October 23 – His Garments

John 19:23-24

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, (John 19:23 ESV)

As Jesus was hanging on the cross the Roman soldiers in charge of his death were dividing his clothes amongst themselves. They saved his tunic, probably the only valuable possession he had, for last. It was special, made from only one piece of material rather than a stitched together patchwork garment.

The symbolic nature of the pagan Romans acquiring Christ’s clothing is very interesting. Jesus is regularly referred to as the second Adam. God took the hides of animals and used them to clothe Adam and Eve after their initial sin.

Christ’s death and resurrection created a renewed opportunity for relationship with God. The New Testament writings at one point even mention that we wear the righteousness of Christ. Our sin is our own, but our righteousness is his. We have none. We, like the Romans who divided his clothes, are wrapped in his garments.

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June 5 – Have No Fear

Read: Matthew 17:1-13

But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” (Matthew 17:7 ESV)

Jesus took his closest friends with him to the top of a mountain and there they witnessed a supernatural event. This is often referred to as the Transfiguration. It was a moment when Jesus was momentarily revealed in his divine glory. It was revelatory moment for the disciples. It was something they did not fully comprehend.

Moses was there, Elijah was there, and Peter spoke prophetic things he didn’t even understand. But the climactic event took place when God spoke in such a way that all in attendance heard and understood.

“This is my beloved son, listen to him.”

The disciples were on their faces before the powerful voice of God. It was probably terrifying to hear the disembodied voice of the one true God. When the Father had finished speaking Jesus touched them and assured them that there was no reason to be afraid.

Today, we can walk, live, breathe, and enjoy the presence of The Holy God by way of His only begotten son. Jesus removes the fearfulness that exists between fallen man and God almighty, at least for those that have been covered by the righteousness of Christ. Apart from Christ there is much to fear about eternity. In Jesus there is an eternal reason to have no fear.

April 25 – Hide & Seek

Read: Matthew 6:31-34

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

I loved playing Hide and Seek as a kid. My brother, cousins, and myself used to run around all over the mountains where my grandparents lived playing games of this sort. Of course, the best part was always finding someone.

Unfortunately, I think many of us have this idea that God has hidden away a lot of really important things. So, instead of spending our time trying to draw nearer to the Father, we ironically, and tragically, reject Him in an attempt to uncover all of the things we unconsciously think He must have hid from us.

Jesus told his disciples that this is a completely backward way of living. He taught that if you really want to find any kind of meaningful fulfillment in life you must seek God and his righteousness first. Seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness may sound like a dual pursuit, but its actually not. Jesus wasn’t talking about to two separate things, he was reemphasizing the same thing.

Seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness has nothing to do with pursuing our own righteousness. It has nothing to do with attempting to fill our wish lists. Seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness is about seeking Jesus. To come into all the added things first requires actually wanting Jesus more. As you pursue Jesus, as you become more like the person he wants you to be, your life will take shape in a way that God will then be able to trust you with all of the things that might have distracted you had He given them to you first.

April 6 – Exceeding Righteousness

Read: Matthew 5:17-20

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20 ESV)

The scribes and Pharisees have gotten nearly 2000 years worth of bad press from Christianity. They are often painted as the primary antagonists in the Gospels. And while they certainly went to ridiculous lengths to make Jesus’ life difficult, at one time they were thought to be the pinnacle of righteousness among the Jews.

During his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told his followers that their righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees. That it was the only way in which they would be able to enter God’s kingdom. For those of us who are familiar with the Gospel stories that seems like an easy achievement, but for the people who heard Jesus make this pronouncement, it was probably a fairly difficult thing to imagine.

I believe Jesus’ purpose for this statement was to call his followers to an authentic relationship with God. A life of love and service to God that surpassed all of the rules and stifling Law that the Pharisees were so fond of in favor of a life-giving Spirit-empowered walk with the Father. A call to embrace the Spirit of the Law, not by adding a bunch of man made statutes to it, but by embracing what it means to show love to one anther.

It also means that we are to be fully devoted followers of Jesus. After all, the only righteousness we have is his. If we are saved by his merciful grace, and covered by his own righteousness then I’d say that is a pretty sure bet for having surpassed that of the scribes and Pharisees.

April 4 – For Righteousness

Read: Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6 ESV)

The Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Matthew 5-7, is one of the most widely taught passages of scripture. The first portion is frequently referred to as the Beatitudes. Jesus’ purpose in sharing this message was to influence people to forgo their desires for things beyond the Kingdom of God.

You will be blessed by yearning for, and indeed, living off of Christ’s righteousness. We possess no righteousness except for Christ’s. His goodness, his holiness, his perfection is the root of righteous satisfaction.

We can, and should do good works in this life. However, they will never make us righteous. They will never make us holy. They will never satisfy. Only Jesus can and will. Let us all seek after and for righteousness.

January 11 – Carpenters

Read: Genesis 7

He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. (Genesis 7:23 ESV)

No one had ever heard of rain when Noah started preaching about it. They thought he was just a crazy old man. Even so, he had heard from God concerning his purpose and destiny and he responded. He and his sons built an Ark, a giant of a ship, from wood. The animals came, the boat was provisioned and passengered, and the rains came. And then they kept coming. The rain fell for 40 days and nights. The whole world was flooded for 150 days and the only thing that saved creation was the obedience of a righteous preaching carpenter.

Jesus’ day, like Noah’s and our own, was a day full of sin and selfishness. Jesus came into the world to overcome that sin and selfishness. He was obedient, and he was righteous, and like Noah he was a preaching carpenter. Unfortunately, just as in Noah’s day, many did not believe Jesus’ message. Today many still do not believe the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.

What do you believe? Just as Noah was raised above the destruction and judgement of the flood by the Ark, we can be raised above destruction and judgement by the death of Christ on the cross and the power of his glorious resurrection.

January 10 – A Better Man

Read: Genesis 2 and Luke 3:23-38

Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. (Luke 3:23, 38 NIV)

Have you ever heard someone use the phrase “better man”? Like, “Oh, he’s a better man than me for that.” They usually mean that the person they are referring to is of a higher moral aptitude for having achieved something which they themselves could not. In contrasting the first man Adam with the Son of Man Jesus such is the case.

Adam and Eve were placed in the middle of paradise. Eden was a beautiful garden the likes of which we cannot even begin to properly imagine. They had everything they needed, and all that they could ever really want. Yet when the devil came into the story he was able to trick and deceive them into sin by making them think God has somehow held back from them.

Jesus faced the same scenario in his life. He was tempted by the devil to believe that there is something to be gained beyond that which God has provided. His choice was not to believe the lie. He was and is the better man. He is the better Adam. The only man to ever make the right choice every time.