Daily Archives: December 24, 2016

December 24, 2016: Verse of the day

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The Virgin Birth Clarified

“And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (1:21)

As if to reinforce the truth of Jesus’ divine conception, the angel tells Joseph that she will bear a Son. Joseph would act as Jesus’ earthly father, but he would only be a foster father. Luke’s genealogy of Jesus through Mary’s line accurately says He was “supposedly the son of Joseph” (3:23, emphasis added).

Joseph was told to name the Son … Jesus, just as Zacharias was told to name his son John (Luke 1:13). We are not told the purpose or significance of John’s name, but that of Jesus was made clear even before His birth. Jesus is a form of the Hebrew Joshua, Jeshua, or Jehoshua, the basic meaning of which is “Jehovah (Yahweh) will save.” All other men who had those names testified by their names to the Lord’s salvation. But this One who would be born to Mary not only would testify of God’s salvation, but would Himself be that salvation. By His own work He would save His people from their sins.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

December 24, 2016: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

December 24 A Call to Worship

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Philippians 2:10–11

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All rational beings will acknowledge Christ as Lord.

Philippians 2:10–11 affirms that the whole intelligent universe is called to worship Christ. They are specified as those “in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth” (v. 10). “Those who are in heaven” consist of two groups: God’s holy angels and the spirits of the redeemed believers (who await the resurrection of their bodies). Those who are in Heaven already acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. Throughout their time in Heaven they’ve been worshiping the Lord of glory.

Those … on earth” (v. 10) also consist of two groups: the obedient and the disobedient. The obedient refers to us. By God’s grace, we have submitted to Christ as Lord and Savior (cf. Rom. 10:9). The disobedient will also bow before Jesus Christ—by compulsion (cf. 2 Thess. 1:7–9). When Jesus returns to subdue the earth, He will remove the wicked from the earth, cast them into Hell, and establish His kingdom.

Under the earth” (Phil. 2:10) refers to Hell, the place of eternal punishment, which is occupied by all the damned—both demons and unsaved people. They will also acknowledge the lordship of Christ—not by enjoying His reign, but by bearing the unending expression of His wrath.

Jesus Christ is Lord of the universe. Therefore, “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (v. 11). To confess means “to acknowledge,” “affirm,” or “agree.” By “every tongue” Paul didn’t mean every physical tongue in every mouth but every language. Another way to express the idea is to say that all rational beings will acknowledge His lordship.

History is moving toward the day when Jesus will be acknowledged by all as the supreme ruler of the universe. He already sits in that seat of power but has not yet brought the universe fully under His authority. We live in days of grace, during which He brings men and women to acknowledge Him as Lord willingly rather than by force. Rejoice that He still provides that opportunity.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for lost relatives and friends to submit to Christ willingly.

For Further Study: In Psalm 2:12, what warning does the Lord give?[1]


December 24

Christ’s Perfect Timing

When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son.

Galatians 4:4

The first Christmas was perfectly timed. Galatians 4:4–5 says, “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law.” What was “the fullness of the time”? God’s sovereign timing. He ordered world events so everything was ready for Christ’s coming and the subsequent outreach of the apostles.

Looking back at the early church, we are amazed at how quickly the gospel spread in less than a century. The sovereign hand of God is clearly evident. Christ’s advent could not have been timed more propitiously.[2]


DECEMBER 24

BECOMING WHAT WE LOVE

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

—1 John 2:15

We are all in process of becoming. We have already moved from what we were to what we are, and we are now moving toward what we shall be….

Not only are we all in the process of becoming, we are becoming what we love. We are to a large degree the sum of our loves and we will of moral necessity grow into the image of what we love most; for love is among other things a creative affinity; it changes and molds and shapes and transforms. It is without doubt the most powerful agent affecting human nature next to the direct action of the Holy Spirit of God within the soul.

What we love is therefore not a small matter to be lightly shrugged off; rather it is of present, critical and everlasting importance. It is prophetic of our future. It tells us what we shall be, and so predicts accurately our eternal destiny….

This furnishes in part (but only in part) a rational explanation for the first and greatest commandment: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37).

To become like God is and must be the supreme goal of all moral creatures. This is the reason for their creation, the end apart from which no excuse can be found for their existence. GTM195-197

Lord, wean me from unworthy loves, and give me a pure, full love for You, that I might become like You. Amen. [3]


December 24

God’s Kingdom Is the Source of True Joy

… and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.—Matt. 13:44b

Every man or woman desires basic joy in his or her life—a desire that all others directly or indirectly serve. We like to eat because tasty food brings joy and usually a feeling of good health to our bodies. We enjoy money because of the prospect of good and necessary things it can buy. Many of us also seek prestige, power, knowledge, and other advantages for the supposed joy they will bring.

But all such joys are fleeting and disappointing. The only genuine and lasting joy is that found in the kingdom of God, because God Himself created mankind and wants to provide them with complete satisfaction. After Christ exhorted the apostles to abide in Him and let His words abide in them, to verify their discipleship by bearing much fruit, and to obey His commandments and thus abide in His love (John 15:1–10), the Lord told them, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (v. 11; cf. 16:24; 1 John 1:4).

The apostle Paul tells us that “the kingdom of God is … peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). Then he prays for the Romans, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (15:13). Authentic joy comes only when we find and accept Jesus Christ and His kingdom by faith in Him.

ASK YOURSELF
Have you noticed that the feeling you sense after watching a sporting event, attending a movie, coming home with a major purchase—or even enjoying Christmas—is never quite as robust as the anticipation was? How is it different from the experience of engaging in Christian worship and service?[4]


December 24 The Restriction of Man’s Destiny

“But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him” (Heb. 2:8).

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God’s original destiny for man was restricted by man’s sin.

God gave man dominion over all the earth, and the earth supplied his every need. All he had to do was accept and enjoy the earth as provided for him. But Adam sinned, and Satan usurped the crown. A new chain of command was born; the earth now rules man.

To know how true that is, all you need to do is look at the amount of effort expended on restoring the ecological balance of the earth. Environmentalism is a popular watchword of our day. Yet with all our modern technology, we are still unable to gain control over the earth.

Look what happened once Adam sinned. No longer could man easily harvest what the earth provided; now he had to toil by the sweat of his brow (Gen. 3:18). Women would experience pain in childbirth (3:16). Murder soon followed in Adam’s family. God had to destroy virtually all mankind in the Flood because they had become so debauched.

Much of the animal kingdom now lives in fear of man and cannot be tamed. Where once the earth produced good things naturally and abundantly, now it produces thorns, weeds, and other harmful things. Extremes of heat and cold, poisonous plants and reptiles, earthquakes, typhoons, floods, hurricanes, and disease were all products of the Fall. Man was no longer a king but a slave—a dying creature fighting a losing battle with a dying earth.

Amazingly, the earth is aware of its condition: “For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it” (Rom. 8:20). Now it eagerly awaits the day when the sons of God—believers—will be manifest in the Kingdom, for then it will be liberated from the bondage of corruption (vv. 19, 21–22).

There is coming a day, in the wonderful plan of God, when man will receive once again the dominion that he lost. May our Lord hasten its coming!

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God that He will one day redeem the earth from its subjection to the curse.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 60:21, 65:25, 2 Peter 3:13, and Revelation 21:27. What will characterize the new earth?[5]


DECEMBER 24

JOY AND WONDER

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.

Luke 2:10

It is tragic that men and women everywhere are losing the sense of wonder, confessing now only one interest in life—and that is utility! Even Christmas Day has been degraded.

We ignore the beautiful and the majestic, asking only, “How can I use it? How much profit will it bring?”

The believing children of God once upon a time saw God in everything. They were enraptured with everything before them. There was no common hill—they were all the hills of God! There was no common cloud—they were the chariots of God! They saw God in everything. In our day we never look up in happy surprise!

But let me tell you that it has been a never-failing delight throughout my years to watch little children on Christmas morning. The gifts may be humble, but the child’s burst of spontaneous delight and wonder is genuine and rewarding. That incredulous look on the child’s face—everything is full of wonder and beauty!

Sad, indeed, for adults to lose the wonder in worship—for worship is wonder and wonder is worship!

Lord, the announcement of “good tidings of great joy” is every bit as important today as it was 2,000 years ago—for we are still a fallen race, and the Babe in the manger is still the Savior of the world. Praise God![6]


DECEMBER 24

A BLESSED FACT: GOD HAS NEVER BEEN SILENT

God…hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things….

HEBREWS 1:1, 2

I think it may be accepted as axiomatic that God is constantly trying to speak to man. He desires to communicate Himself, to impart holy ideas to those of His creatures capable of receiving them. The Second Person of the Godhead is called the Word of God, that is, the mind of God in expression.

Are you aware that many Christians appear to believe that God spoke the Holy Scriptures into being and then lapsed into silence, a silence that will not be broken until God calls all men before Him into judgment? If that is true, we have the Bible as a deposit of embalmed truth which scribe and theologian must decipher as they can.

This view is extremely injurious to the Christian’s soul, for it holds that God is no longer speaking, and thus we are shut up to our intellects for the understanding and apprehension of truth. According to this notion the human mind becomes the final arbiter of truth as well as the organ for its reception into the soul. Now, the blessed fact is that God is not silent and has never been silent, but is speaking in His universe. The written Word is effective because, and only because, the Living Word is speaking in Heaven and the Living Voice is sounding in the earth! “And the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (1 John 5:6, 7).[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. 385). 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. 367). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 371). 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.