Did you know that God commands us to delight in Him? Deuteronomy 28:47 – …serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything… Psalm 37:3, 4 – Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord…

Delight is dictionary defined as: a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment. So God commands us to enjoy Him. Is it actually possible to decide to have enjoyment? Isn’t that like commanding a person to laugh? A forced laugh is just that, forced, awkward and unreal. Isn’t enjoyment a response of the heart to something that fascinates/interests you? So how do we come to delight in God then? I found the answer to that question this week in Nehemiah 8:5-12. This passage tells the story of Ezra, the priest and scribe, as he reads the Torah to the people of Israel during a time of revival in the nation of ancient Israel.

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people… and when he opened it, all the people stood up….and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law….So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

So as the people heard the Law of God read and explained a Spirit of repentance fell upon them.

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “God your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Now the people have a startling reaction. They are right in the middle of mourning and weeping but upon hearing Nehemiah’s words, the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

There is this sudden change in the mood of the people. What is it that happens in one short verse? What changes? THEY UNDERSTOOD THE WORDS THAT WERE DECLARED TO THEM. Revelation! I believe the people have a holy revelation of this one phrase spoken by Nehemiah: for the joy of the Lord is your strength. In other words, the joy that God has about who you are to Him will be your strength. When you experience, by the Holy Spirit, how God feels about you, it will bring forth delight in your heart in response. In this encounter there is strength to face any trial. That’s why Jesus says in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” So basically He’s saying, “Don’t worry that your dad has just died because I’ve overcome the world.” What does that even mean? It is a statement that at first reading seems so lacking in empathy. But what it means is this: I have overcome death and I sit on my throne full of passion for you and in that passion you will find a strength to overcome any hardship.

I tried this on Wednesday this week. I had an argument with a friend. I went home distressed. Usually, I would sit for an hour, dwell on my problem and try to figure it out. But this time, I sat on my bed, put on some worship music and as I sat there I simply prayed, “Jesus, I love You. You’re beautiful, Jesus. You’re beautiful. Thank you that I’m Your beloved one.” In 20 minutes, the scale of my problem dwindled in my mind and heart from a 6 out of 10 to a 1. This revelation and experience is opening a whole new door of exploration into God for me. You should try it!

Joel Ratcliffe

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