THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE by Lyn Leahz

child praising God

Suzanne woke up abruptly and glared at the clock, desperately trying to focus her tired eyes as she rubbed at them incessantly.  “Oh my!  I’m late!”

With that, she jumped up out of bed just as quickly as she could, nearly losing her balance in the process.  She only had twenty minutes to get herself ready and out the door.  Thoughts raced through her head.  “I have the big meeting today with the District Manager from out of town!  There’re going to be a ton of people present, and I have to stand before them and talk!  I’m going to look awful!”

She raced around grabbing this, and grabbing that, doing her makeup on the way to work as she drove.  It was just  her luck that she hit every red light there was, and every obstacle that could present itself stepped into her path.  She was behind slow drivers, had to stop and wait on pedestrians to cross her path, traffic was extra heavy—her heart was racing as fast as a Nascar racing champion on his way to the finish line.

She was only one block away with only one minute to spare when she noticed flashing lights behind her.  She slammed her fist against the wheel, mustering up every ounce of energy she had to hold back the tears of frustration that were welling up behind her crystal green eyes.  “Great!  What now?”  She muttered to herself aloud.

She rolled down her window as a uniformed police officer appeared.  “Good morning, ma’am.”  Good morning she thought?  Ha!

“Actually officer, with all due respect, not a very good morning at all.  Why are you pulling me over?”  She asked, frustration written all over her face.

“I need to see your drivers’ license and proof of insurance.”  As she tore through her purse, the officer proceeded to explain that she had a break light burned out.

She squealed her tires pulling into the parking lot, ran through the doors, and gasped as she noticed her boss glancing at his watch.  “I’m so sorry, it won’t happen again.  I overslept, got pulled over by a cop because I have a break light out; it’s been one of those mornings!”  She exclaimed.

He had no sympathy at all as  he coldly replied, “The meeting’s in ten minutes.”  He shook his head back and forth in disgust as he glanced down, finishing up something he was working on.

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Do you ever have days like Suzanne’s?  No matter how hard you try, everything seems to go wrong that possibly could, and not a single soul has any sympathy at all for your situation?  All you are is a name and a number, not a person?  The bills are weighing you down, you and your spouse are at odds, the kids aren’t listening, the spouse is cheating, the kids are sick, you’re sick, you’ve lost another job, the car needs repaired and you don’t have the  money, one more mess up and you’re fired?  What do you do when your world is turned upside down?

We’re going to use Suzanne, but we’re going to do this a little differently.  We’re going to first witness Suzanne’s wrong approach, and then we’re going to see Suzanne’s approach Jehovah’s way.

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Suzanne tromped into her office, tossing her purse across the room as she closed the door firmly shut behind her.  As she plopped down in her chair, she dropped her head down and began to cry.  “Lord, why do you punish me so?  What have I done wrong that my life is always in such turmoil?  Nothing ever goes right for me!”  She was quick to regain her composure when a knock came at her door.

As fast as she could, she blotted her eyes and sniffled, clearing her throat at the same time.  “Come in.”

It was Sarah, her boss’s assistant; she was cool and reserved.  “Sam’s calling off tomorrow, so you’re going to have to fill in for her.  I understand it was your day off, but we’ll have to arrange something for a later time; this upcoming week is going to be too busy.”

She nodded her head in agreement; after all, what could she say?  Nothing.  Who cares that she had plans with her kids, and that she’d promised them no matter what, it would happen.  Once again, she’d have to let them down.  Sarah closed the door.   Suzanne needed to gather her things for the meeting anyway, it was about to begin.

It had been such a long and horrible day she decided to stop and pick up a pack of cigarettes.  She’d quit smoking a little over a month ago, but a cigarette was sounding so good.  As she pulled up in the drive thru, she was eyeing a bottle of wine that was on sale…fine wine!  She decided to buy it too; it couldn’t hurt.  Get drunk and smoke some cigarettes.  The pain would disappear as she numbed herself, drowning herself in worldly pleasures.  She’d tried to do it God’s way, and she’d tried really hard, but it was just too much.  Where was God when she needed Him?  Where were His promises of crying out to Him, and He’d be there?  Where were all of His promises of comfort and love?  Nowhere.  As far as she was concerned, God must’ve been out to lunch, or maybe she was just on his “Do not disturb” list.

Meanwhile, the heavenly Father looked down on Suzanne with sadness.  She just couldn’t see through the deception of the enemy, Satan.  She couldn’t see that these were simply tests of the enemy in order to pull her back, and that if she stood against the enemy’s test, He would help her!  She couldn’t see that it was through these constant tests of the enemy that she gained strength spiritually in Christ, and against the enemy.  While God never tested people, He allowed them to be tested from time to time in order to mold them into warriors.

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We see here Suzanne’s reaction was a negative one.  We see clearly how the enemy worked to compound her problems until he chiseled away at her emotionally and cut right into the very marrow of her bones until she finally broke and gave in.  Is this you?  Is it me?  Is it someone you know?  Does the enemy come in and dig until there’s nothing left?  To the point we cry out, “God!  Hello, God!  Where are You?  Are You seeing this?  Do You even care?”  And then we allow ourselves to be lured into areas of our lives we’re not proud of.

Now, let’s tell the same story, but this time, let’s reveal what’s really going on, and what Suzanne should’ve done.

________________________________________________

Suzanne tromped into her office, tossing her purse across the room as she closed the door firmly shut behind her. As she plopped down in her chair, she dropped her head down, wanting nothing more than to cry; but she didn’t, even though a few little tears did escape.  “Lord, I know my enemy is testing me!  I pray for strength, in the name of Jesus, right now, against the things that are coming against me!” She was quick to regain her composure when a knock came at her door.

As fast as she could, she blotted her eyes and sniffled, clearing her throat at the same time. “Come in.”

It was Sarah, her boss’s assistant; she was cool and reserved. “Sam’s calling off tomorrow, so you’re going to have to fill in for her. I understand it was your day off, but we’ll have to arrange something for a later time; this upcoming week is going to be too busy.”

She nodded her head in agreement; after all, what could she say? Nothing.  She had plans with her kids, and she’d promised them no matter what, it would happen. But she knew all too well that for whatever reason, God had a different plan.  Maybe she’d have an opportunity to minister to someone in need, or maybe something would have happened the next day to she and her kids, and God was protecting them by not allowing the outing she’d planned.   Sarah closed the door. Suzanne needed to gather her things for the meeting anyway, it was about to begin.

She took a brief moment to give thanks to her heavenly Father.  “Father God, in the name of Your precious Son, Jesus, I don’t know what your plan is.  I’m struggling on the inside, but I’m believing that Your hand is upon me always, moving in my life for good reasons.  Your plan is the perfect plan, Lord, and I don’t want anything in my life to happen that is outside of Your will.  Praise You, heavenly Father, for moving in my life today.   You may’ve saved me from an accident this morning by my oversleeping, traffic jams, and the situation with the police officer.  I do not know, but You know Lord; and I’m going to trust that You did something wonderful for me today, despite how it appears.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.  Amen!”

As she drove home from work, a thought came to her mind.  “A cigarette sure sounds good!”  She pulled over at the drive thru to get herself something cold to drink; the day had been long and tiresome.  As she sat in the line of cars awaiting her turn, she noticed an expensive wine on sale, as well as the cigarettes she’d smoked over a month prior.  A thought crept into her mind once again.

“I could have those cigarettes and that wine, just for tonight.  What could it hurt?  It doesn’t mean I’ve gone back to smoking, and a little wine couldn’t hurt anything.  After all, it would go good with that leftover Italian dish I made the other night.”  As soon as it happened, she spoke aloud to the enemy filling her  mind with deceitful temptations.  “In the name of Jesus you foul unclean spirit, it is written, greater is He who is in me, than he who is in this world!  Get behind me devil, in Jesus name!”

She took a deep breath, wondering why she’d thought such a thing to begin with.  One bad day wasn’t worth going back to an entire life of hell.  As she drove home, she gave God glory and praise for being with her, and for some reason, she felt even stronger and more joyous than she had the day before.

_______________________________________________

We always seem to know what to do, but when we’re in the eye of the storm, we lose all sense of care and we become despondent, quickly forgetting everything we’ve learned.  The question is, are we living in the flesh?  Or are we living in the light of the Holy Spirit?  The light of the Holy Spirit promises God’s deliverance, and promises that everything works out for the good for those who love the Lord.  (And we know that in all things God works for the goodof those who love him, who have been calledaccording to his purpose—Romans 8:28)  Jesus told us to live and dwell ‘in’ Him.  In Him means to trust Him, and it means to let go of how things appear; carry our cross (or our burden) and then lay it down at the feet of Jesus Christ, who will then take our hand and say to us, “You were never alone; I carried this burden for you; do you remember as I trudged down the path, beaten, bleeding, and bruised senseless, with the weight of the sin of the world upon my shoulders?  Do you remember that  it was I they spat upon, instead of you?  Do you remember that it was these hands,”  He holds out his hands to show you the scars, “that had nails heartlessly drilled through them instead of yours?  Do you remember that it was My blood that was shed for the sin of the world instead of yours?”

You glance up at Him nodding your head, unsure what to say; feeling as if all of your problems are now minimal compared to His suffering.  So you say nothing as He stares lovingly and meaningfully into your eyes.   “Yes, My little child; all this, I did for you….”

Living outside of Him means to  live in the flesh; and it is a very selfish and lonely place.  Living in the flesh is all about Me…Me….and more Me.  It’s about what I feel, what I see, what I get out of it, what’s going to happen to me, what they will say or think about me, what they’ll do to me, what I will miss out on if I sacrifice my evening, or day, for someone else, what I will miss out on if I sacrifice something I want to do for the Lord, the extra sleep I will miss out on if I get out of bed early to go to church, the suffering I will go through if I give up that addiction (food, pornography, lust, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, self, etc.)  It’s all about me.

Well, I’m sorry to say, it’s not all about you, or me.  It’s about Jesus, and what He did for you.  It’s about Jesus, and where we’ll spend eternity.  It’s about Jesus, and that very moment when we will have to stand before God Almighty in judgment for all of the things we did, and did not do…including passing up that person who needed help, or passing up that person who died and went to hell because you didn’t witness to them; you were too busy, or too embarrassed….or too ashamed of the gospel of Christ; and He will be ashamed of you.  And the people you passed up, they may’ve still gone to hell regardless; but their blood was wiped clean from your hands because  you did your duty.

Shall we waste one more day in this life of selfishness, disobedience, and sin?  When will it be too late?  How do you know you’re not just one heartbeat away from eternity?  How do you know your husband, your wife, your friend, your work acquaintance, that person you don’t get along with, your child who may very well have reached the age of accountability, the mail man, that woman or man who waits on you every time you stop off on the way home to get groceries or gas, or that kid who bags your groceries; how do you know that this very moment might be the last time you ever see them?  How do you know they’re not one heartbeat away from their eternity?  Once it is done, it’s too late.  There is no going back, no second chances…and you live, or don’t live, with that regret.

I can’t say enough, for all of us, myself included here…now is the time…not tomorrow, not day after tomorrow, not next week or even next year, but now.  Stop living for yourself, and start living for the One who made you, and for the One who died for you; start living your life the way He meant for you to live it, and then things will start making sense.  If you give it time, because you will be tempted and beaten up spiritually in the process, just as Suzanne was, you will come out a victor in all of your battles.



Categories: Christian Living, Evangelizing the Lost, Forgiveness, God's Lovingkindness, God's Wrath, Love, Praise and Worship, Spiritual Warfare

2 replies

  1. Very Good Lyn thought provoking even seasoned Christians have thoughts of dispare I like how you ended on a positive note keep it up I haven’t read a whole yet but talk about how when you praise him in a middle of a trial like in 1 Chronicle chapter 20 you set ambushes up against your enemies and you stay with it till the battle is won and how you get the spoils of war and how we have to guard our minds and constantly do what Philippians 4:8 says. Your doing great love ya

"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 God's call to the world! Are you ready?

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