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I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.
Lets start today with some questions.
• What things do you celebrate?
• Are you waiting to celebrate until you reach some great milestone or victory?
• Are there some smaller victories you need to celebrate in your walk with the Lord?
• Can you think of some fun ways to celebrate with those who share the journey with you?
The restoration projects that God starts in our lives are often very long. It is easy to get so focussed on what we want to be or for God to do in our lives, that we spend all our time frustrated because we have such a long way to go. God wants to restore our lives and while He is sovereign and could do an immediate miracle and zap us with the desired result. Most of the time He allows us to become walking miracles or miracles in progress. Quite often rather than remove some obstacle or trial from our life He chooses rather to walk with us in and through it.
In our verse today God says to Virgin Israel who is at this time in captivity. "I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt" He says the same thing to us. No matter how messed up your life may feel in this moment. No matter how far you may feel you need to go. The Lord want to build you up again.
Add some fun to your day- play a little. Work hard and play hard.
Most families are separated all week by jobs, and school and activities and then they come to church for more separation. Kids go this way, teens that way and adults another, singles over here, old people over there. The fact is we need each other. God created us to be in community. We grow best together.
We need to find reason to get together - to develop relationships - to be there when someone is having a hard time, to celebrate, to play. This is the soil that other stuff can grow up out of. When we go through difficult times it is important to celebrate the little victories along the way.
The story of Nehemiah rebuilding the wall around Jeresulem is a good example. They took time to celebrate the little victories and that helped them to not become discouraged and give up. They faced resistance on every side. They had to work with a sword in one hand and a shovel in the other. Some times life seems like that, we just struggle and struggle. Its ok to take a break even if you have not finnished all the work. Celebrate how far you have come. Find things to be thankful for.
Look back on your journey in the past six months are there some areas that you have made some progress? Maybe you have not fully reached your goal, its ok and healthy to celebrate smaller steps along the journey. Take some time to look at the things you are wanting to see happen or change in your life. Sometimes it is hard to begin the journey because it seems too big or too impossible. See if there are some ways you can break it down into some smaller chunks. Find ways to make smaller goals with in your larger one. What are some of the smaller first steps that you see and might begin to be able to see yourself move towards accomplishing this week? It might just be finding the smaller steps or goals and making a list of what needs to be done. Once you've done that pick one or two and think through ways you might be able to accomplish them this week. Its ok to experiment.
I know when I am trying to loose weight I like to celebrate a when I change clothing sizes to a smaller size. I like to celebrate by finding something new that fits. There is something to celebrating, and being joyful that strengthens us. Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
If you look at your life and the progress you are making remember our verse today and find hope. "Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful."
We have reason to be joyful because of the presence of Jesus in our life. It is not that we need to change our self to be able to be with Him. It is by being with Him that we are changed. You may be thinking that you just really need to get it all together because you are sure God is tired of your mess. The fact of the matter is you are loved and accepted today just as you are. What He desires is a relationship with you. That relationship has been restored and made possible by what Jesus has done. All to often our relationship with the Lord is distant and difficult. We want to know the Lord more but we can get past all our guilt, shame, flaws and failures. We feel we are the worst sort of Christians who never measure up to Gods standards. Some folk give up entirely and leave God to the more holy Mother Theresa types. We might experience Him second hand through books and sermons but we don't really want to get too close to Him.
Stop it already. Lay down your pride and come before him with humility and thankfulness. He has done what you could never have done yourself. He has made a way for those who will believe in Him to be made right with God. That alone is reason to celebrate.
As you spend time with Him you will notice that you are wanting to be more like Him. You are able to change. He works in you to will and to do His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:3)
He is rebuilding you - take a moment to see how far you have come and take some time to celebrate.
Thank you for rebuilding my life. Cause my foot to tap to the rythem of the song of joy you have put in my heart. Help me to see the victories along the way and to find meaningful ways to celebrate. I have a long way to go. Thank you for your abiding presence in my life.