Thank you for joining me for the second week in our look at Joy. If you missed last weeks post and introduction, do hop over to Naomi's blog to catch up! This week we have been looking at the following verse (but especially the last sentence):
"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." Nehemiah 8:10
Now I want to start off this week with a pretty provocative question that has been buzzing around my mind this week - What separates spiritually mature and immature Christians? Why do some Christians stay strong through everything, but some drift away so easily?
The answer to this is something that I really want to understand, because I for one want to be the person who stays the course - who finishes the race and gets the crown of being in heaven. I don't want to find myself in some difficult times and give up on God. I want to be spiritually mature.
And so, I think this verse is key and that this fruit of the Spirit is a really important one to develop and grow, because although love is the most important thing, if we have nothing to keep us going through the hard times then we will fall flat and not get back up (and bad things do happen to all people).
Last week Naomi spoke about joy being a choice to see the bigger picture and that it is not just an emotion of being happy. Joy is knowing the amazing future that we have in heaven and it is having a Godly perspective on things. We can't always be happy, but we can always be joyful. And if we make that choice to be joyful even during the trials then that is pure strength - that is what gives us hope to keep going in it all because we know the joy that waits for us in heaven if we just keep pushing on.
In the passage in Nehemiah before this verse, the people had returned from exile and were having to rebuild everything. They were desperate to hear the word of God and learn more about him, as they hadn't had the scrolls and laws when in exile, but as soon as they heard them they felt convicted and started weeping. Why? Because they realised they were the cause of their own destruction. That their own sin and failure to live up to the law is what meant they had been exiled. This must have been a pretty low point in their lives. But instead of letting them dwell in their misery, Nehemiah tells them to celebrate this moment of realisation, and instead to focus on the joy that the Lord had rescued them and still wanted that relationship with them.
Don't dwell in the trials and low points of life. Yes you can feel the emotion, but try not to dwell on it. Instead focus on God and eternity with him and find your strength in that joy. To me that is what separates spiritually mature and immature Christians - those who are mature know that life will happen but choose to keep their eyes fixed on the joy ahead. Those who look down and forget that joy fall away as their strength has gone.
I pray that I may continue to find joy in my Lord and that it will be my strength throughout all of life's trials - I pray that for you all too.
We turn our attention to James and the following verse:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." James 1:2-3
Naomi will be writing about this one so make sure you look out for it over on her blog.