Joy Comes in the Morning
Monday, February 7, 2011

 

“Where morning dawns and evening fades, [God] calls forth songs of joy.” (Ps. 65:8)

 

Last night we watched two teams of talented athletes go head to head in what has become an American holiday.  At the end of the game, only one team emerged as the winner.  And for those 40 or so men and the organization that supports them, there is great joy and delight this morning.  I will never forget something Coach Bill McCartney said to a group of pastors one day.  He said, “The job of a coach (or pastor) is to make a bunch of athletes do something they do not want to do, in order to achieve what they have always wanted to achieve.”  So, this morning, through the driving of the coach and the training of the athletes, these men are having (for most) a once in a lifetime celebration.

 

This is the kind of joy that is experienced only by people who work hard at perfecting the gifts and talents that God has given them.  Whether it be an artist, an athlete, a business person, or a scholar, the top rung of the ladder is reserved for those who work the hardest.  John Piper said, “Joy is what comes after hard work.”  And I believe that.

 

It does not matter how hard I worked at it, however, I would never be able to play the piano like Claiborne, or the fiddle like Daniels, or paint like Monet, or sing like Elvis.  So I could never experience the kind of joy they experience.   However, there is a joy that all of can experience, whatever our talent or gift.  It is the joy of knowing Jesus Christ.  But like all joy, this will come only after the hard work of trying to get to know Him. 

 

It always amazes me, when I get hung on an idea, God is about to put something in front of me that will develop that idea and move it along.   For the past few days, I have been stuck on the idea that one of the great problems of the modern Church is that we have a lesser view of God.  And as if to add emphasis to that thought, God places in front of me books and writings to help me perfect that thought.  I have found new books, “Thinking,” by John Piper and “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,” by Mark Noll, and an old friend Dallas Willard’s “Renovation of the Heart,” to fortify what God has placed in my path.  I have been particularly struck by Noll’s opening line, “The real scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is so little of it.”  And the evidence is clear, evangelicals do not want to spend the time thinking about Jesus Christ.  They want the pastor, the praise team leader, or the Bible teacher to fill their minds by osmosis – to say a word, to hit a chord, or to turn a phrase that will keep them from having to read their Bibles, spend time in prayer, or to think about God.

 

And the results are in.  We evangelicals have lost our joy.  We have lost our joy, because we refuse to work at knowing Christ (who is the ultimate joy).  Until the Church and its people pursue Christ with the same intensity that the athletes of Green Bay have sought that ring, we will not find the kind of joy that God has in store for us.  But some will say, “I hate to read,” or “reading is so hard for me,” that is why I don’t read the Bible.  And for those, the grace of God will come when they try to do what does not come naturally.  But until each of us set out on a journey to study the Scriptures and learn to plumb the depths of God’s word, we will never find the joy that is set before us.

 Paul tells us that “Physical exercise is of some value, but spiritual exercise is what is really important.” (Paraphrase) and because of that, “we are to run the race as if we must win.”  There you have it, in order to achieve the joy you have always wanted to have, you must work at it through study and reading of the word, which is crowded out by the newspapers and televisions.  If you are not prepared to do that, be prepared to never experience the joy of a full mature relationship with Christ.  Solomon tells us that we are to pursue this joy as a miser pursues silver.  And when we do we will certainly find it.  Who knows, when Christians set about on the journey to find Christ (“You will seek Me and you will find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.”), maybe they will find Him (He promises you will) and when we find Him, our joy will become complete, and when our joy is complete, then maybe our world will become a safer and more joy filled place in which to live.  “When the evening of our hard work fades away, and the morning dawns – God will call forth songs of joy.”  The Kingdom of God is all about joy, but to find it, we must pursue it.

Kingdom Road Ministries
PO Box 503
10 South Main, Suite 201
Victor, ID 83455
903-262-5088
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