COG 141: Grace, Part 4 | Celebration
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Welcome back to the conclusion of our current Grace Series where we investigate the grace of God and our responses to it.
Please check out CelebrationOfGod.com to access today’s free episode notes, transcript, and other grace resources to equip you for further maturity this season.
Today we’re going to finish this series by looking at the various opportunities you have to celebrate God’s grace this Season.
1. Celebrate God’s grace by talking with God about His grace.
This point has two important facets.
A. Study God’s grace in the Scriptures.
To that end, we have a free 3-Month Grace Bible Reading you can access at CelebrationOfGod.com/Grace.
But that Bible Reading is just a start. It’s designed to whet your appetite to scour the Scriptures to learn more about God’s grace.
The Season of Grace is three months long. There is plenty of time to use a concordance, Bible dictionary, commentaries, and the like to study every specific instance in the Scripture concerning the grace of God.
Of course, the entirety of the Bible is a living outworking of God’s grace, so there will always be more to learn, but I strongly encourage you to dig deep this Season. That’s why we’re going to continue the study on our next series by examining what the Bible says about living a gracious life. That’s definitely one of the responses we should have to God’s grace, and I pray that we all grow in it this year.
And as you learn more about God’s gracious character and deeds . . .
B. Pray about God’s grace.
Bible study and prayer is a two-way conversation between us and God. He speaks to us through the written text of His Word, and we speak back to Him in prayer.
As you learn about grace, take the time to . . .
First, thank Him for His grace. You don’t deserve it, there was nothing that required God to show you grace (aside from His own loving character), and you’re not entitled to it. Therefore, absolutely everything that happens to you today is something for which you should thank the Lord.
Second, ask God to convict you of your lack of grace. So often we ask God to strengthen us and empower us to live righteous lives (which is a good thing in and of itself), but we don’t ask God to convict us of our need in the moment.
It’s convenient to ask Him for strength because we can then assume that we’re living in the strength today. But the reality is that we too often live in our own strength and think that it’s from God. Therefore, it’s far better to plead with the Holy Spirit to convict you of your sin so that you can see your self-reliance and respond to your sin by confessing it to God, asking for forgiveness, and then actually living in the strength that’s He’s been continually providing but in which you had previously chosen not to live.
Third, ask for God to make His grace evident in the lives of your fellow disciples. Listen, there are two traps into which we fall on this point. Number one, there will never be a time that God won’t be abundantly gracious to your friends and family. It’s not like He’s withholding grace until you beg Him enough. His grace will be a constant, ever-abounding spring that will only increase as we submit to it. The other trap into which we fall on this point is to assume everyone interprets God’s grace the same way. Listen, we don’t. The majority of people in the world interpret God’s grace as the “universe” or a consequence of their own planning, working, and scheming. Therefore, though it’s not inappropriate to ask God to continue being what He is — gracious — I believe it’s more helpful when we pray things like, “Open their eyes to the grace you already give them.”
And the same goes for us.
Fourth, ask God to help you see His grace more clearly. Again, it’s completely appropriate to ask for grace; just make sure you don’t put the cart before the horse. Humble yourself before God. Submit yourself to Him. Don’t approach Him from a standpoint of entitlement and expectation. Humbly realize that you are a wretch completely undeserving of grace and trust that God will provide you exactly what you need because He is just that amazing. Assume that there’s an infinite amount of grace pouring into your life, but you’re too blind to really see it. Thank God for it, look for it, and trust that it’s all exactly what you need.
If nothing else, your conversation with God about His grace as you read His Word and pray will completely change you this Season.
2. Celebrate God’s grace by being gracious.
It’s impossible for a genuine child of God who is growing in their knowledge and understanding of God’s grace to not be more gracious. We learned this very important lesson in our Discipleship Spiral Series. If you haven’t heard those episodes, please make it your goal in the New Year.
And it’s this point that we are going to study in our Gracious Life Series which should be starting next week.
We plan to search the Scriptures for a better understanding of seven character traits that should be growing in the life of every believer. As we live out these character traits to the people in our lives — family, friends, and even strangers and enemies — we will be living out God’s grace.
But right now is an important time to remind us that the best way to celebrate God is to obey Him. It doesn’t matter if we go to church, read our Bibles, pray, preach, give, or any other noble endeavors if we’re doing it for our own pleasure and benefit.
God is not being worshipped when we live for ourselves. Therefore, true worship — true celebration — only occurs as we do the right things in the right ways for the right reasons and in the right power. That is the purest and best form of worship we can ever offer God.
Yes, that will include the High Days, the corporate worship, the singing, and the other things we like to image are the “most important” parts of our worship. But the meat and potatoes — as it were — of worship is in the Low Moments, the daily grind of serving God even when our flesh doesn’t want to. He is most pleased when our worship shows through our chores and conversations with supermarket cashiers and parenting and entertainment than He is when we spend the majority of our week living for self and then act like we’re worshipping on Sunday.
This is why we spent so much time last year identifying and examining key Low Moments in our Everydays in which we need to better worship God.
We studied the ins-and-outs of discipleship, celebrating God on vacation, at work, and at school, worshipping Him with our recreation and rest, truly celebrating Him at church, and even in the uncomfortable times of loss and death.
I hope you will take time to listen to some of those episodes and series you may have missed so that you can continue to mature in your worship of God in those various moments.
The Season of Grace will not please the Lord if we only give Him attention on the Holidays. We need to lean on Him and follow Him on the Everydays as well.
So, please, for the sake of your Lord and yourself, grow in your gracious living every day this Season.
Of course, though it’s the Low Moments that truly reveal our spiritual maturity, we also need to . . .
3. Celebrate God’s grace by observing the grace holidays.
The High Days belong to God and should be a celebration of praise for Him.
The temptation is that if we’re living the Low Moments for self, the chances are very high that the High Days will be lived for self as well. But when we’re depending on God, giving Him the preeminence, and fixing our eyes on Him through all the normal seconds of life, there is a much higher chance that our Holidays will also be experienced to His honor and glory.
By the way, if you are new to The Year Long Celebration of God, please check out our Introductory Series. That Series will help you better understand what we are and what this tool is designed to accomplish in your life.
Lord willing, you’ll learn so many necessary concepts that will help this discipleship experience and accompanying podcast to have the maximum benefit in your life.
Okay, so whether you call them holidays, holy days, or High Days, there are a number of opportunities for corporately celebrating God with His people all over the world.
Now, before I itemize these celebrations today, please know that we have many resources available for you at CelebrationOfGod.com. I won’t be going into a ton of detail about these holidays, but I promise you that I will likely say something that will surprise you or have not been on your radar and which leave you with more questions. Never fear, we will have links in the description of today’s episode so you can learn more about each of these amazing corporate holidays.
And the first is . . .
Advent is a double-edged holiday of celebration and anticipation. As we look back to the Lord’s first advent, we celebrate that massive moment in human history when God stepped physically into His own redemption story to fulfill the promises He made so many years before.
But it’s also a time to look forward to Christ’s second advent when He collects His people to Himself and eventually sets up His kingdom on this earth.
It’s a looking back and a looking forward. It’s a gratification and a delayed gratification. It should cause us to think about our Justification and our future Glorification. It involves opportunities for celebratory feasting and celebratory fasting.
Advent is a 40 day timeframe to refocus our eyes on God and His eternal plan to relate to His people for His own glory.
I pray you will learn more about Advent this year and even participate in the celebration.
And, of course, the first Advent of Christ is celebrated further on . . .
I don’t think I need to give too much detail about the benefits and opportunities of the Twelve Days of Christmas. But if you’d like to learn more about how a protestant can enjoy the glories of God on all Twelve Days of Christmas, then be sure to check out the link in the description of today’s episode.
And if you’re interested in learning whether or not Christians should even participate in the celebrations of this time of year because you’re concerned that Christmas may be a sorry derivative of an ancient pagan festival, then I have some other resources I’d like you to consider.
Christmas is not a pagan derivative when it’s celebrated by God’s people for His glory. And — to be honest — there is little legitimate historical evidence that December 25th was chosen in order to highjack a godless holiday. So, if you’ve been lead to believe that, and you’ve avoided Christmas for those empty reasons, I’d strongly encourage you to reconsider the whole purpose of Christmas.
For the believer, Christmas isn’t merely about family and love . . . it’s about God’s love that would dare to make us part of His family. Every born again believer is going to celebrate that at some point in the year. Whether it’s December 25th or not, it doesn’t matter. No true child of God is going to refuse to praise Him for the incarnation and subsequent life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.
So, please, child of God, give God the preeminence because of Christ’s first gracious advent to this world.
Now, Advent and Christmas are considered the major holidays of the Season of Grace. But though the following two are considered the minor holidays doesn’t mean that they don’t provide amazing opportunities to worship God.
C. Valentine’s Day
If we’re going to celebrate God’s grace, then we must praise God for His incalculable and everlasting love. And what better time is there to put God’s love in the spotlight than when the world is trying to distract us by its pathetic versions of love?
Why should Christians be quiet on Valentines Day when we could be proclaiming the love of God? And — worse yet — why should we ignore the love of God to focus merely on the romantic feelings we experience?
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with giving valentines or celebrating the gift of romance, but when we do so to the exclusion of God’s love — which is the source from which all holy love flows — then we’re worshipping the creature over the Creator.
Instead, let’s be shining examples and oracles of the gracious love of God.
And then the final minor holiday of the Season of Grace is primarily a Canadian holiday.
D. Family Day
Now, you don’t have to be Canadian to celebrate God’s gift of the Family on February 17th. We should be celebrating that gift every day!
Of course, in America our Family Day is the first Sunday in August, but this isn’t about the country in which you live. This is about recognizing God’s gracious gift of the family.
Even if your family growing up was not ideal or your current family has huge problems, God used your family to give you life and equip you to be the person He’s creating you to be.
That means — just like all of the other hard experiences in our lives — God has a gracious plan to give Himself glory and mature us.
And for those of you who love celebrating God’s gift of the Family, you could celebrate it in February and August if you want. That’s one of the things that’s so great about The Year Long Celebration of God. It’s customizable!
Yes, we absolutely must give God the glory for family, salvation, love, creation, the church, His Word, all of His attributes, and a million other things, but He’s given us latitude in when and how we do it.
You don’t have to slavishly or legalistically observe these occasions in order to earn anything from God. These are simply corporate opportunities for us to join with God’s people all over the world to celebrate Him, His character, and His deeds . . . which includes the gift of our families.
So, I hope you’re excited to worship God this December, January, and February. Whether it’s a Low Moment or High Day, whether it’s a Holiday or an Everyday, I pray that you will strive to better know, understand, and submit to God this Season.
And I hope you’ll help your fellow disciples to do the same. To that end please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets so other followers of Christ can learn to celebrate His grace better this year.
If you have any questions or comments, you can always reach out to us at Counselor@CelebrationOfGod.com, and 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 The Gracious Life Series.
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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.
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AMBrewster is the creator of The Year Long Celebration of God and host of its podcast.