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Living in the Joy of the Lord

Life Lesson 37: Despite our best efforts, discouragement is inevitable. But having a relationship with Jesus Christ and fixing our gaze on Him will give us the power and strength we need to find contentment and joy in our everyday circumstances.

And Nehemiah continued, ‘Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!’”  —Nehemiah 8:10 NLT

Sadness and discouragement can creep upon us at any given moment. At times, we all feel that overwhelming sense of a dark cloud hanging over us. This can happen for various reasons and seasons in our lives. But you don’t have to stay under that cloud of despair.

Scripture tells us that there is no need for us to be sad or unhappy “for the joy of the Lord is [our] strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). God intends for a life that is obedient to Him to be a life of joy. It doesn’t mean that we’ll never have sorrow or heartache. We live in a fallen world, so that is to be expected. Yet even amid the sadness, God’s Spirit can work in an obedient heart to sustain joy.

As followers of Jesus, we have the privilege of rejoicing in His Word, which strengthens and renews our physical and spiritual being. Nehemiah illustrates this beautifully by telling the people to “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared.” Rejoicing in the Lord brings hope and healing to a weary soul. When we feast on the Word of God, it nourishes our souls with divine encouragement and enrichment. The Bible says, “For the word of God is alive and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12 NLT). Let the living Word of God breathe life into your situation so you can find contentment in your everyday life. Open the Bible, read, “taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8 NLT). Let His Word abide in you as you abide in Him so that your joy may be complete.

Never lose sight of the fact that every day is a fantastic gift from God, and He does not wish us to live our lives in a sad state. Nehemiah further encourages that “This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” We are meant to live the abundant life. Jesus said, “I came so they might have life, a great full life” (John 10:10 NLV). As followers of Jesus, we have the privilege of rejoicing in the Lord. When we immerse ourselves in the Word of God, we find an incredible source of strength and joy to carry us through any conflict or difficulty we face. In the Book of John, Jesus reveals that Satan’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. When you feel down and depressed, look at the source. Remember, the troubles of this life are temporary, so don’t allow them to steal your joy. Scripture tells us, “Weeping may last for a night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NASB). There is hope for tomorrow. There is hope for eternity. Every person who trusts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their life has everlasting joy in Him and the hope of eternity with Him. In His presence, there are no dark days. He is the Light, and light illuminates darkness and reveals His goodness, mercy, grace, and love. Anchor your heart and soul on this vital truth: “My purpose (said Jesus) is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10 NLT). When you know Christ, you can rest assured that His joy will be your strength no matter what life throws at you.

We frequently read of joy in the Bible. Joy is mentioned about 430 times in Scripture. We are told that a “cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s  strength “(Proverbs 17:22 NLT). If you are willing to receive Jesus as Lord of your life, He will give you strength to face life’s challenges, joy, and contentment to live your best life.  A dose of His joy can catapult your life in ways you never thought possible. Don’t let sadness overtake you and prevent you from celebrating life now with great joy. I heard it said that we should always “Live in the present and make it so wonderful that it will be worth remembering.” When you go to bed tonight, remember that each new day is an opportunity to wake up feeling joyful. Take time to delight in the small details of your day. I find that on those days when I feel down, the moment I take my eyes off my circumstance and look with rejoicing to the One who created the day, my troubles seem small and inconsequential, and joy begins to overflow from me.

I know it’s easier said than done but remember, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 NIV). Nothing is impossible for God. The Holy Spirit is here to help all believers in Jesus live a satisfying life. And the only way to truly experience divine satisfaction, is to invite Jesus into your heart and life. I’m not discounting the tragedies, heartaches, and difficulties many of us regularly deal with. However, we should not let distractions cause us to take our eyes off Jesus. While unfortunate situations happen, we have a choice. We don’t have to settle in despair. Decide always to choose joy, and remember that the joy of the Lord is indeed your strength.

“When joy is deep within us, we will walk through this life with a lifted heart, soul, and mind.”                                                                                    –Patsy Clairmont

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