“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” - Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV).
Our leading verse is drawn from a momentous period soon after Nehemiah had rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem against fierce opposition. Once the Israelites had assembled back from their long years of exile, Ezra, the teacher of the Law, took out the Book of Moses, to remind them of God’s promises. Many were so shaken that they began to weep. But “.. Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep” (Nehemiah 8: 9).
Out of exile the Israelites were then instructed to put up temporary shelters. “The whole company that had returned from exile built temporary shelters and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great” (vv 17).
The Israelites had much reason to celebrate. In their years of exile, many must have lost hope that this day would ever come. But here it was. Moved to weep, Nehemiah, who had much to do with their return, reminded them that the “joy of the Lord” is their strength.
The joy of the Lord is indeed our strength! Whereas theirs was a situation of reunion, our circumstances may be different. In these days of the pandemic many are grieving from burdensome loss. These are troublesome days that often leave many people dejected. Sad news which are never in short supply these days have all the tendency to sap the spirit.
But if anything the Lord desires us to be joyful. Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The one thing any believer must be sure of is that enemy, Satan, literally hates seeing the followers of Christ filled with joy and hope. This is why King David writes, “Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD” (Psalm 27:6). Today, be joyful.
Prayer for today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, today I rise up with a song of joy in my heart, for you have been so good to me, and may your name be praised, this I pray in Jesus’s name.
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“Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel” ( Zechariah 4:10).
The public life of King David is well known. However, there is an early aspect of his life quite hidden though we can get glimpse of it. The first time we get to know David he is a stay home kid while his big brothers are on to bigger stuff, like fighting with King Saul. “Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah. David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul, but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem” ( I Samuel 27:13-14).
Left home alone perhaps it was a time for David to bond with the old man Jesse. Maybe he sometimes felt idle and ignored. But there was something maturing in his life for the life ahead. For in the meantime as he would later point to King Saul once an opportunity availed itself, God was ironing out his CV. When he offered to take on Goliath and Saul hesitated, he quickly shot back: “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” (vv 35-37).
That’s the point. What had apparent been idle moments God was preparing David for the battles ahead? He would not only emerge out of the shadow as a great warrior but also a shepherd of his people ever relying on God.
Equally so, for all of us, there are moments that might appear idle and we feel frustrated as we see the days go by. Yet, in His gentle ways, God is preparing us for great days ahead.
Prayer today: Lord Father God, maker of heaven and earth, for those periods in life of apparent inactivity and maybe trials, help me appreciate them as the maturing me, for in due time and season all will bear fruit, this I pray in Jesus’ name!