When I was a little girl, I dressed up for church. I dressed up for parties. I dressed up for dining out. These days, I rarely get dressed up. Maybe that’s why today’s declaration makes me smile. Its wonderful news is tucked into a Bible verse at the end of the chapter in Isaiah that contains the prophecy Jesus read in his hometown of Nazareth the day He revealed His identity and purpose to them. Perhaps, like me, you’re familiar with the verses Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2 about how the Spirit of the Lord was on him and had anointed him to proclaim good news to the poor. I’m less familiar with the verses I’ll be reading today. They come from Isaiah 61:10-11, and tell us that we are clothed in garments of salvation and arrayed in robes of God’s righteousness. We can step out with our heads up and our smiles on because we are looking good to God!
I wrote a book called Longing to Belong, and the first chapter talks about how you and I are a display of God’s splendor. That wonderful news is also Isaiah 61. “They [which refers to people just like you and me] will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:3 NIV).
I recently started taking a group of women through my book on Tuesday nights, which is probably why I was drawn to Isaiah 61 for today’s episode. You and I have absolutely no reason to feel any guilt or shame once God clothes us with garments of salvation. Saved by God’s indescribable gift of grace, our own good works are nothing but filthy rags. Why try to clean them up when we can cast those filthy rags aside and put on—like it says in Ephesians 4:23—”put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (NIV).
You, my friend, are holy and blameless because of what God has done, not because of anything you’ve done or haven’t done. God chose you in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians goes on to say that Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Eph. 5:25-27 NIV)
Longing to Belong on Amazon: Longing to Belong: Discovering the Joy of Acceptance: Shawna Marie Bryant: 9781684264803: Amazon.com: Books
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This week’s scripture: Isaiah 61:10-11