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!