Choosing Joy: Evening or Morning

From the Old Testament’s first books through the the New Testament’s last books, God shows His love for us by letting us choose if we will accept His grace as a free gift for our lives. He longs for us to accept that gift and even gave His Son’s life to pay the debt for our sin. Those who do not accept God’s teaching squander the richness of life that He offers for momentary thrills that so often — sometimes immediately and sometimes over time — cause so much pain. With man’s way, the end is grief. With God’s way, the end is life.

Weeping may last for the night, but there is a song of joy in the morning. (Psalm 30:5b GW)

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! (Psalm 126:5 ESV)

Find blog posts at LoveAndGracetweets at Twitter.

Comments welcomed. Let’s share what God says to His saints.

Please join us for Prayer and Questions at the end of the devotion.

WE EXPRESS OUR DEEPEST EMOTIONS THROUGH SONGS AND POEMS.

Here is just one example of how God shows us the difference between His way and our way — it’s captured in the lyrics of these two songs:

+++

68.Woman_CryingMan’s View:

Maybe the sun’s light will be dim/

And it won’t matter anyhow.

If morning’s echo says we’ve sinned,

Well, it was what I wanted now.

Angel of the Morning

God’s View:

You stay the same through the ages/

Your love never changes/

There may be pain in the night/

But joy comes in the morning.

Your Love Never Fails

+++

THE STORYLINE IN BOTH SONGS is similar, with the twist coming at the end. In the song praising man’s view of life, the “joy” comes first, but it’s a false joy that leads, inevitably, to sorrow and hurting.

The song praising God’s view of life, however, shows that God’s nature is unchanging — He’s perfect and without blemish. He promises to guide us through the difficulties of life and grant us, in the end, eternity with Him. So, in His view, the joy is real, and it is the reward for faithfulness, and it comes at the end.

Both songs can be applied toward a well-deserved weekend. After five days of commuting, dealing with the difficulties of anyone’s line of work (check out God’s comments in Genesis 3 as to why that is so), and the mounting stress of financial concerns, personal interactions, and possibly fear of drifting through life, here comes the weekend!

68.Woman_Praising_GodFriday evening, and we’re energized to “party” with a capital “P” and just have some fun, maybe get drunk or high, definitely drive our cars fast, and, yes, find some willing gal or guy to “hook up” with.

All of that “fun” will just blot out the hardships of real life and give us some thrills.

The next morning, though, we might fight a headache, could face a painful breakup with a girlfriend/boyfriend, deal with a serious dent in the new car, and wonder what went wrong.

Next weekend comes, and we’re back at it again. In man’s view of life, we never learn.

+++

WHAT WOULD THE WEEKEND in God’s view look like?

God rested the seventh day during creation, so He urges us to take some rest, too. Since
He created us, He knows we need to pace ourselves. In the Old Testament, He created the Sabbath for the Israelites to worship Him every seven days.

For the New Testament church, that rest, or sabbath, could be any day, but we know we should find time to step away from our tasks and to-do lists.

We would want to worship Him, of course, so there would be church service, with a wonderful opportunity to sing His praises, hear a message based on Scripture, and enjoy fellowship with other believers.68. Nursery

The weekend would not just focus on our worship, though. There should be an opportunity or two for service projects.

For some people  during a particularly hectic time of life, that service could be confined to helping out at church — parking lot ministry, or volunteering in the nursery, or being part of the collection team that passes the plate — are just some examples.

As our schedules ease up, maybe we find more time to volunteer in a homeless shelter or distributing canned food to those in need.

Instead of a headache, guilt feelings, and a dented car, we’re more likely to feel energized, especially if we felt the Lord’s nudge to serve His Kingdom in some capacity.

+++

SO WHAT IS OUR LESSON from all of this?

God does not promise us a carefree, stress-free life — not after we rebelled  against Him in the Garden of Eden — but He does promise to help us through the pain of life, if we let Him.

Unfortunately for us, most people are still rebelling against Him. They want to “do” life on their terms, ignoring the rules and guidelines put in place by their Creator.

In a world of sin, an offer to spend a Friday night with our peers, mixed with plenty of alcohol and a zest for adventure beats out a weekend of Bible study, soup kitchens, and prayerful meditation.

But once we let God into our hearts — we confess our sins to Him and acknowledge our need for Him — that calculus changes.

The script is flipped.

68.Circle_Against_DrinksThe booze party with a roomful of strangers, all acting weirdly, no longer sounds attractive. We start to see the party with a big circle around it and a diagonal line drawn through it.

Instead, we find real joy — authentic joy — in helping a poorly dressed stranger to a hot meal or to help a young child learn a Bible story or just raise our arms in praise during a worship song.

The fellowship of saints begins to look more inviting than the fellowship of drunks.

+++

OF COURSE, THERE IS ONE MORE scenario to work through. That’s the one where the weekend is neither the hipster party nor the worship service, but just a suburban family of 4 or 5, with a small dog and a minivan and soccer games and barbecues and friendly neighbors.

Jesus pointed out the rebellion here, as well. It’s the story recorded in Mark 10:17-25, where the rich young man who bragged to our Lord that he had obeyed all of God’s laws since his youth yet wondered what more, if anything, he should do to merit eternal life.

When Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give the money away and come join Him, the man chose, instead, to hang onto his possessions, regardless of the eternal consequences.

Don’t be fooled. The Bible clearly tells us that the only way to God’s Paradise is through Jesus Christ. (Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” — John 14:6, NKJV)

Those weekends with the drunken friends are soon outgrown, but how sad when people substitute for them the pleasant day at the beach or gathering of family — without any invitation to accept the outstretched hand of their Savior.

No matter how pleasant it may look on the outside, man’s view is always hollow on the inside.

God’s view is solid inside … and it lasts forever.

+++

PRAYER: O LORD GOD, how it must pain You to watch Your Creation  rebel so often and 68. Holy_Bible_Crossso thoroughly against You. Yes, You created us in Your image, yet we constantly push You away in favor of our walk, our own values, our own joy. Lord, would You please come into our hearts and transform them in hearts that hunger for Your love and Your way. In Jesus’ name. Amen

QUESTIONS:

  1. Do you find Jesus’ invitation to come to Him as the only way of salvation too limiting and not quite right, that maybe there’s more than one way to get to Paradise?
  2. Do you chaff when confronted with the possibility that your choices in life are not good ones for you or even more so that the Creator has a plan for your life and you might not be following it?
  3. Having read this meditation, are you more willing to consider that God’s view of our lives can be more rewarding than our own view is … in no small part because He made us?

Author: Ward Pimley

Journalist/Author (retired) Evangelical Christian, Politically Conservative. Eager to share God's Message of Salvation and Grace.

One thought on “Choosing Joy: Evening or Morning”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s