What are the implications for the fact that God demands our worship? How does that affect our holidays? Does it have any impact on our daily lives? Today AMBrewster looks at two important realities concerning our celebration of God.
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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As we work through these introductory episodes you’ll find that the first few are broad, umbrella-topics. From there each episode will focus on an increasingly specific facet of the Celebration of God.
Then once the official festivities start in September of 2020, each episode will target the unique focus of the week or day on which we’re celebrating.
So, let’s review briefly to remind ourselves what those big topics are.
And along the way I’ve been repeating key concepts that are absolutely necessary for us to understand.
In episode two I touched on the fact that God not only created celebrations, He also commands His people to celebrate. I mentioned this again last time. Yes, it’s true we have a lot of liberty in certain aspects of our worship of God, but we must not ignore the fact that God commands worship, and that He sometimes details the specifics of that worship.
And that’s what today’s episode is all about.
But before we jump in let me remind you that we have episode notes available at CelbrationOfGod.com. There you’ll find an outline of today’s content as well as all of the verses I reference.
As we lay a foundation on which we can build our community’s celebration of God, and as we discuss the fact that God commands our celebration, we need to reevaluate what we think it means to celebrate. I believe modern Christians have lost much of what it means to celebrate their Lord, so it’s vital that we relearn what the Bible says concerning it.
I have only two main points today, but I believe we need to revisit our definition of Celebration before we can appreciate those points.
Intrinsically, celebration is identical to the biblical understanding of worship. Unfortunately, if we consider the modern understanding of worship alone, it will do very little to fix our misconceptions about celebration.
I wish I could take the time to unpack the biblical data concerning true Christian worship, but thankfully I have a resource that will easily fill in the blanks.
I have the privilege of being the president of a ministry called Truth.Love.Parent. TLP has a podcast that — at the time of this recording — has been going strong for four fears with nearly 400 episodes. On that show I conducted a series called “Family Worship” where we studied God’s understanding of worship.
I would heartily invite you to listen to that series as we are all striving to better understand God’s expectations for our celebrations. I’ll provide a link to the show in the description of this episode.
For now, though we must accept the fact that — biblically speaking — celebration and worship are synonymous concepts with two broad applications.
Let’s start with the one that comes most naturally.
1. God commands we celebrate Him with our high days.
If we’re using the language of the first century — High Holy Days are times when Christians come together for organized, corporate observance or a set of predefined activities.
Here’s a beautiful example from Psalm 150, “1 Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. 2 Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. 3 Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. 4 Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. 5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. 6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!”
That clearly gives us the impression that God’s people are unifying their voices in worship of God.
And as we were reminded last time, God expects four things from us during these high days:
As we comb through the Bible we see many instances of corporate celebration. Cain and Able brought their sacrifices to God, the first century church created the tradition of celebrating the resurrection every Sunday, and the Lord will one day host the Marriage Supper of the Lamb on the New Earth.
But I want to move past this point and marinate on the next. We’ll talk more about how we need to reevaluate our high holy days of festivities and events. However, I believe most Christians at least understand the value of corporate celebration.
Unfortunately, this is where many modern Christians have planted their understanding of worship and left it to wither. To worship God is to go to church. To celebrate God is to observe a holiday. And though that is definitely true, it misses the mark if we stop there.
The best example of this misunderstanding is the narrow application of the term “worship” to the singing we do at religious events.
People call it “praise and worship” or a “worship service.” And many times I’ve heard the song service referred to specifically as “the worship.” Of course, there are “worship teams” — who are always musicians. And a whole generation of believers have been lead to think that worship is something that happens primarily with other people while we’re singing.
Now . . . again, I would agree that one way we worship God is by singing. He invented singing, He commands singing, and we would be foolish to jettison it from our celebrations, but singing to and about God is only one sliver of the multitude of words and deeds and thoughts and desires and beliefs that constitute worship.
In its most basic form, what we worship shows what we value. It reveals what’s important to us.
Let me use a silly example, if I ever drink pop — and I rarely do — there is really only one choice for me. You can keep your colas and dewy mountains and lemon/lime concoctions . . . I will always choose root beer.
I value it far more than the others. In a very technical sense, you could say that I “worship” root beer over the other flavors. That statement is completely accurate even though it may sound ridiculous or blasphemous.
When I celebrate the High Day of Easter, I should be showing through my every word and action that I deeply value Jesus Christ and what He did to purchase my salvation.
But does God expect us to worship Him when the high day is over? When we’re all driving home? When we’re watching TV later that evening? When I’m at work the next day? Am I still expected to worship Him then?
Yes, my friends! Yes, and yes again!
Celebration does not require pomp and circumstance. It doesn’t always demand baking and festivities and songs and games and sermons and sacraments.
Celebration happens in the quiet moments too.
And in the same way that celebration is not only parties and festivals, worship is not only singing and church services.
Ken Collier, the president of the Wilds Christian Camp and Conference Center, coined the phrase: “Just two choices on the shelf, pleasing God or pleasing self.” And that is the most fundamental choice we face during every moment of every day. It’s the deciding factor in our spiritual warfare, and it happens at the quiet times just like it happens at the festive times.
So, yes, we must acknowledge that God commands we celebrate Him with our High Days, but . . .
2. God commands we celebrate Him with our low moments.
In fact, there are far more commands to worship God in the humdrum moments of our most average days than there are to worship Him in glorious traditions, services, and parties.
Previously we looked at Romans 12:1, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
But let us also consider Hebrews 13:15-16. Referring to Jesus, the author writes, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. 16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
In the same way God commanded the early Israelites to worship Him through public animal sacrifice, God greatly desires our private personal sacrifice.
And we see this expectation in every single biblical command to obey.
We’re told to love, obey, pray, give joyfully, passionately pursue God’s Word, admonish each other, teach, evangelize, and countless other commands that touch every area of the Christians life.
And they’re all summed up beautifully in Christ’s own words from John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
Let me share with you one of the most transformational moments I’ve had so far as I’ve studied what the Bible says about celebrating God. I believe the single most important part of our definition of celebration is this — allow me quote Merriam-Webster: “to honor by refraining from ordinary business, to mark by deviation from routine.”
This concept of stopping what we would normally do in order to do something else is desperately important for our appreciation, understanding, and use of the Celebration of God.
And this makes sense when we consider Christmas and Easter and other major events and holidays. Christmas is an event that most believers observe. We know the date, we know the day, and the vast majority of us set aside the regular business of the day in order to partake in our Christmas traditions.
Many people take off weeks for vacation, work and school are both put on hold, and even if you have to work on Christmas Day, you likely at least do something different from your normal routine . . . even if that’s just exchanging gifts — which I’m assuming you don’t do every day.
And, of course, that’s an example of refraining from ordinary business for a High Day.
But consider this — God wants me to worship Him just as deeply when my child throws a temper-tantrum in a store as He does when I sing during an Easter service.
When my child melts down in a grocery store, my habituated fleshly response may be embarrassment, impatience, anger, and even veiled retaliation. However, on this occasion let’s say that I choose to respond differently. Instead of the ordinary business — the way I’d routinely respond — I ask God for wisdom, and I patiently address my child in Truth and love for His honor and glory.
What just happened in that moment? Well, in that instant I’m worshipping and celebrating God just as much as if I were part of a worship team at a multi-city rally.
Every moment of every day we face a life-altering, universal choice — am I going to value God and His commands more, or am I going to put more value in what I feel like doing?
Am I going to lean on my own understanding, or am I going to acknowledge Him and trust Him with all my heart (Proverbs 3:6).
Is God’s plan worthy of my time, or will I sacrifice this moment to self?
I’m so incredibly excited about walking through the Celebration of God with you because we’re definitely going to talk about the High Days — the glorious way that we as families and churches can laud and honor the name of God with feasts and activity.
But we’re also going to talk about the rhythms God created. We’re going to discuss the “low moments” and how I can worship God just as deeply when I’m being tempted to snap at my kids or look at something I shouldn’t on my phone or disobey my parents or eat more than I should. Those low, quiet moments should still be a sweet smelling savor to God.
Does God command our worship? He sure does. He commands it in our communal gatherings, but He also commands — and more frequently commands — it in our hearts, in the average seconds that fill our lives.
At the time of this recording, one of the most recent series recorded by Truth.Love.Parent. was a study in Spiritual Warfare, and during that study we took some time to look at the Temptation of Christ in Matthew 4, Mark 1, and Luke 4.
At the end of the 40 day ordeal, Satan arrogantly offers Jesus the entire world if only He would bow before Satan and worship him.
And Jesus, the God-Man quotes from Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20 when He says, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”
Christ was worshipping the Father as He stood against Satan just as much as He was when He died on the cross and just as much as He was when He rose again the third day.
I’m really looking forward to our next few episodes because we’re going to continue getting more and more specific in what it actually looks likes to celebrate God.
We’re going to discuss the rhythms He’s created and talk about what that means for us in our daily lives.
And in no time we’ll be unwrapping The Year Long Celebration of God like a child unboxing their favorite gift. We’ll run our fingers over every piece and turn it inside out as we realize just how marvelous it is.
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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.