and all Judah gave presents to Jehoshaphat,
What is the entire country doing? Playing. Celebrating. Cheering. This is an incredibly spiritual thing to do. In fact, our first Strong Challenge is to celebrate, to play strong, to fully enjoy life, to laugh more, to, like in Judah, come together with others to celebrate together.
Did you know that when God gave the Law to Moses, He commanded His people to come together to celebrate, to play, and to feast together? God gave multiple annual, all nation parties to remind people to bask in, cheer for, and thank God for His generosity. God says, make sure you have parties (or feasts) throughout the year to celebrate me. Make some food. Invite people over, talk about what Your God has done. In fact, one of the greatest celebrations was that of PASSOVER.
The feast of Passover was supposed to be celebrated annually in your home with friends and family. But during this troublesome time of the divided kingdom, the people forgot to celebrate, they forgot to come together, and forgot to reflect on their salvation. We have to turn ahead eight chapters before another good King, Josiah has the foresight to command the people to come back to the feast and celebrate.
Josiah, one of the great kings of Judah, is a strong reformer who tries to lead the nation in righteousness. In 2 Chronicles 34:31, we read: “The king . . . made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul.” Then in chapter 35 it says…
1 Now Josiah kept a Passover to the LORD in Jerusalem, and they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the first month…. 18 There had been no Passover kept in Israel like that since the days of Samuel the prophet; and none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept, with the priests and the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 19 In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah this Passover was kept.
Think about those verses 18-19. No one had kept the feast of Passover like Josiah since Samuel. Not Saul. Not David. Not Solomon. Nor Reheboam. Not Jehoshaphat. It’s been hundreds of years since the people celebrated and enjoyed each other’s company while reflecting on the salvation of God with such gusto. The Passover was a 7 day celebration with music, wine, food, sacrifice, generous giving, reflecting on God’s supernatural deliverance from Egypt, lots of eating, lots of somber moments, and lots of upbeat celebratory music with music and dance. How could King David have forgotten? How could Solomon, the wisest man? How do we forget to be grateful, to play in the presence of God, to joyfully indulge in God’s pleasure? Our first discipline is Celebration. And the Disciplines of PLAY, REST, and JOY require practice.
WE MUST GET STRONG TO BE STRONG.
WE NEED TO DO WHAT WE OUGHT TO DO IN ORDER TO DO WHAT WE WANT TO DO.
DEDICATION LEADS TO CELEBRATION.
We often have folks come to our staff who are weighed down with despair, trouble, or difficulty. We often give a book to these families struggling with a variety of difficulty written by Barbara Johnson. She made a habit of learning to write in what she called her JOY JOURNAL and celebrate God even in difficulty. She learned to find joy in God when she lost her son in a car accident, when another son announced he was gay, and she learned to trust God through cancer and diabetes. She says one of the habits that kept her close to God was developing a joy journal. Looking for ways to thank and celebrate God in her circumstances. When the doctor told her she had cancer, she was devastated. She asked him if there was any “good” news. He had none. He said she would have only a few years to live. She died in 2007. But as she heard the doctor tell her she had only a few years to live, she turned to her husband, and said, “Well, let’s thank God we can cancel our long term nursing home insurance, I guess I won’t be needing that.” Barbara was dedicated to Celebrating God no matter what.
For a free first session of Godonomics, visit: http://www.godonomics.com/watch-session-1