Day 143

Take Time to Celebrate

Wisdom Psalm 66:1–12
New Testament John 12:37–13:17
Old Testament 1 Samuel 10:9–12:25


‘A glimpse of heaven’ is how one twenty-seven-year-old woman described her experience of our annual church holiday (Focus). She also spoke about the year she missed it in order to go on an exotic holiday: each day she could only think of how she longed to be at Focus.

Focus is the time when the whole community comes together in a festival of celebration, worship, thanksgiving and praise. We often experience a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is a time of spiritual growth when we listen to visionary and practical teaching from the Bible on how to live our lives. It is a time of laughter and fun as we meet together for a week-long party: playing, picnicking, singing and dancing. We make new friends as well as having a great holiday. It really is ‘a glimpse of heaven’.

It takes time but celebration is an important part of life.


Psalm 66:1–12

For the director of music. A song. A psalm.

1 Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
2   Sing the glory of his name;
   make his praise glorious.
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
   So great is your power
   that your enemies cringe before you.
4 All the earth bows down to you;
   they sing praise to you,
   they sing the praises of your name.”

5 Come and see what God has done,
   his awesome deeds for mankind!
6 He turned the sea into dry land,
   they passed through the waters on foot—
   come, let us rejoice in him.
7 He rules forever by his power,
   his eyes watch the nations—
   let not the rebellious rise up against him.

8 Praise our God, all peoples,
   let the sound of his praise be heard;
9 he has preserved our lives
   and kept our feet from slipping.
10 For you, God, tested us;
   you refined us like silver.
11 You brought us into prison
   and laid burdens on our backs.
12 You let people ride over our heads;
   we went through fire and water,
   but you brought us to a place of abundance.


Celebrate God’s goodness

Do you sometimes feel like you have been ‘to hell and back’? Have you found yourself ‘pushed to the limit’? It may be that God is training you, like silver refined in the fire.

God had brought his people through very difficult times:

‘He trained us first,
passed us like silver through refining fires...
pushed us to our very limit,
Road-tested us inside and out,
took us to hell and back;
Finally he brought us
to this well-watered place’ (vv.10–12, MSG).

Don’t let these occasions go unmarked. Celebrate. Their celebration sounds a fairly noisy affair: ‘All together now – applause for God!’ (v.1, MSG). They sang praise: ‘How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power’ (v.3). They celebrated what God had done (v.5). They rejoiced and praised God in a way that everybody around could hear: ‘Bless our God, O peoples! Give him a thunderous welcome!’ (v.8, MSG).


Lord, I celebrate your goodness. Thank you that you bring me through fire and water in order to bring me to a place of abundance.

New Testament

John 12:37–13:17

Belief and Unbelief Among the Jews

37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

  “Lord, who has believed our message
   and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

  40 “He has blinded their eyes
   and hardened their hearts,
  so they can neither see with their eyes,
   nor understand with their hearts,
   nor turn—and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.


Celebrate Jesus

There will be times in your life when things go well. There may also be times when things go badly. But there is one thing you can always celebrate. Jesus died and rose again for you. Jesus said, ‘For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it’ (12:47). He said, ‘I have come… so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness’ (v.46).

The context of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet is set just before the Passover feast (13:1). There would have been great excitement in the air as hundreds of thousands came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. This time of celebration foreshadowed the death and resurrection of Jesus, which we now celebrate especially at Easter.

When he had finished washing their feet, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ (v.12). What was it all about? What were they to understand? We can see four pictures from the passage:

  1. Love
    The act of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet demonstrated ‘the full extent’ of his love (v.1). This is a very striking contrast to what the world thinks of when people use the word ‘love’. It is far more than a feeling or an emotion; it is a decision to treat people the way that Jesus would treat them (vv.14–15).

  2. Service
    The roads of Palestine were unsurfaced and uncleaned. In dry weather they would have been inches deep in dust. In wet weather they would have been liquid mud.

    In a wealthy household, on arrival there would be a bowl at the door. The second lowest slave of the household would untie the sandals. The lowest slave would wash the feet.

    While the others are reclining, Jesus gets up, takes off his sleeveless tunic and strips down to a loincloth. Like a slave, he starts washing their feet. Jesus is taking the place of a person at the bottom of society, the last place, the place of a slave – the one who does the dirty jobs. This is a total reversal of the world’s model of leadership.

    Jesus, their ‘Lord and Teacher’ (v.14), reveals himself as the least one in society, the one who does the dirty jobs, the one who is in the last place.

    Jesus shows us that if you love people, you will be willing to serve them and that those who serve you should always be treated with the greatest respect.

  3. Humility
    Jesus uniquely combined absolute love (v.1) and absolute power: ‘The Father has put all things under his power’ (v.3a). In love, he chose to act in humility and serve his disciples.
    Those who seek their own glory (like Judas, v.2) are reduced to nothing. Those who exalt themselves are humbled. Those who humble themselves, God will exalt.

    Jesus reveals a new way of exercising authority through love, service and humility. In this dramatic way, he bridges the gap between those in leadership and those under their leadership.

  4. Forgiveness
    The washing and cleansing is a sign of forgiveness – cleansing from sin. Foot-washing is a picture of what Jesus is about to do on the cross for them (v.7). Through Jesus’ death for you, you are totally forgiven. Why then does Jesus teach us to pray regularly for forgiveness?

    I find the most helpful analogy and picture is the one given here. When Jesus moved to wash Peter’s feet, Peter said, ‘“No, you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me”’ (v.8). Peter replied, in effect, ‘Well, in that case, wash my whole body.’ Jesus said, ‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean’ (v.10).

    This is a picture of forgiveness. When you put your faith in Jesus you are made totally clean and you are forgiven – everything is dealt with. You do not need to repeat this one-off act of repentance and faith that leads to total forgiveness. It is the equivalent of having a bath.

    However, as we go through the world we do things that tarnish our friendship with God. Your relationship is always secure but your friendship is sullied with the dirt that you pick up on your feet. Each day pray, ‘Lord, forgive me, cleanse me from the dirt.’ You don’t need to have a bath again, Jesus has done that for you, but a measure of cleansing may be necessary each day.

    In addition to our great Easter celebration, each week when we gather on the day of the resurrection (Sunday), we remember and celebrate these amazing events. Furthermore, every time you receive communion you are celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus for you.


Lord, help us to follow Jesus’ example, not just in words but also in actions. Thank you that you have given us so much to celebrate.

Old Testament

1 Samuel 10:9–12:25

Saul Made King

9 As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying. 11 When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, “What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”

12 A man who lived there answered, “And who is their father?” So it became a saying: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 After Saul stopped prophesying, he went to the high place.

14 Now Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant, “Where have you been?”

“Looking for the donkeys, ” he said. “But when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.”

15 Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.”

16 Saul replied, “He assured us that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship.

17 Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah 18 and said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ 19 But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and clans.”

20 When Samuel had all Israel come forward by tribes, the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken. Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. 22 So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?”

And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.”

23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”

Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Samuel explained to the people the rights and duties of kingship. He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the LORD. Then Samuel dismissed the people to go to their own homes.

26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.

Saul Rescues the City of Jabesh

11 Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead. And all the men of Jabesh said to him, “Make a treaty with us, and we will be subject to you.”

2 But Nahash the Ammonite replied, “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on all Israel.”

3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days so we can send messengers throughout Israel; if no one comes to rescue us, we will surrender to you.”

4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. 5 Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.

6 When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. 7 He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.” Then the terror of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out together as one. 8 When Saul mustered them at Bezek, the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and those of Judah thirty thousand.

9 They told the messengers who had come, “Say to the men of Jabesh Gilead, ‘By the time the sun is hot tomorrow, you will be rescued.’” When the messengers went and reported this to the men of Jabesh, they were elated. 10 They said to the Ammonites, “Tomorrow we will surrender to you, and you can do to us whatever you like.”

11 The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions; during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

Saul Confirmed as King

12 The people then said to Samuel, “Who was it that asked, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Turn these men over to us so that we may put them to death.”

13 But Saul said, “No one will be put to death today, for this day the LORD has rescued Israel.”

14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship. ” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the LORD. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the LORD, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.

Samuel’s Farewell Speech

12 Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. 2 Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. 3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.”

4 “You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”

5 Samuel said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and also his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand. ”

“He is witness,” they said.

6 Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the LORD who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of Egypt. 7 Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the LORD as to all the righteous acts performed by the LORD for you and your ancestors.

8 “After Jacob entered Egypt, they cried to the LORD for help, and the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place.

9 “But they forgot the LORD their God; so he sold them into the hand of Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hands of the Philistines and the king of Moab, who fought against them. 10 They cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We have sinned; we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ 11 Then the LORD sent Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel, and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around you, so that you lived in safety.

12 “But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us’—even though the LORD your God was your king. 13 Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the LORD has set a king over you. 14 If you fear the LORD and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the LORD your God—good! 15 But if you do not obey the LORD, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.

16 “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes! 17 Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call on the LORD to send thunder and rain. And you will realize what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the LORD when you asked for a king.”

18 Then Samuel called on the LORD, and that same day the LORD sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the LORD and of Samuel.

19 The people all said to Samuel, “Pray to the LORD your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.”

20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. 22 For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own. 23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”


Celebrate success

Saul began his reign as king with a honeymoon period. The Spirit of God came upon him in power and he prophesied (10:9–13). God gave him great wisdom in dealing with opposition. He knew when to keep silent (v.27).

Saul soon had to deal with ‘troublemakers’ (v.27). God is in the business of touching human hearts (v.26). But, as always, the Bible is realistic. Troublemakers were around the corner. Wherever God is at work in power, expect to find troublemakers as well.

When the people of God were facing appalling cruelty from a man who wanted to gouge out the right eye of every person, ‘the Spirit of God came upon [Saul] in power’ (11:6). God gave him a great victory and he had the wisdom to say afterwards, ‘No one shall be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel’ (v.13). Instead they held ‘a great celebration’ (v.15).

In Samuel’s farewell speech, he spoke of how often God has given success to his people when they cried to him for help (12:8,10–11). He urged them to ‘consider what great things he has done for you’ (v.24). Many of these things came about as a result of Samuel’s prayer and he said, ‘As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you’ (v.23).

Don’t get so bound up with your own needs and worries that you fail to pray for others. It’s very important that we pray for one another.

The passage for today ends with Samuel telling the people to ‘consider what great things he has done for you’ (v.24). Whatever else is going on in your life, look back, consider and celebrate your forgiveness, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the promise of glory and all the other great things God has done for you.


Lord, today I want to look back with thanks and celebrate all the great things you have done for me…

Pippa adds

In 1 Samuel 11:6 it says:

‘When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he burned with anger.’

I don’t often think of the Spirit of God coming on somebody and bringing anger. I normally think of the Spirit of God setting people free from anger and bringing joy and peace or deep conviction. But anger against injustice moves us from apathy to action.



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The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel (commentary formerly known as Bible in One Year) ©Alpha International 2009. All Rights Reserved.

Compilation of daily Bible readings © Hodder & Stoughton Limited 1988. Published by Hodder & Stoughton Limited as the Bible in One Year.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers.

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