Abbà, Father: the Greatest Privilege

Daily Devotion| Day 245

“Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him [Jesus], because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18, NKJV).

Have you ever said that God is your Father? If you answered, “Yes,” you are fortunate to be alive. Jesus said the same thing, and He got the death sentence. Shortly after assuming His role as Messiah, Jesus clashed with the Jewish religious leadership. He shocked people by what He did and said. For the most part, the religious leaders could tolerate Him. But their patience run out when, in their view, Jesus started to break the Sabbath. He did this mostly by healing the sick on the Sabbath. This alone provided the leadership enough justification to stone Him.

As the Jews soon found out, Jesus wasn’t done yet. In today’s passage we learn that the Jews sought all the more to kill Jesus. What was His crime this time? He “said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” Jesus had crossed lines for which the Jewish leadership thought He deserved to die. But when He openly called God His Father, that was, in the mind of the Jews, the height of blasphemy. Jesus wasn’t just making a generic claim. No, He claimed to have come directly from the Father. At this point, the authorities needed no more evidence. The question was no longer if Jesus had to die; it was a question of when He had to die.

Claiming God is your Father, probably, is the single most stunning claim anyone can make. Why? Because, as the Jews rightly discerned, it is tantamount to claiming equality with God. In some religions, this is considered blasphemy. The logic is: If God has a Son, then the said Son shares the nature of the Father. It further implies the existence (at least to the Jews) of more than one God. For people who believed in an absolute monotheism, Jesus’ claim was not only unacceptable, it was an affront on the holiness of YHWH.

After His arrest, Jesus stood trial and appeared before the High Priest. Here is part of what transpired: “Then they all said, ‘Are you then the Son of God?’ So He said to them, ‘You rightly say that I am.’ And they said, ‘What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth’” (Luke 22:70-71). Jesus didn’t have to say the words, “I am God.” All He had to do was to say, “I am the Son of God.” And the trial, for all practical purposes, was over. 

For various reasons, we don’t realize the weight of calling God our Father. If you want to know its weight, remember that it got Jesus the death sentence. He paid a heavy price for just calling God His Father. We, too, get to call God our Father, the difference being that we don’t get killed for that.

Next time you invoke God as your Father, show some reverence. Pause and ponder for a moment on the weight of what you are saying. This may very well revolutionize your Christian walk, as it should.

BlessingMay the Father grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him (Eph 1:17). Amen.

For further study: Galatians 4:1-7 and 1 John 3:1-3

Released from satan’s Shackles

Daily Devotional: Day 137 

Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” (Luke 13:15-16, RSV).

At the beginning of His Messianic mission, Jesus announced His mission statement (cf. Luke 4:16-21). Part of His mission was to set captives free and to release all those who were oppressed by the devil. Jesus’ mission of deliverance included deliverance from both spiritual and physical maladies masterminded by satan. Today’s passage follows an incident that occurred in the synagogue.

On a certain sabbath, Jesus was teaching in the synagogue. In the congregation was a woman who, according to the Bible, had a spirit of infirmity. As a result, the woman was bent over and count not straighten up – for eighteen years. Long story short, Jesus set her loose from the satanic bondage, and immediately the woman straightened up. At this, the ruler of the synagogue was deeply upset and reminded the congregants to avoid coming to seek healing on the sabbath (cf. Luke 13:10-14). But Jesus responded with a sharp rebuke and a reasonable defense of His action.

Look at today’s Scripture. You will see the word “untie.” Jesus said that on the sabbath each of the people untied their farm animals to get them water. Interestingly, they didn’t classify that as a violation of the sabbath law. Using that logic, Jesus explained that if even animals could be untied and led to refresh themselves, how much more should a human being – and a daughter of Abraham at that – whom satan had tied up for eighteen years be untied on the sabbath day. Do you get what Jesus is saying? Even animals are not tied up for more than a few hours. Yet satan – evil as he is – had tied up that woman for eighteen years (That’s about 157,788 hours of being bound!). It was time to untie the child of God and let her walk free

I want you to notice something profound about Jesus’ answer. Notice that Jesus’ explanation for setting the woman free centered around the sabbath. As you know, the word ‘sabbath’ means rest. The point is this: Jesus came into the world to untie you and thereby give you sabbath rest from satan’s shackles (the shackles of sin, addiction, demonic oppression, infirmities caused by evil spirits, fear, spiritual death, spiritual blindness, etc.).

I pray that if you have been tied in any way by satan, Jesus will have mercy on you this moment and unbind you. Amen.

For further study: Matthew 11:28-30

God Provides in a Time of Obedience and Trust

Daily Devotional: Day 133

“And if you say, “What shall we eat in the seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce?” Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years. And you shall sow in the eighth year, and eat old produce until the ninth year; until its produce comes in, you shall eat of the old harvest” (Leviticus 25:20-22, NKJV).

In Leviticus chapter 25, God commanded the people of Israel to keep a sabbath for the land they were about to occupy (Canaan). They could sow and reap for six years, but the seventh year was to be a year of rest for the land. During the seventh year, they were prohibited from all farming activities on the land. This commandment was to be observed – as in a cycle – every seven years, for as long as they remained on the land.

Obviously, this commandment presented its own opportunities and challenges. On one hand, it afforded them the opportunity to rest; but on the other hand, they were left with the obvious question: “What shall we eat during the seventh year?” What God was asking them to do required radical trust and obedience. Recall that once every week, on the sabbath day, they did no work. It is one thing not to work once a week; but no farming for an entire year was a completely different story. This brings us to today’s Bible text.

God allayed the fears of the people with the following promise: “I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years.” This blessing ensured that the Israelites had food provision for the sixth year, the seventh year, and the eighth year. What we can learn here is that God is not limited in His ability to bless you. Oftentimes obedience to God requires a sacrifice. Not sowing or reaping, for the Israelites, was a huge sacrifice. But today’s Bible reading assures us that when you do what God requires of you, He will not leave you without provision. Our God is a dependable provider. Dare to trust Him.

May the God of Israel command His blessing upon you and your family today! Amen.

For further study: Genesis 22:1-18

Resting Like God

Daily Devotional: Day 108

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”

The Christian life is about imitating our Father in heaven. In Ephesians 5:1, the Bible says, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children” (RSV). The first person you must imitate in life is God, your heavenly Father. We are His children, so it makes sense that we should want to be like our Divine Parent. In six days God created the heavens and the earth. On the seventh day, He rested from His work. Think about it: Even God takes a rest. Resting is sacred.

Resting is a deserved break from working. We must, therefore, distinguish it from sloth or laziness. God rested after His work of creation. The point is, you need to earn your rest. When you do that, it makes resting more meaningful, refreshing and rewarding. Resting does not mean inactivity. You can be resting while engaging in stress-free activity that refreshes your spirit, body and mind. For example, you might spend time walking in a park while reflecting on the beauty of God’s creation. You might lie still in your couch meditating on the goodness of the Father and His Word. You might also want to read good books that edify you, or listen to good Christian music (not all “Christian music” is good). The writer of this Devotional, for instance, enjoys a variety of ways to rest. One of his favorites is to just lie still and listen to Handel’s Messiah while contemplating God’s breathtaking plan of salvation.

God wants you to imitate Him. Always keep that in mind. And imitating Him includes learning to take regular, meaningful, refreshing rest. From time to time, you might want to turn off your TV, video games, or even take a break from social media activity. Don’t allow your eyes, mind and body to be constantly bombarded by the latest entertainment news in town. This is part of being a child of the Father. At times, the best thing to do is to take a step back and just be.

Getting quality rest is a godly thing to do.

Resting doesn’t always mean sleeping. Quality rest means understanding that your mind and body need time to recover and be replenished. Don’t push your body and mind to the point where they can no longer support you. In today’s world, you need to be intentional about resting. Therefore, learn from your Father in heaven, and make a commitment to incorporate biblical rest into your life.

Prayer:

Dear Father, it is a privilege to be called your child. And it is an honor to imitate you. Grant me a spirit of wisdom and of revelation to know you more. And as I know you more, let me become more and more like you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Exodus 31:12-18