Weekly Devotional | "From Tears to Shouts of Joy"

This devotional is based on C.J. Mahaney's sermon, From Tears to Shouts of Joy, given on October 2, 2016.

Day 1: Liberation and Laughter (verses 1-2)

Quotes:

  • “It is to be feared that the psalms are by no means so prized as in earlier ages of the Church.” Charles Spurgeon
  • “Apart from . . . biblical illiteracy, there are special reasons for neglect of the psalms. The language of poetry doesn’t easily connect in a sound-byte culture. The psalms call for time, not tweets – time to read, ponder, pray, digest. It’s easy to be too busy for the psalms. Then again, the strong emotions of the psalms make many modern people uncomfortable – which is ironic since our culture seems to feed on feelings. . . . On top of everything else, strange to say, the psalms are just so…well…God intoxicated. We are fascinated with ourselves; the psalms are fascinated with God.” Richard Wells

Questions and Reflections:

  • What’s the reason for the author’s trance-like joy?
  • We could choose adjectives to describe what God has done for us through Jesus: Beautiful. Breathtaking. Awesome. Merciful. Amongst these, why would the author dare to reflect on God’s salvation between bouts of side-splicing laughter? What about our salvation should cause us to laugh?
  • The psalmist’s laughter is so rich that even the unbelieving Gentiles take notice. Based on this verse, what role does our joy in Christ play in evangelism?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Pray with the psalmist through the first two verses. Ask God to help you see how crazy, even comical, our salvation is in light of how good God is and how undeserving we are. Ask him to fill you with joy until you are literally laughing about it.

 

Day 2: Reflecting on His Wonders (verse 3)

Quotes:

  • “Let our hearts gratefully remember the former lovingkindness of the Lord . . . He did not merely lift us out of despondency, he raised us into wondering happiness. The Lord, who alone turns our captivity, does nothing by halves: those whom he saves from hell he brings to heaven. He turns exile into ecstasy, and banishment into bliss. . . . None are so happy as those who are newly turned and returned from captivity.” Charles Spurgeon
  • “Throughout this psalm, laughter, singing, and rejoicing often are the evidence of a salvation to which the recipients have contributed nothing but subsequent joy. We took no part in it. It was done for us – we woke up to find it was true.” Alec Motyer

Questions and Reflections:

  • Do you live with a conscious awareness that apart from the sovereign grace of God you would utterly fall away from God. We were once sinners in the hands of an angry God, but now we are embraced in the arms of the loving Father. Take a fresh look at how truly marvelous your salvation was. Do you, like Charles Spurgeon, feel renewed joy from recalling your release from captivity?
  • Recall an example from your life in which God showed exceptional grace to you. As you consider it, what fresh joy does it give you in God? How does it strengthen your soul?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Recite Ephesians 2:8 multiple times and then enter into prayer, thanking God for his holy rescue! Take this time to also pray for those close to you who are still stuck in captivity. Ask that God would, by his grace, release them from their exile.

 

Day 3: Prayer for Revival (verse 4)

Quotes:

  • “The two images of renewal are not only striking, they are complementary. The first of them is all suddenness, a sheer gift from heaven; the second is slow and arduous, with man allotted a crucial part to play in it.” Derek Kidner

Questions and Reflections:

  • Recalling God’s marvelous works led the psalmist to pray big, bold prayers to God. He prayed that God would give his people revival like streams of water to a desert place. God delights in such requests because they honor his great power, wisdom, and goodness. What similar requests could you make to God for the sake of his glory and the good of our church? Consider our needs for a new meeting space and our efforts to evangelize.

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Pray verse 4 along with the psalmist. Ask God for his blessing upon our church’s evangelistic efforts. Ask him to bless us with a new meeting place that will better accommodate our needs. Ask God to fill us freshly with his Spirit for revival. Ask big and ask specifically.

 

Day 4: Weeping and Reaping (verse 5-6)

Quotes:

  • “The psalm teaches the tough truth that there is work to be done whether I am emotionally up for it or not, and it is good for me to do it. Suppose you are in a season of heartache and discouragement, and it is time to sow seed. Do you say, ‘I can’t sow the field this spring, because I am brokenhearted and discouraged’? If you do that, you will not eat in the winter. Suppose you say instead, ‘I am heartsick and discouraged. I cry if the milk spills at breakfast. I cry if the phone and doorbell ring at the same time. I cry for no reason at all . . . but I will take my bag of seeds and go out in the fields and do my crying while I do my duty. I will sow in tears.’” John Piper
  • “So here’s the lesson: When there are simple, straightforward jobs to be done, and you are full of sadness and tears are flowing easily, go ahead and do the jobs with tears. Be realistic. Say to your tears: ‘Tears, I feel you. You make me want to quit life. But there is a field to be sown (dishes to washed, a car to be fixed, a sermon to be written). I know you will wet my face several times today, but I have work to do and you will just have to go with me. I intend to take the bag of seeds and sow. If you come along, then you will just have to wet the rows.’ Then say, by faith in future grace, on the basis of God’s word, ‘Tears, I know that you will not stay forever. The very fact that I just do my work will in the end bring a harvest of blessing. . . . I believe that the simple work of my sowing will bring sheaves of harvest, and your tears will be turned to joy.’” John Piper

Questions and Reflections:

  • What good work for the Lord has discouraged you? Is it obedience to a spiritual discipline? A responsibility at work? A relationship? These verses remind us that we should not be surprised by pain, but they also remind us of God’s affectionate awareness. He intimately knows every ounce of pain you feel and he has not abandoned you.
  • If God is able to restore our fortunes instantly, why must we commit ourselves to a life of sowing with tears? What does this reveal about God?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • In 1 Corinthians 15:58 Paul encourages his friends to persevere in good works because their labor for the Lord is never in vain. Ask God to give you fresh strength from this truth. Ask him to fill you with his Spirit so you can see more clearly how Jesus is exalted through your perseverance.

 

Group Discussion Questions:

  • What truths keep us smiling over our conversion?
  • Is the idea of laughter regarding conversion a new concept for you?
  • Let’s read Psalm 16:8-9 and consider what the psalmist did in order to maintain a glad heart.
  • Presently, in what area of life does it feel like you are primarily sowing? How would you describe your faith in continuing to sow in that area? How does Psalm 126 provide fresh hope for you in that area and this season?
  • In what ways are you seeing signs of reaping the fruits of your labor? In what other areas of life are you seeing the Lord encourage you with fruit from your season of sowing?