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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Joy and Strength

Nehemiah told the people, "The joy of the LORD is your strength." (Neh 8:10) It's a warm thought, of course. It is (was?) a popular song. We clap and sing and it's wonderful. But in what sense could the joy of the Lord be your strength?

Jesus said He came "that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) Paul commands, "Rejoice in the Lord always." (Phil 4:4) We know that a fruit of the Spirit is joy (Gal 5:22). Conversely, God warned Israel that they would become prisoners of their enemies "because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things." (Deut 28:47-48) There is, then, joy as part of the abundant life in Christ. And there are consequences for not serving God with joy and a glad heart.

But how is joy strength? Well, first, ordinary scientific studies will tell you that joyful people are better off. They're healthier mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Joy is good for us. Then there is the spiritual issue. Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Luke 12:34)

So, there it is in a nutshell. Where's your heart? Well, it's found in what you value the most. So, what do you value most? If it is Christ ... if your greatest joy is in loving and trusting and serving Christ, then you will find a strength that will encompass your world. If not, don't anticipate the kind of strength that joy brings. Because it is strength only when your joy is in God.

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