Hello everyone! As some of you know, I just had my 16th birthday! And I wanted to share one of my gifts with you all. One of the presents I was given was the Godly Woman's Adornment Collection. It is 4 devotion books for young women, they are sweet little books that are about 100 pages long. The four books in the collection are, Joy, Contentment, Trust and Purity. The first book that I have started on is the Joy book, and I read something so beautiful that I had to share it with you all. For personal reasons this is very relevant chapter to me, so it touched my heart deeply. To any of you girls that are looking for wonderful devotion books, I highly recommend these, you can find them at Vision Forum. I am very excited about going through all of these, and if you like the devotion I am going to post today, please make a comment requesting more Joy posts! :)
Joy In Repentance
Sin brings misery. There are no exceptions. Ever. Experience has shown us all how true this is, but we continue to sin anyway because we think that somehow, someway, this time will be different. This time we will escape. This time things will go our way. This time we will be able to manipulate the circumstances to bring us the outcome we hope for. We buy into the lie again and again, but even when we turn from God, he never turns from us. He is faithful to his unfaithful people. That's why Nehemiah, the governor of Israel, told the Israelites not to be grieved.
The hearts of the people under Nehemiah had turned away from God. The bad choices they had made over a long period had led them where sin always leads - to discouragement, loss, and feeling distant from God. (sin never produces anything worthwhile in our lives.) But when the people heard God's Word, they were deeply convicted of sin. They were done with excuses. They had ignored the Lord and hurt him, and their awakened awareness of it brought grief to their hearts.
We grieve after we sin too, but there is a difference between the grief of consequences suffered and that of having hurt the Lord. Only one leads to repentance. The old saying is true: being sorry for sin means being sorry enough to quit. If we are sorry primarily because our sinful choices don't work out very well, we aren't really going to quit. We will just change our tactics.
Repentance means turning around and going the other direction. It involves an active cutting off of all that has come between us and the Lord. Feelings of grief may or may no be present, but holy action will be, and as we step out in real repentance, we will find that we do feel sorry for how our sin has driven a wedge into our relationship with God. The Israelites had reached this point, and they were weeping over what their sin had done. But it was just at this point that they were surprised by joy.
Joy is the last thing we expect when the fact of our sinfulness penetrates our hearts. We know we deserve to be miserable, and so often we are tempted to wallow in misery as a way to prove how sorry we are or to try and get back in God's favor. But God doesn't want wallowing. wallowing actually has more to do with us than with God: "Oh, Lord, my sin is so very bad. How could you love someone as bad as me?"
Instead of wallowing, godly grief embraces grace. We forget our own badness and look at God's kind heart and willingness to forgive. We look away from ourselves and toward the cross, where our badness was crucified with Christ. it is not our sin that wins the day, but God's mercy. That's why Nehemiah told the people not to be grieved. Now that they had repented and made a wholehearted commitment to turn back to the Lord, joy was theirs. They were to look away from their sin and even from their sorrow over it- away from themselves altogether - and find the joy of renewal, hope, and confident trust that would strengthen them in their way.
Are you discouraged by sin? Do you think you have forfeited joy forever because what you have done is so bad? don't linger there. Turn back to God with all your heart, and you will find that joy is right there awaiting you.
May God bless you all and may you have JOY today!