Sing with me:
I need no other argument
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died
And that He died for me.
Let’s appreciate the love of God who in His mercy has spared us to see yet another beautiful day.
This morning, let’s look at a message, entitled:
BEAUTY FOR ASHES
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.” Isaiah 61:3 KJV
Ashes have often been the symbol of deep repentance and grief.
As the days of Lent are acknowledged each year, we see all around us the visual reminders of ashes on foreheads, and this is a reminder of one Truth, “…for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Gen. 3:19
Life is not always filled with happy moments:
Sometimes it hurts.
Sometimes it’s hard.
Sometimes it’s dark.
And it leaves its mark, like ashes of grief, in the deepest parts of our souls, where no one but only God can really see.
You would understand if you’ve ever felt any of these ashes:
Have you ever lost a loved one, say Dad, Mum, Spouse or even a child or had to say good-bye too soon, left to journey through dark days of grief, wondering if you would ever be able to carry on without them at your side?
Have you ever received a hard diagnosis, faced the fear of the unknown, and felt the effects of disease and pain like I experienced in 2016 when I was told that my heart had to be operated upon?
Have you ever been deeply wounded, betrayed, abused, or mistreated?
Have you ever walked through the fire of hard situations and wondered if you would come out the other side like I did when I was retrenched I 1996 by the bank I worked for and for two solid years, I was hunting for jobs without success?
Even if you have not experienced any of the above, at least, you have experienced a house imprisonment/arrest of lock down as a result of Corona virus and you were unable to either transact any business, celebrate your birthday the way you planned, travel out for holidays, take your children to school, or visit your loved ones because of lock down.
Yes, it is true, life is not always filled with happiness. It is not always easy. It deals harshly sometimes, it seems unfair, and we may wonder where God is, or why He didn’t stop that difficult event or illness, or pandemic from happening.
Job, a righteous man, who loved God was in that situation. He lost everything. It crumbled around him, all he held dear. And he knew without God, he was nothing.
“…he sat in the ashes.”Job 2:8
Daniel was there. He and the people had suffered under captivity, he prayed to God on behalf of his people, that God would have mercy. He repented, and confessed his own sin, his deep need for God, from whom true strength and help came from,
“Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3
Tamar, David’s daughter was there. She had trusted her half brother and yet was betrayed. She was taken advantage of, raped, and was left on her own, alone, with no hope for her bleak future, to pick up the broken pieces of her shattered life.
“And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went.”2 Sam. 13:19
The above Bible characters would have wondered, if God exist at all.
Where was God in it all? Where is He now in this lockdown? Deep grief of the infected patients in the Isolation Centres, terrorism of the Boko Haram’s sect, as well as that of the one million boys, captivity of the kidnappers demanding ransome, illness, death of loved ones, shattered hope, and broken dreams?
As Christians, we must know that He was, and is still there, in the midst of it all.
“To provide for those who grieve.
To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.” Isaiah 61:3
For He will never leave us or forsake us, His love for us is greater than we can ever imagine, though we live in a world where we face trouble many days.
Jesus reminds us inJohn 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble, but take courage, for I have overcome the world.”
And that’s the key to the ashes that cover our days in this life. The deeper Truth that shines through every bit of our grief, and pain, and sin, is that:
Christ came to set us free.
Christ came to redeem us.
Christ came to bring hope.
Christ came to bring beauty from ashes.
He never intends for us to stay stuck in our sin, pain, or deep sorrow. Therefore:
He heals and restores, He calls us onward, He reminds us that in Him, we have great purpose and hope.
There’s beauty and greatness behind every mark of darkness.
The ashes, this pandemic, your barrenness, joblessness, unfruitfulness among others will fall away, they don’t stay forever, but His greatness and glory shine forever through every broken place and flaw we have struggled through.
Jesus conquered death. He lives forever. He reigns in glory. And we have victory in Him.
Brethren, take courage if you are facing deep battles. Jesus is greater than any enemy we face in this life. We overcome because He has overcome and our lives are hidden in Him.
Sing with me:
He has given me the oil of gladness
The garment of praise instead of mourning
A shining crown instead
And glory in the place of despair.
Shall We Quickly Pray The Following Prayers Before We Continue:
1. Father, please give me your peace that surpasses human understanding.
2. Father, please bring healing to those who are sick in the face of hard news.
3. Father, please give me deep, abiding joy that makes no sense to the world.
4. Father, please bring comfort and care as you wrap me in your arms.
5. Father, you are the God of miracles, please fight for me today.
IN JESUS NAME.
Brethren, there is still beauty ahead…straight out of the ashes of this lockdown.
The only thing that can hinder you from having your ashes exchanged for crown of beauty is if you don’t have relationship with Jesus.
Therefore, if you truly desire Beauty for Ashes, then you need to give your life to Jesus Christ now.
God bless you as you do that even where you are now.
Let us pray:
1. Father, in this way that seems to be too dark, where we feel like our lives have been marked by such grief and pain, where we don’t see how our circumstance can ever change, please appear and exchange our ashes for crown of beauty.
2. Father, in the midst of my weakness, please arise and be strong on my behalf.
3. Father, rise up within me, let your Spirit shine out of every broken place I have walked through.
4. Father, allow your power to manifest through my weakness, so that others will recognize it is You who is at work on my behalf.
5. Father, please trade the ashes of my life for the beauty of your Presence.
6. Father, please trade my mourning and grief for the oil of joy and gladness from your Spirit.
7. Father, please trade my despair for hope and praise.
8. Father, thank you because I believe that this season of darkness (put your situation that represents ashes) will fade away.
9. Father, thank you for I know that you are with me and that you are greater than any trial I may be facing now.
10. Father, thank you in anticipation of the victory that is mine because of Jesus Christ
11. Father, thank you because of the confidence that you have given me this morning that there is still better future for me.
12. Father, thank you that you are at work right now, trading my ashes for greater beauty.
13. Father, I offer you praise, for I know you will make all things new for me.
IN JESUS NAME.
God Loves You
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Thank You Jesus.
Father! In The Mighty Name Of Jesus Christ Your Son! We Cover Your Son Pastor E A Adeboye With The Precious Blood Of Jesus! He Shall Finish Strong, To Your Glory Through Christ Jesus Our Lord And Saviour! Amen!
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