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Congratulations, my friends. If you started with me back in August of last year, then you have completed The Year Long Celebration of God!
For 365 days we learned to better know, understand, and love God by becoming better disciples of His and helping the other Christians in our lives do the same.
And now the Lord is giving us another chance to do it all over again . . . but — hopefully — we’ll do it better this time.
Now, some of you may be thinking that The Celebration of God was a once-and-done experience. But it’s not, and I’m going to explain why momentarily.
But before we get too much farther into today’s episode, I want to remind you that if you have been enjoying The Celebration of God, then don’t forget that it was created as a resource for Christian parents.
And if you’re a Christian parent, you should totally check out Truth.Love.Parent. for even more practical, biblically relevant parenting guidance.
And don’t forget that The Celebration of God has free episode notes and transcripts in addition to lots of holiday resources and daily training.
And — with that — whether you’re new to this podcast or you’re a regular subscriber, I want to give us a biblical pep-talk for the upcoming Year Long Celebration of God.
As a biblical counselor, preacher, and educator, one of the things I’ve realized is that human nature doesn’t like unnecessary repetition. However, they also don’t now which repetition is necessary and which isn’t.
As an English teacher for seven years in a Christian school, you would think that children who learn about nouns and verbs every year would become more and more proficient at nouns and verbs from year to year.
But . . . generally speaking, they don’t.
The main reason is that when it comes time to talk about nouns and verbs . . . again . . . the student tells herself that she already learned about nouns and verbs last year (and every year before), and she tunes out, only to find that she’s forgotten more than she remembers and struggles in all of the same areas from year to year.
As I would review some of the basics with my classes at the beginning of the year, it amazed me how many high school juniors who had been drilled in the parts of speech since they were in lower elementary still couldn’t remember the difference between adjectives and adverbs.
We humans have convinced ourselves that we don’t need to hear again what we’ve heard before even though our daily experience should convince us that we clearly haven’t learned the lesson yet.
And this is where I want to take a little bit of time to discuss the doctrine of repetition and reminders.
In John 16:4 Jesus is preparing His disciples for the fact that He soon will be going away to the Father, and He says, “But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.”
Disciples of Christ need to be reminded so that we’ll be ready to obey when the time comes. When the hour of temptation arrives via aggressive attacks, annoying discomfort, or subtle enticement, if we don’t remember what we’ve been taught, we’ll fall to the temptation.
In addition, few people learn anything perfectly the first time, and those with photographic memories may be able to perfectly remember the facts, but God calls us to far more than merely remembering facts. It’s how we use those facts that is the real goal of our learning.
My friends, God loves repetition, He understands the value of reminders, and so should we.
So what kinds of things does God want echoing through our lives?
1. God wants His Word to be repeated in our lives.
Consider Deuteronomy 6:4-9, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Just because we’ve read through the Scriptures once doesn’t mean we don’t need to read it through again. At the time of this recording I’m 41 and a half years old. I’ve read through the entire Bible many times. In college I even memorized the chapter content of the entire 66 books of the Bible. I’ve studied and taught and preached and counseled whole books of the Bible for years and years, but is that enough?
And the answer is . . . definitely not!
I — as a disciple of Christ — cannot afford to cease the repetition of truth, and The Celebration of God will be a necessary part of this process as we work through God’s Word.
Then — more specifically . . .
2. God wants the Gospel to be repeated in our lives.
I Corinthians 15:1 says, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand.”
This Truth is repeated all over Scripture.
But even if you and your fellow disciples are born again, the Gospel is not a past-tense message. The Gospel is necessary for our entire lives. What we embraced when we started following Christ is the only thing that will sustain us as we continue to follow Christ.
Please note that in our verse, Paul is reminding people of the Gospel who already stand in the Gospel.
How well do you know the Gospel? How often do you and your disciplees remind each other of the Gospel?’
The Celebration of God has a year-long emphasis on the four main elements of our salvation — our desperation, justification, sanctification, and glorification.
But . . .
3. God also wants biblical prophecy to be repeated in our lives.
Jude 1:17 tells us, “But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” II Peter 3:1-2 says, “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.”
I debated about including this point. Did it really need to be its own point? But the remainder of the passages I just read (which we don’t really have time to discuss right now) explain why this concept is so important.
Let me sum it up. We need to know what the Bible says so that we can be assured of its truthfulness. We need to see how time and again what God prophesied came true. We need to be assured that the promises that are not yet present will in fact come to be.
The world will use these “unfulfilled” predictions and promises to attack the Bible, but we need to know the nature of God and His track record in order to have a confident expectation in Him.
I imagine this is not something that regularly comes up in your conversations with your fellow believers, but imagine the impact that will be made in a Christian’s life who is regularly reminded of the fulfilled and as-of-yet unfulfilled promises of God!
One important element of The Celebration of God is our focus on Anticipation. We don’t only celebrate God’s past deeds, we regularly point our gaze forward to God’s coming prophecy.
4. God wants commands to use our gifts to be repeated in our lives.
II Timothy 1:6 tells us, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
Are you being reminded to use your talents and skills and gifts for the Lord? We here at The Celebration of God regularly emphasize the gifts necessary to glorify God in discipleship because Christians need those reminders.
Personally speaking, one of the most important gifts of the Spirit is the grace and strength necessary to live like Christ. Therefore . . .
5. God wants His expectations for righteous character to be repeated in our lives.
II Peter 1:12 reads, “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities.”
I love II Peter 1. Perhaps one day I’ll work through that passage in an episode for The Celebration of God. But let’s at least look at the character traits about which Peter is talking. In verses 5-7 Peter says, “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”
As you know, we could do a series on how each of those words is to impact our worship of God. And — according to Peter — they are so important that he intends to always remind them of those qualities.
Are you regularly being reminded of these character traits? Do you know what they are and how they’re to be lived out as you follow Christ?
The two biggest elements of The Celebration of God are focusing on the Lord’s character and deeds. As we learn more about God’s character, we’re also being instructed in how He wants us to live.
And when it comes to good character, you can’t neglect this next point.
6. God wants the importance of obedience to be repeated in our lives.
In Titus 3:1 Paul told Titus that it would be important to, “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.”
This is pretty huge. In our “Teaching Your Children to Obey” series in episodes 138-142, we stepped through the biblical definition of obedience and equipped you to teach it to your children.
But there’s more.
If we don’t obey . . .
7. God wants the reality of consequences to be repeated in our lives.
Jude 1:5, “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”
Consider the work of the Holy Spirit Himself. Three of the Spirit’s works in this world are to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement.
Disciples of Christ must be regularly reminded about the importance of righteousness but also the reality of consequences.
Jesus discussed Hell far more often than He did Heaven. Consequences, both encouraging and corrective are an unbreakable law of nature. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, both in the physical and spiritual realms.
When was the last time you were reminded about the inescapable nature of consequences? When was the last time you reminded your disciplees of that fact?
Our Celebrating God at Church series took the time to discuss the consequences of avoiding the assembling of ourselves together. And we also talk about what happens when we start worshipping self over God . . . just like in our “What is Worship” series.
And — whether we think we need to be reminded of the things we’ve already learned . . .
8. God wants all of the spiritual lessons we’ve learned to be repeated in our lives.
II Thessalonians 2:4 sounds so much like a mother speaking to her child, “Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?” And Matthew 16:9 finds Jesus asking His disciples, “Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?”
This is also why Peter can say so boldly, “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.”
And finally — as I alluded to earlier . . .
9. God wants us to be reminded of His great deeds.
Psalm 77:11 tells us, “I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.”
The Celebration of God is all about worshipping God because of His marvelous deeds and glorious character.
Of course, there are so many other activities and habits God loves to see His people repeat. It may be the regular discipline of assembling as the Body of Christ from week to week. It may be the annual observation of important dates and festivities. It may be the practice of praying without ceasing. So, we could say it this way . . . if it’s worth doing once, it’s worth repeating to the glory of God.
Now, perhaps I may be preaching to the choir with this pep-talk. Maybe I assumed something that isn’t true. But here’s my reason for taking the time to talk about the importance of repetition.
It is very easy for followers of Christ to become calloused to the biblical truths we’ve already heard. We shouldn’t. It’s so dangerous. In fact, apathy concerning the truths of Scripture is a symptom of a sin issue in our hearts.
And still we become apathetic. It’s happened to me.
And when I’ve felt apathetic or when I’ve been in church and the pastor has asked me to turn to a passage I have read and studied and researched and preached and taught and counseled over and over and over again . . . I have too often tuned out — just like that foolish high school junior who thinks they have nothing more to learn about nouns and verbs.
Human nature recoils from what it views as unnecessary repetition.
So, as we find ourselves — once again — in the month of August getting ready to talk about the Season of Mercy, some people may think, “I already know what he’s going to say.” And maybe they do. But I want to promise you that though we will repeat some basic logistical realities from holiday to holiday, our desire is to deepen our understanding of God and how He wants us to worship Him.
We want to help you continue in your discipleship. We desire to repeat these concepts so that we can all be reminded of what it actually takes to worship God with every second of every day for an entire year.
So, with that said, yes, we do plan to build on our understanding of the High Feast Days, but we’re also going to expand our discussion of how to live for God at church, at work, at school, hanging out with friends, and on vacation.
Every single moment of every single day belongs to God. Every decision we make belongs to Him. Every step is His, every relationship, every meal, every holiday . . . they’re all His. And we should all look forward to learning new ways to worship Him.
So, allow me to take the last few minutes of our time to overview for us the upcoming Season of Mercy and remind us of the purpose of this part of the Celebration of God.
The Season of Mercy runs from September through November and is designed to help us meditate on and adore a few specific elements of God’s character and deeds.
Now, that’s not to say that you’re not allowed to revel in other facets of God’s personality and accomplishments, but as we engage in corporate sanctification it’s helpful for us to have a communal focus. And it’s fun to know that believers all over the world are celebrating God in the same way we are.
So, the Season of Mercy focuses primarily on God’s mercy. Therefore, it’s very important to know what God’s mercy is and how it affects us. Of course, trying to unpack the mercy of God would be an eternal undertaking, but The Celebration of God helps by focusing our mind on the following categories.
1. God’s mercy is shown in not immediately sending us to hell.
The salvation focus of the season is our desperation. Instead of condemning us to an eternity separated from Him, God put His plan of redemption into action. And desperation is the first step. We will never know our need for a Savior until we recognize how utterly lost we are.
The Season of Mercy is designed for us to know, understand, and love God better because we are reminded of the fact that we don’t deserve a relationship with God and He didn’t have to save us . . . but He did,
2. God’s mercy is shown in His creation of the world.
3. God’s mercy is shown in His gift of work.
4. God’s mercy is shown in how God worked in our ancestors to bring us unto His plan.
5. God’s mercy is shown in how He provided for our atonement.
6. God’s mercy is shown in His gift of procreation.
7. God’s mercy is shown in His consistent consequences for sin.
8. God’s mercy is shown in His delight of personal sacrifice.
9. God’s mercy is shown in His bountiful and abundant gifts.
Obviously, we’ve just taken a feather and barely scratched the surface of the surface of God’s mercy.
But I mention those nine applications because they encompass the holiday themes and salvation focus of the Season of Mercy.
Each holiday is designed to help us focus on one element of God’s mercy, but also weave all the individual elements together in a tapestry of praise to God.
So, if you haven’t yet, I highly recommend you listen to our introductory episodes in order to better appreciate the scope of The Celebration of God and how the entire year works together to enhance our worship.
We don’t want to observe disconnected events; each is a necessary part of the broader greatness of our eternal Lord.
So, as we conclude today, I invite you to check out CelebrationOfGod.com. There you will find a growing resource library of content designed to help you worship God better today, and tomorrow, and the day after . . . for the next celebratory year.
For example, in regard to the Season of Mercy, we have a number of other episodes that will walk you through the various elements of the season so that you can better understand how they work together.
We also have detailed Bible Readings and various podcast episodes as well as images and crafts and tons of content to help your celebrate God during the holidays, and this year we plan to create more resources to help you do the same on days that aren’t holidays.
And you’ll also find today’s episode notes which are filled with all the Scripture we referenced today concerning the doctrine of repetition and reminders.
I’m so excited to be starting a new year celebratory year with you. I pray to God I worship Him better this year than I did last year, and I know that — in order to mature in Christ — I need to learn new spiritual lessons just as much as I need to have repetitive reminders of the truths I’ve already learned.
So, welcome, my friends, to The Celebration of God. Make sure you subscribe to this podcast and get familiar with The Celebration of God website.
Also, don’t forget to share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so more Christians can join us in giving God the honor and adoration that He’s due.
And — lastly — there’re only about a ten days left before we celebrate Creation Week. So our next episode is going to help you and your fellow disciples deepen your appreciation for the mercy of God exhibited in Creation.
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.