Few weeks ago we spoke from Isa, 40 as we spoke about hope and knowing the difference the presence of the lord make, he was speaking and preparing the people to return from exile
You can read the whole chapter later but the key verse 29
He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.
As they begin to return to normal life and normal worship, we find stories like Ezra Nehemiah and Joshua as they rediscover the word of God.
In chapter 8 of Nehemiah there is great weeping as the people realise how far they have strayed from the word of God. The realisation hits they hard. But Nehemiah speaks this.
The joy of the lord is your strength
The joy of the Lord makes a difference in our lives and I want to take this word for ourselves today with our thoughts of the significance of God strength makes.
Whilst the original story we know is after the time in exile the Jews were taken captive by the Babylon empire. We look for application for today.
the exile is drawing to an end and it's time to rebuild.
We continue reading from Isaiah 40 this morning
Remember the background to this writing, the people of Israel, who were in Babylon, over 2500 years ago, the exile had been a long time, the word of the Lord has forgotten by some, but there is a few who know the Lord, however they have been isolated and cut off from their place of worship.
Some have got used to being in exile and accepted it and perhaps they feel like their time of exile is just how it is now, they have got used to being in Babylon, but there is a new voice coming, with a message of hope.
This is the message of hope that comes, There is a word from the Lord that “God is here” and if that is all you remember from the message this morning, from this ancient writing then that would be a good one.
From reading chapter 39, which tells the people the worst news they could ever hear is that life was not going to be the same that they would be taken from their homes their way of life, their place of worship, and they would lose everything that they hold dear,
this is why this Isa 40 is so key and speaks into the heart of the people so powerfully.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Now we turn to Nehemiah 8, a revival is in progress. Ezra and some scribes read God’s Word to the people from dawn until noon.
They have been in exile and are started to rebuild the temple. However The word was not common among the people. The had been separated and perhaps felt abandoned by God.
The people responded by weeping in repentance as they realised how badly they had failed the Lord.
There is a proper place for tears of repentance, of course. The Day of Atonement, on the tenth of the seventh month, was a day for fasting and repentance according to (Leviticus 23).
But Nehemiah, Ezra, and the other leaders tell the people not to mourn or weep on this day, but to enjoy the feast, adding,
“The joy of the Lord is your strength” (8:10). And so the people made a great rejoicing
As we said last week there is comfort in know God is here, and when we take God at His Word by faith, then there is source of great joy for the believer.
How we understand God’s word for us today brings us life health and strength
He sent his word to heal us,
God says my words are like healing to you.
The word of God is like bread to the hungry, water to the dry and thirsty.
If we need to repent, change our thinking to line up with Gods word then it's done it's job.
The spirit brings life to Gods word. The spirit brings conviction to us makes us contrite of heart.
When we realise the promises, the salvation that's possible the strength we have been given When we believe those promises
This joy of the Lord is the great strength for the believer.
The joy of His salvation gives us strength to stand before God in spite of our many shortcomings.
Maybe we feel we have lost some of the passion for God.
Remember your first love, remember what God’s spirit did in you, remember the salvation you received with such Joy.
Remember the weight of guilt that was lifted
David burdened by guilt prayed "lord do not take your spirit from me, make me right with you and restore to me the joy of my salvation.
Some forgotten what God has done for them, or they carry the weight of the world upon them, or they have allowed the things of this world to choke the word that was meant to bring them joy.
Jesus speaks to his disciples Matt 13. The parable of the seed.
“And what is the seed that fell on rocky ground? That seed is like the person who hears the teaching and quickly accepts it with joy. But they do not let the teaching go deep into their life, so they keeps it only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the teaching they accepted, they quickly gives up.”
Matthew 13:20-21 NCV
When God word takes route in brings joy.
We look beyond things of entertainment to be the source of our joy.
The seed that fell on the path we know the birds stole it.
But if we direct ourselves to the word of Jesus Christ, we will not lose our joy in the battle, but will stand firm.
Those who took the word and allow it to take hold.
Our joy does not rest on our being perfect, but rather on our being receptive Christ word,
The battle we face daily, the challenges, the difficulties from COVID 19 blues to the torment of depression,
Joy is more than just temporary happiness,
Joy can be present even in the most difficult time.
When we realise that the attack we have as Christians is not uncommon,
That things happen all at once, and our strength is zapped from us.
Whether it is that when the washing machine breaks or the kids making trouble or the job is exhausting
Looking for the joy despite the circumstances
And not looking for a devil in every corner that takes away our joy.
In fact we can't blame the devil for the machine not working.
What he does want is to if you want to get your focus off God and God promises and cause us to question his love for us
What he does he tries to get us to believe his lies. Or for us to doubt the goodness of God.
Arrows of doubt we have a shield, arrows of torment we have a shield
Resist the enemy steadfastly in faith on the words of Christ.
Believing is the key to unlocking Gods word
Wait upon the lord and you will see your strength regained.
He who hears my word and does them is like a man who builds his house upon a rock
Know who you are in Christ.
Know the authority you have when the enemy realised he is fighting Christ he will flee
Even if we feel like everything is ganging up against us.
The joy of the Lord, found in God Himself and in His Word, is a source of great strength for us in the most difficult trials of life
The psalmist said in 27.13
I would've fainted had a not believed that I would see the goodness of Lord in the land of the living
Joy is something that we can tap into
Yet Sometimes we can be hit by what seems small thing yet it's the biggest challenge ever.
Your challenge may not seem great to others but it's your fight not theirs
We are never alone in the faith, we are never alone in the trials we have faced, that's why it's important to support each other
7Instead of your shame you shall have double honour, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.
God says in His Word that you will receive double for your trouble.
And if that trouble has caused you to experience shame, God’s promise to you is this: “Instead of your shame you shall have double honour”.
God wants to give you a double-portion blessing for every trouble you go through!
the moment you respond to God in faith, He gets involved in your restoration. And He does not restore to you the same amount that you have lost.
Close with this last scripture
17… the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
As we seek first the kingdom of God every day (Matthew 6:33), then we should know what the kingdom of God is in the first place.
The kingdom of God was not something outside you flowing in — “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking”, but something inside you flowing out — “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”.
So to seek first God’s kingdom means to make it a priority every day to have your inner man flowing with righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Joy will come into your heart when you see Jesus in the scriptures, worship songs or anointed preaching. It is the same joy from the Holy Spirit which filled the disciples’ hearts when they saw Jesus, His hands and His side. (John 20:20)
So every day, we take the word of God as something that will restore our strength make it a priority to see yourself in Christ word
Isa 40 encouraged us to wait upon the lord for our strength to be restored.
As we wait upon the the Lord he has our attention and our focus
Don’t be conscious of your sins. Instead, be conscious of your righteousness. And whether you are reading your Bible or listening to anointed preaching, see Jesus with His pierced hands and side, which speak of His finished work. See all your sins forgiven, and you will flow with peace and joy. When you do this, you are seeking the kingdom of God!
And the joy of the lord shall be your strength
When we look to the lord as the source of our strength even if we are feeling weary and faint God is restoring our joy and that joy will be our strength.