I know someone who recently bought a gym membership. The goal of course is to lose weight and gain muscle and strength.
I cannot tell you the amount of money I have wasted on gym memberships over my adult life. The “want to” is there. The “need to” is certainly there. But that long-lasting, staying, commitment that is needed for true success, that is not there.
One year, someone very close to me gave me a birthday card. It was a beautiful card with amethysts, my birth stone. It had dark purples and dark greys and wispy blacks. The message was long and seemed to fit me perfectly. It was not your typically birthday card as it did not contain a birthday greeting, only many words of love and adoration. Words that really, really fit me perfectly. But there was one word I was not familiar with and later I looked it up.
I almost don’t want to tell you…
The word was indolent.
Indolent: wanting to avoid activity or exertion; lazy.
Ummmm. Thank you?
Well, as painful as the truth can be, this person knew me quite well. I really do want to be fit, stronger, more agile, smaller! My intentions are strong, but my follow-through is weak.
My desk calendar this morning reads: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 TLB…and that got me to thinking.
The Bible is filled with verses about strength and strong men. I think of the story of Samson, for example. But this is a different kind of strength. This is an inner strength that only God can give.
Philippians 4:13 ~ I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Isaiah 40:31 ~ But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength…
Isaiah 41:10 ~ Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you…
Ephesians 6:10 ~ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Exodus 15:2 ~ The Lord is my strength and my song...
1 Chronicles 16:11 ~ Seek the Lord and his strength…
Psalm 121 tells us our strength comes from God. And while I admire, and even long to be more like those people who can stay committed to health and exercise, there is a spiritual strength that is equally important.
I love that verse in Nehemiah. What makes me strong? What is my strength? It is the joy of the Lord. Joy in the Lord. The only true joy and peace that only Jesus can give.
Who was Nehemiah?
Nehemiah was a man of action! He was governor of the province of Judah, and he is the one who had the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt.
Crosswalk.com says the name Nehemiah means “Yahweh has comforted” and the book of Nehemiah shows us how to overcome troubles and trust in God. It shows Nehemiah’s prayer life, leadership, and faithfulness.
Chapter one opens with news of the dire condition of the wall surrounding Jerusalem.
“…At the time I was in the palace complex at Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, had just arrived from Judah with some fellow Jews. I asked them about the conditions among the Jews there who had survived the exile, and about Jerusalem.
They told me, “The exile survivors who are left there in the province are in bad shape. Conditions are appalling. The wall of Jerusalem is still rubble; the city gates are still cinders.”
When I heard this, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God-of-Heaven.” Nehemiah 1:1-4 The Message
Nehemiah is far from Jerusalem. He’s a slave for a foreign king in Persia in 444 BC. He prays fervently and continually. He’s not a spiritual leader or prophet, however, his fasting and praying triggers change.
One, faithful, praying man made big changes!
He ends up the governor of Jerusalem and supervises the repairs. Through the process of restoring and dedicating the wall we can learn many things from Nehemiah on prayer, leadership, overcoming enemies, restoring hearts, integrity, and holiness.
This man understood the importance of “The Call”.
He was a man of prayer.
He was patient and hopeful.
He was a prepared planner.
He was a great leader who inspired his workers.
He let no obstacles stop his work.
He was a man of integrity.
He desired restored hearts and restored relationships.
He led people to make a new commitment to God.
He was wholly focused on God.
The joy of the Lord was his strength
by Jeanette Stark – Wednesday, January 4, 2023