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The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

Jodee Schrlau

the joy of the Lord is my strength

This month we have been talking about strength.  One of the first scriptures or phrases that Christians think of when talking about strength is Nehemiah 8:10-"The joy of the Lord is your strength."   We often misread this as joy in the Lord which is rejoicing; to feel or show great joy or delight.  Or we take it as meaning the fruit of the spirit.  That joy is a supernatural byproduct of a close intimate relationship with God.  While joy in the Lord has many benefits, it is the joy of the Lord that gives us strength.

  Let's look at what was happening when Nehemiah said this.  The Israelite's had been in captivity for 70 years.  2 Chronicles 36:15-21 tells the story.

 19 they burned the house of God and tore down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire, and destroyed all its valuable articles. 20 He deported to Babylon those who had escaped from the sword; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the kingdom of Persia was established there, 21 to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had restored its Sabbaths; for as long as the land lay desolate it kept Sabbath until seventy years were complete.  From <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Chronicles+36&version=AMP>

 Our story begins after the 70 years were up.   Babylon had been overthrown by Persia with Cyrus as the King.  He instructed the Israelite's to return to Jerusalem and rebuild it. By the time we get to  Nehemiah 8, the city and its walls had been rebuilt.  The entire city gathered at the square in front of the Water Gate. (The Water Gate symbolizes the cleansing work of the Word of God. This gate was also the place where justice was administered and oaths were taken.)  Ezra, the priest, stood on a platform reading and explaining the first five books of the bible. He read and taught from daybreak until midday!  As he taught, the conviction of their sin fell upon all the people.   They were so shattered by what they heard, they were mourning and weeping. But that was not what God wanted. 

 Nehemiah 8:10

This was to be a celebration, His people were home again.  It was a holy day, the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles, which is a feast set aside by God to remember His provision in the wilderness and look forward to His promises.   So Nehemiah and the Levites went through the crowd saying, "Be still, for the day is holy, do not be worried."  "This day is holy to the Lord your God, do not mourn or weep." Then Ezra announced  “Go, eat the rich festival food, drink the sweet drink, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be worried, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

So what is the joy of the Lord, you ask.  We find out in Hebrews 12:2.  It says for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross.  His joy was YOU being restored into a right relationship with His Father.   His joy is that YOU are now part of his family, a child of God.  And as His children, He has the joy of caring for YOU. He has the joy of giving YOU access to all that He made available through His death and resurrection.  YOU are His joy!

 for the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross

 Your strength comes from knowing that while you were still a sinner and separated from God, He planned a way for you to be with Him.  Your strength comes from knowing that nothing can separate you from His love.  He takes great care and delight in you.  The same God that planned and created the universe and everything in it, planned and created you.  The same power that raised Jesus from the dead has been made available to you.  That is your strength.

 So when the Israelite's were devastated over their sin, God said take strength in my forgiveness.  You've repented so now let go of your past and the sorrow that remembering your sin brings.  We are back together now so let's party!

 

YOU are the Joy of the Lord

Jesus shared his joy it in the parable of the lost son.

11 Then Jesus said, “Once there was a father with two sons. 12 The younger son came to his father and said, ‘Father, don’t you think it’s time to give me the share of your estate that belongs to me?' So the father went ahead and distributed among the two sons their inheritance. 13 Shortly afterward, the younger son packed up all his belongings and traveled off to see the world. He journeyed to a far-off land where he soon wasted all he was given in a binge of extravagant and reckless living.
14 “With everything spent and nothing left, he grew hungry, for there was a severe famine in that land. 15 So he begged a farmer in that country to hire him. The farmer hired him and sent him out to feed the pigs. 16 The son was so famished, he was willing to even eat the slop given to the pigs, because no one would feed him a thing.
17 “Humiliated, the son finally realized what he was doing and he thought, ‘There are many workers at my father’s house who have all the food they want with plenty to spare. They lack nothing. Why am I here dying of hunger, feeding these pigs and eating their slop? 18 I want to go back home to my father’s house, and I’ll say to him, “Father, I was wrong. I have sinned against you. 19 I’ll never be worthy to be called your son. Please, Father, just treat me like one of your employees.”’
20 “So the young son set off for home. From a long distance away, his father saw him coming, dressed as a beggar, and great compassion swelled up in his heart for his son who was returning home. So the father raced out to meet him. He swept him up in his arms, hugged him dearly, and kissed him over and over with tender love.
21 “Then the son said, ‘Father, I was wrong. I have sinned against you. I could never deserve to be called your son. Just let me be—’
“The father interrupted and said, ‘Son, you’re home now!’
22 “Turning to his servants, the father said, ‘Quick, bring me the best robe, my very own robe, and I will place it on his shoulders. Bring the ring, the seal of sonship, and I will put it on his finger. And bring out the best shoes] you can find for my son. 23 Let’s prepare a great feast and celebrate. 24 For this beloved son of mine was once dead, but now he’s alive again. Once he was lost, but now he is found!’ And everyone celebrated with overflowing joy.
 

To receive this strength, you follow this same pattern.   Stand in front of the Water Gate, hear the Word of the Lord and let it bring repentance.  Then don't worry over it any more.  Draw strength from the fact that you have been freely forgiven.  His compassion toward you never fails and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). The joy of the Lord is truly your strength!

 

Deuteronomy 16:15

The joy of the Lord is your strength was proclaimed at the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles.  As a Christian, I don't celebrate these feast like in a  traditional Jewish way.  But I do recognize that these were the Lord's feast.  I set aside extra time to be still and listen to what God is saying.

Fall Feasts dates for 2019

Rosh Hashana

Sep 30-Oct 1 M‑Tu

The Jewish New Year

Yom Kippur

Oct 9 W

Day of Atonement

Sukkot

Oct 14-15 M‑Tu

Oct 16-20 W‑Su

Feast of Tabernacles

I will be doing some studying on these fall feasts and how they apply to Christian today.  I'll share what I find out in my October blog.  Be sure you are signed up for my e-mail list so you don't miss them.

Until then,

have a delightful day



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