by Stephen F. Olford
Text: "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10; see vv. 5-12).
Thoughts: Joy is one of the qualities which is lacking in much of our Christian service today. This explains why we are often ineffective and bored! To have the joy of the Lord in our lives is to know a power which makes duty a delight (Phil. 4:4); persecution a pleasure (Matt. 5:11-12); and suffering a blessing (1 Pet. 4:13-14).
The literal translation of our text is revealing: "Delight in Jehovah is your strong tower of refuge."In the midst of all our duties, persecutions or trials, delight in Jehovah will ever be our strong tower of refuge.
1. The Source of Our Joy. "The joy of the Lord" (v. 10). He is the covenant-keeping Jehovah: the One who is eternally existent so we can be assured of an everlasting joy; for at His right hand there "are pleasures forevermore" (Ps. 16:11). He is eternally sufficient since the name Jehovah gathers up into itself all the sufficiency of the Godhead. As our Jehovah He is also eternally consistent. He keeps His covenant, and therefore will never let us down.
2. The Secret of Our Joy. "So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading" (v. 8). It is the function of the divine Word to cleanse our lives and enlarge our capacities to receive the joy of the Lord. This is what Nehemiah and Ezra could declare after the reading and expounding of God's truth: "the joy of the Lord is your strength" (v. 8).
3. The Service of Our Joy. "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared . . . for the joy of the Lord is your strength" (v. 10). The joy of service is a blessing to appropriate and communicate. We are not only to eat the food and drink the sweet, but also to give portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared.
Thrust: The joy of the Lord makes me strong, Whatever my lot may bring; I set out each day with a song, To serve Jesus Christ as King!