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 

Abundance in the Father’s House (Pt 1)

Daily Devotion | Day 322

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights” (Psalm 36:7-8).

The lifetime project of every Christian is to know the Father more and more. The Scriptures show us a picture of the Father’s heart, His mind and His ways. Paul understood that knowing the Father is crucial for a meaningful Christian spirituality. As a result, he prayed that “the Father of glory may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17, NKJV). When you understand the Father and His ways, Christianity will be a liberating experience for you.

In this teaching series, we will discuss one of the truths about our Father, that He is a God of riches and abundance. He thinks in terms of abundance, not lack. And He wants us to operate with the same mindset. Our Father’s house is a house of abundance, and His riches are ours to enjoy in Christ Jesus. We will start today’s message by returning to the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. As we do so, keep in mind what the Psalmist says in today’s opening passage.

When Adam and Eve were created, they were greeted with abundance. The Garden of Eden was already prepared for them (Genesis 2:8-15). Everything was ready and plentiful for them to enjoy. Their first impression of life was one of abundance. This was no coincidence. God wanted to impress upon them the reality of abundance.

At the same time, He did not want them to entertain the thought of lack. Abundance creates security, but lack leads to insecurity. God did not want Adam and Eve to feel insecure. He wanted them to live with full assurance of provision. Therefore, everywhere Adam and Eve looked, they were met with images of wonder, beauty, riches and abundance. They had no sense of lack.

But someone was not happy about this state of affairs. The devil is his name. He devised a plan to introduce Adam and Eve to the experience of lack. He convinced them that they were not like God, i.e. they were not deity (Genesis 3:1-6). Up to this point, Adam and Eve had no feeling of lack. But the enemy sold them the idea of lack and they bought it. What they did not realize is that the enemy was envious of their secure position and their sense of abundance and completeness.

The interesting thing is, Adam and Eve were like God already. Recall that they were created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). If you are the likeness of God, it means you are like God. But Adam and Eve did not realize this. And the enemy succeeded in making them feel insecure.

Notice what happened after they took the devil’s bait. The Bible says, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked . . .” (Genesis 3:7; see also v. 8-11). For the first time in Adam and Eve’s life, they experienced a sense of lack. They experienced a sense of nakedness. This sense of nakedness represents insecurity. It represents a sense of non-provision.

But more importantly, it is a reflection on the Father because it makes Him look like a father who does not provide for his children. This state of affairs broke the Father’s heart. You can sense this in His reply to Adam’s statement that he was naked: “Who told you that you were naked?” (3:11). To restore their sense of divine provision and abundance, “for Adam and His wife the LORD God made tunics of [animal] skin, and clothed them” (3:21).

Your Father’s house is a house of abundance. Keep your mind away from lack. Focus rather on the Father’s riches and provision. He cares about you more than you care about yourself.

To be continued tomorrow, God willing.

For further studyPsalm 65:1-13

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