Daily Archives: December 29, 2016

December 29, 2016: Verse of the day

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6:16 the lion pit A pit or cave used for capital punishment

Your God The king calls upon Daniel’s God rather than his own. This suggestion could also be sarcastic.

This verse does not imply that Darius was a servant of God or that he recognized Him as the supreme deity. Rather, the king likely knew of the deliverance of Daniel’s three friends (see ch. 3) and assumed that Daniel would also be delivered. If Daniel’s friends enjoyed the kind of relationship with their God that would lead to their deliverance, then surely Daniel—their leader—did as well.

whom you serve faithfully Daniel’s piety and devotion was known even to the king.

Faithlife Study Bible

6:16 May your God … deliver you. Against his own will Darius was forced to comply with the decree. Nevertheless, he is confident that Daniel’s God will intervene on behalf of His faithful servant.

Reformation Study Bible

December 29, 2016: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

December 29 Christ Is the Creator

“In [Christ] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Colossians 1:16

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Christ created everyone and everything.

The sheer size of the universe is staggering. The sun, for example, could hold 1.3 million planets the size of Earth inside it. The galaxy to which our sun belongs, the Milky Way, contains hundreds of billions of stars. And astronomers estimate there are millions, or even billions, of galaxies.

Who created this awesome universe? According to the false teachers at Colosse, it was not Christ. They viewed Him as the first and most important of the emanations from God; they were convinced it had to be a lesser being who eventually created the material universe. Believing matter to be evil, they argued that neither the good God nor a good emanation would have created the universe.

But the apostle Paul rejected that blasphemy, insisting that Christ made all things, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible. When he mentions thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities (v. 16), he is referring to the various ranks of angels. Far from being an angel, as the false teachers taught, Christ created the angels (cf. Eph. 1:21). Jesus’ relation to the unseen world, like His relation to the visible world, proves He is God, the Creator of the universe.

Man is certainly interested in knowing about the universe that Christ created. That is evident, for example, by his exploration of space. Manned space capsules photographing the earth rising over the lunar horizon and satellites beaming pictures to us of planets at the outer edges of our solar system leave us in awe and wonder. Even more amazing is, not that man has gone into space, but that God came to Earth. In Christ, the invisible God who created everything and everyone became visible to man. How sad that while man looks into space, He refuses to look at the One who came to Earth.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Worship Christ for His awesome work of creation.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 19:1–6. What testimony does this passage give of the Creator?[1]


December 29

Choosing Between
Heaven and Earth

What I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard–pressed between the two.

Philippians 1:23

Every Christian ought to feel the strain of desiring to be with Christ, yet also longing to build His church. If the Lord said to me, “You have five minutes to choose between being in heaven or on earth,” I would have a difficult time making that decision. And I would want to be sure I was choosing for the right reasons. I’d have to ask myself, can I glorify Christ more in heaven or on earth?

Paul found it an impossible choice. Nevertheless, most people would choose to stay on earth. When asked why they would, most would give some selfish reason, such as, “We’re getting a new house,” or “I don’t want to leave my kids.” For Paul, nothing really mattered except glorifying Christ. When faced with the most basic of life’s issues—whether it would be better to live or die—his response was, “I would be thrilled to glorify Christ in heaven or on earth. Given the choice, I can’t choose.” Because glorifying Christ was Paul’s motivation, where he glorified Christ was not the issue. That ought to be true for you as well.[2]


DECEMBER 29

HE’S PLEASED

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.

—John 17:24

Gerhard Tersteegen wrote a song.

Midst the darkness, storm and sorrow,

One bright gleam I see.

Well I know that blest tomorrow,

Christ will come for me.

And then he writes six stanzas and the last four lines are these:

He and I in that bright glory,

One deep joy shall share.

Mine to be forever with Him,

And His that I am there.

Did you ever stop to think that God is going to be as pleased to have you with Him in heaven as you are to be there? The goodness and mercy of God, the loving kindness of the Lord—it’s wonderful! He can bring us into such a relationship with Him that He can please us without spoiling us. He pleases us, and He’s pleased when we’re pleased. And when we’re pleased with him, He’s pleased….

Thank God, thank God! Let us praise the lovingkindness of God forever, for of His goodness there is no end. Amen! AOG056-057

How amazing to know that You take delight in me, Lord! I delight in my communion with You. Amen. [3]


December 29

Perils of the Dragnet, Part 1

… and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.—Matt. 13:50

The doctrine of hell is undoubtedly the most difficult one for Christians to accept emotionally. Yet Scripture mentions it too often for us to deny or ignore it. Jesus gives several warnings of it in the Sermon on the Mount. “It is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matt. 5:29; cf. 5:22; see also Matt. 11:23; 23:33; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:9–10; John 15:6).

God’s Word teaches us some basic truths about hell—what this parable calls “the furnace of fire”—that aid us in partially grasping its terror. First, it is a place of constant torment and pain. Jesus called its torment darkness (Matt. 22:13), which means no light penetrates and nothing is visible. Our Lord also called the torment a fire that never goes out (Mark 9:43), from which the damned find no relief.

Second, hell includes the torment of both body and soul. Contrary to some teachings, neither is annihilated at death and never will be. Just as believers’ souls will receive resurrected bodies to enjoy heaven forever, unbelievers’ souls will receive resurrected bodies to experience hell forever (cf. Matt. 10:28; John 5:29; Acts 24:15). Jesus further called hell a place “where their worm does not die” (Mark 9:44). Once the bodies of deceased believers are consumed by worms, no more harm can be done to them. But the resurrected bodies of unbelievers will never be consumed. Such sobering reminders ought to prompt us to pray for the lost with greater urgency.

ASK YOURSELF
We do try to avoid thinking of things so gruesome and unending. Even though we don’t treat it as a myth or analogy, we still bristle at the thought of it. But how does a proper understanding of the truth of hell benefit you in your own worship and in your interactions with others?[4]

DECEMBER 29

THE LORD OF ALL BEAUTY

They shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.

Isaiah 35:2

Think with me about beauty—and about this matchless One who is the Lord of all beauty, our Savior!

God has surely deposited something within our human beings that is capable of understanding and appreciating beauty—the love of harmonious forms, appreciation of colors and beautiful sounds.

Brother, these are only the external counterparts of a deeper and more enduring beauty—that which we call moral beauty. It has been the uniqueness and the perfection of Christ’s moral beauty that have charmed even those who claimed to be His enemies throughout the centuries of history.

We do not have any record of Hitler saying anything against the moral perfection of Jesus. One of the great philosophers, Nietzsche, objected to Paul’s theology of justification by faith, but he was strangely moved within himself by the perfection of moral beauty found in the life and character of Jesus, the Christ.

We should thank God for the promise of heaven being the place of supreme beauty—and the One who is all-beautiful is there!

Thank You, Lord, for Your beauty that is reflected in the lives of Your servants who have left the comfort of their own home and culture to serve You in distant lands. “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings” (Isaiah 52:7).[5]


December 29 He Who Sanctifies

“Both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, ‘I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise.’ And again, ‘I will put My trust in Him.’ And again, ‘Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me’” (Heb. 2:11–13).

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Our holy Christ has made us holy; thus He can now call us His brothers.

From our own perspective and experience, it is difficult to think of ourselves as holy. Sin simply is too much a part of us in this fallen world. In thought and practice we are far from holy, but in Christ we are perfectly “sanctified” or holy.

We may not always act holy, but because of our faith in Christ we are perfectly holy in God’s sight. Though a child does not always act like his father, he is still his son. We are holy in the sense that before God, the righteousness of Christ has been applied and imputed on our behalf through faith. We were made holy through His sacrifice and have become “those who are sanctified.”

“By one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). We are as pure as God is pure, as righteous as Christ is righteous, and are therefore entitled to be called His brothers because we now share in His righteousness.

The Sanctifier and the sanctified now have “one Father,” and the Sanctifier “is not ashamed” to call the sanctified His brothers. What an overwhelming truth!

The practical experience of a Christian’s life in this world includes sin, but the positional reality of his or her new nature is holiness. “In Him [we] have been made complete” (Col. 2:10). Yet practically, we have a long way to go. So the overriding purpose of our lives is to become in practice what we are in position. Now that we are Christ’s brothers and God’s children, let that be all the motivation we need to live like it.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank the Lord for His sanctifying work on the cross, which enables you to be holy.

For Further Study: Read Romans 1:16. Based on what God has done for you through Christ, can you wholeheartedly echo Paul’s statement?[6]


DECEMBER 29

KNOW THE LORD AS PERFECTLY AS POSSIBLE

The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it: and his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face….

REVELATION 22:3, 4

If God is the Supreme Good then our highest blessedness on earth must lie in knowing Him as perfectly as possible!

The ultimate end to which redemption leads is the immediate sight of the ever-blessed Godhead. In our present state we cannot with our natural eyes look upon God, for it is written, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Exod. 33:20).

When the work of Christ has been completed in His people, however, it will be possible, even natural, for redeemed men to behold their Redeemer. This is stated plainly by the Apostle John: “But we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him: for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

This rapturous experience has been called the Beatific Vision and will be the culmination of all possible human blessedness. It will bring the glorified saint into a state of perpetual bliss which to taste for even one moment will banish forever from his mind every memory of grief or suffering here below.

I suppose the vast majority of us must wait for the great day of the Lord’s coming to realize the full wonder of the vision of God Most High. In the meantime, we are, I believe, missing a great measure of radiant glory that is ours by blood-covenant and available to us in this present world if we would but believe it and press on in the way of holiness.[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. 390). 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. 372). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

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

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 376). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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