What Was “Finished” at the Cross? (Pt 6)

Daily Devotion | Day 365

“Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24, NKJV).

Today we will look at the final part of Gabriel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24) regarding the Messiah’s work, which is: “to bring in everlasting righteousness.” As we go through the Scriptures, we will realize that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy and called us to manifest the fulfillment in our conduct. Jesus’ death on the Cross marked the end of sin’s reign and ushered in the reign of righteousness. As Paul said, “those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17; see also v. 20-21 and 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead serves as the power source and the pattern for believers to walk in the everlasting righteousness of God. Hence, Paul writes, “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Therefore, to live in the resurrection power means to walk in newness of life. This newness of life refers to a life of everlasting righteousness. The “walk” refers to our conduct.

Risen with Christ, we conduct ourselves in accordance with the gift of everlasting righteousness received at our new birth. Paul emphasizes this point when he writes to the Christians at Ephesus: “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk . . . put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts . . . and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:17, 22, 24). Peter confirms this when he says, “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:14-15). To be holy in all your conduct simply means to live a life that consistently manifests the everlasting righteousness of God.

Peter reminds us again that Jesus “bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). In other words, Jesus died for our sins so that freed from sin, we would go forth and live righteously for the rest of our lives. This is how Gabriel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24) that the Messiah would “bring in everlasting righteousness” is fulfilled. The father of John the Baptist, Zachariah, knew about this everlasting righteousness. Recalling God’s oath to Abraham, he prophesied by the Holy Spirit that God had made a way for us to “serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life” (Luke 1:67-75).

In Christ, the Father has created His project of everlasting righteousness. It is a perfect work of the Father, executed perfectly by Christ. We who believe in Christ are called to be the living expression of this righteousness project. The Father’s design is flawless. He has provided everything we need to manifest His righteousness and shine in the world as children of light. What we need to do is reject every doctrine that says we cannot live without sin. The only person who stands to gain from such a doctrine is satan. He, the devil, loves those who sin because he relies on them to grow the kingdom of darkness.

Everything we have said in this series (as well as the preceding one) is to defend the Father’s plan of righteousness and sinless life for His children and to expose the false beliefs that hinder us from enjoying freedom from sin. The Holy Spirit knew that righteousness would come under attack through a distortion of the Scriptures. He knew that people would come who would tell us that Jesus has made us righteous and after we receive this righteousness, nothing we do can make us unrighteous.

The Spirit knew also that there would people who would tell us that if we make any effort to live righteously, we are adding works to the finished work of Christ. Therefore, He inspired John to warn us, “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He [Jesus] is righteous . . . In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:7, 10).

A new year is upon us. I wish you well in all your endeavors. I pray blessings upon you. As we bring an end to the Daily Devotional, I hope it has been a blessing to you. Keep running the race of righteousness.

I will leave you with the following words of our Father. After reading those words, ask yourself: Can I live the rest of my life walking only in holiness and righteousness? I hope your answer will be an emphatic, “Yes, I can! And yes, I will!”:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Happy New Year!

Abundance in the Father’s House (Pt 4)

Daily Devotion | Day 325

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9, NKJV).

Some of the saints in Judea had been hit hard by a severe famine that had swept through the Roman Empire. Earlier, Agabus, a prophet from Jerusalem, had predicted this would happen. Upon hearing of the plight of the Christians in Judea, the believers in Antioch pledged and offered material support. When the offering was ready, they sent it by Paul and Barnabas (Acts 11:27-30). It did not end there.

Paul kept alive his passion to help those affected by the famine. As he preached the Gospel in different towns and cities, he urged believers to send contributions to support their brethren in Judea. When he could not be physically present, he sent some of his co-workers, for example, Titus and Timothy, to receive the contributions (Acts 24:17; Romans 15:25-27).

The church in Corinth was one of the communities where Paul organized contributions for the saints in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-4). In his second letter to this community, he reminded them that he was counting on their generosity. He spoke to them at length about the benefits of generous giving (2 Corinthians 8:1-24; 9:1-15). It is within this context that he wrote the words in today’s opening passage (8:9). Let us find out what it means for us as we conclude our series on “Abundance in the Father’s House.”

According to Paul, Jesus was rich but became poor for our sake. As the eternal Son of God, Jesus possessed infinite riches. But when He became a man like us, He took the form of a slave (Philippians 2:5-8). He did not take full advantage of His riches as God’s Son. If He did, He would have lived in a palace in Jerusalem and walked on streets made of gold instead of the dusty streets of Judea. But He chose to live as one who was poor, although He was not. He made Himself that way for our sake.

Paul tells us why. Jesus became poor, he says, that we “through His poverty might become rich.” This means Jesus wants us rich. Better yet, He has made us rich. Our risen Lord is rich spiritually and materially (Revelation 5:12). And so are we, because He made us so. We are joint-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17). We should, therefore, not be abashed about being rich. Nor should we hesitate to ask the Father for a manifestation of material abundance in our lives.

Some attempt to ‘spiritualize’ what Paul said in this passage, so that it has no material significance. But that is unfortunate. In the passage we are discussing, Paul’s message is specifically about material riches and abundance of possessions. When he said Christ became poor that we might become rich, he was referring (though not exclusively) to material riches. This explains other statements he made, for example: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (9:8). Here again, he is speaking of material abundance and sufficiency. 

In sum:

Evil people have given wealth a bad name, but being rich is not a bad thing. It is a blessing, a blessing which should be celebrated, encouraged and expected in our own lives. In this regard, it is unwise for us to shame or criticize people who are wealthy. Similarly, if you are rich, there is no point hiding it. Let it be known what the Lord has done for you. If people have a problem with you being rich, so be it. Your testimony will encourage others to believe in the Father’s provision.

Abundance is part of our inheritance in Christ. It is a blessing from our good Father. Let us welcome it with gratitude. Amen. 

For further study: Psalm 112:1-10 and Job 42:9-17 

Abundance in the Father’s House (Pt 3)

Daily Devotion | Day 324

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:22-24, NKJV).

Today we continue our study of “Abundance in the Father’s House” by highlighting an important point in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Before we do so, let us make some observations to reinforce the point we are making in this series. What you expect from God is an indicator of who you think He is and what you think He can (and will) do. If you are convinced that He is a God of abundance, you will expect nothing but abundance. And you will receive what you believe. God’s desire is not to bless you a little. That would be against His nature. His aim is to overwhelm you with blessings and to leave you speechless.

Read the Bible attentively from Genesis through Revelation. What you will notice is a pattern of God lavishing His people with an overflow of mercies, favor, goodness, wealth and prosperity. Take Isaac, for example. Once upon a time there was drought in the land where he lived. So, he moved and settled as a stranger among the Philistines in Gerar. This is what happened next: “Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundred fold; and the LORD blessed him. The man [Isaac] began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous” (Genesis 26:12-13). Lack, scarcity and stinginess are foreign to the Father. Therefore, when you are dealing with Him, expect abundance only and leave unlimited room for Him to surprise you.

Now let us look at the prodigal son. His life was a mess. But he had one thing going for him. Having lived with his father, he was familiar with life in that house. He knew his father’s house was noted for lavish living, abundance and overflow of good things. This awareness gave him hope. Listen to what he said when he had had enough of hardship, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father . . .” (Luke 15:17-18). Even the hired servants in the father’s house enjoyed abundance. Knowing he had lost his position as a son, all he wanted was to be hired as a servant and that would have sufficed for him. To his surprise, however, the father restored him as his son.

In our opening Scripture (15:22-24), notice how the father lavished the son with abundance and royal treatment. He put on him the best robe. He put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. Then he ordered the servants to prepare a party (with the fatted calf) to celebrate the return of his son. The rest of the day was spent in merry making: eating, drinking, singing and dancing.

When all hope seemed lost for the prodigal son, a single thought made the difference: the thought that his father’s house was a house of abundance. This thought fueled his expectation. And from how the story ended, the prodigal son was not wrong in what he believed about his father. Christians can learn a lesson here. That lesson is this: Whatever you desire to see, that is what you should expect. Expectation drives hope. And sooner or later, your expectation will become your reality.

The Father wants to celebrate you with abundance of good things: wisdom, wealth, favor, provision, divine protection, success, peace of mind, joy and overall prosperity. Do not resist abundance. Give God a chance to celebrate you. The state of your life has a lot to do with the state of your mind. Therefore, fill your mind with thoughts of abundance, provision and divine favor. Our Father is still in the abundance business. Expect nothing but abundance.

To be continued tomorrow, God willing.

For further studyIsaiah 55:1-13 and Deuteronomy 8:1-18

Abundance in the Father’s House (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion | Day 323

“You [God] crown the year with Your goodness, and your paths drip with abundance” (Psalm 65:11, NKJV).

This is a continuation of our series on “Abundance in the Father’s House.” As we go through this study, I hope you recognize that you are in the Father’s house now. Paul had this to say to the Christians in Ephesus, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). The Church is God’s household and you belong to this house. Therefore, when we speak of abundance in the Father’s house, keep in mind that the abundance in the house is for everyone in the family, including you.

Our opening Scripture from Psalm 65 tells us that God crowns the year with His goodness, and His paths drip with abundance. Yesterday, we saw how Adam and Eve went from a sense of abundance and provision to a sense of lack and insecurity. Today, we will focus on rejecting thoughts of lack and replacing them with thoughts of abundance. We will do so by drawing one lesson from Jesus’s teachings: His message to the disciples regarding the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod (Mark 8:13-21).

In His ministry, Jesus taught the disciples to expect abundance of good things from the Father. He demonstrated this in His own life. And when His disciples entertained thoughts of lack, He did not hesitate to correct them and redirect them to have confidence in the Father’s provision. Thoughts of lack are thoughts of doubt. If allowed to persist, these thoughts become the breeding ground for unbelief. Soon, they will become an obstacle to our experience of the Father’s blessings.

One day Jesus was on a boat with His disciples. The disciples realized they had forgotten to bring bread with them. At the same time, Jesus told them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod. When they heard this, they started thinking of their lack of bread, for they assumed Jesus was speaking to them about bread. He wasn’t. Jesus was disappointed that they entertained thoughts of no bread. Part of His response was, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened?” (8:17). Jesus used this occasion to (re)teach them about the Father’s provision and abundance.

What He did was remind them of the feeding of the five thousand and of the four thousand. For each incident of provision, Jesus asked them “How many fragments did you take up?” (8:19, 20). They took up 12 baskets and 7 baskets of fragments respectively. Then Jesus said to them, “How is it you do not understand?” (8:21). What was Jesus’ point? He wanted them to stop thinking of lack and instead think of abundance and provision. That was one lesson He was hoping they had learned when they saw Him multiply bread for thousands.

And it is the same lesson Jesus wants us to learn once and for all. Abundance is all around us. If we cannot see it with our naked eye, it does not mean it is not there. With the eyes of faith we can see and access the invisible, for faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Don’t limit yourself with thoughts of lack. Glorify God by entertaining thoughts of abundance. And watch the Father’s goodness overflow in your life.

To be continued tomorrow, God willing.

For further studyLuke 12:22-34 and Psalm 23:1-6

Abundance in the Father’s House (Pt 1)

Daily Devotion | Day 322

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights” (Psalm 36:7-8).

The lifetime project of every Christian is to know the Father more and more. The Scriptures show us a picture of the Father’s heart, His mind and His ways. Paul understood that knowing the Father is crucial for a meaningful Christian spirituality. As a result, he prayed that “the Father of glory may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17, NKJV). When you understand the Father and His ways, Christianity will be a liberating experience for you.

In this teaching series, we will discuss one of the truths about our Father, that He is a God of riches and abundance. He thinks in terms of abundance, not lack. And He wants us to operate with the same mindset. Our Father’s house is a house of abundance, and His riches are ours to enjoy in Christ Jesus. We will start today’s message by returning to the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. As we do so, keep in mind what the Psalmist says in today’s opening passage.

When Adam and Eve were created, they were greeted with abundance. The Garden of Eden was already prepared for them (Genesis 2:8-15). Everything was ready and plentiful for them to enjoy. Their first impression of life was one of abundance. This was no coincidence. God wanted to impress upon them the reality of abundance.

At the same time, He did not want them to entertain the thought of lack. Abundance creates security, but lack leads to insecurity. God did not want Adam and Eve to feel insecure. He wanted them to live with full assurance of provision. Therefore, everywhere Adam and Eve looked, they were met with images of wonder, beauty, riches and abundance. They had no sense of lack.

But someone was not happy about this state of affairs. The devil is his name. He devised a plan to introduce Adam and Eve to the experience of lack. He convinced them that they were not like God, i.e. they were not deity (Genesis 3:1-6). Up to this point, Adam and Eve had no feeling of lack. But the enemy sold them the idea of lack and they bought it. What they did not realize is that the enemy was envious of their secure position and their sense of abundance and completeness.

The interesting thing is, Adam and Eve were like God already. Recall that they were created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). If you are the likeness of God, it means you are like God. But Adam and Eve did not realize this. And the enemy succeeded in making them feel insecure.

Notice what happened after they took the devil’s bait. The Bible says, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked . . .” (Genesis 3:7; see also v. 8-11). For the first time in Adam and Eve’s life, they experienced a sense of lack. They experienced a sense of nakedness. This sense of nakedness represents insecurity. It represents a sense of non-provision.

But more importantly, it is a reflection on the Father because it makes Him look like a father who does not provide for his children. This state of affairs broke the Father’s heart. You can sense this in His reply to Adam’s statement that he was naked: “Who told you that you were naked?” (3:11). To restore their sense of divine provision and abundance, “for Adam and His wife the LORD God made tunics of [animal] skin, and clothed them” (3:21).

Your Father’s house is a house of abundance. Keep your mind away from lack. Focus rather on the Father’s riches and provision. He cares about you more than you care about yourself.

To be continued tomorrow, God willing.

For further studyPsalm 65:1-13