Saturday, August 30, 2008

Twigs or oaks?

Isaiah 61:1-4

1 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,

2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

3 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 of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

About 20 years ago I became acquainted with a group of Christians who were overcomers. Before that, I had known only a few who seemed to live above sin and doubt, to radiant peace and joy, and whose actions and words took one into the presence of the Lord.

There were several things that made my new acquaintances overcomers. They expected to see "the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" (Psa. 27:13 KJV)—not just someday in the sweet by and by. They believed God’s promises; instead of reading them and saying, “Well, I hope so.” They obeyed the requirements and admonitions of Scripture, not rationalizing most of it away with statements such as “The Lord knows we’re only human.”

I saw unstable people become sound in mind and strong in spirit. I saw chronic sadness and self-doubt lift off of others. I saw an army of individuals who lived so much in the Word and in worship, that life-changing words came out of their mouths regularly, whether speaking with a fellow church member, a relative, or the person ahead of them in the check-out lane. I saw such a confidence in Jesus Christ that they laid hands on sick people and they recovered. They shared the word of God with people in broken relationships and desperate circumstances until miracles of restoration occurred.

Is this not why Christ came? To take broken people and make them “oaks of righteousness.” To make them advancers of his kingdom. To make them OVERCOMERS.

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