Oaks of Righteousness

Isaiah 61Fall happened suddenly for me this year. The air has chilled, the leaves have changed, and heavy rains and an early snow have forced some trees to lose their color before I’ve fully come to terms with the change of seasons. Summer was a discouragement for me. Fall is over before it started. Now winter is looming like the long shadows that creep across our yard.

The trees on our property are giving up and letting go of their foliage. All except one. The young oak tree remains. Standing firm. Clinging tightly to what is hers.

She will be there for me all winter. Just outside my back door. Encouraging me to hang on.  When the wind kicks up and the flurries come, her rustling leaves are a reminder to me that the creator that gives her life is the creator that has given me life. The creator that designed the oak tree to hold fast to her leaves through the winter, designed me, too.

Isaiah 61 promises us beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair, and that we will be called Oaks of Righteousness – a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.

As we go through the seasons of life, we will all come upon on time of winter. Dark, cold, isolating. We should stand as tall as the oaks. Long after others have succumbed to the season, we should cling to the promise of spring.

Trade our ashes for beauty, replace mourning with joy, and shed our despair for a garment of praise.

Lord willing, we can be Oaks of Righteousness. Planted by Him. Sustained by Him. And rooted by Him for the display of His splendor.


Stone Soup

Folklore tells a tale of some travelers who stop in a village, bringing nothing with them but an empty pot. They fill the pot with water from a stream, add a stone from the riverbed, and start a fire. Passers-by inquire about what they are doing, making stone soup they say…if only we had some vegetables, it would be perfect!  Carrots, potatoes, and onions are added. The scene is repeated with meat, then seasonings. The travelers successfully convinced all the villagers to contribute something to the pot, and in the end, they all are able to share in a delicious meal that they worked together to prepare.

A similar story can be told within our church.

There’s no way a single stone could feed anybody. But one of us can start the fire. Another may have a pot. Another, spices. Another, nutritious ingredients. Yet another, a spoon and the ability to bring it all together. Another, a ladle to serve.stone soup

Each of us, has the ability to say-

I can’t do it all, but I can do my part.

I can serve in some small way.

I have something I to offer.

Each of these efforts alone may not go far. But together, together we are a force.

A force that will bust out of our church basement walls and impact our community. Our village. Our world.

You see, God provides the babbling stream. God provides the stone. He provides the stockpot. The wood for the fire and the flame.

He’s making sure that we have all the ingredients we need. He’s providing a ladle to serve and enough bowls to share. He’s using us to provide sustenance to people who are hungry. They don’t even know what they’re hungry for yet, but the aroma is in the air.

He’s making the soup. Stone soup.

Loaves & Fishes – It’s What’s for Dinner

‘What’s for dinner?”

It’s an age-old question. And when it’s asked around my house, and it’s been awhile since my last trip to the grocery store, the answer is “Loaves and Fishes.”  Go look in the fridge, and hopefully there’s enough of something to feed everyone that’s hungry. Leftover Night.

I read a thought provoking article today on the account of the Loaves and Fishes in the Bible – remember the feeding of the 5000? Jesus and His disciples were out in the wilderness with thousands of hungry people. In spite of their skepticism, Jesus asked the disciples to gather up all that they could – five loaves of bread, and two fish. He blessed it, broke it, and used it to feed everyone. No one remained hungry and there was even more food than they needed.

Jesus does four things during this meal. He takes the bread. He blesses it. He breaks it. And He gives it. And what the author points out that I had never thought about before – is that in His hands, we are the bread.

As we surrender to Him, He takes us, He blesses us, He breaks us, and He uses us. Over and over again.

He uses us to fill others. In His power there is enough to complete His purpose with abundance to spare.

Under our own strength this feat would be impossible. Attempted on our own we would quickly find ourselves empty and depleted. Trying to use our own leftovers always comes up short.

As we entrust ourselves into the hands of Jesus – He takes us, and He blesses us. Yes, He breaks us. But it is when we are fully surrendered, reliant, broken and empty, that we are able to be most impactful to those around us.

I’ll admit that much of the time I just focus on my leftovers – my limited amount of energy and resources. I’m overwhelmed by my brokenness and know my meager picnic basket will never be enough. Will I ever be enough?

Only when placed in God’s hands.  I’m so grateful for that reminder today.


Take a few minutes to read the original article – https://www.seedbed.com/the-thing-jesus-wants-the-most-from-us/