Hebrews 13:15 AMP - Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.
Prophecy is not simply a revelation of the future; Prophecy is to speak forth “the Heart and Mind of the Eternal God” into this Veil of Time and Space. It is the “deep” of God’s Heart penetrating the “deep” of our Vessel of Clay, and being declared back to the Throne of God, piercing the Darkness and DECLARING the Honor of Christ in this Age of Rebellion and Fear. It is to hear of the Eternal, declaring those words into the Temporal, and impacting the Spiritual. In this sense, the Sacrifice of Praise is a uniquely Prophetic Utterance and Declaration!
The Sacrifice of Praise is a PROPHETIC, and POWERFUL flow of worship that is beyond the limits or range of thought, of categories, or even of experiences. It is when the Spirit reveals to us the great love and mercy of God in a way that transcends our circumstances in such a way that simply causes our own Hearts to cry out:
Psalm 57:11 NIV – Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
BE EXALTED O GOD, ABOVE THE HEAVENS! LET YOUR GLORY BE OVER ALL THE EARTH! This is transcendent and transformational worship, but it is also very COSTLY. Yes, Jesus paid everything for our redemption, but this is a Fallen World and the Sacrifice of Praise is when we find ourselves at the intersection of Eternity and Calamity, of Glory and Suffering, when Life is Bitter and not Sweet, in that moment, the Spirit of God comes near and asks: “Will You Worship, will you believe, do you love me?”
These are not the Grand questions of Philosophical Theology or the beautiful Angelic strands of music sung by a Choir, nor are these the glorious declarations of a Congregation in Triumphant Song on Easter Sunday. Oh no, Beloved, this is the heart-felt, gut wrenching, moments of Sacrifice…AND IT IS PERSONAL. No one can offer this sacrifice for you. No one can sing this song for you. No Choir member can sing your part. No orchestra can drown out your tears. This is YOUR SACRIFICE… YOUR GIFT… The Fruit of YOUR Lips. It is uniquely Yours, uniquely transformational, and it is profoundly PERSONAL.
Matthew 28:19 NIV78 – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
This morning we have the privilege of witnessing the wonderful expression of the great Love of Christ that is seen in Water Baptism. As Believers, we are Children of God and citizens of His Kingdom, living our lives as visible representatives of His invisible Grace in this Arena of Conflict. Today, we are blessed to share with those who are walking in the power of the Love of Christ that is witnessed when a precious human soul enters the waters of baptism.
Water Baptism is one of the most common practices in the whole tradition of Christianity. It is not merely a religious ritual, but rather a powerful identification of the Believer with the Grace of God expressed through our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only did our Lord Jesus command us to baptize those who repent and come to Him for salvation…but He Himself was also baptized (Luke 3:21-22).
This ceremony is a practice of the Church that applies to every member of the Body of Christ. In the same way, that every Believer is invited to the Table of the Lord, so too, every Believer is commanded to follow the Lord in Water Baptism. It is so important that we consider it an Ordinance of the Church, signifying simply "that which is ordered or commanded." In Christian usage, it refers to a divinely instituted rite, which conveys truth through its symbolism. Essentially, there are three distinguishing marks that characterize a New Testament ordinance:
• Instituted by Christ.
• Taught by the apostles.
• Practiced by the early church.
Therefore, we understand an Ordinance of the Church to be a command to be obeyed, and to serve as a representation of the Work, Favor, and Grace of the Lord Almighty manifested in Christ Jesus. An ordinance is a visible enactment of the Gospel message and the mighty work of Christ within His Body, both collectively and as individuals.
For example, you and I individually take the elements of Communion, but we are all together at the Lord’s Table. Individuals will be baptized in water today, but most of us have followed the Lord in baptism, and we will all witness it this morning…collectively sharing in this Grace.
Hebrews 13:8 & 15 NIV - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever… 15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise…
The Writer of the Book of Hebrews points to Jesus as the Ultimate One. He is greater than Abraham and the Patriarchs, greater than Moses the Lawgiver, greater than Joshua the Warrior, or David the King, or Solomon the Wise, or one of the prophets. Christ is greater than the Priesthood of Aaron; He is greater than the most righteous of the saints, and greater than the most powerful of angels. He is the Great mediatorial HIGH PRIEST and the SACRIFICE. He is the Lord Jesus Christ, who not only mediates the New Covenant, but also secured it with the shedding of His own blood. He sacrificed his life for us in order to draw Humanity near to the Father. Therefore, since Jesus offered all of the Sacrifices Himself: Sin, Atonement, Consecration, Sanctification, Devotion, Fellowship…everything, there remains only ONE Sacrifice left for us to offer: THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE.
The Sacrifice of Praise is a PROPHETIC, and POWERFUL flow of worship that is beyond the limits or range of thought, of categories, or even of experiences. It is when the Spirit reveals to us the great love and mercy of God in a way that transcends our circumstances and causes our own Hearts to cry out:
Psalm 57:11 NIV – Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.
“BE EXALTED O GOD, ABOVE THE HEAVENS!” This is true worship: transcendent and transformational! The Sacrifice of Praise is catalytic because it is only offered through Jesus. Therefore, it is the same creative, sustaining, and powerful flow of the Word of God that is alive, vibrant, and active in the earth right now. Even when your Life is barren, broken, and marred…even when you feel bound and imprisoned, you can still DECLARE the POWERFUL Word of the Lord within the Sacrifice of Praise! This is Paul and Silas “singing hymns” in a Philippian Jail cell. This is Job having lost everything, and yet boldly declaring: “I know that My Redeemer Lives!”
Beloved, there IS power in the Name of Jesus, but it is not given as a “tag line” for our prayers or some sort of Religious “Branding.” The name of Jesus is Given that we may Personally Know and Prophetically Release in worship THE WORD of God in the fullness of His POWER, for the Glory of the Father!
Every day is the Lord’s Day. Every Sunday is a day that we celebrate that our Lord is risen from the Grave. Yet on one specific day, one exclusive Sunday, today, we give particular attention to the wonderful Good News: Jesus lived; Jesus died; and yes, Jesus lives!
Have you ever noticed that the LORD is an Early Riser? Throughout the Scriptures, Jesus did things early in the morning. He prayed early, he walked on the water in the “last watch,” just before Dawn. Even after his resurrection, He made breakfast for his disciples early in the morning. Maybe there is something to this? Maybe there is a reason that the Bible speaks of the importance of Dawn, both metaphorically and literally?
Consider that Humanity has always been somewhat afraid of the Dark and especially the NIGHT; and for good reason. In the time before sidewalks, streetlights, the ambient glow of the city, security lights, night-lights, and flashlights…it was dark, truly dark. In the darkness sometimes lurked predatory animals, venomous snakes, men intent on malice, and even the most paralyzing of fears: the unknown. Darkness limits our sight, makes us more vulnerable to Danger, and exacerbates the uncertainties that we already have about life.
Now, try to imagine just how dark it must have been for the Followers of Jesus in those days and nights between Gethsemane, Golgotha, and that Sunday Morning. There were dangers lurking in the night: Soldiers who would arrest them or worse. Vigilantes and the mob, who would stamp out this small group of troublemakers, and the internal disappointment, doubt, and despair that the One in whom they had placed their hopes was ruthlessly and brutally killed and his body was now in a cold, dark tomb.
What about you, Beloved, have you experienced the Darkness of the Night…the Terror of the Unknown…the cruelty of The Predator? Everyone does, THE NIGHT comes to all; and if you haven’t walked through it yet, then you haven’t really lived life. Because this is not Hell, the Place of Utter Darkness and it is not Heaven, the Place without Night…this is a Fallen World and we have both DAY AND NIGHT. Life Happens to Everyone, thus we all must walk through The Night.
Why didn’t Jesus rise from the Grave at Noon or Two in the afternoon? Why didn’t He rise just before dinner? Why was it “in the morning”? Because it had to be…He had to END the NIGHT: not just Saturday night, not just the agony of the Disciples, not just the terrors of that horrible weekend. But He arose to END YOUR Nights and Mine, to end all the Darkness and allow the Dawn to break forth. On that first Easter Sunday, it was THE DAY that changed everything: the World, Hell, and yes, even Heaven! Everything that happened before was NIGHT, but now the DAY was DAWNING…Because Jesus arose! Therefore, it had to be in the morning!
Matthew 28:1 NLT - Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning…
Dr. Tobey Montgomery