Imagine that you’ve been dragged away from your country and forced to work as a slave in a foreign land. As you and your group is returning home it was like the last years were just a dream. Your God has called you home. There is much laughter and joyful singing as you recall all of the good things God has done for you! Joy fills your hearts and the struggles you’ve been through don’t affect the joy you feel now.
Sunday is my favorite day of the week and today was no exception. It is so good to see friends that I’ve grown to know and love. Today was especially sweet as we sang praises to our Father, I could hear the congregation joining in as the praise team sang. Singing those songs used to be my favorite part of the service, and I still enjoy it so much, but I look forward to the message more and more the older I get. Yes, maturity has something to do with it, but more than that it’s a desire to know who God is; what he’s like; what he wants from me.
We are all at a different place in our faith walk. But growing in it requires that you set aside some time each day to get into the Word. It may start with a scripture a day. Make it part of your daily routine. Listening to the sermon helps me to see things in the scripture that I didn’t see before. It’s easy to gloss over a word that may totally change the meaning just because you didn’t think it was that important.
Our scripture this morning:
1 When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. 2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ”The Lord has done great things for them.” 3 The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. 5 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.Psalm 126 NIV
How do we find joy in the world today? Will we find it in the instant gratification we are so used to in our lives? Most of the commercials we’ll see today will be about having things quicker. Doesn’t God want us to be happy? No. He doesn’t care if you’re happy. Happiness is fleeting, it depends on your circumstances. God is more concerned about your holiness. He wants you to know His blessings. He wants you to know His joy in your life.
I get it now! God wants us to be joyful because it’s not dependent on your circumstances. You decide to be joyful. It’s the thermostat that controls the thermometer.
When the Israelites returned to their city out of exile, it was likely before Nehemiah had restored the city. This scripture is a song of gratitude for God restoring them to their homeland and a prayer for continuing to restore Jerusalem to it’s former glory.
They were celebrating before being completely restored. You see, knowing what God had already given them, they knew what to expect in the future. Knowing what God had done in the past, gives us hope that he will continue to work for good in our lives. God’s promises is what brings joy to His people. When you have joy, you have it no matter the circumstances you find yourself in.
We see from the psalmist that there is a connection between the tears and the joy. We want to reap the joy without ever having sown the tears. But the tears will come. Struggle is inevitable. Conflict is inevitable. We can’t escape it.
I love the reminder that baptism is so powerful. It is the flash flood of God’s grace and love. But we can’t stop there. It must be followed with the growth in our faith and trust God in all things and times. The kind of faith that sows seeds even in the season of tears is the kind of faith that trusts God without doubt that He will provide.
This is why it’s so important for us to become disciples who are continually growing in the ”grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. We sow seeds of hope, even if they’re watered with our tears. God is faithful. Continue sowing seeds.
“Joy is something that we have to choose and then work for.”Francis Chan
The takeaway from today’s sermon is to choose joy first then in the day. Then continue to choose joy frequently through the day. Joy is something we choose; something we practice. Joy is the evidence of our residence in the presence of God. (I love that analogy!)
How do we stay in the presence of God? When we choose to invest in a relationship with Him, Christ invites us to live with him and experience real joy!
We all have seasons that bring us through seasons of loss, be we can always trust that in His own good time God will restore our fortunes. But our greatest treasure lies in Him. That’s where the joy is. Our assignment this week is to choose joy. Choose it several times a day.
I write this series of sermon takes to share what I get out of our sermons each week. If you want a relationship with Christ, I encourage you to find a church and invest in it with your time and talents. You will not be sorry when you put your trust in God!