"Do not sorrow for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)
The other day my wife was ironing, when I heard her yell! A ball of fire had shot out of the iron--the cord working loose and short-circuiting. That was the end of the iron's usefulness. Electric irons must be plugged into the power source or they are worthless. That helps us to understand Christ's words in John 15 where we are told to be abide in Him--to be plugged in--for, "apart from Me, you can do nothing." Only what is done by the Spirit of Christ and for the glory of Christ is of eternal value. Sadly, very much done in the name of Christ today is false advertising. Church work done in the energy of the flesh and glorying in the flesh may sometimes be impressive to the world, but the Day of Judgment will reveal it as hay, wood, and stubble. The Devil laughs at a church with the form of godliness, but without the power of God. It does not have to be that way! It ought not be that way! In the eighth chapter of Nehemiah, we see the people of God plugged into God's power. How can we have such an experience?
The church must be UNITED IN THE WORK OF GOD. "Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel." (v.1) The love of God binds us together--and when the wire is intact, the power flows. It was that way on the Day of Pentecost, where a people of one heart, prayed with unity, the power of God came down, and the world would never be the same. Petty personal agendas and peevish selfish preferences will fray our fellowship--short-circuiting the power of God. The Kingdom progress made in ancient Israel and the early church could be seen today if we united in genuine love to accomplish God's mission. God's work is to be done together.
The church must be INSTRUCTED IN THE WORD OF GOD. "And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. Then all the people answered, 'Amen, Amen!' while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground." (v.5-6) The bulk of this passage focuses on the faithful communication and reception of God's Word that brought transformation to the congregation. God's Word makes a connection between Heaven and humans. As Jesus taught us that to abide in Him was to abide in His Word and that Word to abide in us.
The church must be ACTIVATED IN THE WORSHIP OF GOD. "Do not sorrow for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (v.10) They were remorseful over their prior disobedience but summoned to rejoice in their present reverence. They had reconnected with God in worship. An overwhelming joy washed over them as they experienced Him. This would empower them in consecrated service. What would happen on Monday if on Sunday we truly plugged into the Spirit as we worshipped? The world would see the difference! God so move in the hearts of Your people!