11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Celebration is the way of Christ! Over and over in the Word of God, we see that the result of a life devoted to Jesus, a life that abides in God’s love, is “great joy” or “a joy that is full.”
I write that with great conviction, as I sit reflecting on my Type A personality which is so hard pressed toward “effective work” and rational calculations that all too often I fail to laugh and recognize the goodness of God. But the Lord is changing me….
As we prepare to end this fast, I am reminded that how we finish something is as important as how we begin and tarry through. I don’t know about you, but fasting is not easy. My stomach has sure been trained to give signs of hunger at certain times of the day, and the ease of going to my refrigerator for anything I like does not make it easy to tame. Oh how I realize I have become slave to my stomach at times, and not master of it. Yet it is this struggle that brings me into the reliance on God that I so crave. It is what reminds me that we do not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. That is something to celebrate.
And so I am reminded that celebration is the center of all of the spiritual disciplines. As Richard Foster states in his book the Celebration of Discipline- Without a joyful spirit of festivity, prayer, fasting, and even studying God’s Word can become death-breathing tools in the hands of modern Pharisees.
Joy produces energy. Joy makes us strong.
So as we close this fast, let us “make stones of remembrance,” that were so typical in the Old Testament to mark the places of God’s faithfulness. Let’s revel with one another, sharing stories of how God is working in our lives. It doesn’t need to be big and grand, perhaps it is just an increased authentic trust deposited in the depth of our souls. Whatever it is, let us give Him the authentic praise He deserves.
Father God, we celebrate your faithfulness today. Father we thank you for making our joy complete as we abide in your love, trust and obey. Continue to teach us the way of celebration. Amen
P.S. We are looking forward to finishing strong with you at the “One Nation Under God” prayer march today at 3pm at the Lawrenceville Lawn followed by a time of fellowship and testimony at La Canzuela, downtown Lawrenceville at 5 pm.