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Background Text: Psalm 37:4

Devotional Text: Philippians 2:13

Today’s topic is one of celebration. As we go through life, we have the opportunity to celebrate in many ways, from birthdays to holidays to numerous special occasions throughout the year.

There is one celebration of life that should be especially precious to us. That is to celebrate the life God has planned for us each day. God knew us before we were born, and God had already mapped out a plan for our life that includes our own free will.

We celebrate our God-given lives by praising and thanking God himself. The first five verses of Psalm 100 allude to our celebration of thanksgiving for our God-given life.

The psalmist writes, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness. Come into his presence with singing!

“Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever; and his faithfulness to all generations!”

Our celebration of life from God not only contains praise and thanksgiving and singing and the playing of musical instruments, it also contains joyful work.

Genesis 8:22 tells us, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

As we grow up and remain close to God through belief in his son, Jesus, we find that this Scripture from Psalm 16:11 holds true: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Do you really believe that following God’s plan for your life is boring and no fun at all? Then consider these verses from the New Testament: “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31), and “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

These phrases remind us of the joy of salvation as well as remembering that the things we do on Earth should glorify God, just as God gives us his glory as we follow the joy of the path he has laid out for us.

We see this clearer in Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” As we consider this Scripture, consider the workplace.

Sometimes, in the workplace, we are supervised by people who do not have God’s joy in their hearts. Without a knowledge of God’s mercy and grace upon us, we might get to feeling unappreciated in our jobs, and even wanting to look for a new one.

That is part of life. Not all people are the same. Not everyone knows the love of God in their lives. And, sometimes, even when we do know God, our own circumstances make it difficult for us to find God’s joy. This holds true for both employers and employees.

How do we get around such difficulties in the workplace? We follow Colossians 3:23, recognizing that our gifts and talents are from the Lord, and the good work we do is recognized by God.

If we work for the glory of God, knowing that we please him, it will accomplish a sense of worthiness within ourselves for the work we do.

We should also remember to pray for those who are hurting or have difficult personalities. If God chooses to move you to another position, that is a grace given by God. God came also to change circumstances and lives, so do not be meek in praying for others.

We should also remember that all of us are not perfect people. We make mistakes. But when we do, think of Lamentations 3:22-23 and you will read how God in his mercy toward us is much bigger than any of our mistakes.

John 10:10 tells us that “Christ came so that we may have life, and life more abundantly.”

A Scripture that many have memorized is from Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for goodness and not for evil, to give you hope and a future.”

Psalm 57:2 speaks to this same topic: “I cry out to the Lord most high, to God who fulfills his purpose for me!”

God wants good for us. Though we may find ourselves in times of trouble, or even disaster, God is still with us. Remember Psalm 71:23: “You have rescued me! I will celebrate and shout, singing praises to you with all my heart!”

God does rescue us, even if it takes a time of waiting on our part. God’s plan is to give great gifts and blessings in our lives.

Do you believe that God helps you to celebrate your life by giving his grace to you? Psalm 37:4 tells us, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

The rest of this psalm speaks to us about the ways we can delight in the Lord. Verses 22-23 tell us, “If the Lord delights in a person’s way, he will make his steps firm, though he stumbles, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

As we delight and celebrate our life in God through salvation offered by his son, Jesus, and the inward residence of our lives by the Holy Spirit, our desires follow God’s desires for us.

Philippians 2:13 expresses it this way: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

God always knows what is best for us. As we follow God, celebrating the life we have in him, he puts the best desires for us in our hearts. As we ask for these desires, God provides.

As we celebrate the life given to us by God, we meet others with joy. We enjoy music together. We enjoy uplifting speakers. The Bible tells us there is music and dancing in celebration. There is friendship with one another, along with help and caring for one another as brothers and sisters expressing God’s love in our hearts.

God wants us to enjoy the life we have as we celebrate the God who made us in his image, and has given us thanksgiving and joyfulness within our very being. Remember the words of Psalm 118:24: “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh is the pastor of the Schenevus United Methodist Church in Schenevus, New York.

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