If Strength is in Joy ...

I shared in my previous post the story of Nehemiah and Ezra reading the Scriptures to the people for the "first time in decades, people began to weep and moan under great conviction.  

They had previously had nothing to guide them - nothing to show them the way of God ... Surprisingly, Ezra and Nehemiah stood before the people and said, "'This day is sacred to the Lord you God.  Do not mourn or weep.'  For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.  Nehemiah said, 'Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.  This day is sacred to our Lord.  Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength' (Nehemiah 8:9-12, NIV) ... 

We Christians are famous for beating ourselves up (and sometimes beating up others), but there is a Scriptural time to STOP. Stop beating yourself up.  Yes, the conviction of God comes on you when you go to church or read the Scriptures.  Rather than seeing your failure - rejoice that you now know and understand the words of God in your life.  Go celebrate.  The joy of the Lord is our strength and we need strength for the journey.  So live in a place of joy, after you have repented ..."

So many people have a hard time living in a place of joy.  What are some practical ways we can do this?

Psalm 16:11 declares "In your Presence is fullness of joy!"  The truest place we can connect with deep, life changing joy in our lives is in the Presence of God.  Someone may be asking, 'How do I get into God's Presence?'

Get a Bible, turn on a Christian worship album (ie - on iTunes, search for Hillsong).  Turn to the Gospels and read about Jesus.  If you haven't done this recently or ever - take time to confess your sins before God.  Also, think through your past and begin to forgive those who have hurt you.  Commit your heart and life to God through Jesus.  Begin to worship and thank God.  Spend lots of time doing this.  We can do this as much as we want or need each day - this is the key to getting in God's Presence and thus the key to a life of fullness of joy!  And with this great joy comes great strength to face whatever comes our way en route to our dreams.