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The Pilgrim Path (12-1-2020)

The Pilgrim Path---Isaiah Chapter 12 

You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

With JOY you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

“Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.

Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

WITH JOY…

One of the great themes of Isaiah’s preaching is: Rely upon the LORD and stop running to fake gods (that are no help at all). Well, the Followers of Jesus must keep “preaching” that message to themselves until they go to be with the Savior. This is because the false gods “are” quite alluring---and we do not always believe the simple dictates of Holy Scripture. We may “get off” the path for a while---like Christian, in Bunyan’s---The Pilgrim’s Progress. We may think that “joy” may be had from some “other” well---than the Pure Well of Salvation that the LORD provides. That is what living in the world does to you at times---rattles the brain and confuses the, “ways of the Age” with the, “ways of GOD.” Hey, come back! The LORD is our strength and song. Come “draw” from the wells of salvation---as IF for the first time!

This Season of Advent is the time of JOY. There are some individuals that are going to find joy--- extremely hard to find. I have known folk to seek “joy” in a bottle, with the Lotto, with someone else’s spouse, with a change of location, through blame, through deceit, and by spending money they do not even have. Still joyless. As a Christian, I have allowed myself---as Warren Wiersbe used to say, “to be robbed of JOY by those 4 awful thieves: Circumstances / People / Worry / Things.” I must remember the John Wesley adage: “Glance at your problems---and GAZE at Jesus.” My problem: sometimes I just allow circumstances, people, worry, and things---to loom too large. Then, I cannot even begin to draw from the wells of salvation---Hear from God’s Word or listen in prayer. The LORD Jesus did not save any of Us to forget Us---did He? The LORD Jesus came to knit Us to Himself and Heaven. He loves Us---and is always working for our good (Romans 8: 28). He has remade Us from the inside out---and He will one day---form a New Heavens and a New Earth. This establishes JOY---and feeds JOY.

From Johann Christoph Arnold: Too often people exert themselves in trying to solve a problem their way and realize later that their preoccupation does nothing but worsen the situation. In such cases it is better to leave it in God’s hands and let him take care of it.

From Raymond Ortlund, Jr—Joy comes naturally to the wise (Proverbs 8: 30-31), and joyous vitality grows within us through the fear of the LORD (Proverbs 3: 7-8), humble contentment (Proverbs 15: 16-17), and frequent exposure to the good news of the gospel (Proverbs 15: 30).

From J. I. Packer: The various things wrong with the folk to whom Jesus is seen ministering in the Gospels---hunger, chronic illness, fever, epilepsy, blindness, deafness, dumbness, lameness, leprosy, lunacy, organic deformity, and in three cases actual death---vividly picture these spiritual needs (and were undoubtedly included in the Gospels for that purpose). But Jesus Christ gives peace---with God, with oneself, with circumstances, and with other people---plus his own presence and friendship, plus a call to witness and service as the priority concerns of life in this world, plus a promise of enabling by the Holy Spirit, plus an assurance of final glory in the Savior’s own company, and this brings integration, purpose, contentment, and joy such as one has not known before. And the promise is that as one travels the road of discipleship, so these things will increase.

In this story, God’s goal is a purpose of compassion, namely to impart to us by this means the joy for which we were made; and the gospel call is a summons to enter through faith and obedience into the joy that Christ gives…

From C. S. Lewis: In this world everything is upside down. That which, if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. JOY is the serious business of Heaven.

“…think of joy as a Christ-like reaction to depressing circumstances” (Colossians 3: 5).---another quote from J. I. Packer

From Jerry Bridges: The purpose of joy is to glorify God by demonstrating to an unbelieving world that our loving and faithful heavenly Father cares for us and provides for us all that we need…We are to be thankful all the time. This does not mean we are to be thankful “for” a difficult circumstance, considered in itself. Rather, we are to give thanks “in the midst” of every circumstance, good or bad. We are to be thankful that God is working in this circumstance for our good. We are to be thankful for past deliverances from trials. We are to be thankful that in this present trial God will not allow a greater burden than we can bear, and that his grace is sufficient to enable us to bear it. And as we give thanks to God we will begin to experience once again the JOY that is our heritage in Christ.

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33).

HYMN

While by the sheep we watched at night,

Glad tidings brought an angel bright.

How great our joy! Great our joy!

Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!

Praise we the LORD in heaven on high!

Praise we the LORD in heaven on high!

There shall be born, so he did say,

In Bethlehem, a child today.

There shall the child lie in a stall,

This child who shall redeem us all.

This gift of God we’ll cherish well,

That ever joy our hearts shall fill.

German Carol / trans. anon.

Grace and Peace in Jesus, the Only Redeemer of broken and wretched souls, Pastor Jason