Summary: Four occasions when the Joy of the Lord is my strength
A young couple arrived in Kenya as newly appointed missionaries, and very quickly, the wife found out that the comforts of home were non-existent there.
They lived in a village hut with no running water or electricity.
They had to take a bath in a nearby creek.
There was no air conditioning.
And after a few days of this, the wife was ready to pack her bags and go back home.
Her husband was somewhat concerned, but felt that with time, her attitude would change.
If, someway, he thought, she could gain a special appreciation for Africa, she would more desire to stay. For he just knew the Lord had definitely called them to the mission field.
So the husband devised this great plan. They would take a mini-vacation and view the countryside, and through this time, he just knew she would have a change of heart. And so they packed up and went on a weekend getaway.
They traveled through a wildlife reserve and saw the elephants and giraffes.
They then drove to Victoria Falls, and took in one of the most beautiful sites in all of Africa.
And there at the falls is a statue of that great missionary statesman and man of God, David Livingstone who is shown saluting the falls.
The husband eagerly shows his wife the statue, and hugging her, whispers in her ear, "Now honey, David Livingstone, what do you think he was thinking when he made that poise?"
She smiled, "He was thinking, 'I've had it up to here with Africa!'"
Question: Have you ever thought what she thought? Of course you have!
It might have not been with Africa, But all of us have had it up to here with something or someone.
The situation just hadn’t turned out the way we imagined.
Someone has said something or did something that was just plain stupid, that makes us want to scream, ENOUGH!
But there’s something worst than giving up on something or someone –
And that’s giving up on God!
There are believers, maybe some of you here this evening, that have given up on God’s wonderful plan for your life.
Some disappointment, an unanswered prayer that you discouraged, a tragedy that left you searching for answers,
And if I’m talking to you, you’re not alone.
For the Bible is filled with stories of great disappointments.
If anyone had a reason to be disappointed with God, it was the children of Israel, who saw their country invaded and captured by the Babylonians.
The temple in Jerusalem where God supposedly reigned was destroyed.
The people were deported to Babylon, forced to live in a foreign country and learn its customs, and bow down to its gods.
The people were both discouraged emotionally, and disappointed with God.
God’s Prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel begged the people to continue to follow God, but many did not listen.
Years later, when the Persians conquered the Babylonians and allowed the Jews to return to their homeland, most chose to remain in Babylon where they now had become accustomed to its ways.
But a remnant did return. Ezra put the number at 49,897 who returned their homeland and rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem.
Thirteen years after this exodus, Nehemiah, a cupbearer for the Persian king, received a visit from his brother and some other men:
3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
Nehemiah was became deeply disturbed and mourned for his fellow Jews. For Nehemiah knew the wall was Jerusalem’s only means of protection from the enemies destroying the temple again.
Nehemiah became passionate about helping out, but one man stood in the way of Nehemiah returning to Jerusalem to help -- the King of Persia.
But God intervened and after much prayer, Nehemiah received permission from the king to go and rebuild the wall.
Nehemiah journeyed to Jerusalem, the wall was rebuilt, and then at the dedication ceremony, now Governor Nehemiah had these words to say to the people:
This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
What a tremendous boast!
THE JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH!!
Question: How was Nehemiah able to say that?
Because Nehemiah learned by experience when the joy of the Lord was His strength.
The joy of the Lord is your strength. The joy of the Lord is my strength!
AND I BELIEVE WHEN DISCOURAGING TIMES COME, WE TOO CAN MAINTAIN THE COURSE OF GOD’S PLAN IF WE KNOW WHEN THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH.
1. THE JOY OF THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH WHEN I AM SCARED TO DEATH.