December 15, 2016: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

December 15 Christ’s Coronation and Intercession

“God highly exalted Him.”

Philippians 2:9

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Christ is the Sovereign of the universe and a faithful High Priest.

Christ was exalted not only in His resurrection and ascension, but also in His coronation. Mark 16:19 says, “When the Lord Jesus had spoken to [the apostles], He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.” In Scripture the right hand is a symbol of power and authority. What is the extent of Christ’s authority? Ephesians 1:20–22 says, “[God] seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.” Christ is the Sovereign of the universe.

Besides His coronation, Christ is exalted in His intercession for believers. He stands before the Father as the High Priest of His people. His first act was to send the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33). Our sympathetic High Priest “has been tempted in all things as we are” (Heb. 4:15), and “He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for [us]” (7:25). Christ’s intercessory work grants us faith, repentance, and forgiveness (see Heb. 4–9).

Puritan minister Thomas Watson said, “Had you a friend at court, who, when you were questioned for delinquency or debt, should plead with the judge for you, and bring you off your troubles, would you not love that friend? How often does Satan put in his bills against us in the court! Now Christ is at the judge’s hand; he sits at his Father’s right hand, ever to plead for us, and to make our peace with God. Oh, how should our hearts be fired with love to Christ!”

How intense is your love for Jesus Christ, our faithful Advocate?

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Suggestions for Prayer: “Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that [you] may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Pray for a fresh appreciation of this today.

For Further Study: What do 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Hebrews 2:17 say about Christ as our High Priest?[1]


December 15

God with Us

For there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Luke 1:45

Isaiah 7:14 says, “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” That virgin’s name was Mary.

The name Immanuel, however, is the key to this verse—and the heart of the Christmas story. It is a Hebrew name that means literally, “God with us.” It is a promise of incarnate deity, a prophecy that God Himself would appear as a human infant, Immanuel, “God with us.” This baby who was to be born would be God Himself in human form.

If we could condense all the truths of Christmas into only three words, these would be the words: “God with us.” We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth![2]


DECEMBER 15

WHERE IS THE AWE?

But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.

—Isaiah 41:8

Yes, Abraham was lying face down in humility and reverence, overcome with awe in this encounter with God. He knew that he was surrounded by the world’s greatest mystery. The presence of this One who fills all things was pressing in upon him, rising above him, defeating him, taking away his natural self-confidence. God was overwhelming him and yet inviting and calling him, pleading with him and promising him a great future as a friend of God!

This is God’s way and God’s plan. This is God!

As we examine the nature of believing faith in our day, we find ourselves asking, “Where is the mystery? Where is the reverence, the awe, the true fear of God among us?” MMG021-022

Where, indeed, Oh Lord, is the awe and fear of Your power? Restore it to Your people and bring us to our knees before You, we pray. Amen. [3]


December 15

The Mustard Seed, Part 1

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.—Matt. 13:31–32

Even though the Lord Jesus in this parable speaks accurately about the size of the mustard seed and the size and use of its tree-like adult form, His purpose in the illustration is proverbial, not scientific. In context of His teachings about the kingdom of God, the parable’s meaning is self-evident—the kingdom, though now seemingly small and insignificant, will one day grow into a large body of believers.

Even with Jesus ministering on earth, God’s kingdom was almost imperceptible, both because its citizens were few and it was spiritual (invisible). Elsewhere the Lord explained it well: “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:20–21). When Christ ascended to heaven, the kingdom on earth was, figuratively and relatively speaking, very small (cf. Acts 1:15).

But the kingdom that began smaller than a mustard seed will grow larger and larger. The Old Testament writers knew that eventually the Lord would “rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Ps. 72:8). They rightly foresaw that all sorts of people, from all stations in life, would honor Messiah, bow down to Him, and serve Him (vv. 9–11). With the apostle, we will one day see the grand culmination: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).

ASK YOURSELF
Are you currently involved in something for Christ that seems small in comparison with others’ ministries or talent bases? Be sure that your Lord is the master at taking the seemingly insignificant and transforming it for mighty kingdom purposes.[4]


December 15 The Lover of Righteousness

“‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His Kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy companions’” (Heb. 1:8–9).

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As the eternal God and King, Christ loves righteousness and hates lawlessness.

In these days it’s difficult for us as Christians to be totally supportive of our governmental leaders when we see so much of what God calls righteousness compromised or ridiculed. But the King of kings—Christ Himself—is the only leader who has a perfectly right attitude toward righteousness.

Christ rules from an eternal throne, and He rules eternally as God and King. The scepter He holds is symbolic of His rule, particularly as a rule of righteousness.

But there’s more to it than that. He not only acts righteously—He loves righteousness itself. How often have we obeyed without joy, expressing an attitude of willing condescension? But Jesus gives us a different model.

James 1:17 says, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” True righteousness never varies from what is true, just, and good. And 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” God is total light and total righteousness. Everything Jesus did resulted from His love of righteousness.

Because Christ loves righteousness, He hates lawlessness. Since He loves what is right, He must hate what is wrong. The two are inseparable; one cannot exist without the other. You cannot truly love righteousness and also love sin. When there is true love for God, there will also be true love for righteousness and total hatred of sin.

The more you and I become conformed to Jesus Christ, the more we will love righteousness. Our attitudes toward righteousness and sin will ultimately reveal how closely we are conformed to Christ. Check out your attitudes and actions. How are you doing?

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Like the psalmist, ask God to show you “any hurtful way” in you (Ps. 139:24).

For Further Study: Read Psalm 119, and note how many times the psalmist makes reference to either his love for God’s law or righteousness.[5]


DECEMBER 15

OCCUPIED WITH PRAISE

They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.

Revelation 4:8

It is surely an erroneous supposition for humans to think or to believe that death will transform our attitude and dispositions.

This is what I mean: If in this life we are not really comfortable talking and singing about heaven and its joy, I doubt that death will transform us into enthusiasts! If the worship and adoration of God are tedious now, they will be tedious also after the hour of death.

I do not know that God is going to force any of us into His heaven. I doubt that He will say to any of us, “You were never very interested in worshiping Me while you were on earth, but in heaven I am going to make that your greatest interest and your ceaseless occupation.”

Controversial?

Perhaps, but in the heavenly scene John describes, the living creatures crying “Holy, holy, holy!” rest neither day nor night. My fear is that too many of God’s professing people down here are resting far too often between their efforts to praise and glorify the living God!

Lord, may my entire life—including this very day—be a sacrifice of worship to You so that I am well practiced in worshiping You when I arrive in heaven.[6]


DECEMBER 15

WE SHOULD YEARN TO BE MORE LIKE JESUS

Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

PSALM 140:13

There should be a holy quality, a mysterious and holy Presence within the fellowship of Christian believers! If we are what we ought to be in Christ and by His Spirit, if the whole sum of our lives beginning with the inner life is becoming more Godlike and Christlike, I believe something of God’s divine and mysterious quality and Presence will be upon us!

I have met a few of God’s saints who appeared to have this holy brightness upon them, but they did not know it because of their humility and gentleness of spirit. I do not hesitate to confess that my fellowship with them has meant more to me than all of the teaching I have ever received. I do stand deeply indebted to every Bible teacher I have had through the years, but they did little but instruct my head. The brethren I have known who had this strange and mysterious quality and awareness of God’s Person and Presence instructed my heart!

Do we understand what a gracious thing it is to be able to say of a man, a brother in the Lord, “He is truly a man of God”? He does not have to tell us that, but he lives quietly and confidently day by day with the sense of this awe-inspiring Presence that comes down on some people and means more than all the glib tongues in the world!

Oh, that we might yearn for the knowledge and Presence of God in our lives from moment to moment![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. 376). 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. 358). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 362). 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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