Nehemiah 8.10 says, “… the joy of the Lord is your strength.” How did the people in Nehemiah’s day go from grief to joy? How did the people in Nehemiah’s day go from grief to joy? Why should we find joy for the same reason?
Also, read about the confidence we can have in life’s storms.
Nehemiah 8 & 9
From Grief to Joy
The Importance of Different Gifts
God was at work. He had prepared Ezra with a great knowledge of the Scriptures and Nehemiah as a great leader with the energy and gifts to accomplish the rebuilding of the walls. What a great example of how God gifts people differently and then brings them together to accomplish His work. Ezra, while a great man of God, had been back in Jerusalem for twelve years, but it wasn’t until Nehemiah came that the Feast of Booths was reinstated, the walls were rebuilt, and other things began to happen.
In the New Testament we are called the body of Christ. Romans 12.4-8 says:
4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
As believers, each of us has been gifted to serve God and each other. 1 Corinthians 12 says:
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (v.7).
Every gift is necessary and important.
“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? …And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” (v. 17, 19).
From Grief to Joy
The result of Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s gifts working together, along with those of others who helped teach the people, was a reverence for the Word. They stood for three hours or more while the Scriptures were read and expounded … they bowed their faces to the ground … they wept in repentance.
It was good that the people wept and were grieved over their sin. We, too, should be grieved when we are confronted with our sin through the reading and study of the Scriptures, the preaching of the Word, or the rebuke of others. But, as Matthew Henry says in his commentary:
“Even sorrow for sin must not hinder our joy in God, but rather lead us to it and prepare us for it.”
The wretchedness of our sin should cause us to rejoice in the amazing grace of God!
The proper understanding of God and His word led to great joy and celebration among the people. Nehemiah 8.10, 12:
“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.’ … And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.”
Today’s Other Readings:
Glories, Blessings, and Rejoicing
In verses 11-14 the psalmist continues to extol the glories of God, and in verse 15 he begins to talk about the blessings of the children of God. Then verses 16-18 remind us that we can rejoice in who God is (good and righteous), that He makes us strong, that He causes us to walk in light (wisdom and understanding) and that it pleases Him to take care of us.
Meditating on the glories (character qualities or attributes of God) and the blessings of being His children should cause us to rejoice and be thankful.
The Victory is God’s
Verse 31, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.”
We are to do our part in any battle by being obedient, but God takes care of the results!
Our Storms & His Good Purpose
As Paul is traveling by ship to Rome, a fierce storm arises. It gets so bad that the people are not even eating because of their fear. They have done all they can do: thrown things overboard, tried to anchor to keep from going aground, but here in this passage, they are preparing for the worst. God is faithful to His word, though, and brings them safely to shore.
What a great encouragement to us in our storms! Though He may allow our ships to break apart, He is still in control and is working all things for His good purposes in our lives.
Just a note:
When we talk about spiritual gifts, some people wonder about theirs. Sadly, some are even tempted to believe they’re not gifted at all. If you’re not sure about your spiritual gifts, you might want to take a spiritual gifts assessment. While not foolproof or the only way to understand and discover your gifts, it can be helpful. For a free one, you can go to Elmer Towns website.
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