AMI QT Devotionals for August 22-23 are written by Helen Soh, who serves at Symphony Church in Boston. Helen, a graduate of Cornell University, is currently pursuing the Master of Divinity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY
“The Joy of the Lord”
Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
This summer, I was part of a short-term mission’s team to Vietnam with AMI and served under Pastor Phi and his wife, Mai, for about two weeks. It was an incredible experience in which I witnessed God moving powerfully during times of worship and speak supernaturally through the prophetic prayers of those who were then strangers.
I’m not sure whether I will always remember what types of breakthrough came during these powerful moments, but I will never forget Mai’s relentless and life-giving smile. During the last day of our youth camp, I was tasked with waking up the children who were napping in the auditorium during our lunch break. For a lack of a better illustration, the next scene felt like a zombie apocalypse of little children. In a matter of three seconds, the hundreds of children who were sleeping ever-so- peacefully on the auditorium floor, all jumped to their feet and began running around and screaming in excitement. I remember standing there with my mouth agape, looking at my team members who held very similar expressions on their faces, wondering if and how we were going to get through the day. However, when I looked up, I saw Mai walking onto the stage with a microphone in hand, a hop in her step, and a smile as big as the children’s. In that moment, I felt the presence of God. I realized that it was not ministry experience, physical stamina, or even grit, which would get us through the day; it was going to be the joy of the Lord.
In today’s passage, Nehemiah addresses the Israelites who were mourning and repenting in response to the Word of God. He tells them to stop grieving and, instead, to worship and share their abundance with those in need. The fuel behind their worship and service was revealed to be the joy of the Lord.
I’m sure Mai was physically tired, probably more than we were; but, the same joy that fueled Nehemiah was empowering her love for these children, many who had traveled long distances to attend the camp. Even in the midst of tiredness and unexpected circumstances, she received excitement and energy from the heart of God, which became her strength. So today, don’t get easily upset over small annoyances; instead, be joyful in the Lord and serve others.
Prayer: Lord, I confess that I often forget to ask for the joy of the Lord to be my strength. Thank You for the reminder that the true source of strength, stamina, grit, and positivity is not found in myself but in my relationship with You. Please fill me with a greater measure of joy today.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 10
Lunch Break Study
Read Philippians 4:11-3: Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Questions to consider
- What are some seasons in Paul’s life in which he might’ve felt he was “abounding”? What are some seasons he was “brought low”?
- What is Paul’s secret of facing both types of seasons?
- Where are you finding your strength to get through the rest of your day?
- Paul experienced great joy and satisfaction when the churches he planted bore great fruit (1 Thess. 2). At the same time, Paul was no stranger to being “brought low,” as he was heavily persecuted throughout his lifetime.
- Paul’s secret was to focus not on himself, but in the Lord. He was not the creator nor the giver but the recipient of contentment and strength from the Lord.
- Personal response.
When we think of joy, we are prone to focus solely on our own joy and contentment. However, we learned today that our joy in the Lord could be encouraging and contagious to others. Where is one area of your life where you can be less of a bystander and more of an agent of joy and hope?