Psalm 118:24-29: 24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 25 O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. 27 The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. 29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
I love that we come together in celebration every Sunday. I know what the Psalmist meant when he said, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1) I am glad when Sunday and Wednesday roll around. I don’t do anything else during the course of my week more fun or exciting or rewarding than this. I love to celebrate what God is doing in and through our church and our lives as individuals. I love to celebrate the resurrection and victory Christ gives each one of us. I love to celebrate when someone is baptized or someone accepts Christ as Savior. I love the sound of our collective voices when we are raising our praise to the Lord in worship. I love to celebrate and rejoice!
I know we blame Hallmark for making up all of these extra holidays like Sweetest Day and National Coffee Day, but it is kind of fun to have random things to celebrate. Did you know that Hallmark even makes cards for people to send to celebrate Tax Day? How can you turn April 15th into a day of celebration? Hallmark has found a way. There is Nurse’s Day, Doctor’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Administrative Professional’s Day, Boss’s Day, and even National Mustard Day. Yes, people, there are cards to purchase to send to others to celebrate the gift of mustard to the world.
Now, I know that Hallmark has created these days as a marketing tool to make some extra money because after all, “When you care enough to send the very best,” $4.95 goes into Hallmark’s account with each card purchase. But in a way, we owe Hallmark a “thank you” for reminding us that life is supposed to be a celebration! We can find reasons to celebrate just because. It’s ok!
I pulled off a celebration two weeks ago that I had worked on since January of this past year. My husband will be the big 50 on November 26th and I wanted to surprise him for his birthday. I knew if I waited until late November to try to surprise him I could never pull it off. So, I planned a surprise party in Northern, KY where he grew up for two Fridays ago. I invited his childhood friends, his college friends, his side of the family, and the pastor that helped bring him back to the Lord in his young adulthood and boy was he shocked when we walked into a Golden Corral in Ft. Wright, KY and 31 people yelled “Surprise!”
I was like a kid the night before Christmas all that week. My heart raced on the whole trip there. I couldn’t stop smiling. Hannah and I were texting between the front seat and the back seat about how clueless he was and how we were really pulling off this big celebration. It was so exciting! Don’t you love a good celebration?
The Christian life ought to be a life of celebration. Christians have so many reasons to rejoice. There is no way we could discuss all of those reasons in our short time this morning, but let’s look at four reasons from Psalm 118 this morning.
We can rejoice because God’s love is enduring.
Psalm 118:1-4 1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
2 Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the LORD say: “His love endures forever.”
That word, “enduring” is significant. It is descriptive. It has weight. It means so much. God’s love is a lasting love. Time doesn’t change God’s ability or desire to love us completely. The same love He had for the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for the Prophets and the Disciples, He has for us. It is a persistent love. God is still actively seeking your heart. He is still wooing you to Himself. He is still revealing His intentions toward you though many have resisted Him for years.
The Bible tells us that God is love (I John 4:8). His enduring love flows from His character and nature. He is and always will be love. He will not change. He doesn’t love us only when we are obedient. He loves us when we are wayward. He loves us when we are rebellious. He loves us when we are stubborn. We can’t give Him a good enough reason not to love us. He just loves us because that is Who He is and what He does.
1 Corinthians 13:7-8 talk to us about this enduring quality of love: 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
God’s love is steadfast and consistent. His love isn’t an emotional kind of love that goes up and down. We have to go beyond our earthly understanding of love this morning. How we give and receive love in our earthly relationships changes in intention. It changes in intensity. It changes based on how our day is going or on what they do for us. God’s love isn’t like that. He is completely committed in love to you regardless of what you have done or will do, whether good or bad. He can’t love you more than He does in this moment. Before you were born, God loved you! It was God’s love for us that motivated Him to created us. Love gives. Love creates.
Romans 8:35-39 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jeremiah 31:3-4 3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. 4 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.
Are you broken down? Has your life been torn down? Are you living disconnected from your destiny like the Israelites who were in captivity in Babylon when these verses were spoken? In His love, He is calling you closer. In His love, He offers you healing and hope. In His love, He holds on to you even when you fail. If you are out of fellowship with God this morning He isn’t here to say, “You loser!” He isn’t here to shout, “How could you!” He isn’t here to yell, “How could you?” He is here to say, “I love you.”
Romans 5:6 tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. As an expression of the everlasting love of God towards us, He loved us even in our sin. He loved us so much that He took the penalty Himself, the punishment Himself, the judgment Himself. The wrath of God that you and I were supposed to endure was placed upon Him. God so loved us that He sent Jesus to take our place. Nails didn’t hold Jesus to the cross. It was the enduring love of God that kept Him there.
I shared the powerful Romans 8 passage that says that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. You want to know how that passage starts? This passage that ends with a big crescendo and exclamation point about the love of God? It starts this way: Romans 8:1-2:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Oh my! Someone shout with me! Because of the enduring love of God, we have been set free and can experience that freedom if we will just accept God’s love. Are you convinced yet? “Oh, I am so glad that Jesus loves me! Jesus loves me! Jesus loves me! I am so glad that Jesus loves me! Jesus loves even me!” A successful Christian life, one filled with great rejoicing, is born out of an understanding of and experience with the enduring love of God.
We can rejoice because God hears and helps us.
5 In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. 6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? 7 The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. 8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. 9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.
Have you ever walked with a loved one through a difficult time and just felt helpless because you couldn’t do anything significant about their pain or their disappointment or their situation? Listen, God is not limited in any way to hear us and help us.
I think of a first-time mom or dad who becomes a light sleeper as they are listening for their child’s cry in the night. They become trained to respond right away to the call of their infant. Listen, the Bible tells us God never sleeps. He doesn’t have to set an alarm. He doesn’t have train Himself to listen for you. Psalm 34:15 says, “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry.”
Listen, most man-made religions are “do-it-yourself” religions. You are supposed to be enlightened and then do good works or figure the rest out or make it happen through some kind of self-effort. No! We can rejoice that when we give our lives to Christ we are partnering with, literally yoked with the infinite God of the universe.
God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit aren’t just happy thoughts. They aren’t just mere ideologies that help put a positive spin on our lives. They are God, the three-in-one, Who created all that is and they are intricately involved in, responsive to us as believers and are giving us wisdom and energy to accomplish Divine purposes.
God is moved by what moves us. The fact that He hears us and helps us means that He has compassion on us. When the friend group leaves us out, and we are torn up, He is torn up. When the shut off notice comes and we don’t know where to turn, we know He is engaged in the plan for recovery. When the health diagnosis comes and it involves a long road of testing and treatment, He is there to give strength for the journey. Hallelujah! We can rejoice that in Christ we have a partner for life. We have not just a Savior for our sin which is huge, but a partner to empower us as we move through life to give us assistance that will make a Divine difference in our circumstances.
We can rejoice because God gives us victory.
10 All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off. 11 They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the LORD I cut them off. 12 They swarmed around me like bees, but they died out as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off. 13 I was pushed back and about to fall, but the LORD helped me. 14 The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
15 Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!
No matter what you are facing, and no matter how your circumstances look, you are victorious. In Christ, you have the victory. Salvation is a victory over sin, death, and Satan. None can have dominion or authority over you if you accept Christ’s victory!
I love how God enabled the Psalmist and how he described his victory. He says he cut off the enemy. He says the enemy was swarming like bees around him, but they started to drop like flies and were cut off in the name of the Lord. Even though he was pushed around a bit and felt himself going off balance, God helped him.
He said God was His strength. He recognized that God’s power was available to Him. He understood where his help was coming from. When all the nations are surrounding you and you are being swarmed like someone being swarmed by bees and you are delivered, you know you didn’t do that! You know God did.
Listen, God is always fighting for you! You need to declare victory. Rather than wring your hands and say, “I don’t know what I am going to do!” open your mouth and say, “I can’t wait to see what God is going to do!” 1 John 5:4 tells us: 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
There is victory in Jesus. Will you receive Him? Will you claim Him? Do you want to be on the winning team? Do you want a winning strategy for your life? Get in Jesus!
We can rejoice because God gives us a testimony.
16 The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
17 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done. 18 The LORD has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. 19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. 20 This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; 23 the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Listen, it is when you go through a test as a child of God that you get a testimony. When you go through a trial without Jesus you will have a story to tell, but it won’t be the same kind of story God’s people are telling. When you let God love you, the good, the bad, and the ugly, when you cry out to Him, when you allow Him to fight for you and become your victory you no longer have anything to prove. You simply have a testimony to tell. Watch this:
“My life is my offering.” It’s the same thing the Psalmist said in verse 17 when he said, “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.” When God takes our mess and turns it into a message, when God takes our mess and turns it into a masterpiece, we have great reasons to rejoice. If you look at the preaching of the Apostle Paul, perhaps the greatest preacher of all-time, you will see two central themes to his messages. He preached Christ and him crucified, buried and resurrected, and he preached about the difference Christ had made in his own life. Even though life wasn’t easy for Paul after he followed Christ, he was one of the happiest most-rejoicing people recorded in Scripture. Why? Because Christ had changed his story.
What is your story? What is your testimony? How has Christ made a difference in your life? How many times has Christ picked you up, dusted you off, and called you His own again? How many times has He come through for you? How often have you seen His goodness? How many reasons has God given you today to rejoice?
This is the day the Lord has made. This is the day to experience His love and to let it become the foundation for your life. This is the day the Lord has made. This is the day to cry out to God in faith believing that He will hear you and help you. This is the day the Lord has made. This is the day to receive salvation and to hide yourself in Christ’s victory. This is the day the Lord has made. This is the day to allow Him to change your narrative, to re-write your story, to give you the happy ending only He can write in and through your life. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!