December 14, 2016: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

December 14 Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension

“God highly exalted Him.”

Philippians 2:9

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Christ’s resurrection and ascension were the first two steps of His exaltation.

The first step on Christ’s progress from humiliation to exaltation was His resurrection. In Acts 13 Paul preached on the resurrection of Christ, declaring: “[God] raised up Jesus…. And as for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ Therefore He also says … ‘Thou wilt not allow Thy holy one to undergo decay.’ For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers, and underwent decay; but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses” (vv. 33–39). Christ’s death and resurrection provided forgiveness and freedom from sin, the law, and death.

Acts 1:9–11 records the second step in the exaltation of Christ. After Christ finished His final instructions to His disciples, ”He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.’ ” Acts 2:33 says that the result of His ascension was exaltation to the right hand of God.

Just before He ascended, Christ spoke these final words to His disciples: “You shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8). Until He comes again, let’s be witnesses who maintain a positive testimony for the sake of the gospel.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God “who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

For Further Study: According to John 16:7, why is the ascension of Christ to your advantage?[1]


December 14

Unashamed

According to my earnest expectation and hope [I know] that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body.

Philippians 1:20

Today’s verse calls to mind Christ’s promise in Matthew 10:32: “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” The one who acknowledges Christ as Lord in life or in death, if necessary, is the one whom the Lord will acknowledge before God as His own.

The apostle Paul could rejoice in that truth. He knew he never would be ashamed before the world, the court of Caesar, or God Himself because he knew God would be glorified in his life. The Old Testament affirms that the righteous will never be put to shame, while the unrighteous will.

To be ashamed means to be disappointed, disillusioned, or disgraced. Paul knew that would never happen to him because of God’s promise to the righteous. He may have had Isaiah 49:23 in mind: “They shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.” Be one of the unashamed.[2]


DECEMBER 14

ASTONISHED WONDER

And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.

—Acts 3:10

We find much of spiritual astonishment and wonder in the book of Acts. You will always find these elements present when the Holy Spirit directs believing men and women.

On the other hand, you will not find astonished wonder among men and women when the Holy Spirit is not present.

Engineers can do many great things in their fields, but no mere human force or direction can work the mysteries of God among men. If there is no wonder, no experience of mystery, our efforts to worship will be futile. There will be no worship without the Spirit.

If God can be understood and comprehended by any of our human means, then I cannot worship Him. One thing is sure. I will never bend my knees and say “Holy, holy, holy,” to that which I have been able to decipher and figure out in my own mind! That which I can explain will never bring me to the place of awe. It can never fill me with astonishment or wonder or admiration. WHT085

Renew in me a sense of wonder, Lord—wonder that comes only when I really see Your Holy Spirit at work in the midst of Your people, doing the unexplainable. Amen. [3]


December 14

The Wheat and the Tares

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?” And he said to them, “An enemy has done this!” The slaves said to him, “Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?” But he said, “No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ”—Matt. 13:24–30; see vv. 36–43

Throughout redemptive history, our Lord has planted believers (“good seed”) in the world as His witnesses, to be faithful to Him, become fruitful plants of righteousness, and reflect His will before a corrupt world. The tares, by contrast, are the children of Satan—unbelievers spread throughout the world until they thoroughly outnumber the wheat by a large margin.

“The harvest” represents the Father’s judgment at the end of the age, when His angels will execute sentence on the many unbelievers, just as the human reapers separated the tares from the wheat and burned them.

The apostles likely were ready and eager to separate out the tares immediately, as seen by James’ and John’s attitudes toward the unbelieving Samaritans (Luke 9:54). But that was and is not God’s plan, lest some of the good plants (believers) get inadvertently uprooted with the tares.

During His incarnation Jesus did nothing to destroy His enemies. He even appealed to Judas right to the end that he believe (John 13:26). On the cross He asked forgiveness for those who orchestrated His execution (Luke 23:34). Therefore we also should be instruments of truth and grace toward unbelievers.

ASK YOURSELF
This is not the age of God’s judgment—certainly not by the church—but rather the age for evangelism. What does this mean concerning the way we are called to perform ministry in this generation?[4]


December 14 Christ’s Superior Nature

“Of the angels He says, ‘Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.’ But of the Son He says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever’” (Heb. 1:7–8).

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Jesus Christ is God, and He created the angels.

People today who claim that Jesus was just a man, an angel, a prophet, or some inferior god are in error and bring upon themselves the curse of God. The Bible, and especially the writer of Hebrews, are clear about who Christ is.

First, the writer deals with the nature of angels when he says, “Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.” “Makes” simply means “to create.” The antecedent of “who” is Christ. Therefore, it is obvious that Christ created the angels.

They are also His possession—“His angels.” They are His created servants who do not operate on their own initiative but at the direction of Christ.

But the greatest difference between the nature of angels and of Christ is that He is the eternal God. The Father says to the Son, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever” (v. 8). That is one of the most powerful, clear, emphatic, and irrefutable proofs of the deity of Christ in Scripture.

Jesus throughout His ministry claimed equality with God. He said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). The Apostle John closed his first epistle by saying, “We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

God the Son came to help us understand that God is truth and that Christ Himself is the true God. Our faith is based on the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God to give you a greater understanding of the reality that Jesus is, in fact, God.

For Further Study: Read John 1:1–18, and mark the verses that define Christ’s relationship to God. If an unbeliever were to ask you what that passage means, how would you answer him or her?[5]


DECEMBER 14

BETTER FARTHER ON

Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.

Luke 24:45

Truth that is not experienced is no better than error and may be fully as dangerous.

Remember that the scribes who sat in Moses’ seat were not the victims of error; they were the victims of failure to experience the truth they taught!

We should see that one of the greatest foes of the Christian is religious complacency. The man who believes that he has “arrived” will not go any further; and the present neat habit of quoting a text to prove we have arrived may be a dangerous one if in truth we have no actual inward experience of the text.

The great saints of the past have all had yearning hearts. Their longing after God all but consumed them; it propelled them onward and upward to heights toward which less ardent Christians look with languid eye and entertain no hope of reaching.

May we offer this word of exhortation: pray on, fight on, sing on! Press on into the deep things of God. Keep your feet on the ground, but let your heart soar as high as it will!

Lord, I pray for people in our churches and for those who work in Christian organizations. Urge them not to be complacent in their comfortable situations. Stir their hearts to become more engaged in the battle for men’s souls.[6]


DECEMBER 14

SPIRITUAL PRIORITY: THE MISSIONARY OBLIGATION

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me…unto the uttermost part of the earth.

ACTS 1:8

The popular notion that the first obligation of the Christian Church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false!

Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread the gospel.

Our Lord said “Go ye” but He also said “Tarry ye,” and the tarrying had to come before the going. Had the disciples gone forth as missionaries before the day of Pentecost it would have been an overwhelming spiritual disaster, for they could have done no more than make converts after their own likeness, and this would have altered for the worse the whole history of the Western world and had consequences throughout the ages to come.

Theoretically the seed, being the Word of God, should produce the same kind of fruit regardless of the spiritual condition of those who scatter it; but it does not work that way! The identical message preached to the heathen by men of differing degrees of godliness will produce different kinds of converts and result in a quality of Christianity varying according to the purity and power of those who preach it.

Christianity will always reproduce after its kind. A worldly minded, unspiritual church, when she crosses the ocean to give her witness to peoples of other tongues and cultures, is sure to bring forth on other shores a Christianity much like her own![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. 375). 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. 357). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 361). 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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