Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oak of Righteousness!

I grew up in Thousand Oaks, California, so I have a connection to oak trees and they are by far, my favorite tree.  I was born in "Los Robles" hospital, spanish for "The Oaks" so in essence, I was born in a oak grove!  I have many pictures of them, some framed.  I occasionally wear my silver oak pendant.  I love them (but I do stop short of hugging them.)  I have seen many a pine, ash and eucalyptus tree, even Sequioa redwoods, but nothing stirs me like a glorious oak.  They are strong, tall, robust, interesting, usually old trees that can stand through nearly any windstorm or weather.  Their leaves have soft underbellies, with sharp waxy edges.  The bark of an oak can tear at your knees, while their branches, with their many twists and turns, serve as a playground for playful squirrels.  Many have bulky, craggy trunks which will sometimes split open into dark holes where as a child, I would hide rocks, coins and other treasures.  I once left my favorite doll in the belly of an oak.  Oaks are truly magnifiscent and I am sorrounded by them still. There is one "middle-aged" oak just a few miles from me that even though I see it several times a week, still captures my eye.

I was reading in the gospel of Luke today, in Chapter 4, where Jesus is in the synagogue on the Sabbath.  He is handed a scroll containing Isaiah's words, finds this passage and reads aloud for all to hear:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me
Because He has annointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
Heal the brokenhearted;
Proclaim liberty to the captives;
To proclaim the year of the Lord!
He closes by saying, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing it!"
In other words, "Those words you just read, they are about ME! I AM THE annointed MESSIAH and this is what I have come to do: preach, heal, proclaim!  Your Saviour is here!"
The others in the synagogue were impressed with his words, but did not believe him.  They said, "Messiah?  Isn't this the guy from Galilee?  Joseph's son?  How can he say Isaiah was referring to HIM?"

So I turned to Isaiah to find the passage Jesus was reading from.  It is Isaiah 61.  Here it is:

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.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3 To all who mourn in Zion
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Great OAKS!  Isaiah was describing Jesus hundreds of years before He would be sent by God to earth.  He was describing what Jesus was coming to do and the hope he would bring to all who believed.  All those who he came for, all those who believe He is the Messiah, would be like GREAT OAKS for his glory.  Well, this means ME!  Needless to say, Isaiah 61 immediately became one of my favorite passages.
I re-wrote it for myself and found it a great comfort in light of some discouragement and despair I have been feeling lately. 

Jesus was sent by God to do all of this: 
Tell me the Good News (Jesus saves!)
Heal my broken heart
Free me from my chains
Comfort me when I mourn
Exchange my dirty ashes for eternal beauty
Exchange my mourning for joy!
He gives me a message of praise in exchange for my words of despair! 
He will make me a GREAT OAK for HIS glory!

Lord, continue to make this child of the oaks, into a GREAT OAK for your glory...rooted in you, righteous, renewed, full of hope and joy, strong in faith, reflecting your glory in all I do.

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