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June 18 – The joy of the Lord is your strength 

“You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married.” – Isaiah 62:4 

Scripture reading: Nehemiah 8:1-12

If chapter 3 is my very favourite, then chapter 8 is my second. The wall is done. Fathers are coming back to the city with their families. They are not coming to admire the walls, but to listen to the law of God. Old Ezra, the faithful priest, is brought before the huge gathering, and he reads the law. I picture Ezra reading a section of Deuteronomy, and the leaders of the people meeting with families and small groups, answering questions and ensuring they understand. And then another section is read. All day they read and learn from the law.

The law convicted the people. They knew they were sinners and worthy of punishment. They weep, but they are told not to weep. The law is wrapped in grace. Remember the great work which God has begun – the law was not read to condemn the people, but to teach them to live as those who have received God’s love. They are told, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” That changes things! What does it mean that God delights in you and that he joyfully invests in you? Hebrews 12:2 tells us that for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. This means, in spite of our sin, we are not a pain to God. Yes, God delights in dwelling with us and working in our lives. And so may that be our strength. How can we apply the law of God? What is our motivation? It is knowing God loved us first.

Suggestions for prayer

Thank the Lord for what He has done in the past and for patiently teaching us His ways. Ask the Lord to help you understand His Word and apply it daily.

Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at

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