Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. John 8:1-6
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him …. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. Ephesians 1:3-4A, 7-8A
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
Our God is a redemptive God. It is His nature to restore, rebuild, redeem. The Isaiah verse gives a wonderful description of the amazing restorative work God has in mind for His people. The picture of God exchanging a crown of beauty (garland) for ashes is just the depiction we need for fully grasping our emphasis in this week’s Devotionals. God is not a bully! God is all about beauty and not ashes. Bullies (the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees) are all about ashes and not beauty. God and beauty win over bullies and ashes in the story of the woman caught in adultery (or rather the woman rescued from adultery). God and beauty are supposed to win out every time over bullies and ashes, aren’t they?
But, doesn’t our experience far too often shout the opposite. Are there any of us that don’t struggle with doubt as to whether beauty and not ashes will ever really have the upper hand in our lives? Are there any of us that are not weary of hearing again and again the promise of beauty when ashes seem so much more real and prominent in our daily experience? I believe God has given us more than just the promise of beauty for ashes and even more than just the provision of beauty for ashes through His Son, Jesus Christ. I believe God has given us keys of right understanding that can open the locks on the chains that keep us from experiencing the beauty promised and provided for us in Christ.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, I want your promise of true change in my life to be realized. I confess that sometimes it seems quite remote. Show me the way to victory. Unlock the chains that keep me from genuine transformation. Grant me true beauty for ashes. Amen!
Posted on Mon, January 6, 2020
by Ken Hart