Thursday, 21 February 2008

"Praise completes the joy"

In recent days, I've been working through Isaiah with Allan Harman's excellent commentary. I'm not sure I've ever worked all the way through Isaiah in one period of time, and I'm understanding the heart of his prophecy more and more.

One chapter that particularly stood out to me is chapter 12, which is a little gem. It looks forward beyond Jesus' death and resurrection (or, in Isaiah's language, the second exodus brought about by Immanuel), and the response of God's people.

The focus of verses 1-3 is the deliverance that God has brought his people ('although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me') and the wonder joy that saved people experience.

The focus of verses 4-6 is on the response that saved people make. One of these is spontaneous praise and thanksgiving to God. The other is to proclaim how wonderful God is to everyone! ('make known among the nations what he has done ... let this be known to the whole world').

I'm currently on mission with the University of Central Lancashire CU. It's tempting to want to guilt trip people into getting involved in evangelism or to whip them up into an emotional frenzy. But what's Isaiah's approach? It's this: remember the truths of the gospel. As the gospel truths permeate your mind and your heart and your soul, then that will inevitably lead to joyful thanksgiving and the desire to tell others of God's goodness and wonder, shown in his saving work.

I once remember reading that CS Lewis commented wisely, 'Praise completes the joy.' When we see a beautiful sunset, or hear a wonderful piece of music or witness a terrific goal, we can't help but tell others. Praise completes the joy! I'm praying that for me and for members of UCLan CU, declaring God's praises to the nations represented on campus in Preston complete the joy of the gospel that we experience, and ever drive us deeper into the wonderful gospel and the wonderful God that's behind it all.

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