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Many years ago, I read a passage of Scripture that I took as my very own. I read and re-read it, trying to understand what it meant to my life. Then I ignored it for a very long time, feeling that I just didn’t get it. I took it back up again, knowing that it had been whispered especially to me and I couldn’t forget it. That passage was Isaiah 58; it’s about what true fasting is, what the Father expects of us as his people, and what our impact in the community is supposed to be about. I’m reading a similar passage this morning – Isaiah 61. This is the passage that Jesus said he had come to fulfill in his first in-the-flesh verbal message to the world.
“The Spirit of the God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace – a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies – and to comfort all who mourn, to care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit. Rename them “Oaks of Righteousness”, planted by God to display his glory. They’ll rebuild old ruins, raise a new city out of wreckage. They’ll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new.” Isaiah 61:1-4 The Message
This is the message of Jesus – good news . . . healing . . . freedom . . . pardon . . . grace . . . celebration . . . comfort . . . care . . . joy . . . praise . . . and a people busy rebuilding, not tearing down. Oh, and roses . . .
Every morning there’s a knocking at the door. Jesus is there, arms full with a beautiful bouquet of roses just for me. I can run joyfully to the door, fling it open and take the roses with gratitutde. Or I can stay in the house, convinced there is nothing good waiting for me in this day. This is the war . . . iff I don’t take the roses . . . the grace, joy, comfort, healing . . . what do I have to give away?
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I think I’ll go out today and buy some roses for my home, as a reminder that Jesus mission was to give me roses instead of ashes, and that my bouquet is what I have to give to others.