The Oil of Joy
Scripture: (Isaiah 61:1-3) The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
God is so good. He gives us the desires of our hearts as we delight in Him. I know many of us are going through some tough times right now. Sometimes it is hard to see the hand of God in your situation. Sometimes we do not understand how god could allow things to go on like this. Sometimes we know that only God can see us through these struggles. A very close friend of mine just died this week and I will be performing the memorial service. It is going to be one of the hardest things that I have done as a minister. His Name was Mark Poston. Many of you have heard me talk of him in the past. Mark lived a wild and sinful life. It was just one year ago that Mark turned his life over to Jesus. Some would say it was a little too late. I would say it was none too late. You see Mark and I had a lot in common. We shared the same birthday. He was one year older than me. We both struggled with alcoholism. By the grace of God I have won that that battle. We both looked for God in many different religions. Guess what? He is not there. It is the relationship that matters, Not the religion. So I am going to miss Mark Poston but only for a short while because I know where he is. And I know that I am going to be there soon. It was Tuesday night when I visited Mark’s Hospital room. His father had called and told me that the doctors said it wouldn’t be long. I prayed the whole 30-minute drive there. I was still praying as I entered ICU and saw him there. He had been loosing a lot of blood and was very weak but he was conscious and alert. As soon as he noticed me he looked up and asked; “Last rites?” I told him yes it was time. We prayed together, we joked a little to one another. It was good to see him smile. He had such a contagious smile. As I read him scriptures he drifted off to sleep. As I was saying my good byes he woke up and told me that he would see me soon. And I know he was right. You know I did ask him to put a good word in for me. I figured it couldn’t hurt. I will always remember his smile. I can see it sometimes in his father’s smile. We all need to smile more.
So what I need tonight is some of that oil of joy for mourning. I want to go over some basic stages that we all go through in grieving. I know I have gotten stuck in one or two of them before, so looking at them might help us all know that God has the stuff to help us slide on through the rough parts on our way to Him. The basic five stages of grief that we are going to look at today are as follows:
This is not an exhaustive list. Neither does the order have any relevance. This is mearly a look at some of the stages of grief in the hope that we will all be encouraged to not only go on with life but to once again, or maybe even for the first time totality enjoy the experiences of life. Jesus said that He came that we might have life and more abundantly. God wants us to live life to its fullest. It is His gift to us. Satan has stolen so much of our joy and often he took it as easy as taking candy away from a baby.
Wait- I have to tell you this one. Mark’s father told me about the other night and he said it reminded him of Mark. He was talking about W.C. Fields. Apparently W. C. Fields was not a religious man at all. But once when He was real sick and in the hospital a friend came to visit him. When his friend walked into his room he saw W. C. reading a Bible. So he just had to ask him what he was doing. After a short pause W. C. Fields replied in the way only he could; “Well, I’m looking for loopholes!”
We all can relate to that I think. But do you know what there is no loopholes. There is no forgiveness of sin without the remission of blood. God Himself paid the price for our failures. And all we have to do is accept his free gift of eternal abundant life. Mark did. I’m glad of that. But I will miss him. You know the first thing I felt was anger. I was angry at life link for not giving him a liver. I was angry at the methadone clinics for keeping him hooked for what 15 years. I was angry at myself for not doing more. I could have done more. I should have done more. The Bible tells us to be angry and sin not. It is ok to be angry. It is ok to experience and express your anger. Just keep it under the submission of God. Give it to God and then true justice will be done. What ever you do don’t hang onto it. Do not let that anger boil within you bones. It will only hurt yourself and no good will come out of it. Find out exactly what it is that you’re angry about and give it to God. I found out it was alcohol. I hate that destructive demonic force. Drugs and alcohol are the tools of satan and unless we wake up and show the world that there is a better way we are gong to see a lot more memorial services of our friends and family. Give you anger to God and he can use it to make a difference.
The biggest deception of alcohol is the next stage that I want to look at; denial. It is hard to believe that I will never receive another phone call from Mark. It is hard for his Dad and Mom to think that they do not have him there to worry over. It is hard to come to grips with the lost that we all experience in times like this. I think it is an escape mechanism. One of them things that are real helpful in traumatic times but become a detriment in real life situation. I remember when I was in a car accident in Nichols. Two of my friends died. I was in the back seat. I still to this day can not remember what happened. All my mind allows me to recall is comforting the young man next to me as we both came to realize the tragic event that just took place. In times like that I think it’s a good thing to have this denial thing going on. But when it comes to sin…. Now that’s a different story.
We all need to stop lying to ourselves and stop denying that we do not have a sin problem. I do not care if it is with drugs or alcohol or food or pornography or anger or whatnot. Whatever is taking precedence over God is sin. The sooner we get out of denial of it the sooner God will be able to heal us completely and restore us to that right relationship with him. But do you what holds most of us back. Fear.
Fear is the next stage of grief and it has a hold on so many people in so many different ways. Fear of change. Fear of growing old. Fear of being alone. Fear on being around people. Fear of driving. Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear of not being needed. Do you know that when God wants to get his point across He will say it more than once. God says “fear not” 63 times in the King James Version, and another 23 times He tells us to “Be not afraid.” Now again. Fear is I good thing when it is used rightly. Like say around wild animals that are foaming at the mouth. And no I am not taking about Saturday night at the local bar. The point is we need to trust God. I know that that is hard when you are looking at being alone for the first time or having to support a family as a single mom. But trust me. If you will place all your weight on God he will lift you up and not only see you through this rough time he will take you to new hights. So stand tall and know that God is in control.
Before I go any further I want to pay tribute to a woman who God has built up in times of hardship. My sister-in-law Vickie is such an inspiration. Her husband passed away in a car accident last year and she was left alone with four children. Yes it was the most difficult time in her life. Yes her entire world was turned upside down and inside out but she knew where her strength if any was going to come from and she continues to do great things completely trusting in the Lord. He is our strength. He is our provider. He is the God that heals. Thank you Vickie for demonstrating to all of us Gods strength in you.
Now for one of the hardest battles to fight. This is an area that so many people get stuck in and some never get out. It is that valley of depression. It is easy to get there. There is so much to be depressed about. We all need to find someone that we can express our emotional pain to.
Too may Americans are on Prozac today. I know There are so many more that we can think of that maybe should be on something. The fact is depression is becoming an epidemic. That is where we finally get back to our scripture for today and hopefully some encouragement for tomorrow. It is as if we have a heavy cloud over us, or as the verse tells us a garment of heaviness. Thanks be to God He gives us the answer we need. It is the oil of joy. Proverbs tells us that laughter does good like a medicine. We need to laugh more. And not that fake laughter you do when you didn't even understand somebody's dumb joke. I mean that good old clean knee slappin laughter you hopeful had as a kid. Remember you must come to God as a child. That is with child like faith and child like joy. My five year old little girl will get to giggling and you would thing she would wet herself. Oh wait I’m a preacher, I cant talk like that. Come on lets get real. Lets stop being so pious and start enjoying life again. We do not need to be chemically impaired to revive the child within us. That is the key. That child within us. Lets look for it this week. Take some time this afternoon to think back and remember some good times when you were young. That is where you will meat God.
Oh the last stage; acceptance. That the question I have for you. Have you accepted Jesus as you Lord and savior. Have you made Him your all in all. If you have that maybe you just need a fresh touch today. Have you ever felt his hand upon your shoulder? Have you ever known true peace in the arms of the creator. It is available to you right now. “Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.” Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart right now. Wont you let him in. Give Him the center place in your life. When you do everything else will bloom forth and your questions will be answered.
Heavenly Father. I need you today. I trust you today Jesus as my Lord and My Savior. Forgive me for putting other people and things in front of you. Please take center stage in my life. There is a lot of pain that I have to give you but you know it all. You have the perfect cure for what ails me and you will provide for my every need. Lord God I trust in you. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and make me more like Jesus every day. Thank you for delivering me out of the pit of depression. Thank you for pulling me out of the trap of fear. Thank you for waking me up from the dream of denial. Thank you for taking my anger and turning all my pain into Joy. But mostly thank you for loving me more than I even know. You are an awesome God. Help me to learn how to praise you for you are worthy. Stay with me now never leave me. I need you. In Jesus name I pray;
Pastor Bob Richardson
Calvary Open Bible Church
11 McMullen Booth Rd.
Clearwater, Fl. 33759