Today was a day of celebration! You see, Drawing Near to God Ministry hosted our annual Celebration Luncheon earlier today. This is a special time each year when we come together and celebrate all that God has done in our midst during the ministry year. Keeping with the theme of celebration, I want to share with you from my daily devotional, Drawing Near to God, an entry about rejoicing – rejoicing in God’s Word, that is. In the book of Nehemiah, we see the people celebrating as they understand the joy of the Lord. I also invite you to follow me daily in my devotional by downloading the Drawing Near to God app – it’s a great way for us to rejoice in the Word of God together daily.
Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is sacred to the LORD your 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.” The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve.” Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
As the Word of God was read, the people’s initial response was conviction and sorrow. They mourned over their sins. Nehemiah told the people to stop mourning and rejoice in the freedom that God’s Word brings. God’s Word always brings conviction, but as we respond in faith and obedience, we are free to rejoice. Ezra read the Word and the people responded by lifting their hands in worship and bowing to the ground: Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!…” (v.6) When the people began to understand the Word, they responded by mourning because they realized the goodness of the Lord and recognized how they had rebelled against him.
When was the last time you wept as you read God’s Word? It is more powerful than a two-edged sword and divides the truth from lies for us. (Hebrews 4:12) Before I read God’s Word, I ask the Holy Spirit to convict me of truth, to search my heart, and to show me where I have sinned against Him. I am always convicted by His Word, and repentance draws me back to Him again in rejoicing. What an awesome God we serve! He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins, offering us forgiveness through repentance and freedom from the bondage of sin! Nehemiah knew that God’s people needed a fresh start, and the only place to start anew was to be washed clean with God’s Word. After the people wept, Ezra told them to rejoice because the joy of the Lord was to be their strength. (v. 10) We, too, are strengthened through the joy of obeying God’s Word.
Forgive me for reading Your word as if it was just another book. I pray that the motive of my heart for reading and meditating on Your Word is to know You more and to be changed and transformed in the reading. Pierce my heart with Your Word.
In Jesus’ name, Amen