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Being Oaks of Righteousness
When Jesus began his earthly ministry he read this scripture. “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, 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 mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting for the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61: 1-3
God is looking for people who want to become oaks for him. Oak trees are one of the most important trees in the world and are symbols of strength. They are used for lumber and fuel. There may be as many as 75 species of oaks in the United States. The fruit from the oak tree, is the acorn and these acorns serve as food for deer, squirrels and racoon.
Why would God want people to be like oak trees? What sort of symbolism is there for us to want to model our lives after?
When we think of how an oak tree begins, it is amazing. The oak starts as an acorn. An acorn looks nothing like the tree it will become. Our faith is like that acorn. When we first accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we are like that acorn. Everything that we need to become mighty oaks of righteousness is within us. Within an acorn is all that it needs to become a tree. When we are born, God has created us for a purpose. He has a plan for each person in the world. The potential to become what he envisoned us to be is there. Just like the ability to become an oak tree is within each acorn.
There is a conscious effort needed to plant that acorn. If it doesn’t get planted, it will never become a tree. There are many acorns that are never planted, many that are scattered across the earth and never get the opportunity to become the trees that they could be because they either never heard the word of God or they refused to believe it. It is up to each one of us whether we will accept Christ into our hearts. Believing in Christ is the first step toward becoming an Oak tree.
Once we accept the gift God has given us, the gift of eternal life, the gift of forgivness, the potential within us takes on a new life. The seed, the acorn has been planted. Planting for Christians comes in the form of joining a body of believers. Once Jesus has come into your heart, you need to nurture that faith and increase it.
An acorn that is planted soon becomes a little twig. This little twig needs some protection and care to grow straight and tall. It will need some pruning also to form it into the great oak it has the potential to become.
New believers need support and guidance to become the display of God’s splendor that he intended. God will provide the pruning necessary to produce more branches. We have to yield ourselves to God daily and learn to trust him as he teaches us and guides us.
This is where being in a good Bible based church and surrounding yourself with true disciples of Christ makes a big difference. Believers will not grow if they are not nourished and fed the word of God on a regular basis.
As the tree grows, and this process takes years, there will be many storms of life that will threaten it. There may even be lightening strikes, but if that tree is rooted firmly in the ground, secure in God’s presence, no matter what assails it, the tree will stand firm. That is the place all believers want to reach. A place of complete peace and trust.
This is a process. I can imagine that some of the trials I have been going through lately would have totally destroyed me 20 years ago. But today I know that God will help me through any storm that may come my way. When a loved one dies, when there are financial problems, when we go through sickness or pain, these are the times that we grow. These are also the times when we learn to rely on God.
As an Oak tree grows, it sends out branches in three different directions. The lower limbs of mature trees bend toward the ground. These branches can be likened to mature believers who reach out to those people who don’t know the Lord yet. These are people who are living lives for this world. They haven’t heard the good news and accepted Christ Jesus as their Lord and master yet.
The branches half way up the oak reach out laterally. These branches connect with other trees around them. These branches could represent the fellowship of believers. We need to help and encourage others in the faith. As mature oaks, we have much to share with newer believers and our life experiences can make a difference in the lives of others.
The top branches reach toward heaven and as mature oaks, we are in the world but not of the world. We need to continuously seek God and realize that our true home is in heaven. We are only ambassadors here on this earth. Picture believers with their hands raised in praise to God.
As true believers we have a long way to go to become mighty Oak trees. But remember that it is a process. It won’t happen overnight and God will not give up on us. It is up to us to want to grow, we do have a choice. I’m not sure just how long Oak trees can live. I know that they are some of the most stately trees in the world. I also know that when they are cut down they make some of the most long lasting furniture. Oak trees are still useful even when they are dead. I guess that is what we can hope for.
We are so grateful that you are patient with us and that you grow us up into the mature Christians that you created us to be. Thank you for letting us grow at a pace that is suitable for each one of us. Help us to remember that all those around us are also works in progress. That not everyone is growing at the same rate or in the same manner. That you are the one who is in control and that we are to encourage one another and reach out to the lost. May all the things that we say and do bring glory to your name. Because of Christ Jesus. Amen