Thanksgiving (Biblical Perspectives)
"For the Joy of the Lord is Your Strength."
If Nehemiah knew that the Joy of the Lord is our strength, why don’t we? Let me do a re-cap on Nehemiah’s plight- you will find his dilemma in Nehemiah chapters 1 and 2. He was an exile in Babylon (just like us) and was King Artaxerxes’ cup-bearer. According to the Jewish virtual library, a cup-bearer was
“a high ranking royal official primarily in charge of serving wine to the king. Since he was close to the person of the king, who feared intrigue and the possibility of poisoned food, the cupbearer was required to be a man of irreproachable loyalty capable of winning the king's complete confidence.”
So every day Nehemiah risked his life by tasting the King’s drink before giving it to him. That means that he had the courage to accept death at any time. Clearly he took his job seriously. I imagine drinking the King’s wine provided proof that Nehemiah was overseeing his personal safety.
Nehemiah was so trusted by the King that he agreed to his request for a sabbatical to oversee yet another dangerous assignment- the re-building of the walls of Jerusalem. So here we find a picture of a man with a deep love for God; a man of prayer, faith, courage, wisdom, obedience and loyalty. He had a burden for his people- although an exile: a man of status, authority and influence, who was willing to sacrifice his comfort and status facing danger or even death, in order to help his people.
He was a model intercessor whose primary motivation was God’s glory (see Nehemiah 1:4-11). Not only was he a cup-bearer for King Artaxerxes, but Nehemiah was a cup-bearer for God. I am reminded of Christ’s words in Matthew 20:23 to James and John who wanted to be seated beside him in the kingdom:
“And he said unto them, You shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with...”
In rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah faced hostility at every turn: ridicule, threats, conspiracy, rumour and accusation. In addition to the external opposition, he encountered, Nehemiah found that few people wanted to live in Jerusalem because they feared attack. Within it’s walls, the rich were getting richer, whilst those who lived outside, were poor and getting poorer.
Nehemiah was a man of the moment. God had seen all the oppression of His chosen people and sent a deliverer- a hero to restore their hope and confidence in Him. Nehemiah, had God’s heart and knew His mind, so God entrusted him with revival and reformation in Jerusalem.
It’s amazing how God’s way is the opposite to man’s. “Man’s wisdom is foolishness to God” (1 Corinthians 3:19). You can see that for Nehemiah, “the joy of the Lord is your strength” was not just a mere statement, it was his philosophy, echoing the words of Jesus in the beatitudes; Matthew 5:10-12:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
If we like Nehemiah put our confidence in God, He will deliver us from every challenge, trial and temptation. When we walk by faith and not sight, going forward in obedience in God’s strength, we have nothing to fear. When we see our circumstances from God’s point of view, we will see the chariots of fire for our protection, like Elisha’s servant; angels ascending and descending from heaven to earth to meet our needs, like Jacob and see the vision of Christ at the right hand of God for our salvation, like Stephen.
As modern day Nehemiah’s let us have absolute assurance in everything we undertake that “if God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31) that knowledge alone will be the source of our JOY.
Collection of Biblical Perspectives
The Lifesaving Good News The gospel, otherwise known as the "good news", is described by Paul in Romans 1:16 as the "power of God unto salvation to all who believes"...more
Happiness; a much-sought after state of mind is, according to the bible, what all Christians need to be striving for...more
Nothing of Himself It’s interesting in the scriptures above that an important aspect of Christ’s mission was to reveal the character of God...more
Peace When placed in context of the scriptural passage, we find Jesus describing his mission on earth as God's spiritual peace envoy...more
My Faith Faith is intangible and invisible and yet it is an essential element in the Christian walk...more
Salvation: The Ark of God! We need not question any further; God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work in partnership to execute the mystery of salvation...more
The Anatomy of Repentance Paradoxically, when we are engaged in it, it is "sin" that feels like height and "repentance" that seems like depths...more
The Purpose of Joy Joy therefore is the natural response to the transformation brought about by divine intervention...more
Be Still And Know God Stillness is a state of mind- not moving or making a sound (adjective) deep silence and calm...more
Finding Our Purpose If we are made in the image and likeness of God, he expects us to have his character as well...more
Suffering to Learn from What is clear however is that God has designed suffering for us to learn from, praise Him for and gain righteousness in...more
Forgiveness God is the king who mercifully forgave the debt of ten thousand talents which was owed to him by one of his servants...more
Prayer In the parable prayer is characterised as an impossible activity: an exchange between the lowest of the low in society with the most inaccessible authority of the land...more
Weariness We need not succumb to fear when we have God on our side. If we exchange human fear with "fear of the Lord" we have wisdom...more
Have Faith in God! It is interesting that prayer is the essential component in developing faith in God...more
Thanksgiving He was a model intercessor whose primary motivation was God's glory (see Nehemiah 1:4-11)...more