Here is a definition of the word joy from dictionary.com
the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation
According to the definition, joy is a response to something that is exceptionally good or satisfying. Joy is a response to something or someone and it can definitely include ourselves as the initiator of our joy but we have to ask ourselves if it is lasting joy? If our source of joy is from things, people, or even ourselves, the question is not whether these things can stir up joy but whether they can sustain it? For joy to be stirred up and sustained, one must experience exceptional or amazing goodness continually and life experience would tell me that nothing can eternally keep that going because it will require an eternally good thing for that to happen. Things of this earth are good but not eternally good.
For our joy center to be fully established eternally, we need an eternal source and that leaves us to only one place to look but usually the last place we look, which is God. Christianity is simple in its core teachings in that there are only few central themes that repeat itself throughout the Bible. One of the core themes that are presented is the utmost importance of having God at the center of our lives for from it we experience true goodness and joy when His presence is priority not obligatory.
When we look at our joy center, what is exactly at that center and is it really the right thing? Today's passage shows us that joy is truly established when the creator of joy is placed in the central part of one’s life as individuals and as a community.
God has been really putting a focus on days for me in that He wants me to focus each day with the main purpose of seeking His presence. I am so focused on weeks or months but the emphasis in this season of my life is from the mornting to the evening of each day to focus on prioritizing God. Is all that I do coming from a place of first seeking His presence or is God getting a tail end of my time or day? Let us have an intense focus on each day to center God in the middle of it!
NOTES ON THE TEXT
14 And the elders of the Jews built and prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They finished their building by decree of the God of Israel and by decree of Cyrus and Darius and Artaxerxes king of Persia; 15 and this house was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.
Couple of things stand out as the people of God finally finished establishing the presence of God back at the center of their lives by finishing the building of the temple. First, it states that the people of God prospered or were successful in the completion through the prophesying (or teaching) through the prophets. The words and teachings of God through the prophets created an atmosphere where heaven operated in the growing of the people of God. Whenever the people of God engage in any type of restoration process whether as a community or individuals, they must be covered in the words/thoughts of God.
The second thing is that the building was finished because of God and through three human kings of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes. It is God who works behind the scenes that help shape human destiny. It is a marvel that three separate pagan kings were in full support of the restoration of the temple of God! To move one king is amazing in of itself but to have three separate kings is beyond belief but the Lord is shown here that no matter how powerful humans become, it is ultimately all in the hands of God who is the author of history.
19 On the fourteenth day of the first month, the returned exiles kept the Passover.20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were clean. So they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the returned exiles, for their fellow priests, and for themselves.21 It was eaten by the people of Israel who had returned from exile, and also by every one who had joined them and separated himself from the uncleanness of the peoples of the land to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. 22 And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.
The people of God celebrated Passover. The Passover was a time to remember the great salvation from Egyptian slavery from the Exodus event. For the people of God in this moment, this was a new Exodus event as the people of God return home from being in exile in foreign lands. The people were joyous because the joy of the Lord was their source. What is the joy of the Lord? The joy of the Lord is the life that has God established as the center of worship in the believers life. As stated in the intro, when God is priority than what you are indirectly saying is that you prioritize joy because their is the realization that joy comes from an intimate relationship with God. The joy of the Lord through His presence never goes stale and is ever deepening as I’ve realized that our walks with the Lord becomes stale when we choose to relate to God in the same ways and not allow myself to explore different aspects of who God is. What are some ways to explore different ways? Reading books about Christianity from different authors or even try exposing yourself to churches that are a different ethnicity than you. There is something beautiful when you visit a worship service that you are not used to as you realize the unity yet diversity of the body of Christ through ethnicity. You still have your home church but you are open to visit other churches to get a bigger perspective on Christianity as a global religion.
The joys of life that are eternal must come from an eternal source. If you’re serious about joy then you must be serious about God because that is the ONLY source for ETERNAL joy.