Three Signs You Are Reigning in Christ (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion | Day 302

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

Yesterday, we talked about how a life of righteousness is a sign that we’re reigning in Christ. Today, we will continue with our series on “Three Signs You Are Reigning in Christ” by looking at another sign: peace.  Let’s note that the three things mentioned by Paul are not the only signs of life in the kingdom. However, they are core elements without which it is impossible to claim the presence of the kingdom in one’s life. Before we talk about peace, let’s make a brief comment on the nature of God’s kingdom.

The point of us being in God’s kingdom is to reign in Christ, i.e. to reign over everything associated with the powers of darkness, notably sin, satan, demonic oppression and a life of fear. At this point, let’s recall what Paul said about our place of dominion in Christ: “He [God] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13).

Some think that we will start to reign only when Jesus appears a second time. Yes, there’s a future component of reigning with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). However, the reality is, there’s a present tense component as well. The power to reign is already at work in us now. Jesus Himself pointed to this present tense experience of the kingdom when He said, “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). The kingdom within us is what makes it possible for us to experience and manifest the essential signs of the kingdom, thereby attesting that indeed we are sons and daughters of the King of Kings. Therefore, the normal experience of every child of God is to exude peace.

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be called, “Prince of Peace” (9:6). The peace of Jesus is the very peace of God. By his death, Jesus reconciled us to the Father and obtained peace for us. Consequently, Jesus “Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14; see also Romans 5:1-2). As children of God, this peace is imparted to us freely. Jesus said, “My peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). This peace is of divine origin and it inhabits the Christian soul. When you receive this peace it keeps you still, tranquil, unafraid and unagitated. Your spirit is at rest in the bosom of the Father. You can go through adversity and still be at rest. This is how you reign in Christ.

 The peace of God is the power to rest in God. And, when you’re resting in God it means you’re reigning in Christ. You are sharing in the peace of the Prince of Peace. As a natural result, you then can produce peace as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

This is the Father’s plan for you. Embrace it and enjoy a life of divine peace. Amen.

For further studyPhilippians 4:1-9 and Colossians 3:12-17

The Man Who Was Not Ashamed to Be Baptized

Daily Devotion | Day 288

“And John tried to prevent Him, saying “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness’” (Matthew 3:14-15, NKJV).

John had one mission: to prepare the way for the Messiah and to introduce Him to Israel. He knew who he was and who he wasn’t (John 1:19-26). Many in Israel responded well to his message. They came to John confessing their sins and to be baptized by him (Matthew 3:5).

One day, while John was ministering, Someone came to him to be baptized. It was Jesus. John was stunned. Jesus wasn’t supposed to be there. In fact, Jesus didn’t meet the requirements for baptism. To request baptism, people had to acknowledge their sin, repent (and confess). Therefore, anyone who didn’t know Jesus would assume that He – like everyone else – was a sinner seeking reconciliation with God. John must have felt embarrassed at the sight of Jesus standing in line for baptism. He rightly tried to prevent Jesus, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”

Jesus knew John was right to refuse to baptize Him. In the end, however, John was persuaded when Jesus appealed to righteousness. “Permit it to be so now,” Jesus said, “for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” We can identify two important points in Jesus’ statement. First, He talks about the importance of fulfilling all righteousness. Jesus understood Scripture prophecies about Him. He knew that He had to be like us in all things. About thirty years prior to this encounter with John, the Son of God fulfilled prophecy by becoming flesh (John 1:14).

The time had now come for Jesus to be publicly initiated into his Messianic ministry. As part of this initiation, it was important for Jesus to show that He came to redeem Israel from sin (Matthew 1:21). Additionally, His baptism would underscore the fact that He fully embraced Israel’s burden of sin and their need for decisive victory over it. Entering the waters of baptism was, therefore, symbolically (and spiritually) significant. Doing this, for Jesus, was a fulfilling of God’s righteousness because it agreed with the Father’s will as expressed in multiple Messianic prophecies (notably Isaiah 53).

Second, Jesus spoke in the plural when He said to John, “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus recognized that He and John were co-workers. They were a team working together to accomplish one goal. They had different but complementary missions. John’s mission needed Jesus’ mission to be authenticated (John 3:25-30). At the same time, Jesus’ mission relied on John’s successful preparation of Israel via the message of repentance (Luke 3:1-6).

To sum up, Jesus was not ashamed to enter the waters of baptism alongside sinners. We shouldn’t be ashamed either to be crucified and buried with Him in baptism (Romans 6:1-4). Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brothers (Hebrews 2:11). We shouldn’t be ashamed either to confess Him as our Lord and Savior (Luke 9:26; 12:8-9).

BlessingMay your life be a shining testimony to the glory of God. Amen.

For further studyHebrews 2:1-18 

Mary, the Servant of God

DAILY DEVOTION: DAY 215

“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:46-48, ESV).

Prior to the coming of Christ, all Israelites had one thing in common: expectation of the Messiah. By prophecy, the Lord had given several clues about the Messiah. Well documented, among other things, was the fact that He was going to be born of a woman (cf. Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2-3) from Israel. Prophecy also indicated that the Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah (cf. Genesis 49:10). The earthly father of the Messiah had to be from Judah. This is very important because the Messiah’s lineage would be traced through the male line. This means that if you were a man from any other tribe apart from Judah, you were disqualified.

 Additionally, if you were a woman married to a man who wasn’t from the tribe of Judah, you too, were disqualified. It was, therefore, necessary for Mary to have married a man from Judah. This explains why in Matthew’s account of the genealogy of Jesus, the Bible is careful to show Mary’s marriage connection to Joseph (cf. Matthew 1:16). Mary herself was, most likely, from the tribe of Levi (cf. Luke 1:5, 36). In Luke’s account of Jesus’ genealogy, he omits Mary from the list of Jesus’ ancestors because all that needed to be established was that Joseph’s line could be traced to David, to Judah, to Abraham, to Adam, to God (cf. Luke 3:23-38).

Of the hundreds of thousands of women who fit the profile of the Messiah’s mother, God chose none but Mary, the virgin from Nazareth (cf. Luke 1:26). In today’s opening Scripture, notice what Mary said, “for he [God] has looked on the humble estate of his servant.” God’s eyes were turned toward Mary’s lowly state, her humble life. He saw her humility, and she exalted her, bestowing on her the honor of being the mother of Israel’s Messiah. Anyone in that position who wasn’t humble could have been easily overcome with pride, seeking praise from people, and thinking herself to be above everyone else. Not so with Mary. God looked indeed on her humble state, for throughout the New Testament, there is not a single hint of pride from her.

Speaking of Mary’s humility, it is sad that in the Roman Catholic Church and other places, this simple woman has been idolized and essentially deified. The Mary we know in the Bible wouldn’t want anyone to pray to her, let alone bow to man-made statues of her. It would be against her very nature, as described in the Bible. 

Another important detail is that Mary called herself God’s servant. The Greek word translated ‘servant’ is doulē (pronounced DOU-LAY). It means female slave. Mary thought of herself as God’s slave. This would explain her humble estate before God. She was already submitted to God, so when she was chosen to be the mother of Messiah, she was ready to serve.

Let us learn from Mary. Let us grow in humility, that God may exalt us in due time. Amen. 

For further study: Luke 1:26-56