Broken Lives and Reformed People: Celebrate
Did you celebrate Groundhog Day this past Tuesday? It seems that there is some disagreement between all of the celebrated rodents, while some claim that spring is to arrive early, others claim that winter would last for another 6 more weeks. The most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, predicted an early spring. But it seems that may be in question as he apparently tried to escape from the crowd but was quickly retrieved and his handlers declared an early spring as there was no shadow to be cast. It doesn’t really matter whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not spring will eventually come, how we wait upon its arrival is up to us.
The winters of our life don’t have to affect our attitude and we can choose to celebrate with joy in the grand experience of the today. There are many seasons of life that we go through but we have to learn to live our life through faith for it is there we can find the laughter. It is through faith that we know the springs and summers of life will arrive. The little boy was sad as the beautiful sun finally laid to rest. He exclaimed, ”The night stole the sun!” His grandfather though comforted him by saying, ”The sun is not gone, it is just out of our sight.” Sometimes the springs and summers of our life are just out of our sight which is why it is important that we develop an attitude of joy through faith.
What is stealing your ability to celebrate life? I read recently that the stealing thief of joy for a lot of us is hurry and worry. They often arrive as a twin set and work together as worry makes us hurry while hurry makes us worry. There is a better way though as it isÂ said that the surest steps toward happiness is to the church. It is through faith that we must choose joy. Joy does not come easy though as you must pursue it and then celebrate it. Joy is not so much an experience as it is how our heartÂ shapesÂ to view the world and all that it may toss to us. The Bible though consistently tells us how to celebrate with joy. It clearly tells us that we will find joy with God and this is where the celebration begins.
This week our focus verse finds us in Nehemiah 8:10 with broken and dejected people who are sadÂ that they have allowed themselves to become so separated from God that they were not obeying the set law. ButÂ Nehemiah tells them toÂ choose joy instead of sadness, for it is a time to celebrate. They celebrate not what they did or allowed to occur but because they realized their mistakes and turned their focus back to God. We all make mistakes but we can’t allow the mistakes of our past to control our future. We must choose to celebrate with joy that we are righting ourselves with God. It is through the joy of celebration that we find strength to move forward living in the present and not the past.
It is easy to celebrate with joy when we focus on God realizing all that He does for us. Renewing our personal Covenant with God sets our soul ready to celebrate with the joy that the Lord provides no matter what season we may currently be in. The past can’t control the future if the Covenant with God is thoughtfully renewed. God doesn’t expect us to trap ourselves between the past and the future for then we will never be able to live in the present. If we focus on God our future is secure so then we may live in the present, a present in which to celebrate with joy as reformed people. God is always there for us and that alone is a cause for a great celebration with joy.
Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10c (NLT)
Choose to Celebrate with Joy! It is a Command
Celebrating with joy is a choice. A choice that not only produces success and sweet victory but also a choice that shows a fruitful Christian. Joy can’t be found if you are living a life outside of God. (John 15:6) Joy is one of the spiritual fruits created within the human spirit with a developed relationship with God. If you can’t celebrate with joy, then you must ask yourself;
- Am I focused on God?
- Is the presence of the Lord with me in my daily habits?
- Do I appreciate my relationship with the Lord and consistently work on making it better?
- Are there things within my heart that is hindering my relationship with God?
Restoration comes by the way of repentance for this is the way to experience and celebrate the joy of the Lord in your life. The great celebration of joy can be found by making God’s words personal as you study scripture. It can be found in a service of celebration while hearing and understanding God’s word where the emphasis is on giving. Acting upon God’s words will lead to a faithful service helping lead to the ability to celebrate with joy continuously.
Moving forward in repentance after mistakes is necessary for it is then you can celebrate the goodness of God and depend upon Him for strength. You must trust God to renew your future and then celebrate by giving to others. Joyfulness is a skill which is why God commanded that His people celebrate. He put a lot of emphasis on Feast Days when He set up the rules, laws, and traditions for the new nation of Israel. C. S. Lewis explained it like this, ”Joy is the serious business of heaven.”
As you move into the 40 days of Lent this week seek to renew your covenant with God and celebrate the relationship you have with Him. If you practice Lent seriously through repentance and restraint, consider the reason Sunday is traditionally set aside for the one day to celebrate and move away from the restraints you put in place. This is a day of full celebration to surround yourself with beauty and give thanks to God for His wonderful gifts finding strength in the joy He gives.
Take the time to experience the joy in the celebration. Focus on God with all your heart knowing that He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. The Apostle Paul wrote Philippians 4:4 while in prison, ”Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say Rejoice.” Paul knew that our inner attitude did not have to mirror our outside circumstances. He knew that no matter what happened that Jesus would be with him. Discipline yourself to celebrate life with joy. For as author, Lewis Smedes, said, ”To miss out on joy is to miss out on the reason for your existence.”Won’t you choose to celebrate joy today for the life you have, instead of the one you are waiting for. Click To Tweet
Love in Christ,
Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.
Corrie ten Boom
Credit - Chappell, B. (2016, February 2). Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil Did Not See His Shadow. Retrieved 2016, from The Two Way - Breaking News from NPR: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/02/02/465253970/groundhog-day-punxsutawney-phil-did-not-see-his-shadow
What are your thoughts? Join Us in Discussion
Do you find it difficult to celebrate life with joy? Have you renewed your covenant with God? Do you plan to place your focus on God during Lent to develop a habit of practicing the presence of God? Have you considered a specific day to celebrate the goodness of God each week? Join us in discussion onÂ celebrating joy every day with God.