Connecting Point – August 16, 2023

One of my favorite Psalms is 34 which begins with the words, "I will praise the Lord at all times." That's a great position to take - the position that we're going to praise and thank the Lord regardless of the circumstances or challenges we face in our lives. The Psalmist goes on to say in Psalm 34, "I will constantly speak His praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are discouraged take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord's greatness; let us exalt His name together. I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me, freeing me from all my fears."

The Psalmist mentions discouragement and fear in those verses, which are two of the great challenges for people in our day. Lots of people struggle with discouragement because of issues with their finances, health, jobs, loneliness, relationships, etc. And lots of people struggle with fear in their lives as well. Many people are afraid of their pasts - they're afraid that the mistakes of their past will be discovered and bring them ruin. Others are afraid of the present. They're afraid of crime, failure, success, being overwhelmed, other people, storms, etc. Still others are afraid of the future. They're afraid they won't survive, and that the future holds far more "doom and gloom" than it does hope and happiness. Fear is one of the great maladies of our day.

What kind of discouragements or fears do you struggle with?

So, "What kind of discouragements or fears do you struggle with?" Regardless of what kind of discouragements or fears you may struggle with, Psalm 34 tells us how to deal with them and overcome them. To begin with the Psalmist tells us to focus on "praising the Lord at all times" and "boasting in the Lord." How do these activities help us overcome discouragement and fear in our lives?  When we are focused on "praising the Lord" and "boasting in the Lord" we are taking the focus off of discouraging relationships and situations we're dealing with and our fearful circumstances, and we're putting our focus on the One who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present. Secondly, the Psalmist tells us that we are to "exalt the name of the Lord together." Once again, we are to be focusing on the Lord's greatness, which takes our focus off of ourselves and our inadequacies, and we are to regularly worship the Lord with other believers.  You see, when we are worshiping and serving the Lord with other believers, we are much less prone to discouragement, depression, fear and failure in our lives.

Thirdly, the Psalmist tells us that when we pray to the Lord, "He answers us, freeing us from all our fears." There's something about praying to the Lord, hearing from the Lord and entrusting Him with our burdens and concerns that causes us to know that we don't have to be overwhelmed by discouragement or fear any longer.

So, I want to encourage you to do what the Psalmist encouraged us all to do. Take some time today to praise the Lord, boast about the Lord, tell others about the Lord, exalt the Lord and pray to the Lord. As you do you will find your discouragements disappearing and your fears fleeing, and you will find yourself living with joy, peace, passion and purpose in your life.

I want to praise the Lord and boast on Him and our people as we reflect on the great victories we experienced at the Celebration Campuses on FRIEND SUNDAY (August 13). This past Sunday we had the highest in-person attendance we've had since the Covid19 Pandemic began. Also, we had 144 first time guests, and 76 people prayed to receive Jesus as their Savior in our worship services.

Again, we praise the Lord because He's the one who can transform people's hearts and lives, as well as their circumstances and relationships. But I also want to praise our great leaders and volunteers here at Celebration Church for such a great effort on FRIEND DAY. Regardless of how and where you served in our ministry, you made a life-changing impact upon people's lives. And we thank you and the Lord thanks you for being willing to serve Him through serving others.

Many of you did a great job inviting and bringing your Friends with you to our worship services. Our Pastors and I want you to connect back with your Friends who attended with you, and ask them how they enjoyed attending with you and what they learned from attending with you. Then ask them if they would like to attend again. Sunday, August 27 would be a good time for them to come back with you because we will be participating in Communion together learning about "Through The Fire Friends." And by the way, you can re-invite your Friends who didn't attend on FRIEND Sunday to join you for upcoming Sundays as well.

Also on August 27 we're going to be offering a free viewing of the movie, Ordinary Angels at our Campus at 2001 Airline Drive in Metairie (4 pm) for all of our Celebration attendees and their friends. This movie, which will be shown in theaters at the end of September, Based on a remarkable true story, ORDINARY ANGELS centers on Sharon Steves (Hilary Swank), a fierce but struggling hairdresser in small-town Kentucky who discovers a renewed sense of purpose when she meets Ed Schmitt (Alan Ritchson), a widower working hard to make ends meet for his two daughters. With his youngest daughter waiting for a liver transplant, Sharon sets her mind to helping the family and will move mountains to do it. What unfolds is the inspiring tale of faith, everyday miracles, and "ordinary angels." My wife and I have already seen a preview of this movie, and believe that it will be great encouragement and fun for adults, teens and children. Put this on your calendar and plan to join us.

Thanks again for being a part of the great work that the Lord is doing in, for and through the ministry of Celebration Church - where God is met, Love is felt, and Lives are changed.

Jesus Changes Everything,
  
Pastor Dennis Watson
Lead Pastor, Celebration Church
dennisw@celebrationchurch.org
  dennis.watson.96
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