Celebrating the 200th Edition!
“Ezra opened the book. Every eye was on him (he was standing on the raised platform) and as he opened the book everyone stood. Then Ezra praised God, the great God, and all the people responded, ‘Oh Yes! Yes!’ with hands raised high. And then they fell to their knees in worship of God, their faces to the ground.
Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, all Levites, explained The Revelation while people stood, listening respectfully. They translated the Book of The Revelation of God so the people could understand it and then explained the reading. Nehemiah the governor, along with Ezra the priest and scholar and the Levites who were teaching the people, said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to God, your God. Don’t weep and carry on.’ They said this because all the people were weeping as they heard the words of The Revelation.
He continued, ‘Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don’t have anything: This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!’
The Levites calmed the people, ‘Quiet now. This is a holy day. Don’t be upset.’ So the people went off to feast, eating and drinking and including the poor in a great celebration. Now they got it; they understood the reading that had been given to them.” Nehemiah 8:5-12 (MSG)
Nehemiah and the people had been rebuilding the wall around the city of Jerusalem. The people of God had been in exile prior to this event, because they had turned their backs on God. After the wall was built, the people began to rebuild their lives. Nehemiah had Ezra read God’s Word to the people. When the people heard the Word of the Lord, it created a response. They were moved to tears by the truth that was being presented. They had strayed from the Lord. As Nehemiah saw the people weeping, he encouraged them to celebrate the Word of the Lord and through that joy, they would find new strength. When they understood God’s truth and grace, it warranted a celebration. A wall around the city served as a physical sign of rebuilding, but God’s joy inside peoples’ hearts would help them rebuild their lives.
Many times we can think of joy as an add-on to our lives. It seems that we can live without it because so many people do. We might not want joy to be our strength. We would rather work for it. When we need more strength, our natural inclination can be to push through, find something that gives us energy, or strain to find more strength. Joy seems like the last thing that we would want or need. Yet, joy is a gift. When we can look at our life through that lens, the strength we need doesn’t come through our own achievement. It comes through recognizing God’s truth and seeing Him in everything. When the sunshine dances on the windowpane in the morning, we can be joyous. When nothing goes our way, we can still rejoice in God’s goodness. It requires a divine shift in our perspective. What if there is a supernatural strength infused into our lives as we walk in joy? Joy makes the burdens of life less cumbersome and heavy. As we come to understand the source of joy, it has the power to infuse fresh strength into our lives. Maybe instead of praying for more strength, we need to ask God for joy, since strength is a byproduct. It’s more than finding joy in one moment. It’s an opportunity to see God’s handprints in our lives and allow His love, grace, and joy to fill our hearts and lives with new strength.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
Thank you to all our faithful readers! I am so excited that this is the 200th edition of Monday Morning Coffee with Hona. We are approaching 4 years of delivering encouragement to your inbox every Monday morning. If you have appreciated or been blessed by any of the messages, please share it with people you love. We want to share the love and encouragement with as many people as possible! To you, my friend, may you be blessed in your everyday life, finding God’s wonderful grace in quiet moments.