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  • The Sacrifice of Praise

    A compilation

    Audio length: 14:08
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    Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.—Hebrews 13:15

    *

    We have so much to praise God for every day, there’s great power in giving honor to Him. The Bible is filled with examples of praise and worship when we see His power released, life-changing miracles, dramatic stories of the enemy being halted or defeated, hearts being changed and drawn closer to Him.

    Yet the reality is that way too often, daily struggles or constant life demands can crowd out our praise and worship to God. … Sometimes it really is a sacrifice to offer praise. We may not feel like it. We’re struggling. We’re weary.

    Or maybe we feel like God has let us down. He may seem distant to us, like He doesn’t really care about what we’re struggling through or worrying about. Painful life blows and losses may have recently sent us spiraling. We’re still trying to get our feet on the ground and put broken pieces back together again.

    Here’s what can make a lasting difference. When we make that decision to fix our eyes on Him, and daily give Him praise, no matter what’s staring us straight in the face, we suddenly realize that God has already begun to release the grip those struggles can have over us. …

    When we feel pressed and burdened, weighed down with cares, and in despair without hope, God reminds us that He is able to provide all that we need. He promises to bring beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, and praise instead of despair.1 We can trust that He can do in us, for us, what we are never fully able to do for ourselves.

    If you feel stuck in hard places today and can’t see a way out of your current situation, God wants to fully cover you in garments of praise. He gives you a new name, and will cause His Spirit to rise up within you. … God dwells close to us when we praise Him. He lives there. He looks for it. He inhabits the praises of His people.2

    We have a choice every day in this life. We can choose to live absorbed in worry and stress, on the fast track of busy, focused only on what surrounds us, and tuned in to the roar of the world. Or we can ask God to help us take our eyes off all that may be swirling around, our problems and mess, and the voices of others. We can look up to Him, the one who holds it all together, and who holds us in His hands.

    God desires our whole heart. He waits for us to return if we’ve drifted away. He longs for us to know the power of His presence in and through our lives. He desires to bless us more than we could ever imagine. His Spirit urges us onward, calling us closer.

    May He help us to look up again today, to remember His goodness and power in our lives, and to offer Him worship and praise.—Debbie McDaniel3

    A worthy sacrifice

    The entire book of Hebrews is about a new way of life and a new way of worship. Previously the Jews had been burdened with fulfilling the law, but by his sacrifice and death-defeating resurrection, Christ had set them free from its impossible standards.

    Hebrews 13:15 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.”

    The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament that had once brought a pleasing fragrance to God are now replaced with the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name in spirit and in truth.4

    A sacrifice is a gift to God declaring that he is worthy, and we are not. It is also, by definition, difficult. A sacrifice hurts, it’s costly, it takes effort—and the ultimate sacrifice cost the Messiah, Jesus Christ, his life. Likewise, for us, a sacrifice of praise won’t always be easy and effortless, but difficult and costly…

    Because of Scripture, we know that we don’t just confess God’s name when it feels good, looks good, or benefits us in some way. We offer praise, as Hebrews 13:15 says, “continually.” This means without ceasing, in all circumstances. Like Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

    It is our duty to offer “the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”5 Therefore, I am learning to commit to acting out the duty of praise as the beginning of joy rather than the result of it.

    And, as this verse says, we’re able to do all this “through him.” Through Jesus, we’re able to see the great, great love of our great, great God who holds everything in the palm of his hand and bends it to his will with a word. Through Jesus, our mediator, we’re able to access the Father in order to give him due praise.6

    Nehemiah says, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”7 Through praise we enjoy God—imagine that! Praise focuses us on where our joy comes from and where our gaze should be, and the result is our strength! Whether through prayer, meditation on God’s Word, thanksgiving, or praise, we can lift tired hands even when it’s hard—especially when it’s hard—and say, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD!”8Amy Dunham9

    A heart of praise

    When I was a kid, I recollect feeling gratitude or thankfulness for things that gave me immediate gratification. If I got something I wanted that made me happy, I was glad. If not, I wasn’t. It was pretty simple; I was grateful for good things. The scripture “Be thankful in all circumstances”10 is something I am still learning to apply in my life. Expressing gratitude when things happen that I don’t want, when I’m disappointed or down, does not come naturally at all.

    However, in life we are going to experience hardships and difficulties and downright bad days, regardless of who we are or what we believe. That’s the nature of life. But the beauty of having belief and faith in God is that while God doesn’t always rescue us from the problems, He does always give us the strength to face them, tackle them, and overcome them through our faith. The apostle Paul was a terrific example of having gratitude and giving praise to God in the face of extreme hardship and adversity.

    Here are some of the highlights of the difficulties Paul experienced, documented in the book of Acts:

    • Paul and Barnabas were persecuted and expelled from Antioch (Acts 13:14–50)
    • Paul was stoned in Lystra (Acts 14:19–20)
    • Paul and Silas were imprisoned in Philippi (Acts 16:23–39)
    • There was an insurrection against Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:12)
    • Paul was attacked by a mob in the temple of Jerusalem and was taken to prison (Acts 21:26–22:23)
    • There was a conspiracy against Paul’s life (Acts 23:12–13)
    • Paul spent two years in prison at Caesarea (Acts 23:23; 24:26–27)
    • Paul was shipwrecked and bitten by a snake on Malta (Acts 27 and 28)
    • Paul spent another two years as a prisoner in Rome (Acts 28:30–31)

    Yet in spite all of these challenges and suffering, Paul was still able to say: “I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am in,”11 and “Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”12

    It’s relatively easy to be grateful when life is going well and smoothly, but it’s during the times when it feels like all hell is breaking loose or we’re facing problem after problem that being grateful is the last thing we want to do, and probably the hardest thing to do as well. But if we can learn to praise God even when things are difficult, we will find that He in turn gives us strength to face and even embrace those times of trouble, trusting in the ultimate good He will bring about in them.13

    The verse that says God inhabits the praise of His people14 is a reminder that when I am grateful, I am recognizing that God dwells in me, and by His grace and strength, He gives the power to overcome anything and be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”15

    A word for praise that’s often used in Scripture is “magnify.” Psalm 34:3, for example, says, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” When you aim a magnifying glass at an object, it makes the object appear larger. It doesn’t actually change the size of the object itself, but it changes your perception of the object—it appears bigger and more prominent to you. That is a fitting illustration of what happens when we praise God. Our perception of Him and His presence in our lives expands. And when our vision is more focused on God and His power and love for us, it helps put all the little daily worries, concerns, and troubles in perspective.

    As author Melody Beattie once wrote, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”—Daveen Donnelly

    Published on Anchor May 2021. Read by Simon Peterson.
    Music by Michael Dooley.


    1 Isaiah 61:3.

    2 Psalm 22:3.

    4 Leviticus 23:18; John 4:24.

    5 Hebrews 13:15.

    6 1 Timothy 2:5.

    7 Nehemiah 8:10.

    8 Isaiah 6:3.

    10 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT.

    11 Philippians 4:11 ISV.

    12 1 Thessalonians 5:18 BSB.

    13 Romans 8:28.

    14 Psalm 22:3 KJV.

    15 Romans 8:37.

  • May 12 Take Heart, I Have Overcome the World
  • May 11 Appearance and Eternal Values
  • May 10 Relief from Pressure
  • May 5 When God Withholds Sleep
  • May 3 Why Sin and Suffering?
  • Apr 29 Encouragement in Time of Trouble
  • Apr 27 Soul Stretching
  • Apr 26 God’s Presence Throughout the Day
  • Apr 21 Anxious About Nothing
   

Directors’ Corner

News, writings and thoughts from TFI Directors

  • Jesus—His Life and Message: Washing the Disciples' Feet (Part 1)

    In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ public ministry comes to an end in chapter 12. For the most part, the next five chapters focus on His final teaching to His disciples.

    Before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.1 

    This opening verse of chapter 13 sets up the timing, showing that the events which were to transpire happened right before the Passover feast. We’re told that Jesus knew that “His hour had come,” meaning the time of His death, the time He would depart out of this world. Throughout this chapter, we read other references to Jesus knowing what was going to happen.2 He was not taken by surprise.

    Because Jesus knew that He had little time left, He put emphasis on teaching His disciples, and this continues through the next five chapters of this Gospel. In this opening statement, we’re also told something about Jesus’ relationship with those who had followed Him during His ministry. He loved His disciples all along, and He would love them to the end—an end which was drawing close.

    The next sentence is a long one and it makes up three verses, so I’ll cover it verse by verse.

    During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him ...3

    We’re not told where the supper was taking place, nor do we know exactly when it happened, only that it was sometime before the Feast of Passover. As readers, we are informed that the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus; however, this was unknown to the disciples at the time.

    Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God …4

    The Gospel writer makes the point that Jesus had command of the situation. Just as He knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world, we now read that He knew that the Father had given all things into his hands and that He was going to return to His Father. Jesus was about to take a very low place, but He knew that He was going to return to the place of the highest honor in His Father’s presence.

    ... rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.5

    Jesus got up from the table and took off His outer garments. He was likely left wearing only a loincloth, as a slave would wear. He then took a towel and wrapped it around His waist. The Greek word translated as towel refers to a linen cloth or apron which servants would put on when doing their work. This is the end of the sentence which comprises three verses.

    Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.6

    One author explains: Proper etiquette … taught that guests, begrimed from journeying through the dusty streets, should, on arrival, have their feet washed by a slave. This was a particularly humble task, included in a list of works which a Jewish slave should not be required to perform.7 Though it was a humble task, Jesus washed and dried His disciples’ feet.

    He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”8 

    It seems likely that the disciples had been silent while Jesus was washing their feet. It was only when He came to Peter that words were spoken. In a sense, Peter was speaking for all of the disciples, as he considered it inappropriate for the one whom he had earlier called the Holy One of God9 to wash his feet.

    Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”10

    It doesn’t seem that Jesus was offended at what Peter said, but He did caution him by pointing out that Peter would come to understand at a later time. This is similar to other comments found in the Gospel of John. His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.11 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.12 It may be that the afterward refers to when the disciples received the Holy Spirit, after Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

    Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”13 

    Even though Jesus had pointed out to Peter that he would later understand the significance of His actions, Peter still rejected the idea of Jesus washing his feet. Jesus’ response was blunt. Unless Peter let Jesus wash his feet, he would have no part with Him. This was similar in tone to other rather strong statements Jesus made: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”14 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”15 One author wrote: Quite simply, Jesus is telling Peter that refusing the love about to be displayed in the washing of his feet would simply prove that he was not one of Jesus’ “own who were in the world” (v. 1), but belonged instead to “the world” itself.16

    Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”17

    Having rashly stated that Jesus would never wash his feet, he now wants his head and hands washed as well. Peter seems to have been an impetuous person, one who acted quickly without much thought or care. We find another example of this in the account of Jesus’ transfiguration, when Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.18 Though impetuous, Peter’s comment about Jesus washing his hands and his head was probably sincere and it gave Jesus the opportunity to make a point to the disciples and to all who read this Gospel.

    Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”19

    Jesus pointed out that if one has bathed and afterwards goes out, such as to the feast which the disciples were presently attending, then they only need to wash their feet, as they are clean. Jesus was making the point that His disciples were clean from sin, in the sense that they were believers and had been forgiven of sin.

    The one exception was Judas Iscariot.

    He knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”20 

    Earlier in this Gospel, we are told that Jesus was aware who would betray Him. (Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)21 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.”22 Jesus didn’t name the traitor at this point, so His disciples didn’t know who it was. Before the end of the meal, He would let two of His disciples know who was going to betray Him.

    (To be continued.)


    Note

    Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


    General Bibliography

    Bailey, Kenneth E. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008.

    Biven, David. New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus. Holland: En-Gedi Resource Center, 2007.

    Bock, Darrell L. Jesus According to Scripture. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002.

    Bock, Darrell L. Luke Volume 1: 1:1–9:50. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1994.

    Bock, Darrell L. Luke Volume 2: 9:51–24:53. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1996.

    Brown, Raymond E. The Birth of the Messiah. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

    Brown, Raymond E. The Death of the Messiah. 2 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

    Carson, D. A. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1987.

    Charlesworth, James H., ed. Jesus’ Jewishness, Exploring the Place of Jesus Within Early Judaism. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997.

    Chilton, Bruce, and Craig A. Evans, eds. Authenticating the Activities of Jesus. Boston: Brill Academic, 1999.

    Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, 1993.

    Elwell, Walter A., ed. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988.

    Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough. Encountering the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.

    Evans, Craig A. World Biblical Commentary: Mark 8:27–16:20. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000.

    Evans, Craig A., and N. T. Wright. Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.

    Flusser, David. Jesus. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1998.

    Flusser, David, and R. Steven Notely. The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus’ Genius. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.

    France, R. T. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.

    Gnilka, Joachim. Jesus of Nazareth: Message and History. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.

    Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997.

    Green, Joel B., and Scot McKnight, eds. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

    Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

    Guelich, Robert A. World Biblical Commentary: Mark 1–8:26. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1989.

    Jeremias, Joachim. The Eucharistic Words of Jesus. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990.

    Jeremias, Joachim. Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1996.

    Jeremias, Joachim. Jesus and the Message of the New Testament. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002.

    Jeremias, Joachim. New Testament Theology. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971.

    Jeremias, Joachim. The Prayers of Jesus. Norwich: SCM Press, 1977.

    Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume 1. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003.

    Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume 2. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003.

    Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009.

    Lewis, Gordon R., and Bruce A. Demarest. Integrative Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

    Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976.

    Manson, T. W. The Sayings of Jesus. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957.

    Manson, T. W. The Teaching of Jesus. Cambridge: University Press, 1967.

    McKnight, Scot. Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

    Michaels, J. Ramsey. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.

    Milne, Bruce. The Message of John. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

    Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.

    Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to Matthew. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992.

    Morris, Leon. Luke. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

    Ott, Ludwig. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1960.

    Pentecost, J. Dwight. The Words & Works of Jesus Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981.

    Sanders, E. P. Jesus and Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.

    Sheen, Fulton J. Life of Christ. New York: Doubleday, 1958.

    Spangler, Ann, and Lois Tverberg. Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.

    Stassen, Glen H., and David P. Gushee. Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2003.

    Stein, Robert H. Jesus the Messiah. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

    Stein, Robert H. Mark. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008.

    Stein, Robert H. The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teachings. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994.

    Stein, Robert H. The New American Commentary: Luke. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1992.

    Stott, John R. W. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978.

    Talbert, Charles H. Reading the Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004.

    Williams, J. Rodman. Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

    Witherington, Ben, III. The Christology of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990.

    Witherington, Ben, III. The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001.

    Wood, D. R. W., I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman, eds. New Bible Dictionary. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

    Wright, N. T. After You Believe. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2010.

    Wright, N. T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

    Wright, N. T. Matthew for Everyone, Part 1. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.

    Wright, N. T. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.

    Yancey, Philip. The Jesus I Never Knew. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.

    Young, Brad H. Jesus the Jewish Theologian. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1995.


    1 John 13:1.

    2 John 13:3, 11.

    3 John 13:2.

    4 John 13:3.

    5 John 13:4.

    6 John 13:5.

    7 Milne, The Message of John, 197.

    8 John 13:6.

    9 John 6:68–69.

    10 John 13:7.

    11 John 12:16.

    12 John 2:22.

    13 John 13:8.

    14 John 3:5.

    15 John 6:53.

    16 Michaels, The Gospel of John, 729.

    17 John 13:9.

    18 Mark 9:5–6, Matthew 17:4, Luke 9:33.

    19 John 13:10.

    20 John 13:11.

    21 John 6:64.

    22 John 6:70.

     

  • May 11 Signs of the Times and Current Events
  • May 4 Jesus—His Life and Message: The Passover
  • Apr 20 Jesus—His Life and Message: Moving Toward His Passion and Death
  • Apr 13 Jesus—His Life and Message: The End of His Public Ministry
  • Apr 10 The Way He Sees You
  • Apr 6 Jesus—His Life and Message: The Greeks
  • Mar 30 Easter Meditations
  • Mar 23 Jesus—His Life and Message: Final Judgment by the Son of Man
  • Mar 16 Jesus—His Life and Message: The Coming of the Son of Man (Part 2)
   

Beliefs

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  • Our fundamental beliefs are generally in accordance with those held by Christians the world over; we also embrace some untraditional doctrines. Our application of the foundation principle of God’s Law of Love that Jesus taught—to love God, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, which He said fulfills “all the law and the prophets”—is a defining feature of our lives and our faith.

Mission

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  • The primary goal of the Family International is to improve the quality of life of others by sharing the life-giving message of love, hope, and salvation found in God’s Word. We believe that God's love—applied on a practical level to our daily lives—is the key to resolving many of society's problems, even in the complex and fast-paced world of today. Through imparting the hope and guidance found in the Bible’s teachings, we believe that we can work toward building a better world—changing the world, one heart at a time.

Values

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  • Passion for God

    We love God with our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. We seek a close personal relationship with Jesus, and to grow in emulating His attributes and living His love.

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Jesus—His Life and Message
Bedrock principles from the Gospels on which to build our lives.
Living Christianity
Applying the teachings of the Bible to our daily lives and decisions.
More Like Jesus
The development of Christlikeness in our lives.
Life Balance Check
Cultivating and nurturing a healthy, balanced life.