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 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.

                                                      Isaiah 61:1-3 KJV


These words of the Messiah, spoken through the prophet
centuries before his actual appearance on earth, give a
clear description of his ministry, and the outcome of his
ministry.  There is no way we can hear these words of
Isaiah 61 and wonder what the Messiah has come to do:
He has come

- to preach good news to the poor,
- to bind up the brokenhearted,

- to set the captives free.


Any Messiah who concerns himself with other things or
who neglects the poor,

                    the brokenhearted,

the captives, has to be false.


And the outcome of his ministry is joy,


- beauty for ashes,

- the oil of joy for mourning,

- the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness.


When the Messiah finally arrived on the scene in flesh
and blood, he began his ministry among us by using this
passage in Isaiah 61 as his starting point.  He read
the opening verses of this chapter in the synagogue in
his home town and declared,


"Today this scripture has been fulfilled in
your hearing."


And throughout Jesus' entire ministry the two thrusts
of Isaiah 61 continue to appear and reappear.


1.    Make sure that your Christ is the real
Christ, bearing fruit among the poor, the
brokenhearted, the captives, the mourners.


2.   Let your mourning be turned into joy.


Jesus takes extreme pains to make sure his followers
don't get misled by false prophets, false Christs. You
can't read the New Testament without being struck by
how many times Jesus says, "Beware," "Look out."


"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in
sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves."

 Matthew 7:15


"Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to
councils, and flog you in their synagogues."

                                           Matthew 10:17


Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of
the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

Matthew 16:6


Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples,

"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on, Moses' seat;

so practice and observe whatever they tell you,

but not what they do; for they preach, but do

not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to

bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they

themselves will not move them with their finger."

Matthew 23:1


"Then if any one says to you, 'Lo here is the
Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it."

Matthew 24:23


Jesus wasn't trying to make them paranoid, he was equipping

them to function as lambs in the midst of wolves...

to be not only innocent as doves, but wise as serpents.


These warnings of the Lord are preserved in the New
Testament because, until the end of this age, the world,
especially the religious world, is teeming with wolves
in sheep's clothing --- innocent sounding gospels which
will lead the unwary far from the highway of God. Gospels

which try to tell you that you can serve God and mammon,

you can have Jesus and still keep your monstrous ego....


                       So beware.


But along with our Lord's warnings to beware, Jesus also
gave his followers something which preserved them against
getting paranoid....he gave them joy.  As they


- broke bread with him,

- served him,


  - took care of the needs of countless people who
kept coming to them,


these men and women had more joy than they had ever
known in their lives. It was joy for them just to be
around their master.  It was their joy to provide him
with anything they had that he could use.


         - You need my fishing boat?
    .....take it Lord,


      - You want a place to meet?

    .....I have lots of room.


        - You want to have dinner at my house Lord?



And as Jesus neared the end of his flesh and blood
ministry, he began making sure that this joy would
continue with them even after he returned to the


"These things I have spoken to you, that my
joy may be in you, and that your joy may be

full."                         John 15:11


"Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name;
ask, and you will receive, that your joy may

be full."                    John 16:24


All we have to do is read the book of Acts, or any of
the epistles, to see that this joy not only stayed
with them it increased with the coming of the Holy


Today in the Body of Christ, the Spirit of the Lord
continues to move upon us in these two areas:


  l. We are to beware of false prophets,
false Christs, polluted gospels which mislead.


2. And we are to rejoice in the Lord all
the time.


The atmosphere of our life together and our corporate

service, even in the midst of suffering, is to be joy

and gladness.


But what often happens is that a congregation of be­
lievers will begin to major in one of these two
things and neglect the other.

There are those who major in joy...all the time happy...
happy and gullible. Then some wolf in  sheep's
clothing comes along and gets happy with them and

leads them happily into delusions which turn them into
a cult, or scatters them to the four winds.


On the other hand there are fellowships that major in

wariness...they don't have time to rejoice with all these
false prophets and phony doctrines and hypocrite
Christian evangelists around.  They're so busy being
suspicious they fail to see they've been overcome by
an insidious self-righteousness.


Our own fellowship favors the latter approach. We belong­
to the wise and wary crowd. We're experts at seeing through

the compromise and hypocrisy of American Christendom.

We can't stand to watch “Christian TV.” And when one of these

high flying hot-shots comes up to us and says, "Praise the Lord,"

we stare at his diamond stick pin until he goes away. We are so

busy being cynical we've neglected the joy God has given us.

If there is any message the Spirit of God is speaking
to those of us who tend toward cynicism, it's,


"Receive my joy. Why do you think I died on
the cross? What do you think I accomplished
by rising from the dead?"


To appoint unto them that 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 might be called
trees of righteousness, the planting of the
Lord, that he might be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3


How are we going to bring good news to the poor,
 to heal the brokenhearted,

to release the captives,

to comfort those who mourn,

if we ourselves are walking around in a cloud of self-­
righteous gloom?


It's almost as if the Lord is saying to us,

"Look, you guys, it's okay to be happy. I'm

giving you the oil of joy to replace your
mourning ... the garment of praise for the
spirit of heaviness."


What a change will come into our lives and what a lift

will come into our service to God when we receive the

anointing of this oil of joy and clothe ourselves with

this garment of praise.


"But doesn't this joy come to us by itself? Surely we
don't have to go looking for it."  True ... it comes,

         it has come
         it's here now.

But when the joy of God comes to our door, as it has,
we at least have to open the door and let it in.


When we're around somebody that has this inward joy it's
contagious.  A facade of joy may be repulsive, but a
person who has the real thing burning in their heart
imparts it like the sun imparts light.


The reason the disciples liked to be around Jesus was
that he had this joy... even when he wept for Jerusalem,
                               even when he was troubled within, there

was still this flame of joy burning within him.

And it's his joy which Jesus now imparts to us.  When

he speaks to us, his very words bring his joy into our


"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy
may be in you, and that your joy may be full."

John 15:11


And where does he get all this joy? .... from the Father.
To commune with the Father was for Jesus not a duty

it was his pleasure.


In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit
and said, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven
and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from
the wise and understanding and revealed them to
babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious

will."                                  Luke 10:21


And to us he says,


"You go to the Father too.  If you ask anything
of the Father in my name, he will give it to
you. Hitherto you have asked nothing in my
name; ask, and you will receive that your joy
may be full."


This oil of joy is not just for the good days ... Indian

summer, blue sky, an apple pie in the oven. It's for

the bad days too ... in times of bitter cold,



                                                         even in times of tragedy.
This anointing oil will turn any kind of sorrow into joy.


So, we open the door and let him in ... hour by hour,
     we practice his presence,

     we commune with the Father in Jesus' name, and the oil

of joy begins to flow in our hearts.  And now we do one more

thing: with an act of the will we learn to rejoice in our Lord

just as he rejoiced in the Father all the time.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say,
rejoice.  Let all men know your forbearance.

The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about any­
thing, but in everything by prayer and suppli­
cation with thanksgiving let your requests be
made known to God. And the peace of God which
passes all understanding, will keep your hearts
and your minds in Christ Jesus.

                                                                    Philippians 4:4-7


"Rejoice in the Lord always" ...all the time ... in all
circumstances. "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing."
This is counsel from one who walked through more flames
than we've ever seen and came out still praising God.

It is possible to keep rejoicing in the Lord all the
time ... and it's necessary ... just as necessary as watching

out for false prophets.


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.

Isaiah 61:3

God help us to receive the oil of joy for mourning
now as we bow before his throne…..


          God help us to put on that garment of praise…..


                   God help us to go out into that world with hearts

                   which rejoice in the Lord always in all circumstances,