Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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Lent 4 – March 10, 2013 – Isaiah 12:1-6 “Joy In God’s Salvation”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Old Testament Lesson just read, from Is. 12.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • Joy is a wonderful thing.  There are lots of things that make us happy – although sometimes they seem to be in short supply.  However, joy is a more powerful thing, a much deeper thing – happiness on steroids, perhaps.  So joy is something that is quite attractive and appealing, something that we greatly delight in. 
  • God is the Creator of all things – and He has fearfully and wonderfully made us.  So also the capacity to experience joy is the gift of God, and something He wants us to have.  However, with the fall into sin all of the good things that God wants us to delight in have been corrupted – and this includes our experience of joy.  Sin is negative and destroys joy – so it also seems that joy is a rather rare experience.  Sin also points us in the wrong directions, and distorts our perceptions – and so sin also offers us a number of things which promise joy, but which simply can’t deliver true and enduring joy. 
  • This is why the “joy of God’s salvation” is so important to us – and should be of ultimate importance to us.  Where everything else is tainted by sin, God’s salvation is deliverance from sin – and so it provides us with our first taste of “untainted” joy.  So our text promises:  “with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”  This is what church is all about – our worship, our meditation on God’s Word, and our reception of our Savior’s blessed meal of communion – “drawing joy from the wells of salvation.”
  • But of course we recognize that:

 

I.  There Are Plenty Of Things To Distract Us From This Joy In God’s Salvation, Things Which Offer Us False Joy

 

Gospel Lesson:  “Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me. . . .  Not many days later, the younger son gathered all that he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.”  [he “devoured your property with prostitutes”]

 

Statement:  The young man looked for joy in wealth and property, in freedom from his family and freedom from accountability, and in all the “pleasures” that money and wealth provide.  He doesn’t seem all that different from us – we too seek the “joys” that wealth provides:  financial security, various pleasures and luxuries [houses, cars, recreational toys, vacations, and expensive recreation and entertainment].  No, perhaps we are not so undisciplined as to waste money on prostitutes and other vices – drugs and drunkenness and orgies.  However, we certainly spend a good deal of our time and energy seeking our “joys” in such material possessions.

 

Application:  And sadly, these worldly “joys” often compete directly with the “JOY OF GOD’S SALVATION” – in that they take us out of church, away from God’s Word and participation in Christ’s precious meal of communion.  They compete for our attention and devotion and energy – so that often we are so tired from work that we have nothing left for the things of God’s salvation, the things of His kingdom, and the life of the church.  In fact, we can become so busy pursuing these things that we spend little time even thinking about the “JOY OF GOD’S SALVATION.” 

 

Transition:  And as we see in our text, and as we have often experienced,

 

II.  These Things Of The Sinful Flesh – Wealth, Pleasures, And The Pride Of Man – Have No Abiding Joy

 

Gospel:  “When he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs.  And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.”

 

Statement:  Well, we learn that these things of the sinful flesh have no enduring “joy” when we have become sated and filled with them.   And sooner or later we will all come to the point when we can no longer indulge in them anyway – whether because of wastefulness which drives us to poverty, or some natural disaster, or some economic disaster, OR simply because of aging and the loss of health and the ability to enjoy these things.  I know that all of this is hard to imagine when we’re young and healthy – in the prime of physical life, or even when we are middle-aged.  But look around you – especially in the nursing homes, or simply ask the elderly how enjoyable life is when you find it difficult even to walk.  Then consider – do you really think that your life is heading in some other direction than that of every other human being?

 

Application:  So “worldly wisdom” says:  “fully invest yourself in getting these pleasures, and you will find joy in them.”  However, God’s wisdom says:  “There is no real or enduring joy in these things, the things of this world below.”  But His Word promises:  “with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”   So also the Lord Jesus has assured us:

 

John 15:11  “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

 

And you remember that He also prayed to our Heavenly Father:

 

John 17:13  “But now I am coming to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.”

 

Transition:  And so God assures us that:

 

 III.  It Is God’s Gracious Salvation Alone Which Gives Us True And Eternal Joy

 

A.  Though We Must Repent Of The Things We Do Which Make God Angry

 

Text:  “I will give thanks to You, O Lord, for though You were angry with me, Your anger turned away, that You might comfort me.”

 

B.  For God Comforts Us With His Gracious Mercy And Forgiveness – He Has Become Our Salvation

 

Text:  “Behold, God is my salvation . . .  He has become my salvation.”

 

C.  So He Alone Is Our Strength And Song Of Joy

 

Text:  “I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song.”

 

D.  And As We Joy In His Salvation We Call On Him And Make His Deeds Known – And This Is Our Joy

 

Text:  “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 known in all the earth.’”

 

Statement:  Was there any joy in the young man’s return to his father, in the parable Jesus told?  I know, the joy was mixed – he had to live with what he had done, and couldn’t reverse his previous decisions.  But in comparison to where he had been – his joy must have been marvelous.  He was restored as a son – he was feted and celebrated in love.

 

Application:  It is true that we must understand the damnable and degrading choices and decisions that we have made in pursuing wealth and pleasures, and valuing them more highly than God.  If we don’t learn this now, from God’s Word, we will surely learn it from experience in the future. 

 

But we too can “return” from feeding the pigs, and “return” from hungering for “joy” in worldly pleasures.  We too can return to God’s house, to God’s salvation, and to the “JOY OF GOD’S SALVATION.”  This is why Christ came into this world, why He suffered the sinful opposition of wicked men, why He suffered death and rose again.  These are His “deeds” which make Him “our salvation.”  This is the “well of salvation” which He bids us to draw our joy from!

 

Conclusion:  What we long for, what we have so great a desire for, will all be fulfilled in God’s joy, the “JOY OF GOD’S SALVATION,” in the life which is to come.  When the distortion and perversion of sin has been removed from us in God’s heavenly kingdom, everything that gives us pleasure and enjoyment will be magnified immensely.  But nothing will ever compare to the “JOY OF GOD’S SALVATION.”  This is what the Lord Jesus supplies to you here, even this day, in His Word and His communion fellowship.  May He grant all of us the wisdom to find true and eternal joy here, in His salvation!  Amen!

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.