Tag Archives: righteousness

December 1; References

2 Corinthians 2:5-6:18

I imagine most of us have had to supply references at one time or another. Job applications, college admission forms, rental agreements. I’m in the process of joining a gun club and need three people who will vouch for me.

Maybe you’ve agreed to be a reference for someone. On what did you base your recommendation? You probably had to say how long you’ve known the person, and in what capacity. As someone close enough to know that person, you might have had to give your opinion on his or her character.

Paul, in chapter 3 is talking about letters of recommendation, and he said the Corinthians themselves were his letter. Look at verses 2-3:

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that also convicting?

When people are considering what you have to offer them in Jesus, who is it they look to for a recommendation? What does your relationship with your spouse say about your relationship with the Savior?

How do the people at work see the Holy Spirit lived out in the way you do your job, the way you treat your co-workers? Can they say you are honest, hard working, kind, generous, loving? Or do they see you as miserable as they?

How about your neighbors? Can they recommend your witness as a believer based on who they know you to be at home?

Maybe more importantly, are there eternal souls who have been saved because of your ministry and witness to them? Are there people who can give first hand recommendations based on their own encounter with the Savior through you?

God is speaking to me today about my witness. Will people be open to hearing what I have to say, based on the testimony of others I have touched for Jesus’ sake?

The Corinthians were Paul’s letters of recommendation. God is asking me to think about mine.

November 19; Faith

Galatians 1:1-4:7

Does reading Paul’s letter to the Galatians thrill you as much as it does me? Salvation comes from placing my faith in Jesus.

I can’t be good enough, generous enough, even religious enough to earn what Jesus freely gives to those who come to Him. He bought the right to forgive all who believe. That in itself thrills my soul.

Receiving forgiveness is the same for you as it is for me, as it is for that murderer on death row or that sweet little old lady down the street. We all must be born again by placing our faith in Jesus, the One who loves us and gave Himself for us.

Consider Abraham; “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then that those who believe are children of Abraham. (3:6-7)

Abraham believed. Do you?

But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised (righteousness), being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. (verse 22)

Isn’t that thrilling? Believe, and receive. Then this:

So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. (4:7)

Oh, dear one, I pray that you have placed your faith in Jesus. There is no joy greater than having your sins forgiven, no blessing better than being a child of God, nothing more thrilling than knowing you are going to heaven.

I am praying for you.

May 29; The Wisdom Cycle

Proverbs 8-10

Solomon seems to talk a lot about the relationship between wisdom and righteousness. First of all, he says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Not the love of the Lord. Not doing things for the Lord. Not a cleaned up life. And not the philosophy of today which tells us love of self is the beginning of wisdom.

Fear of God.

For those people who don’t know Him, that fear ought to look like the cowering, petrified, scared to death kind of fear that ends up in the attempt to escape Him. He is THAT God.

For those who recognize that, who realize the fearfulness of God, PLUS His great sacrificial love, their’s is a fear that looks more like obedience, respect, and awe. Now that’s the beginning of wisdom!

Solomon says that kind of wisdom leads to righteous living. Righteous living is blessed by God. One of those blessings is more wisdom which leads to more righteous living, then blessings, and wisdom, etc.

The “wisdom cycle.”

It’s the never ending cycle of the sanctified life, growing  in grace and knowledge of Jesus. It’s the yieldedness that produces a vital, productive life blessed by God, and used by Him to share the wisdom with others.

Do you fear God? You should. That fear should make you want to resist Satan in every way like I talked about yesterday. Living a righteous life is blessed by God, draws us closer to Him. Living a righteous life is wisdom – with benefits.

Jumping on the “wisdom cycle” is the wise thing to do.

 

January 9; Is There A Target On My Back?

Job: 15-19

Job brings up a hard truth about God that we often try to ignore. We can talk all day about God’s love, His grace, His forgiveness, kindness, acceptance. But we don’t like to even think about His wrath.

Now, to be perfectly clear, chapter 1 tells us Job’s suffering is not a direct result of sin. God is not punishing him. In fact, Job is an upright citizen. God even calls him “righteous.” Yet awful things are happening to Job.

In chapter 16, Job says he feels like God has placed a target on his back. Job feels God’s anger as though God were ripping him to shreds with gnashing teeth. Job says he’s tried to bind his wounds himself, he’s cried endless tears. But Job realizes his helplessness to combat God and win.

It’s easy to say Job didn’t deserve this. But here is what God impressed on me: if Job, descried by God Himself as a “righteous man,” has no defense against God, I’m in serious trouble.

Paul, in Romans 3:23 tells me everybody has sinned. Romans 3:10 actually quotes some Old Testament verses that tell me there isn’t a righteous man or woman anywhere. Not even one.

(I have no problem hearing God call Job “righteous,” then reading more than one Scripture that says no one is righteous. Job never lived like he was sinless. He continued to offer sacrifices for his sins and for those of his children. “Righteous” described Job because he had dealt with his sin.)

Scripture repeats these words, or words like them: Every sin is punished. Every sin deserves death. Every. Sin.

That’s why I think we should probably remove the word “deserve” from our vocabulary when talking about circumstances of life. We are all sinners, and God hates sin. Hates it. It’s hard to hear, but God considers sinners his enemies. (Romans 5:10; Philippians 3:18; James 4:4; I Samuel 12:14; and others)

Being sinners, we “deserve” God’s wrath. And, friend, you can’t handle God’s wrath.

As I look at the theme of worship in the book of Job, I am blown away that this man who is so lost, so grieved and alone, still looks to God. He begs God for an audience, not to give God a piece of his mind, but to present his case before God. Job longs for an advocate from heaven. Listen to this:

Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend. (17:19-21)

Read that again and let God speak to your heart. Hear Job’s confidence that there is Someone who is on his side, someone who pleads with God on his behalf like a man pleads for his friend. And Job had never even heard the name of Jesus. My soul is overwhelmed at the beauty of this truth. I love it so much.

Here’s something about God’s wrath: It’s real. And it’s frightening. It’s harsh and relentless. And we are absolutely, totally powerless against it.

But Jesus!

Jesus took God’s wrath directed at you and me. He faced God’s fierce anger – AND IT KILLED HIM.

But He didn’t stay dead! He defeated the last enemy – death. Now, by His grace, I can stand before God – not an enemy – but as His precious child. Not because of my own righteousness (which is non-existent) but because I’m wearing Jesus’ righteousness through the blood He shed on the cross.

God is no longer my enemy. He’s my Father. He calls me His friend!

Please understand that unless you have accepted what Jesus did for you on the cross, you are an enemy of God. You can try to bandage your own wounds, you can try to stand before Him in your own strength. But you don’t have any hope of winning that battle. No hope.

I don’t know what the circumstances of your life are like right now. But I know if you are blessed, you don’t deserve it. If you are suffering, you deserve much worse. You might feel like there is a target on your back, and you might be right.

But read again what Job said in the quote above. And know there is Someone in heaven who would love to be your advocate. Someone who would love to cover that target on your back with His own blood. Someone who wants to turn you from being an enemy of God, to being His most precious child.

 

2 Samuel 22-24; Blessed

I wrestled a bit with 22:21-25 this morning, because David is indicating God has rewarded him for good behavior. Clean hands, David? I seem to remember something about a girl named Bathsheba. Check under your fingernails, my friend. I’m not so sure they’re as clean as you’d like to think.

But there are other places in Scripture that equate righteous living with blessing: I Samuel 26:23, I Kings 8:32, Psalm 24, Proverbs 11 are just a few.

Then you have Psalm 14:3, Romans 3:10, 23 that tell us none of us can claim righteousness. Besides, life itself tells us good things don’t always happen just to good people.

I just watched a YouTube video from Nabeel Qureshi, a young man dying of cancer. If you don’t know him, I encourage you to check him out. A former Muslim, he gave his heart to the Lord and has had a fruitful ministry sharing Jesus. It would seem he should have many more years to talk about his Savior, yet unless God performs a miracle, Nabeel’s life on this earth is at an end.

The recent hurricanes that have and are causing destruction in this part of the world are not just picking out criminals and atheists to hit. And I’m sure you could come up with examples in your own life when good Christian people are hit with hardships. So where does David get off talking about how God has blessed him for following the rules?

He was forgiven.

David was not delusional. How did God reward him for obedience? I found the answer when I read on.

God had shown Himself as faithful, blameless, pure, shrewd, saving. “You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.”

Those are the real blessings of a right relationship with God. God may choose to miraculously heal Nabeel at the eleventh hour. He may choose to spare my home from Hurricane Irma. But the reality is Nabeel will die some day. My house will crumble and fall some day. Neither are going to last forever.

I have the same assurance David had in that I know God blesses His people with Himself. We can stand before him righteous, blameless, pure, holy when we allow Jesus to clothe us with His own. So, with David, I can say:

The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior, from violent men (and storms) you save me. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. (even Irma regardless of the outcome)

Yes, I am blessed.

 

 

Exodus 4-6 Deal With It

Even though Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s house, he knew he was a Jew. He’d heard that Jewish boys were commanded by God to be circumcised. But when he grew up and married a non-Jew, he didn’t circumcise his son.

So now God is calling Moses into service. In fact, God has conversations with Moses like two friends over coffee. So why, when Moses is heading to speak to Pharaoh like God told him to do, did God attack him on the road and would have killed him?

God demands obedience, and He blesses us so much when we obey. But obedience does not cancel out a sin. Being obedient doesn’t balance the scale. Yes, Moses was being obedient. But God wasn’t about to let that sin slide. And in order to be the leader God wanted Moses to be, it required dealing with the sin issue.

It’s no different with you and me. Yes, God wants us to do what He says, but first we need to deal with our own sin, confess, repent, accept Jesus’ righteousness through His precious blood. Never think that God overlooks your sin because you teach a Sunday School class. Every sin comes with a death sentence.

Deal with it.

November 12 – Humbled

Matthew 27; Mark 15

Every time I read the account of Jesus’ last few hours on this planet, I am humbled. He endured it all for love of me. He quietly listened to the lies, was punched and kicked and spit on. He heard every insult, and felt the pain of those nails tearing through His flesh. He even experienced what happens when God the Father turns away.

It takes about ten minutes to read about it. But Jesus lived it one minute after another, one long hour after another. Jesus suffered excruciating pain, and died a humiliating death – because He loves me that much.

I believe that as He breathed His last, His mind went ahead to 2016, and He saw my face. And your’s. That’s why He did what He did. He died so we could be forgiven.

Charles Wesley wrote a hymn the speaks to me every time I hear it. In it he asks a question: Can it really be that Jesus Himself shed His blood for me, the one who cause His pain in the first place?

The angels can’t even understand the depth of love that put the Immortal God on the cross to die. Jesus left heaven, took on mortality, and emptied Himself of everything except His love for me. And it’s by His grace that forgiveness found me.

It was like I was imprisoned by sin, chained to desires and actions that caused me pain. But I met Jesus, and those chains fell off, my heart was free. I’m alive in Him. I’m clothed in His righteousness. I got up off my knees a free woman, and followed Jesus.

Now I don’t fear judgment. Jesus, His righteousness is mine. I can boldly approach the God of the Universe, washed clean by Jesus’ blood. And I can claim the Son of God as my own!

Amazing love! How can it be, that You… my God… should die for me?

I am humbled. I am grateful. I love my Savior!