Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The unique joy of a difficult ministry

And the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy.
Ezra 6:16

When the last of the obstacles to the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem was lifted by royal decree, the returned re-settlers went to the work with all diligence. The temple was rebuilt. And they wasted no time in celebrating what God had done. They held a massive worship celebration to dedicate the temple of the Lord in worship of the Lord.

The profound emotion leading those who lent themselves to this tremendous task was joy. They were thrilled to be doing this great work and to have it done. It meant so much to them all. And worshipping God was not a duty, but rather a delight. So much had been overcome so that this could be done. God had shown Himself sustaining during the difficulties through the encouragements of the prophets. He brought His people home to do the work. He sent His Word through His prophets to confirm the work. And now He would be celebrated at the completion of the work.

Joy comes in the service of the Lord. We delight ourselves in God and He will bring us great joy. That is one thing very apparent from Ezra's account of the temple re-building project. It took years to do. It was extensive. It was met with significant and continued opposition. God's people struggled to stay faithful to the task. It even looked like it might get shut down permanently. But by persevering, joy came as the work was done. So I see that delighting in the Lord and doing His work, though very often hard and dangerous, brings unspeakable joy and amazing peace. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

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