Scripture from Nehemiah tells us that the people rejoiced because of the great joy that God has given us. God produces joy in his people. When we place our trust in a relationship in Christ, God gives you the opportunity to have joy because He produces it in you.
True Christian joy is not natural joy and cannot be manufactured by someone or something. It comes from the Holy Spirit as a gift to us as followers of Christ.
I often get tricked into thinking that I can experience joy in people and things. Yes, there is natural joy found in many of these things but when the circumstances change the joy ends. When we rely on the natural joy we go from one high to a low then search for yet another thing that will give us the feeling of joy again. Our joy is dependent on our circumstance. We live a life of highs and lows, a life of instability.
The type of joy that can allow us to live a life of continual joy is a spiritual joy. It is not dependent on us or our doing, but a product of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. God has freely given us the fruit of the spirit, not fruits, but one gift of fruit. Joy is part of that gift. As we submit our lives to the Lord, his fruit lives within us.
How do we begin to experience this spiritual joy in our lives?
1. With Thankfulness
• In Nehemiah 12:43 we see the people rejoicing in what God had done for them; protecting them, providing for them, saving them. The people of Jerusalem dedicated the wall to God. My question to you, can you look for the good things God has done for you in different circumstances? Will you begin to thank God through all of those circumstances? Are you able to dedicate the areas of your life to God? Your marriage, your spouse, your children to God??? With thankfulness???
2. Holy Living
• In verse 30 of Nehemiah 12, the priests and Levites purified themselves before they go in the temple. They knew they needed to set themselves apart. Holy living is a continual choice of submission that aligns our lifestyles with the desires and will of the Holy Spirit for my life. It is not perfection, we can never come close to perfect. It is living in a way that shows those around us that God has transformed us in mind, body and soul.
3. Sacrificial Worship
• Back to verse 43 we see, they offered great sacrifices. We don’t offer sacrifices the same way they did in the Old Testament, no slaying of animals. However, true worship involves sacrifice. True worship is how you live your lives each and every day, no matter the circumstances. True worship is believing that everything you have and everything you are is because of the mercies of God. When you present your lives as living sacrifices your mind is transformed. You don’t see holy living as boring but as joyful. Your attitude changes when you see what God has done for you.
The biggest transformation in life is when we realize that it is not all about ‘me’. The way we live our lives reflects the joy of the Lord and His work at work within us. The scripture shows us that the women and children also rejoiced. They rejoiced because the men were determined to thank God for all that He had done. Joy or lack of joy doesn’t just affect you. It affects those around you.
The reality is that God loves you and He is in control. It may not seem that things are going right for you right now. In that desperation look to where God has worked in your life before and begin to thank Him. Pray to God that He give you eyes to see what you cannot see right now. And ask for forgiveness for being circumstance centered and not God-centered.
Then celebrate and rejoice because YES you can have joy, joy given to you as a gift from God!