Come On and Celebrate Life

By Pr Ay Nee Ng

Happy Chinese New Year! Church, the red packet you received as you walked in today is a symbol of blessings. Red stands for the blessings we have through the blood of Jesus. According to the lunar calendar, today is everyone’s birthday.

Every year we celebrate birthdays, weddings, graduations, job confirmation, baby dedications, baptisms, and the birth of children. So why do we celebrate? We celebrate because we are happy or want to cheer someone up. Celebrations make us feel happy and united; there’s community and love for each other.

But does it take effort to put together a celebration? Sure, lots to do and loads of preparation to see that it can be a joyous time for everyone. Not everyone may feel like celebrating; in the end, it is also a choice to want to be part of the celebration.

There is one person that went into a lot of trouble, pain and suffering so that we can celebrate life. We can celebrate life anytime, anywhere and all the time. What do you think? Some may be sceptical about the reason to celebrate and say: “What is the occasion for? What does it cost me? Life is no all about celebrations.” Life can and is to be celebrated when we know the reason of the occasion. Do we all remember the song “Come On and Celebrate”? I love this song.

Come on and celebrate His gift of love,
We will celebrate
The Son of God who loved us
And gave us life.

We’ll shout Your praise, O King,
You give us joy nothing else can bring,
We’ll give to You our offering
In celebration praise.

Come on and celebrate, celebrate
Celebrate and sing;
Celebrate and sing to the King.

Lift up your voice to praise
[You see we have to lift up our voice] The name above ev’ry other name
Jesus the Christ who saved us from sin and death.
Let’s bend our knees to Him
Our tongue confess that He’s Lord indeed
Let’s give to Him our offering in celebration praise.

Words and Music: Patricia Morgan and Dave Bankhead Copyright 1984 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music.

So let’s celebrate life, life in Jesus Christ! Although situations may get us down at times, Church, we can celebrate anytime and anywhere because Jesus Christ is our Lord and Saviour. We have been bought with a price—the blood of Jesus. Jesus had to prepare for the biggest celebration of our lives. What are we grumbling, moaning, and complaining about? There is an occasion to celebrate because we are all children of God.

What Is It to Me To Have Life in Jesus and How Do I Know If I Have Such Life?
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” (John 10:11-18, NIV).

Our assurance as Christians and God’s children is that we can go to our heavenly Father any time, and He will not ditch us ever. He will look after us as a good shepherd that looks after his sheep and flock. This truth gives us hope that we each are individuals very much loved and cared for by a very important guy that, although very busy, has taken time to know what happens to us. We won’t be abandoned. Wow! Isn’t it beautiful and comforting?

The beautiful picture just doesn’t stop there. I am not just part of the flock or the masses; I am a sheep, an individual with needs of which He cares about. He gives us sufficient grace to carry us through every circumstance.

What Was Jesus Preparing for? Our Biggest Celebration!
Jesus Christ was preparing for His death on the cross. The last hours before His death give us an idea of what went into the preparation for the greatest celebration of all, the celebration of life.

The night before Jesus’ death, Jesus humbled Himself by washing the feet of His disciples and sharing the Passover meal with them. During this time, Judas was revealed as the one who would betray His master (John 13:1-30). Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:26–29; 1 Cor. 11:23–26), telling His disciples that as often as they did it, they will remember what was going to be done for them. After the meal, He took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. There, He pulled Peter, John, and James away, told them to watch and pray they wouldn’t fall into temptation, and went off by Himself, but the trio promptly fell asleep.

Alone, Jesus was grieved, depressed, and sorrowful as He approached death. Can we relate to this when we are alone? His sweat fell like drops of blood (Luke 22:44)—His anguish was such that His life was practically dripping away from Him. He asked God to take the coming torment (“take this bitter cup”) from Him only if it was the Father’s will (Luke 22:42). But it wasn’t the anticipation of scourging or the horrible hours on the cross that had Jesus so sorrowful. What had Him crying out in the garden was the anticipation of carrying the weight of sin (Matt. 27:46).

Church, Jesus had to prepare Himself to carry the weight of our sins. He went through a blur of beatings, mocking, and whippings with leather thongs tipped with balls of metal and shards of bone, very humiliating and painful. His skin was flayed off, and blood dripped off His head from the long thorns in His crown. He also suffered the humiliation of numerous illegal mock trials before Annas (John 18:13), Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin (Matt. 26:57–68); and Roman trials before Pontius Pilate, then Herod, then Pilate again. Pilate, who knew Jesus was innocent, finally bent to the will of the crowd who were shouting, “Crucify him!” and sent Jesus to the cross (Luke 23:1–25). It was us—our human failings and sin—that sent Jesus to the cross.

Church, as we understand all the effort and sufferings Jesus went through for us so we can celebrate and enjoy life in abundance, may we view life differently and remember that we are not alone. If you feel alone, call out to God and tell Him, “Your will be done”. In the Bible, we have God’s reassurance that He will strengthen us. Look at Scripture. God sent an angel to strengthen Him enough to get through it. Likewise, God will strengthen us sufficient for our lives and get us through. His grace is sufficient.

Paul said: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:8-10, NIV)

To add insults to hurt, Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to watch and pray that they would stay loyal to Him, but they fell asleep again. After He had shared His life and His coming death with His disciples for three years, one in their inner circle, Judas, walked up to Him, had the cheek to greet Him as a friend with a kiss, and then betrayed Him. Judas handed Jesus to the Roman guards. Can you imagine being betrayed by a trusted friend?

Once on the cross, He had the choice of resting His weight on the spikes driven into His hands or pushing up on the spikes in His feet and being able to breathe. People who had welcomed Him a week earlier now taunted Him. He watched the Roman soldiers divide His possessions before He died. He took in His mother’s grief as she looked up at the One the angel had promised would save the world. When the soldiers came to break His legs (a typical method of hastening the death of the crucified), He was already dead, for He had given up His spirit (John 19:30).

Church, please take this moment to think about all Jesus went through. He did that so that we can celebrate life. Let us celebrate the life He’s given us by living differently in a way that brings all the glory to Him, and Him alone.

The Silversmith
Received on Wed, 28 April, 2004 from Elaine Suit, a friend in Malaysia who was near death’s door on December 2015 but pulled through by God’s grace.

A good illustration of our life…. Malachi 3:3 – “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot then she thought again about the verse that says: “He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.” She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?” He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy – when I see my image in it.” If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

Conclusion
This very moment, you might need to know or remember that God is watching over you and that whatever you’re going through, you’ll be a better person in the end. Church, Jesus is the reason that we have life. Come on and celebrate life! Let us pray.

Lord, thank you that you refine us as silver and thank you, Lord, for holding us in Your Hand and watching over us. Lord, today I give my life all over to you once again. Forgive me for all my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Thank you because I can see hep and hope on my way. I love You, Lord.
In Jesus’ name. Amen

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