THE JOY OF THE LORD WILL BE YOUR STRENGTH
Written by Mindy Schuman
When walking through circumstances and seasons that are are difficult, sometimes we will have to choose to walk in the joy of the Lord. Walking in the joy of the Lord will need to be an intentional choice within us, a choice to walk by faith and not by sight. We will have to choose this sometimes because scripture tells us that the joy of the Lord will be our strength (Nehemiah 8:10) and our feelings and thoughts might not always line up with this truth.
Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
In Nehemiah Chapter 8 above, we see that the fresh encounter with the Word of God read by Ezra produced a profound reaction among the people. They wept and were confronted with the will and character of God, and the people were all too aware of their shortcomings. But, three times Ezra and the leadership exhorted the people to cease weeping and rejoice because, “This is a day sacred to the Lord.” Reading the law should produce joy and celebration among God’s people in certain settings. As Derek Kidner, the Old Testament scholar, has remarked, “Holiness and gloom go ill together.”
We need strength to serve God, and to do it joyfully with the right heart posture. We can’t walk in our gifting and assignments with excellence and diligence without strength. Furthermore, this strength needs to be from the Lord and not just within our own self. If we continually try to conjure this strength within our flesh, eventually we will run dry and burn out. There will be times when we feel that no joy is available to us, that we have nothing left in us or nothing to “feel” joyful about. However, during these times it is more important than ever to press into God and His promises to be able to walk in our anointing and calling and serve others.
How do we do this you ask? How do we let the joy of the Lord be our strength? It starts in our mind, in our thoughts. We cast down vain imaginations.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
2 Corinthians 10: 3-5
Secondly, learn to trust the Lord in EVERY circumstance big and small.
But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.
Isaiah 40 verse 31 tells us that “those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed.” The more we learn to trust God with all the details, we won’t spend excessive time and energy worrying about how it will all work out and be fearful about the future. Trusting in the Lord and His sovereignty will empower us. Scripture promises us that we will “run and not get weary, walk and not grow faint’ when we learn to trust the Lord for help in time of need.
Lastly, don’t let your enemies convince you that your past mistakes and your “mess” means that you can’t be used by God. I don’t mind telling you that many who are not for me and who lied about me have remarked that I was abused and torn down in the past so badly that they believed I would never do what God had called me to do and I could never make wise decisions about my life because of the past abuse I endured. THE DEVIL IS A LIAR!!!! Why would other professing Christians deny the work of Christ in my life and speak against me and what I’m called to do as a child of God despite a past full of abuse, injustice and fear? The reason is because Satan is using their words, opinions and accusations to tear me down and to get me to give up because it’s just too hard, wanting me to believe I’m damaged beyond repair. But, thankfully, this doesn’t deter me because I know the truth. The truth is the blood of Jesus has washed me, healed me and given me the strength to accomplish His will in my life. The truth is Philippians 4:11-13.
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:11-13 NKJV
Regardless of what the enemy says about you, your past or your current circumstances…God says we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. And let that be your meditation today, let that be your motivation today. I pray that as you read these words you are strengthened with might in your inner man, to run the race and press toward the mark of the high calling God has for you.