Thursday, October 12
The joy of the Lord
Scripture: Nehemiah 7-8, Acts 1
Nehemiah 8:9-10 “This day is holy to the Lord your God, so you are not to mourn or cry. 10Now go home and have a feast. Share your food and wine with those who haven’t enough. Today is holy to our Lord, so don’t be sad. The joy that the Lord gives you will make you strong.”
Ezra read the Law to the assembled returned-exiles and their response was to cry. Nehemiah and Ezra told them not to cry or mourn, but to celebrate. This was a holy day—a holiday—a day for celebrating. It was a day to rejoice in all that God had done for them in spite of their sin and idolatry, a day to rejoice that God had given them another chance. They were back from exile, back in Jerusalem, and were coming back to God.
One commentator said, “The powerful exposition of the Word of God can bring deep conviction of sin. But repentance must not degenerate into a self-centered remorse but must issue into joy in God’s forgiving goodness.”
“The joy that the Lord gives you will make you strong.” What does this mean?
One idea: a joyful focus on God’s grace can empower and strengthen us to follow Him. Rather than a dour focus on our failures, which only leads to more failure, we need to celebrate God’s goodness and grace that gives us another chance to get it right. The joy of the Lord, the joy of God’s goodness and grace will then empower us to do the right thing.
For example, think of someone who has been given a second chance: a husband who failed, but his wife forgave him; an athlete who failed, but his coach gave him another chance; an employee who failed, but the boss gave him another chance. The joy of being given another chance will provide fresh energy and determination and strength to his efforts. As long as he joyfully remembers the grace, he has new strength.
So the lesson for me is to remember the grace of Jesus. Rather than hanging my head at my failure, rejoice in His grace. Then let that joy empower me to try again, like the exiles coming home.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for graciously giving me another chance…every time. Remind me of Your goodness and grace and fill me with Your joy—joy that will make me strong!