Devotional for Thursday February 4th

Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Resilience”
Our Bible verse for today: “Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Choose joy”
The words recorded in Nehemiah 8:10 are famous and often repeated. They were spoken by the priest Ezra to the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem from exile. Ezra had just spent some time reading to the assembled people from the Law of Moses. Upon hearing the words of Moses, the people realized how far they had fallen and what a tragic price they had paid. So, they were weeping. But Ezra encouraged them to choose joy over sorrow, hope over despair, and faith over fear. He told them that the joy of the Lord would be their strength for the tasks that were ahead of them.
I’m frequently amazed at how often the topic of choosing joy is written about in good Christian books – especially by authors who themselves have had to work through difficult times of trials and suffering. It’s a theme that Joni Eareckson Tada addresses frequently in her books, articles, and speeches. C.S. Lewis wrote about it often, especially in his book “A Grief Observed”, which was about his own time of grieving the death of his wife. Andy Andrews wrote about it in his great little book “The Traveler’s Gift”. He even included choosing joy as one of the seven major life decisions which help to form a successful life. And Tim Hansel wrote about it in his book “You Gotta Keep Dancin’”.
Joy is different from happiness. Happiness depends on circumstances, and circumstances change, often quickly and sometimes in a bad way. Joy however, is something that comes from within and it defies circumstances. Joy is an attitude rather than a feeling and it is based in a deep relationship with God rather than on the fleeting circumstances of the moment. And, we can choose joy. We can choose to be close to the Lord and to look to Him for strength, peace and comfort in spite of the circumstances of the moment. But joy does have to be chosen and it does have to be nurtured. Unfortunately and sadly, many people don’t choose to develop a life of joy. Tim Hansel observed,
“I know some people who spend their entire lives practicing being unhappy, diligently pursuing joylessness. They get more mileage from having people feel sorry for them than from choosing to live out their lives in the context of joy.”
Resilient Christians reject the easy path of victimhood and self-pity. Resilient Christians refuse to wallow in misery. Resilient Christians choose joy. Joy is such an important and vital characteristic of the resilient life that more needs to be said about it, so we will continue this discussion tomorrow.
God Bless,
Pastor Jim
Copyright © 2021 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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