We had a celebration this weekend.
My son returned home from a ten week summer mission in Chicago with CRU. Just having him home was worth a celebration, but there was more to celebrate. Deep friendships were formed, faith was tested, growth was experienced, the gospel was shared hundreds of times and twenty three people accepted Jesus as their Savior. Lives were changed forever. Sounds like some good reasons for celebration to me.
We went all out with a full Thanksgiving meal…turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn casserole and rolls.
It was fantastic, but did you know that celebration is actually a spiritual discipline that God uses to make us like Jesus?
Celebration is everywhere in the Bible. In the Old Testament, God instituted seven major feasts (check them out here) that the people of Israel would hold every year. Do you know what a feast is? It is a celebration. It is a party.
God commanded his people to celebrate. I think that is pretty cool. Keep in mind that these were no small celebrations either. Many were week long festivals full of food, drink, music, and fellowship. During the Feast of Tabernacles, they even got to camp out for the week.
A good question is “Why?”
Why did God think it so important to command these elaborate celebrations? Why are the Psalms filled with exhortations to celebrate through singing, dancing, rejoicing and giving thanks? Why does Jesus throw a great dinner party for the church when we are united to him in heaven?
Celebration matters and you should do more of it.
Spiritual disciplines can sound dry and uninviting. Who likes discipline, right? However, the reality is that they are spiritual practices that drive us to God and help us enter into the full life of Christ. You can find a list of my posts on spiritual disciplines here.
Celebration is not a practice that is often thought of in terms of spiritual disciplines. Yet, it is a practice that we have to intentionally engage in that helps us grow. That is a spiritual discipline.
Top three impacts of Celebration.
1. Celebration points you to God.
Any celebration that is rightly directed points us to God. He is the giver of every good gift. Whatever in our life is worth celebrating is because of the grace of God. Christians ought to throw the best parties because we have more to celebrate than anyone else. Celebration is a form of worship and in it, we tell God “Thank You.”
2. Celebration can change your perspective.
This world can jade us. Watch the nightly news for a week and you might think there is no hope. Pay attention to what passes for entertainment today and you might give up on humanity. There is plenty to discourage us in this world. Celebration helps us to spend some time focusing on all that is good and there is a lot of it. My eyes tend to focus on the negative in my life…all that is lacking. Celebration changes that perspective. It forces me to take inventory of all my blessings. When I do that, I see my life differently and more accurately.
3. Celebration produces joy and joy produces strength.
For some of us joy can be hard to come by. I’ve written about that here and here and here. Celebration is a direct assault on gloomy pessimism. Celebration produces joy because it does point us to God and helps us to see all that is good. If our hearts are set on God and his goodness, we cannot escape joy. The great benefit of this truth is not just the experience of joy, but the fact that joy makes us strong. When joy infuses your life, it empowers your living. That is why in the context of a great celebration Nehemiah says “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” You can check out the entire chapter here.
The bottom line is celebrate.
God is really, really good. He is worthy.
So…have Thanksgiving in August… throw a party in celebration of the good things God is doing…be quick to praise God to others… go to church and worship God with a full heart.
Regardless of the form… celebrate. It will bring God glory and it will do you good.
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