Celebrating Jesus…

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“Celebrate Jesus!” It’s been dancing in my brain and moving in my heart.

Just in time to become the topic of the new series for our Sunday night Bible class. With five days left to finish my first lesson, I’m still not sure exactly what the series looks like.

But I know it is supposed to be.

For our last series, “Ephesians: A Letter to Me,” I had my rear end kicked weekly as I felt the responsibility of feeding a room of mature Christians. I attended church in the womb, grew up in a Christian school and attended a Christian college and found things in the book of Ephesians I had never seen before.

And I loved it.

It’s a growth process, this becoming a teacher thing.

When there are discouraging nights or attendance is low, there are a couple of things I cling to: 1) The message is God’s, not mine. 2)Jesus did not play the numbers game. A dedicated few is better than a half-hearted many and sometimes empty seats mean that those who are no longer there are being used elsewhere.

That’s the meat of this new series.

Church is not (gasp!) the be-all and end-all of our existence. Like I said, I grew up in church. I’ve been there when the floor was picked out, spent the night there when a hurricane was coming, rang in many a New Year within its walls and timed the wait for Sunday dinner by the fourth verse of “Just as I Am.”

I sometimes have to remind myself that the Church does not exist within the church. The church is where we revive and party-plan.

Party plan. (Celebrate Jesus & party plan – see that clever connection I made?)sparkle-md

    I’m really liking this.

Part of my studies led me to the celebrations of the nation of Israel. Did you know that the Jews celebrated seven major festivals, an additional feast every lunar month and the weekly Sabbath? After exile, they added three more holiday observances.

This doesn’t include the times that kings decided to throw a major party for no other reason than to honor God. Read how Solomon gave God glory in 1 Kings 8.

“At that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven more days — fourteen days. On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king, and went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the good that the Lord had done for His servant David, and for Israel His people.” (verses 65-66)

It is easy to skip through the book of Leviticus, thinking it is all about rules, when there is quite a bit telling the Israelites how to celebrate. (Leviticus 23-25)

    God loves us to celebrate Him.

“The young women will dance for joy, and the men — old and young — will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.” (Jeremiah 31:13)

This isn’t empty celebration though – treating life as one big party. We celebrate because we know Him and He is worthy of all honor and glory and praise. He died for us. We love Him because He first loved us. He is so amazing that when we get a grasp of that we just can’t keep it in.

    sparkle-mdWe celebrate to show off His glory. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
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    And, three verses down, we see that we celebrate to bring others to Him. “Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12)

    “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

    What does this celebration look like? What form does it take? I’m excited about finding that out!

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“Let’s kill the dreamer!”

BeFunky_killthedreamer_00450366.jpgAs a part of the Jennie Allen Restless study, I am reading the Biblical account of Joseph.

I love the story of Joseph.

My father was a dreamer. And, like many dreamers, I think he was sometimes looked at a bit indulgently and taken with a grain of salt along with an, “Oh, that’s nice.”

The last notes in his Bible were sermon notes on Joseph the Dreamer. Completely unaware of that, the preacher who flew in for the funeral had already prepared a sermon on just that, honoring my dad and his dreams.

You probably don’t know my father by name but in his small way, he made a big difference in the world of missions. Some of the dreams he dared to dream long ago are now part of the current vision in evangelism. Hundreds of people are vocational missionaries and pastors, bringing others to Jesus, through the vision and ministry of my dad. A man who dared to dream.

What if Joseph had been afraid to dream?

I know that his was a prophetic gift but what if he had squelched that gift, thinking it silly or not worthy of sharing?

Something really stood out to me as I read his story. When Joseph was young and his brothers were terribly jealous, the Bible tells us that his father sent him out to check on them. (It wasn’t a short trip, by the way, but that is another character trait for another day.) They saw him coming and plotted to kill him.

“Then they said to one another, ‘Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit…We shall see what will become of his dreams!'” (Genesis 37:19-20 NKJV)

In the past, I’ve always read this passage in the light of his brothers’ jealousy – that he was killed over a coat that represented favoritism.

That isn’t what this says. They didn’t say, “Come, let us kill our father’s favorite! We’ll wipe that bratty little smirk off of his face.”

THEY WERE OUT TO KILL THE DREAMER.

“We shall see what will become of his dreams!”

Isn’t that exactly how the enemy works? We dare to dream. We pull up everything that is inside of us and finally let go and dream big for God, passionate about using our gifts for God and BAM!

SATAN TRIES TO KILL OUR DREAMS.

Through relatives, well-meaning friends, enemies, finances or any other obstacle he can throw our way, Satan will do whatever he can to destroy the work we have ahead of us to serve the Kingdom of God.

In John 10:10, Jesus tells us that: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”

“You aren’t qualified.” “No one will be interested.” “People better than you are already doing that.” “Who do you think you are?”

If God has called you to do something, those are lies from the pits of hell.pizap.comLIES

Jesus goes on to say, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

There were some fierce ways that the enemy, through people, tried to kill the dreams of Joseph. They are the same ways that Satan tries to come against our dreams – our callings – today.

In a parallel to Joseph:

  • He’ll try to kill them. (Gen. 37:20)
  • He’ll try to dry them up. (Gen. 37:24)
  • Seduce us away from them. (Gen. 39:7-13)
  • Lock them away where we can’t use them. (Gen. 39:20)

But like Joseph, we are to cling to our callings, daring to dream “because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.” (Gen. 39:23)

Oh Father, today, help me to ignore the lies. Thank You that in You, I am an overcomer. Help me not to be afraid but to boldly dream big dreams for you.

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