“That they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified…” Is 61:3
Oaks of Righteousness
In the book of Isaiah, referred to by many as the Gospel of the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah foretells of THE PROPHET who will come to undo all that’s gone wrong in the world through sin. What exciting news for Gods people back then. God would come and restore all that was broken, release all that was enslaved and establish an everlasting joy – WOW!
The excitement for us today as Christians should be even greater, because we know that THE PROPHET has come. Jesus, the Anointed One, the messiah, God came to earth to fulfill the promise He made to rescue and redeem a people for himself. God is always keeps his promises.
Jesus lived the perfect life we couldn’t live, died the punishing death we do deserve and rose triumphantly from the dead, defeating sin, the devil and death. Through faith in Christ we are forgiven of our sin, receive his righteousness as our own and are “clothed in the garments of salvation.” We are accepted by God, adopted as sons and given a new assignment, to love God and live our lives for him as a testimony to his mercies and grace.
Planted for Glory
We are not merely saved by God to sit around. Through his saving grace we become seeds, oaks of righteousness, created for a purpose, his purpose. The Christ Follower is given a new heart and mind to live a new life, a life that is to be “living sacrifice” to God. (Rom 12:1-2). Every thought and action is now an act of worship, a labor of love, lived out as a great big “thank you” to the Lord for his loving kindness.
Seeds are only fruitful when they are planted. And that is just what God does with his seeds (Christians). He plants us into places, into relationships and into situations that his grace would grow in predetermined places (Acts 17:26) and his glory would shine for all to see. That our words and deeds would bring the life, light and love of the gospel to into dead, dark and desperate places. And every time these gospel seeds sprouted, through Christians laying down their lives for God and the good of others, he would be glorified. (1Peter 2:12)
What an amazing gift we have been given in Christ. Not only are we saved, but we are sent. Invited to participate with God in his redemptive and restoring work in this world. Is there a greater purpose? Is there a more amazing opportunity? I think not. We should be blown away by the kindness of God the Father.
Let’s look at just a few practical applications of this planting God does, by examining three places he plants his people into every day life.
Planted in the World
It’s no accident you live where you live. Love it or hate it, God was not surprised by your residency. You are the exact person, in the exact place to accomplish his exact mission at this time in history. You have the just the right amount of talents, abilities and spiritual gifting do be faithful to God’s mission where you are. Faithful to proclaim the gospel in word, sharing the good news of Jesus with friends, family and neighbors. Calling people to repentance, to faith, hope and joy in Christ. It’s as simple as telling them who Jesus is and the story of how he saved you.
Secondly it means being faithful in deed, to love the people around us in visible and tangible ways. It means serving others ahead of serving ourselves. It means being attentive to needs and meeting them. It looks like belonging to a church that is actively engaging your cities culture and commerce. It’s acts of mercy and justice. Its being in relationship with the people no body cares to know. It means putting down roots and contributing to the good of the places and the people where God has placed you.
Where do you live? What gospel fruit is visibly growing there through you? Who is being served? Who is being saved?
Planted in the Home
Home is where the heart is they say. It might also read “home is where the heart is revealed”. Behind closed doors the real me comes out. It’s where I am most known. That’s the scary part. It’s also where I can have the greatest effect. That’s the good news.
God uses marriage. In the home, with the spouse you chose to give your life to, God does some of his deepest work. In the tension of relationships Jesus is at work. He reveals our selfishness and teaches us sacrifice. When he plants two people together it is for the purpose of being glorified in those two souls. If we are attentive to his leading and willing to respond he will teach us awesome things about himself in the process of loving one another.
Husbands your call to love your wife as Christ is meant to plant the gospel in you and have it flow from you into your marriage. Wives, your call to respect your husband is meant to plant the need for the gospel in you as well and have it blossom in your unity for the world to see and admire.
For parents the home is the place our children should first hear the good news.
Dad, you are a soldier and a farmer. Defending the hearts, and tilling the souls of your children. What a huge responsibility and what a great privilege. Love your kids well, to teach them tangibly about Gods love. Give them grace, teach biblical truth, allow them freedom and pray for them often.
Mom, do not think your sacrifice is meaningless. Your role is great and your opportunity astounding. Raising your kids is a noble calling, never let anyone look down on you for it. Yours is the voice your child will first know, lead them to the Lord with soft words and Jesus filled songs. You are a seed sower and gospel shower every day. Take advantage of the moments, set good boundaries and give lots of grace.
Our children will teach us most about the gospel.
Practice hospitality, inviting people into your home to see the gospel at work. Not just in the good times but in the difficult times as well. Let not-yet-Christians see you need Jesus.
As a side note to singles, most of you dont live alone, which means that the place you live and the people you live with should be seen as the family you are a part of. Gospel opportunities abound. Some of you already feel like the mom or dad anyway. Simply begin being proactive.
Who do you live with? What gospel fruit is visibly growing there through you? Is the gospel in the air? DO you serve one another? Love one another? Is Jesus in your conversations? Are not-yet-Christians in your home? Are they being introduced to other Christians, invited into community, introduced to Christ?
Planted in the Workplace
It’s not a job is a mission field. You dont have to leave the country to make converts. You dont have to go very far to change the world. You merely need to die to your own ambitions and sow into where you have been planted.
Whether you are an owner, an employee, part time or full; whether you love your job or feel like a slave to it, there is gospel good to be done there. There are hurting people all around us. There are single parents. There are lonely souls, unmet needs and glorious opportunities for the grace of God to flourish in your work place. Every day there are chances to love, share and show Jesus to people. You will spend most of your time at work, it just makes since that some of your best missional efforts should take place there. And here is the good part, you wont have to go anywhere or spend anything to do it. It will fit right into your schedule. The only requirements are awareness and intentionality. God already has a plan and God guarantees results. And before you feel frustrated that nothing seems to be happening in the people around you through your gospel efforts, pause for moment and remember, the work God is doing is also in you. The mere fact that you are thinking about sharing the gospel, inviting others to church and praying for fellow employees is gospel fruit. Surprise Jesus is working in your work.
Work hard, like you are working for the Lord. Be honest. Be a servant. Respect authority. Listen to and honor others. Practice repentance and be a good example. These things get noticed quick in our day.
Where do you work? What gospel fruit is visibly growing there through you? Do people know you are a Christ Follower? Is it evident in your words and in your deeds? Are you befriending not-yet-Christians? Are they being invited into your life, introduced to other Christians and invited to church?
When we embrace the reality that we are seeds, saved by grace, sent on mission and sown into the world we will begin to see gospel fruit, both in our own lives and in the lives of others. As we experience this grace we will grow to want more of it, Jesus will be made much of and God will be glorified as more and more people come to love and worship him, meaning more souls will be saved and more seeds will be planted.