Winning from Above (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion | Day 306

“Even when we were dead in trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ . . . and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6, NKJV).

Yesterday, we looked at how much the Father has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. We learned that our victory consists in having a heaven perspective, which includes realizing the magnitude of our blessings in the heavenly places. Today, we continue our series by examining the passage above, especially the last part. It’s all about winning from above. A perspective that is mainly based on our earthly/fleshly experience doesn’t help our cause. Fasten your seat belts as we continue our ‘tour’ of the heavenly places.

To win from above it’s important that we look at reality from the standpoint of who we are, where we stand and what we have in the heavenly places.

The born again experience is about before and after, i.e. who we used to be as opposed to who we are now. That is the picture Paul paints in today’s opening passage. In the past, we were dead in our trespasses, he says. But now we live in a different reality thanks to God’s great love for us. God has blessed us with a new life on three levels. First, He has made us alive together with Christ. Second, He has raised us up together with Christ. And third, He has made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We will focus on this last point. But before that, let’s highlight two things which emerge from the passage.

Notice that the new experience is presented in the past tense. This means it is done, and consequently, it is the present reality of everyone who is born of God. Another thing to observe in the passage is the word “together.” It occurs three times, and it is used to describe Jesus and us as having a joint experience. That’s powerful. Don’t miss it.

Now let’s direct our attention to the last part of the passage where Paul says, God “made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” This is not a metaphor. It’s a literal spiritual reality. Jesus, the Risen Lord, is seated in the heavenly places. But He is not there alone. We are seated with Him and in Him. And it is the Father who put us there. Remember the word “together.” Jesus is Head of the Body, i.e. the Church (Colossians 1:18). The Head and the Body form one inseparable unit. Therefore, where Christ is, the Church is.

God revealed these things in the Bible to help us see things from His perspective. Often, we’re trapped by our earthly circumstances because we can’t see past the visible world. But God wants us to see things based on our position in the heavenly places, because our victory is from above, not from below.

When the Bible says you’re seated with Christ in the heavenly places it means you’re in a position of authority, power and rest. It means you’re far above satan and his minions. It means all things are possible for you (Matthew 17:20). It means you’re secure, confident and fearless. It means you don’t need to worry about the past, the present or the future. It means all the resources of heaven are at your disposal: health, peace, wisdom, wealth, knowledge, favor, joy and so much more. In a nutshell, you’re a winner.

See yourself seated together with Jesus on high. And use your heavenly position to your advantage.

For further studyEphesians 1:13-22

Chosen in Love, Driven by His Holiness

Daily Devotion | Day 304

“He [God] chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4, NKJV).

Why are you in this world? What’s your life purpose? Why were you born the day you were born? Why are you a Christian and not an atheist? I hope today’s message helps you to reflect deeply on the above questions.

Your destiny gives you purpose and direction. If you know your destiny it means you know your destination. And, knowing your destination will guide you to make choices that agree with the known destination. Fortunately for us Christians, the Father has revealed to us our destiny and life purpose. This destiny provides the framework within which all our choices (should) fit. You will find our destiny stated in different ways throughout the Bible.

But today, we’ll look at what Paul said in Ephesians 1:4. The passage is an excellent, succinct description of the Father’s plan for us. As children of the Father, it’s important that we know our destiny and be guided by it.

God chose us before the foundation of the world. This choice, we’re told, occurred before the world was created. Pause for a moment and think about that. Imagine what it means to be on God’s mind from all eternity. God knew you, chose you and planned a great life for you long before the universe existed.

Paul adds an important detail about God’s choice. He says, God chose us in Christ. This means God has planned that your life should be as glorious as the life of His Son. When God looks at you, He sees you in His Son. In a sense, when you see Jesus, you’ve seen you because you are in Him. And when Jesus looks at you, He sees Himself in you because He is in you. Listen to Jesus in His own words, “At that day you will know that I am in My Fatherand you in Meand I in you” (John 14:20). What an amazing life!!!

Next (and this is crucial), Paul tells us the purpose for which God chose us on Christ: “that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

Holiness is the quintessential attribute of God. The Bible spares no effort to emphasize this point. At the time Isaiah received his call to be a prophet, he saw a vision of seraphim crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:3). In the Book of Revelation, John too, saw a vision of heaven in which the four living creatures “do not rest day or night, saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come” (4:8). Not surprisingly, we’re told, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

Our purpose in life is to be holy and without blame to the glory of God. This means God wants us to be as He is.  He wants us to be essentially God-like in our being and in our conduct. Is this possible? Yes, it is. Anyone who affirms the contrary is either willfully ignorant of the Scriptures or is lying.

We’ve been given all the grace and ‘tools’ we need to answer our calling and to fulfill our purpose. The Holy Spirit Himself testifies to this in 2 Peter 1:3, “His [God’s] divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” If we don’t live holy lives, God is not to blame. Nor is Adam. But rather, it is we who have chosen to go our own way. 

Remember who you are. Remember your destiny. And fulfill your calling, in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study1 Peter 1:1-25

Why A Christian Should Meditate

Daily Devotional: Day 221

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3, NKJV).

Today’s Scripture reading is one of the richest passages in the writings of Paul. Writing to Christians in Colossae, he reminds them of their new creation status in Christ. Whoever is a new creation has died with Christ and is risen with Him. Being risen with Christ is a powerful reality. It literally means that the resurrection power at work in Christ is at work in you, too.

Based on this truth, Paul draws out practical implications for the believer. If you are risen with Christ, then henceforth you need to adjust your life accordingly. Especially, you need to turn your affections toward heaven where the risen Lord is seated.

Wherever Christ is, there your life is. Your life, Paul says, is hidden with Christ in God. This means there is only one way to find your life: by finding Christ. Do you see where this is going? It’s deep stuff, but the Holy Spirit will help you to grasp it. To find Christ, you need to shift your attention toward Him and maintain your focus on Him. Here is where meditation is vital.

Meditation directs your heart and mind to Jesus. To meditate, you need an object of focus. In this case, that object of focus is Christ. Therefore, Paul urges us to shift our mind from earthly desires (mainly lusts of the world which draw us away from God) and set it on things above, where Christ is seated in power. You, dear Christian, are from above; hence your desires must be oriented above. 

 Where your life is, there your attention needs to be.

Jesus Himself laid out an important principle in the Gospels, “For where your treasure isthere your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34). In this instance, Jesus is your treasure, and your life is hidden with Him. If you truly believe this, then you will set you heart on Him – through meditation.

Meditating means to dwell thoughtfully – in a relaxed manner – on a subject matter, a message, a person or an event, in quietness. In meditation, you take a calm, yet hard look at the state of your life and your relationship with God and everything around you.

Meditation is a form of prayer which mostly involves ponderinginternalizingquestioning and listening. You can meditate on any number of things. One thing you can do is focus on a particular passage, story, event or personality in the Bible as the Spirit leads you. Be open minded and relaxed. No need to stress yourself or be rigid.

Lack of meditation leads to spiritual stagnation.

But when you meditate, the Spirit of God will move you, open your eyes and lead you to discover the riches of Christ. This discovery will change you. Rightly does the Psalmist declare, “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:99). Additionally, meditation will help you to discover more about yourself. The more you understand Christ, the more you will understand yourself. Conversely, the less you understand Christ, the less you will understand yourself

Start meditating today. Find Christ, find your life. Amen. 

For further study: Joshua 1:1-9

Was Jesus a Friend of Sinners?

DAILY DEVOTIONAL: DAY 204

“The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” (Luke 7:34, KJV).

Was Jesus a friend of sinners? The answer is, “No.” We shall soon find out why. Let’s start by examining the context of today’s Bible passage. Here, Jesus is expressing His displeasure at the attitude of people toward Him. John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus. He led a relatively austere life, neither eating bread nor drinking wine (cf. Luke 1:13-15). His food was locusts and wild honey (cf. Matthew 3:4). Yet, people found fault with him and said he had a devil (cf. Luke 7:33). Jesus, by contrast, ate freely and did not abstain from wine. In general, He was less strict with Himself compared to John the Baptist. Surprisingly, people found fault with Jesus, too. They accused Him of being a glutton, a drunkard and a friend of sinners. Here is where some people get confused and conclude – wrongly – that Jesus was a friend of sinners.

Let’s keep in mind that the tag, “friend of sinners,” was just an accusation. The question we must ask is, “Was the accusation true or was it false?” Was Jesus a “friend of sinners?” To answer this question, let’s look again at today’s opening Scripture. Jesus was accused of being three things: glutton (He overeats), drunkard (he drinks in excess), and a friend of sinners (He hangs out with sinful people).

Let’s start with the first accusation.

Was Jesus a glutton? No, He was not. Gluttony is over-indulging in food, which is a form of greed and lack of self-control. The Bible expressly says Jesus was without sin (cf. Hebrews 4:15). If Jesus was a glutton, then He was a sinner; but the Word of God cannot lie. Second, was Jesus a drunkard? No, He was not – for the same reasons noted above regarding gluttony.

Now, to the third accusation:

Was Jesus a friend of sinners? Again, noHe was not. Here’s why. If you are a friend of sinners, it means you share (directly or indirectly) in their sinful life (which is what the accusation against Jesus implied). We are using the word “friend” in the strict sense (i.e. those you share your life with based on mutual love, respect and common interests), not in the loose sense where you might casually say to someone, “Hey, friend!” or “My friend!” (see, for example, Matthew 22:11-12).

The truth is, Jesus was no friend of sinners. He did, however, welcome all who wanted to hear Him: men and women, young and old, rich and poor, godly and ungodly, Jews and Gentiles. He went to their homes if He was invited; there, He often took the opportunity to proclaim the truth of salvation. Some sinners who listened to Jesus eventually received His message, repented and became His disciples. In short, Jesus was compassionate, loving and merciful toward all people, but He was not a friend of sinners.

The only group of people Jesus called His “friends” were His disciples (cf. John 15:15). In the previous verse (John 15:14), Jesus declared: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Notice the condition a person must fulfill to become Jesus’ friend: if you do whatsoever Jesus commands you. Do sinners do whatsoever Jesus commands them? No, they don’t. Conclusion: Sinners are not friends of Jesus; and Jesus is not their friend, either. 

Let us, therefore, present Jesus accurately to people, because friendship with Jesus (or lack thereof) is a matter of heaven or hell.

May the Lord bless you, give you understanding and enable you to walk with Him in holiness and righteousness. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Psalm 15:1-5

A Home in Heaven, Prepared by Jesus

Daily Devotional: Day 146

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3, NKJV).

That some people are without a regular and fixed place they can call home is a distressful social phenomenon. From apartments and condominiums to town-houses and single-family homes, millions of people around the world must work hard to keep a roof over their heads. Paying your bills on time will ensure that you don’t end up homeless. Your survival depends on it. But, not everyone is fortunate. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “there were roughly 554,000 homeless people living somewhere in the United States on a given night last year [2017]. A total of 193,000 of those people were ‘unsheltered,’ meaning that they were living on the streets . . .” (http://thedataface.com/2018/01/public-health/american-homelessness).

While we’re on earth, we must do what we can to provide a home for ourselves and help others find a home, too. For us Christians, we know that this world is not our final destination. Heaven is our eternal home. And, Jesus assures us in today’s Bible passage that there is enough room in His Father’s house for everyone of His followers. This is a message of great hope and consolation. Jesus has not forgotten us. He promises to come back for us so that we will be where He is.

Notice that we are not the ones to prepare the home is heaven. Jesus Himself does the preparation. You can, therefore, be sure that your home in heave will look awesome. This is blessed hope for all who follow Christ as their Lord and Savior.

As you go about your daily business, don’t forget that you have a home in heaven, a home prepared by Jesus Himself. Strengthen yourself with these precious promises (cf. 2 Peter 1:3-4). Here’s what you need to know about the home Jesus has prepared for you: no homelessness, no rent, no landlord issues, no fear of eviction, no mortgage problems, no credit history issues, no bills, no taxes; a home made in heaven, just for you. Jesus can’t wait to welcome you and show you around your true home. No matter what happens here on earth, let not your heart be troubled. Prepare for your best life. Prepare to meet Jesus. It will be awesome!

May the Lord bless and keep you today! Amen.

For further study: Revelation 21:9-27