Truth and Right Living, Armor up with Christ

Do you suit up properly for life’s battles?  Here are the first pieces of armor in Paul’s list- the belt and  breastplate.   Ephesians 6:14 “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness”,  The first things we are to put on involve our godly ephesians 6 14-beltcharacter- the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness.  The root of the believer’s strength is the character he/she has in Christ.  Godly character is based on the truth of God, who He is, and how you are bound to Him through faith in Christ.  Jesus is truth and knowing Him brings truth into your lifeJohn 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  His Holy Spirit brings believers truth “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:13 and His Word is truth “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”  John 17:17.   The truth of godly character is base on Christ, the Holy Spirit and His Word and are the essential building blocks for godly character in our lives.

Another element of godly character that we are to put on that provides for our defense is His righteousness as ephesians 6 14-breastplateour breastplate.   The breastplate covers the heart and protects our vital organs. Since we cannot be righteous on our own because of our sin nature, we have to depend upon Christ and His righteousness.  Romans 3:21-24 “ But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. 23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”   Jesus made the way for us to be righteous before God and give us (imputes) His righteousness to us.  We are renewed through this righteousness from Christ as Paul reminded us in Ephesians 4:20-24 in The Message translation, “But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.”  Righteousness is a key to a life filled with godly character and can only be obtained through Christ.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, only through Him can we have His character.

ephesians 6 14Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can have godly character that is based on His truth and righteousness.  These first pieces of armor are crucial to living a life for Christ. Put them on then stand firmly rooted and grounded in Christ.

Linda

 

 

 

Righteousness = God, what about us?

As you read today’s scripture taken from Luke 1:68-75 showing Zachariah’s praise song to God,  be mindful of God’s Righteous character.  Here is the definition of God’s righteousness-see how it fits with all God did and will do.  Righteous God God is right in all He does. He has always been right and always will be right.  All of His words and actions are right.  All of His plans are right.  God has no sin and is positively perfect.  God never lies.  He is fair, just and faithful in all he does.  We never need wonder if God is right, so we can trust God when we do not understand.

Luke-1-68“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has visited and redeemed his people.
69 He has sent us a mighty Savior
    from the royal line of his servant David,
70 just as he promised
    through his holy prophets long ago.
71 Now we will be saved from our enemies
    and from all who hate us.
72 He has been merciful to our ancestors
    by remembering his sacred covenant—
73 the covenant he swore with an oath
    to our ancestor Abraham.
74 We have been rescued from our enemies
    so we can serve God without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness
    for as long as we live.

The people of Israel could count upon God to keep His promises, treat them with mercy, never leave or forsake them to their enemies and guide them in a walk that is good all the days of their lives.  They knew their God was righteous in all ways.

Do you know Zachariah’s Righteous  God?  Through Jesus we can know God more fully and see His Holy Spirit working within us.  Romans 3:10 says, ““None is righteous, no, not one;”  Without Jesus we are lost and doomed to death because of our sinful nature.  We cannot get ourselves clean enough for Holy God.  Paul explains the solution to this dilemma in Philippians 3:8-9 “ Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”

Philippians 3-9Give thanks today for our Righteous God who loves and desires the best for us.  He desires we seek Him and walk each day in His ways.  He desires that we grow in righteousness through faith in Jesus.  Blessings as you meditate on the Righteousness of God and your own ‘rightness’ with God through your faith in Christ Jesus.

Linda
 

Free to be me in Christ!

romans 6 22Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have been made free from sin.  By nature of birth, I am a sinner and will always be a sinner until I go to heaven.  Knowing Jesus as my Savior allows me to be free from the power of sin over my life.  When I go to heaven, I will be freed from the power and presence of sin, but until then I need to walk humbly with God and keep short accounts, meaning repent of my sins and not allow Satan a foot hold into my life.

There are many verses that assure us that we are freed from sin’s power through faith in Christ.  Here are a few:

Romans 6:6-7 “We know that our old self  was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free  from sin.”  Through faith our old nature, the person within that desires to do sinful things, is dead and made powerless so that we are free in Jesus.

Romans 6: 17-18 “Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.” (NLT)   Since we are free in Christ, we can live for Him doing and thinking right things.

Romans 6:22 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”   Freedom in Christ allows the Holy Spirit to grow us up in Christ making us more and more like Jesus.

romans 6 17Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”  We are free in Jesus no longer condemned to eternal death by sin!

Revelation 1:5b “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”   John opens his revelation about end times with this prayer.  He knew that Jesus was the one responsible for our freedom from sin and our status in God’s eyes.  Thank you Jesus.

freedom in christEnjoy your freedom in Christ today!

Linda

Suggestion: reflect on your life-  How are you thinking, talking or doing things differently since having Jesus in your life?  Thank Jesus for that change.  What are you still doing, thinking or saying that you want to stop so you can be more like Jesus?  Ask Jesus to change that within you and free you from that sin.  He will!

My entrance ticket is valid and being used daily, is yours?

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have entrance into His kingdom.  The gospels refer to the kingdom of God frequently.  Jesus said that one needs child like faith in God to gain entrance.  Mark 10:15  “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”  Jesus said that entrance would be harder for the wealthy as laying aside their wealth to pursue God’s kingdom is tough.  Mark 10:25 “ It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  Jesus was sent to proclaim the good news of His kingdom and He sent the disciples out to proclaim it too.  Luke 9:2 “and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.”  Jesus used parables to describe His kingdom with the mustard seed and leaven in Luke 13:18-19,21 “He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” 21 “It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three God's kingdommeasures of flour, until it was all leavened.”  All of these examples tell us that to see the kingdom of God we must have faith, as a child, set aside our worldly goals in pursuit of His kingdom,  be dedicated to telling others about Jesus and growing continually in our love for Jesus.

John tells us straight out how we can gain entrance into God’s kingdom.  Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  John 3:3    Paul explains in Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  Entrance into God’s kingdom comes through faith in Jesus and the power of the romans 14 17indwelling Holy Spirit empowers us to live in and for His kingdom day by day.   Because of Jesus and His work on the cross, I can gain entrance into God’s kingdom now and forever through faith in Him.  Christ alone is the answer!

Linda

Suggestion:  Take inventory of your kingdom benefits- do you feel you have right standing with God because of Christ?  Do you have peace and joy from the inside out provided by the Holy Spirit?  Look to Jesus and ask Him with a repentant heart to clean your heart and mind and give you indwelling joy and peace.  He is faithful and will provide what you need to be whole.

Given by Christ, Righteousness. Thank you Jesus.

christ my righteousnessBecause Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I have Christ’s righteousness.  Christ was a man while on earth, pure, holy, without sin, filled with integrity, virtuous in behavior, humble and the list could continue.  Most importantly He was sinless and therefore in right standing with God the Father.  God cannot look upon sin so unless we are pure and holy we cannot be in a relationship with Him.  By saying, “I have Christ’s righteousness” I am proclaiming that I am in right standing with God.  I can know and communicate with Holy God.  Romans 5:19 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 explain how this happened for us through Christ’s work on the cross. Romans 5:19 “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners (that was Adam), so also through the obedience of the one man (Christ) the many will be made righteous.”  2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  Through faith in Christ, I can have His Righteousness and come into a relationship with Almighty God.  Without Christ, we have no way get rid of our sin. We can never do enough good works.  We can never clean ourselves up enough to come before God.  Ephesians 2:8-9 puts it this way,For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”  What a precious gift Christ’s righteousness is to me!

How do we process this for Lent?  Recognizing that our position before God is totally dependent upon Jesus and His redeeming work on the cross and resurrection from the dead should give us pause and create in us a sense of gratitude and humility.

Prayer:  Thank you Jesus that through faith in  your work on the cross I am able to come before You in prayer, study Your word with understanding and be indwelt by your Holy Spirit.  Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice on my behalf.  Amen.

Linda

the-willing-spirit-can-do-good-deeds-by-grace-quote-1Suggestion for today: Pray David’s prayer from Psalm 51: 10,12               Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.                                                   Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Sometime today, instead of taking credit for something good you are doing or did – give the praise to God.  Have a willing spirit that desires to please Him. Acknowledge Him with your thoughts- He knows your heart and spirit.

Are you Seeing blessings in your life? Take a look!

Being a blessed believer I’ve discovered has many layers.  I began weeks ago with a definition of what blessing is in man’s eyes: a gift of divine favor, good wishes or approval, anything that gives happiness or prevents misfortune.  Then I looked at scripture to see what God calls blessedness.  All of God’s examples show divine favor towards us and His divine ways of having His blessings in our lives.   Which ones have you seen, are seeing or hope to see in your life?  When you do- you can count yourself blessed!

Blessed is the believer who:  walks in His ways.  Psalm 1                                                            *whose’s sins are forgiven.  Psalm 32:1-2                                                                                          *who takes refuge in Him.  Psalm 34:8                                                                                               *who trusts in the Lord.  Psalm 40:4                                                                                                   *who wisely listens, obeys and accepts the Father’s discipline and instruction  Psalm                      94:12                                                                                                                                            *who fears (reveres) the Lord and delights in His Commandments.   Psalm 112:1                 *who is blessed through his children (physical or spiritual).  Psalm 127:5                               *who fears God and walks in His ways.  Psalm 128:1-2                                                                 *who does what is right based in His righteousness. Isaiah 56:1-2                                             *who is deep rooted in Him, standing firm in all seasons of life.  Jeremiah 17:4                      *whose sins are forgiven, dependent upon God for His righteousness in Christ.  Romans              4:6-8                                                                                                                                               *who is steadfast, persevering and awaiting reward.  James 1:12                                               *who is humble, sorrows over his sin and dependent upon God for forgiveness, hungers             after God’s Word, merciful, has a clean heart before God,  is a peacemaker, is                        persecuted  for His sake.   Matthew 5:3-10

blessed gratefulWhat a list to take to heart and meditate uponIf you are not seeing some of the blessings God provides for believers, take that to heart, pray about it, search scripture and ask God what He would have you do so that you might partake in His divine blessings!

Linda

All we like sheep

This scripture passage was also included in Sunday’s Poignant Gratitude blog, but Handel’s Messiah has a separate chorus for this verse that is very beautiful. Let’s look at this today in the Amplified Translation.

Isaiah 53.6Isaiah 53:6  “All of us like sheep have gone astray,
We have turned, each one, to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the wickedness of us all [our sin, our injustice, our wrongdoing]  To fall on Him [instead of us].

Believers or followers of Christ were often referred to by Jesus as ‘sheep’.  It was an image that the people of His time could relate to as most towns and villages had herds of sheep.  They were familiar with the idiosyncrasies of sheep and how much care they required.  They knew sheep were prone to wander and get lost if the shepherd did not guide, protect and lead them.  Jesus called himself the good shepherd and states His willingness to die for His sheep.  A good shepherd would want to protect his sheep from predators and would fight to defend them even if it caused his own death.  John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  In verse 14, Jesus tell about the sheep and how those who believe in Him will know Him.  “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.”   In verses 27-28, Jesus assures us we will recognize Him, follow Him and be protected by Him.   “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  In Luke 15 Jesus gives the parable of the ‘lost sheep’ and how as the good shepherd he pursues any and all that are lost that they might know Him and be saved.

Not only is Jesus the good shepherd but in His death He took on the sins of the world so that mankind could be reconciled with God.  And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,”  Colossians 1:21-22  He took all sins upon Himself and paid the price for sin which is death.  Hebrews 10:10 “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  Jesus took the penalty for my sins and yours so that we might be freed from having to pay sin’s price, which is death.  Romans 6:22-23 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

savedPrayer:   Lord Jesus, thank you for being my good shepherd and dying for me on the cross.  You took the punishment for my sins and gave me life, hope and freedom from the bondage of sin.  Thank you that through your blood I am covered and when God looks upon me He sees your righteous covering instead of my sin.  You promise that my sins are gone and buried in the depths of the sea and this gives me hope.  He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”  Micah 7:19  Amen.

Blessings to you as you ponder the power of His reconciliation and the hope of His righteousness imparted to you.

Linda

The Righteous King Arrives

The next prophecy used by Handel in the Messiah was in Zechariah 9:9-10.  He only uses a portion of these verses in the script.

Zechariah 9 9“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
    righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
    and the war horse from Jerusalem;
and the battle bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall speak peace to the nations;
his rule shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

These words point to Jesus’ coming at a special time.  This is just before the cross and Jesus enters Jerusalem mounted on a donkey.  The people praised Him that Palm Sunday waving branches as they sang His praises.  Matthew 21:7-9 “They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting,  “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”  Zechariah’s words were given hundreds of years before and Jesus fulfilled them exactly!  Zechariah also says that He will be righteous, coming to save and bringing peace to all nations that seek Him.  We see those completely fulfilled in Jesus’ life.   He came as the righteous Lord, Psalm 145:17 “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.”.   He came to bring righteousness to us, 1 Corinthians 1:30 “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”  He came to bring peace.  John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  Those that seek Him do not go away empty handed nor empty hearted.

Rejoice today in the righteousness of God, His Peace and  Jesus’ righteousness imparted to you and me to save us from our sins.

Linda

I AM your Righteousness

Lord RighteousnessOne of the most important Messianic prophesies in the Bible appears in Jeremiah 23.  Jeremiah wrote about the King who would come to reign in wisdom and justice with the power to save.  “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’”  This prophecy was partially fulfilled when Jesus came to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and died on the cross and rose from the dead.  There is also a future portion yet to be realized where Jesus will reign with wisdom and justice here in the land.  In the meantime, He is here reigning in our hearts with love, wisdom and justice indwelling us with His Holy Spirit.  His return and reign are still future to us.

God desires for us to be righteous in character through His Son, Jesus.   But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”  Romans 3:21-24   The Lord can be our righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead imputed His righteousness into our account and gave us life and victory over death when we believe in Him.  Titus 2:13-14 reminds us of our wait for Jesus’ return and what He accomplished when He came, Titus 2 14waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”   We are a people He saved for Himself to do His good works and spread the good news of redemption that is available through faith in Jesus.  Jesus is our Righteousness now and foreverHe covers our sins and makes us righteous before our Holy God.  

I am praising and thanking God that He is my Righteousness today.

Linda

 

The reality of my righteousness and God’s Righteousness

Psalm 119:137-144 focuses on God’s Righteousness as the psalmist says he sees God’s character in His Word.  137 Righteous are you, O Lordand right are your rules.
138 You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness  and in all faithfulness.   Later in verse 147 he points to the righteousness of God and His Word that is eternal.  Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true.

Why is it important to know that God and His Word are righteous?  Righteous is by definition being morally right, just, virtuous, and upright.  If we do not have  a holy and righteous God, we are lost without hope.  In our sinful state, fallen and alienated by sin, there is no way for us to be made righteous.  God, in His mercy, had a plan to redeem us and make us right with Him.  Jesus was His answer to our sinfulness and through Him He made a way for us to put on God’s righteousness.  Romans 3-22 RighteousnessRomans 3:22-23 ” 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”   1 Corinthians 1:30 “30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,”  These are just a few of the many verses that speak of Jesus’ work on the cross that imputed God’s righteousness to us.  

The psalmist knew that he was not righteous.  He knew he was sinful and in verse 141 he says “Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts.”   He knew the truth of God’s righteousness and the truth of God’s Word as he ends this portion with verse 142, “Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.”   He knew that believing that he himself was righteous would lead to wrong thinking, pride, arrogance and self-boasting.  Knowing we can rely upon the rightness of God’s Word, we can depend upon the direction and guidance we receive as we read and study His Word.

Today as you reflect on these verses, think about your own attitude towards righteousness.  Do you assume you are a good person, righteous and worthy of praise from men?  When I begin thinking like that, I am reminded in humility of Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 64:6 ” We are all infected and impure with sin.  When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.  Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,  and our sins sweep us away like the wind.”

Praise be to Jesus, the one who saves and presents us in right standing before God!  Praise be to God that His Word is eternally true and guides us to live as He desires.

Linda