Can you imagine celebrating just one thing for an entire year?! Today AMBrewster introduces The Year Long Celebration of God and gets us all really excited about what’s to come.
The Year Long Celebration of God is a family resource from Truth.Love.Parent., a ministry dedicated to rooting families in God and maturing families for God so they can harvest blessings from God.
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The Year Long Celebration of God is a dynamic resource that utilizes the Bible, our holiday calendars, and even the most average moments of the most normal days to equip Christians and their families to know, believe, and celebrate God all year long.
My name is AMBrewster, and I’m happy you’re joining us today to learn about the Great God of Celebrations.
I highly recommend you take a moment — before we continue — to subscribe to the Celebration of God so you don’t miss any of our episodes. We’ll be observing the official start of the Celebration of God in September, and we have some groundwork to lay before then.
“Why September?" you ask. Why not start in January? Well, my friends, there are very good reasons, and we’ll be explaining them to you over the next few weeks so that you will have all the information you need to start the Celebration of God on a solid foundation.
So, make sure you subscribe so you won’t miss a moment of the festivities.
You can also download our free episode notes at CelebrationOfGod.com if you’re interested in reviewing any of the points or passages I cite today.
If you’re listening to this podcast, you’re likely a professing Christian.
However, there may be some of you who didn’t know this was a biblical podcast, or perhaps you knew it was and — though you don’t hold to biblical beliefs — you’re are curious to see what Christians think. Either way, I welcome you. I want nothing more than for you to know and celebrate the one true God of the universe.
But, just so everyone understands, this is not an apologetic podcast or a debate podcast. We won’t be taking the time to prove that the God of the Bible is the only one, true, and living God of the cosmos. We’re starting from the foundation that God exists and that He’s communicated in the Bible everything human beings need to know.
From that standpoint, we know that we already have everything we need for life and godliness — as we’re told in II Peter 1:3. And when God commands us in I Corinthians 10:31 to glorify Him in whatsoever we do, we can know for certain that we can glorify God in everything — including our celebrations.
Absolutely everything we need to know about Who God is and who we are and what that means for us and our families today is right there in the Bible. That is our most significant foundation stone.
So, if we’re interested in learning more about this God of celebrations, we need to look no further than the 66 books of the Holy Scriptures.
And when we look there, we see some amazing things.
Of course, please understand that we won’t be able to look at absolutely all of the biblical evidence that deals with any our episode topics. There’s just way too much to cover. So, our discussions will be a cursory study designed to inform, but also to whet our appetites for more. In addition to not overwhelming us with each podcast, this affords us the opportunity from year to year to unveil even more passages concerning our celebration and rejoice in the growing body of biblical Truth.
I believe that the teacher’s most profound job is not just to teach us what we don’t know, but to teach us how much we don’t know and instill in us a life-long desire to learn it. I hope each episode of the Celebration of God Podcast will do just that.
Now, before we continue, I need to do something very important. We need to define what it means to celebrate. Since I believe it’s extremely important to define our terms, I thought about doing this on our first episode, but I realized that today’s show was a more fitting place for the discussion.
And, like any discussion concerning the meaning of words, we’ll have to consider what the world means when the world talks of celebration and we’ll have to consider what God means when He talks about celebration.
1. How the world celebrates.
According to Merriam-Webster, to celebrate has a number of meanings — for example: “to perform a sacrament or solemn ceremony publicly and with appropriate rites, to honor an occasion such as a holiday especially by solemn ceremonies or by refraining from ordinary business, to mark something such as an anniversary by festivities or other deviation from routine, to hold up or play up for public notice, to observe a holiday, perform a religious ceremony, take part in a festival, or simply to observe a notable occasion with festivities.”
I think we all acknowledge and accept those meanings.
Into that definition we can easily see our national holidays and even our birthday celebrations fit comfortably. We happily deviate from our normal routine to participate in festivities that are important to us.
But is there more to the concept of celebrations than purely the handful of dates we observe from year to year?
2. How God celebrates.
When you look at Scripture, it’s plain to see that God uses the word in a similar way we do today. Most of the times the English word “celebrate” is used in the Old Testament, it refers to observing God’s ordained feasts.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells the parable of the Lost Son or the Prodigal Son, and four times he refers to the father celebrating because his son returned home. But I want to give closer consideration to Luke 15:32 because it uses two words in conjunction that I believe — when coupled — give us a perfect understanding of God’s meaning for the word “celebrate.”
While talking to the Lost Son’s older brother, in Luke 15:32 the father says, “We had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.”
The Greek word translated “celebrate” refers to cheering and making merry and being glad. But take note how it’s translated in other places in the New American Standard Bible. Five times it’s translated “celebrate,” one time as “glad,” one time as “joyously living,” one time as “makes . . . glad,” but four times it’s translated “rejoice,” and one additional time it’s translated “rejoicing.” The same number of times the word is translate “celebrate” it’s also translated “rejoice.”
For example, in Romans 15:10 Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 32:43 saying, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.” That’s the same word translated “celebrate” in Luke 15:32.
I want to look at this passage in more detail, but back to Luke 15 for a minute. Do you remember what the father said to the son? He said that they needed to ”celebrate and rejoice.” Had they translated the first word rejoice, it would have read “We had to [rejoice] and rejoice.”
Now, I like to reference the original Greek a lot when I teach and preach because I believe Christians will appreciate the Bible even more as they learn to appreciate the original languages in which the Bible was written.
However, I admit that I’m no Greek scholar. I take advantage of all the online and book resources I can as I share with you the original languages, but there is so much I don’t know and don’t understand.
I say that because I believe the unique differences between these two words is important, but I don’t yet appreciate all of those differences. Still, from my research I believe it’s important to recognize that the word translated “celebrate” appears to be an outward manifestation whereas the word translated “rejoice” is more of an inward reality.
Of course, that’s a nuanced understanding; my main point in referencing this verse is to see that God wants us to celebrate those things over which we should already be rejoicing. The two ideas are intrinsically related in the Greek.
And though we don’t regularly use the word “rejoice” in our modern vocabularies, I think you would agree that celebrations regularly include a lot of rejoicing.
But here’s the key difference between the world’s understanding of celebration and God’s understanding of celebration. What is being celebrated, why, and how often?
Let’s take a moment to return back to Romans 15 — the passage where Paul proclaims, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.” Starting in verse 7, Paul talks about how there needs to be unity and acceptance among believers regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.
I think that’s an extremely important reminder for the church today.
And then he uses Christ as the example of being a servant — specifically so that Gentiles could “glorify God for His mercy.” Paul is referring to the fact that God chose the Jewish people to be His unique nation, but it was always God’s plan to include the Gentiles — that refers to everyone who’s not a Jew — into His plan of redemption. Paul proves his point by citing various Old Testament passages.
Starting in verse 9 he says, “as it is written, ‘Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles,
And I will sing to Your name.’ 10 Again he says, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.’11 And again,
‘Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, And let all the peoples praise Him.’ 12 Again Isaiah says, ‘There shall come the root of Jesse, And HE who arises to rule over the Gentiles, IN Him shall the Gentiles hope.’ 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
How should God’s people respond to the salvation He offers the nations? We are to praise Him and celebrate Him!
Here’s the big takeaway for today: in the Bible the ideas of praise and rejoicing and worship and celebration are all tied intrinsically to the others.
God’s definition of celebration definitely includes the setting aside of our normal activities to observe holidays and feasts, but — to a necessary degree — it includes celebrating all the right things in the right ways for the right reasons in the right power.
I have the honor of hosting another podcast called Truth.Love.Parent., and in episode 138 we started a series called “Teach Your Children to Obey.” In that study we learned that true, Christ-honoring obedience is always going to include doing the right things in the right ways for the right reasons and the right power. I’ll link it for you in the description of this episode if you’re interested in learning more. Suffice it to say, that means that Christians are commanded to do what God expects in the way He expects for His greatest glory and in the power of the Holy Spirit. That should be our method and motivation for everything we do.
Well, my friends, if we’re going to glorify God in our celebrations, we need to make sure we’re obeying as we celebrate. For the Christian, then, celebration is — in part — a question of obedience.
So what does God command us to celebrate? Well, that one is pretty simple; He commands us to celebrate Him.
Philippians 4:4 tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”
The first two verses of Psalm 145 starts off “I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever.”
The Year Long Celebration of God rests firmly on the premise that God should be celebrated in all things in all ways at all times. And I look forward to delicately pulling back the covers from our favorite holidays as much as I do the most mundane moment of the most average day in order to better understand what celebrating God during those events entails.
But today our focus is two-fold: 1. We needed to understand what the Bible says about Who and what we are to celebrate, and 2. We need to better appreciate the fact that God created and commands celebration because He is a Person Who loves celebrations.
On our first episode I said something to the effect that God not only loves to celebrate, He invented memorials, parties, and feasts! If that’s true, it should have a profound effect on how we interact with Him.
Too many people think that God — if He exists — must be stuffy and serious and gloomy. And I think they get that impression because God’s people have two major problems: A. We celebrate all the wrong things — which leaves people with the impression that there must be something better than God, or B. We celebrate God in all the wrong ways, and it comes across as being boring and stuffy.
So, with the rest of our time, let’s look at some of the biblical examples of our celebratory God so we can get excited about celebrating Him!
1. God created rest from work.
To celebrate is to honor or observe a person or an occasion by taking part in festivities that require us to refrain from normal business and routine.
After taking six days to create the cosmos, we’re told in Genesis 2:2-3 that “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
Here are couple observations:
First, God set a standard for all mankind by working consistently over the course of six days. But God specially designed for the week to be seven days long. It’s not like He ran out of things to do or that He became too tired to do anything else. It was God’s plan from eternity past that the natural rhythms of the world He just created would require six days of work and one day of rest from that work.
The word translated “rest” means to bring something to an end. God refrained from the normal business of the week by resting.
Not only that, but He also blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. This is unique because the only other things the Bible says God uniquely blessed after creating them were Adam and Eve. He didn’t bless the earth or the animals or the stars or anything else. He only blessed mankind and the seventh day.
But we’re also told that He sanctified it. To sanctify something is to set it apart — to consecrate it for special purposes. This is the same Hebrew word often translated “holy.”
So, the first observation is that God created the seventh day to be a unique day where the normal busyness of life is set aside. This is a concept about which we’ll talk more in the future.
But second, imagine that first Saturday from Adam and Eve’s perspective. At some point on Friday, Adam came into being. He had some work to do in naming the animals, and then God put Adam to sleep and created Eve.
God then introduces them and gives them the Creation Mandate outlining the work they had ahead of them, but — by that time — there couldn’t have been too much of the sixth day left. Maybe they did some more work — maybe not. But at some point within their first 24 hours of life, Adam and Eve did nothing more than rest with God.
They ceased from their work — little though it may have been — and they did nothing more than marvel in the majesty and awesomeness of God that had just brought them to life from the dust of the ground which He previously created out of nothing! They did nothing more than enjoy this Infinite Being that so loved and took pleasure in His creation.
Can you imagine the conversations that took place that first Saturday? Can you imagine the laughter shared and wonder experienced?
Other than the mini-celebration Adam did upon first seeing Eve, I believe the Saturday celebration was the first evidence we see of people taking time to put aside the regular business of life to honor and observe God. And God expects that to happen every week.
But that’s not all. The Bible tells us that . . .
2. All heaven rejoices when a person chooses to follow Christ.
In Luke 15:10, Jesus said that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Every time a person chooses to believe God’s promises, every time an individual is born again and becomes a follower of Christ, the multitude of heavenly hosts rejoice. Those angelic beings turn their attention to God and praise Him for the grace and mercy and miracle that is His salvation.
There is nothing more amazing in the entire universe than the fact that the almighty, all-powerful God of the universe Who needs nothing would ever save an undeserving human who brings nothing good to the relationship.
That is worthy of much celebration!
3. God created countless opportunities for His people to worship Him.
A. Old Testament Organized Celebrations
The Old Testament is filled with feast days and celebrations and sacrifices and ceremonies.
Now, my point right now is not to suggest that modern day Christians should or should not be observing Jewish cultural celebrations. We’ll talk more about that next time.
My only desire right now is that we realize that when God created a nation, He instituted feasts and ceremonies, memorials and celebrations because that’s the kind of God He is. He wants us to understand that there are things that are so important that we need to stop whatever we may have otherwise been doing and focus our attention on something that’s more important.
For the Jews, that encompassed sacrificing from out of their material possessions, sacrificing from out of their time, and even sacrificing from out of their cultural choices like where they lived and how they dressed.
It’s also interesting to note that God regularly reminded the Jews not to participate in the festivities of the pagans. What made those celebrations sinful? We’ll talk more about that at the end of this show.
But God’s love for celebrations doesn’t stop in the Old Testament.
B. New Testament Organized Celebrations
I’m not sure that most of us would categorize this first bullet point as a celebration, but I think the burden of responsibility falls on us for misunderstanding the nature of the event.
Did you know that assembling every week with your local body of believers on Sunday is a celebration?
The first century believes started meeting together on Sunday for their corporate worship instead of Saturday because that was the day Christ rose from the dead! What better day could there be to weekly memorialize that glorious victory over sin and death?!
But the Lord also instituted two sacraments — namely the Lord’s Supper which celebrates the atonement and Baptism which proclaims our acceptance of salvation.
But even beyond the organized, corporate feasts and observances of the Old and New Testaments, God reveals that our worship should be individual and perpetual.
C. Daily Worship
From I Corinthians 10:31 — which we referenced earlier — to Romans 12:1 — which says that we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice which is our reasonable service to God — God calls us to moment-by-moment worship Him for He is.
Every choice we make is an opportunity to either glorify God or glorify self.
And that’s why the Father forbade the Jews from observing the pagan festivities of their time. The surrounding nations weren’t partying to the glory of the one, true God, they were proclaiming the Failure Philosophies of self — often through the practice of worshipping false gods.
But Christians are called to make their every decision based off God’s will for their lives.
So, we’ve seen that God’s first celebration was inaugurated on the seventh day of earth’s existence. From there He instituted many Old and New Testament celebrations as well as teaching us that every moment is either going to be a celebration of self or God.
And lastly . . .
4. God will consummate eternity with a celebration.
In Revelation 19:7-9 we read, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’”
Again, we’ll be taking a lot about these celebrations in greater detail in episodes to come . . . for now I hope you can see and are starting to appreciate the fact that God loves a good celebration. He’s the Author, Source, and Object of all worthwhile celebration . . . and no one throws a feast like God does.
So, in conclusion, I pray you not only appreciate the nature of our great God of celebrations, but I also hope you’re starting to see how the Celebration of God is — by nature — an exercise in discipleship.
Celebration is worship. Celebration is obedience. Celebration is service. Celebration is an inward and outward expression of that which is most precious to us.
Therefore, our celebrations are either going to encourage selfishness and idolatry or they’re going to deepen our love and respect and fealty to Christ.
That means that the Year Long Celebration of God is either going to reveal our need for Christ, or it will deepen our relationship with Him.
And for those of us in leadership positions — perhaps you’re a pastor or a mentor or a parent — as you invite those under your influence to better know, understand, and participate in the Year Long Celebration of God, you will make your discipleship responsibilities that much easier because this resource will reveal your disciplee’s need for or deepen his dependency on Christ.
As we come to a close today, I invite you to share this episode on your favorite social media outlets. We need to spread the word and invite Christians all over the world to engage in the jubilant praise of our Creator!
Next time we hope to lay the Foundations of The Celebration of God by addressing questions some of you likely have. For example, is the Celebration of God tied to a specific denomination or movement or belief system? Does it work better in one nationality than it does another?
We hope to answer those questions and more next time.
My friends, God is awesome. Doesn’t He deserve your praise right now?
The Year Long Celebration of God is a dynamic, holistic resource that utilizes the Bible, our holiday calendars, and even the most average moments of the most normal days to equip Christians to worship God all year long
and disciple others to do the same.
AMBrewster is the creator and host of the Celebration of God. He originally designed the COG to be a discipleship tool for Christian parents to train their children to know and love God, but he quickly realized how valuable it is for all Christians. Whether it's a small group, church, classroom, one-on-one, or community relationship, this resource is guaranteed to draw people closer together as they draw closer to God.
Aaron is the President of Truth.Love.Parent. and host of its podcast.