Monday, November 24, 2008

The Sacrifice of Praise

Eastern Ohio ranks as one of the hardest hit areas of the country right now. With factories and businesses closing at every turn, the population is declining at a rate of 20% in cities like Warren and Youngstown. Every Sunday, as my husband and I visit different churches across our district, we hear more bad news in terms of the local economy or job market. And yet, as we gathered yesterday to worship with fellow believers in urban Youngstown and rural Caldwell, the focus centered on the many blessings God has poured out on our lives.

Yes, there will always be plenty of bad news to lament if we choose to dwell on the negative. Sometimes, praise and thanksgiving is more a matter of will and a determined choice than a natural, overflowing expression of the heart. In those days when a grateful heart and positive attitude prove to be challenges, I think of the scriptural exortation to offer to the Lord a "sacrifice of praise."

Sometimes offering expressions of praise and gratitude can seem like real work--a sacrifice. And yet, whether I find myself struggling through lean days or basking in plenty, I pray I will daily live a life of gratitude.

Just one of the countless blessings in my life is my job. How I thank the Lord for allowing me the privilege and joy of working for Barbour Publishing! I still can't believe I actually get paid for doing all those book-making things I love most.

I suppose I should be thinking of ways to make this blog post writing related, but I'm not feeling very creative today. My head is filled with stuffing recipes and shopping lists. So if you want this to be writing related, you'll have to make it so by adding your own in the comment section. :-)

With a thankful heart. . .Susan




"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Hebrews 13: 15-16, NIV

6 comments:

NancyMehl said...

Susan,

I agree with you.

I'm blessed to be associated with Barbour - and you. If I'd tried to imagine my idea of the perfect editor - she still wouldn't be as wonderful as you are.

Thank you for being such a blessing in my life.

Nancy

Lynette Sowell said...

The best outcome of tough times is that we're forced to rely on each other--and God--more. Ideally that's what should happen.

I had a thankful moment on Saturday when I went to Barnes & Noble. It's a book lover's paradise, and I told my husband that this is not a place you should rush through, but wander from stack to stack. I think their prices are high, compared to other bookstores (like on-line places), but like I told my husband, when you shop at B&N it's for the experience more than anything else. I realized I am SO THANKFUL that God created words, and made us creative to use them is so many different ways. :)

Mary Connealy said...

Well, since your blog post isn't writing related, I won't make mine either.

I went to a funeral today and the pastor said something that, well, it was just said differently than I'd ever heard it before and I liked it. I found comfort in it.

He said, (I'm paraphrasing and hope I do him justice) That while we rejoice in a soul going on to eternal life, it's always a time of sorrow, too.
It was a clear choice by God to share a soul with this world for a time. But we need to know the end of life is natural and it's also intentional.

I just liked the sound of that. It seemed like I thought of death in a new way. Or felt a fresh understanding of something I know and already understand.

I don't feel like I've put it right, but the INTENTIONAL step of death, a choice God clearly made for his children, was encouraging to me somehow.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Cathy S. said...

Susan,

I'm thankful for your wonderful previous posts on writing and grateful for this one and others, such as the one on your new grandbaby, which have nothing to do with writing. It shows you have a life outside of the written page and I like you better for it.

Mary,

Thank you for whatever motivated you to share the message of this funeral sermon. It spoke to my heart as I still struggle with the loss of my dad over a year ago.

Rachel Overton said...

Susan!

You were in my neighborhood! And, yes, things can be scary around here. Seems every day someone else has been laid off or they went in to work, only to find the doors locked and no more work to go to. My husband is down to four days a week. They're closing the factory between Christmas and New Year's (unheard of where he works!), and we're just praying they'll open it again January 2.

But we know God is in control, and somehow, even though things are dark, somehow we're not worried. We were just talking about that on Sunday, and it was funny because we were thinking the same way and hadn't said it aloud before.

So...we're looking forward to Thursday and the coming holidays with anticipation of family and time together and good memories. God is good, and we are blessed no matter what.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Mary Connealy said...

Cathy S. I remember when my dad was dying he failed very slowly, from ever spreading cancer for a long, long time. He got so weak, he even fainted and was in and out of a wheel chair toward the end.

I used to pray for his healing, and I found great comfort in Isaiah 40:31.

But they that wait upon the LORD
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as EAGLES they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Well, my father's strength was not renewed and he finally died from the cancer. About a year after he died, I was thinking of this verse, which is probably my very favorite. And for the first time, I could picture my father in heaven. And I saw him as young again, healthy, he loved baseball and I could see him going up for a high fly ball.

I realized then, that indeed my father had waited upon the Lord, as has I...and now, in heaven, God had renewed his strength. Dad had been lifted up on wings like eagles to a place where he could run and not be weary, walk and not faint.