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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Joy, Joy, Joy, In My Heart Is Ringing (Nehemiah 12:31, 43)

"I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks . . . the two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God . . . And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away."

I've a confession to make as a pastor's wife. There have been times when I have not looked forward to going to church and if I had not been married to the pastor I would have stayed at home. Nevertheless, I went. Out of habit. Rather, my body went but my heart remained at home. Loss of joy does that. Joyless people avoid those who have joy.

Ezra placed Israel's leaders upon the walls of Jerusalem along with choirs who were placed there to sing. Then they went into the house of the Lord and sang some more. Why? Because God had given them joy. Joy is a gift given to those who know captivity and have experienced release. Joylessness then, indicates spiritual captivity or exile, distance from the Lord.

A happy heart has to be cultivated. Recalling former days of captivity has a way of stirring up joy in the heart and putting a song upon the tongue. But, sometimes you sing because you should. As you sing out of duty the Holy Spirit often focuses your attention upon a phrase or a thought that captures the heart once again.

Great joy characterized the returning exiles. So much so that their songs were heard for miles. What characterizes your life?

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
1 Chronicles 9:1b-34; Nehemiah 12:1-47
  • What reason does the writer give for Israel's captivity?
  • What specifically does the job assignment of being a gatekeeper involve?
  • What all was involved at the dedication of the walls of Jerusalem?
  • What does singing and rejoicing do for the people? What does this teach you about singing to the Lord?
  • How do the people respond to the Levite's leading out in ministering to the Lord?
Turning truth into prayer
Is joy a marked characteristic of your life? Ask the Lord to show you what keeps you from experiencing joy with the people of God.