by Pastor Manny Manansala
Filipino families love pictures, we are used to striking a pose and showing big smiles. But picture doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. People can hide their problems beyond their bright smiles. A person’s smile doesn't necessarily amount to joy. Joy is different from happiness. Happiness is usually based on the good things HAPPENING around you but JOY is based on what GOD is doing INSIDE YOU.
People may not know what you are experiencing right now, but one thing is for sure God wants you to experience TRUE JOY in Him. And He does not want you to experience this JOY for selfish reason.
God wants you to experience true JOY so that THROUGH you, other people may also discover TRUE JOY in JESUS.
GOD desires for you to let your joy in the Lord be contagious.
Nehemiah 1:4-11 is an account of Nehemiah's petitions to the Lord as he mourned, prayed and fasted before God for the people of Israel as they are about to face a great trouble and disgrace because the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned.
Most people when they experience a problem, they dwell on the PAIN. But when Nehemiah sees a problem, he dwells on God’s PROMISES. The work that God is doing in you, is always GREATER than the work that God will do through you. The work that God is doing in you, always PRECEDES the work that God will do through you.
Then the king said to me, “What would you request?”
Nehemiah knew his confidence does not lie on what the King can do but what God is able to accomplish. So he prayed and asked God first before responding to the King. From here we can see how Nehemiah was able to ask for requests which we may consider ridiculous considering he is only the cupbearer of the King:
- Extended leave (Nehemiah 2:5)
- VIP pass (Nehemiah 2:6)
- Set of construction materials (Nehemiah 2:7)
The character of Nehemiah teaches us that when you are doing the work of the LORD, you should not be afraid to ask for the LORD’s resources, just like Nehemiah. Because when you do not ask, the answer is always No! So ask!
“And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me”
Because God is with Nehemiah, regardless of his position in the kingdom, the King granted all his requests. Your position in your company may not be great but your position as child of God does matter. Greatness is not based on your profession but on the Person you profess.
As Nehemiah pressed on, it was never smooth sailing. Each success he encounter comes with challenges. Most of these relates to the oppositions on the rebuilding of Jerusalem which includes people's ridicule, plot to fight Jerusalem and laborer's strength wearing out. But in spite of all the problems, Nehemiah's initial response was to always PRAY.
Throughout Nehemiah's journey he did not allow his joy to be taken away from him. The enemy will use everything to steal away your joy. Never allow anyone, nor anything, nor any circumstance takes away your joy in the Lord. For Jesus is more than enough. Our joy in Him is complete.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
“…and on that day they offered great sacrifices and rejoiced because God had given them GREAT JOY, even the women and children rejoiced, so that the JOY of Jerusalem was heard from afar.”
The work of God in your family, in this church, & in this city starts with the work of God in you! The work of God in you is evidenced by your JOY in Him. We are called to have that joy not to be kept within ourselves but for that joy to overflow us and echo in our family, workplace and community.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Always be joyful. Pray continually, & give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.