Righteousness pt1

 

Leviticus 18:3-5

You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the Lord your God. So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord.

We are called to be different than the world around us. The world is lost in sin and following the desires of their own hearts. They are doing what is right in their own eyes. We as children of God are called to a higher purpose. We are called to do what is right in the eyes of God. We are called to live our lives for the desire of our Father in Heaven, Who has given His Son so whoever wills, may come to Him and also become a child of God. This lifestyle is influenced by the Fear of the Lord and accepted through humility. It is a lifestyle of Righteousness, the third pillar of Wisdom I am talking about.

Webster’s Dictionary defines righteousness as a quality of acting in accordance with divine or moral law; free from guilt. To be righteous is defined as being morally right or justifiable. I believe righteousness, as used in the scriptures, takes on much more meaning. A righteous individual is free from guilt; and the individual is walking in accordance with God’s law; but the righteousness of God goes much farther. It is also the vehicle in which the power of God is released. Righteousness is walking with humility in the Fear of the Lord. God is He, who we allow to influence and guide us. We walk faithfully with Him as we walk humbly before Him. Through the righteousness of Christ Jesus as it is displayed in our lives, the Holy Spirit will release the power and authority of God. Righteousness is a quality of God that directs actions, but is not determined by actions. Righteousness is not acquired through the works we do. The works we do are a result of a heart attitude resulting from a relationship with Christ which directs Godly responses.

I think the body of Christ is often confused about the righteousness of God. We know we have become righteous through the death and resurrection of Jesus; and being made righteous, we receive certain Kingdom privileges. Among these rights, we walk in a measure of the power of the Holy Spirit; our prayers are heard and are effective, doing much good in the lives of those we pray for. We are also blessed in our coming and in our going. We are the head and not the tail. We are the blessed of God. However, most Christians are living far short of the fullness of God’s blessings. The problem is not because they have a lack of faith or the fortitude to use the faith they were given. The problem is we are not walking in the fullness of true righteousness in Christ. We are not living a sanctified lifestyle. Lester Sumrall said,”A filthy person cannot cast out a filthy devil.” Likewise, a Christian who is not walking a sanctified life, a life lived in righteous behavior, will not be given the authority and power in this life as a mature son or daughter of God. God is a Holy God, concerned about our souls and will not give His power to be wielded by people who are prideful or living unclean lives. If we continue in sin we do not have fellowship with the Father.

When we were saved; having received the sacrifice of Jesus for payment of our sins, we were justified by grace. The term justification does not imply we no longer sin. It states the character of the one who justified us is accredited to us. Behold old things have passed away and all things have been made new. We were born of flesh when we were born into this world. Flesh begets flesh and we obtained a nature of one who would fall short of God’s righteousness. This is what we call sin. The definition of sin is to miss the mark. God created us in His image to grow into His likeness. When Adam sinned he died to perfection. We inherited an incomplete nature, one which would fall short of the mark. As Adam died we, as his descendants, died with him. We do not have the character of God in us for our spirits are dead unto Christ. He is a living Spirit. We cannot reach perfection and are hopelessly lost. Jesus came to provide an opportunity for sinful man to regain his potential. Jesus came born of a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit. The egg was of Eve, He was truly man with the sinful nature. While the Holy Spirit fertilized the egg without a man being involved. Therefore, Jesus was born completely God. Jesus bore our imperfect flesh. He lived His life sinless and was presented as the perfect lamb. As Caiaphas said, it was crucial for one man to die for the nation. Jesus, being spotless was worthy to enter the Holy of Holys and the sin of mankind could be removed from our lives. We are born of the Spirit when we give our lives to the Lord. Spirit begets spirit. Our spirits were made alive. We were born again. At this time, the physical man in the corruptible body, bearing the sinful nature, now has a new driver. We are no longer slaves unto sin; we are no longer dead unto Christ; but we are alive unto the Spirit of freedom in Jesus Christ. We still battle with the sinful desires of our old self because we still live in this corruptible body influenced by the sinful nature. However, we are alive unto Christ and our spirits are receiving instruction and strength from the Holy Spirit. As we renew our minds with the washing of the word, in fellowship with the Holy Spirit. We are strengthened and empowered to walk freely; separate of our old patterns and behaviors. It is in this state God is willing to accredit us with His character. We are justified. We are looked at as we have the righteousness of Jesus. We are empowered as we walk in this righteousness.

We are empowered to free ourselves from old patterns; but we are not forced to free ourselves from our old way of life. Because of this, we are in a continual struggle to turn away from actions which are contrary to God’s will because physically we are drawn to do them. One example of this struggle is revealed in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. He rebuked them on a number of issues. They quarreled among themselves; they accepted a man living in an adulteress situation; they would gather for the Passover and some would become drunk and eat excessively, while others had nothing to eat. Paul stated, although they should be teachers of the word they were still immature and needed milk. These are people who have been saved through the grace of the gospel, but they were living in the patterns of the sinful nature. Paul informed them they were still as infants being only able to receive teaching the quality of milk, although by now, they should have been on solid food. They should have been teachers themselves. The teaching of the Gospel is revealed both in milk for the young, and in solid food for the mature. I believe this is why Jesus said many times “He who has ears, let him hear.” There are deeper meanings in the words He and the Holy Spirit speaks to us. He spoke in parables so if someone desired to seek, they would discover the meaning. There are levels of training and growth. We are to be desirous of this greater teaching. If we receive it we will walk in a richer form of righteousness, obedient to the Holy Spirit. This Righteousness will result in the power of God being made more manifest in our lives.

The correlation between righteousness and the power of God is similar to the relationship between a rich father and his son. Imagine a young man born into wealth. He is raised in the household loved and nurtured by his parents. Servants tend to his needs in accordance with the charge given to them by his father. During his childhood, he is instructed as to the rules of the family and is disciplined to abide by them. He is instructed and corrected by the servants of the family. Over the course of time the young man enters an age of accountability; an introduction to adulthood. He chooses to continue in his father’s rules and understands the concepts behind them. He chooses to live in accordance with the purposes of these rules. The father watches the maturity of his son. He acknowledges His son’s character is growing into His own likeness. He prepares his son to carry out the responsibilities of his estate. In time the servants who watched over the lad growing up, become obedient to the commands of the son, now their master, who earlier was obedient to their instructions. The righteous actions of the son as he matured provided the evidence needed for him to carry more authority. This authority is released to him a little at a time so he can learn to grow in it in humility; not seeking his own, but the good of those he serves.

What would happen if the child while reaching the early age of adulthood, decided he was impartial to the commandments which he was taught earlier? Rather than working to understand the meaning of those rules, he chose to deal with his father on a basis of equal entities. The son determined his ideas were as valid as his father’s. His father would watch his son growing up. He would love his son, and would allow his son to move in the direction he chose to. However, the father would release the cares of his estate to a servant rather than to his ignorant son. The purposes of the father, for his estate cannot be accomplished outside of the fathers intentions; and a son who chose not to respect his fathers intentions will never operate in them. This is often the situation the church has with the heart of the Father. We have been raised in accordance with the law of Moses. This is the rule of our Father. As we have given our lives to Jesus, we have entered salvation and have become righteous through the blood of Jesus. The law was never our righteousness, but our instructor. The family rules still apply to us as it is a guide for us to see and understand the Father’s heart. But many of us, after receiving Christ’s righteousness, determine the law is not applicable to us anymore. We do not meditate on the law at all. We remove ourselves from receiving rich insight and instruction through the Mosaic law and choose to do what seems right in our own eyes. We find ourselves limited in active power and authority. Our Father will not release the authority He has for us in fullness if we will not walk in His nature.

Please understand. Righteousness is a character trait we must grow in to receive the active power of God in our lives while on this Earth. The law is a God ordained, given tool which is very useful in our instruction. We are first babes in Christ being nurtured to grow into Christ’s image. The commandments of our Father are to take on a new role as we grow in fellowship with God. The commandments now become our instructors, declaring the intentions and desire of God, our Father. While we are growing in understanding; agreeing with the purposes of the law, and practicing the ordinances according to the purposes; we are given more authority in the kingdom. We are able to make decisions on behalf of our Father and give instructions in His name. These instructions will be honored because God has put His signature upon our request. The early church understood this concept. Being rooted in the Jewish faith, the Jewish males were taught scripture at an early age and would memorize it. They memorized both the Law and the prophets and were instructed to meditate on the scriptures. These tools were critical in the culture of Hebrew society. Jesus walked with the first disciples for three years demonstrating the heart and purposes of God. He did not take anything away from the law, yet He was not bound to the letter of the law. He was obedient to the Spirit of the law. This is the very heart of the Father. After Jesus’ resurrection, the church was able to move in the purposes of God quickly as they practiced the skills in the example they were given. They were fully equipped for the task.

Much of the church in our day declares liberty from the law rather than using the law to know God’s heart. They believe the law is unimportant, useless or even evil in the life of a Christian. Not only do we decline to study it, we reject it all together. This places us in the position of the second son in our story. We can claim the inheritance of our Father’s kingdom. We are co-heirs with Christ. However, when we call something in to being, it may not be done because the Father may choose not to put His blessing on it. It is in demonstrating the righteousness of God where the Father is glorified. We do not need to be afraid of the Law of God. We are not given in to slavery again. We are to use the law as an instruction tool as we receive the whole council of God as given to us by the Holy Spirit. This includes the law of Moses, the prophets and the scriptures as discerned through the Holy Spirit. A large percentage of the church has lost the power to turn the world upside down. God desires to release His power to a mature church. Glorifying God will draw people to Jesus.

Jesus said we will be doing far greater works than He did. A thriving Church will see the miraculous power of God in their lives. This should not discourage us, but excite us since the goal is attainable even today, even in your life and my life. He who has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. While we apply ourselves to a relationship with God’s Spirit, and allow ourselves to receive from the whole council of God. We will be seeing the world giving respect to the name of Jesus, and much of our persecution will probably come from the religious base of the self-righteous. We will be moving into maturity and receiving the keys to the Kingdom. We will learn from the law and not be bound by the law. For we are now free from the law of sin and death; but made alive unto the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. We will be unashamed to declare the truth.

Worshiping Our God

The burden on my heart right now is the lack of honor and Glory we give God. The scripture says to “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” So we can start there. May all things in my life bring glory to God. This is a good prayer; but it needs to be acted out in my actions as it is present in my heart. I probably do not need to tell any of you I fall very short of this goal. I am grateful for God’s forgiveness and grace while I keep this desire in my sites.

Forgiveness; we know about this all too well in our culture. At least we assume we know about this. Jesus came to share the truth about the Father and the Kingdom of God. People were given the impression God was a tyrant. Jesus shared His love and mercy. Jesus showed us we were greatly loved by the Father. He also showed us how to have a relationship with the Father. Through the words and the actions of Jesus Christ we have been showed God’s great love. John tells us ,”God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.What a wonderful grace we have been given!

Where are we at in our relationship with God? What do our actions and words say? I think we have gone to believe God is a great friend and long-suffering Father. He longs to bless us always and never see us suffer. He is fun-loving and plays with us. He is our best friend.  Now, I will not say these things are not true; but I am certain we are missing the most important truth.  Isaiah said,

Isaiah 6:5

Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

When Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant to the temple we read in 2 Chronicles;

2 Chronicles 5:111

11 When the priests came forth from the holy place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without regard to divisions), 12 and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and kinsmen, clothed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps and lyres, standing east of the altar, and with them one hundred and twenty priests blowing trumpets 13 in unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the Lord saying, “He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting,” then the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

We have lost the understanding of a powerful, Holy God ; Who is worthy of all praise and respect. He is the One in Whom we cannot stand before, He is worthy of all praise and worship.

Even Jesus gave the Father great respect.

Philippians 2:5

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on  a cross.

When Jesus taught us to pray He told us first to declare the holiness of God the Father. To pray for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on Earth. He then turned to our needs as we are to ask for our daily bread. This is our daily needs and the word of God we need for this day. We are then to ask for forgiveness as we also forgive others. Finally we pray God will lead us away from temptation. Temptation is where our sinful hearts are sure to take us.

In our church congregations we are greatly lacking emphasis on the true nature of God. He is Holy. He is unapproachable except by the blood of Jesus. It is through Jesus’ death and resurrection whereby we are given the righteousness of God. We are sinful even in our best state. We need the forgiveness of God.

Many of our churches are now seeking signs and wonders, feelings of being shaken and overpowered. But Jesus did not give us this example. He warned us not to look for signs and wonders. If the presence of God was to be so strong, why would we not fall on our face as when the Temple was dedicated; or when Isaiah was before God? The reason is because we do not see ourselves bowing before a Holy , righteous and just God in our real lives. We see God only as a friend or a source of blessing. It would be good for us to take the time each day to bow before God. We should do this to remind ourselves He is God and we are not. He is great and we are sinful apart from Him. We are living to bring glory to God. He gives to us as He desires because He first loved us.

Repentance and forgiveness; repentance and forgiveness, it is the way of life. We must preach the gospel of repentance and forgiveness; not come and be blessed, or give and be blessed. We serve a Holy God.

Building and Using Your Faith

Hebrews 4:1-10

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because [b]it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who  some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying [c]through David after so long a time just as has been said before,

Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

Romans 10:17   So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ

This scripture is speaking of a certain type of hearing. I hear many things, and I can believe many things; but all of my belief will be for naught if it is not founded on the words of God.  It is by faith which I can enter into His rest. He has accomplished all things, then God rested. I now have the ability to enter into His rest also. What does this mean?  God has accomplished all things through Christ Jesus. The curse has been broken. I can live in His blessings and peace. I do not have to strive physically and emotionally to overcome the world. I do not have to strive spiritually to stand in righteousness in His presence. It is finished. He has done it.

In the wilderness the Israelites failed to have faith in what was told them. They were told the message of God but did not believe it. Today we hear the gospel and know we are told we can ennter into the rest oe “Sabbath” of God. But we must apply faith. We have been given the measure of faith for salvation. It was a gift, not earned. We have also been given the opportunity to grow in our faith and continue in our walk with God.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God. We have the scriptures ready and available to us. We can speak the scriptures or read the scriptures as we speak the words in our minds. But the key to our faith is to know and hear the Words of God. We can enter into a rest here on Earth as we are confident of the promises and blessings God gives us. He is faithful and a friend. He is loving and kind. He is the author and finisher of our faith. He will be with us through every hardship. We can enter the promised land of rest if we will believe; if we have faith. We can have faith if we will hear; and hear the Word of God.  Enjoy your scripture today as you read the Bible.

God Bless You

2 Timothy/ Warnings of the Last Days

2 Timothy 3:1

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

I recently heard a story from a pastor who was warning the Church about those who have suck into the Church not following the call of God, but for other reasons. He said he had taken his final exam in the seminary when the instructor asked all the students, now that they had completed their education, how many of them did not believe in the things they had learned. The man said it was like being in the twilight zone as the vast majority raised their hands; and then the instructor raised his hands also. Does this not sound like:  Have nothing to do with such people?

Listen to some of the other warnings Paul gives Timothy.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived

Have we come to the place where we are willing to be persecuted for the truth of the Gospel? It is where others can receive salvation from.

2 Timothy: 4

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 

Evolution is a big myth. People run to it because if it were true they would not be accountable to God. They would be their own god.

Romans 1:28

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

2 Timothy 4:8

8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

There is a blessing waiting for us. It is our responsibility to be alert and discern the truth of God and confront evil in the Church. Let us be vigilant and faithful stewards in the house of God our Father.

Pursuing the Power of God

2 Timothy: 3-7

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

I am taken aback by questions such as “Where has the power gone?” and “Why do we not see miracles today?” I have asked those questions before also; and I think it is a good question. It is similar to riding in a car and realizing you are losing  much speed and asking”Why are we stopping?”  It is easy to blame the car or the manufacturer. But if we didn’t put gas in the car it will eventually stop. The Kingdom of Heaven operates on the Word of God as He has spoken it. If we preach the gospel and live a godly life He will confirm His word in us. I have come to the conclusion the question at hand is “How does my life need to change in order to see His power in my life more and more”?

When Jesus was on the Earth we can read and see the religious leaders were harsh task-masters to those they lead. Jesus said of them, they place heavy yokes on others and do not do a thing to help them out. Jesus labeled them as hypocrites because what the religious leaders would see for others they would not see for themselves. The image of God which was displayed was as if the Father was also harsh and demanding. Jesus came to show us God is loving and kind and extends His grace to us. God does not change. He is still Loving and kind and gracious. But even Jesus came with the message, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

Today, as I ask where the power is, I realize the lack of power is because I haven’t put the gas in the car. I know it belongs there. I just assumed it was there; but it isn’t. The gas to the Gospel is this: “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” This gas needs to be put into my tank and then be transformed as it goes into my carburetor; my car, my problem.  I gave my life to Jesus as I repented, whole-heartedly of my sins. I did think God was harsh and learned He was a friend. I came to a place where I haven’t taken my sins very seriously. My gospel car was losing speed and energy. The Holy Spirit revealed my sins to me and I have continued in repentance. I am moving again, slowly. I see some power of God moving in my life. But not what God has desired. I have been contemplating this issue in my life and the Church as a whole.

There are two things which I think require our attention.  First, we need to quit looking for the power of God in signs and wonders. The scripture says to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” The adversary can display signs and wonders. If we are looking for them we can easily be deceived. We are also not focusing our hearts on a relationship with God. It would be like trying to build a relationship with an elder relative only to be written in the will in a more favorable advantage. Our focus should not be seeing God’s power, but being God’s friend.

This walks us right into the second point. I cannot grow in my relationship with God unless I am growing in understanding of Who He is and who I am. I came to Him in repentance. He is God, I am the transgressor. This was a good place to start. But in my walk with Him I am finding out He is so much more than I understood at first. This requires me to repent even more. I should find myself in a place as Isaiah said. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”  But I have not.As a Church, we have not.

Our problem is our teaching. Jesus warned His disciples to beware of the “yeast” of the pharisees. We need to beware of the yeast of our teachers also. Jesus showed the love of God to the people. He also reprimanded those who needed to hear it. He was not a respecter of persons. In our day the Church is focused on the love and kindness and graciousness of God. But we are neglecting the righteousness, holiness and justice of God. Our continual walk should be on repentance from our sinful life and dead works. We should be crying out for holiness and seeking His righteousness. We should be encouraging people to live a sanctified life and not look for a monetary blessing if we give a smaller monetary blessing. Why do we seek money or land or fame when none of these things were our example in the early Church? The early Church showed us how to give God the glory, and give away our land and our money.

Where is the power of God? Where it always was. Where do we have our hearts? They need to move to repentance again, a daily walk of repentance. We serve a Holy God!!

Contend For The Faith

Jude 1:3

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Jude, the brother of James and the brother of Jesus through Mary, writes to us to contend for the faith. In his time, the early hour of the Church Jude spoke of those who have secretly slipped into the congregation. They were people who perverted the grace God gives to us into a license for sinning and believing they were still in good terms with God. But the true faith is not one of a freedom to sin. Rather it is one to give to us a clean conscience and good standing to further the message of the Kingdom. The word Jude has given is still a good word for us today.

Beware of teachers who are spending their time preaching of joy and gladness, financial blessings and increase. There may be a place for such teachings in times, but the Gospel is one of repentance and forgiveness. Jesus had many people follow Him because He fed the thousands, and when they followed Him for the bread He spoke in hard ways to separate those who would continue after Him and those who would follow the bread. Jesus could have fed His followers every day; but He chose not to. We can strive to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. We are commanded to. But this action is to be done along with the gospel of repentance being preached.

I probably sound like I am down on the Church for its kindness. I apologize. I am concerned for our churches because I know we also have those who secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.  I believe we would be shocked if we knew who they were. They are here secretly. It has been devised in stealth; not by them maybe. But the teachings sound good but are evil.

Jesus told us that at the time of judgement there will be those on His left which would say to Him, “Lord when did we see you naked, hungry sick or in prison and not minister to you?” The people thought they prophesied in His name and healed in His name; but Jesus said “Depart from Me. I never knew you.”

What is the gospel you speak of? I am asking myself this question also. Am I sharing a gospel of repentance unto salvation, repentance unto sanctification and holiness? Or am I sharing a powerless message of “Jesus loves you just the way you are?”

We need to be aware of who is teaching “what” and what am I teaching others by my words and example. It is not enough to show someone the gates of heaven and not let them in.