What Was “Finished” at the Cross? (Pt 6)

Daily Devotion | Day 365

“Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24, NKJV).

Today we will look at the final part of Gabriel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24) regarding the Messiah’s work, which is: “to bring in everlasting righteousness.” As we go through the Scriptures, we will realize that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy and called us to manifest the fulfillment in our conduct. Jesus’ death on the Cross marked the end of sin’s reign and ushered in the reign of righteousness. As Paul said, “those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17; see also v. 20-21 and 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead serves as the power source and the pattern for believers to walk in the everlasting righteousness of God. Hence, Paul writes, “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Therefore, to live in the resurrection power means to walk in newness of life. This newness of life refers to a life of everlasting righteousness. The “walk” refers to our conduct.

Risen with Christ, we conduct ourselves in accordance with the gift of everlasting righteousness received at our new birth. Paul emphasizes this point when he writes to the Christians at Ephesus: “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk . . . put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts . . . and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:17, 22, 24). Peter confirms this when he says, “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:14-15). To be holy in all your conduct simply means to live a life that consistently manifests the everlasting righteousness of God.

Peter reminds us again that Jesus “bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). In other words, Jesus died for our sins so that freed from sin, we would go forth and live righteously for the rest of our lives. This is how Gabriel’s prophecy (Daniel 9:24) that the Messiah would “bring in everlasting righteousness” is fulfilled. The father of John the Baptist, Zachariah, knew about this everlasting righteousness. Recalling God’s oath to Abraham, he prophesied by the Holy Spirit that God had made a way for us to “serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life” (Luke 1:67-75).

In Christ, the Father has created His project of everlasting righteousness. It is a perfect work of the Father, executed perfectly by Christ. We who believe in Christ are called to be the living expression of this righteousness project. The Father’s design is flawless. He has provided everything we need to manifest His righteousness and shine in the world as children of light. What we need to do is reject every doctrine that says we cannot live without sin. The only person who stands to gain from such a doctrine is satan. He, the devil, loves those who sin because he relies on them to grow the kingdom of darkness.

Everything we have said in this series (as well as the preceding one) is to defend the Father’s plan of righteousness and sinless life for His children and to expose the false beliefs that hinder us from enjoying freedom from sin. The Holy Spirit knew that righteousness would come under attack through a distortion of the Scriptures. He knew that people would come who would tell us that Jesus has made us righteous and after we receive this righteousness, nothing we do can make us unrighteous.

The Spirit knew also that there would people who would tell us that if we make any effort to live righteously, we are adding works to the finished work of Christ. Therefore, He inspired John to warn us, “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He [Jesus] is righteous . . . In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:7, 10).

A new year is upon us. I wish you well in all your endeavors. I pray blessings upon you. As we bring an end to the Daily Devotional, I hope it has been a blessing to you. Keep running the race of righteousness.

I will leave you with the following words of our Father. After reading those words, ask yourself: Can I live the rest of my life walking only in holiness and righteousness? I hope your answer will be an emphatic, “Yes, I can! And yes, I will!”:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Happy New Year!

Accepting Jesus’ Terms and Conditions

Daily Devotional | Day 247

“Then He [Jesus] said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let Him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save His life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24, NKJV).

Eternal life is a free gift, but it is not without conditions. It is free in the sense that God alone is its author. We can receive eternal life, but we can’t create it. Additionally, eternal life is free because God offers it out of His love and goodness.

In today’s Scripture passage, Jesus lays out an underlying principle on how to obtain salvation from Him. The principle explains Jesus’ terms and conditions for salvation and discipleship. In the passage, you will notice two things. Jesus talks about discipleship (following Him) and getting saved. Unfortunately, in some quarters, people have tried to create a false dichotomy between discipleship and salvation.

To such people, being a disciple of Christ and being saved are two separate realities. They conclude, therefore, that you can be saved without following Jesus as His disciple. Or, you don’t need to be Jesus’ disciple to be saved. All you need to do is confess your faith in Christ. Following Jesus is good and commendable, but it is not required for salvation. But the reality is, such a position is a dangerous misreading of the Scriptures. Jesus taught the very opposite, as we can see from today’s reading. Let’s get into the passage.

If anyone desires to follow Jesus, He demands that they deny themselves and take up their cross. This means your love of self must end. You do that by dying to self. Dying to self simply means detaching yourself from the pride of life, lust of the flesh and lust of the eye (see 1 John 2:15-16). The cross is a symbol of death. Carrying your cross means remaining ‘dead’ to the flesh and its lusts (see Galatians 5:24). Immediately after this statement, Jesus adds that those who want to save their life will lose it, but those who lose their life for His sake will save it.

As you can see, Jesus connects the reality of following Him (and carrying one’s cross) with the reality of getting saved. They are two sides of the same coin. Jesus’ point is clear: If you want Him to give you a new life (eternal life), He wants you to let go your old life. You can’t have both.

If you hold on to your old life and its pleasures, it is impossible to receive God’s gift of eternal life. In Christ, the only way to live is to die. The Cross is a necessary path to the Resurrection. You must lose your old life at the Cross, if you want to enjoy Resurrection life. Skipping the Cross is not an option, if you want to live and reign with Christ (see Romans 8:17). Losing your old life at the Cross can be painful, but it is liberating. It is the only viable path to eternal glory. 

Accept and obey Jesus’ terms and conditions. You will be glad you did.

Blessing: May the Lord’s goodness and mercies follow you today. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Luke 14:25-33

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

Life and Death through the Lens of Christ

Daily Devotional: Day 195

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21, KJV).

Your attitude toward life and death says a lot about where you are with your relationship with Christ. When you come into Christ, He changes your worldview. He changes how you look at and interpret the realities of life. When Jesus gives you a new perspective, it gives you peace about a lot of things. You will begin to see things the way Jesus sees them. It is an important mark of being a new creation. Blessed are you when you see things from Jesus’ perspective.

When you study the lives of the first Christians, especially the Apostles, you notice the change that occurred in their attitude toward life and death. In today’s Bible passage, we see Paul’s view of life and death. He says, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” It takes faith and an intimate knowledge of Jesus to arrive at a statement like that. As a Christians, you, too, can say what Paul said – with the same conviction.

Look again at what Paul said. Notice how he says, “For me . . .” He made a true personal statement based on his relationship with Christ. He wasn’t repeating a line he had memorized. “To live is Christ” means you live to please Christ in all things. It means your whole life is surrendered to the lordship of Jesus. When this happens, love for Christ becomes your primary motivation in life. Jesus Christ becomes your philosophy of life. Your life choices are all motivated by a desire to glorify Him. And, there’s no room in your heart to live for anything which dishonors the Lord. You can, therefore, boldly declare, “For me, to live is Christ.”

In the last part of his statement, Paul says, “For me . . . to die is gain.” When you come into Christ, you see death from a new perspective – the Christ perspective. You begin to understand what the Psalmist says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). You no longer fear death, nor are you ashamed when the hour arrives. You approach it with faith, honor and grace, because you know that in Christ, this moment is to your advantage. It’s not a moment of loss; rather, it’s a moment of gain. In Christ, all things work together for good for those who love God (cf. Romans 8:28). 

Ask Jesus to help you see life and death from His perspective. You will be blessed. Amen.

For further study: John 11:20-44

The Day the Stone Is Rolled Away

Daily Devotional: Day 190

“And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it” (Matthew 28:2, NKJV).

Jesus’ resurrection was accompanied by a lot of dramatic events. Perhaps God wanted to send a strong message to satan and his cohorts that their plan against the Son of God had failed. Today’s opening Scripture from Matthew 28:2 gives us an interesting detail regarding Jesus’ resurrection. Early morning – on the first day of the week – Mary Magdalene and another Mary went to see the tomb where Jesus was buried. At this point, things get dramatic. First, there was an earthquake. Then, an angel of the Lord descended from heaven (traveling at what speed?), came to the tomb, rolled back the stone covering the entrance of the tomb, and sat on the stone. Amazing!

 The above incident is filled with precious details intended for our edification. By rolling away the stone, the angel was signaling that satan and his demons were defeated. Moreover, notice that the angel sat on the very stone intended to shut Jesus in forever. In so doing, the angel made a mockery of Jesus’ enemies. In fact, in Psalm 2:4, the Bible declares that even God laughs at His enemies and the enemies of Christ: “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision.” Now, as a child of God who is risen with Christ (cf. Col 3:1), let’s see how this applies to you today.

The forces of darkness who hate Jesus are the same forces who seek your downfall. The good news is, through Jesus’ resurrection, you have power over them. They instigated the death of Christ and thought that Jesus was finished. Well, they were wrong – very wrong. Similarly, these same forces can plot to ‘bury’ you and roll a stone to shut you in  – in the prison of fear, death, sin, satanic oppression, depression, sinful addictions, etc. But their ‘stone’ is rolled away in the Name of Jesus. You no longer have a reason to walk defeated looking like the “walking dead.”

You can, like the angel, sit on their stone (in a spiritual sense) in triumph; the stone that was supposed to shut you in; the stone that was supposed to keep the light from coming into your life; the stone which your enemies thought would forever silence you; the stone which was supposed to erase your memory from the earth; the stone which was supposed to put you away; the stone which your enemies thought was so heavy no one could roll it back; the stone which was supposed to be the end of your hope.

When they attack you, here’s what you can say: “You’ve made a mistake attacking me. I am walking in resurrection power. You may roll a stone over me, but my God shall roll it back. You may put me down, but you can’t keep me down. You may put me in the grave, but you can’t keep me in the grave.” Dear friend, be resurrection-minded in your daily walk. 

May the blessing of the risen Lord be upon you today! Amen.

For further study: Daniel 6:1-28