Another Monday has begun. Your week is in full swing. Last night, as you prepared to begin another work week, where was your heart at?
Did you experience the dreaded “Sunday Night Scaries”. Did you feel overwhelmed at the thought of returning to a busy work schedule? Maybe it was the idea of not returning home until late at night because your evenings are filled with kids’ events or church meetings. Maybe it was the idea of returning home from work to an empty house and feeling alone.
As you prepared for the week did you experience joy? Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us that, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” In Hebrew, the word “strength” was interpreted as “to make strong” or “to prevail”. The joy of the Lord is what will help carry you through all the responsibilities God has blessed you with this week. It will help you prevail through all the trials God will send your way, and it will make you strong to fight the temptations the devil presents you with this week.
Ok, that’s great, but what is the “Joy of the Lord”?. The joy of the Lord can be found in our journey to redemption and restoration. In Nehemiah 8:8-9 the Israelites had heard the law of the Lord read out loud and wept when they realized how far they had strayed from God’s commands. The Israelites were afraid that they were no longer God’s chosen people and that He could not possibly love them after all their sin. Ezra and the Levities assured the Israelites that God still loved them and wanted a relationship with them. And that’s where Nehamiah 8:10 fits in. Erza told the crowds, “This day is Holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” The Israelites repented from their sinful ways and the rest of Nehamiah 8 describes how they continued to read God’s Law and put it into practice. Verse 12 reads, “Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made know to them.”
How often do we feel like the Israelites? The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. We feel guilt and shame over our sinful actions. We begin to think there is no way God could love us or look past our sin. But scripture reassures us we do not need to live in guilt or shame. No! We are to live in Joy. Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross has washed us clean from our sins. We are forgiven and free from the weight of all our sins. Our relationship with our loving Heavenly Father has not changed. We can live in the strength that comes from the Joy of the Lord and knowing our salvation is in Christ alone.
So your mission this Monday (and everyday as a follower of Christ) is to live in the Joy of the Lord. Trust in it to strengthen you as you go into your mission fields this week.