12 Oct The Joy of the Lord Can be Your Strength
Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” All the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the law. And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of choice foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:9-10 (NLT)
The people were weeping because they realized they had not been obeying the law of God. They also realized how far away from God they had drifted and probably felt overwhelmed with the demands of the law. But their leaders reassured them that the Word was shared so that they could respond in joy through taking the first steps of obedience.
The joy of the Lord was their strength because it is the only joy that brings with it a supernatural confidence that God is pleased with them as they obey and honor Him. It’s a supernatural joy that God gives to the heart of each individual with the assurance that their steps of obedience will be rewarded both in this life and in eternity.
It’s true that every one of us can be touched with sadness when God’s Word confronts us with our own sin. But God loves us enough to call us to a higher level of commitment to Him. As he calls us to a life of service, He shows us how we can exchange a life of self-centeredness for a life of serving Him and the people He wants us to serve.
This text in Nehemiah calls the people to share their food with the poor. Certainly there are many ways that we can give to the poor in our world today. Supporting local food banks, giving to World Vision, Foursquare missions, and Caleb Good News ministry to Romania, are a few examples of how we can give to the poor. But as I read these words in Nehemiah, there’s also a call to be sensitive to the needs of every day people we encounter that may be in need. Sometimes it may be a financial need, other times it might be a spiritual need or the need for an encouraging word.
To the degree that I respond in obedience to God’s direction in my life to give of myself and share His goodness with others, it will be to that degree that I will experience His supernatural joy. Our loving heavenly Father constantly offers us His joy by embracing His will for our lives. My heart is touched with a renewed sense of joy in serving him by seeking to do his will each day.
Thank you, Father, for your loving grace and your gracious words that invite me to a deeper walk with you. As I read and study your word, help me to hear your voice clearly so that I can obey you and truly experience your joy in my life. Thank you for showing me that the joy of the Lord is my strength.