Monday, September 29, 2008

Remember the Joy!

September 29: Nehemiah 11-13 & Psalm 126

27 And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings and with singing, with cymbals, harps, and lyres. 28 And the sons of the singers gathered together from the district surrounding Jerusalem and from the villages . . .

And the singers sang with Jezrahiah as their leader. 43 And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.
Nehemiah 12:27-28a & 42b-43

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.
Psalm 126:1-3

Remember the Joy!

Our Scripture passage today from Nehemiah offers a mixture of emotions, beginning with shouts of great joy and ending with Nehemiah taking drastic steps to restore a backsliding people. Do you remember that phrase in the song, "Come Thou Fount" that says:

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love?

How often we nod in agreement with those words, desiring to follow Christ with our whole hearts and then finding ourselves slip away at the next bend in the road. That is exactly the state that Nehemiah discovered in Jerusalem.

The wall had been built and it was time for the people to rejoice and praise the Lord for His faithfulness. I love that last sentence in verse 43 shown above, And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away. It is wonderful to have times of great rejoicing, for as we travel the road of life we must often remember the joy of serving the Lord to keep from falling away.

How grieved Nehemiah must have been when he returned from a trip back to King Artaxerxes in Babylon, to find the great backsliding that occurred in his absence. Undaunted, he took on the task of rebuking and admonishing the people to return to the Lord. Nehemiah 13:30 & 31 tells us,

30 Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign, and I established the duties of the priests and Levites, each in his work; 31 and I provided for the wood offering at appointed times, and for the firstfruits.

Remember me, O my God, for good

No wonder the Psalmist declared,

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream

Do we not experience the same thing in our own lives? When God restores our backsliding hearts, the joy we experience is like those who dream.

Pray that God will not allow you to be overcome by difficult times, but would rather help you to remember the joy of that time when you first believed.

God Bless You,

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

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