Engaging the Lost: Jesus’ Way

Daily Devotion | Day 276

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost” (Matthew 18:10-11, NKJV).

Jesus is salvation-minded. He wants His followers to have the same mind. To be salvation-minded means to desire and to work for the salvation of souls. An authentic disciple of Christ is one who possesses the same mindset as Christ. Part of this mindset is the attitude we adopt toward those who are yet to be saved. In today’s Scripture, Jesus warns us to be careful how we treat those we think are lost.

Specifically, Jesus calls us to avoid treating the lost with contempt. This is important. When we gain knowledge of God, there’s a temptation to look down on those who aren’t like us. This originates from pride or arrogance. But the ultimate root of this attitude is immaturity and a lack of Christ-mindedness. A true disciple of Christ will treat people how the Savior will treat them. When you treat people with contempt because they’re not saved or because they’re not like you, you discredit your own calling as an ambassador for Christ.

In Matthew 18:10-11, Jesus gives us two reasons we should avoid despising the lost. First, He says these people have angels in heaven who always see the face of the heavenly Father. This means they are important to God, even if their salvation status looks questionable. If God has assigned angels to them, that should tell us that they are valuable in God’s sight. Whoever is important to God should be important to us also. If we treat these people with contempt, we not only offend God, we also offend the angels assigned to them. The last thing we want is to stand before God one day and be required to explain why we treated people with contempt.

Second, Jesus says He has come to save that which was lost. Jesus has a heart for the lost. His mission and passion is to save them. When you despise these people, you’re indirectly despising Jesus who wants to save them. You don’t want to interfere with the Savior’s mission.

If you’re saved, be thankful and pray that others will come to salvation. Remember that it is by grace that you are in Christ, not because you are the most awesome person who ever lived. Let humility guide you. Treat all with kindness and respect. Don’t ridicule people who you think are lost. Respect Jesus who shed His blood for them, and respect their angels, too.

BlessingMay the Lord use you as an instrument to give people the knowledge of salvation. Amen.

For further studyRomans 11:11-36

Take Advantage of Your Qualification in Christ

Daily Devotional: Day 236

“Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12, NKJV).

If you have ever applied for a job or recruited people for a job, you are familiar with ‘qualifications.’ In nearly all human endeavors, qualifications play a vital role. Your qualifications tell people if you are fit for a particular task or if you deserve some benefits. In short, your qualifications can give you access to opportunities.

Today’s passage from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians contains a vital truth for all children of God. In it, Paul urges the saints in Colossae to give thanks to the Father. Reason for the thanksgiving: the Father “has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”

Did you catch that? The saints in light, i.e. God’s children (see 1 Thessalonians 5:5) have a common inheritance in Christ (see 1 Peter 1:3-5). When the Bible says that God has qualified you to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints, here are some implications. First, it implies that you belong to the fellowship of the saintsYou are a saint. Be convinced of that.

Make not the mistake of holding on to two diametrically opposed identities: sinner and saint. You are either one or the other. Sinners have no share in God’s inheritance. Today’s Bible passage, as you can see, is addressed to saints only. Notice that Paul doesn’t say, “inheritance of the sinners;” rather, he says, “inheritance of the saints in light.” The good news is, God counted you among His saints when He saved you. Believe, therefore, that you are a saint; think like a saint, and behave like a saint.

If, however, you are truly convinced that you are a sinner, don’t give up. There is hope for you. Repent, forsake your sins and turn to Christ. He will save you (see Proverbs 28:13; Matthew 1:21; Luke chapter 15).

The next implication of Paul’s message is the following:

In virtue of what the Father has done for you, you are capable of soaringYou are capable of rising above anything which hinders your walk with God. You are capable of shining. You are capable of living free from the dominion of sin (see Romans 6:14). You are capable of a life that glorifies God. God has made you fit for a higher life. He has made you fit for a life of excellence. As a new creature in Christ, you are capable of positively influencing the world around you. God has chosen you, wired you and equipped you to be a living expression of His glory. If you believe this, you should be leaping for joy right now.

In sum, you have been named in the inheritance reserved for God’s saints. Who named you? The Father did. Take advantage of your qualification in Christ and be transformed.

Stay blessed, in Jesus Name. Amen.

For further studyColossians 1:1-29

Once a Sinner, Now Redeemed

Daily Devotional: Day 167

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24, NASB).

Today’s reading is one of the oft-quoted passages of the New Testament – and for good reason. The direction of our Christian life hinges on how we understand and apply this Scripture. Before arriving at Romans 3:23-24, Paul had spent ample time explaining the judgment that is upon people for going astray from God’s revealed will. Jews had the Law, but they failed by transgressing it. Gentiles didn’t have the Law; but they had no excuse for living in unrighteousness. For, as Paul notes in Romans 1:20, “since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” The common charge, therefore, is that “all [Jews and Gentiles alike] have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

 Notice that the Bible didn’t say all are sinners by birth. “All have sinned” means people who knew the difference between right and wrong, chose to do wrong. Moreover, notice that Paul didn’t say all never stopped sinning or all shall continue to sin. This is important, because many Christians rely – erroneously – on Romans 3:23 to justify sin in their lives and their reluctance to cease from sin. “All have sinned” is in the past tense for a reason. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, all who believe in Him shall be released from the dominion of sin and empowered to sin no more. Henceforth, they can live righteously by grace. This is the essence of being saved from your sins (cf. Matthew 1:21, John 8:34, and Romans 6:14). It is a blessed transition from being a slave to sin, to being the redeemed of the Lord. This transition is described in the next verse, Romans 3:24.

When people repent and turn to Christ, they are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” The two highlighted words are important. “Justified” means you are made just, i.e. you are made right with God through the blood of Christ. You’re no longer on the wrong side of God. Many Christians, however, stop at this point. They love the “justified” part; but they overlook the next equally important aspect of their salvation, which is redemption. The word redemption used here in Romans 3:24, is translated from the Greek word APOLUTROSIS. It refers to the act of being released from captivity or bondage upon the payment of a ransom. This means you’re redeemed, i.e. released from the power of sin. You’re no longer free to sin; you are free to not sin. You’ve been released from sin’s captivity, so that henceforth you can live exclusively for Christ and for righteousness.

 In Christ, to be saved means you’re washed (in the blood of Jesus), justifiedsanctifiedfilled with the Holy Spiritand released from sin’s captivity. Salvation, therefore, is a transition from being a sinner to being the Lord’s redeemed. Make the most of this holy transition and blessed freedom.

May the Lord bless you and keep you from all evil. In the Name of Jesus. Amen. 

For further study: John 8:31-36.

Urgency in the Lord’s Business

Daily Devotional: Day 157

“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42, NKJV).

Peter and John had been arrested and brought before the Jewish Sanhedrin. Following the wise counsel of Gamaliel, a prominent member of the council, the Apostles were released. But they were commanded not to speak in the name of Jesus again (cf. Acts 5:34-40). Two verses later, in Acts 5:42, the Bible says, “daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” Look carefully at the Bible’s choice of words. It says the Apostles did not cease teaching and preaching. They maintained a daily, incessant routine of speaking about Christ. The key word and phrase are “daily” and “they did not cease.” 

The Bible is pointing us to the necessity of maintaining a sense of urgency when it comes to teaching and preaching about Christ. Observing the Apostles, you notice that there was a sense of urgency about their attitude. The fact is, they understood the signs of the times. They knew that knowledge of salvation is an offensive weapon in the kingdom of God. Our spiritual warfare entails an urgent call to strengthen believers, bring light to those walking in darkness and rescue the perishing. This is a daily call which requires a daily response.

Even satan knows that the stakes are high, and there isn’t a day he goes to rest. Revelation 12:12 comes to mind: “Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (ESV, emphasis added).

Each new day counts. We, therefore, don’t have the luxury of resting on our oars or being on the defensive. The only way for us to rest is to do the Master’s business daily. And, the only way to win is to be on the offensivearmed with the Word of God. Each day is an opportunity to make Christ known in our homes, in our relationships, on the streets and at the workplace. We can do this, because the Holy Spirit is with us. 

Grace and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today. Amen.

For further study: Matthew 28:16-20

How Jesus Saves Us Completely

Daily Devotional: Day 145

“Therefore He [Jesus, our High Priest] is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25, NKJV).

The state of your salvation depends on the state of the priest who represents you. If your priest is limited, so is your salvation. If your priest dies, his priestly office dies with him, and your salvation becomes questionable. Your salvation stands or falls based on the condition of your priest. If your priest cannot save himself, he cannot save you, either. But not so with Jesus. He is able to save you utterly, with no margin of error.

The Lord provided a priesthood in the Old Covenant to make daily sacrifices for the purification of the people. Every priest eventually died and was replaced. Therefore, you could call that priestly system the ‘Replacement Priesthood,’ because every priest needed to be replaced at some point. Even today, those who claim to exercise a priestly office on behalf of people need replacement, because they die or they retire at some point. It is yet another form of replacement priesthood; only this time it is a false and dangerous system, because  it is advertised as the true priesthood of Christ when in fact it is not, and can never be.

 Jesus, the true High Priest, needs no replacement because He never dies; He never goes on vacation, and He never retires; He lives always to make intercession for us; hence His priestly office on our behalf is a sure foundation for our salvation. This is the context for today’s Scripture reading.

The Bible says Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to make intercession for them. No priest of the Old Testament could save anyone to the uttermost; neither can any human priest do that today. Additionally, no other priest had, or now has, the ability to always make intercession for the people he represents.

Notice also that the Bible identifies a specific class of people whom Jesus saves to the uttermost. They are those, and only those, who come to God through Jesus Christ. This means if you come to God through someone else, you cannot count on being saved, let alone be saved to the uttermost. As the Holy Spirit testifies, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, emphasis added).

To conclude today’s message, let’s briefly touch on the word “uttermost.” It is from the Greek word panteles. It means utter completeness. The word occurs twice in the New Testament: Luke 13:11 and Hebrews 7:25. In Luke, it is used to describe the condition of the woman who could not straighten up; the point being that satan had bound her completely, thereby rendering her utterly incapable of stretching straight.

Likewise, when the Bible says Jesus can save you to the uttermost, it means Jesus is able to save you to the fullest extent of salvation imaginable. It is an utterly complete salvation which leaves no room for error. This is the basis for a Christian’s confidence regarding salvation and eternal life. Jesus’ unfailing priestly office in our behalf is the firm ground on which our salvation stands.

Go to God through Jesus, and He shall save you to the uttermost. 

May the favor of the Lord be upon you and your family today! Amen.

For further study: John 10:27-30