August 2023

Fortified by Joy

After Ezra had read the Law of Moses, the word of God, to the people who had returned to Jerusalem, he and Nehamiah said to them, “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8) The people had been in exile under pagan rule because they had disobeyed God, and it is understandable that they should be grieved in their hearts at the realization of the part they had played in their own captivity. Yet, the heart of God for redemption was declared to them and a way of peaceful, righteous living opened in revelation to them. The joy of the Lord was indeed their strength. Strength to move forward, to rebuild, to hope, and to live, again.

God was not offering to make them feel better. He was asking them to receive His promises, choose His way and know His joy. “For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.” (Isaiah 51:3 ESV)

This joy runs deep, like a well-spring that bubbles up and refreshes everything around it. It is a spiritual and eternal element. The evidence of God’s goodness and His creative energy. It is possible to endure whatever is required for our purification because of His joy. “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV) He suffered, yes, but He endured and triumphed because of joy.

The joy of the Lord captivates us, inspires us, moves us. When He draws near and draws us in, we become part of His joy. Great and mighty, gentle and good, fierce and holy. The beauty of Him glows like the sun.

Dear One, are you in need of strength in the inner man? Faith and fortitude? Hope and endurance? The strength of joy is to be found in His presence. In His “presence there is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11 ESV) Come into His presence with thanksgiving and praise. Meditate on Psalm 100 until your own mouth fills with praise. The Lord is good and greatly to be praised.

Until next week, beloved, be fortified by the joy of the Lord!

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