THE JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH (NEHEMIAH 8:10)
By Pastor Don Byrt (retired and fantastic)
Charles Swindoll, American author, pastor and evangelist
(Comments about attitude which I want to use at the beginning of this talk about joy)
[ The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude, to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company ...a church ...a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past ...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.
We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you ...we are in charge of our attitudes. ]
- About 50,000 people resettled Jerusalem and the towns in the countryside around Jerusalem. After the walls were rebuilt and the gates rebuilt and the area somewhat stabilized, they were all called to meet in Jerusalem to hear the reading of the Book of the Law of Moses. Nehemiah 8:2-8
- All the people wept as they heard the words of the Law being read. Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe and Levites who were teaching as the Book of the Law was read all said to the people, “This is a sacred day to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep. Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to or Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”. Nehemiah 8:9b-10
- The people wept because they felt condemned at their own failures and shortcomings as they realized how far from God’s ways they had fallen. Nehemiah could have agreed with their self-condemnation, but he instead spoke a true word from God. Nehemiah said to stop grieving because God’s word was not for condemning them, but for reconciling them to God. God’s word is for life and joy. This was a day to rejoice and party, to laugh and feast because God was acting again to assure them of his love. Indeed, repentance was to come, but repentance to life and joy, not condemnation.
- It is absolutely essential to understand who brings condemnation and death, and who brings salvation and life if we as Christians are to experience joy and victory in all circumstances of life.
- The thief, that is Satan, is the one who is the source of sin, condemnation and death. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. John 10:10a
- The Lord Jesus, one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the Trinity of one God comes to give life, and that is life in all its fullness, all its abundance. John 10:10b
- Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour and condemn and destroy. 1 Peter 5:8
- God so loved the world he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whosoever believes in him is not condemned … John3:16-18
- See also 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Philippians 4:4-8, 3 John 2
- For songs with each scripture: Rejoice Always … Rejoice in the Lord Always … and for The Joy of the Lord Is My Strength from Nehemiah 8:10, and for the encouragement in the line from 3 John 2.
WHAT VOICES WE LISTEN TO REALLY DETERMINES OUR JOY
1. If Christians are to experience the fullness of joy, that JOY OF THE LORD THAT IS OUR STRENGTH, in every situation of life, then we must confirm in our spirits, experience in our souls and live out in our bodies the reality that God is the source of life, reconciliation, love , power and every good thing we experience and have. We must learn to discern between the voice of the Holy Spirit and the voice of Satan, and choose to live accepting the joy and life inherent in God for us, and choose to reject the life sapping, condemning lies that are all that Satan has to offer.
How to Discern Between the Voice of the Holy Spirit (JOY)
- You have a sense of God’s Holiness
- Makes you God-conscious (through the word/Word)
- Gives clarity (specifics)
- Deals with one thing at a time
- He corrects
- He brings conviction
- Causes you to deal with unconfessed sin
- Encourages to obedience (entreats hope)
- Peace confirmed
- Leads to balance
And the Voice of Satan (CONDEMNATION)
- You have a sense of worthlessness
- Makes you self-conscious (through your feelings)
- Brings confusion (generalities)
- Throws the whole book at you
- He accuses
- He brings condemnation
- Accuses you of confessed sin and failure
- Discourages to despair and torments, (Helplessness)
- You are pressured, frustrated
- Leads to bondage
Which voice will you really listen to? How you experience your Christian life day by day, year by year actually tells you. No one else need to judge you; you already know. The good news is that if the condemnation of the second list describes how you experience life, you may choose today to reject that deceiving voice and you may choose to learn to hear the true voice leading to abundant life and truly life giving joy.
Submit yourself to God’s (voice). Resist the devil’s (voice) and he will flee from you. Come near to God, and He will come near to you (you will find He is already near). James 4:7-8 my bracket comments
2. Listen to this story of fans of the Cleveland Browns football club. Taken from the daily Bible study devotional guide, Our Daily Bread of February 7, 2016. Arena nicknamed “The Factory of Sadness”
3. The scripture covers our need for assurance that Jesus is with us and for us always, in every situation. It does not diminish or devalue our losses nor exalt our gains. It promises His presence in every experience we have, and offers us His peace, joy ultimate victory.
I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace (includes joy). In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
4. I do not want my life to be a factory of sadness. I want it to be a household of God’s joy, such that others seeing me are drawn to worship the living joy giving God.
5. Two friends and their different reaction to life situations, good and bad.
- There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set us free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2
- We enter God’s work with thanksgiving and joy, knowing that we will sometimes fall and struggle, but knowing also that our struggling, falling and failing are not the last word. God has the last word, and that word is Jesus. Jesus has set us free from condemnation and shame. We are called to grow in that experience of freedom, to announce it to others, and to live in the joy of the Lord.
- Rejoice always, and again I say rejoice. Philippians 4:4
- Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
- Songs. Rejoice in the Lord Always Philippians 4:4, Rejoice Always 1 Thessalonians 5:16, The Joy of the Lord Is My Strength Nehemiah 8:10