Three Signs You Are Reigning in Christ (Pt 1)

Daily Devotion | Day 301

“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17, NKJV).

In Chapter 14 of the Book of Romans, Paul responded to questions about which foods to eat and which ones to avoid. Apparently, some in the community preferred to eat vegetables only (v. 2) for reasons of conscience. Paul referred to such people as “weak in faith” (v. 1). Others, however, had no scruples about food. This offended those who were weak in faith. To resolve the problem, Paul urged everyone to follow his conscience regarding this matter. Then, he appealed to those who were strong in faith to bear with those who were weak and not do anything that might jeopardize their fragile faith. This is the context within which Paul made the statement you find in today’s opening passage (Romans 14:17).

What Paul said, especially the second part of his statement, is true for all Christians of every epoch. Starting with this passage, we will talk about three signs which show that we are reigning in Christ: righteousnesspeace and joy. This will be a three-part series. Today, we will focus on righteousness and how it enables us to reign in Christ. 

The Bible calls Christians “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). God calls us so because He wants us to reign (as priests) in His kingdom. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of righteousness. Where you see the kingdom, you see righteousness.  The kingdom and righteousness are inseparable because righteousness is the primary defining characteristic of God’s kingdom. Therefore, without righteousness no one can reign with Christ.

It is with this understanding that Jesus urged us to prioritize righteousness: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Notice how Jesus tied righteousness to the kingdom. Righteousness gives you the keys to the kingdom. All blessings flow from this point. As the Book of Proverbs says, “blessings are on the head of the righteous” (10:6). This is how righteousness enables you to reign in Christ and appropriate the kingdom blessings.

To help us reign, the grace of Christ produces a two-fold (inseparable) action in the life of a Christian. First, it blesses you with the gift of righteousness: “For if by the one man’s [first Adam’s] offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). Second, the grace of Christ empowers you to stop sinning: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). You are reigning when you are not sinning. You are reigning when you are walking in righteousness.

Therefore, grace is about receiving righteousness and walking in the righteousness received.

As John rightly put it, “whoever says he abides in him [Christ] ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6, ESV). Righteousness is not just a concept. It is a lifestyle. It is the dynamic power of God which enables you to take your rightful place in the Father’s kingdom.

Be righteous. Stay righteous. Reign.

Blessing: May the Holy Spirit power destroy every plot of the enemy against you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further studyRomans 6:5-23

Children of Promise

Daily Devotional | Day 284

“So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:39-40, NKJV).

Childhood is a precious phase in human development. Most of the experiences in your childhood will serve as a foundation for future growth. Happy and meaningful childhood memories are a treasure. It is during this time that important values, character traits and lessons are learned. A healthy childhood is vital for a healthy adulthood.

Jesus was once a child. He experienced all the developmental stages of childhood. Today’s opening Scripture gives us a summary of His childhood. Make no mistake. Jesus’s childhood wasn’t all smooth and cozy. At different times He faced adversity (Matthew 2:13-23; Luke 2:4-7). The good news is, He emerged from adversity as a strong, confident Man ready to be the Messiah.

Jesus didn’t skip steps in His childhood development. He was like us in all things (Hebrews 2:17). The Bible says, “the Child grew and became strong in spirit.” Jesus moved through  a growth process. As the process unfolded, He became stronger and stronger. As the Child grew, He was “filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Wisdom is necessary for growth. Foolishness in a child should be purged before it is too late. As the Book of Proverbs says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (22:15).

Jesus’ childhood has a lot to do with us. It tells us that it is possible for our children to grow in wisdom and the grace of God. Wisdom, grace and strength are available not only to the Child Jesus, but to all children, especially children of Christian parents. Given the right environment, every Christian child can grow, filled with wisdom and the favor of God.

Christian parents have the anointing of God upon them. When they give birth, their child is no ordinary child. Their child is conceived and born within an environment of the Holy Spirit. As a result, the child has a great life in front of him/her. It’s important for Christian parents to realize this, capitalize on this spiritually fertile ground and develop the child accordingly. Your opinion of your child will shape how you raise him/her. If you think the child is common, you will give him/her common training. But if you recognize the grace of God upon the child, you will be careful what you do and say around the child. By the very fact that you’re a Christian, the hand of the Lord is upon the fruit of your body. Your child is sanctified because he/she came from you.

Remember, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. If a child comes from this temple, that child is under the Spirit’s influence. No baby will come out of your body without being affected by the Holy Spirit in you. The power of the Holy Spirit in you trumps every other power that might touch the child. The Holy Spirit doesn’t ignore your baby. Because of you, His power is upon your baby right from conception. This means your child is blessed from day one.

From conception, your child is under the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not the rituals you performed at church service that made your child blessed. Your baby has had vital contact with the Holy Spirit which is in you. By this fact alone, your child is a ‘Holy-Spirit-influenced-child.’ 

The problem is, most Christian parents are not aware of this. Consequently, they miss out on time-sensitive opportunities to set up their children to grow in divine favor, strength and wisdom. When Gabriel told Mary that she would conceive the Messiah, her concern was how this was going to happen. Gabriel responded, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35, NKJV).

In our case, however, the Holy Spirit is already upon us; He is inside us. Therefore, every child that proceeds from your body is under the shadow of the Holy Spirit in you. As a result, the baby from your body is holy, by default. The child is ‘holified,’ so to speak. Both parents don’t have to be Christians. One Christian parent is all it takes for the child to be sanctified, because the Holy Spirit in the believer ‘overrides’ every other condition. Alluding to this, Paul wrote, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the [Christian] wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the [Christian] husband; otherwise your children would be uncleanbut now they are holy” (1 Corinthians 7:14).

Children of Christian parents are children of promise. Let’s give our children a chance to grow like the child Jesus.

BlessingMay the blessings of the Holy Spirit be upon everything and upon everyone that comes into contact with you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further studyJudges 13:1-25 and Luke 1:5-25, 57-80

What Grace Means for You

Daily Devotion|Day 258

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12, NKJV).

The grace of God is teacher. It is the love and power of God in us enabling us to live lives worthy of our calling (see Ephesians 4:1). Grace is for our life here on this earth. God wants us to reign over sin, the world and temptation (see Romans 5:17). And He has not left us helpless. Grace supplies everything we need to be conformed to the image of the Son of God.

In today’s Bible passage, Paul tells us that the grace of God has appeared to all people. This means grace is available to all. God has not kept His mercies in Christ a secret. Grace has been revealed for the salvation of all who will obey (see Hebrews 5:8-9).

According to the passage, grace teaches us two things. Firstly, the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodly and world lusts. The Christian life is about saying ‘Yes’ to righteousness and saying ‘No’ to sin and unrighteousnessGod has always been a God of grace. He didn’t suddenly become a God of grace when Jesus came into the world. From the beginning of human life, it has been God’s character to teach his children to deny ungodliness and sinful lusts which can lead us to separation from God and eternal perdition (see Isaiah 59:1-2).

God’s plan has always been for His children to rule over sin.

God taught Adam and Eve to deny sinful lusts. When Cain was tempted to harm his brother, Abel, God revealed Himself to Him and taught Him to say ‘No’ to the temptation. That was the grace of God at work. He warned him, “And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). 

Secondly, grace teaches us how to live: soberly, righteously and godly. Grace is not only about what we are against. It is also about what we stand for: righteousness and holiness. Grace teaches us to be spiritually vigilant. It teaches us practical ways of living right with God and neighbor. It teaches us to walk with God, and like God (see Genesis 17:1). God is holy and righteous. If we want to walk with Him, we cannot walk in sin. 

The only acceptable life of the believer is a life of holiness, godliness and righteousness.

We are saints called and set apart to live for God’s glory. As the passage tells us, we are to live saintly, godly and righteous life in this present age, not when we get to heaven.The grace of God has appeared to you. Grace refers to everything God has revealed in Christ Jesus for our salvation (for this present life and the world to come when Christ returns).

Let grace find a home in you. The grace of God wants to teach you. Be a disciple of grace and you will bear fruit of holiness, righteousness and godliness.

BlessingMay the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today. Amen.

For further studyEphesians 4:11-32

The Joy of Competing for Jesus’ Team

Daily Devotional: Day 127

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me” (Philippians 1:29-30, NKJV).

Blessed are you if you suffer with Christ.

Today’s Scripture reading is selected from Paul’s letter to the Christians in Philippi. Paul had a wonderful relationship with them; you will notice this if you read the whole letter. Currently, Paul is writing from prison. He tells them that they, the Philippians, have been granted not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake. Paul describes this suffering as a “conflict.” The Greek word translated “conflict” is agōn. This word was used by the Greeks to refer to the crowd that met at the national games, for example, the Olympic and Pythian games. Hence the word can be understood as a contest for a prize. Paul wants the Philippians to rejoice in the fact that the Lord has bestowed on them the privilege of suffering (the suffering that comes with competing) for His sake.

People suffer for different reasons. But suffering for the sake of Christ and His Gospel is a special gift (grace) given to us by God, for which we should rejoice. As already noted, the kind of suffering Paul is describing in today’s passage is what he calls a conflict or contest. By borrowing a term from the world of competitive sports, he is telling us that suffering for Christ is like competing in a contest. You must be disciplined, steady and sound if you want to win the prize. But it is also a great privilege to be selected to represent the competing team – Jesus’ Team: the Sons of God.

As we go about witnessing to our faith in Christ, there are powers we must contend against. We therefore need the mindset and discipline of an athlete to succeed. You may think of yourself this way: You have been selected as an athlete to compete for Team Jesus. In Jude 1:3, the author says, “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (emphasis added). I pray you take your place today and contend for the Christian faith. The peace of the Lord be upon you! Amen.

Pray to the Father about what you’ve heard today.

For further study: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

When God’s Love Says “No”

Daily Devotional: Day 90

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9, NKJV).

“No” can be God’s answer to your request. With God, there is no “Maybe.” It is always “Yes” or “No.” God promised to answer our prayer, but He did not promise to say “Yes” to all our requests all the time. Some might quote John 14:13-14 to suggest that the Lord will do anything we ask, regardless of the consequences. But this is far from what the Word of God teaches.

God answers our prayer based on the relationship He has with us and His love for us. Sometimes, His love for us means He would say “No” to what we are asking; other times, His love for us means He will say “Yes” to our request. The most important thing for us Christians is that the Father loves us and He will never leave us or abandon us. The most important thing is not about getting God to say “Yes” to all our requests, but being persuaded that no matter what we’re going through, the grace of Christ is sufficient for us and His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

During a time in Paul’s life, he was afflicted by a problem which he identifies as “a messenger of satan.” The Bible doesn’t specify the nature of the problem, so I won’t speculate. This “messenger” was sent to afflict Paul to keep him from swelling with pride.  Previously, the Lord had given Paul access to wonderful revelations of heaven. The Lord knew that this kind of knowledge could lead Paul to pride.

Out of love for Paul, the Lord allowed him to be tormented to keep him from sinning. Paul says that he pleaded with the Lord three times that this problem might be removed. But on all three occasions, the Lord’s answer was “No.” However, the Lord said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you . . ..” The Lord was protecting Paul from a much bigger danger – the danger of pride. We all know that some people soon become proud and arrogant when they gain knowledge. 

Most of us Christians today need to correct our theology and adjust our expectations to conform them to God’s Word. Sometimes we think what we want is good for us, but God may think otherwise. We need to learn to discern God’s view of things and be happy to submit to His will even during a period of affliction. Not all things that seem good are necessarily good for us. Similarly, not all difficult situations are necessarily bad for us

As the Bible says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But [but] its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).  Paul wanted to be set free from his affliction. This seemed good to him; there was nothing wrong with his prayer. But God loved Paul so much that He’d rather let Paul be afflicted than fall into the sin of pride.

The lesson for us is that love does not always have to say “Yes” to all requests. Sometimes saying “No” is the truest expression of love. Your heavenly Father loves you dearly, and He will do whatever you ask, but not if He knows that what you ask can harm you.  But know this, whether you get a “Yes” or a “No” doesn’t change God’s love for you. When He says “Yes,” it’s because He loves you; and when He says “No,” it’s also because He loves you. You’ll find great peace and joy if you learn to “see” and understand things from the Lord’s perspective. 

Prayer:

Father, teach me to know that your grace is sufficient for me, and that no matter what I’m going though or will go through, your power will rest over me. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Luke 22:39-44