A train I did find
Just in time
Though she no longer runs.
Passengers she did carry
Here and there
Can’t you hear her horn
See her billowing steam
If only in your memory?
Her glory days are over
But here she sits
For all to see.
No longer charging across the tracks
A stunning beauty
No power does she lack.
You proudly sit on display
Thank you for your service.
…and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.
Righteousness is one of those words that has been misconstrued through generations and cultural preference. Like many words it has lost its true meaning and has been skewed to fit a cultural climate. Some, perhaps many, might say born again believers are self righteous. That followers of Jesus feel they are morally superior. [If you feel this way, I am sorry and hope you can forgive anyone who has caused you to feel this way]. The truth is those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are challenged by moral behavior just as anyone else who walks this planet. The difference is followers of Jesus have the help of Holy Spirit to guide them in and to desire a righteous lifestyle.
Several years ago I heard from a sermon that we never take off our breastplate of righteousness. Through the years I have often thought about this and realize this thought doesn’t resonate with me.
When you make a choice to follow Jesus [asking for the forgiveness of your sins and committing to learning about and living like Jesus] righteousness becomes your identity in Jesus. You have the divine approval of God; you are approved in His sight. Therefore, you cannot loose your righteousness. Sin, however, causes a break in our fellowship with God and He graciously offers the gifts of confession and repentance and Holy Spirit is faithful to help us confess and repent and we enjoy restored communion with God.
The breastplate of righteousness is God’s divine approval of all who believe in Jesus, however, Paul tells us to put on the breastplate of righteousness. This is an action we are instructed to take. The breastplate of the Roman soldier described in the Armor of God passage in Ephesians [Ephesians 6:10-17] was meant to protect a soldier’s heart. Paul encourages us to put on God’s righteousness to protect our hearts. When we actively choose to spend time with Him by reading and studying His word and through prayer and praise we are protecting our heart from a thief who wants to steal Truth from us.
The breastplate of righteousness is a choice. Will you go about your day believing you have everything under control? Or, will you seek Holy Spirit lifting your arms and choosing to have Him fit your customized breastplate over your head, cinching it into place, protecting your heart as you choose to ask Him to continue to guide you in living a life of freedom?
Choose well. Chose wisely.
Whatever happens. This reminds me of a movie [not one in particular] but one where the characters have been fighting the good fight. All looks lost and the encouraging character says, whatever happens…
Paul is encouraging the Philippians to stay strong amid the provoking, teasing and ill-treatment they were receiving and would continue to receive because of their proclamation of faith in Jesus and their commitment to share Him. Whatever happens.
Where I live and maybe where you live the ill-treatment we receive isn’t the possibility of stoning with large boulders or massive crowds surrounding us, taunting us with slurs and bodily harm [as Paul and the Philippians faced, however, this still happens in many parts of the world because faith in Jesus is against the law]
But, when you are provoked by the driver at the stop sign who doesn’t acknowledge you and simply drives through even though you arrived first. Or, you’re in that store or perhaps someone you thought you were building a friendly relationship with suddenly becomes curt and distant. How will you respond?
As believers in Christ we have the mind of Christ but do our thoughts, actions and how we live our life reflect this?
Are we allowing Holy Spirit to transform our mind to think like Him?
Are we putting on the full armor of God daily?
Specifically, are we putting on the helmet of salvation, which is the protection of our soul and also a picture of protecting our head where our mind and thoughts live?
Are we conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ?
Locks. Maybe you’ve seen them. They seem to show up on bridges almost everywhere. In fact, on the Brooklyn Bridge it is against the law to secure them to the bridge, but the posted signs, stating as much, do little to deter people. They appear in assorted sizes and colors quietly proclaiming the promise of the ones who locked them to the bridge of their love for one another. To trust each other with their heart.
Over the past several weeks God has reminded me of His promises in His word. Below I share a few that have resonated with me once again.
In that day– “Sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the LORD, watch over it; I water it continually. I guard it day and night so that no one may harm it. Isaiah 27:2,3.
I have prayed Isaiah 27:2,3 for my children often throughout the years. It is comforting to picture my children as that fruitful vineyard with God watching over them and watering them continually with His presence and guarding them day and night so no one may harm them.
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. Joel 2:25.
Several years ago I was in the middle of a health crisis that seemed like it would become and remain chronic. Then…then God. He had given me the word restore for that year and shortly after I heard a sermon on Joel 2:25. THEN I went to a writers conference and saw this.
But this is what the LORD says: “Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save. Isaiah 49:25.
The following year God gave me Isaiah 49:25. Not only does God promise to set captives free and return the plunder the enemy stole, He contends with those who contend with me and saves my children. Contention in my childrens lives trickles into my life and I love how I can rest in this promise that God contends on our behalf.
Placing a love lock on a bridge won’t guarantee forever love or trust between the ones who locked them there but when we allow the truth of God’s promises to settle in our heart He teaches us of His love and trustworthiness and we can be fully convinced that God is able to do what he has promised because of His unconditional and lavish love.
Bread of the world in mercy broken,
wine of the soul in mercy shed,
by whom the words of life were spoken,
and in whose death our sins are dead.
Look on the heart by sorrow broken,
look on the tears by sinners shed;
and be thy feast to us the token
that by thy grace our souls are fed.
Author-Reginald Heber, The Presbyterian Hymnal.
There is no time like the present to ask Jesus into your heart. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what you’ve said, how you think or what habits you have. If you confess and repent and call to Jesus, He is faithful to answer and forgive your sins. Holy Spirit swoops in for the save and begins to transform your life. A life that is filled with joy, peace and comfort regardless of situations or experiences. A life He came to give you. A life He died for you.
Sitting at my desk looking out the second story window of my home office to the tree lined street I am struck by the plethora of color. Bright orange, deep maroon and rusty red. I am praising God for Who He Is and the word opulent comes to mind.
Opulent, such a beautiful word. I imagine light hitting a chandelier and producing fragments of multicolored sparkles on all that it touches.
I’m led to explore the definition of opulent; not satisfied I look up opulence. From one online source the definition is abundance, an opulence of fruit. Still not completely satisfied I search for the Biblical definition which is riches.
In this moment I sense the Spirit’s abundance as He richly shares His fruit with me to be shared with others.
As you journey with Him may He lavish you in His opulence as you touch those around you and your sphere of influence.
Interesting story about the above picture. I saw it some time ago as I was searching for a picture to use in an article about writing. When I saw it I thought those look like my daughter’s hands. I took a screen shot and sent it to my daughter telling her the picture looked like her hands. Imagine my surprise when she responded, “They are!” I use this picture whenever I have the opportunity!
Some of you may not know I am the Editor of NorCal Christian Voice[www.norcalchristianvoice.com]. We are an online magazine and one of many divisions across the nation of One Christian Voice. We report local, state, national and world news as well as many other areas of interest, such as, movie and book reviews, recipes, technology, sports, poems, testimonies, short stories and inspiration to name a few.
I enjoy reading your blogs and very much appreciate when you have the time to stop by to read and comment on mine. You each have a unique gift of stringing words together to create a work of written art.
Submissions are open at NorCal CV and we would be honored to read and consider your work for publication. You can submit to email@example.com.
Have a blessed week everyone!
She stood just outside the make believe perimeter. A part of, yet not. She longed for their companionship, their understanding, their love and their acceptance. She doesn’t remember, really, how she came to be where she currently found herself—on the outside.
She had known this group for years. Her children grew up with their children. They had shared graduations, children getting married, the birth of grandchildren along with close calls and the grief of losing loved ones.
These were her people, her community, her tribe. Yet somehow she felt so disconnected from them. Did anyone notice? Did anyone care? Was anyone praying for her? Would anyone reach out to her?
In this moment she felt like the one lost sheep that unknowingly wandered away from the flock and couldn’t find her way home. She needed help, yearned for it, for someone in her tribe to help her find her way back into the fold.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, comes home, and calls together his friends and neighbors to tell them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep!’ In the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep is addressing the lost sheep as a sinner that is found and saved. But what about those within the Body of Christ? The ones that aren’t lost physically or spiritually rather emotionally. The ones that once were included but now feel disconnected not sure why nor how to reconnect.
Surely Jesus wants us to go after those within our believing communities that have lost their way, to ‘find’ them and carry them back to the fold.
Jesus wants us to be inclusive not exclusive.
If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. 1 John 4:20.
Who is Jesus asking you to include in your circle of friends/influence? More importantly, what will you do?