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Joy
Posted By Nan

Ezra 6:16

This passage covers the people returning from Babylonian exile and being assisted by Royal Babylonian decree to rebuild the temple.
The impossible happened. Not only were the people returned from exile in Babylon, but the rebuilding of their temple was paid for by Babylon, and they were financially supported and protected by Babylon.
In addition, all the sacred objects that had been removed from the temple at the time of defeat by Babylon were returned to the temple.
What invader does that?
The only one who does that is one who is directed by God. Without God, none of this would have happened. The people witnessed a miracle.
In Verse 16 it is seen that they celebrated this miracle with great Joy. They recognised God’s hand in returning them to Jerusalem and rebuilding their temple complete with sacred objects. They recognised and acknowledged and celebrated.
So often life grinds us down. We are so overwhelmed by the negative things that happen in life that we forget to trust in God and wait patiently for God.
The exiles in Babylon waited 70 years. During that time they experienced many dangers and tribulations. But they held on. They learned to wait on God. They learned faith. And when the time was right, God not only allowed them to go home, He rebuilt their temple! And he returned their sacred items.
If the people could wait 70 years and increase their faith. Can we wait for God’s timing? I have been through terrible times in my life when I begged God to intervene. He has always been with me, but He has not always intervened according to my timetable. It is such a hard lesson to learn. So hard to learn to wait. But wait we must do. Joy is a fruit of the spirit, but so is patience.
We need both in our lives.
 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Ezra 3

Ezra chronicles the return of the Judean exiles from exile in Babylon. In this chapter, the work rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem commences. Many people rejoice at the laying of the foundations for the new temple. There were shouts of joy from the people. But the older priests, Levites and heads of families – those who had seen the old temple before its destruction – wept instead. They mourned the loss of the old temple. Those observing could not distinguish between the shouts of joy and the sound of weeping.
Those present at the laying of the temple foundation fell into two groups. There were the ones who were happy to see a temple being built. They looked to the symbolism of a temple there for worship and a place to celebrate God. Then there were the ones who were sad at what had been lost. Both groups were right in their response.
When we lose something, it is important to give ourselves the space and time to grieve. This is a time to express and feel our emotions. To be sad, or angry, or even happy. Sitting with our emotions is important. But there will come a time when we are able to start again. When we will build new foundations. Then we may feel more like celebrating. Or we may shed a tear at what was lost before we celebrate what will be. Either way, we are right.
The interesting thing about Joy is that we can feel joy and still feel sad. Those older people could feel joy at the new life unfolding before them, but still feel sad at what had been lost. Joy is not like happiness. It goes far deeper and is less dependent on what is happening around us. The Joy of the believer is Joy given by the Holy Spirit. It is joy in what God has done for us. It is a fruit of the Spirit. It is much harder to extinguish Joy.
The people of Ezra 3 were working in God’s will. They were focused on God. His response was to empower their work and to fill them with His Joy. We too can know that Joy, but we need to ask and we need to be willing to accept.
 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

2 Chronicles 30

This is a sad story with some happiness at the end. 2 Chronicles is a history of the reign of Solomon and his successors. If you have read the story, you will know that Solomon started out his reign with a great faith in God. In fact, when God asked him what blessings He wanted from God, Solomon said he wanted wisdom to rule the people with justice. Sadly, Solomon strayed away from God and that legacy was passed down through his descendants. Occasionally one descendant would have faith in God and for a while the people would turn to God. But that ended once that individual died. In time, the Kingdom of Israel split into two. The Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). By the time we have reached chapter 30, the Northern Kingdom has fallen, and the people exiled. A new king comes to the throne, Hezekiah. He loves God and seeks to reinstate the worship of God in the temple. He sends messengers to the remnant left in Israel, inviting them to attend too. Many scorn the message, but there are some who come. As all had fallen away from God, even the Levites were unable to partake of religious ceremonies without consecrating themselves to God again. Hezekiah arranged the Passover and also supplied the sacrifices for those who could not. Extra sacrifices were made to make the people ceremonially clean once again. Hezekiah prayed for God to heal the people, and the Chronicler noted that God heard and answered Hezekiah’s prayer.
After so long in the wilderness of apostasy and vulnerable to foreign invasion without God’s help, the people had at last turned back to God. For those who were lost and feeling alone, they were now no longer feeling lost and alone. They were back in communion with God and feeling great. They were full of joy at the new place they found themselves in.
Gone were the altars to false gods. The temple was a place of joy and celebration.
We know the end of this story, but for the moment, let’s stop and be with the people rejoicing. They have spent so long in the wilderness. Hopelessness and despair were what they lived and knew. Now they have renewed hope. They don’t feel so alone and vulnerable. Meaning and purpose has re-entered their lives. They feel at peace in God’s presence. He has healed them. Of course they are feeling great Joy. That feeling has been given to them by the Holy Spirit. It is not easily washed away.
So often we get caught up in the struggle of daily living. We stop asking God and start doing our own thing. That invariably is the wrong thing and life gets tougher. We may turn to other things to help us cope. We may forget to ask God, or we ask and look for other ways to fix it. We dig a deeper and deeper hole for ourselves. Then something changes and we turn back to God. He takes us out of the hole, dries our tears, holds us lovingly in His arms and guides us on the way He has planned for us. Things don’t necessarily get easier, but we are following Him and there is peace and Joy again.
Just as the people of Judah and Israel turned back to God and felt joy, we can turn back to God and place our trust in Him. We can feel His joy and know that whatever happens, He has our back.
 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

1 Chronicles 29:22

This verse occurs later in the passage discussed in the same blog. This was the moment at the end of his life when David was appointing Solomon as his successor. He turned to God for that appointment. Not to his own wishes. And God chose Solomon. David and the people of Israel ate and drank with joy in the presence of God. They celebrated that this appointment was made by God and God was involved every step of the way. The people were exuberant with joy as they gave gifts to God and celebrated who He was. In this moment in time, the entire focus of the people was on God and living their lives God’s way.
I think it is important to remember what happened with Solomon. The people could have felt worried that Solomon would not remain faithful to God. They could have let that worry rob them of their joy. But they didn’t know what Solomon would end out like, and they grabbed that moment of joy in being with God. We would do well to follow their example. So often we allow worry about what is to come to rob us of those moments of joy. The stresses of living take us away from that focus on God and our Joy starts slipping away. Then depression can set in and take that Joy even further. That is when we rely on faith to keep our focus on God and trust that some day the feeling of joy will follow. The more we hand our misery over to God, the faster that joy will return.
Remember how God feeds the wild animals and plants. If He cares that much for all these, how much more does He care for us? I never cease to be overwhelmed with joy at the way God calls people to Him. At the way He transforms people’s lives. That is the focus we need, not of what may go wrong. We need to have patience and focus, even when we grow impatient at the length of time resolution of our problems is taking.
Be like the people in this passage. They celebrated the moment. They forgot about the sad things in life and just celebrated. They did not worry about what was to come, they just celebrated the moment and had faith. We need that too.
 

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

1 Chronicles 29:17


Here in this passage we see David at the end of his life. He has not led a perfect life. He is after all human. But he has sought God as much as he could and been prepared to accept God’s correction. He has sought to serve God faithfully. He has sought to acknowledge God in every step of his life. He has given to God willingly and with honest intent. His sole aim has been to give God what is His with gratitude and awe at God’s unfathomable greatness. And his wish as King of Israel is that his people would love God as he does. So in this moment at the end of his life he sees the people giving voluntarily and freely to God and He feels great joy. David knew God and knew that He did not value what was seen on the surface. He valued what was underneath, hidden away where others could not see. God wants our true selves and we get so caught up in pleasing others that we forget that and seek to do what is seen by others, and forget what is inside us is where God receives from us. David understood God looked to our attitudes and desires and gave to God from the heart, honestly and happily. Then he saw the people doing the same, giving freely and willingly and felt such joy. As the King he took the responsibility of his people’s relationship with God very seriously. Nothing gave him more joy than to see his people loving God.
This wholehearted serving of God was most important. The law with its restrictions and bondages was not important. It was the inner attitude of the people that mattered. And David felt such joy at seeing that inner attitude of his people.
 

 


 
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Nan
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