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Seeds of the Kingdom

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength!

by Ron Scurfield

23 August 2012

Next Day »

Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10, NIV

A large crowd was gathering. The Word of God was about to be read in the central square. Ezra the priest mounted a high wooden platform specially built for the occasion. A buzz of excitement grew as the Book was opened. The priest began with a blessing and everyone raised their hands to God. They bowed their heads, and some lay prostrate on the ground in worship as the Word was read. They listened attentively.

Some were becoming agitated. This was not what they expected. The conviction of the Word of God descended on the crowd. They began to weep. It soon became painfully clear they all had fallen far short of God’s expectations. Guilt and self condemnation set in and a loud weeping and wailing was heard in all quarters. The word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Nehemiah the Governor stood up. “This day is sacred to the Lord your God. There will be no mourning or weeping. You must stop this grieving, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” They gazed at him in astonishment. “How can joy come out of mourning? How can life spring up out of death?”

But they were commanded to testify to their joy, to put on the garments of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness. The meaning of the Scriptures was explained to them; the words of life; the precious promises for those who truly repent. ‘You shall sow in tears but reap in joy’ (Psalm 106:5). They began to realise that conviction does not lead to condemnation. It is merely a stepping stone into the newness of life.

Through Jesus it gets better. There is no condemnation. His law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8: 2). If we confess, He is faithful, and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). We are rooted in His love, and have power, together with all the saints, to know this love beyond measure, and are filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-18).

Prayer: Lord, I ask You to forgive me for trying to make it on my own. I lay myself down before You now, at the cross, and ask that You forgive my ways and renew my life by Your Spirit, that I may know Your joy and strength for the days ahead. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Ron Scurfield with his wife Jill, are part of the Associate Ministry Team at Ellel Grange and occasionally Ellel Scotland. Ron enjoys walking and writing and meeting interesting people, but his greatest joy is seeing God transform lives, setting people free to live the abundant life that Jesus intended.

 

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