Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Breastplate of Righteousness

So God first wants us to reach into our spiritual closet every morning for our belt of truth. And next, He wants us to grab that breastplate of righteousness. Now is anyone out there thinking, "Umm, sorry, Michelle, but I'm afraid I just don't have one of those lying around. Next?" I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!
First of all, we should understand what a breastplate actually is. As you can probably guess, it is a piece of ancient armor that protected the breast. Now, I'm just as much of a fashionista as the next princess. I'm not asking you to bust out some rusty piece of metal over that trendy belt of truth. Did you know that a breastplate was also an ornament that covered the breast of the high priest? (Check it out in Exodus 25:7.) The high priest's breastplate was made of embroidered cloth, and set with rows of precious stones. That's why we're going to relate the breastplate to the modern day...


You've seen it in the stores, and you love it. If you're like me - the bigger and more obvious (borderline obnoxious) the jewelry, the better. And the cheaper the better doesn't hurt my feelings either! As I started thinking about it, I began to wonder, What would my life be like if I felt the same way about displaying Christ's righteousness as I did showing off my perfectly coordinating jewelry?

BIG Righteousness

What's the big deal about righteousness anyway? Well, to start off with, Psalm 111:3 teaches that "His righteousness endures forever." Hang on. Participation time. Can you think of anything that doesn't have to do with God's righteousness that lasts forever? Hang on. I love to argue (Ask James about our "intense fellowship", haha) ....but I've got nothing. Also, James 5:16 says, "...The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." The passage goes on to recount a story from the life of Elijah. He prayed that it would not rain, andEarth didn't see as much of a DROP for almost three and a half years. Then, the second he prayed it would rain again, it poured! (I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that means God was listening!) You can check out the whole story in I Kings 17.

OBVIOUS Righteousness

When I was in middle school, my youth minister challenged me by asking, "If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" That statement had a great impact on the way I lived my life from that day forward. I wanted to make sure that my walk matched my talk. Note, that doesn't mean that I didn't get made fun of...because I did. That doesn't mean that I didn't ever mess up ...because I did. I'm still a work in progress, and I'm far from perfect, but looking back on every choice I've made, even if it wasn't the cool thing or the popular thing, I've NEVER regretted doing the right (or the righteous) thing. Read your translation of I Peter 3:3-18, then check out this version. I can't put it into better words for you to understand than Eugene H. Peterson's The Message translation:

"If with heart and soul you're doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you're still better off. Don't give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They'll end up realizing that they're the ones who need a bath. It's better to suffer for doing good, if that's what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That's what Christ did definately: suffered because of others' sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all - was put to death and then made alive - to bring us to God."

CHEAP Righteousness

Now, listen to me carefully. By saying that righteousness is cheap, I am in NO WAY saying that righteousness isn't valuable. After all, in order for us to be made righteous, it cost Jesus His life. But it's available to us FOR FREE. No sale rack, no discount...absolutely free, if we simply accept Him as our Lord and Savior and attempt to be more like Him every day. Romans 5:19 says, "For as through the one man's disobedience, the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One, the many will be made righteous." What this means is, even though sin was brought into the world with Adam and Eve and got us in all this trouble, Jesus did it right and got us out of it completely! All we have to do is say "yes" to his gift of salvation and show our "yes" in our actions! That's pretty much the best bargain ever...

Get excited for God's next wardrobe requirement...I mean, honestly. Can a girl ever have too many shoes?! These aren't just any shoes - they are shoes of peace. After all this hard work on becoming righteous, we need something comfortable, right? As you pray about seeking His righteousness in all your thoughts and actions, reflect on the following passage, and get ready to pamper your feet!

Isaiah 32:17-18

"The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places."

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Esther 4:14b

"And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"