I don’t feel like celebrating. Haven’t you heard; the times, they are burdensome! Maybe you have so much stress that you can’t even detect something worth celebrating? At more times than I want to count, I do! At the very least we are unplugged from celebration with the exception of major holidays. Note to self: “You are being robbed of most of the potential for joy in your life.”
So, if we are already celebration jaded, is there a way out? Yes! First, allow yourself to be restored to your ‘celebratory’ God given potential. How, you ask? Let me pose an example of restoration.
While Nelson Mandella was in jail for 27 years in South Africa was he just marking time and wondering what was being served for lunch. No he was dreaming of and envisioning a free South Africa! He was allowing his jaded heart to be healed; even to the extent of forgiving the awful policy of Apartheid. He was envisioning bettering the plight of marginalized people groups all over the world! And now, the world ‘celebrates’ Nelson Mandella.
Do you get it? Ask God to heal your jaded heart. I have, and vision is being restored. The eyes of my heart are being sensitized to perceive celebration potentials. You and I can be plugged back into the vast God given opportunities to being fully alive and strengthened by joy! The journey to serendipitous celebration joy is sustained by Celebrating God! Begin at the beginning.
1:3 Let’s celebrate God! Every spiritual blessing in heavenly places has found its definition in the fact that we are in Christ.
1:4 This association goes back to before the fall of the world, His love knew that He would present us again face to face before Him, identified in Christ in blameless innocence. (The implications of the fall are completely cancelled out. katabalo - “to fall away, to put in a lower place,” instead of themelios - “foundation” see 2:20 - Thus translated “the fall of the world” instead of “the foundation of the world.”)
1:5 He is the architect of our design; His heart dream realized our coming of age in Christ.
(Adoption here is not what it means in our Western society, it is a coming of age, like the typical Jewish Barmitsva. See Gal.4:1-6 “…and to seal our sonship the spirit of His son echoes Abba Father in our hearts.” Greek, huiothesia ).
1:6 His grace-plan is to be celebrated: He greatly endeared us and highly favored us in Christ; His love for His Son is His love for us.
1:7 Since we are (fully represented) in Him, His blood is the ransom that secures our redemption. His forgiving us our sins measures the wealth of His grace.
1:8 This grace shown towards us communicates a wisdom and discernment of our worth that completely surpasses any definition.
1:9 The secret is out! His cherished love-dream now unfolds in front of our very eyes.
I f that doesn’t stoke the flames of our celebration joy, nothing will. Also, just read through the book of Psalms and you will discover another hinge-pin of the depths of this restorative path. Let me provide an example.
“Hallelujah! Sing to God a brand-new song, praise him in the company of all who love him. 2 Let all Israel celebrate their Sovereign Creator; Zion's children exult in their King. 3 Let them praise his name in dance; strike up the band and make great music! 4 And why? Because God delights in his people, festoons plain folk with salvation garlands! 5 Let true lovers break out in praise, sing out from wherever they're sitting, 6 Shout the high praises of God, brandish their swords in the wild sword-dance - 7 A portent of vengeance on the God-defying nations, a signal that punishment's coming, 8 Their kings chained and hauled off to jail, their leaders behind bars for good, 9 The judgment on them carried out to the letter - and all who love God in the seat of honor! Hallelujah!” (Psalm 149, Msg)
“Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship, praise him under the open skies; 2 Praise him for his acts of power, praise him for his magnificent greatness; 3 Praise with a blast on the trumpet, praise by strumming soft strings; 4 Praise him with castanets and dance, praise him with banjo and flute; 5 Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum, praise him with fiddles and mandolin. 6 Let every living, breathing creature praise God! Hallelujah!” (Psalm 150, Msg)
Hallelujah! This word is the most revered in all of language for all of history. It means and is translated the same throughout all of history; in every tribe, tongue, and nation—“Celebrate God with thanksgiving, praise and worship continually”! It doesn’t matter what we have endured (remember the story of Nelson Mandella) we must practice Hallelujah!
You won’t believe the next imperative of celebration. I’m quite certain that you are more than acquainted with hardships of every kind. Well, even this holds another key to our celebration restoration.
“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us - set us right with him, make us fit for him - we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. 2 And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand - out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. 3 There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, 4 and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.
5 In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary - we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! 6 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway.” (Romans 5: 1-6, Msg)
“2 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. 3 You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. 4 So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. 5 If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. 6 Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves.” (James 1:1-6, Msg)
So there! No matter what is going on circumstantially around us, we can be awakened to the unending joy of Celebrating God! And in doing these simple things we will again celebrate all that God-life has to offer!
On the road to genuine celebratory joy, Ron Ross