The joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
That was the message from Nehemiah to God’s people as they were moved to fits of tears of repentance. As Ezra and some scribes read God’s Word from dawn until noon that day in Jewish history, revival broke out. That’s the result of the heart that feels badly for failing God, and there’s a place for that. But the children of God are never encouraged to stay in that basin of remorse, guilt, and shame. For as recorded in Nehemiah, the great prophet urged the people to let go of their mourning and enjoy the feast, and according to the Nehemiah 8 text, that’s what they did!
I cannot think of a more appropriate message for us as we enter into the season of Thanksgiving. Personally, I think neither THANKFULNESS, nor JOY, nor STRENGTH stand alone. When you become truly thankful your heart erupts with joy. Then strength rises up through your spirit and pours out from your flesh.
Take a few moments before continuing to simply be thankful.
I first discovered the practice of being intentionally thankful as a teenager. I’d pulled up to meet a group of my friends on a day that happened to be the “worst day of my life” (teenager talk) you know. I remember parking the car and just sitting. It was the Spirit – I now know, who prompted me to begin a mental list of people and things I was thankful for. As I did, the change that came over me was one I never forgot. I could literally FEEL the warmth of God’s joy all over me and His strength filling my sluggish body. Since that day those many years ago, intentionally being thankful has become a way of life.
It’s not always easy to spur ourselves into being thankful, but it’s the very thing we must do if we are to walk in step with God. It’s how He moves us into higher realms of faith, for it’s a THANKFUL heart that pleases Him. It’s also a thankful heart that disables Satan in his attempts to fill our minds with negativity.
Set aside five minutes each day to focus on being intentionally thankful.
Are you thankful for your job? Your friends? Your family? Tell Him and enjoy pleasing the heart of God as you lift your thankful heart to Him - when you feel like it and when you don’t.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)