13 August 2015

The Oil of Joy for Mourning

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, 
because the Lord has anointed meto proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, 
to proclaim freedom for the captives 
and release from darkness for the prisoners, 
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor 
and the day of vengeance of our God, 
to comfort all who mourn, 
and provide for those who grieve in Zion— 
to bestow on them a crown of beauty 
instead of ashes,the oil of joy 
instead of mourning, 
and a garment of praise 
instead of a spirit of despair. 
They will be called oaks of righteousness, 
a planting of the Lord 
for the display of his splendor.  
~Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV
 This morning when I woke, I got up and began to make my bed. As I did, I suddenly remembered a time in the recent past when I cried out to my God in mourning, wrestling in prayer for something so dear to my heart. The contrast between that moment and this morning's rising stood out starkly in my mind and heart, and I thought, "He truly does give the oil of joy for mourning".

In looking up that passage this morning, the surrounding verses make that phrase even more beautiful. What an amazing and beautiful task Isaiah was given, to write these verses about the One who would come to save, and Who then would send His Spirit to us, tasking us thus:
And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 
~2 Corinthians 5:15-21
 These words from Isaiah declare the mission of those who have received the love of God, and are new creatures in Christ . . . and what a work that is! I can't imagine a better work, than, empowered by Christ Jesus through His Holy Spirit, to proclaim good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, release prisoners from darkness, comfort the mourning, to facilitate the receipt of beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, and to utterly abolish despair with praise of the Living God.

Father God, use me, please. Show me Your will, Your desires. Give me Your eyes today, and Your heart, to respond with love. Let me be open in my praise and joyful in my interactions, fearless and gentle, because You love me. I long to see the people of God flourish as a planting of Your own, a beautiful display of Your splendor. You astound me, God, the strength and kindness of Your heart, and the unlimited potential for all who rely upon You. Move in Your people, Father. In Jesus' name, amen.



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I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!