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Evangel Tabernacle | May 23, 2019

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Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

| On 24, Aug 2018


Matthew 5:4 (RSV)- Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Isaiah 61:1-3 (KJV)
V1- 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;
V2- To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
V3- 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.

At one point or another in our life, we will experience this emotion called Mourning.

Mourning is defined simply as INTENSE GRIEF. It is an emotional response to LOSS. It is a deep sense of loss of something. It isn’t just the loss of someone’s life or fellowship- although it may well be. That is the most obvious definition of mourning. But our mourning in reality may also be the LOSS OF BENEFITS. For example, Israel mourns at Kadesh-Barnea over the fact that they will not enter into the land. MOURNING is a LOSS THAT IS EXPERIENCED AND FELT DEEPLY.

Matthew 5:4 declares – Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. In reality, not all who mourn will experience this blessedness of comfort.

Matthew 5:4 must be read in the context of Isaiah 61:1-4 in order for us to really experience the blessedness found in mourning.

The context of Isaiah 61 is that Israel is brokenhearted, enslaved, and grieving over the consequences of her sins. Israel is suffering because of God’s judgment and discipline. God is disciplining Israel for her sins but in His mercy, gives them a message of GOOD NEWS to restore them to His purposes for their lives.

The COMFORT promised in Matthew 5:4 is the comfort that comes for those who acknowledge their sin, who acknowledge that God’s judgment has been exercised.

SIN is the center of what MOURNING is in Matthew 5:4 and Isaiah 61:2. It is about God’s judgment. The comfort therefore must be the comfort that comes in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, where He bears men’s punishment and where He provides the deliverance and the rescue so that our comfort is in Jesus ultimately and in His sacrifice for us.

This morning I would like share about the blessedness of this comfort found in Christ for those who are mourning for any loss you are experiencing today. I would like to title my sermon as ‘BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN’.

There are three things I would like to bring to your attention in this message:
• The Blessed Task and Tone Commissioned By God
• The Blessed Reward For the Mournful
• The Blessed Results for the Mournful

How does Christ bless those who mourn? How does Christ comfort those who mourn?

In order to see how Christ comfort those who mourn today, let us first of all, look at the task and the tone commissioned by God for the church.

Isaiah 61:1- 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;

V2- To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

Isaiah 61:1-2 reveals the very heart of the message of God for every generation. It is a BLESSED message of God as GOOD NEWS to the poor and afflicted; the brokenhearted; the captives, the prisoners and even the mournful. Notice that the mournful is among those tasked by God to the Anointed Servant, Jesus Christ to heal and to deliver.

Isaiah 61:1-2 is actually a TASK DESCRIPTION given by God to Jesus whom Isaiah already prophesied would come. When Jesus came thousands of years later, He reaffirmed and accepted this task description prophesied by Isaiah in Isaiah 61 when He preached his first sermon in a synagogue in Luke 4:16-21.

This task description of Jesus, the Servant Messiah is also the task description Jesus has given to us – His born- again believers and CHURCH.

How does the task description of Jesus look like to us today?
HIS MANDATE: “The Spirit of the LORD God
upon is Me”

HIS MOTIVATION: “The LORD has anointed Me:

HIS METHOD: “to preach”

HIS MESSAGE: “good tidings”

HIS MARKET: “the poor…brokenhearted….
captives…those who are bound

HIS MEASURE: “preach good tidings to the poor.
heal the broken-hearted, to
proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to
those who are bound”

HIS MOOD: “to proclaim the acceptable year
of the LORD and the day of
vengeance of our God.”

When Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-2 in the synagogue, He concluded his reading of the passage with the words, “To preach the acceptable year of the LORD (Luke 4:19).

The “acceptable year of the LORD” refers to the YEAR OF JUBLIEE or the YEAR OF LIBERTY (Leviticus 25:10). With this reference, Jesus set the TONE/MOOD for His Ministry – LIBERTY.

LIBERTY is synonymous with FREEDOM and symbolic of SALVATION, is the GOAL OF JESUS and with LIBERTY comes JOY, which is the tone of His ministry.

The task that Jesus was commissioned by God the Father is the same task which Jesus has commissioned us- His church. The church has to uphold the same mandate, motivation, method, message, market, measure and mood as that of Jesus.

Application: Many in the midst of us are mourning today because of:
o Loss of something precious and important
o Loss of fellowship with God
o Loss of favor with God
o Loss of approval, reputation, credibility
o Loss of success
o Loss of destiny and dreams
o Loss of benefits and blessings

Jesus has commissioned Etab with the task described above.

The tone of all the ministries of Etab- whether it is Youth Church, Healing Room Ministry, Divine Service, DJ Cell Group or even the SOZO must be tuned to LIBERTY AND JOY, that is, to minister in such a way as to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor AND TO COMFORT ALL WHO MOURN.

God sees all your sorrow, grief, pain and tears and now is the time for God to arise to do something about your mourning.

I was doing my devo recently and the Holy Spirit brought to my attention a verse that I have overlooked.

Isaiah 61:3 (Amp)- To grant to those who MOURN IN ZION the following: To give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning], The oil of joy instead of mourning. The garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit. So they will be called the tress of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice and right standing with God], the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

KJV – “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.”

We have just seen in verse 1 and 2 of Isaiah 61 that the task of the church is to reach out to the poor, the brokenhearted, captives and the prisoners. But then in verse 3, God showed me that there is a SPECIAL GRANT, A SPECIAL APPPOINTMENT to THOSE WHO MOURN IN ZION which He wants to bless them with.

God is very concerned with this special group of people who have been mourning. They are “those who mourn in Zion’, inferring that they are people in the church; they are believers in Christ who have been in intense grief.

God showed me that He has APPOINTED (KJV); He has set aside a special portion for these mourners; He has reserved a special GRANT (AMP) for this group. It is the REWARD that God wants to bless these mourners.

What is this appointed blessing? What is this grant? What is this reward?

The divine exchange will be as follows:

V3- To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes………

During the Bible times, it was customary for the Jews to put on sackcloth and spread dust and ashes on their heads. And they then would wail loudly for the dead and even employ professional mourners to sing the dirge at the funeral. It was a very dramatic mourning time.

Ashes – there is nothing beautiful about ashes. The Hebrew word for ashes is “epher” and the Hebrew word for beauty is “pheer”. Just move the “e” from “epher” and you have a new word – “pheer”. Just as quickly as it takes for you to move one letter, God is going to turn your sorrow into joy. The divine exchange is very drastic from ashes to beauty- from the emblem of the funeral to the emblem of a wedding.

The word “beauty” in some version is “turban (amp)”. The word “Turban” means a head-dress or TIARA used by the bride on her head. It is translated EXQUISITE HATS in Exodus 39:28 and HEADDRESSES in Isaiah 3:20. The word “beauty” has in mind this beautiful crown or head ornament. In mourning, ashes would be cast upon the head. But see here this dramatic divine exchange. From ugly ash fit for funeral to a beautiful Tiara or crown fit for a wedding.

Application: Today, you may feel like your life is as ugly and insignificant as the ASH. But some things that appear ugly just need the right climate to grow.

Illustration: There is this plant called the “Maguey” (Century plant/Agave). It grows for years with great course leaves as thick as two hands put together. It is three inches thick and very long. It puts out sharp thorns and it is just as ugly as can be. The longer it is alive, the more it grows and becomes uglier all the time. But suddenly it shoots up in just a couple of days a great and tall shaft. And the shaft decks its spreading head with thousand of flowers and becomes a beautiful plant.




The possibility of all that fragrant beauty was always in that detestable ugliness. Just as the fragrant beauty of your life is sometimes HIDDEN underneath the calloused RITUAL. It is smothered by daily schedules and monotonous grind. Sometimes PAINFUL EXPERIENCES cause beauty to come forth.

Application: Isaiah says that God will give you BEAUTY FOR ASHES. God knows you would be burned by life’s experience. Ash is the by product of something burned. But God also knows He can replace that burnt-out mess with something beautiful. God is going to take that difficult, disgusting, depressing and horrible situation of your life and give you beauty. He is going to pick you up out of the ash pile of life and make something beautiful out of you.

A song: Bill Gaither wrote this song: “Something beautiful, something good; All my confusion He understood; All I have to offer him was brokenness and strife; but he made something beautiful out of my life.”

Whatever God’s hands touch, it becomes beautiful. All you need today is a touch from that master’s hand.

Question: Are you mourning today because something that you cherish has been burned down to ashes? Could that be your dream or goal? My ministry nearly was burned down to ashes but when I accepted this divine exchange six years ago, God made something beautiful out of our church today. Glory be to God!!!!

V3: “To appoint unto them that MOURN IN ZION, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning,

Oil was used to apply to the face to make it shine.

When the Jews were in mourning, no oil was to be applied to their faces so that the people would know that they were in mourning. The countenance of their face would be fallen and they would all have a disheveled face.

The oil of joy is the Holy Ghost. Like a well of living water. It is joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Even in the times of intense grief, God can still grant us JOY.

Habakkuk 3: 17-18- Though the fig trees do not blossom, nor the fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flocks be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Even though life is stripped to its irreducible minimum, the attitude we have to harbor – we take what God says, live by it or else we do not.

E.g. When we were stripped to nothing in 2012, our church attendance dipped – flocks got cut off from the fold of Etab. But one of the disciplines God taught me is to joy in Him still despite the irreductible minimum I had to undergo. Six years after 2012, we see God restoring all that were stripped and literally our Church is rejoicing at the great restoration that God has brought to Etab!

Application: For those who are mourning today, God wants to grant you joy in spite of all the losses you are undergoing. The losses are temporary. It is not the end. Joy will return to your life one more time.

V3 – “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….

The spirit of heaviness includes:
– Inner hurts
– Depression
– Despair
– Dejection
– Hopelessness
– Broken heartedness
– Suicidal tendencies
– Self-pity
– Excessive mourning
– Insomnia
– Sorrow or grief

The ROOT of this spirit of heaviness comes from a lack of praise, bitterness and being unthankful. Without joy, we have the tendency to move into self-pity.

In 1983, the National Institute of Mental Health said 1 in 5 have significant symptoms of depression.

Depression affects Christians because they get so wrapped up with the process of living day to day that they begin to lose interest in and neglect God’s Word. They feel the weight of serving God because the joy is gone and they are left with the dull mechanics of Christian living.

The spirit of depression is like a dark tunnel with no exit. King Saul was affected by depression. And the way out for him was to call David to play and sing the anointed Psalms for him.

Praise is the garment of the Holy Spirit. We have to put on the garment of praise in place of the spirit of heaviness. We must literally cloth ourselves in praise.

Every morning we decide what to wear. In the same way, we must decide to put on the garment of praise. It is INTENTIONAL.

In the Hebrew word, the word for “garment” was more than something draped around the shoulder but it literally means to WRAP OR COVER OURSELVES IN PRAISE. The garment of praise is to leave no opening or holes which hostile spirit can penetrate.

Application: If some of you are having a spirit of heaviness, then you have to engage the BINDING AND LOOSING principle taught in Matthew 18:18. You have to pray, “Satan, in the name of Jesus, I bind your spirit of heaviness. According to Matthew 18:18 I recognize you have taken advantage of me. Now I resist you in Jesus’ name. James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Go in the name of Jesus and don’t bother coming back again. Now I loose the Holy Spirit of Joy and Praise.” Start praising God in songs or in words.

Praise silences the devil.

Psalms 8:1-2 – O LORD, our God, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

“That you might still”- that you make the devil shut up. Don’t give in to the spirit of depression but use the word of God like a sword against any negative or depressing thoughts that come to your minds.

The restored place of God’s people is glorious. They are as strong, beautiful and useful as TREES – and TREES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS at that. To be transformed from a dejected mournful people of Zion to trees of righteousness is to undergo a divine exchange in our inner man. Instead of a mourning spirit, they will have the spirit of righteousness in them – a righteousness not of their own making.
Isaiah 61:3 (Amp)- To grant to those who MOURN IN ZION the following: To give them a turban instead of dust [on their heads, a sign of mourning], The oil of joy instead of mourning. The garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit. So they will be called the tress of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice and right standing with God], the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

To be trees of righteousness is to ‘be strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice and right standing with God.’

Most wonderfully, when people look at the tree, they see they are the PLANTING OF THE LORD.

Why such divine exchange for the mournful? Why such grant/appointment of blessings to the mournful?
So that God be glorified! – verse 3

After receiving this appointed divine exchange, those who mourn in Zion will become Trees of righteousness. As trees of righteousness, they will be able to do the following tasks for the Lord:

Verse 4- And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.

“They shall rebuild old ruins”- God loves to restore RUINS. He wants to use His people to restore and rebuild things that are broken down and RUINED. Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the ministry of Jesus, God’s people as Trees of Righteousness will be REBUILDERS.

Even the rubble has stood for MANY GENERATIONS (like the generational curse), God can still use His people to rebuild. A beautiful example is Nehemiah, who took the decades-old rubble of Jerusalem’s walls and rebuilt its walls.

Verse 4 Message – They’ll rebuild old ruins, raise a new city out of wreckage. They’ll start over on the ruined cities, TAKE THE RUBBLE LEFT BEHIND AND MAKE IT NEW.

In other words, they will pick up old rubble of their lives left behind by past wounds and make it NEW.

Verse5-6- Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the son of the foreigner shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But you shall be named the priests of the LORD, They shall call you the servants of our God. You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory you shall boast.

God’s people, under the anointing of the Spirit and the ministry of Jesus, have a holy occupation. They are PRIESTS OF THE LORD and SERVANTS OF OUR GOD. God provides others to take care of the FLOCKS and to be our PLOWMEN AND OUR VINEDRESSERS.

V7- Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.

What a change under the anointing of the Spirit. No more SHAME. Now the people of God shall have DOUBLE HONOR. No more CONFUSION. Now THEY SHALL REJOICE IN THEIR PORTION appointed for those who used to mourn at Zion. Indeed, EVERLASTING JOY SHALL BE THEIRS, a joy that can never be taken away.

I would like to conclude my message today by giving you an example from a woman in the Bible who illustrates this divine exchange so powerfully. Her name is Naomi (meaning pleasantness), the mother-in-law of Ruth. At the beginning of the book of Ruth, Naomi said the Lord had “afflicted” and “brought misfortune” on her. By the end of the book of Ruth, God had not only restored Ruth through her guardian-redeemer Boaz, but he had also provided for Naomi. This is a beautiful restoration of her life – a beautiful divine exchange. God took Naomi’s EMPTINESS and BITTERNESS (1:20-21) and replaced it with ABUNDANCE AND BLESSING through Ruth and Boaz and their child Obed. Fullness can be experienced when people come to know Jesus and become part of the church. They go from emptiness to abundance in Christ. Boaz gave Ruth an overabundance of food to take back to Naomi and Naomi immediately blessed Boaz for his kindness (2:14-20). Her emptiness began to turn into fullness. God provided for Ruth and her mother-in-law through Boaz and in the same way, he has provided for all of our needs through Christ.

Jesus, our Guardian-Redeemer wants to buy back (redeem) all our poverty, affliction, captivity, imprisonments, mourning, ashes and spirit of heaviness and replace it with beauty, oil of joy, garment of praise and trees of righteousness so that in turn we can serve him and help rebuild the ruined lives of others.

Have you been mourning secretly in your life because of the losses you have experienced? Has something in your life turned into ashes – ugly, useless and insignificant? Have you been crying lately because of pain, grief and sorrow? Have you been having this spirit of heaviness? The Lord wants to change the tone or the mood of your life from a mourner to trees of righteousness. And today, His anointing is here to GRANT you or to APPOINT to you now this divine exchange:

Beauty for your ashes

Oil of joy for your mourning

Garments of Praise for the spirit of heaviness

So that you can become TREES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS to rebuild what is ruined; to serve the Lord as minister and servants of God and to rejoice at God’s blessing. These are the blessedness that is granted to those who MOURN AT ZION. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.

MY TESTIMONY: I was doing my devo on 9 August and the Lord quickened Isaiah 61:1-4 to me. The SOZO was already running in its 5th week by 9 August and Ptr Toh Nee and I have already “SOZOED” at least 10 Sozoees by then. We were shocked at the number of our SOZOEES who were so broken, afflicted, in bondage and imprisoned. There were times both of us wept alongside with the SOZOEE. Just 3 days ago, I was SOZOING this member. Ptr Toh Nee was silently recording the downloads. As I proceeded with the SOZO session with this member, I heard many sniffing from Ptr Toh Nee and I thought he was having sinusitis because my office Air Con was too cold. At the end of the session, I asked him if he was sick but he told me he had been crying throughout the session as he listened to the life story of the SOZOEE. As SP, our hearts go out to many of our leaders and members who are literally MOURNING AT ZION. They are mourning as Christians in the church.

Though Isaiah 61:1-3 was the mandate given to me at the beginning of my missionary career 32 years ago, today it carries a new depth of applicational truth in line with the ongoing SOZO ministry that I am engaging in now.

I feel like the Lord is anointing and commissioning me anew now through SOZO ministry:

1. To bring good news to the humble and afflicted.
Only those who are humble enough to admit their affliction will be ministered by God with the good news.

2. To bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted
There are so many wounded believers at Etab. Though many are leaders and actively serving God, yet they carry deep wounds of the past. It is wonderful to see how God uses SOZO to bind up the wounds of these broken-hearted.

3. To proclaim (declare) liberty to the captives
Many of the SOZOEE are physical and spiritual captives like sin, condemnation and the spirit of heaviness. They have been bound for so long by the spirit of lies from the devil.

4. To open the prison door to those who are bound
My commission from the Lord through the anointing of the Holy Spirit is to set them free – LIBERATE THEM from the prison.

5. To proclaim the Lord’s favor
I am commissioned too from the Lord to declare LIBERTY AND JOY to return to their lives

6. To comfort all who mourn
Through SOZO, God literally comforts all these people who have been mourning so long.

7. To lead them into this powerful DIVINE EXCHANGE
WHICH is the last step in SOZO. Many SOZOEES left my office with a new weapon on their right hands which God has personally given to them during the SOZO session.

MY PROPHETIC VISION: Last Thursday, after a long SOZO session with one member, Ptr Toh Nee and me returned home to have a short rest before going out for our Cell Group at SM City. In that short span of 15 minutes nap, I saw a vision. In this vision, I saw a faceless man draped in an orange jumpsuit. He was standing up and each time he lifted up his foot to step on the ground, that part of the ground would turn into a little puddle of little fountain, springing water up. Wherever his sole touched the ground, that little fountain would be formed. When I awoke, I asked Ptr Toh Nee the meaning. He couldn’t give me an answer. While in the car on the way to meet my Cell Group I told Ptr Toh Nee that I understood the little fountain image – it means whenever the sole of the foot touches, the anointing of the Holy Spirit would gush forth in the emblem of refreshing spring to water that area. But the faceless man – I know it represents the Holy Spirit. But I don’t understand the meaning of ORANGE in biblical terms and so I googled on the spot. I saw these words pop up – PRAISE, PROPHETIC MINISTRY. Halfway reading it, Ptr Toh Nee asked me to get down from his car to go ahead and meet my DJCG as we were late. While walking towards the entrance of SM, my mind was doubting, “Is this vision I saw really from God? Or is it my mere imagination?” Then I had to stop in front of the SM female security guard to have my bag checked. I looked up and to my shock, the female security guard was clothed in an ORANGE GARB (the normal uniform of SM security guard is always white and navy blue) – like what I saw in my vision. The following day, I did a thorough research on the meaning of orange and this was what I got – ORANGE means “separation, passionate praise, prophetic ministry, fire of God, harvest, power, joy, warfare; fruitfulness, warning, the mind of Christ.”

I asked God for the interpretation and this is what I get:
“The Holy Spirit is coming upon our church with the anointing of fire of God. He is going to anoint Etab with this fire so that we can warn people of their sin and get them to repent. Whoever heeds this warning from this fire of God, will be saved and God will use them to be a blessing in the manner of the little spring coming forth from every step that they take to bring this healing and refreshing anointing to others. With every sole that their feet touch, that area will be refreshed by the Holy Spirit like a little fountain of water. And as they continue to tread to as many places with the sole of our feet, little revival will break forth, thus constituting a harvest and fruitfulness to the ministry of Etab. The man in the vision was draped in orange jump suit. This means God wants our church corporately to put on the garment of praise. This garment of praise will then act as a protective gear against any spirit of heaviness. It is only through passionate praise to His name that we can disarm the works of the devil in our lives. Our leaders must also be daring to move in the prophetic ministry and engage in spiritual warfare.

To apply all these interpretations to the recent happening of the fire anointing happening in the Youth Church, the Spirit of the Lord is telling us that He is here in the emblem of orange and fountain – fire of God to warn and to baptize and separate. Our people can’t play with sin anymore. They have to take God seriously. They have to separate their lives unto to God and the Spirit of God will take them to many places their feet are willing to go and He will go with them to refresh the places that they are in. The church as a whole must put on the garment of passionate praise. Through prophetic ministry, spiritual warfare prayer and putting on the mind of Christ (with prophetic download coming from the mind of Christ) would the fire of God continue to blaze conspicuously, thus igniting the hearts of many with the love of Christ.

The tone the Holy Spirit wants to set for Etab is LIBERTY!



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