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 

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

Learning the Secret of Happiness

Daily Devotional: Day 169

“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13, NASB).

Paul had a wonderful relationship with the Christians in Philippi. In today’s passage, he is writing to thank them for the generous gifts they often sent to support Paul’s ministry. While thanking them, he takes the opportunity to show them an important secret to happiness. Look at the Scripture reading carefully. What Paul is describing should be true of every follower of Christ.

Many a Christian can relate to Paul’s experience of hardship, but not everyone responds the same way he did. Paul says he knows what it means to prosper (materially) and what it means to live with humble means. He knows what it means to be filled and what it means to go hungry. He knows what it means to live in abundance and what it means to suffer need. Notice that Paul isn’t merely describing the experience of abundance and lack. His main point that needs our attention is that he has learned the secret of being content regardless of his circumstances. So, the emphasis is on “learned.”

Then, Paul tells us the source of his ability to be content in all circumstances: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Being content with what you have (or do not have) is something you learn by imitating Jesus and drawing strength from Him. This is the mark of a follower of Christ. It is also the secret to peace and happiness.

You will not always get what you want in this life. It’s important you get used to it. Contrary to what the modern “Prosperity Gospel” wants us to believe, the Bible shows that Christians can go through a period of hardship and lack. Knowing this truth will help you to prepare for any scenario – pleasant or unpleasant. Remember, Christians are soldier of Christ. Learning to be happy and content during tough times is part of our training in the King’s service. Furthermore, being prepared with this truth will spare you frustration, disappointment and depression.

Nowhere does God’s Word promise that Christians will be immune to suffering and hardships. You can experience abundance; but you can also experience lack. And you need to learn to be happy, content and grateful as you lean on Christ for strength. Having abundance won’t necessarily bring you happiness. And, having little won’t necessarily make you unhappy, if you’re rooted in Christ. 

The secret to happiness is to be rooted in Christ.

Once you’re rooted and established in Him, you can cheerfully handle whatever comes your way. Your happiness will no longer depend on what you have or what you lack. Having Christ will be enough for you. Therefore, whether your circumstances improve or not, you can do all things through Him who strengthens you. Paul learned this secret. You can, too. 

May the Lord bless you with the secret of happiness. Amen.

For further study: Job 1:1-22