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Isaiah 12:1-6
Trinity XVI
October 1, 2017
St. Paul’s Anglican Church

“With Joy”

What an uplifting lesson before us this morning! We have traveled through all but the remaining 8 weeks of the Trinity Season – a season of spiritual growth – and here the Almighty places before us this special message of “joy” to cheer us on as we start the final lap, as it were.

And I am sure it must have been a pleasure for Isaiah to pen the verses before us this morning! For he was usually called upon to point out the many sins of God’s people, and call them to repentance, and contend with their irresponsibility!

During his lifetime, he witnessed the deportation of his fellow-countrymen north to Assyria (the world power of their day) to be exiled there on account of their wickedness — unwilling to turn from their evil ways!

In our text, he speaks of the final outcome of their correction! And it is beautiful to behold! “In that day,” he writes! “In that day when you repent and when God then returns you to your homeland – ‘in that day’ you will praise Him and thank Him for turning away His wrath and fury and for comforting you.” God’s Word is sure: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness!

And then he says something truly amazing! Something that merits our quiet contemplation and consideration this morning! And it applies equally to all of us as it does to all of God’s people who repent of wrongdoing and walk humbly with God. Verse 3…

With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. 
With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

It is one thing to constantly remind ourselves of our Heavenly Father’s requirements upon us… to dwell on our mistakes (our willful sins and transgressions)… our deficiencies and weaknesses – but it quite another thing to seek forgiveness and to cherish God’s safety through Jesus Christ. To drink deep draughts with joy from His wells which He strategically places before us along the King’s highway to the Celestial City!

I forgive you. Go and sin no more, Jesus told the woman taken in adultery. Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee, He told the sick of the palsy. And in reference to a sobbing woman with a sin-stained past who anointed His feet with expensive perfume, He said, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven…

God’s forgiveness to his people is prevenient, that is, it encompasses the forgiveness of all sins – past, present, and future. Repentance is mandatory, however, if we seek acceptance and a right standing – and the help — of the Ancient of Days!

What an encouraging reminder to all of God’s people that their sins are forgiven and removed from them as far as the east is from the west! There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1).

What is joy anyway? Is it an emotion? Is it a feeling? Is it an outlook? Is it a state of being? Perhaps in some measure, it is all of these!

Whereas happiness is more superficial and fleeting – tied to the circumstances of life — joy is certainly more deep-seated and enduring. It is one of the gifts of the Spirit. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…
It comes to His people from His own hand. We learn in the Bible that the Almighty Himself has joy! He rejoices in His Creation, for example! And He rejoices in the re-creation of His people!

Joy gives its recipients confidence regarding the future. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that our Lord – for the joy that was set before Him – endured the cross, despised the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God! That is how powerful joy can be!

St. Paul counsels us in the strongest of terms to rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. 

Nehemiah, of old – who endured and overcame every imaginable opposition to the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem — went so far as to tell God’s people during their difficult days: The joy of the LORD is your strength. 

And it should be pointed out that Isaiah uses the plural word “wells.” God lines up wells – many wells — all along the path of life for the health and well-being of Christians who walk with their Lord.

I once read the story of a young Christian woman who was a passenger in the front seat of a car. It happened during the dead of winter when roads were icy and dangerously slick! The car she was in came around the corner and, lo and behold, there in front of them was a pile-up. The driver slammed on the brakes, but they could not stop – and slammed into the back of a car.

She was catapulted through the front window of the car, and on her way through, as you can imagine, she sustained deep gashes in her left cheek.

Everyone thought she would be sad and depressed. But she did not lose her joy in the Lord. Even in this difficult situation, she saw that God had saved her life and that she still had a future! God’s Hand was upon her! 

She was still drawing water out of the wells of salvation!

Fifteen years later, a friend who had lost touch with the family met her mother and asked how she was doing…

She explained that her daughter had become so intrigued by her hospital stay that she became a nurse and held a good job at the hospital. While there she met a doctor and they were married. And since then, they had been blessed with two children.

It was the joy of the Lord that made her attractive, not her skin! Her outlook was not one of misery and depression – but of joyful and confident and healthy optimism! And we all know, it shows!

A very insightful theologian once wrote: Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.

Do we have it? Do we have this joy in our hearts… and our souls… and our spirits… because of God’s gracious dealings with us? 

With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

World without end. Amen.

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