December 17, 2016: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

December 17 The Meaning of Christ’s Exaltation

“God highly exalted Him.”

Philippians 2:9

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The Father exalted the Son as the God–man.

A question that often springs to mind regarding the exaltation of Christ is how Jesus could be exalted since He is already God. We find the answer in Jesus’ High–Priestly prayer in John 17, where He asked the Father to restore to Him the glory He had with the Father before the world began (v. 5). Christ’s request shows that He gave up something that God would give back to Him. Christ gave up His glory in the Incarnation. Beyond glorification, in His exaltation Christ would receive more than He had before.

How is that possible? God has it all. Christ didn’t become any more God or any more perfect; He was already the Most High God—King of kings and Lord of lords. But as the God–man, a new state of being for Him, He suffered things and was given things He would not otherwise have had if He had not become the God–man. For example, He never would have had the privilege of being the interceding High Priest for His people if He had never been touched with the feelings of their infirmities—tempted in all points like them. If He had not become the God–man, He would never have become our substitute by bearing our sins in His own body on the cross. As God He was incapable of elevation, but as the God–Man He could be lifted up from the lowest degradation to the highest degree of glory. So in a sense He received from the Father privileges He didn’t have before—privileges He gained because of His incarnation.

At His ascension Christ was seated at the Father’s right hand. He was elevated to that position as the God–man—a state of being that was His only because of His incarnation. Thus He entered upon the rights and privileges not only of God as God, but of God as the God–man. His exaltation was not with regard to His nature or eternal place within the Trinity but with regard to His new character as the God–man.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Father for exalting His Son to His rightful place in Heaven.

For Further Study: According to Acts 5:31, in what two ways did God exalt Christ to His right hand? Why?[1]


December 17

Christians and Christmas

He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord.

Romans 14:6

The Puritans in early America rejected Christmas celebrations altogether. They deliberately worked on December 25 to show their disdain. A law passed in England in 1644 reflected a similar Puritan influence; the law made Christmas Day an official working day. For a time in England it was literally illegal to cook plum pudding or mince pie for the holidays.

Christians today are generally not opposed to celebrating Christmas. The holiday itself is nothing, and observing it is not a question of right or wrong. As Paul wrote, “One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God” (Rom. 14:5–6). Every day—including Christmas—is a celebration for us who know and love Him.[2]


DECEMBER 17

SILENT ADORATION

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

—Psalm 95:6-7

Next is adoration, to love God with all the power within us. To love God with fear and wonder and yearning and awe. To yearn for God with great yearning, and to love Him to a point where it is both painful and delightful. At times this will lead us to breathless silence. I think that some of the greatest prayer is prayer where you don’t say one single word or ask for anything. Now God does answer and He does give us what we ask for. That’s plain; nobody can deny that unless he denies the Scriptures. But that’s only one aspect of prayer, and it’s not even the important aspect. Sometimes I go to God and say, “God, if Thou dost never answer another prayer while I live on this earth I will still worship Thee as long as I live and in the ages to come for what Thou hast done already.” God’s already put me so far in debt that if I were to live one million millenniums I couldn’t pay Him for what He’s done for me. WMJ024

Lord, You have given me so much. Today I ask nothing but Your Presence as I bow before You in silent adoration. Amen. [3]


December 17

Parable of the Leaven, Part 1

He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”—Matt. 13:33

Small things often have a great influence, which is the first point of Jesus’ parable here. The influence is analogous to the effect a small piece of leavened dough, as it permeates and rises, can have on a larger lump of unleavened dough. Here the influence represents the power of God’s kingdom, which is much greater than its initial, small appearances. The smallest part of the kingdom will influence the world because it contains the Holy Spirit’s power working through believers.

Secondly, the parable suggests that kingdom influence is positive, just as leavening is for bread. To symbolize their break with Egypt, God commanded His people to eat only unleavened bread (Ex. 12:15, 18–19). But apart from the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they were free to eat and enjoy leavened bread. The Jews always perceived leaven favorably, as when a bride-to-be received a small piece of leavened dough just before her wedding. From that she would bake bread the rest of her married life and consider the small gift among the most cherished she ever received.

As to how leaven represents the large and positive influence of God’s kingdom against Satan’s, William Arnot wrote,

The evil spreads like leaven; you tremble … but be of good cheer, disciples of Jesus, greater is He that is for you than all that are against you; the word of life which has been hidden in the world, hidden in believing hearts, is a leaven too. The unction of the Holy One is more subtle and penetrating and subduing than sin and Satan. Where sin abounded, grace shall much more abound.

ASK YOURSELF
What small addition or adjustment could you make to your lifestyle priorities as a Christian that would result in a big change of usefulness and effectiveness?[4]


December 17 Christ’s Superior Destiny

“To which of the angels has He ever said, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet’? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:13–14).

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The destiny of Jesus Christ is that ultimately everything in the universe will be subject to Him.

At the name of Jesus every knee [will] bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth” (Phil. 2:10). This great promise confirms that Jesus Christ is destined to be the ruler of the universe.

Yet notice this about Christ’s rule: “When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the one who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). Christ is subordinate to His Father, but only in His role as the Son. While the eternal Son is equally divine, He is officially in subjection to God.

Eventually God will put all kingdoms, authorities, and powers of the world in subjection under Christ when He comes in glory at His Second Coming. “He will rule [the nations] with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS’” (Rev. 19:15–16). Christ’s eternal destiny is to reign over the new heavens and the new earth.

But what about the angels? While Christ has the greater destiny, it is their destiny to serve forever those who will inherit salvation (Heb. 1:14)—and that’s us!

Angels protect and deliver believers from temporal danger. They rescued Lot and his family from the destruction of Sodom. They went into the lions’ den with Daniel and protected him. In addition to being forever in God’s presence, our destiny is to be served by angels forever—service that begins at the moment of our salvation.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the many ways He takes care of you—by saving you, having Christ intercede for you, giving you the Holy Spirit to teach you, and sending His angels to serve you.

For Further Study: Read 2 Kings 6:8–23, and note the amazing way that angels served the prophet Elisha.[5]


DECEMBER 17

MERCY: A BOUNDLESS SEA

God, who is rich in mercy…even when we were dead in sins.

Ephesians 2:4–5

A human being is never really aware of the great boundless sea of the mercy of God until by faith he comes across the threshold of the kingdom of God and recognizes it and identifies it!

My father was sixty years old when he bowed before Jesus Christ and was born again. That was a near lifetime in which he had sinned and lied and cursed. But to him, the mercy of God that took him to heaven was no greater than the mercy of God that had endured and kept him for sixty years.

I recall the story of an ancient rabbi who consented to take a weary old traveler into his house for a night of rest. In conversation, the rabbi discovered the visitor was almost 100 years old and a confirmed atheist. Infuriated, the rabbi arose, opened the door and ordered the man out into the night.

Then, sitting down by his candle and Old Testament, it seemed he heard a voice, God’s voice: “I have endured that sinner for almost a century. Could you not endure him for a night?” The rabbi ran out and overtaking the old man, brought him back to the hospitality of his home for the night.

Father, You are gloriously patient with mankind. I praise You for that, and I pray that You will prod Your believing children to go out and find those who are on the cusp of belief.[6]


DECEMBER 17

CHRISTIANS NEED EACH OTHER

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

1 PETER 1:19

In the Lord’s instructions to Israel concerning the preparation for the Passover in Egypt we clearly see a foreshadowing of the communal quality of the Christian life: “Take every man a lamb, according to the house of your fathers.”

A lamb for a house—the chosen lamb of that particular family. But when John the Baptist appeared, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” A lamb for each family was one thing—but they were all pointing to this great Lamb, which was not Israel’s lamb at all, but the Lamb of God!

Yes, there is a blessed communal quality in the Christian faith and I add that “communal” is a beautiful word that has been ruined for us by communism. There is a sense in which the people of the Lord are a people apart, belonging to each other in a sense in which they do not belong to anyone else.

I do not hesitate to say that Christians belong to each other more than they belong to their country. I will also say to you, good wives and husbands in the faith, that you belong to Jesus Christ first and to husbands and wives second.

And to you who have Christian children, that those children belong to God first, and to you second. This is where we stand for we belong to each other in the communal family of God first!

As believers we discover there is a kingdom within the kingdoms of this world. A new people within the old. A royal priesthood, a holy nation, a chosen generation—Christians sharing together in the Lamb of God, precious to one another![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. 378). 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. 360). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 364). 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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