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Three weeks ago we glimpsed into the mercy of God. Two weeks ago we got a snapshot of the mercy of God in salvation. Last week we saw what the mercy of God should produce in us. And this week we’re going to talk about wonderful ways to celebrate that mercy.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t come face to face with my great God and not be drawn to extol and exalt Him. And I hope you have a similar reaction.
As always today’s episode is accompanied by episode notes, a transcript, and links to related resources, so I hope you’ll take advantage of those.
Now, let’s talk about three great ways to celebrate God’s mercy.
1. Celebrate God’s mercy by studying mercy in the Bible.
My friends, the sufficiency of Scripture is under great attack. But true believers recognize that God perfectly inspired His Word, and He has preserved it for us. It’s everything we need for life and godliness, and it has the power to reveal us and change us.
Therefore, all of the best ways to celebrate God are going to come back to the Bible. Whether it’s learning about Him, talking about Him, singing about Him, or even praying to Him, the Bible should be at the core.
That’s why we’ve put together a 3 Month Mercy Bible Reading. Each month your reading will help you focus on a different facet of mercy.
This year our three focuses are “The God of Mercy,” “Our Merciful Salvation,” and “God’s Mercy in Us.”
Each month is broken up into 5 weeks so that there are more than enough passages to read. And each passage has an instructional or devotional thought to help you better appreciate how the passage interacts with the idea of mercy.
I heartily encourage you to download that free PDF from CelebrationOfGod.com/mercy to access that Bible Reading.
And then make sure you don’t just read it. Study it. Meditate on it. Hide it in your mind. Instead of walking away from the Scriptures unchanged, in James 1:21-25 we learn, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”
Do you see how the implanted Word is designed to save us from our wickedness? It changes us. But it won’t change us if we don’t take heed to it. Verse 22 continues, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
Don’t delude yourself by thinking that merely reading the Bible is good enough. Be changed by it because you look intently into it, see the awesomeness of God, see the wickedness of yourself, and discover how God wants to change you. And then go and do what you learned.
And that perfectly leads into . . .
2. Celebrate God’s mercy by being merciful.
As we just learned, a true disciple of Christ cannot swim in the ocean of God’s mercy and not come out soaked and dripping with that mercy.
As we learned in our What is Worship Series, obedience is worship. Therefore, when we obey God’s command to be merciful, we’re worshipping Him. And when we withhold that mercy, we’re worshipping ourselves.
So, not only did we just do an episode about God’s mercy in us, and not only is our entire November Bible Reading all about God’s mercy in us, but we’re starting a new series next week called “The Merciful Life.”
This series is going to focus in on one very important character flaw that keeps us from being as merciful as we should be. I really look forward to getting into this study, and I believe all of God’s people will benefit from it.
The character flaw we’re going to expose to the light of God’s Word is something I see absolutely infesting our world and the church. It comes up in every single biblical counseling case, it’s far too alive in my own life and home, and I believe it’s a bigger issue in your life than you realize.
And not only is the character flaw a massive offense to God, but it’s one of the biggest reasons I believe God’s people aren’t merciful like they should be.
So, be sure to give God the glory and preeminence that He deserves in your life by actually putting into practice what you’re learning about a merciful life.
And now our final point.
3. Celebrate God’s mercy by observing the mercy holidays.
The Year Long Celebration of God was designed to utilize the Christian holiday calendar and the daily experiences of life to open our eyes to how we can better worship God.
All followers of Christ should want to worship God better this year than they did last year, and one of the most outwardly exciting ways to worship is to participate in the Holy Days.
So, let’s talk briefly about how to interact with the holiday calendar and how celebrating these holidays should be able to help us better appreciate and show God’s mercy.
First, I believe there’s great value in recognizing the fact that celebrating a holiday to God’s honor and glory should likely involve more than merely “showing up” and participating in the festivities.
I strongly encourage people to intentionally Prepare for the holidays. And let me be honest — I really struggle with this part.
My preparation for Creation Week was non-existent, and it showed in every possible way when it came to actually celebrating Creation Week.
Preparation is all about taking time to prepare ourselves, our disciplees, and our spaces to undistractedly worship God when the holiday arrives.
Episode 8 from our Introductory Series explains Preparation in greater detail, and many of our holiday resources also give practical ways you can prepare for the holiday.
One of those ways always involves Scripture meditation and prayer, and many of our holidays have Bible Readings just for them.
Any and all God-focused preparation you do for the Mercy Holidays will help you worship God better during them.
And that’s the Celebration stage of the holiday. That’s the day or days or week or weeks you put your worship plans into action and give God the preeminence that’s due Him.
And we have tons of resources for how to celebrate the Mercy Holidays to the praise and honor of the Lord.
But there’s also Anticipation. Anticipation helps us not stay stuck in the here and now. It focuses our mind on God’s future work as well as future opportunities we will have to worship God. It builds excitement for the things God is going to do in this world and in our lives.
Preparation, Celebration, and Anticipation — Lord willing you will try to work all three of those elements into each of the Mercy Holidays.
Now, let’s quickly look at each of the Mercy Holidays and explain briefly how they should affect our understanding, appreciation, and exercise of mercy.
The Season of Mercy is a busy three months as we observe up to 9 different holidays.
Of course, if you’ve worked through our Introductory Series, you know that these unique days and times are not required to glorify God. The ideas illustrated through them are, but the festivities themselves are not.
I encourage you to listen to our Introductory Series if you never have; that way nothing that I’m about to say will be confusing to you or misinterpreted.
The first Mercy Holiday is Creation Week.
When God created the cosmos, He didn’t give mankind what they deserved. And let’s be honest, a creation that immediately rebels against it’s Creator doesn’t deserve to be created in the first place.
If you knew that your invention wouldn’t do what you created it to, but instead would actively attack you, you wouldn’t go through the trouble of making it. But God is merciful and gracious in that He gave us the chance we didn’t deserve. And He didn’t merely create a bland world that would provide the merest sustenance we needed, He created a glorious cosmos that would abundantly provide more than we could imagine.
Creation Week is a wonderful way to start the Celebratory Year because it goes all the way back to the beginning of God’s mercy to man.
The second holiday is a minor holiday. It wasn’t created specifically to worship God, but the fact that Labor Day happens so near to Creation Week is really awesome. Humans don’t deserve a purpose. We don’t deserve to be creative and able to produce valuable goods and services. But God didn’t give us what we deserve. God works, God creates, so He allows us to work and create.
Even before sin entered the world, God gave mankind the gift of work. And Christians can use Labor Day to give God the glory for that work.
I’m going to discuss the next three minor holidays together even though there’s another more important holiday that often falls in-between the first and the other two.
Grandparent’s Day, Daughter’s Day, and Son’s Day are all opportunities to celebrate the mercy of God in slightly different ways. However, they all have a common thread. Redeemed mankind thrives in relationships, but we don’t deserve to have relationships with others. It’s God’s mercy that doesn’t give us what we deserve, and it’s His grace that allows us to be born to parents and to give birth to children.
These are both amazing mercies. Even though we have no right to have grandparents who reared our parents, we all have them. And even though we have no right to be entrusted with a little life to disciple for God, He not only allows us, but mandates that we do.
The key is to make God the focus of these days and praise Him for His merciful gifts. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we ignore our grandparents and children on these days, but I’ll let you listen to our episodes about how to celebrate God on those days to figure out how to balance showing honor to people while simultaneously making it all about God.
This next major holiday is similar to Easter in that it lands at different times during our year, but it’s always situated firmly in the Season of Mercy. It’s called the Day of Atonement, and it reveals God’s mercy in a really powerful way.
It’s true that Adam and Eve didn’t deserve to be created and that God was merciful to them and us by giving them life. But when they rebelled against God, they deserved His mercy even less.
But while the Day of Atonement observes the Fall of Man, it also celebrates the mercy of God in providing a substitute to take the consequences of our sin.
And then there’s Halloween. Now, if you think that Christians should not be observing Halloween, I would encourage you to listen to the episodes I did on that subject. You will find a link to all of these holiday resources in the description of today’s episode.
And if you still choose to ignore October 31st, that’s completely fine. But in The Year Long Celebration of God, we use Halloween to highlight the consequences of sin. Fear and death are two of the most powerful consequences we deserve, but God has a plan to remove them both. Therefore, we love to celebrate God’s mercy on Halloween.
The final minor holiday of the Season of Mercy is also a secular holiday. However, Veteran’s Day is a wonderful time to give honor where honor is due while at the same time praising God for His mercy. None of us deserve to be protected from the horrors of this cursed world. None of us deserve to have another give their life and limb to shield us from the consequences of the sins of others. But God teaches that the greatest love is to lay down one’s life for another.
And in that way Veteran’s Day beautifully illustrates what we learned during the Day of Atonement.
And, finally, the Season ends with Thanksgiving. What better way could we respond to the mercy of God than with eternal gratitude.
I can’t imagine how a recipient of mercy wouldn’t be humbled and thankful for the unmerited favor of their Creator King. And so we close the Season of Mercy praising God for what He’s done in the past and looking forward to the mercy He will show us in the future.
As you can see, there are many, many ways to celebrate God’s mercy this Season. We should revel in the Scriptural teachings concerning God’s mercy. We should strive to live out the mercy of God to everyone we meet. And we should use the holidays to glory in the unmerited compassion of the Lord.
Be sure to download our free Mercy Bible Reading, and share with us on social media how God’s mercy is changing you this year. And speaking of sharing, please share this series with your fellow disciples of Christ so they too can deepen their appreciation for the lovingkindness of God.
And then join us next time as we seek to better know, love, and worship God and help the people in our lives do the same.
To that end, we’ll be starting our new series called “The Merciful Life.”
The Year Long Celebration of God is a discipleship experience designed to equip followers of Christ to better know, love, and worship Him as they help others in their lives do the same. We exalt God, teach His people how to practically worship Him every day of the year, and train them to disciple others.
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.
AMBrewster is the creator of The Year Long Celebration of God and host of its podcast.