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. Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)

Beauty for ashes! What an exchange! That is the promise of God in Christ! Over 700 years before Christ came to earth, the prophet Isaiah prophesied this:

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. Isaiah 61:1 (NLT)

The mission of Christ was to bring good news! That’s what the gospel is! The word “gospel” means “good news”! The gospel is good news in a bad-news world! The good news is that God offers you and me the exchange of a lifetime! Most of us are familiar with the concept of bartering – exchanging things of equal value. But, God offers you and me the most unusual exchange of all – a crown of beauty for ashes! A joyous blessing instead of mourning and festive praise instead of despair! In other words, God offers you healing and wholeness for your pain and brokenness! Who wouldn’t want to accept such an exchange!

Ash Wednesday offers you and me an opportunity to thank God for this glorious exchange! Rather than focusing on what we are to give up, which in eternity amounts to ashes, we can rejoice in what we have to gain – a crown of beauty! Halleluiah! What a Savior! If you are in the Houston area, we invite you to celebrate Ash Wednesday with us at Woodlands Church at our Woodlands or Atascocita campuses tonight at 7pm.