The Gift of Jesus

The Gift of Christ Devo

Daily Reading: (Luke 2:7-8, Matthew 2:11):

“And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.”

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

Way back in Genesis, God proved Himself generous, creating a world of abundance, then choosing Abraham to become the father of the many nations through whom He would show His blessings to the whole Earth. When Abraham’s children had become an entire nation, God rescued them from captivity in Egypt. He provided for their daily needs and gave them a Law to live by and a rich bountiful land in which to live.

Throughout the Old Testament, with few exceptions, God’s people rejected Him and preferred a king they could see. Mankind has continued the pattern Israel set through centuries: We reject the eternal, invisible, immortal, only wise King and desire to rule ourselves. But God loves us, despite all this. Instead of abandoning us or retaliating against us, He offers us a gift, the best gift that has ever been given: His Son, crucified and raised to life again. And He promises He will reign over us in an eternal kingdom that is far better than any of us could ever ask for or imagine. 

The first chapter of the book of John tells us that Jesus came, God is with us. He was with God in the beginning. He was God from the beginning (John 1:1). Everything was created through Him, and life and light belong to Him. He came to Earth to give that light to us (John 1:9). But the people He, Himself, had created did not recognize Him. Most didn’t receive Him (John 1:11-12). Yet to those of us who do receive Him, He gives us the right to enter His family forever, to become children of God (John 1:12; Galatians 3:26; 1 John 5:13), even to reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12).

The gift of Jesus meets all of the criteria for being a perfect gift. Jesus is the perfect gift because God gave Him knowledge of our needs. God knew we needed a Savior, a Deliverer, Redeemer, Healer, and Friend. We needed someone who was fully God and fully man. Only Jesus could meet this need.

Being fully God enabled Jesus to carry our sin. His deity enabled Him to be the Sacrifice who could bear the sin of the world along with the penalties of sickness, poverty, and spiritual death. Being fully human allowed Jesus to identify with what we go through, enabling Him to provide for all of our needs and desires and to care for us in any situation.

Jesus also became our substitute. We owed a debt we could not pay, and Jesus paid a debt He did not owe. Because of Jesus, you and I have freedom. If our greatest need had been more information, technology, money, or pleasure, God would have sent us someone who would have met those needs. God would have sent an educator, a scientist, an economist, or an entertainer. The truth is, our greatest need was redemption, and God sent a Redeemer. God who knows our needs, met our needs in abundance as He sent the perfect Gift.

Even though we don’t deserve and could never earn the gift that Jesus gave to all who believe in Him of everlasting life, God freely gave Jesus to us. God’s love for us in Christ never fades, diminishes, or weakens. God’s love for us remains consistent and continually available.

Jesus is the gift to be received today and every day of your life. The greatest gift you could ever give someone else is to share the love of God, Jesus Christ with them today. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Merry Christmas!

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Protected and Brought Safely Home

Protected

Daily Reading: (2 Timothy 4:18):
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly Kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
To get some context of what Paul is going through when he writes to his young protégé Timothy, we just need to back up a couple of verses to verse 16 where he writes about being on trial because of his faith.
“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth” (2 Timothy 4:16-17).
During the formation of the early church, there were times where thousands were added to their numbers daily. Miracles happened and the Word of God spread in places like the valley of Sharon where for thirty miles everyone believed.  “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you! Get up and put away your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up, and all who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:34-35).
So, when we read 2 Timothy 4 and Paul writes, “no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me”, of all the believers who came to believe from Paul, Peter, and others sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, not a single person came to support Paul. Not one! Paul is not exaggerated here. This is great news because it leads to the conclusion that Paul wasn’t rescued or delivered or enabled to complete the task because people came, he can confidently declare “it was the Lord who rescued me, it was the Lord who strengthened me.” There will be times in your life, when no one can help you, but that is alright, the only one who could ever rescue you to begin with is the Lord, and His protection is over you all the time and He will give you the strength you need for whatever it is that you face.

Jesus was also forsaken in His trials; (Matthew 26:56). In this moment of weakness, for Paul to respond with this kind of grace, where does it come from? It comes from Jesus. May it not be held against them, this is the very example of Christ in Paul. As Jesus would ask for forgiveness for the very ones fighting over his clothes at the crucifixion (Luke 23:34).

No one came, “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.” Life is a journey where some things you will face, you will feel all alone in it, know that the Lord stands at your side and He will give you His strength. That’s all you need. The Lord has promised that He will never leave you, He will give sufficient grace for the trials you go through. In the trials is where the testimony becomes, God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness.”

“But (here is the turning point) the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.” Our strength is found the Lord who is always at my side (2 Timothy 4:17). The presence of Jesus is of far more worth than the presence of all our friends put together.
The trials you will go through have a purpose. Paul identifies the purpose of the trial, “through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.”  The next thing Paul writes is that he
“was delivered from the lion’s mouth”. Scholars have debated whether Paul was referencing real lions in the amphitheater (1 Corinthians 15:32) or if he was talking about Nero here? Nero throughout history was compared to a lion on many occasions. Maybe it was both. The point is Paul was rescued so that I might have this very opportunity before me with a captive audience of people from all around the world to preach the Gospel.

 “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18). This doesn’t mean that Christians on this planet would not be killed by evil attacks. That is obviously not the case. Did you know that Paul will be killed shortly after writing this? What Paul is saying here is found in tandem with the and portion of the statement.
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly Kingdom.
By the time this letter hits Timothy’s hands Paul might already have died because we know that Paul will die in the persecution of Nero, but Paul already knows this too. 2 Timothy 4:6: “For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come.” Whether I live or I die, God is faithful and He is at my side through it all.  Some could quickly jump to the conclusion that God abandoned Paul. You are preaching the Gospel, look at where it got you, you are in prison about to die.  But Paul is setting the record straight that in my most intense moments when no person supported me, I can tell you God is with me. He is at my side and He gives me great strength to face whatever may come.

Whatever may come, my salvation is secure in Jesus (2 Timothy 4:18). You and I will be kept safe in order that we might fulfill all the plans God has for us, and in the end, we will be brought safely into His heavenly Kingdom.

Restoration

Daily Reading: (John 10:10):

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Jesus did not come only to free us from sin or to give us a new nature. He came to give us a new life which includes other wonderful things too. When we preach the Gospel, we are telling people about the new life that Jesus offers to all. “But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out, saying, “Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life” (Acts 5:20). 

God never gives us anything bad (James 1:17) meaning that God does not give us sickness, diseases, or any other sort of physical afflictions. Satan is the one who wants to steal from your health. He wants to destroy God-given dreams, dismantled families and friendships. He lies to you to destroy you because he knows there is a call and purpose on your life that is only for you. Our Lord Jesus said He came that we “may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The Greek word used for life is zoe, and it refers to the highest form of life, the life God lives by. He does not want you to simply keep breathing. He wants you to live a long, satisfying life, full of His goodness, wholeness, and peace.

The question I get asked from time to time is now that the devil has robbed something from me, what do I do now?  The answer was always a part of John 10:10, “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but…. I have come so you might have life, and have it to the full.” The restoration to abundant life that you seek is found in Jesus.  The word restoration begins with rest. As you rest in Jesus’ grace and finished work, you will see your restoration, we find this truth in Matthew 11:28-30. No matter what you have lost, according to His Word, you can believe God to redeem all that has been stolen from you.

You don’t have to accept defeat or live in despair. You don’t have to be fearful of the future. Instead, you can say, “Lord, restore to me!”, knowing that His sacrifice at the cross has qualified you to receive and enjoy His incomparable restoration.

There was a young woman who was looking forward to starting a family with her husband.  Only to have her dreams shattered when her husband died at a young age. Although her mother-in-law urged her to return to her own country to start over, the young woman refused. Clinging to her mother-in-law, she said, “Wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16).

When Ruth followed Naomi, her mother-in-law to Israel, she soon found herself in a tough predicament. Being a Moabite, she found herself among people who were in conflict with Moab, and she had no husband to protect her. It seemed as if the odds were stacked against her. But Ruth didn’t dwell on her unfavorable circumstances. Her declaration of her faith in the God of Israel revealed her dependence on the Lord.

“Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor,” she said to Naomi (Ruth 2:2). Her trust in the Lord as she embarked on the ordinary task of finding work to support her mother-in-law and herself became the starting place for God’s incredible restoration in her life.

What seemed impossible in the natural, Ruth’s life went from having nothing to having an over abundant, blessed life. She had no family, to now having a husband and a son. From being destitute to being well-provided for. And from being an outcast to being not just an accepted and well-loved member of society, part of the lineage of Jesus Christ. This is what the restoration of the Lord will do for you. Because our Lord Jesus has purchased every blessing, including restoration, for you at the cross, you can believe God to redeem all the time that has been wasted and lost. God’s heart is to restore to you whatever the enemy has taken from you.

God’s principle of restoration is not that when the devil has robbed you of something that God will simply restore it back to you. That would be nice but it would simply put you right back to where you started. God’s restoration is not 100% but 120% and even more in the New Covenant! 120% is based on the principle of restitution in the law of the trespass offering found in Leviticus 6:4–5. This principle of restoration was under the Old Covenant of the Law. How much more we who are under the New Covenant of grace—a far better covenant with God, based on better promises (Hebrews 8:6).

In the same way the Lord didn’t want Ruth to just survive, He doesn’t want you to just barely eek through life. Our Lord Jesus never brings us back to where we were, He will increase, improve, promote, and make everything better. Instead of dwelling on unfavorable circumstances, turn to your Savior and expect things to change in your favor. When you put your trust in Him, nothing in your life is beyond His restoration.

Rest Comes with Love

Rest Comes with Love

Daily Reading: (Psalm 127:1-2):

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those He loves.”

“How can I rest with what is happening in my life” is a common question that I get asked from time to time. The answer is the reason you can rest (no matter what is happening in your life) is because you have received His love for you (Psalm 127:2).

Did you know this is the only Psalm that is ascribed as being written by Solomon? What is incredible here is we have the Lord building the house- this is in no doubt referencing Solomon finishing building the Temple. David had the desire to do this for the Lord, but ultimately God determined it would be Solomon to get the job done. In verse 2 when it says that “God grants sleep to those He loves”, this monumental task that was left to Solomon by his father David could have caused him sleepless nights, but instead, God gives Solomon rest. Such a great task would take such great wisdom and this is what God gave Solomon while he slept so that the work would be done. As Solomon wrote, it was the Lord who build the house.

What is it that keeps you up at night? Is it all the things you need to get done the next day? Maybe you are worried about all the crazy things that are currently happening in your life or just generally what is happening in the world today. Jesus says, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest” (Luke 12:25-26)? Worrying does not help you, it makes things worse for you.

Resting is not inactivity. Rest is what leads to great activity. Rest in Jesus will always result in Holy Spirit-directed activity. How we live a life of rest, as opposed to a life of stress, happens when we become conscious of God’s supply to us. When you don’t see the supply, and the One who is supplying you for what He is calling you to, you will worry and will not enter into rest.

Who are those whom God loves? I ask this question because Solomon says, God “gives His beloved sleep.” Who is His beloved? Every believer in Jesus. Because we are in Christ, we are His beloved (Ephesians 1:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Let God be the one who builds it for you. Let God be the one to guard your health, your career, and your marriage. Don’t worry about your needs, instead, give your cares to God because you are His beloved child, and receive rest. Know that He is working on your situation.

The Bible teaches us what we can do when we find ourselves in a puzzling or troubling situation and when the thoughts of defeat start to creep in and threaten our rest. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den at night. What did he do?

“Now the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God” (Daniel 6:23).

When there was nothing he could do, Daniel “believed in God,” and he came out of the lion’s den in the morning “and no injury whatever was found on him.” When you don’t understand your situation, believe in the Lord. Trust in Him. Believe that He loves you and He is your good father. 

Solomon received wisdom, not when he was awake, but when he was sleeping at night. Our night seasons can be the best time to receive teaching and instruction from the Lord. What this looks like practically is when the devil wants to keep you awake at night, use that time to dive into God’s Word.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Joshua 1:8).

Success is found in Jesus. Jesus is our success. See Jesus as your good success, know you have God’s favor and love, and believe that He is working all things together for your good, making your path prosperous.

Many times, God changes your spirit before He changes your circumstances. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). Our soul is our mind, will, and emotions. As those things prosper it translates into good health.

Did you know that when you sleep God gives you more than just rest? “He gives His beloved sleep” has also been interpreted by scholars to mean “God gives to His beloved as he sleeps.” Be established in the Lord’s deep love for you and as you do you will find rest and peace in your soul.

Turn Back

Turn Back

Daily Reading: (Exodus 14:2):

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon.”

It would appear that they are hemmed in. They are turning back to camp. They are located opposite the center for worship of the lord of the north (Baal Zephon) who is the god of the sea and storm. What God will do by splitting the Red Sea right in front of the center of worship of the god of the sea and storm is to declare that Baal Zephon is no god at all. There is only one true God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

How did the Israelites camp? We learn in Numbers chapter 2 that God had a prescribed way in which the Israelites were to camp out? They would form a cross. The children of Israel all faced the tabernacle and trusted the Lord to defend them from their enemies. The message is that we are to look unto Jesus and trust Him to be our rear guard! We don’t have to look around us at what the enemy is doing, trust that the Lord will take care of us against the attacks that come from the enemy.

Why did God tell His people to turn back? 

“Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this” (Exodus 14:3-4). If God didn’t reveal why He was doing this, I’m not sure the people would have listened.

What was the Israelites’ part of the plan in order to experience the victory of the Lord over the Egyptians? Camp out, rest up, and trust in God. This hasn’t changed. Our job is to enter into the rest Jesus gives us. It is His finished work at the cross that gives us victory over what comes against us. 

Did you know that Exodus 14 is a picture of Psalm 23 and our Good Shepherd leading us? Listen to this.

They encamped Pi Hahiroth which means a place adorned with green grass. He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2).

I use to think “why would God need to make me lie down in something so beautiful?” Wouldn’t I want to volunteer to lie down in green pastures? Exodus 14:2 shows us why we might need the Lord’s help to rest in such a beautiful place, perhaps we are hemmed in at this place by a powerful foe that is against us. We might not feel like lying down and taking up camp in the green pastures if it involves camping out near a powerful enemy. When we lie down in green pastures it says; God has got this, I trust Him. I will rest in Him and believe He is orchestrating something amazing because He led me here. God is preparing a victory feast for me. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5).

Green pastures in Psalm 23:2 is plural, there is more than one. God is leading you from one green pasture to another. That is why the end of Psalm 23 declares “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

What comes next in the 23rd Psalm? “He leads me beside quiet waters,” What do we read next in Exodus 14? “Encamp between Migdol and the sea” Exodus 14:2).


Psalm 23:3 “He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths”. How do we know that the Israelites were guided to the right path here? We learn from the previous chapter that God was the one who was leading them.

“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night” (Exodus 13:21).

Why would God do this? The Psalmist says, “He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake”. What are we told in Exodus 14 of why God is doing all of this. “But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 14:4).

The parallelism continues as Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staffthey comfort me. It is obvious that God is with His people, but is there also a mention of a staff in Exodus chapter 14?

“Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:16).

“And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in Him and in Moses His servant” (Exodus 14:31).

The people (yare’) stood in awe, in reverence and put their trust in God.  The journey to the miracle led the people to a place where they put their trust in God (Exodus 14:31).

The victory in our lives is already ours, so don’t let fear fill your hearts. Walk in the victory of Jesus Christ by faith as you rest and receive His love for you. Know that God is with you as a Good Shepherd leading you from one green pasture to another. Sometimes the path goes through an unexpected desert path but the journey will strengthen our trust relationship with Him as He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. God’s actions will display His glory for His name’s sake and so others might receive the salvation of His Son.

Turns Out…

Turns Out

Daily Reading: (Philippians 1:19):

“for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”

Paul is sure of something in his life that has not even happened yet. Our lives in Christ give us great hope that things will always turn for our good. It doesn’t mean that we won’t have trials, tribulations, persecution, or difficulties. Paul explains it like this, “Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword separate us from the love of Christ?” The answer is no. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). “More than Conquerors” is a Greek word that means a surpassing victory.

The love of Christ gives us a surpassing victory in all things we face in our lives (Romans 8:37).

There is something that I know about my life, things are about to turn. I am being given a surpassing victory and the way God has chosen to do it is through your prayers and the provision in the Holy Spirit.

God will use those things that look to imprison us to set the captives of sin free (to advance the Gospel) Philippians 1:12. Paul already knows why he is in prison and will testify to it. In verse 16 he says, “knowing that I am put here for the defense of the Gospel.” You do not need to fear the path ahead if you know who goes with you and the provisions that have been made for you in Christ Jesus.

Are you sharing your salvation story to lead others to faith in Jesus Christ? How has God turned things for you in the past, how He has prospered you here and now in this season of your life even with what is happening in your life today? Do you have an expectation of God working all things together for your good, giving you a surpassing victory in Jesus’ name? God’s blessings are not limited by where you are at in life, if He did it for Paul in prison think what He might do in your life.

Paul says something that is subtle but it is also so profound.

“And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the Gospel without fear” Philippians 1:14. The only way that you can share the Gospel without fear is if you see the love God has for you.

It’s Your Turn

Your Turn

Daily Reading: (Psalm 34:14):

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

From the moment you were first able to walk, you probably heard a list of things to avoid doing. “Don’t touch that, don’t eat that, don’t go over there”.

What the Psalmist is saying in the Old Testament to God’s people living under the Law was to turn from evil. The Hebrew word that is used in Psalm 34:14 means to depart. In the Old Testament days when evil was present or the opportunity to do evil appeared, the instruction was to depart from it. This way you won’t be tempted by it. But we are living in a different time, “in the last days”. Jesus said in Matthew 24:37, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” What this means is the days will be filled with more and more evil. It seems departing from evil would become more difficult to do.

2 Timothy 3:1 says, “Remember this! There will be many troubles in the last days.”

In the Old Testament, the instruction was to depart from evil and to do good.  But now, when you depart from evil one way, there is evil another way. There are many troubles everywhere. The good news is we have been equipped not to depart from evil but to fight back against evil (Ephesians 6:10-13). Thank God for this truth because you can only run for so long and you can only turn so much.

Consider what Paul wrote to the Ephesians in multiple places:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).

Living in the Old Testament, saints didn’t have the Holy Spirit within them. The New Covenant had not yet been initiated because Christ still needed to die. Christ had to defeat sin and death and give us His victorious righteous life. Without Christ’s life, we were not clothed in His robes of righteousness, nor did we have the spiritual armor and weapons to fight against the spiritual forces of darkness. The Old Testament saints only strategy against evil was turn, depart, run away from it. But now we don’t run, we stand our ground. We are equipped for victory over evil.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”

We all have weapons against the war on evil. We have swords, but we have to hold them, we have to use them to sharpen them. How do we do this? Ephesians 6:17 says, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” As we get into God’s Word, we are taking out our swords (Ephesians 6:17), we are ready not only to defend ourselves against the attacks from the enemy (the lies he tells us), but to fight back too. The armor of God in Ephesians 6:10–20 shows us that right believing in all that Jesus has done will always lead us to victory. It is your turn to stand your ground with God’s Word, and to actually move forward on the attack where you start to demolish strongholds the enemy has put in place in the lives of the people that you love.

I wanted to share another verse about the days we live in being evil and what is said for us living in those days:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

When you are led by His wisdom, the Lord can protect you from making unwise decisions. How do we live wise? The answer comes with the very next verse: “Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). You live wise (15) by making the most of every opportunity (16). “Make the Most” (exagorazō) was a metaphor of Christ freeing the elect from the dominion of the Mosaic Law at the price of his vicarious death. Paul is simply saying to be careful to not fall into the trap of living under the bondage of the Law. Live free in the grace you have been given through the death of Jesus Christ. That is wise living. That is what it means to make the most of every opportunity. This is how you live a victorious life where you don’t have to run from evil, but you fight back against it equipped with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. This is what it means to put on the full armor of God, this is what it means to set captives free with the message of the Gospel, this is wise living. The key to reigning in life is to actively receive the abundant life.  

We know the days are evil but we can make the most of this opportunity. There are many battles to be won. With God on our side how can we lose? Spend time in God’s Word, fill your mind with right believing as see yourself as you truly are, more than a conqueror in Christ.

Friend of God: Name Dropping

Friend of God

Daily Reading: (Romans 5:11):

“Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

We have the opportunity every day in our lives to boast about the victory Jesus has given us. We boast about different stuff all the time. Just look at bumper stickers, “my kids is an honor student”, “I ran 26.2 miles”, “I am an alumni of XYZ University”. Social media is full of places we have been, the food we ate, and things we have experienced that we are proud of and want to share with the world. There is something within us to want to share the wonderful things we have been a part of, and here Paul is saying we can and should boast in the greatest thing to ever happen to us, we are now reconciled to God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What is crazy is God didn’t give this great gift to His best friends, God gave the gift that was the life of His son, to His enemies. Enemies? That’s strong language but it is what we were apart from Jesus,“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life” (Romans 5:10)!

That is why Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, because this is what I did for you. When someone is persecuting you, causing you trouble, we have the Holy Spirit who gives us love, joy, peace, etc… This person who is not acting like a friend, but more like an enemy, I can pray for them, they are the perfect candidate for someone who needs Jesus. This is where miracles take place. God loves them too and wishes for them to have their lives forever changed by the Gospel.

So, we use to be enemies with God (Romans 5:10) but being reconciled to Him through Jesus, we are now friends of God and part of His family. We are friends and even family of the One who made the Universe.

We have now received the reconciliation. The word “received” means that this reconciliation is a gift that we receive by grace through Christ. Reconciliation is special in that it is not like most other gifts. Let’s say it is your birthday and your significant other buys you a lantern. A lantern is a practical yet fairly lame gift. Most people don’t ask for a lantern for their birthday, you might even question how well they know you or have been paying attention to you over the year. But if your power goes out you might be thankful for the lantern. Then when the power is restored, you put the lantern away, and then forget about it entirely until the power goes out again. Then you feel thankful again for the gift again.

This is different from what Paul means by receiving the gift of reconciliation. He means receiving it in such a way that what is in the package makes you rejoice all the time. And what is in the gift, is God reconciled. The gift of reconciliation is God offering us Himself so that we might rejoice in Him.

James 2:23 says: And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. ‘And he was called the friend of God. In John 15:15 Jesus said, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Jesus made us righteous through His sacrifice on the cross and our faith in Him. We now are friends of God (John 15:15, James 2:23).

What we should be doing is name-dropping about who we are friends with. God is my friend. God is my Father. It changes our perspective on things. Paul is so confident in his relationship with God, that he says to other believers who gave to him to help him while in prison “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). I am friends with God, He has abundantly blessed and abundantly supplied me in Jesus.

Deborah: Israel’s Only Female Judge

Deborah

Daily Reading: (Judges 4:1-4):

“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead. So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim. Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help. Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.”

What is so special about Deborah is that not only is she known for her wisdom and courage, she is the only woman of the Old Testament who is known for her own faith and action, not because of her relationship to her husband or another man. Also, the only other person in the Bible who was said to be both prophet and judge was Samuel. Deborah is the only female judge mentioned in the Bible.

A lot of people believe that she was married to Lappidoth because of verse four. We don’t know this for sure, because in Hebrew, the same word is used for “woman” and “wife,”. She could be the woman of Lappidoth the place, however, no such place is known to exist either.

Another possibility is that Lappidoth is her husband, but not his real name. Lappidoth means torches. There is another person who is very close to her whose name means something very similar. “When Deborah felt that she had helped the people to return to God, she sent for Barak, the son of Abinoam.” Some say he was her husband, because “Barak,” means lightning, another name for “Lappidoth.” I think this is the most likely case.

God gives an option to Barak which is so interesting, the end will be victory no matter which option you chose because you are still going forward into what God is leading you to, but the victory option will change depending on which choice you will make here. The victory was already given, but the honor was up for grabs (Judges 4:6-9). There is a blessing I want to give you Barak and through you, it will bless the entire nation, but you have to receive it by faith. Because faith is what inherits the blessings of God. Barak has faith that victory has been given, but to go forward he says: “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go” (Judges 4:8).

God gives the Israelites the victory and they are no longer oppressed. In the very next chapter, Deborah writes a praise song to the Lord.  So, Deborah has an impressive resume of a judge, warrior, poet, and prophet as well as singer and songwriter.

We learn from this story that God has given you everything you need for success in Christ, go forward by faith. 

Judges 5:12-13: “Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, break out in song! Arise, Barak! Take captive your captives, son of Abinoam.”Here is the takeaway, start your morning off by singing God’s praises for the victory you have in your day because of Jesus Christ. Peace will fill your heart as it filled the land. You go out in your day in victory in Jesus’ name. Wake up, wake up and break out in song.

The last words of Judges chapter 5 say, “Then the land had peace forty years.”

Judges 5 is the life song Deborah and God’s people got to live. Judges chapter 5 is what a life of peace and experiencing God’s salvation looks like. In Christ, the life song that we live is one of peace and the salvation of the Lord too. Christ has given us the life song of peace with God forever. Salvation is ours whenever we need it. So, I will say it again, wake up and sing God’s praises.

Victory Ground

Victory Ground Devo

Daily Reading: (1 Corinthians 15:57):

“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  

The Greek word for victory is “nikos” and it means exactly what the text says it means, “victory” plain and simple, or triumph. Victory is complete in Jesus, it isn’t partial, it’s not part-time.

When you study the Greek word for “gives” (didōmi) as in “gives us the victory”, there are two definitions that are appropriate to use for 1 Corinthians 15:57. The first definition is a gift. The second definition is to supply.  And this verb gives is in the present active participle. What this means is that right now God is actively supplying you the victory in Jesus’ name, and it is a gift of His grace. Our part is to receive that victory by faith or to simply celebrate and praise Him for it, “thanks be to God!”

We often want to think that the victory depends on what we bring to the table. In our natural world that is often how things work. But here Paul is telling us as he is writing to the Corinthians that victory is already yours in Jesus. It’s not what you bring to the table that determines the victory, it is a gift of His grace. He is the one who supplies it to us.

The question to ask when you face a difficult time is: Are you fighting for victory, or are you fighting from victory?

When you see how you’re already standing on victory ground on the basis of Jesus’ finished work, you’ll stop worrying about how and when your victory will manifest. Settle it in your heart and mind that you already have the victory through Christ. As you do this, God’s rest and peace will rule in your heart, and you will receive your breakthrough!

The truth of 1 Corinthians 15:57 can be seen in other places in Scripture because Christ has overcome the world, you are an overcomer (1 John 5:4). Indeed, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37). One of your most powerful weapons of warfare against the enemy is to worship the Lord and give Him thanks — even before you see the victory come to pass (Philippians 4:6-7).

What is the context around this verse of victory? If you look at the header of 1 Corinthians 15 it says, “The Resurrection of Christ”. Our victory is secure because of the Resurrection. The Resurrection is complete and our victory is secured. 1 Corinthians 15:54-56 talks about our Resurrection in Christ- this is why no matter what happens to us we have been given the victory.

So what should we do with this knowledge of Resurrection victory that we have in Jesus?

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

With the knowledge of the victory that you have in Christ- let that truth bring you to the place where nothing can move you off of it. Brothers and sisters who are loved by God, He has given you the victory, and so know that your work of the Lord is not in vain.