Join AMBrewster as he helps Christians prepare, celebrate, and disciple during the Season of Mercy.
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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This is it. This is the beginning. The introductory foundation has been laid. We understand what we’re doing, where we’re going, and why.
This is exciting.
Now, before we jump in, I have to set up some expectations.
1. If this is your first Celebration of God episode, I want to strongly encourage you to start at the beginning.
We just finished up 16 episodes — that are desperately important — in order to understand and appreciate what The Celebration of God is as well as how to use it.
So, that’s that first step.
2. Given the amount of time we have to prepare for the upcoming celebrations, we won’t always have as many days as we’d like to work through this material at the pace at which we’re currently planning — because we’re starting with a once a week episode.
Now, I pray that we’ll be able to increase that in the future, but for now, we have to redeem the time and do the best with what we have.
So, in order to give enough prep time for our first big, week-long holiday of the year, we’re going to talk about preparing, celebrating, and discipling for the Season of Mercy all in one show. For that reason, it may be a little longer than others, but — hey — no big deal, the Recipient of our discussion is totally worth it.
And we also have to acknowledge that . . .
3. We are all going to fail.
I know. Encouraging, right? But there shouldn’t be a single born again believer listening to me today who doesn’t already know they’re a sinner. It’s because of our sin and His miraculous love that we were called to Him and embraced His saving grace.
We know we have nothing good in us. We know it’s by the power of the Holy Spirit that there’s anything righteous in us, and everything messed up in us is our fault.
And we also know that God doesn’t force us to obey. Yes, He’s sovereignly in control, but He is not the author of sin. It’s a beautiful, comforting, and convicting paradox. But when you serve an infinite God, you can worship and praise and celebrate the paradoxes because they are an attestation to His majesty.
But the point is, we’re going to fail one of these days . . . at multiple points . . . probably sooner than later. I’ve already sinned today, and I guarantee you I’m going to sin before my head hits the pillow tonight.
It’s not because I plan to sin. It’s not because I — in this moment — want to sin. It’s because I’m a sinner with a predisposition to worshipping self. The Holy Spirit will convict me, He will provide a way for me to escape my temptation, but in some future moment I’m probably going to still want to worship self. And so will you.
Now, we’re going to talk later about how we can worship God even in those moments of failure, but for now, I’m sharing all of this because I don’t want anyone to become disheartened. I don’t want Satan to convince you that you will never do anything right. When he says that, he’s not just lying about you, he’s lying about our Savior.
You see, God is in the business of changing people, but Satan likes to convince us that we will never change.
So, my friends, prepare now . . . none of us are going to perfectly celebrate God every minute of every day this year. The same is true for those whom you’re discipling. It’s not going to happen. We’re going to fail. But when we do, we need to respond the right way.
This is one reason it’s good to do this with other people. They can keep us accountable; we can keep them accountable. We can encourage them when they fail; they can encourage us when we fail. We can admonish and even rebuke each other if necessary.
And that, my friends, is discipleship. That’s one-anothering. That’s why God leaves us here. He doesn’t take us directly to Heaven to begin our eternity of glorious celebration the moment we choose to follow Him . . . He leaves us here to draw others to Him — to help others be conformed into His image — to disciple them to create disciples.
If we were all going to be perfect Christians, there wouldn’t be any point in leaving us here. But we stay until He takes us home because He has a job He wants to work in us to accomplish. He wants to sanctify us. He wants to mature us so that He can do the same in others through our participation.
So, when you and I fail at this Celebration of God thing, take heart. Confess. Repent. And get back to it.
I counsel children and teens and adults all the time, and I often encounter people who have stopped celebrating God by spending time each day in the Scripture, and I’ll counsel them to get back into the Bible because there’s nothing more important.
So, they’ll try to go cold-turkey. They want to go from no devotions to seven days of devotions. And for the first three days they’ll do a great job, but then they miss the fourth, miss the fifth, and then throw up their hands and proclaim what’s the point.
But then I tell them . . . you studied God’s Word three more days this past week than you previously had. Praise God!
So, yes, you won’t celebrate God perfectly this year, but — Lord willing — you’ll celebrate Him better this year than you did last year. You’ll help your students and your congregation and your friends and your family celebrate Him better than they did last year.
And that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re not trying to be perfect . . . we’re trying to be better. As we strive to be holy as God is holy, we recognize that He desires to conform us into His image from glory to glory. It’s incremental, it’s progressive, and we embrace that.
And you know what’s cool? The fact that we can’t do this perfectly on our own is yet another amazing reason . . . to celebrate God.
Okay, so that’s our pep talk. We’re prone to wander, Lord we feel it, prone to leave the God we love, and we pray, “Here are our hearts. Take and seal them. Seal them for Your courts above.”
Now that our expectations are tuned to reality, let’s equip us to grow in our love for God and help others to do the same during the next three months of the Season of Mercy.
Please don’t ever discount the importance of the Preparation stage of our worship. It too is worship. If you have to be reminded why it’s so important, re-listen to episode 8.
But we know how important it is. In fact, it’s more important this year because we’ve never done this before. We need work hard in preparing. If nothing else, it will remove the significant stress from our lives.
A few days ago we shared on our Facebook page a quote from Ann Voscamp: “Nothing erases stress quite like preparation.”
So your first step needs to be . . .
A. Prepare Your Heart.
We prepare our hearts by spending time in the Word and praying. I’ll provide you some passages to study and to potentially include on your Celebration Wall — take some time to read them and ponder them and study them. Pray over them. Ask God to prepare your eyes to see His mercy in places you never saw it. Ask Him to help you show that mercy to the people in your life.
Don’t overcomplicate this. All you have to do is — right now — start dedicating time to reading the Bible and asking God to work in your heart over the next three months.
Also ask Him to show you exactly who He wants you to guide through this. If you have family with whom you live, that’s a no-brainer. But God likely also wants you to invite one of your local brothers and sisters in Christ into this process. It may be a good idea to encourage them to listen to these episodes and then ask them if they want to do this with you.
It may seem awkward at first, but it’s so important, and it’s an incredibly good skill to have.
We all need to prepare our hearts.
B. Prepare Your Wall.
You should have plenty of time to set up the bare bones of your Celebration Wall. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and you can totally grow into it, but you need to have something.
Now, do you remember what the key component of the Celebration Wall is? That’s right. It’s Scripture. That’s what Deuteronomy 6 commanded us to have on our walls and hands and gates and door posts. That’s what God calls us to talk about when we’re sitting and standing and walking and lying down.
Make the Scripture a priority. If you have nothing else on your Celebration Wall other than Bible verses, you’re doing really well.
Here are some passages you can use to prepare your heart and put up on your wall. Just remember, it’s okay to have tons of verses on your Celebration Wall, but you want them readable. An eight-and-a-half-by-eleven piece of paper filled with twelve point font is only going to be readable to someone standing right there intentionally reading it. It would be better to have one verse in a large enough font that people can read it at a distance than a page of the Bible pinned to the wall because the first option will stick out to us and remind us better . . . even as we’re just walking by.
Now, before I provide the verses, I do want to point out that — depending on what translation you’re using — you may not discover the word “mercy” in all of my suggestions. For example, in the ESV rendering of Lamentations 3:22 we read, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.”
But I like to use the New American Standard Bible, so in my version it reads, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.”
The NIV says “compassions,” the King James uses the word “mercies” but in a different part of the verse. You get the idea.
And this is not a problem. If you know anything about translating, this is not an issue at all. My point in sharing this is to help you potentially avoid confusion, but also realize that all of these passages are about God’s mercy even if it doesn’t use the word.
Okay, so, here are some passages you can read to prepare your minds and/or post on your Wall:
You can use the link in the description of this episode to access our free episodes notes and transcript on our Celebration of God blog. All of the references I use will be included.
You will definitely find many Truths worth celebrating in these passages, and plenty of great verses to post on your Celebration Wall.
Now, when it comes to preparing your Wall for the Season, I recommend you stick primarily to the verses. Just the verses. You’ll have plenty of other opportunities to fill it out your Wall with the holidays that are coming . . . holidays that are each designed to celebrate His mercy.
But — of course — you may add whatever else will help you praise and worship God for His mercy. For example, you could compile a list of people to whom you want to show mercy. That’s just one of a million ideas.
And — guess what — we would love for you guys to share your ideas and pictures of your Celebration Wall on our Facebook page. You can search Celebration of God on Facebook or visit CelebrationOfGod.com to see the full list of our social media accounts.
So, you’re going to prepare your hearts and your Celebration Walls, but you also have to think about how to . . .
C. Prepare Your Disciplees.
How are you going to help the men and women and boys and girls under your care to prepare their hearts for the Season of Mercy?
Well, do you remember our last episode? How are we to interact with the Celebration Wall? We need to make it, fill it, and then teach it.
Yes, one of the best ways to help the people with whom you have a discipleship relationship is to teach them about what’s up on the wall. We may read them the passages, invite them to read the passages, start working on memorizing the verses, discuss the prayer requests . . . honestly, if we’re using the Celebration Wall the right way, we could talk about anything and everything up there and it should point back to God.
Another good way to invite your friends and family into this process is to decorate and fill the Wall together, talking about it as you go.
Basically, the same way that you would prepare your own heart for the Season of Mercy is how you’re going to want to help the other people in your life prepare their’s.
Okay, so that’s the preparation step.
The next step is . . .
Now, this is a massive category. What does celebration look like? Well, I’m not here to answer every possible question we may have . . . especially because if there were one million Christians all celebrating the mercy of God, they may very well find one million different ways to do it . . . and still glorify God!
And one of the beauties of this podcast is that we get to spend year after year talking about this in great detail, sharing more ideas, and growing together in this.
So, instead of scripting exactly how you should celebrate the Season of Mercy, allow me to outline three main types of things we all need to do.
A. We need to think about what matters.
Philippians 4:8 does a fantastic job outlining exactly how God-celebrating Christians need to think: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
Wouldn’t it be sad if we spend all this time setting up our Celebration Walls and teaching our kids about it and even taking about it at dinner, but then we never think about it the rest of the day?
That’s one of Satan’s greatest ploys. He doesn’t always tempt us to engage in horrific and vile sins; he simply tempts us to forget God.
I love I Timothy 3:14, “Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.”
Learning is often a cognitive process, and the best kind of learning is that in which we continue. Imagine what school would be like if we didn’t forget everything we learned last year. Instead of six months of review, we could spend all our time learning new things!
The first way to celebrate God during the Season of Mercy is to frequently think about His mercy.
And when you do that you’ll find the next step is very easy:
B. We need to talk about what matters.
Psalm 1 is a very interesting way to start the longest book in the Bible — a book which happens to be a song book. It says, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!”
Why would a person interact with people like that? Well, it’s because God created us to desire connection. Even the shyest person often judges their value and purpose on the relationships they value.
People crave communication, but God warns us that much of the communication out there is destructive and damning. And we know why too, Jesus told us in Matthew 12 and 15 that what comes out of the mouth started first in the heart.
Biblically speaking, the words “heart” and “mind” are nearly interchangeable. Our spirits are located in our minds. It’s where we choose to believe or disbelieve the things of God, and our conversation pours out of that which fills our minds.
So, when we think on the things that please the Lord, there are far better chances those words will spill out of our mouths. We’ll start speaking words of mercy, praising God for His mercy, and teaching others to do the same.
Look for opportunities to rejoice in the mercy of God this Autumn.
And the third way to celebrate . . .
C. We need to do what matters.
Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Did you catch that? Your good works motivated by love and celebration of God should actually motivate others to celebrate God!
That’s an amazing privilege and responsibility.
By way of review before we consider our last point for today, in order to celebrate God during the Season of Mercy we need to think about God’s mercy, talk about God’s mercy, and act on God’s mercy.
Now, remember, each Season and holiday will present us an opportunity to prepare, celebrate and . . .
Now, in the same way that a million Christians can all celebrate God’s mercy differently, how we’ll disciple the people in our lives this Season will look different too. But here are some general guidelines:
A. Pray for wisdom.
James 1:5 provides a glorious promises that “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
I did a study a couple years ago called The Circle of Learning (which I’ll link for you in the description). In that study we spend some very necessary time defining what wisdom is.
You see, too many people think that wisdom is synonymous with knowledge. We imagine that wisdom is some special knowledge that can be written in a book. But here’s the problem with that . . . wisdom isn’t what you know, it’s what you do with what you know.
For our discussion today, wisdom would be taking what I know God expects of me and commands in His Word and acting off that information by celebrating Him and leading others in that same celebration.
Wisdom would be to recognize that God expects me to worship God and teach others to do the same, so I need to take what I know about God, myself, and the people in my life to choose the best individuals in whom I should invest.
And if you’re concerned that you’re not yet wise enough to make the decision, the Lord invites you to ask Him . . . and He will provide. And when He does, you’ll have one more reason to celebrate Him!
B. Invite others to participate in the Preparations, Celebrations, Observations, and Anticipations.
One of the easiest way to get started in a discipleship relationship or keep one going is to do life together. So, if we’re going to use the Season of Mercy as a way to encourage our children and students and friends and congregation to be conformed to the image of God . . . then it would be really easy to start that process by inviting them to help me prepare, celebrate, observe, and anticipate as we work our way through the Celebration of God.
Another wonderful way to do this is to share this podcast with people. All adults and most children will be able to appreciate and understand the content of these shows, and they’ll help you be on the same page.
I once had a professor who taught Adolescent Psychology, and he frequently talked about important elements in the education and rearing of children. He spent so much time on it, he would often say that the best thing for his students to do would be to marry someone who also took his class so that they’d both be on the same page when it came to rearing their children.
He would joke that you could judge whether or not to continue in a relationship by asking one simple question, “Have you taken Adolescent Psych with Dr. Mazak?”
In the same way, anyone who engages with this podcast is going to understand what we’re doing. Using these episodes as an invitation to a deeper relationship in which you can encourage each other to celebrate God is remarkable idea!
Now, we’re gone longer than usual, and we’re almost done, but let me remind you that all of this information is in outline form at CelebrationOfGod.com. It’s easy to download the PDF’s and review them later.
Okay, here’s the final part concerning how we can disciple during the Season of Mercy.
C. Teach them, confront them, correct them, train them.
In Matthew 28:19-20 we read The Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
That is the framework for discipleship. But one of the key components that’s often overlooked is the part about teaching them to observe all that Christ commanded us.
Well, where would we find that information? Obviously, in the Scriptures.
But how do we use the Scriptures to make and mature disciples?
II Timothy 3:16 beautifully explains the four great purposes of the Bible. The passage explains that the Word of God can be used to teach, confront, correct, and train.
Now, we’re out of time, and I simply can’t do this part justice, so allow me to recommend another resource.
I once did a podcast series called “A Parent’s 5 Jobs.” For the sake of this podcast, we could call it, “A Discipler’s 5 Jobs.”
That 5 part series will give you everything you need to know to understand and start using the Bible to teach, confront, correct, and train the people God has brought into your lives.
And that, my friends is it.
We must prepare for the Season of Mercy by preparing our hearts, Celebration Walls, and disciplees.
We must celebrate the God of Mercy during the Season of Mercy by thinking right, talking right, and acting right.
And we must disciple using the Season of Mercy by asking God for wisdom, inviting our brothers and sisters in Christ to prepare, celebrate, observe, and anticipate with us, and teaching, confronting, correcting, and training each other using the Bible.
If we all did that . . . this will be a life-changing and amazing Autumn.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets, and make sure you follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Next time we’re going to start the first of three episodes to prepare us for the first major holiday of the year!
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.