Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Clothed in Righteousness

[The Spirit of the Lord is upon Him (Jesus) anointing Him]
"to grant (console) those who mourn Zion -
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."
Isaiah 61:3

"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,"
Isaiah 61:10

These verses were a part of my devotional today and they have stuck with me throughout today. Verse 10 has actually been a verse the Lord has been repeatedly bringing to my attention the last couple of months. The fact is, this chapter of scripture is so full of gold nuggets of truth I don't think we could ever read it without finding something new and fresh from the Lord. Sadly, I think the entire chapter (but certainly specific parts of the chapter) have become habit to some of us (okay, me). We read it (or sing it) with an old familiar taste in our mouths, lets be honest, it can be borderline boring. But the truth is, it's anything but "old and boring"!! These verses posses some of the most powerful, freedom filled, life giving truths in Christianity. Now trust me when I say, I'm not "preaching to anyone today" this post is for me, and for me alone. I have been missing and passing by these truths and promises the last few months with a bad attitude and wounded soul. These truths that I once clung to, became all too "familiar", so familiar in fact that they lost all their power.

This past Sunday at church we had a guest speaker, Thor Ramsey (the comedian from Thou Shalt Laugh DVDs), and his sermon, while not presented in the most fascinating way, held an AWESOME message. His sermon was on the American Perception of Christianity, and how we have lost site of some vital truths and perceptions of the gospel and of Jesus. One statement he mentioned over and over was that: we as the church often start with the gospel and then step on/out to more "practical" things; like fixing this character flaw, or our marriage, finances, etc. The problem is that it doesn't take very long at all for us to begin to feel burnt out and guilty.... feelings of "never being good enough" or of being a failure cloud our hearts and minds and here we are, steps away from where we are meant to be with only a hazy memory of the truths that once pounded through our veins bringing us much needed life.

So what is this truth? What is it that brings so many to Christ, with a level of enthusiasm, excitement and newness that can only be explained as Holy Spirit induced? And why is that we so quickly end up on the cycle of exhaustion and shame?

The priceless Truth is: GRACE and CHRIST and what He accomplished on the cross, the fact that we are completely and 100% FORGIVEN for all we have done and will do. There is NOTHING that we need to do to be better before God - we're already there!!
Hear how Isaiah says it "to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit." Take a look at where/what we start with: ashes, mourning and faint spirit. These people are not people who are figuring life out on their own... these people are not the ones who have it all together! These are the ones who are mourning, weeping and faint of spirit! These are the ones who have nothing left to give. These are the ones who have tried it their way and have failed! This promise is just as much for the lifetime (saved before you can remember saying the prayer) Christian and the person who accepted Christ 5 minutes ago.

Honestly, I've heard this all before and while it sounds so great, I can honestly say something has always prevented me from allowing this truth to totally sink in, mostly because, it sounds too good to be true. I mean seriously... I don't have to do ANYTHING?!?! So I can do whatever I want and it's okay?
The honest answer is yes, the even more honest answer is, you won't want to! When you realize what Christ as done and the freedom that you really have because of it, the last thing you are thinking is... "hmm, what can I get away with?" What's first on your mind is a humility and overwhelming sense of gratitude, a love for Christ that you never felt before.

In John 14:15 Jesus tells us "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments." I know to some of us, this sounds like some sort of manipulation tactic, or reasoning to obey, I know that's what I read the first times I read this verse. But I don't think that's what this verse is saying. I think what this verse is saying is that "true love manifests itself in willing obedience" (ESV Study Bible) Obedience is a side effect to our love for Christ. Love for Christ comes first, obedience comes second.

I loved the way Beth Moore said it in her book Get out of that Pit, "The religious police warn us away from adopting that marrow-deep belief that we are forgiven. They're afraid God's complete removal of our debilitating load of guilt will make us feel so free that we'll throw caution to the winds and wander right back into that pit. Not so! In fact, the opposite is true. Our tendency to return over and over to the pit is driven by our deep conviction that we'll never be anything but trash. Never be anything but defeated. Not feeling forgiven is a far more powerful motivator to re-enter a pit than feeling forgiven will ever be."

Father, I pray that you let this truth sink in and that I never become "used" to Isaiah's words again. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for your, Son Jesus and what he accomplished at the cross, thank you for the complete forgiveness of sins, that I am not capable of completing any part of my righteousness. You are so good. I love You.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very well put Sweetheart...does this qualify as another book read by me or no? I love what God is doing in you and our home...Praise God!

Love you Hubby