Thursday, February 28, 2013

Joy for Mourning: Isaiah 61:1-4

 Excerpt from Soul Cries Devotional: copyright Regan 2012

Isaiah 61:1-4 (New International Version)

The LORD has anointed me…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. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

This scripture is prophetic of the coming Messiah. In Luke 4, Jesus read Isaiah chapter 61 in the synagogue, which is also when He proclaimed His mission publicly. Let’s read these first few verses together. They are so striking. The Lord anoints Jesus to bring an opposite spirit to a situation steeped in darkness. He is to bring beauty instead of ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of despair. God calls us to the same mission. When we see lack, we are to trust in the abundance of God. When we are surrounded by hatefulness, we are to act in a spirit of peace and honor. When we sense fear around us, we are to shout out the faithfulness of God. We are created to walk in the spirit of God’s light and to oppose the spirit of darkness.

See what Isaiah says next. He says that when those who grieve are given beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and praise for despair, they will be a living monument to the glory, splendor, and goodness of God. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places that have been devastated for generations. Those who were given joy instead of grief were restored, and in turn, they would restore the ruins around them, ruins that had been devastated for generations. The restored people would become the restorers.

1. In what way are you and your household a people who grieve? God comes to bring you beauty, joy, and praise. Declare this over your children and your household today.

2. When you experience the restoration of God, you become a restorer. In what ways have you been a restorer of devastation around you? How can you teach your children to live in a restoration spirit, clothed in the beauty, joy, and praise that God brings?