December 7, 2016: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

December 7 Christ as a Servant

“Taking the form of a bond–servant.”

Philippians 2:7

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Christ submitted Himself to the Father’s will.

When Christ emptied Himself, He not only gave up His privileges but also became a servant. First, He was a servant by nature. Paul used the Greek word morphe (“form”) again to indicate that Christ’s servanthood was not merely external but His essence. It was not like a cloak that could be put on and taken off. Christ was truly a servant. The only other New Testament use of morphe is in Mark 16:12. There Jesus appears in a resurrection morphe—a form fully expressing the nature of a resurrection body. In Philippians 2 Christ is shown as a true bond–servant, doing the will of the Father. He submitted to the Father and to the needs of men as well. Jesus was everything that Isaiah 52:13–14 depicted—a Messiah who was a servant.

Second, Christ was a servant by position. As God, Christ owns everything. But when He came into this world, He borrowed everything: a place to be born, a place to lay His head, a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee and preach from, an animal to ride into the city when He was triumphantly welcomed as King of kings and Lord of lords, and a tomb to be buried in. The only Person ever to live on this earth who had the right to all its pleasures instead wound up with nothing and became a servant. Although He was the rightful heir to David’s throne and God in human flesh, He had no advantages or privileges in this world. He owned little but served everyone.

Christ, the perfect servant, said to His disciples, “Whoever wishes to become first among you shall be your slave” (Matt. 20:27). What about you? Are you seeking greatness by wanting others to serve you, or are you being truly great by serving God and others? Make it your ambition to be a true servant.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to help you be like Christ—a true servant of God.

For Further Study: What can you learn from Luke 2:41–52 about Christ’s submission and humility?[1]


December 7

Distress in the Ministry

Some indeed preach Christ… from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains.

Philippians 1:15–16

I am often asked, “What has been the most discouraging thing in your ministry?” As far as I can remember, my answer has remained consistent over the years.

There are two issues that deeply distress me. One is seeing those who ought to be the most mature in the faith—the ones who know the Word of God well, have experienced the blessings of spiritual growth and fellowship, and have seen God’s power demonstrated time and again—turn their backs on the faith and embrace sin. That’s much more discouraging than when a new, untrained Christian falls into sin through ignorance.

The second is being falsely accused by fellow preachers of the gospel. Some men seem to desire to discredit the ministry of others. As a result, they falsely accuse other ministers, not because they have valid reasons, but simply for the satisfaction of discrediting them.

As you live a godly life, expect that your service to God will be attacked. But don’t let that affect your joy.[2]


DECEMBER 7

A CONSISTENT STATE OF MIND

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

—Psalm 34:1

Worship must always come from an inward attitude. It embodies a number of factors, including the mental, spiritual and emotional. You may not at times worship with the same degree of wonder and love that you do at other times, but the attitude and the state of mind are consistent if you are worshiping the Lord.

A husband and father may not appear to love and cherish his family with the same intensity when he is discouraged, when he is tired from long hours in business or when events have made him feel depressed.

He may not outwardly show as much love toward his family, but it is there, nonetheless, for it is not a feeling only. It is an attitude and a state of mind. It is a sustained act, subject to varying degrees of intensity and perfection. WHT083

Whether I feel like it or not, whether I see Your hand in my circumstances or not, whatever enters my life today, “I will bless the LORD at all times” (Psalm 34:1). Amen. [3]


December 7

Parables Reveal

But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.—Matt. 13:16–17

As believers, we can understand God’s profoundest revelation, whether parables or other teachings, because biblical writers have recorded them and the Spirit has illumined them for us (cf. 1 Cor. 2:9–10). When Christ finished explaining some parables to the apostles and asked if they understood them, they could honestly answer “Yes” (Matt. 13:51). That’s not because they were more intelligent than the educated yet unbelieving Jewish leaders, but because the apostles’ eyes and ears were opened to God’s truth by way of their belief.

In part, our Lord’s ministry was to provide understanding of His Word to His followers (see Mark 4:34). Right to the end of His time on earth, Jesus “explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27; cf. v. 45).

Not even the most faithful Old Testament believers had the insights to revelation that the disciples and every believer since have had.

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. (1 Peter 1:10–12)

ASK YOURSELF
The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Ps. 119:18). Make this your heartfelt prayer today, knowing that God will delight in answering you.[4]


December 7 The Creator of the World

“In these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son … through whom also He made the world” (Heb. 1:2).

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Christ is the agent through whom God created the world.

John 1:3 testifies, “All things came into being through Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” Jesus has the ability to create something out of nothing (cf. Rom. 4:17), and that sets Him apart from mere creatures. Only God can create like that; we can’t. If you could create, you’d live in a different house, drive a different car, and probably have a different job—if you had any job at all. You could just sit in your backyard and make money. Fortunately, God didn’t give depraved men and women the right to be creators.

The ability to create ex nihilo (out of nothing) belongs to God alone, and the fact that Jesus creates like that indicates He is God and establishes His absolute superiority over everything. He created everything material and spiritual. Though man has stained His work with sin, Christ originally made it good, and the very creation itself longs to be restored to what it was in the beginning (Rom. 8:19–21).

The common Greek word for “world” is kosmos, but that’s not the one used in Hebrews 1:2. The word here is aionas, which does not refer to the material world but to “the ages,” as it is often translated. Jesus Christ is responsible for creating not only the physical earth, but also time, space, energy, and matter. The writer of Hebrews does not restrict Christ’s creation to this earth; he shows us that Christ is the Creator of the entire universe and of existence itself. And He made it all without effort.

What about you? If you don’t recognize God as the Creator, you’ll have difficulty explaining how this universe came into being. Where did it all come from? Who conceived it? Who made it? It cannot be an accident. Someone made it, and the Bible tells us who He is: Jesus Christ.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for the wonder of His creation, which we can so easily take for granted.

For Further Study: Read Colossians 1:16–23 to discover the relationship between the creation and your salvation.[5]


DECEMBER 7

WHERE IS THE RADIANCE?

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.

1 John 5:10

I keep looking, but with little success, for a distinguishing radiance in life and testimony among our evangelical Christians.

Instead of an inner witness, too many professing Christians are depending upon logical conclusions drawn from Bible texts. They have no witness of an encounter with God, no awareness of inner change!

I believe that where there is a divine act within the soul, there will be a corresponding awareness. This act of God is its own evidence: It addresses itself directly to the spiritual consciousness.

Thankfully, there are elements that are always the same among men and women who have had a personal meeting with God.

There is the compelling sense of God Himself—of His Person and of His Presence. From there on, the permanent results will be evident in the life and walk of the person touched as long as he or she lives!

Heavenly Father, I pray that Your Church will go out into the lost world exhibiting a “distinguishing radiance in life and testimony.” As a result, may many lost souls be attracted to You, Lord Jesus.[6]


DECEMBER 7

HOPE: THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE

Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.

HEBREWS 6:19

In the New Testament, the word “hope” becomes one of the great words that Christ gave us. It was a word often used before but it has received new and wonderful meaning because the Saviour took it into His mouth.

Hope is the music, the drift and direction of the whole Bible. It sets the heartbeat and atmosphere of the Bible, meaning as it does desirable expectation and pleasurable anticipation!

Human hopes will fail and throw us down. But the Christian’s hope is alive. The old English word “lively” meant what the word “living” means now; the word coming from God Himself for it is the strongest word in the Bible for life. It is the word used of God Himself when it says He is the Living God. So it is that God takes a Christian’s hope and touches it with Himself and imparts His own “livingness” to the hope of the believer. The true Christian hope is a valid hope! We have been born of God. There has been a new creation. No emptiness there, no vanity, no dreams that can’t come true. We have no great place of beauty in this world—Taj Mahal, Buckingham Palace or the White House—that can compare with the glory that belongs to the true child of God who has known the major miracle, who has been changed by an inward operation of supernatural grace unto an inheritance, a living hope!

Your expectation should rise and you should challenge God, and begin to dream high dreams of faith and spiritual anticipation. Remember, you cannot out-hope the living God![7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 368). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[3] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[4] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 350). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 354). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[6] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[7] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

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