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I’m so glad you’re here today.
I was recently encouraged while on Facebook. A gentleman named Jackson told his friend about how much he appreciated The Celebration of God.
Now I’m not sure if you’ve ever thought about the life of a podcaster. You probably don’t. Or you may think their life is something it’s not. So please allow me to pull back the curtain on the experience of many of them . . . the vast majority of them.
They spend so much time creating content and recording that content into a microphone with absolutely no feedback at all. And very seldom do we hear from people about how we’re doing . . . unless, that is, people don’t like what they hear. And then we definitely know about it.
So, what’s the moral of the story. Well, Jackson has taught us that not only is social media a great place to encourage your favorite podcasters, but it’s also a great place to tell your friends about the podcasts you like.
So, thank you Jackson for being such a blessing to me and your friends.
You too can follow The Celebration of God on Facebook and Instagram for daily celebration prompts, and . . . you can comment on, like, and even share our content there as well!
That would be so cool! You’ll be a blessing to us, your community, and yourself as you interact with our posts.
So, I hope you’ll check it out. There are links in the description of today’s episode, or you can just search Celebration of God.
And, speaking of links, there will also be a link to today’s episode notes and other New Year’s resources.
And I’ll also include a link for the Wisdom app. Wisdom is a great tool whereby you and I can actually talk with each other.
This coming Monday at 11am EST, I’m going to start a live talk on Wisdom. We’re going to take the things we’ve learned from this episode and dig into them a little deeper.
I look forward to having you come on to the show to talk about how you and your disciplees prepare for, celebrate, and disciple during the New Year.
I’ll also be answering your New Year questions. You may be a pastor or a biblical counselor or a teacher or a parent or young single Christian . . . bring your questions and we’ll do our best to answer them from God’s Word.
And the really cool thing is that even though it’s free to you and free to me to use Wisdom, the company will actually pay me depending on how many people listen to the live talk as it’s going. So even if you don’t plan to join the conversation by asking a question or telling us about your New Year’s plans, just being there and listening is really beneficial for everyone.
Again, click on the Wisdom link in the description of today’s episode so you can follow me @AMBrewster and tune in on Monday.
Now, let’s talk about how you can worship God in your New Year celebrations.
Regardless of when you celebrate the New Year, if you really want to make Christ preeminent, you’re going to have to prepare well, celebrate well, and disciple well.
So today we’re going to look at those three things, but first I want to remind us where New Year’s falls in the Year Long Celebration of God.
1. New Year
In America, we observe the New Year on January 1st. Many Asian and Middle Eastern cultures observe their Spring Festival sometime between the end of January and the end of February. The Jew’s New Year observance actually happens in-between September and October, and the largest Indian celebration occurs between October and November. And there are plenty others.
But it doesn’t matter when you observe the New Year, our content applies to all Christians in all contexts. It just so happens that we’re posting this episode right before January. But it will be available for everyone whenever they need it.
Now, unless you’re new to the show and haven’t listened to our Introductory Episodes — shame on you by the way — you should know that The Year Long Celebration of God separates the year into four celebratory seasons.
The first runs from September to November and is called the Season of Mercy. The second runs from December through February and is called the Season of Grace. The third season, the Season of Life extends from March through May, and the Season of Power is June, July, and August.
So, with the exception of the Season of Power, your New Year celebration will likely fall during any of the other three Seasons.
And that’s great!
If your New Year celebration happens in the Season of Mercy, you can worship God for His great mercy by observing the fact that we don’t even deserve a new year. Our sins earn us nothing but death. We don’t deserve second chances. We don’t deserve fresh starts. And it’s God’s mercy that keeps us from getting what we deserve.
On the flip side, while God’s mercy keeps us from getting what we deserve, God’s grace lavishes on us that which we don’t deserve.
And like Reliant K once observed, “The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.”
Praise God that life isn’t fair! Praise the Lord that He mercifully doesn’t always give His children what they do deserve because very often He graciously gives them what they don’t deserve.
But celebrating the New Year in the Season of Life is amazing too because of the obvious implications that the new year is a time of new beginnings, and those new beginnings can only thrive within a relationship with God. The same is true for second chances and fresh starts.
And — if there does happen to be a New Year celebration that occurs during the Season of Power, that too provides a fantastic way to elevate the awesomeness of God because only He is powerful enough to give us the strength necessary to change in the New Year.
Now, how people observe or celebrate the New Year varies from culture to culture as well, and we do plan to talk more about that in future years, but — for now — I want to discuss something that all of God’s people can do regardless of what other traditions they may have.
Just like The Celebration of God breaks the year into four seasons in order to celebrate an attribute of God, we also take each of the Seasons to celebrate an attribute of salvation.
In the Season of Mercy we focus on our Desperation — the fact that we all desperately need a relationship with God.
If your New Year observance happens during the Season of Mercy, your Desperation should motivate your New Year’s resolutions. We all need to change and grow and mature. We all — even Christians — are desperately in need of more holiness and conformity to Christ.
During the Season of Grace we focus on Glorification. That’s the future glory and miracle of our salvation. We celebrate our future glorification before we celebrate Justification and Sanctification because Glorification couples well with our celebration of Advent, and it also whets our desires to submit to God as we revel in the plan He has for us.
In addition, our Desperation is enhanced when we have a biblical view of who God wants us to be. That future reality is the goal toward which we should be working now.
So, if your New Year happens in the Season of Grace, your thoughts about your future Glorification can and should motivate your continued maturity in this life.
The Season of Life then focuses on the Justification — the moment that we become a child of God by confessing our sin and believing in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
For the believer, Justification is a one-time, past experience. However, the fact that the historical event is behind us doesn’t mean that it can’t motivate my current worship of God. In fact, the reality is quite the contrary. We definitely celebrate God now because of what He did in the past.
So too, my New Year’s celebration should clearly include praising God for our Justification.
And in the Season of Power we focus on Sanctification. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to be conformed to the image of Christ as we live out our salvation every single day.
The implications for a New Year celebration where we all look to grow and change and have a better year than the one before are staggering.
So, regardless of which season hosts your New Year observances, let’s talk about how we can prepare our minds to give God the preeminence.
The best ways to prepare are doing the things that will keep our minds engaged.
We get into so much trouble when we go into autopilot. The vast majority of our sinful choices are made when we mindlessly feel our way through life. In those moments, all we’ll ever do is habitually offer our life’s experiences on the altar to self. That’s idolatry. That’s an abomination.
So, if that’s what happens when we allow ourselves to shut our minds off, we really need to reconsider our amusement.
The word “amuse” literally means “no thinking.” And don’t most people approach the holidays with that mindset?
“It’s vacation time! Time to shut off my brain!”
But if we are intentional to prepare our minds, to keep them focused on what matters, we’ll be in a much better place to not slip into mindless idolatry.
So, how do we keep our minds engaged?
Well, listening to podcast episodes like this, preaching, teaching, and the like is very helpful. If you go to CelebrationOfGod.com, you’ll find a bunch of other New Year resources including content about how to glorify God with our New Year’s resolutions.
It’s also very helpful to set up visual reminders.
The Lord constantly required the Jewish people to set up memorials and symbolic representations in order to keep their minds focused on what was important. Just like we discussed last time, the shadows are given to use to point to the substance.
That’s why we created the Celebration Wall. A Celebration Wall is any physical space wherein or whereon you place visual reminders of God and His glory.
It’s definitely not an altar. Please make sure you listen to our episode about the purpose of Celebration Walls so that you don’t get any wrong ideas.
It’s merely a place to post verses, hang images designed to remind us of God’s deeds and nature, keep a prayer list, and anything else that will immediately draw our minds to God when we look at it.
It can be as small or as large as you like.
But the absolute best ways to get your mind engaged is to read the Scriptures and talk to God in prayer.
I really hope that you have a habit of daily reading the Bible.
I don’t have time to talk about it now, but if you don’t regularly pray and read the Bible, there is a much bigger struggle in your life than you realize. It’s is incredibly important for many reasons, but the greatest of the reasons is that God commands us to regularly, purposefully, and deeply interact with His Word. And He commands that we pray without ceasing.
We have many holiday-themed Bible reading plans that you can download for free, and that collection is growing every year. Definitely check out CelebrationOfGod.com to find carefully curated Bible-reading plans to prepare your mind for the holiday.
And then when you talk back to God in prayer about what He’s teaching you in His Word, you will be preparing your mind to stay engaged during the New Year’s celebrations.
And that leads us to . . .
In America, New Year observances generally include staying up to 12am in order to “ring in the New Year.”
But regardless of what ancillary traditions you may have, allow me to suggest the following:
And there are so many other things you can do. In fact, you’re all so creative, we’d love to hear your plans for celebrating God on New Year’s Eve and/or New Year’s Day.
Take to social media and tag @CelebrationOfGod with your ideas and plans. But whether you share your celebration or not, definitely do it. God deserves to be worshipped in the New Year.
And you can also join me on Wisdom this coming Monday at 11am EST to talk about how you plan to worship God in the New Year as well as answer your New Year questions.
It will be a great talk, so make sure you join us!
And lastly . . .
You probably noticed that many of the celebration ideas I had above included other people. I assumed you would likely spend time with family and friends at some point in your New Year observances.
Well, when it comes to our interactions with other people, God expects that it will fall into one of two categories: evangelism or discipleship.
Evangelism is an interaction whereby we introduce unbelievers to the Lord as well as introduce them to their need for Him.
Discipleship is an interaction whereby we help believers grow in their knowledge, understanding, and submission to God.
So, if you did any of the celebratory things I mentioned earlier, and you did them with intentionality and a clear focus on the God of the Bible, then you are inherently communicating to everyone around you the importance of God in your life.
Obviously, you should definitely take any opportunities to talk about God when you interact with individuals. Help them see how He specifically is the answer to their biggest questions and needs.
But whether it’s direct or indirect, be careful that your evangelism and discipleship are consistent.
One significant critique about Christians is that they talk one way but live another. Reading a few Bible verses and saying a prayer right before your get absolutely plastered with alcohol is communicating all the wrong messages.
It says that it’s okay to pay lip-service to God even though we have no intention of actually submitting to Him in obedience to His Word.
So, whether you eat or drink or play games or watch movies or talk politics or whatever you may do, do all to the glory of God.
Then and only then will your evangelism and discipleship send the correct, Christ-honoring message.
The core tenants of The Celebration of God are these:
Therefore, I invite you to make God a big part of your New Year’s celebrations.
Talk about God’s character and deeds. Make a big deal about salvation. Read His Word, pray, engage in redemptive conversations with the people you meet. Love everyone the way God loves you, and give Him the preeminence in your life that He deserves.
And one really great way to do that is to share this episode on your favorite social media outlets. Help your friends and family learn how to better worship God this New Year. And be there this coming Monday at 11am EST when we plan to discuss these ideas in more detail. I’d love for you to join the conversation.
And make sure you join us next time as we discuss how to best worship God in January.
I’ll see you then.
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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.