Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
There are two timeless truths from Nehemiah 12 that I believe apply to us today. First of all, we need regular times of celebration. How do we celebrate? One way is through weekly worship with other believers. To be reverential and worshipful and to be celebratory are not mutually exclusive. When people walk into a church, they should not think they are at a funeral home–they ought to sense the excitement of God’s people. But there also needs to be times outside of the church that we celebrate. That is why God instituted the Sabbath. He said, in effect, “One day a week you need to release the tension so that you can remember there is more to life than work.” I believe we need daily Sabbaths, too, so to speak. There ought to be a time at the end of every day when you say, “No more emails, no more phone calls, no more chores. I am going to turn my attention someplace else.” We need those times of rest, relaxation, and celebration.
Principle number two is this: joy depends upon our perspective, not our circumstances. I want you to notice the remarkable change that occurred in the Israelites in just fifty-two days. In chapter 4, the people were filled with fear and fatigue and frustration. Fifty-two days later, they were dancing on top of the walls. What changed? Even though they had finished the wall, they still had enemies surrounding them. They still had houses in rubble. They still had land that had been overgrown with thorns and thistles. Their circumstances had not really changed; what had changed was their perspective of their circumstances. As they looked down from that wall, suddenly their problems became much smaller. And as they looked up, God became much closer. The closer we draw toward God, the farther we move away from our problems.
How do we do that? Again, one way is coming together to worship, but there also needs to be a daily time when we draw closer to God. When we pray and read God’s Word daily, it has a way of drawing us closer to God and farther away from our problems. I admit, there have been times when I felt like I was slogging through God’s Word, thinking, “What relationship does this have to my life?” Then I realized that the common denominator is God. Just as God was faithful to His people, just as God had a plan for them, God has a plan for me and my life. When I climb up above my circumstances and see God for who He really is, that produces joy in my life.
My favorite words about joy came from the apostle Paul. He said, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” When Paul wrote those words, he was not in the penthouse at the Ritz-Carlton. He was in prison, facing what could have been his execution. But even in those circumstances, he said, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” How could Paul say such a thing? It was because he was not a thermometer; he was a thermostat. Paul had learned the secret of climbing up above his circumstances and experiencing real joy with God. Have you learned that secret?
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Joy In The Rubble” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org