If one word characterized the Christian life it would be joy. Joy should be the testimony of every Christian and every church. The Gospel is not bad news, it is Good News. Joy to the World the Lord has come! Has this joy come to you? Here are three ways, found in Nehemiah 8, that we can find joy:
JOY IN THE WORD OF GOD
“Now all the people gathered together… and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses…. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding… Then he read from it … from morning until midday… and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law” (Neh. 8:1-3). People want to experience God. You cannot experience God apart from His word. You have to get in the book and the book has to get in you!
How many came? “All.” Church attendance is not optional for the Christian. They read from morning to midday! It was a 6-hour sermon! All the people. Standing. Hot. Sweating. Outside for 6 hours. Most today can’t take 30 minutes to 1 hour. They stood for the whole time!
Nehemiah preached the Word, not opinion polls. What they read brought joy! What some of you read brings lust and fear. If you will read the Bible, it will bring joy.
JOY IN THE WORSHIP OF GOD
Verse 6 says, “And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” What is real worship? Worship attracts God. God attracts people. People leave not talking about a great preacher, but a great God. Worship gives God what He likes.
In this chapter, their worship was verbal and visible. People got excited! Is God dull, boring, cold, indifferent, or dead? Then why should church ever be that way? It may not be your way of worshipping, but it is biblical. Don’t ever look down your nose at someone who expresses themselves this way. It is not Baptist… it is Bible! They lifted up their hands. Many have never done it before. Maybe you wanted to, but you were self-conscience. 50,000 people did it here! Try it. It is painless!
Hands with palms up show all sin is confessed and you have nothing to hide. The Bible talks about lifting up HOLY hands. Hands raised show you are expecting an answer. Fill my cup, Lord. I have nothing of my own. I come empty handed. Worship is biblical, sacred, and expressive. We also read in this passage about submission – they bowed down. Picture 50,000 people doing this all at the same time. There is coming a day when every knee shall BOW and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!
Worship means worth-ship. Consider Him worthy. Whether or not you say “Amen,” you lift your hands, or you bow, it all depends on what Jesus is worth to you.
JOY IN THE WILL OF GOD
Verse 10 says, “…Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Verse 12 says, “And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.” A new job, man, woman, house, car, or clothes will not, and cannot, bring you joy. They found joy in doing the will of God. What is the will of God for your life?
Joy is found in the Word of God, the worship of God, and the will of God. Joy is found in Jesus!