His Work, Not Mine
"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As...a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For...
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth...."
Isaiah 61:10-11“Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.” He who is my righteousness will also bring forth righteousness in my life as I trust Him. I can count on it! (1 Cor. 1:30 and Phil. 1:6, 2:12-13)
Like the seed of a great oak, this divine righteousness can remain hidden underground for a season. Then, as God cultivates and waters the soil of our hearts -- and as we keep turning our face to the Son, our Shepherd and King -- the imperceptible beginnings of righteousness grow to maturity in us. Hidden in Christ and filled with His life, we become “oaks of Righteousness, the plantinq of the Lord, that He might be glorified! ” (Is. 61:3)
We can't grow by our own strength! Remember the Pharisees. Rather than trusting God, they put their confidence in their own dutiful compliance with the law and were left to their own finite resources. Jesus told them, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life.. yet you refuse to come to me.” (John 5:39) They never found what they so diligently sought.
When the soil’s condition is right — when the heart is prepared by poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness, hunger and thirst to embrace His life - then His life is being formed in us. The seed within grows and transforms until we stand together as a forest of immovable oaks, firmly rooted in the eternal springs of the life of our King.
My Lord, I cane to drink from your life and love. Keep me always beholding and receiving from you, f or only you offer the food and water that will transform me into an oak of righteousness for you. Thank you.
First Day: Read Matthew 5: 17-19. As Jesus walked, taught and healed here on earth, many who watched Him were shocked a His apparent rejection "of the law and prophets." For Jesus not only violated traditional beliefs by His words and action, He seemed to go out of His way to do so. In these verses He explains His true attitude toward the law and the prophets who proclaimed it.
1. Verse 17 is an emphatic statement intended to correct misconceptions concerning God's purpose. What does Jesus want His listeners to understand?
2. The words, "truly I say to you" in v. 18 indicated another strong message. What is Jesus saying here? (Are you convinced?)
3. What are the two opposite attitudes toward God's eternal law? State the consequence or reward for each. (v. 19)
4. Explain the warning given in v. 20. Be prepared to add to your answer as you completed this lesson.
Second Day. The law (God's guidelines written in the first five books of the Bible) is of vital importance to us today. Although its function is limited (for it can neither save nor produce righteousness), it offers the believer practical instructions for growth and intimate fellowship with God.
1. What do the following passages tell you about the law?
Romans 7:12, 16, 22
2. Read Matthew 22:35-40. Cutting through all the complexities of the religious system of the His day, Jesus simplifies the message of the law for us. How does He summarize it? (See also Romans 13:8-10)
Third Day: Review Matthew 5:20, then look at the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.
1. The scribes and Pharisees did their best to live by God's law. They were the keepers and messengers of God's precious truths. Yet, God was not pleased. Why? How did they violate the basic intentions and principles of the law they loved? See the following verses:
Mark 7:1-13 (or Matthew 15:9)
2. (Personal) Can you identify with any of the above? How have (or might) you violate the intention of the law, thus fooling both yourself and others?
Fourth Day: Review Matthew 5:3-5. Think of Jesus' righteous life in you as a tiny seed of a great oak. Then explain why the three conditions (of the soil) of your heart are essential to growth in righteousness.
Fifth Day: Read 2 Corinthians 3:2-6 and 17-18. With your heart prepared to receive, you can trust Him to make you mighty [in Spirit] like that oak of righteousness.
1. A key to becoming that oak is knowing who you are in Christ and counting on what God has done in you. From verses 2-3, what do you learn about your new identity? What difference does this knowledge make in your life?
2. To those who believe, verse 3 affirms the fulfillment of the prophecy in Jeremiah 31:33. What did God promise to do? What then, has He done in you?
3. The message of verse 4-6 affirms two facts you must know with absolute assurance? (One concerns God, the other you.) What are they?
4. (Personal) Verse 5 tells you that we cannot "consider anything as coming from ourselves." What does this "anything" include for you today?
Sixth Day: Read Isaiah 61:10-11.
1. Do you sense Isaiah's delight in God as he writes these words? Why is he so excited? Of what is he confident?
2. What difference does it make in your life when you put all your trust in God (to accomplish His righteousness in and through you) rather than in your own strength and goodness?
3. Write Him your thanks.
Some of you may want to continue with the this study of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5 through 7. I have put together a little booklet with the second half of the study: 12 lessons in Matthew 6 and 7. I probably won't have time to post the lessons, but you may buy the little booklet for $5 as long as the current supply lasts. Just send me an email with your street address and I will mail it to you.
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