January 29, 2023 

Message Big Idea

Celebration is not typically included among the common Christian practices or virtues. Yet, we have much to celebrate, even within our daily rhythms of ongoing work.  God, in the creation narrative, modeled how to slow down and take pleasure in one’s work. We too should form a habit of celebration, making time daily for praise, slowing down, and celebratory reflection on “every good gift…coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).

Lean In

  • Take a moment to reflect (if you are going through this on your own) or share (if you are with others in a group setting): What are you grateful for today? What are you struggling with today?
  • Share something from this past week that you would like to celebrate?  What was good about it?  How was God involved?

Look Down

  • Read Exodus 23:14-17 (Read twice – ESV and either NLT or Message)
  • Take a moment to briefly retell the passage in your own words.
  • What words or phrases “jumped off the page” and intrigued you the most? Why?

Look Out

  • How does celebration normally occur in the world today? When do people celebrate (Is it always or mostly associated with work or achievement)?  How do people celebrate?
  • Within the Church, how and when does celebration occur? What do we celebrate? Why, in some or most cases, don’t we take time to celebrate?

Look In

  • Pastor Mark noted how OT celebration:
    • Honors God
    • Costs Something
    • Builds a spirit of gratitude
  • What are some practical ways you can build a habit of celebration in light of these three focal areas? How can you specifically honor God? What might regular celebration cost you? What might a “spirit of gratitude” produce in your life? What preparation needs to occur to make this happen?

Live It Out

  • What is one thing God seems to be asking you to do in response to this passage? (i.e., “I will ….”)
  • Who can you tell about this “I will” statement in the next 48 hours?
  • Journal about your time in God’s Word this week. Stop to listen to what He might be telling you. Celebrate His presence through His Word.
  • This Week, reflect on this prayer:
    • “Oh God, You have provided for us, both spiritually and materially. Yet we have failed to be thankful and to rejoice in Your goodness. We live hurried lives, and as a result, have ignored You and neglected to give You the praise that is due Your name. Forgive us for our ingratitude. Help us to slow down and give us eyes that see Your hand at work in all areas of our life. Enable us to realize that every good thing comes from You. Teach us the habit of celebrating and lead us to live radically thankful lives, so that we might serve you with both undivided and joyful hearts.  Amen”

Spiritual Practice for the Week

A Word about Spirit Disciplines (or Practices): A spiritual discipline is any activity (Groove) entered into with the intention of presenting and opening ourselves up to God (1 Cor 10:31). 

Important to remember: 

  • We cannot achieve spiritual growth through sheer grit and will power.
  • Spiritual growth is essentially a work of divine grace with which we are called to cooperate.
  • Opening ourselves up to the work of the Spirit requires discipline and effort.
  • The spiritual practices are not as an end, nor a means of self-improvement, or a way of earning God’s approval but a vehicle God uses to surface the deeper issues in our hearts.

Being Grateful: The Bible reminds us that every good thing comes from heaven above (James 1:17) and the spiritual practice for this week involves recalling to your mind and heart the particular good things you have experienced throughout your day. This practice helps you to see God’s grace in your life even during the tough times and when practiced over time, fosters a growing trust and love of God. 

  1. Each morning, verbally declare as you awake: 

This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

  1. At the end of each day, write down 3 things from your day for which you are thankful and then give God thanks for his gracious gifts. (If you have a family or roommates this is a great practice to do together. If there are children or grandchildren, do this around the dinner table).
  1. Sometime during the week, watch this video (www.fathersloveletter.com). What part of this letter (verse or verses) were you drawn to? What feelings surface with you? Are they worthy of celebration?

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