Summary: Everyone’s got their ideas of what Jesus would be like if he lived today. . . but this sermon takes a look at some prophecies about Jesus, and identifies what He’d be like today. *HANDOUT INCLUDED*
Let me ask you: What is God like? What is Jesus like?
Jason - it’s great to have him here.
I asked him what I should preach...Revelation, you can’t go wrong with 10-headed monsters. . .
John 1:18 - No man has seen God – Jesus has “declared” explained Him.
1. He trades our ashes for his beauty.
Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
Isaiah 61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,;
Isaiah 61:3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."
How many of you have ever been in the Exchange Lane at Wal-mart? After Christmas, Wal-mart handles so many returns that they set up special lanes that do nothing but take returned merchandise. The exchange lane is wonderful - all those things you can’t use, or you didn’t want. You can take them back!
I like to call this passage “God’s Exchange Counter”. This is the place where God makes HIS exchanges. If you’re not satisfied with your merchandise, you can return it here.
But there are some crucial differences between Wal-mart’s Exchange Counter and God’s Exchange counter.
1. Wal-mart says “Exchange for something of equal value.”
But God says “I’ll give you beauty if you’ll bring me the ashes!”
2. Wal-mart says “Exchange for anything you want.”
But God says “I’ll exchange -- if you’ll live for me!”
3. Wal-mart says “You can only exchange what you bought at our store.”
But God says, “I’ll exchange, it doesn’t matter where you got messed up at!”
There was a poet who turned 33 and summed his life up like this:
Down life’s road so grim and dirty,
I have dragged to three-and-thirty,
What have these years brought to me?
Nothing but thirty-three.
It may be that you feel like that poet. You might not be 33, but you know the feeling — I’ve lived this long and accomplished just about nothing, I’ve gained nothing! I’ve only succeeded in messing up the years I’ve had! Well, I have good news. . . when you walked into this church today, you brought your big bag of the ashes of your life with you, you walked up to God’s exchange counter, and there’s a great big OPEN sign flashing over the door!
God’s behind the counter saying:
Bring me your sadness – I’ll give you my joy!
Bring me your problems – I want to give you real solutions!
Bring me the things you don’t understand – I want to give you answers!
Bring me your broken health – I want to give you sufficient grace!
Bring me your pointless life – I want to give it real meaning!
Bring me the ashes of your life – I want to give you something beautiful in return!
2. He sees value where others see trash. Is. 42:3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
We live in a throw-away society. Everything’s disposable. Paper plates, disposable cameras, Q-tips. . . if there’s no value left in it, throw it away! After living in this kind of an atmosphere for a while, it can be easy to take on that attitude toward people – They are disposable.
I used to work at Exel, the warehouse up the road processing returned products. If you were to buy in the store the same stuff I have dumped into barrels to be landfilled, or thrown into the dumpster or donated to food banks, it would cost you over a million dollars, I’m sure! Why? They were a little damaged – someone pushed their forklift prongs into the bottom edge of the product, and it leaked – or it is a little overaged – or it sat in a warehouse somewhere and now has dust all over it. Procter and Gamble thinks nothing of dumping millions of dollars worth of product every year because it’s just not worth it for them to mess with it!
THAT’S the thought behind this passage – what is a REED? It’s just a piece of grass! It’s not worth much! In fact, if it’s bruised and about ready to fall over, it’s not worth ANYTHING! It’s TRASH!
Have you ever known someone who never threw anything away? You start to throw away anything, and they stop you: “Hey, don’t throw that away! I might be able to use that!” My wife will often see value in the things that no one else sees value in. We have been married less than a year and I have already stopped by the side of the road more than once to pick up something that someone else had left for the trash. In fact, there were a couple other times that we probably would’ve gone home with something else, but I put my foot down! “No, we are not taking that home!”