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 

Helping the Poor, Lending to God

Daily Devotion|Day 244

“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again” (Proverbs 19:17, KJV).

Compassion is the character of God. It is the character that He expects from all people, especially we who are the redeemed of the Lord. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus taught, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Then in Luke 6:36, Jesus had this to say to His disciples, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”

You will understand the Christian life better when you understand that your whole purpose in life is to be like your Father in heaven. This is your fundamental witness to the world. Once you get this, God’s commandments and instructions will make sense to you. Speaking to his children, the Father said, “Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). What the Father is, the children must be also.

What we’ve said so far is in relation to today’s opening passage from Proverbs 19:17. God cares for all people, but He reserves special care for the vulnerable and marginalized. Such people are dear to God. In Scripture, you will notice that God has strong words for those who oppress or ignore the poor. Likewise, He has high praise and great reward for those who take care of the poor (see, for example, Proverbs 14:31; 1 Corinthians 11:22; James 2:5-6).

Today’s Scripture says that those who have pity upon the poor lend to God. Yes, if you show compassion to the poor, God takes is personal. He takes it that He ‘owes’ you for doing that. And the Bible adds that whatever you give to the poor, the Lord shall pay you back. When you show compassion to the poor, you are behaving like your Father in heaven. It makes Him proud to have a child like you. God is pleased when His children manifest His character.

Therefore, when you get an opportunity to reach out to the poor, rejoice, because great is your reward in the Father’s presence. Every chance you get to show the Father’s character is a golden opportunity. Seize it, and make the most of it. Your good deeds do not go unnoticed. God will be in your debt. And, blessed are you if God is in your debt.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you in abundance. Amen.

For further study: Psalm 41:1-3

Designated Provider

DAILY DEVOTIONAL: DAY 211

“For the poor shall never cease out of thy land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land” (Deuteronomy 15:11, KJV).

God is a provider, and he has designated you as a provider, too. How is that? Every good and perfect gift comes from Him (cf. James 1:17). He can do all things by Himself. He doesn’t need our help to function as God and Provider. However, being a God of fellowship, He calls us to work with Him so that He can work through us. It is in this sense that He has made us providers like Himself, so that we can be there for one another – in His name – when a need arises. 

Living as a Christian is about manifesting in our lives the good and holy character of our Father in heaven. One major way we do this, is by providing for the poor and needy. If you claim, therefore, to love God, but you neglect the poor and needy, your ‘Christianity’ is vain. The Apostle John put it best, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17, NKJV).

In Deuteronomy, chapter 15, the Lord instructed His people that after every seven years, they should manifest generous love for the poor and needy. Today’s opening Scripture is taken from this context. God says that there shall always be poor people among us. That’s interesting. Jesus said the same thing (cf. John 12:8). Immediately after stating that the poor shall never cease from the land, God says, “therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thy hand wide unto thy brotherto thy poor, and to thy needyin thy land.” This is as clear as it can be.

Just as He commanded the Israelites, He commands us today to open our hand unto the poor and the needy in our land. For God, it is not enough to open your hand. He wants you to open it wide. Why is this important? It’s important, because God wants you to be like him – generous. Some people don’t have a problem opening their hand; they just have difficulty opening their hand wide. All poor people are needy, but not all needy people are necessarily poor. Anyone can experience need at any time. Either way, God’s instruction remains.

Where there are poor or needy people, God has designated other people to provide for them. Don’t think this message is exclusively for your rich neighbor. The message is for us all. At one point in the life of the prophet Elijah, he was in need, because there was famine in Israel. Listen to what God told Elijah, “Arise, get thee to Zarephath . . . behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee” (1 Kings 17:9). God commanded, not a rich woman, but a poor widow, to provide for Elijah. As you follow the story, you’ll discover that Elijah, too, had been sent into the widow’s life to be meet a need in her life. Everyone qualifies to be God’s designated provider.

From today, accept that you, too, are God’s designated provider, appointed to provide the answer to a need in someone’s life. Don’t neglect this sacred duty. It’s your opportunity to show that the good God indeed is your Father, and that you are like Him. Don’t talk about love. Show love.

May God richly bless you and use you to richly bless others. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: 1 Kings 17:1-24

Who You Invite Matters to Jesus

Daily Devotional: Day 141

“But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14: 13-14, NKJV).

Jesus is known for His radical teachings. Today’s passage is one of them. When you look carefully at what Jesus said, it defies common logic. Nevertheless, His teaching is true. The wisdom of God surpasses human wisdom. And, what appears wise to us may be foolishness to God: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19).

One day, Jesus was a guest at the house of one of the leading Pharisees in Israel. As usual, He took the opportunity to turn the occasion into a teaching moment. Today’s reading is part of what He taught. He says that when you give a feast, don’t invite your friends and relatives and rich neighbors, lest they invite you back and you get repaid (cf. Luke 14:12). This statement alone is problematic. It sounds unrealistic and counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? But Jesus isn’t interested in how we feel about it. He is teaching truth with authority as the Son of God, and He is expecting us to practice what He is telling us.

Jesus goes on to say that when you give a feast, invite the poor and the socially marginalized. Now listen to His logic. He says when you invite people of this class, you will be blessed. Why? Because they cannot repay you. Instead, you shall be paid at the resurrection of the righteous on the last day. When you do good to people, and you are always expecting them to return the favor, you can’t count on receiving a reward in heaven, because you have already received your reward.

 Jesus’ message to us is this: When you do good to people, your blessing consists in the fact that the beneficiaries of your kindness cannot repay you. Rejoice, because God has taken note of it, and on the day of resurrection, He shall richly reward you for your deeds of kindness. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see followers of Jesus practice what Jesus is teaching us today? What is stopping us?

Decide whose reward matters to you. Do you want to be repaid here or in heaven? Your choice.

May the Lord let His face shine on you and your loved ones today! Amen.

For further study: Psalm 41:1-3