Self Righteous or Righteousness?

…and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.

Ephesians 6:14b.

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.

Shalom!

Whatever Happens

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…

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel

Philippians 1:27

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?

Whatever happens?

Shalom!

The Weight Of It All

Solomon had twelve officials over all Israel, who provided food for the king and his household…1Kings 4:7a.

Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty cors of choice flour, and sixty cors of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty pasture-fed cattle, one hundred sheep, besides deer, gazelles, roebucks, and fatted fowl…1Kings 4:22,23.

Those officials supplied provisions for King Solomon and for all who came to King Solomon’s table, each one in his month; they let nothing be lacking. 1Kings 4:27.

Can you imagine the people power and resources that were needed for these provisions? A cor is approximately 6.24 bushels of dry weight. One bushel, depending on the commodity, can be between 20 and 6o pounds. Thirty cors of choice flour good easily have weighed 11,232 pounds on the high end.

Yet, these twelve officials let nothing be lacking. They even provided barley and straw for King Solomon’s horses and swift steeds [he had forty thousand stalls of horses and twelve thousand horsemen].

They gave all this to a human king.

I wonder, especially in this season of celebrating the birth of our heavenly King, who gave his life so we could live, what can you offer-what can I offer that nothing is lacking from His kingdom, for His glory?

For His Glory

Have you had a situation where your heart and mind perceived that Jesus didn’t show up at the right time or at all? Maybe you are walking through a season right now wondering where He is.

Next month will be 13 years since my then 17 year old nephew was killed in a senseless and tragic auto accident. Remarkably drugs and alcohol were not involved but speed and rain were and the driver of the car lost control. The driver, who was expecting to attend college on a basketball scholarship after graduation in a few months, had to be extricated from the car and lost both his legs. Miraculously my niece and her friend, who were thrown from the backseat of the car and suffered broken backs, survived.

Three separate occasions I asked God why. Three times He dropped into my heart, for My glory.

My brother’s marriage couldn’t withstand the strain of the loss of a child and ended in divorce shortly after the accident. Last year my brother went home to Jesus after years of chronic illness and a broken heart.

In my humanness I would say that I have yet to see God’s glory in this particular situation over the last 13 years but the truth is I have seen His glory. The year before my brother passed he was hospitalized with some very serious issues that caused us to think he wouldn’t live through the night. I reached out to many praying friends and the next day we found almost every issue had disappeared overnight. God’s glory. During this same hospital visit God sent me in to pray with my brother. He was ready and we said a simple prayer of salvation. God’s glory.

In our verse above Martha makes a simple statement to the Lord, if He had been there her brother wouldn’t have died. At the same time she knew that God would give Jesus whatever he asked. Jesus brought Lazarus back to life.

There is a poignant sentiment Martha coneys. On the surface the story is about the loss of her brother and how Jesus could have saved him were He there while he was ill. But a few layers down…deeper we see Martha’s complete trust in the sovereignty of God. She knew regardless of how the situation looked on the outside Jesus was in control and His love for her and her family would never waver.

Through the generations Martha seems to have gotten a bad rap. She was the sister more concerned with preparing a meal for 13 men rather than sitting at the feet of Jesus as her sister Mary did. But Martha knew something to her very core.

She knew Jesus was the awaited Messiah and she trusted Him.

Have you put your trust in Jesus? When you do I can’t nor I won’t promise everything will be perfect in your life but I can promise His love for you will never falter. And if you allow Him the space Holy Spirit will fill you with His peace and comfort in the midst of adversity.

Shalom.

Tuesday Thoughts

The love of God leads us to faith in Jesus even while we were still against Him. The love of Jesus sent Him to the cross where He hung for our sins. Cleansed from sin by His forgiveness we enjoy reconciliation and a renewed fellowship with God.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

Adventures

Sometimes, we need to take a break from the ordinary and do something extraordinary. For me that is visiting our oldest lovebug and having her plan a grand adventure.

We took the mega bus from DC to NYC. That in itself is an adventure! We stayed overnight but this morning more adventure awaits. Real bagels and cream cheese for breakfast and a musical in the afternoon. A quick dinner and the mega bus back to DC. Oh, the mega bus, everyone ought to experience that at least once.

Have a wonderful weekend Friends! And remember to take time for some adventure!

I thought tolls in Cali were high.

From the 31st floor. 😳

Tuesday Thoughts

Fully Convinced

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

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.

Shalom!

Opulence

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.