Our evangelist (and leader of the praise dance ministry) preached the Word today; though she drew from just three verses in the Book of Isaiah (61:1-3), ’twas more than enough – the sermon was fire!
Let’s look at the verses:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek. He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn, to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified. (Emphasis mine.)
Our evangelist’s sermon was appropriately titled beauty for ashes. The message was one of hope – whether one is in mourning (for whatever reason), brokenhearted, captive (not necessarily physically), and/or simply going through. Here are the main points I noted:
- God will console you in your mourning, no matter what you face (example: 1 Thess 4:9-18).
- “Ashes” in this sense can represent ungodly wants, a loss (e.g. of a loved one or a cherished possession), an attitude, one’s demeanor, etc. Hence, the beauty is what arises from God’s touch…
- We must lift each other up; depression and discouragement can sap joy (and hence, one’s interest in, devotion to, and/or desire for God).
- Be careful not to poison prayer with doubt (cf. James 1:5-8); if we reach out to God about our troubles and hurts, we must believe He’ll come through! Let us stand on faith, not doubt!
- Exchange worries and cares for God’s joy and peace; some situations are best left in His hands!
- Resist pride – God calls many, but chooses few (cf. Matt 20, esp. v. 16); commit to serving God fully, not just when it’s convenient to/for you! (Also see the Week 3 Synopsis.)
- God can replace negative sentiments and situations with beauty (beauty for ashes), if you submit to Him! (Note the end of Isaiah 61:3 – that He might be glorified!)
- Exercise your power, even when going through (see Psalm 23:4).
- Let God rebuild, redeem, and restore you as He did Zion (see Isaiah 62).
- Worship God in season and out (the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…)
One thing I’ll add: don’t let other cats label you – we are not our problems or situations! Our imperfections do not negate our gifts or our God-given beauty! Remember these things; I pray y’all may take these words to heart and be encouraged thereby. May God richly bless and fill you all!
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