From Today’s Episode:
Welcome! We’re in our Unconventional Gratitude Series and today’s topic is Sacrifice of Thanksgiving.
2 Samuel 24; Heb 13:15,16; 1 Sam 16:7; 2 Cor 9:7,8
God, what's a way I can offer you a scrifice of thanksgiving today? What does that sacrifice look like for me today?
Here’s the episode transcript
Welcome friends. And if you're listening to this episode on the day that it first releases, Happy Thanksgiving! Today we celebrate this holiday in America, but every day offers great opportunities to practice gratitude!
Today we also conclude our series on Unconventional Gratitude, and I hope that you have found it as helpful as I have to cultivate thanksgiving in your life. I’ve been going back and listening to these episodes along with you, and using these questions to have fresh new conversations with God. He truly is ‘God with us’ and we will be talking with him more about that as our hard and holy advent series begins next week. But first, today’s focus is on offering a sacrifice of thanks.
The Old Testament often describes animal sacrifices that the Israelites made to God. In one such record in 2 Samuel 24, King David is going to build an altar and make a sacrifice to God on the land of Araunah the Jebusite. I’ll share a few details of that story here because we’ll reference it later. In short, David offers to buy the threshing floor in order to build the altar but Araunah wants to give it to him instead, along with the oxen for the offering and the supplies for the fire. But King David refuses, saying that he would not give offerings to God that cost him nothing.
As people of the New Covenant under Christ, we no longer practice animal sacrifices. Christ’s death was the ultimate expression of God’s love for us and he offered atonement for our sins once and for all. So what significance does offering sacrifices of thanks have for us as believers? In Hebrews 13:15,16 it says, "Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God."
Today offers you opportunities to give sacrifices of thanks to God that cost you something. Maybe you're up hours early, preparing food. You could be traveling, interacting with strangers and facing travel inconveniences. Or maybe today gives you a multitude of chances to extend grace and kindness to people in inconsiderate conversations. Today you get to use your words and share what you have in all kinds of ways. Offer these as sacrifices to the Lord with gratitude, especially when they cost you something.
I’m reminded of an old story I heard once from Pastor Jack Hayford. I’m retelling it from memory, but the story goes something like this. Pastor Jack was visiting and guest speaking at a church when they made a spontaneous offering. He pulled out his wallet to participate and inside he saw a $5 bill and a $50 bill. Knowing he was going out to dinner after the service, he pulled out the five and put it in the offering basket as it passed by. Later at dinner that night, he goes to pay for the bill and again opens his wallet, where he is surprised to see only a $5 bill inside. At this point he says internally to God, “oh no, Lord, I meant to give the $5, and I gave the $50 instead.” To which God replied, “Don’t worry Jack, I know. I only saw it as a $5.”
I share this story here as a humorous and relatable illustration of how God looks at our hearts. The posture of our hearts matters to him and the Bible is full of references where he tells us so. Like 1 Samuel 16:7 where it says, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
I don’t know what your day holds today. But I do know that you will have opportunities to offer God sacrifices of thanks that cost you something. The same outward actions can be a $5 offering or a $50 offering depending on the posture of our hearts. The same activity can be a typical response, or become a sacrifice of gratitude. I also know that God multiplies the return on acts of generosity. Reading from 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 in the New Living Translation:
“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully. And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”
As you consider this, you may already have actions, attitudes, and circumstances that could be offerings of sacrifice to God. But before you decide, and also as you go throughout the day, let’s ask him to see what he would say to us. Maybe the gratitude he’d like from you today comes in a different form than the one you thought of. It truly could be unconventional. God, what's a way I can offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving today? And here’s a great follow up question: What does that sacrifice of thanks look like for me today? God may surprise you.
Have a good talk!
And if you’ve been encouraged by this content, please share it with a friend and help them grow in their conversational relationship with God too!
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