Gregory Dickow - Beauty for Ashes, He's God Who Raised the Dead
Well, happy resurrection Sunday, you know, today all across the nation and across the world, more people than ever before are at home on Easter joining church services online or right here on television. Just like you, we are still the church. We, as the body of Christ, still get to celebrate what Jesus did when he rose from the dead and when he conquered sin, death and the devil all in one fell swoop. You know, many people today, though, are still anxious. They're afraid. Or perhaps you're going through one of the toughest times of your life. Many of us have something damaged in our lives from our past. Life has burned us. Life has robbed us. The enemy, the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus wants you to experience the overflowing resurrection life of God.
And on today, this very unique and special Easter Sunday, I want to share with you a powerful message that I prepared just for you, just for this day, just for Resurrection Sunday, so that you will not only experience that Jesus is risen from the dead, God is the God who raises the dead. But he also takes all of our past, all of our pain, all the ashes of our lives and turns them into something beautiful. I want you to lean in and listen to this word from God for you today. And I want to connect with you right after this. Check this out. There's a story I'd like to share today about a little boy, he was about 10 or 11 years old and his name was Bobby and young Bobby years ago carried his new boat that he had just built to the edge of the river. He carefully placed it in the water and slowly let out the string.
How smoothly the boat sailed in this river, Bobbie sat in the warm sunshine admiring the little boat, the little boat that he had built when suddenly a strong current caught the boat. Bobby tried to pull it back to shore, but the string broke. You see the little boat race down the stream. And Bobby ran down the Sandy seashore as fast as he could to try to catch up with his little boat. But soon it slipped out of sight. All afternoon he searched for that boat because he had made it and he loved it. All afternoon he searched for that boat but couldn't find it. Finally, when it was too dark to look any longer, Bobbie sadly went home. A few days later, he was on his way home from school and Bobbie spotted a little boat just like his in the store window. When he got closer, he could see, sure enough, it was his boat, the very one that he had made. Bobbie hurried to the store manager and said, Sir, that's my boat in your window. I made it.
The store manager looked at Bobby and said, Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning, if you want it, you'll have to buy it for five dollars. Bobby ran home without hesitation and counted all of his money, exactly five dollars is what he had. So he went back to that store and he threw his five dollars on the counter and he said, here's the money for my boat, sir. And the store manager handed him over the little boat. As he left the store, Bobby hugged his little boat and said, Now you're twice mine. First I made you and now I've bought you. First, I made you and now I bought you, that's exactly what God says about you. You are twice his first. He made you and now he bought you. When did he buy you? He bought you when he paid for you in his own precious blood on the cross. First I made you and now I've bought you. You see, there's something very special and very valuable to this little boy when he gets back what was rightfully his. And you know what? He didn't argue. He didn't hesitate. He didn't fight. He didn't scream. He didn't he wasn't afraid to pay. He wasn't stingy about it. Whatever it cost, I want my boat back. That's my boat.
You know what? That's how God thinks about you. No matter how much it cost, no matter what it took. He wanted you back. He redeemed you with his blood, not with silver and gold, which perishes, the Bible says, but with the precious spotless blood of the lamb. He redeemed you. He bought you back. Why? Because you were his. And then Satan took you and Satan took me. And Satan took all of mankind. When he caused Adam and Eve to question the character nature of God, Satan got into this world and Satan got into the lives of mankind. But Jesus was willing to come and pay any price to get you back. You know why? Because you were his to begin with and he'll pay any price a second time to redeem you. But, you know, the good news today is he'll never have to pay again because his blood was enough. In fact, his blood was more than enough. And it's more than enough to heal you, more than enough to save you, more than enough to deliver you, more than enough to set you free. Today, his blood is more than enough.
You know, the resurrection is the most important and powerful event that is ever taking place in all of history and it's not reserved for us to think about it only on Easter, it's something that we're supposed to walk in the power of every day of our lives, the power of his resurrection. And and Paul talks about the power of his resurrection. And Jesus rises from the dead and reveals himself to his disciples, and they worshiped him. But, you know, we don't always feel the power of God, do we? We don't always feel the power of his resurrection. We don't always get up in the morning and have a sunny day and 70 degrees. Sometimes we have a Palm Sunday day where it snows eight inches before church even begins. But today, we have all risen with Christ. Today we're all seated with Christ and but you know what? We don't always feel the power of God in our chaotic world with so much evil and bad news swirling. We need an anchor. We need to have a strength and a confidence that can only come from God. Life is really hard, folks. Life can be really, really hard. People can be bad.
You know, people can be really, really bad. As recently as last night, as recently as this morning. Tragedy has struck again in the world, and if you follow the news, it's not hard to find and discover the bad things that are happening. The bombings, the shootings, the killings that take place, which they can bring fear, it can bring anxiety, it can bring certain uncertainty. And folks as as as bad as the world is, sometimes it feels like the world is falling apart, whether it's politics and our division among our country, whether it's the killing of young children in a school by a mentally ill or psychotic or demonically possessed person, whether it's a loved one that gets cancer, whether it's a child that was diagnosed with autism, whether it's a family member that is hurting or suffering, we're constantly on the edge of fear and anxiety.
So what can happen? What can change that? How can we live in a world full of tragedy and a world full of suffering and a world full of confusion and still have joy? Well, that's why Jesus came, because all of the tragedy that exists in this world came from a place of evil that was born in the hearts of men. When Adam and Eve sinned, they gave birth to a distorted view of God. They gave birth to a a God to be afraid of a God, that they had to hide from a god that they had to run from. But how many know that's not our God. Our God is not a God that we have to be afraid of. Certainly a God we can we can revere and worship and be in awe of. But we don't have to be afraid of him because he's our heavenly father. He's not a God that is trying to judge or condemn us. He's a God who is willing to pay the ultimate price for us.
Yes, sin is horrible and sin has a horrible price tag associated with it. But Jesus paid the full price. He took the horrible death to pay for the horrible judgment so that she would never have to pay for that judgment ever again. He took it all on the cross. That's why he said it is finished. When he said it is finished, he met. The price has been fully paid, the debt has been fully paid, the sentence has been fully served and the victory has been fully won. That's what he meant when he said it is finished. It is finished. But because we live in a fallen world, we need an anchor for our soul. I submit to you today that the anchor of your soul is the confidence and faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus is the single. Event upon which all history hinges, every bit of your life hinges upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ, if there is no resurrection, there is no hope. If there is no resurrection, there is no power. If there is no resurrection, there is no eternal life, beloved. This is why Jesus came in the Bible in First John. Chapter three, verse eight. It says, The Son of God appeared for this purpose.
Now listen to me. When Jesus came, he healed the sick. When Jesus came, he fed the hungry. When Jesus came, he cleansed the lepers. When Jesus came, he delivered the the helpless and the hurting and the suffering. But the way that he did it and the way that he intended for us to have victory all the days of our life is by coming for this purpose, there's one singular purpose that Jesus came for greater and more important and the linchpin for everything else that he would ever do in our lives. And it is for this purpose that the son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil, to destroy the works of the devil. And listen, Jesus doesn't fail. In fulfilling the purpose for which he came. Jesus is the greatest success that has ever lived on the face of this earth, and the resurrection is proof of it. Well, there's something about knowing that he will wipe every tear from our eyes.
In Isaiah 61 Jesus says this. And really the writer of of the book of Isaiah Isaiah himself is prophesying this, but he's really prophesying about something Jesus would then say. And Jesus ends up quoting this scripture in Luke Chapter four when he first starts out his earthly ministry. And I want you to see this, because what I'm talking to you today about is beauty ashes. God wants to give you beauty for whatever ashes are in your life. And the way that he does that is he raises the dead. He is the God who raises the dead. And I want you to see how powerful it is and why it's so important, because in Isaiah 61, he says this. He says in verse one, The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners, to proclaim the year of God's favor, the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.
And then he says this in verse 3. He says to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a crown of beauty for ashes. I want you to say that say a crown of beauty for ashes. I want to give you hope for what's burned in your life, that if Jesus could rise from the dead, he can raise your ashes and give you a crown of beauty. In fact, the word here, the word here in verse 3 for beauty is actually the word crown. It's a diadem. It's a tiara. It's a crown. To those who mourn, he says he will give them a crown of beauty for ashes. What do you see? All you've got to bring to the table, folks, is the greatest deal in the universe. All you got to bring to the table is your ashes. And he will give you a crown, the crown of beauty. And you know this word beauty means crown. It was what grieving people, they would put ashes on their head to express their grief.
But God said, I want to give you a crown instead, you don't have to grieve anymore. When Jesus rose from the dead, he found Mary there. Mary came to the tomb. She was, I think, the first one right to come to the tomb. And she was weeping because he wasn't there. And she thought when he showed up, he was the gardener. And when he showed up, he said, Mary, or he didn't call her Mary at the time. But he said to her woman, he said, woman, why are you weeping? Why are you weeping? Because they've taken my savior's body away. And he said, didn't he say didn't he say he would rise from the dead?
Listen, he says, why are you weeping? The only thing that will leave you continually in tears and continually weeping is your doubting of the resurrection, because once you truly are convinced that Jesus rose from the dead, he will wipe every tear from your eyes. He will give you beauty for ashes. He will give you the oil of gladness for morning. He will give you the spirit of praise for the spirit of heaviness and grief and sorrow and the desire to quit. But who here hasn't felt like quitting at one time or another? Who here hasn't felt like we've all felt like that. We've all felt like giving up. We live in a very dark time, a very troubling world that in the last days, Paul said there will be haters of God. Unthankful, ungrateful.
Turning away from God in the last days, but not you, because if you believe in the power of his resurrection, you'll believe every promise that he ever made and he will wipe every tear from your eyes. You won't walk around in your life covered in your head with the ashes of sadness and the ashes of despair and the ashes of failure and the ashes of a burned life. No, he's about to trade you. He already paid for. So you might as well take what he paid for. He paid for you to have joy instead of ashes. Beauty, beauty, beauty. Beauty, beauty instead of ashes in Ecclesiastes, chapter three, verse 11. It says, God makes all things beautiful. In his time. He makes all things beautiful.
That word beautiful is a powerful word. You know what it means? It means. Fulfill and have a complete. Experience of the goodness of God to have a complete experience of the goodness of God, but it doesn't feel like that all the time, does it? Whatever you're experiencing doesn't feel like the goodness of God. Sometimes it feels the opposite. But God wants you to anchor your confidence in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is not some. Some religion out there trying to compete for the hearts and minds of men. This is fact based. The resurrection of Jesus is not some blind thing that we try to put our faith in. The beauty for your ashes is going to happen when your faith is in his resurrection power, that he can do anything no matter how bad it is, no matter how dead it is. Paul said something very powerful.
When he became a preacher in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, I want to read this to you from The Message Bible and 2 Corinthians 1:8-9. He was surrounded with all sorts of pain and suffering and sorrow. And it's just being crushed because there was so much opposition, have you ever felt like you had so much opposition that it was killing you, you had so much pain, it was killing you? He said, we don't want you to be in dark. We don't want you to be in the dark. Friends about how hard it was when all of this came down on us in Asia. He says it was so bad. Listen to what he describes. Listen to how he describes this and see if you can find yourself here ever. It was so bad, he said. That we didn't think we were going to make it.
Anybody ever felt like that? We felt like we were sent to death row. He said that it was all over for us. Anybody ever felt like that? This is where if it was a TV show, it would be like to be continued right there, it's over for us. We feel like we've been sent to death row. I don't think we're going to make it. Pause. To be continued, dot, dot, dot. But he says, we thought we were being sent to death row. It was all over us. But as it turned out, look at what he says, but as it turned out, he was the best thing that could have happened instead of trusting in our own strength, which to get out. We were forced to trust God totally.
Can you believe today can you believe today with me that no matter what is the worst thing that's ever happened to you, God is able to turn it and make it the best thing that ever happened to you? Because it causes you to have to trust God totally and not trust in yourselves. And then he goes on to say this hilarious sentence. He says, not a bad idea since he's the God who raises the dead. We decided we man, we didn't even decide it was like we were forced to trust God, totally not a bad idea, since he's the God that raises the dead and he did it. Rescuing us, rescuing us from certain doom, and he'll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing.
Oh, can anybody say. And he did it and he'll do it again as many times as I need it, because he's the God who raises the dead. He's the God that gives beauty for ashes. He gives me a crown for my despair. I give him the ashes of fear and he gives me the crown of faith. I give him the ashes of depression. And he gives me a crown of joy. I give him the ashes of condemnation and he gives me the crown of forgiveness and the crown of righteousness. Oh, beloved, you've been crowned today. You've been crowned today. The resurrection crowns you.