JANUARY 18

Today's Bible Readings
     Genesis 19
     Nehemiah 8
     Matthew 18
     Acts 18
 
MEMORIZE TODAY
''Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10b)
 
THE JOY OF THE LORD
            After the walls were finished, after the priest read from the book of the law and the people wept when they heard the words of the law of God, Ezra said to them, ''Do not sorrow, for the joy  of the Lord is your strength."
            Where do the saints get their joy? It is very obvious to us that our joy does not come from circumstances. In the best of times our hearts may be sorrowful, and in the worst of times we discover that God has given us a joyful heart. How can this be? It is because the joy of the Lord is our strength. Joy comes from seeing the complete fulfillment of the specific purpose for which  I was created and born again; not from successfully doing something of my own choosing. This is why Paul could say in ''...so that I may finish my race with joy and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus..." (Acts 20:24)
            The joy our Lord experienced came from doing what the Father sent Him to do, and He said to us ''as the Father   has sent Me, I also send you." (John 20:21)  When you faithfully fulfill what the Father has given you to do, you will discover joy in the Lord and that will be your strength.
            In Romans 8, Paul mentions many adversities that could discourage God's child, but he says in verse 37, ''in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."
            He is literally saying we are super victors with a joy that comes from experiencing the very things that look as if they are going to overwhelm us. The huge wave of the storm that would frighten an ordinary swimmer produces a tremendous thrill for the surfer who has ridden them. The things we try to fight against - tribulation, suffering and persecution - are the very things that produce abundant joy in us.
            In II Corinthians 7:4 Paul said, ''I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation." On this occasion, in the book of Nehemiah, Ezra said to the people ''eat the fat and drink the wine." The burdens and adversities that God allows us to experience  squeeze the grapes in our lives and produce the wine of joy. If your life is producing only a whine instead of the wine, ''then ruthlessly kick it out." It is definitely a crime for a Christian to be weak when he has the possibility of the joy of the Lord to give him strength.
 
PRAY FOR THE WORLD
As you pray for Africa today remember that Islam is the greatest challenge to be faced.  Muslims have been  successful
in winning non-Muslims in many parts of Africa. There are now more than 150 million Muslims in sub-Sahara, Africa.
Growing numbers of them are coming to Christ. Pray today that the present trickle may become a flood of African Muslims experiencing the joy of Christ.
 
A WORD FOR YOUR WORLD TODAY
''Most joyfully will I confirm with my blood that truth which I have written and preached."
John Huss