This week, our church sermon passage is on Daniel and the topic of ashes and repentance. In this season of Lent, it is indeed appropriate to reflect on what Christ has done on the cross, the costly grace and salvation that came at the price of our Saviour’s own life for the sins of the world. How often do we take for granted and let slip to the corners of our minds our wretched and sinful state, before we were led to repent of our sins and acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord?

Yet as much as we should not shortcut the process of salvation, and belittle the value and place of godly mourning, sorrow, and repentance, God’s word in Isaiah 61.1-3 proclaims,

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor …
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour …
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion –
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of a spirit of despair.

True repentance and Spirit-led life-change leads to a lifetime of beauty and everlasting joy (Isa. 61:7). God is in the business of touching and transforming lives, to bestow comfort for mourning, beauty for ashes, and gladness for despair. That is the true and amazing power and hope we have in the gospel message – while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). Have you experienced God’s saving grace and salvation in your life? Consider what Christ has done for you and I. Is there a loved one or friend in your life that has yet to come to know the Lord? May God equip and grant you His favour to proclaim His good news, and be an agent of hope and reconciliation for the Lord. May one and all come to experience Christ and be blessed with beauty for ashes this Easter weekend!

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