“Don’t be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
– Nehemiah 8:10c [NASB]
When we start to stray from the basics of our faith, the tell-tale sign is that we lose our joy.
During a troubling time with his team, the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, the famous American football coach, decided he needed to go back to the basics. He held up a football in a team meeting and said, “gentlemen, this is a football.” One of the players, Boyd Dowler, a flake, said, “Coach, could you slow down a bit?”
Joy is to our faith as a barometer is to weather. A barometer measures the barometric pressure in the atmosphere. When it starts to drop, we know a storm is generally brewing. When we begin to lose our joy, it indicates that something is going on spiritually in our hearts that may need our attention.
Christianity is, first and foremost, about a relationship with God. It is not about a religious system, but it does take discipline to develop that relationship. What are those disciplines? I suggest that the first two are Bible reading and prayer.
The Bible reveals to us the character of God. You cannot know someone you don’t first understand. Any relationship grows with the time we spend with that person. Our knowledge of God is proportional to our time in His Word.
A relationship does not happen without communication. Prayer is the vehicle that God has given us to converse with Him. Prayer is a two-way street—it’s us talking to God and Him speaking with us. A one-way conversation is not communication.
A third discipline might be obedience. Jesus told us in John 8:31-32 that His authentic followers are those who obey His commandments. James 1:22 tells us that we must be doers of the Word of God and not just hearers. We can read the Bible and pray, but if we are not willing to obey the revealed truth of God’s Word, we will deceive ourselves and develop a false Christianity.
Have you lost your joy? Go back to the basics of Bible reading, prayer, and obeying what you read, and the joy of the Lord will be your strength.