“Then he said to them, ‘Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’”
The joy of the Lord is your strength!!! Where does our strength come from? It comes from the joy of the Lord’s presence who is continually with us, indwelling us through His Holy Spirit.
Lately, I have been on a quest to know Jesus in a more personal way. People talk about having an intimate relationship with Jesus. I’m not sure we know how to go about becoming that familiar with a holy God. I do believe that first we must know God’s character in a way that allows us to trust Him on a completely new level.
Understanding who God is involves knowing what He feels, what He thinks about things, and He would react about a situation. We build a relationships by spending time with someone, listening to their heart, and sharing our thoughts and lives with them.
God’s Word tells us that God has emotions similar to what He placed in His creation. He is love, He is Mercy, He Grieves, He expresses anger and many more that I want to explore. Of course, His emotions are so much more than we can really understand, He controls them and uses them in a beneficial manner whereas we seem to have little control over ours most of the time.
When God reveals things He wants me to see, think about or dive into study, He will bring a word or phrase to my mind. It sometimes will come out of nowhere. It isn’t mystical or mysterious, it is a quiet thought but I see and hear it in many places. The radio would play a song, a sermon would be on joy, over and over.
For several days thoughts about joy have been everywhere I turned. I awakened one morning with “The joy of the Lord is your strength!” in my head. After a few days of seeing this in different places, I began to look up verses about joy.
In John 15:11, Jesus prays for us that our “joy” might be full. “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
Or Psalms 16:11, “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”
What then is Joy? Wikipedia defines it as:
Joy is an emotion in response to a pleasant observation or a remembrance thereof. The reason for a joyful reaction is usually that some expectation or need has been satisfied. Joy is usually expressed as a smile, a laughter or exclamation of joy.
Joy differs from happiness in that it is an emotion. Happiness, on the other hand, is what would be described as a feeling, which is more fleeting. Joy may be thought of as “the emotional dimension of the good life, of a life that is both going well and is being lived well.” Wikipedia
Joy is not dependant on our circumstances. The joy of the Lord tells us about who and what He is like. We have an emotion filled God who is joy. We know God is love but have we ever thought that He is joy?”
One illustration of an intimate moment with God this week.
I wrote last week that this is the time in Israel that they celebrate the feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur and the Day of Atonement or the High Holy days. I was looking at the feast days and how they might relate to the Lord’s Return and still the phrase “the joy of the Lord is my strength” is still coming into my heart and mind. I turn to Nehemiah 8:10. I find myself giddy with joy as the Lord shows me in scripture what was going on when Nehemiah told the people, Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
The walls of the temple have been built, Nehemiah calls a “holy convocation”. He invites Ezra to come the read the scripture. And there it is verse 2, “So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Tishri day 1. It was the feast of trumpets! As the Jewish people in Israel that day were celebrating their feasts, God opened His Word in surprise for me to read about what Ezra, Nehemiah and the people had read in their assembly that day so many years ago. . The people were convicted by the reading of God’s Word after years of exile in a foreign land. They were so moved by the reading that they were grieving and crying because they had forgotten God. Nehemiah tells the people, do not grieve, for the Lord is your strength. Now is the time to celebrate, there can be no sadness during the feast of Trumpets, we have joy that we have come back to our land. This is a celebration about the King’s return.
For a moment I felt His presence in the room as though He was telling me His story from the book of Nehemiah. It was as though, he knew I wanted to know more about the feast and He came to visit through the scriptures to tell me His story personally. Joy filled my heart.
My prayer as I sat in the sweet presence of the Lord that day, was that we would be convicted when we read His Word and He would once again bring revival to our land.
For me, that was an overwhelming feeling of joy, the satisfaction of knowing God Himself came near that day. I sat for a long time just praising my God who longs to dwell with us.
Now for some that means nothing! Some will say that I am overspiritualizing the moment. I only want to help us understand that God wants to be in relationship so close that we can hear his voice, not audibly, but still he communicates with us as we listen and draw near to him.
But many times as we try to share those moments, it is a little like casting pearls to the swine. What was a precious time with the Lord can not be conveyed with all the awe that we feel.
That day, I wanted to tell someone, share my joy, and share the moment with someone. My soul craved intimacy. I wanted to share my special moment, my pearl, but as I began to tell what was so special to me, the person I was with turned and ask a completely unrelated question. The air in my balloon deflated and I had no desire to say anything more that morning. Others can not fill another’s emotional tank. Only God can fill us with such satisfaction in Him that for a while we experience what Jesus said in John, I have come that your joy might be full. Praise be to God that He understands our need for joy! He can fill us with joy and He does!
We have an emotion filled God who longs to fill us with His Joy.!
JOY IS THE ECHO OF GOD’S LIFE IN US.
Rejoice and be glad.
Celebration of the Feast of Trumpets Last Week