Monday, October 20, 2014

God’s Joy — My Strength

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I was listening to some “oldies” this weekend, when something hit my “funny spot.” Guy Mitchell had a 10-week #1 Billboard hit, Singing the Blues, back in 1956-57. The lyrics are pretty sad, I think. The first stanza goes like this:

Well I never felt more like singin' the blues
'Cause I never thought that I'd ever lose your love dear
Why'd you do me this way?
Well I never felt more like cryin' all night
'Cause every thing's wrong and nothin' ain't right, without you
You got me singin' the blues

So, you’re probably asking, “What’s with the ‘funny spot?’” If you’re old enough to remember the tune, it was a “finger-snapping,” “toe-tapping” kind of song. Forgetting the words, if you just listened to the music, you might want to do “The Bristol Stomp!” [You probably don’t remember that song either!]

The song reminded me that we put so much emphasis on worldly things in an attempt to go through life happy. What we really need is a lasting joy. Not superficial happiness, but real, honest to goodness JOY!

Have you experienced that? You thought that new job would make you happy; it did, but then it became painstaking work. You thought that new relationship seemed so simple to ease into - this must be the one! Then, slowly it soured. You thrilled to the latest toy, and then a new gadget hit the market. 

The wise Solomon wrote, “Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.” [Proverbs 14:13 - New Living Translation] 

What we need is real, lasting joy. The harsh reality is that happiness comes and goes. It appears and disappears with circumstances. So where do we find that constant joy? In Jesus! The apostle Peter reminded the saints of his day that because of their faith in Christ, they were “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” [1 Peter 1:8]. 

The reason for lasting joy in Jesus is simple: God-given joy is based on things that do not change with circumstances. On our best day, Jesus died for our sins and rose from the grave in victory over sin and death. On our worst day, Jesus died for our sins and rose from the grave in victory over sin and death.

Nehemiah rightly said that the “joy of the Lord is our strength.” The Hebrew word translated strength, is mah-oz. It not only means strength, but also fortress and rock! When we commit our lives to walking in repentance and holiness, then that joy is ours! We can actually live out Paul’s instruction to, “REJOICE EVERMORE!” [1st Thessalonians 5:16]. Jesus is our Rock and Fortress — the stability of our lives.

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

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