Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  

Back from years of exile and having endured a long time of not hearing the word of God, these Israelites needed encouragement, teaching and a restoration of joy in order to recover and rebuild after such a time of loss. Nehemiah tells them not to focus on grief for what is lost and past but look forward with hope, expecting God’s joyful “welcome home” and feast in celebration. Sometimes we as individuals may have been “away” and not sensed hearing from God in some time – the return can be scary, a natural sense of loss, or even shame, can get in the way. But let God’s joy at your return be your source of strength, ending any sense of “exile” and enjoy being back home once again.   Pastor Bill

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