Relationships and responsibilities crowd my mind and stir my heart. Television, newspapers, people, and possessions tempt me to focus on everything but my King. How can I escape their tyranny? How can I manifest the purity of the King while living in an unholy world? How do I maintain a sense of personal worth when my performance points to failure? In this age of abundance, how do I discern between wants and needs, between lust and genuine Spirit-inspired responses to my Father?
Jesus seems to whisper, "Seek first My kingdom and My righteousness, then I will
choose for you my very highest and best.
first at Me, then I will share with you My true perspective of the world and its
treasures, of circumstances and their significance to your growth, and of people and their
part in your completion. Infinitely happy are
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall find complete
hungry and thirsty know their need. Nothing
can stop them from seeking until they find the source of life-giving sustenance. Satisfied, they yearn for more as Jesus salts their hearts and produces
perpetual thirst and satisfaction. Having
glimpsed His loveliness and experienced His sufficiency, they find no fulfillment apart
from an ever-deepening oneness with the Fountain Himself
Lord is a holy God who cannot tolerate sin, yet He loves the sinner. (That's you and me
apart from Him!) Only by His mercy, grace and righteousness can we enjoy the greatest
gift of all - life in His holy dwelling place and the peace of His constant
presence. What a privilege!
Precious, holy King, I can neither come to You, hear You, nor please You on my own. I need You every moment. My heart longs for deeper oneness with You in all that You are, do, and desire; I yearn to understand more clearly and to appropriate more fully the gift of Your righteousness. Thank YOU for leading me on Your paths of righteousness, my King and my Shepherd.
Read Psalm 84.
Delight in God's
nearness as you pray His words back to Him.
Which part of the psalm is most meaningful to you? Why?
Verses 11-12 present two conditions for living life in His holy dwelling place.
Explain what each means to you. How do
these two conditions relate to righteousness?
In each of the following verses, what does God show you concerning righteousness?
Take time to reflect, apply each to yourself, and tell God your
Read Philippians 3:7-10.
What does this verse tell you about Paul's heart?
4. What does this verse tell you about Paul's heart?
What is meant by "the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith"?
Read Romans 4:3-5, 18-22.
6. What action on
Abraham's part was credited to him as righteousness?
Read Romans 3:21-24.
righteousness comes from ____________________ through ____________ and is available to
______________. Why can confident assurance
of these truths make a great difference your life?
9. When and how did
you receive the righteousness of Christ? Take time to consider the cost and to give Him thanks.
Read Ephesians 6:14.
10. Because you were
"crucified with Christ," He now lives in your innermost being.
He has made you one with Himself, therefore, you are righteous in Him!
Although you already have received His righteousness, what action on your part
makes it an effective part of your armor?
11. Even though you
already are righteous in Christ, you must always be ready to deal with any hindrance to
the free expression of His righteous life in and through you.
What does His breastplate protect you against?
Read I Thessalonians 5:8.
12. Explain how the
"breastplate of righteousness" and "the breastplate of faith and love"
are in harmony with each other.
13. Look up the
following Scriptures and write the steps to the practical, experiential righteousness that
brings peace and victory.
Romans 6:11, 13
14. In order to make the full armor a practical reality, practice putting on each part. How can you keep your "loins 'girded with truth"?
you put on and wear "the breastplate of righteousness?
Why is the sequence
of these two parts important?
Read Psalm 23.
15. What does God
promise you concerning righteousness?
How are you
encouraged by the above promise?
What must you do in
order to allow Him to make this promise true in your life?
See also John 10:4.
16. When and how did your Shepherd lead you in His "paths of righteousness" this week? Write a prayer of thanks.
Putting on His Word
I once felt guilty... without hope... a failure. But not any more! There is now "no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). The accuser may still hurl his cruel charges against me, but I refuse to allow his barbs to grow and consume my thoughts. I will no longer abuse myself with self-condemnation. Jesus pronounced me free, forgiven, righteous and holy.
Like Paul, "I
am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things
present, nor things to come ... shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which
is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
If God loves me that much, how could I ever feel insignificant or worthless?
When I understand
the truth of Christ's righteousness in me, a new confidence transforms my attitude toward
myself, my King, and all other persons in my life. When
I really know who I am, I can no longer depreciate myself or depend on affirmation from
people. When I claim my new identity, I don't
need to compete, criticize, feel inferior, or prove my worth by performance.
God's righteousness frees me to love, affirm, forgive, and protect others.
I can rejoice with their successes, weep with their sorrows.
I dare to risk rejection and loss for the sake of my King and His friends.
In other words, when
I accept and appropriate His righteousness, Jesus makes it a vibrant reality in my life.
Freed from the bondage of insecurity and insignificance, I can live His life of
selfless love, which is the essence of righteousness and the fulfillment of all His
commands. His life then becomes the fragrance
of my life.
Since God has challenged
me to believe that I am righteous in Him, I must trust and believe what He has told me, in
spite of all contradictory evidence and contrary feelings.
It is not up to me
to be righteous; I can never please Him on my own. But
Jesus is my righteousness; He chose me, died for me, cleansed me, covered and filled me
with His righteous resurrection life.
Today's challenge to
believe in Him for righteousness has three parts - past, present, and future.
I am already righteous by His life in me. He lives in me moment by moment to
express His righteousness through me in every circumstance, and I believe that "in
the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the
righteous judge, will award to me on that day” - that wonderful day when I will meet Him
face-to-face and be fully transformed into His likeness (2 Timothy 3:8).
Until that great
day, I must wear my breastplate of righteousness, affirming with my mind and will what I
know in my heart about my King. I must count on His spotless life covering me through every challenging
circumstance. He then guards my heart from
Satan's painful accusations of failure and worthlessness, while He keeps me free to
channel His righteous life of love first back to Himself, then to those around me.
challenge. How would you respond if a
newspaper reporter writing a human interest story asked you the following question:
"Tell me, do you consider yourself righteous, pure, and holy?" Would you
hesitate to tell the truth, fearful that he would consider you arrogant, dishonest, or
crazy if you answered yes?
I often find it
easier to think and speak the lies of the world than to speak God's truth and risk
appearing foolish or proud. But I will never
win the battles of the kingdom while conforming to the thinking of the world.
Trusting and speaking truth wraps His covering securely around me. Denials and disbelief leave me uncovered and vulnerable to enemy
Jesus' life, not
mine, determines my righteousness, and nothing can separate me from Him.
Then why don't I always enjoy fellowship with my King?
Why does He sometimes seem so far from me? And
why doesn't His righteousness always shine through my lifestyle?
Because I don't always think and act in harmony with the truth He has given me.
Some days I still measure righteousness by
my performance rather than accepting it by faith. I
ignore the truth of God's righteousness in me in favor of another truth: His desire that
righteousness be manifested through my every thought, word, and action.
I regress to believing what I see and feel, not what I know; consequently, I lose
the power to be all that God has made me.
How do I reconcile these two facts: I am already righteous; yet day by day I am
learning to live a righteous life.
God tells me that I
became a new person, holy and beautiful in Him, the moment I believed and received His
life. But doubt will prevent me from wearing His
beauty and purity from day to day. No failure
can keep His love from flowing toward me, but disobedience will hinder the flow of
His love in and through me.
God has planned a way to build faith and obedience in me. This life-long process is
characterized by a succession of trial, failures, victories, growth, and plateaus.
the balance between my part and His part in this process:
as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,
work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God
who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (Philippians
"work out" my salvation by faith and obedience.
When I affirm the truth of His righteousness in me, it shines through my life in
increasing measure, for the old ways no longer fit. When
I yield myself to Him in obedience, He takes over "to will and to work in
me." There will be inner battles - I will find myself doing what I hate and failing
to do what I should. Yet I will continue to
pursue the King's lifestyle because, in the light of my new identity, I can no longer be
comfortable in my old flesh patterns.
His Righteousness. I enter a lifestyle
of righteousness the same way I put on the rest of the armor - through an attitude of
worship. Jesus wills the renewing of my mind and the transformation of my soul
into His likeness - a process fed by affirmation and application of truth.
four steps that help me put on truth will also clothe me in His righteousness:
on the truth of His righteousness.
His Word reminds me of His death which freed me, His blood which cleansed me, His
resurrection life which empowers me. I can
delight in His unwavering love and acceptance. I
must not be harder on myself than God is. I
can adopt His attitudes toward me by memorizing Scriptures such as Isaiah 43:1-4, Jeremiah
31:3, and Romans 8:31-39 that affirm my precious worth to HIM.
on His truths which renew my mind and
transform my heart. I can delight in all that
I am and have in Jesus.
ago, during a time of discouragement, I made a commitment to meditate on the above
affirmations for one month. Morning, evening,
and often during the day, I reviewed these transforming truths and suddenly discovered
that they had renewed my mind. Since then, I
have never doubted God's love nor my worth to Him.
for truth, permitting only those thoughts that
agree with truth. By replacing negative
thoughts with thoughts that affirm my relationship with God, I will remember that to Him I
am pure and beautiful. God, my only judge,
sees me clothed in Christ, declares me acquitted from guilt and free to live forever in
His holy presence.
truth, allowing His righteous life in me to
direct and empower every thought and action. I
can choose an attitude of worship as the basis of my lifestyle.
Because the life of Jesus fills and surrounds us, you and I are equipped to
live His life of self-giving love. We are
ready to be one in Him. This oneness not only
protects us from loneliness, rejection, competition, and inferiority, it also weakens
the enemy. For when God's people stand
together, firm in their King, ready to fight for (and alongside) one another, doors slam
shut to Satan so that he cannot gain entrance.
Until I choose to
lay down my self-oriented life and put on His life of unselfish love, the feelings and
will of the flesh will dominate my choices. Like
a railroad engineer choosing the wrong track for the train, I go off course.
When I admit my weakness, affirm the work of the Cross, surrender to His will, and
follow His way, His righteous life supplants the flesh and puts me on the track to
triumph. Suddenly my own track, which loomed
so close, has faded in the distance, and my eyes are again opened to see myself and others
from His heavenly perspective.
radiates outward, not in duties or rituals, but through the motivating force of God's own
character in me. Now it becomes natural to
consider the welfare of another above personal comfort.
Imagine the protection, the strength, the triumph of such oneness. Standing together against the enemy, helping each other put on our royal clothes, interceding, encouraging, holding one another up, maintaining a clear vision of victory for one another. What a triumph
Wearing His Wardrobe
You cannot wear
righteousness as your covering unless you believe and receive the truths about your new
identity in Christ. When you accept,
appropriate, and affirm Christ's righteousness, He makes it a vibrant reality in your
life. A marvelous transformation takes place
from the inside out as you learn to think and express His truth about yourself.
Morning and evening,
meditate on these affirmations of your identity in Christ.
Write them on cards, carry them with you and review often during the day.
Let them open your eyes to see yourself and others through His eyes of
unconditional love and acceptance.
Isaiah 61: I0-1I
Next: Chapter 4: Clothed with Peace
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