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This morning in the Word: Oaks of Righteousness – the Transforming Work of the Gospel

September 30, 2010
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Oaks of Righteousness:The Transforming Work of the Gospel 

Isaiah 61:3
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. 

Because the eternal plan of God is that He will be KNOWN, He continually reveals Himself as He does His creative, redemptive work. His existence and His character are obvious as the cycle of creation, sin/fall, and redemption unfolds over and over throughout history. And HOPE is continually reinforced: new beginnings will come, change is possible, relief is on the way, renewal is certain. God does this redemptive, transformational work in relationships, circumstances, and in individual hearts so that He will be known . Isaiah 60:16 – Then you will know that I, the Lord am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. 

In the beginning, out of nothing, He created everything: the world, the universe, the things so minute that we can’t even see them, the things so vast that we can’t even measure them. And now, He continues to do creative, redemptive work. He takes that which is so broken, so used up, so lifeless – and He re-creates it, rescues it, redeems it, and gives it new life. That is the good news of the Gospel. That is the news of hope that comes from only one source: the finished cross-work of the risen Christ! That is the news that we are commissioned to carry to a world that aches and groans for it to be so!  

In Isaiah 61, the message of HOPE unfolds like this: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is present, the Lord anoints His chosen to preach the good news, and then unimaginable transformation takes place. If you take a minute to unwrap this passage, you’ll see the ultimate Before and After shot. 

BEFORE  
The Gospel is given to people who are:
poor
brokenhearted,
captives,
prisoners,
mourners,
grieving. 

God’s people are commissioned to demonstrate the Gospel fully:
preach good news,
bind up,
proclaim freedom and release,
proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance,
comfort,
provide. 

AFTER  
The transformation is incredible:  
beauty instead of ashes,
oil of gladness instead of mourning,
garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. 

Those same folks who were once described in such woe-be-gone terms, are now called:
oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. 

The very ones who needed hope become agents of hope; they become the means through which the Gospel is displayed as they:
rebuild,
restore,
renew. 

The miracle of these Grand Reversals, these Divine Paradoxes, when God turns things right side out! 

"Oaks of Righteousness," painted by my friend, Nancy Irish, reminds me of these precious Gospel promises.

 

We will stand as solidly as oak trees when we live with the knowledge that all things are set in place, ordained for one purpose: Then you will know that I, the Lord am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. Isaiah 60:16 

He reveals Himself through the unfolding of His grace and care in our life circumstances. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed. Isaiah 61:9 The wonder that, as we live out the hope of the Gospel, we will be “a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” We display who He is!   

Can we maintain our hope that such work is possible?
Do we yearn to be part of such work?
Are we willing to be spent for such work?
 

Our hope will be steadfast when we cling to His promise: “I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly.” Isaiah 60:22 

Oh, Lord, my Savior, my Redeemer, the Mighty One – may it be so!  

May we be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

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