Sunday, July 18, 2010

Strength And Joy

One of the songs we sing in church is Chris Tomlin's "Holy Is The Lord God Almighty."  I love Chris Tomlin's songs, and think that he really is blessed by God for the kinds of lyrics he sings.  There is one part of this song that stood out to us this morning.

We stand and lift up our hands
For the joy of the Lord is our strength
We bow down and worship Him now
How great, how awesome is He

One of the principles behind this song comes from chapter 8 of the book of Nehemiah.

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  (Nehemiah 8:10)

One of our congregation pointed out that we are weak, and we have nothing by ourselves.  We feel downtrodden and discouraged, often unable to make it through our days.  I know that I feel like that many days.  My work and the trials of life wear me down and I feel like just laying down and pulling a blanket over my head.  What can help me overcome that?

The joy of the Lord.  THAT is MY strength!

So what is the "joy of the Lord?"  If you read this passage of Nehemiah in context, you'll see that the Israelites are told to be joyful after they have heard God's word and had the meaning explained to them.  In other words, they read their equivalent of the Bible, understood it, and took all of those things into their hearts.  When they were sad and weak, those words would come back to them and give them strength.  The stories and laws of God helped them when they felt they had nothing else.

Look at Jesus' words...

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:11-13)

I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. (John 17:13)

Jesus' words are the source of Joy.  And since the Bible calls Jesus "the Word" (John 1:1), we can say that Jesus himself is the source of Joy.  Jesus and the Bible are the "joy of the Lord".   When we need strength, where do we go?  To these sources.

Know the Bible.  Know Jesus.  Then you will have Strength.

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