“Then he [Nehemiah] said to them, ‘Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your stronghold.’ And the Levites quieted all the people, saying, ‘Be still, since today is holy. Do not grieve.’ Then all the people began to eat and drink, send portions, and have a great celebration, because they had understood the words that were explained to them.” Nehemiah 8:10-12
Not long after I began my relationship with Jesus, I could rarely read the Bible without coming to tears. Every page I turned told me how much I had messed up. Every page told me how far I was away from God’s perfect standard. The funny thing is that every page also told me that God still loved me and would forgive me. Each page told me that I had disobeyed God, but each page also told me that God would give me another chance. Honestly, I still have those days every now and then. The truth is that I still make mistakes. I still disobey God at times. No matter whether I obey God today or whether I fail, God’s mercy is new every morning and His love will never change.
The verses above tell a portion of the story of a whole generation who was hearing God’s standards for the first time. They had heard what others thought God wanted. They had even heard about the traditions of the past. But many of them had never, ever heard the truth of the Bible. As they heard about God’s standards of behavior and what it meant to live in relationship with Him, they wept and wondered if God could ever forgive them or if they had just gone too far from Him. Maybe that is where you are today. If so, remember there is nothing about your life that has taken God by surprise. He knows all of your successes and all of your failures. He knows every time you have chosen to obey Him and every time you have chosen to disobey. Knowing everything about you, God has chosen to love you. He can and will forgive you if you will come to Him. He still offers you a relationship with Him. That is what Christmas is all about. And that is a true reason to rejoice!
How does understanding the Bible bring you joy?
Who is it in your life that helps you understand the Bible?