Check out all the previous Joy readings here.
Joy Reading Plan | Day 3
Take a deep breath in and let it out slowly. Do this three times. This helps you be more present and aware. Ask God to give you His strength to live for Him today.
Bible Reading: Nehemiah 8:2-12
So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
Ezra the teacher of the Law stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.
Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. 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.”
The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”
Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
Reflection & Questions
In today’s reading we encounter the Israelites at an interesting time in their history. They have returned to their land after being exiled. This happened because of their sinful, stubborn and rebellious ways. But God in His mercy has led them back to their land, which is a symbol of a restored relationship with Him. In today’s reading, they hear the reading of God’s word for the first time since being exiled.
As they hear the word, they are sorrowful for their actions and attitudes. This is a good response. But they aren’t to stay sorrowful. They are to move forward with joy, because they have a restored relationship with God. He loves them and He is for them. They are to celebrate this! “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks,” Nehemiah tells them. “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah isn’t saying that grieving is bad. But he is saying that God doesn’t want us to stay sorrowful for our sin and beat ourselves up. There is no strength for the Christian life in that. Where does our strength come from? It comes from knowing that God has forgiven us. That loves us and is for us. His joy becomes our joy. We find delight in a Father who loves us. So no matter what we face, we can have strength to face it, because our God, our joyful God is for us.
- One of the strategies of the devil is to bury us in guilt and shame for our sin. How does that rob us of strength to live the Christian life?
- Where are you seeking strength to live the Christian life? Is it in your restored relationship with God or something else? How’s it working for you?
Pray in response to today’s reading.
You might use this song today to worship Jesus today:
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