Joy of the Lord
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”.
At the beginning of this year, we spent several weeks studying Nehemiah in the morning services. It’s hard not to be impressed with this mighty man of God….a man of prayer, action and integrity. A man dedicated to God.
The Israelites who have come back from exile and settled in and around Jerusalem have assembled to listen to Ezra reading aloud the Book of the Law of Moses. He read from daybreak until noon and it says that he and the Levites assisting him gave it meaning so the people understood.
They bowed down and worshipped with their faces to the ground. They wept and grieved, so great was the conviction of their sin.
Yet, here comes Nehemiah telling the people to go and celebrate and to share choice food and sweet drinks with those who have nothing prepared.
Ezra wept with the people because of the sins God’s word was revealing but Nehemiah focused on rebuilding and rejoicing.
This is an insight into the real meaning of joy in the context of holiness. There is a time to weep and a time to rejoice and wisdom will help us to know the difference. When the Holy Spirit comes, He may bring conviction of sin but he also brings joy and hope. The two often go together and as we look ahead to Pentecost and as we continue to pray for revival, let’s allow God to work both in us. Grief for a sinful and broken world, joy for the hope we have.
Whatever our circumstances, the joy of the Lord is our strength. Deep, foundational, unchangeable joy. A joy that the world will surely see.
Father, please fill me with your joy, even when I’m grieving or lonely or anxious. When praising you is sacrificial, I will still praise you. When I am low in spirit, yet will I rejoice. I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to you Lord, for you have been good to me.