During the Sovereign Grace 2016 Pastors Conference, CJ Mahaney delivered a sermon entitled, From Tears to Shouts of Joy. The message focused on the Psalms.
CJ Mahaney is currently Senior Pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville and was previously President of Sovereign Grace Churches.
In his sermon, Mahaney overflows with enthusiasm and passion, as he does in many of his messages, about the importance of the Psalms in the life of church leaders and how important it is to faithfully teach the Psalms to the congregation.
“The Psalms are not prized anymore,” said Mahaney early on in his message.
He emphasized the beauty of the Psalms and how they communicate the emotions and feelings that all men feel and struggle with.
“There’s not an emotion you can feel and articulate that is not in the Psalms. The Psalms teach us how to feel,” the pastor emphasized. “The Psalms have every conceivable experience.”
Mahaney referred to the Biblical poetry of the Psalms as “God-breathed poetry” and that they are a unique gift of God. According to him, they also help us pray.
“Psalms allow us to ponder and digest and pray in a soundbite culture,” he said.
CJ used Psalm 126:1-3 specifically as what he called a Psalm of reflection, retelling the excitement and joy of God’s people as they looked back on what the Lord had done for them.
The pastor is such an enthusiastic speaker and it’s hard not be carried along with his excitement and zeal and this was obvious as he shared from Psalm 126, particularly in verse 2, which says, “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongues with shouts of joy.”
“Laugh at the wonder of it,” he said.
CJ’s point in this passage? That the Psalms should bring us joy, make us reflect on what God has done and encourage us to cherish them as a church from the top down.
“Leaders must prize Psalms for members to prize them,” he said.
Another great point in CJ’s message was his correlation between the Psalms and farming. He said that many of the concepts in the Psalms were taken from the world of agriculture i.e., planting and sowing seeds.
“The Psalms show hope in sowing certain promises of God,” Mahaney said, but also added that sometimes there is the sowing of tears, referring again to the emotions of the Psalms. “Those who sow in tears will have them replaced with joy.”
He also compared Jesus’s death to “sowing himself and reaping through his resurrection.”
Surprisingly CJ added another aspect to this concept of sowing, referring specifically to leaders in the church. He said that as church leaders, we are going to always be sowing seeds but that when hardship comes, many leaders quit.
“We’re going to die sowing but if you’ve put down your bag of seed, pick it back up,” he said passionately.
CJ made it clear in this sermon that the Psalms can be hard to understand at times and because we love ourselves more than God, we may not dig deep to uncover the truths in them.
“These are the hymns of our savior. We should have joy because it’s all the Lord’s doing,” he said.
Other sermons available from the 2016 Sovereign Grace Pastor’s Conference are Entrusting Those we Serve to God, by Jared Mellinger, The Reward for Being Faithful, by Rick Gamache, Making the authority of Scripture Practical, by John Piper, and others.