I hope you enjoyed the Preach Off! As an employee at CedarCreek, it’s cool to observe the “behind-the-scenes” of big weekends like the Preach Off—all the creativity, thought, planning, and anticipation that goes into preparing for it, and the joy our staff feels when we finally experience the end product!
As I was helping prepare for the Preach Off last week and watching everything come together, with a spring in my step (admittedly, I was on my third cup of coffee), I had to stop and appreciate just how much joy my job brings me. Don’t get me wrong—some days work is challenging, some days it’s frustrating, and some days I come home exhausted. The things in life that make a difference often require a lot of hard work. But the joy I feel knowing God is using my time and skills to help people grow in their relationship with him strengthens me.
Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t associate church with joy. Some people think it’s boring, and for others, it can even be painful.
At the end of the Preach Off, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder shared some scripture from Nehemiah. To provide context, this passage takes place a long time after Jerusalem had been conquered and destroyed. God’s people were struggling. Ezra, a priest, brought everyone together in the town square, amongst the broken-down remains of what used to be a great capital, and began reading God’s law to them.
The people responded by weeping (Nehemiah 8:9).
Maybe you’ve felt that way at church—when you’ve been struggling, when the message has called you out, when you’ve looked back on past mistakes, or for a number of other reasons. I know I’ve felt that way. Maybe some of you even feel like that’s how you should feel at church—somber and repentant. But Nehemiah told the people not to mourn or weep!
And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
I repeat: The joy of the Lord is your strength! Yes, sometimes God wants us to be serious and repentant when appropriate, but he also wants us to be joyful, because we get to hear from him, to understand what he’s teaching us, and to experience the adventure he has for us. There is so much joy to be found in that!
Over the next few days, we will talk about what that joy looks like and how we can experience it. I hope you experienced the joy of the Lord during the Preach Off, and that you find ways to be strengthened by that joy in your day today.
What feelings do you associate with church? Is joy one of them? How can you experience the joy of the Lord in your daily life?
Find ways to be strengthened by and rejoice in the Lord today. That could mean watching one of the Preach Off sessions that you missed online—each service time was a different experience! Or it could look like creating a devotional routine that brings you joy. I love to read my Bible in the morning with a cup of coffee, a cozy blanket, a cat on my lap, and my shades up so I can watch the sunrise from my desk. Remember, God wants us to enjoy our relationship with him!
Heavenly Father, thank you for being a God who strengthens us through joy! Thank you for all the ways you invite us to experience joy each day—through laughter, good food, good conversations, sunrises, and beautiful snowy days, and most of all through the blessing of knowing you. Help us to have open eyes and ears to see the ways you want to bring us joy. May we rejoice in our relationship with you and be strengthened by it for the adventure you have ahead of us! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton is currently the apprentice copywriter at CedarCreek. In her spare time, she freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.
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