Intense determination without celebration becomes your downfall
Joy comes from seeing the complete fulfillment of the specific purpose for which I was created and born again, not from successfully doing something of my own choosing. ~ Oswald Chambers
Every experience, even the most unwelcome, if offered to Jesus, can become your gateway to joy. ~ Elisabeth Elliot
Celebrate God all day, every day. — Philippians 4:4 MSG
The Need for Celebration
Many rebuild their wall only to find that it has crumbled! They accomplish the task only to find that they have been consumed by it. They have become so busy and successful that life is just no fun anymore. We are not meant to become unsmiling workaholics in order to put things together again. We can accomplish great tasks while still being able to enjoy life.
Celebration of what God is doing is one of the keys to putting it back together again in a way that lasts. If you can’t celebrate, you’re likely to repeat whatever caused you to have to rebuild in the first place. You may not face the same circumstances, but you’ll find yourself stuck in the same places. It is celebration that gives continued strength for the changes God is working in your life.
Begin by embracing the truth that you are made to celebrate. Celebration is not your idea; it’s God’s idea.
Some Christians seem to think they can have “joy” without enjoying anything. For them, serving God is serious business to be faced with a holy intensity that does not allow for a smile. This makes no sense. Being in the presence of the sacred does not mean we have to be sad all the time.
In Nehemiah 8:9, Nehemiah addresses this issue:
Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
We obviously can and sometimes should mourn in the presence of God. It’s where we began in Nehemiah 1. There are times when we need to weep before the Lord. But the idea that the only way to have a sacred experience is with a mournful heart and a downcast look is totally false. Enjoyment is God’s idea. He gave us that capacity. He gave us those emotions.
Celebration Grows Out of Worship
Worship is the vital key to the personal celebration and joy that enable us to endure in anything we have rebuilt.
In Nehemiah 8, the Israelites hold a great day of celebrating God in worship for all that He had done. Celebration cannot be divorced from worship, because it grows out of worship. The word celebrate comes from the Latin, meaning “to gather to honor.” Our attitude of celebration is rooted in gathering with others and honoring God for what has happened. We can’t truly celebrate without worshiping, because God is the one whom we most celebrate and the one who created us to celebrate.
It is an indictment on our times when the tie between celebration and worship is not immediately obvious. We live with a strange propensity toward celebrating everywhere but in worship. Personal devotional times are serious; our get-togethers with friends are where we celebrate with fun and laughter. Church worship services are somber and quiet; football games are filled with loud cheers.
We can celebrate apart from worship, but they will be celebrations that leave us wanting. As wonderful as it is to celebrate at a family gathering, sporting event, or business party, there is a longing for something more if these celebrations are removed from a life of worship. Celebration apart from the God who made us to celebrate is a temporary escape at best; celebration connected to the worship of God is an infinite source of joy.
This is not to say that we must sing hymns at baseball games. In a life of worship, we recognize at the deepest level that God made the green grass of the baseball field, gave the players their skills, and gave us the ability to enjoy it all.
While there are multiple places of celebration in our lives, an obvious place to begin to connect celebration and worship is in our worship together as a church. As a start, we must ask ourselves whether we celebrate when we worship. Many people who come to a worship service every week seem to be sadly lacking in the joy department.
If we’re honest, the Sunday morning service in many churches is more like a funeral than a festival. Christians look like they’ve been baptized in vinegar and taken the Lord’s Supper with lemon juice! Showing up on a Sunday morning is obviously not enough. Nehemiah shows us two vital attitudes for worship. Without these attitudes, celebration is reduced; with these attitudes, celebration is multiplied.
Excerpted with permission from Putting It Together Again When It’s All Fallen Apart by Tom Holladay, copyright Tom Holladay.
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Every single Christian is going to go through a season when it all falls apart. Relationships explode, a church splits, jobs get downsized, kids leave home for college and suddenly the marriage feels empty… One of the tools God gave us to sustain our joy and to heal is celebration in worship! When our hearts get realigned and begin to rejoice again, we can rebuild and regrow. Has that happened in your life? Come share with us. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily