Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Beauty for Ashes

 Scripture: Isaiah 61 v 1 - 3:  "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 broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 

2 to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 
3 to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garments 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."

We can only imagine the shock in the synagogue when Jesus read this portion of scripture and then declared, This day is this scripture fulfilled. He was declaring to the Pharisees that He was sent by God, anointed and chosen to be their Messiah, their deliverer.

I don't know who they expected their coming Messiah to be, or what He should do, but it was never going to be one who did not conform to their Law; who was humble against their pride; who was a Man of the people and not a high priest they would choose.

He gave us beauty for ashes. We are needing comfort for the loss and sorrow that has been inflicted upon us. Death is no stranger. We are constantly bombarded with it from the growing number of disasters afflicting this planet, causing much loss of life.   Out of the ashes of grief, His beauty will shine.

Jesus appointed us, every Christian, to have His compassion, love, humility, time, and gifts of healing and deliverance for those who are in need. We must give them beauty for ashes. We must comfort the sick, the afflicted, the dying and the bereaved by bringing them before the throne of God in prayer.  If possible we should go out among them and touch their lives with His loving-kindness.

When we have a gift from the Holy Spirit we must never neglect it. The more we apply and use what He has given us, the more fine-tuned we become to its effectiveness.  Let us bring our gifts to the altar of God to participate in the work He has for us. If we are not aware that we have spiritual gifts, just be available to the Lord. He treasures our availability more than our ability. He does.

Many able people are never available when He needs them. So He will enable those who show up. It may look like a high mountain to climb but when He sees that we are ready to climb, He equips us and suddenly the mountain is just a mound.

Jesus was sent to preach the good news to all who would listen.  He came to heal the broken-hearted.  He has bestowed these attributes upon us who follow Him.  He came to set at liberty them who are bruised in their souls.  They suffer from depression, suicidal thoughts, emotional pain like rejection, anger, disappointment, lust - Satan's substitute for love; the misery of divorce, poverty and fear.

He equips us to reach out to them and minister to their needs.  We do not need a university degree to do this.  We just need to know Jesus, have Him in our hearts, submit to Him and allow Him to use us as He wills.  That will bring beauty out of the ashes and create opportunities to bring people into God's Kingdom.

What does God's Kingdom have that we cannot find on Earth.  We are His ambassadors here, meaning our true home is not of this world.  We are here to promote His Kingdom and be a sanctuary for those who seek asylum from the torments and oppression of the world.  The church should be the embassy of God, the place of peace and safety, truth and love.  Sadly, many churches are not havens for the oppressed, but have become social clubs for entertainment and are just as worldly as the sinful world that has captured them.

If we read about the seven churches in Revelations 2 and 3, we will hear the cry of the heart of Jesus, who dictated those letters to John the Apostle.  They not only describe the churches of that age, but all through the ages to the present time.  The final letter is to the church of Laodicea, full of self-indulgence, wealth and pride but far from Jesus who said He word spit them out of His mouth because they were blind and useless.

He wants to see beauty in us, His beauty, His meekness, His unselfishness.  He will not accept compromise with sin, lack of integrity, corruption of morals as a substitute.  Such ministries will have their anointing removed i.e. their candles snuffed out, and will have to buy the oil to reignite them.  The fact that this oil of the Holy Spirit cannot be purchased with money eludes them, and they will miss the boat when the day of His appearing dawns.

If you have ever seen the movie Left Behind with Nicholas Cage, it shows the moment of the Rapture, and the fear of those who missed it.  His movie daughter, who has ignored her mother's salvation and all attempts to evangelize her, ends up in the church they belonged to and was shocked to find the Pastor there.  He asked her why she had not listened to him and she replied, Why? You did not listen to you!

We can only renew the lost anointing of the Holy Spirit by total repentance of what has brought about the destruction.   We have to get back to basics and remove every stumbling block to unity of spirit that has been erected through material wealth, false doctrines and practices, acceptance of worldly sins as permissible and not a problem.  What God has declared as sinful is never going to be acceptable to Him and will lead to condemnation.

The Lord is seeking unity of the Body of Christ, the invisible church.  This unity is characterized by obedience to the Word without divisions caused by things added to doctrine that are not scriptural.  When unity is achieved then proper direction will come as all will be travelling in the right direction.  Right now it's like sheep without a shepherd with each church doing their own thing.

Some churches are filled with the Holy Spirit and are manifesting the true love of Jesus.  Many churches do not allow the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be at work and their candles are barely flickering.  Mainstream denominations ignore the Holy Spirit completely and are the poorer for it.  They are the most traditional of churches and filled with worldviews.  Jesus said before He left that He wondered when He returned if He would find faith on Earth.

He will find it, and beauty for ashes too.  It is up to us to show what we know and believe to the dying souls all around us.  We carry within us the life of Jesus and only we can impart it to them. Those who respond to the needs all around will be called the sheep of the Lord destined for Heaven.

Prayer: Heavenly Father what a journey I have had these many years. It gets better and sweeter every day. I pray that everyone has that same courage and pioneering spirit You blessed me with to venture forth in faith to see the impossible happen. I pray that many will be available to You whenever You call on them for the harvest is ripe but the labourers are few. Let them see the beauty for ashes O God. In Jesus' name. Amen.