The Center of Our Joy!

The Center of Our Joy!

They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read. Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. 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 8:8-10 NIV

“Jesus, You’re the center of my joy,

All that’s good and perfect comes from you,

You’re the heart of my desire, the hope for all I do,

Oh, Jesus, You’re the center of my joy!”

The words from a very popular song keep ringing in the depths of my soul this morning. When Jesus is the center–the very core of all we do–we can do it with confidence and joy, knowing that it’s not about us, but about Him!

In this passage of scripture (The Word), the children of Israel are reminded of the journey their ancestors made with the reading of The Law and the explanations provided, making sure all understood. They wept with remorse when they realized just how off center and off track they had been when they chose to worship idols and engage in other pagan rituals. They were convicted by The Word, but they were not beaten down after showing remorse. They were encouraged–“Don’t cry because the joy of The Lord is your strength,” they were told.

When we hear The Word today, are we convicted and filled with remorse or are those preaching it–using The Word to beat people down rather than to encourage? Are those reading The Word doing so with understanding and able to explain so all have clear understanding?

Perhaps, the reason our society is in the shape that it’s in is because few leaders are reading The Word in the presence of the people, explaining what it means and encouraging the people not to worry because once we understand The Word, we have great joy in knowing Jesus is our strength.

We don’t have to worry about things when Jesus Christ is the center of all we do–careful consideration and deliberate communication (prayer) with Him is sought before we do anything. If we understand The Word and know how God intends for us to live, then our lives should not be easily derailed when challenges confront us. And though we make mistakes, He is there to keep us from utter failure and plummeting  when we remember our strength is in Him.

For those who may be reading this blog for the very first time, I encourage you to hear The Word (read it aloud) and allow Jesus into your heart, making Him the center of your life. For those who already know that He is, I encourage you to share the joy of The Lord with all you know and greet.

Jesus, You’re the Center of my Joy!

We Can’t Get Tired Now!

We Can’t Get Tired Now!

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV

Day after day, week after week, year after year, no matter how much we attempt to do to change what happens around us, we don’t see the change we want to see, but we can’t get tired, now.

Though adversity after adversity confronts us, wearies us, and angers us, we must keep doing what we know is right–guided by Holy Spirit--maintaining our hope in Him who is the Light who dispels the darkness.

Even when we are walking in the Light of Love, we must guard our hearts and recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing or the smiling faces who hide the poison in the conversation. Not every smiling face is a friend and when we look closely at the eyes–those orbs that reflect the depth of the soul, we know who is a friend and who is the enemy’s tool.

Every day we wake, we will face some known and some unknown challenges. Many we will overcome, but there are some that drain us dry, leaving us weak and wondering why we bother to continue. That’s life–we can’t take it personally and we must never get tired of trying to do the right thing. When we are weak in our strength, we can count on Him to strengthen us. When our thoughts attempt to defeat us, we have to encourage ourselves in The Lord.

Living for The Lord is not easy, but it is gratifying beyond the description of mere words. Those who don’t understand cannot fathom why we keep on the path He has set before us. They participate in the scorn and ridicule and wait for us to become as they are and when we don’t–they are confused, while we just smile and give God the glory!

If you’re like me and have been facing all sorts of challenges–physical, emotional, and spiritual--praying fervently for those in need, while it seems that no one is praying for you; strengthening yourself in the Word just to keep from going off on those around you, mumbling to keep from saying the wrong thing since words once spoken can never be retrieved; and living in the hope we have in Jesus–don’t get tired now!

When people say all manner of things about you that aren’t true–just thank God for them spending so much and attention on you. You really matter to them! When your body acts like it belongs in a morgue, speak life to your body and tell it to get up and get going. When your heart hurts because people disappoint you, focus on the One who never disappoints. We have an advocate in the midst of every trial and temptation and His name is Jesus!

Until He returns, we are victorious in Him on this side of heaven, so we can’t get tired now!