul waits seven days as instructed. Samuel does not show up. Saul’s men began to desert. With dwindling numbers, Saul panics. He offers the burnt offering and fellowship offerings himself instead of waiting for Samuel.

He hopes this will keep him from losing any more men and prepare them for battle with God on their side.

Right when he finishes, Samuel shows up and chastises Saul. “It’s a foolish thing you did,” Samuel says. “You failed to keep God’s command.” As a result, Samuel declares that Saul’s reign will not endure, that God will find someone else to take his place, a man after God’s own heart.

We later learned that David is that man.

Wait or Act?

When confronted with a dire situation, Saul had two choices. He could do as instructed and wait for Samuel, trusting God with the outcome. Or he could take control of the situation and act, doing something he wasn’t supposed to do but which seemed necessary if he had any chance of success.

The logical choice was to act; the illogical choice was to wait. But God’s perspective is different than ours. Waiting would have been the right choice, while acting was the wrong choice.

Saul made the wrong choice and acted when he should’ve waited. It cost him his kingdom, his legacy, and ultimately his life.

Are we willing to trust God and wait when it seems we should act? Click To Tweet

Are we willing to trust God and wait when it seems we should act?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 11-13, and today’s post is on 1 Samuel 13:7-15.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Deuteronomy Hints at the Horror of Jesus’s Sacrifice

We Discover Parallels Between Deuteronomy and Jesus’s Death

The book of Deuteronomy, which most people skip and the rest of us skim, does contain interesting passages for us to consider. In one short section, God addresses capital punishment. Though the idea of executing people for their offenses may offend our sensibilities, don’t dismiss this passage.

Learn from its words. It gives insight into Jesus’s gift of the ultimate sacrifice.

This passage in Deuteronomy talks about executing criminals on a pole. It commands people not to leave the body hang overnight but to bury it the same day. Further it goes on to state that anyone hung on a pole is under God’s curse.

Let’s relate this to Jesus:

Jesus Died on a Pole

We don’t know the exact configuration of the cross Jesus died on, but we can understand that in simple terms, it was a pole. Jesus died on a pole, and his body hung exposed on a pole, exactly aligned with this passage in Deuteronomy. There he suffered and served as our sacrifice.

Jesus died under God’s curse to free us from the curse. Click To Tweet

Jesus Was Buried the Same Day

When Joseph of Arimathea requested Jesus’s body for burial, he likely had this Deuteronomy passage in mind: that God instructed his people not to leave an executed body hang on a pole overnight. Joseph, a righteous man, made sure that Jesus’s body didn’t suffer this final indignity.

Jesus Was Under God’s Curse

It’s hard for us to think of Jesus being under God’s curse, yet as he died on the cross, suffering the consequences for what we’ve done wrong, he was under God’s curse. He suffered God’s punishment for our wrongdoing. Paul confirms this in his letter to the Galatian church.

He tells them, and reminds us, that when Jesus became our curse, he freed us from the curse that we deserve (Galatians 3:13).

Jesus died under God’s curse to free us from the curse.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 19-21, and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 21:22-23.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Did Jesus Have Second Thoughts?

Before Jesus is captured and executed, he spends some time praying. At one point in his prayer, Jesus asks God for a reprieve—that he won’t have to die—even though that was the plan all along. But he’s quick to add an addendum, confirming he’ll do whatever his papa wants.

I wonder if Jesus is thinking about the test God gave Abraham, commanding the patriarch to kill his son Isaac. Just as Abraham is preparing to plunge the knife into his son in total obedience, God says, “Wait.” Then he provides a different sacrifice, a substitute. Isaac is spared.

I wonder if Jesus pauses, hoping that God will again say, “Wait” and provide a substitute sacrifice or a different solution. But this time God the Father doesn’t, and Jesus willingly dies as a once-and-for-all way to reunite us with Father God.

When it comes to Jesus dying instead of us and taking our punishment on himself, he doesn’t have second thoughts, but he is open to alternatives.

When John writes about Jesus, he records a different prayer. In this prayer, Jesus admits his anguish about dying, but he knows he can’t ask God to intervene. He acknowledges that dying is why he came to earth.

He will do it—and he does. Jesus dies to make us right with the Father. Though our wrongs separate us from him, Jesus takes our punishment upon himself, thereby making us right with the Father.

[Matthew 26:39-42, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42, Genesis 22:1-19, John 12:23-29]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.