Monday, February 3, 2014

JOY ~ Part 2

“The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). Thank you Lord! The 8th chapter of Nehemiah is extremely important because it tells of spiritual revival among God’s people through Ezra’s public reading of God’s Word. The people were weeping when they heard God’s laws and how far they had strayed from His instructions. Nehemiah, Ezra, scribes, and others told them they were to be filled with joy because the day was a holy day. This was to be a celebration day. They were to take their eyes off themselves, even their sinful selves, and think about God and about others. “‘This day is holy unto the Lord, your God’ ... Then Ezra said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat and drink the sweet and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared [those in need] for this day is a holy day unto the Lord. Neither be ye grieved; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’”

This instruction caused me to blink several times before I could accept it. Perhaps you are wondering as well. The people were right in taking the Word of God seriously. There is a proper time and place for everything. But the people were not to be overwhelmed with grief. This was a celebration. The celebration feasts were to be kept with joy. Of all their yearly celebrations, only the Day of Atonement was for mourning and fasting. Note the ratio. One celebration for mourning and several feasts for rejoicing.

 There is a time and place for everything as we walk in obedience to God and His Word. We don’t badger ourselves when God has a positive purpose for us to experience, grow from, and enjoy. Long terms of discouragement, frustration, murmuring, complaining, downcast spirit, and turmoil will wreak havoc with our health. Worse than that, it displeases God Who has provided freedom from all such sins. Jesus Christ is at God’s right hand interceding for us. Oh joy, joy, joy!

As I have mentioned before, the application of scripture must go through the grid of my own heart before I dare share with you. How are we to deal with sin in our lives? We may have a period of deep sorrow and confession, but there is a next step. “If we confess our sin, He[God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn.1:9). We repeat that so glibly. There are reams of insights in that verse! Think about it. We confess and we are set free! Why should we not celebrate?