This past weekend at Elevation, I challenged everyone to begin practicing the discipline of celebration.

Most people don’t see celebration as a spiritual practice.

We tend to associate “disciplines” with things we don’t doing enjoy. It is usually something not fun and more than likely, laborious.

Here is the problem… the Bible instructs us, no, commands us, to have JOY.
C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

I love that statement.
Our God is a God of joy.
He celebrates over us.
He loves us.
We bring him great joy.
We are his kids.

So, we serve a God that is joyful and calls us to rejoice. In Philippians 4:4 we are told to “always rejoice.” In other words, always be full of joy; so much so, that you can’t help but rejoice.

Jesus tells us that he wants our joy to be “full” in John 15:11. Not half-full… but completely full, of joy.

Okay…so if we are told to have joy, but we don’t, then what’s the reason for our joylessness (oh yeah, that’s totally a word)?

Here is one really big possibility: Our joy is directly related to our proximity to Jesus. In other words, if our relationship isn’t strong then how do we ever expect to possess the joy that only comes from the presence of Jesus in our lives? It is a complete impossibility.

Read John 15. You will notice a couple of reoccurring terms: “remain” or “abide”. This passage of scripture is telling us that our ability to be obedient and grow fruit is directly related to this lifestyle of remaining. We must remain in order to maintain.

I realize that this can be very simple in theory, but extremely difficult to live out. This is why the spiritual practice or discipline of celebrating is so critical for the believer.

(If you aren’t a follower of Jesus, you can change that today and begin to experience the abundant life that Jesus tells us about. Simply acknowledge your sinfulness and your need for a Savior. Invite Jesus into your heart and ask him to come and be your Lord. Commit yourself to living for Him alone.)

In John Ortberg’s book, The Life You Have Always Wanted, he talks at length about this idea of practicing celebration. He gives several steps to take in order to begin practicing celebration.

(1) Start now
(2) take a day a week to celebrate
(3) find a joy mentor
(4) take a week to fast from TV
(5) remember the biblical story of Jesus’ return.

I shared these in my message this past weekend and it’s so encouraging to see people starting to implement some, if not all, of these steps into their lives.

I also added one. I asked people to write down, tweet, or put on Facebook three things that they are thankful for each day, as we lead up to Christmas. I am looking forward to hearing the stories that will come out of this challenge.

When we have an attitude of celebration and have cultivated joy into our lives we will begin to experience the abundant life that Jesus talked about. This will not only help us but it will make the gospel of Jesus Christ all the more attractive to the world around us. People will be drawn to Jesus through his people.

If you are reading this you should start today!!!

Begin practicing the discipline of celebration; It will change your life.

If you don’t have a church or a commitment on Christmas Eve we would love for you to come and be a part of our celebration. Our worship gathering will be at 5:00pm on Christmas Eve. Go to our website to find out more: www.elevationstl.com

-Daniel