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You are here: Home  > Faith Alive! | October 2011

Faith Alive! | October 2011

In Faith Alive! this issue:

  • Are you RTGAA?
  • Editorial 100 issues (33 years!) of keeping faith alive
  • Nehemiah Rejoice with him
  • Sharing faith Andrew
  • Gospel preaching Philip
  • COVER FEATURE: 100 issues:
  • How it all began
  • The changing face of Faith Alive!
  • The Swanwick Report
  • Profiling the editors of Faith Alive!
  • Profiling the Faith Alive! contributors
  • The Faith Alive! crosswords
  • The greatest commandment
  • Suffering why? A conclusion
  • Rejoicing with (and appealing for) Uganda Youth

A sample article from this edition:

Nehemiah (9)

The joy of the Lord

Reading and its effect

After reading the word of God together in unity (Nehemiah 8:1-8), Nehemiah encourages the people to share their food (verse 10). The plea is “Jerusalem is built, have fellowship and worship God in all your doings be no longer grieved”. The reason is “for the joy of the Lord is your strength”. The psalmist expresses the emotion:

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. The Lord is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed. Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.” (Psalm 28:7-9)

“The joy of the Lord” should be our strength. There is nothing in this life that can be our strength except the joy of the Lord. It has been a strength to everyone who has responded; Nehemiah would have known of the strength it could provide from his own knowledge of history.

Jeremiah’s “joy”

Having been the prophet of bad tidings concerning the end of Jerusalem, Jeremiah’s contemplation of Jerusalem’s immediate future often left him down in the mouth:

“For who shall have pity on thee, O Jerusalem? Or who shall bemoan thee? Or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?” (Jeremiah 15:5)

But as despondent and distraught as he may have felt, God and His word remained a constant in his life and one in which he could and would rejoice:

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” (Jeremiah 15:16)

Jeremiah’s own father Hilkiah had found the words of God during another great building work, as the temple was restored under the hand of King Josiah (2 Chronicles 34:14). Here too, the words of God became an inspiration and a joy for those involved. Josiah stands up before the people and reads this book of the covenant and as he did the people stood (verses 29-32). The remarkable likeness to the incident recorded by Nehemiah at the end of their building project becomes another reminder of the joy the words of God can bring.

Devouring the word

Jesus constantly had the word of God before him, and everything contained in it was his strength and his joy. It was, like Jeremiah, his food and drink, especially in times of his greatest trials and temptations. We should devour it as Jeremiah did! We should have it imprinted on our hearts as the Lord Jesus did, because it is this word that is our strength. Take favourite passages, let them encourage you, fill your mind with them so that no matter what circumstances you are faced with, no matter where you are, no matter who you are with – the word pours into your mind and fills you with strength. This is something these faithful Israelites did. This ability to learn and remember the word was, perhaps, far more part of their culture anyway, but this is how people like Nehemiah and Ezra survived years in captivity without Bibles.

Nehemiah’s final prayer

Nehemiah’s final prayer was that the Lord would remember him, for good. God will remember Nehemiah in that day. He will remember Ezra. He will remember Jeremiah. Do we want to be remembered for good? That is the day when once more the law will go out from Jerusalem with the Lord Jesus as King and the twelve apostles working with him (Isaiah 2:2-4). If we make the joy of the Lord our strength now, we shall be there and the Lord will remember our names, for good.

John Owen


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