Sunday June 5, 2016 | Jo Saxton
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
?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.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations.
Jesus caused a stir in his community when he read the words from Isaiah 61 in his synagogue and announced their fulfillment through his own life and ministry. It’s no surprise; these words outline a powerful declaration of the Spirit of God at work. This sermon explores what happens for us everyday 21st Century believers as we embrace Isaiah 61. When the Spirit moves we are transformed; we become rescued and redeemed people that renew and rebuild communities.
We took a break from our Flesh and Blood series this weekend, with a message from a guest speaker, Jo Saxton. Jo emphasized the metaphor of thirst as it relates to our connection with the Spirit of God. One of the warning signs of dehydration and thirst is a headache and our job as Kingdom people is to be aware of those warning signs so that when the Spirit moves we are ready to listen and act. Jo’s sermon, titled When the Spirit Moves, moves through the signs of the movement of the Spirit in Isaiah 61:1-4 as it relates to the original context of Isaiah and how Jesus quotes that same text.
The first sign of the movement of the Spirit is shown through God’s rescuing love for the poor and destitute. The love of God is not simply information that can be digested, but actual rescue for those bound up as captives. Justice for the poor and destitute is what love looks like in public. The movement of the Spirit can bind up the brokenhearted who have lost everything while living under enemy occupation. Isaiah also notes that the year of the Lord’s favor, the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8) will accompany the Spirit’s presence and the land and the people will live in freedom.
The second sign of the movement of the Spirit is that redeemed lives will become oaks of righteousness for the good of others. Isaiah 61:3 notes that ashes, mourning, and despair will be replaced with beauty, joy and a garment of praise. The same people living in the despair of captivity will be transformed into the strength of an oak tree that can display the beauty and splendor of God. Jo called us to remember that the things God has given you can be given to others to bless them. Isaiah 61:4 emphasizes this calling of the people of God by noting that these same broken people will rebuild, restore and renew the city that has been destroyed.
We are called to become more aware of our own areas of thirst and seek out the rescue of God so that we can become the oaks of righteousness that God would use to bless and bring rescue to others. Paul notes in Ephesians 5:18 that we are to be continually “filled with the Spirit” so that we can truly proclaim hope in the midst of despairing times.