27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. 28 The musicians also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem – from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 from Beth Gilgal, and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the musicians had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem.“NIV

C.S. Lewis referred to joy as ‘the serious business of heaven.’

In looking for a quote from Blaise Pascal, I also found a wonderful introduction to it written by John Piper. He says:

‘’Blaise Pascal was a French mathematical genius who was born June 19, 1623. After running from God until he was 31 years old, on November 23, 1654 at 10:30 pm, Pascal met God and was profoundly and unshakably converted to Jesus Christ. He wrote it down on a piece of parchment and sewed into his coat where it was found after his death eight years later. It said,

Year of grace 1654, Monday 23 November, feast of St. Clement . . . from about half past ten at night to about half an hour after midnight, FIRE. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certitude, heartfelt joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ. God of Jesus Christ. “My God and your God.” . . . Joy, Joy, Joy, tears of joy. . . Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. May I never be separated from him.’ ‘’

In the church we are thankful to God for musicians and singers; for those who devote these talents to the service of the God who first bestowed them. But if there is a missing note in much church worship, it may be a lack of the ‘’joy’’ that is ‘’the fruit of the Spirit’’ (Galatians 5:22). Superficial bounciness and rhythmic movement are not necessarily to be equated with joy, and they cannot compensate for it. Without authentic joy you can still have polished performances, but we need more than this. With joy you can still hit a few duff notes, but still have the all-important note.

As I try to pray my way through this book of Nehemiah, I have found myself praying that we will all be filled with the joy God wants us to have. In today’s reading we see singers, musicians, instruments and joy! That is an unbeatable combination.

PRAYER: Lord God, please cause us to experience your joy which will be our strength