|December 30||Sustaining the Universe|
“[Christ] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
The eternal Christ sustains His creation.
When the universe began, Christ already existed. The apostle John spoke of Christ’s eternal existence this way: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1–3). Christ Himself testified of the same truth when He told the Jews, “Before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58). He was saying that He is Yahweh, the eternally existing God. The prophet Micah said of Him, “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Mic. 5:2). Revelation 22:13 describes Him as “the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Christ has preeminence over all creation because He “is before all things” (Col. 1:17). He already existed when the universe began because He is the eternal God.
Having created the universe, Christ sustains all He has created (v. 17). He maintains the delicate balance necessary to life’s existence. He is the power behind every consistency in the universe and the One who keeps all the entities in space in their motion. He is the energy behind the universe.
Christ, however, will not always sustain our present universe. One day in the future He will dissolve the heavens and earth. The apostle Peter describes that day, when “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). Until that time, we can be thankful that Christ continues to sustain it.
How encouraging to know that the eternal God who sustains the entire universe is also watching over you. No detail of your life is too small for His concern; no circumstance is too big for His sovereign control.
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for caring for the details of your life while He controls the universe.
For Further Study: According to Hebrews 1:3, what does God uphold? How?
Absent from the Body,
Present with the Lord
We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:8
When a believer leaves this world, he goes immediately to be in the presence of Christ. There is no “soul sleep” or intermediate waiting place, nor does the Bible teach that there is any place called purgatory. Notice the apostle Paul’s desire was “to depart and be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23, emphasis added).
Today’s verse indicates that when we are absent from the body, which sleeps until the resurrection, our spirits are present with the Lord. Paul also told the Thessalonians that Christ “died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him” (1 Thess. 5:10). Paul’s point is that whether we are physically awake (alive) or physically asleep (dead), as believers we are with Christ. We are in His presence in a spiritual sense now and in a literal sense when our bodies are dead.
You can rejoice in the fact that there is no time in your life as a believer when you will ever be out of the conscious presence of Jesus Christ.
WALKING IN THE PRESENCE OF HIS LORD
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
One of the purest souls ever to live on this fallen planet was Nicholas Herman, that simple-hearted Christian known throughout the world as Brother Lawrence….
Early in his life Brother Lawrence found Christ as his own Savior and Lord and entered into what he called “the unspeakable riches of God and of Jesus Christ.” He was a common cook but he learned to turn the modest service into a kind of worship….
He spent his long life walking in the presence of his Lord, and when he came to die there was no need for any particular change in his occupation. At the last hour someone asked him what was going on in his thoughts as death approached. He replied simply: “I am doing what I shall do through all eternity—blessing God, praising God, adoring God, giving Him the love of my whole heart. It is our one business, my brethren, to worship Him and love Him without thought of anything else.” PON022-023
Lord, may I live now as I will for all of time, praising and adoring You with my whole heart. Amen. 
Perils of the Dragnet, Part 2
… and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.—Matt. 13:50
Continuing from yesterday, we can learn several more biblical truths about hell, the dragnet’s ultimate peril. For example, the lost will suffer hell’s torments in varying degrees. Those who willfully reject Jesus Christ and blatantly scorn His sacrifice will receive far greater punishment than people who had only the light of the Old Testament. The author of Hebrews writes, “Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:28–29; cf. Matt. 11:22–23).
Concerning the slaves who waited for their master’s return, Christ’s parable states that “that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few” (Luke 12:47–48).
Finally, nothing will be as horrible about hell’s torment as its endlessness. The Lord uses “eternal” to describe both heaven’s and hell’s duration: “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46). Sadly, people who experience hell will realize a complete absence of hope for all eternity. But rejoice if you are a believer—you have a hope of heaven that will be validated for all eternity.
|The sensitive person asks, “How can a loving God doom a person to hell? ” What is your answer to this common question and complaint? How is justice involved? Why would some be spared? Know how to respond to this type of opinion ahead of time.|
GOD’S SOVEREIGN PLAN
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God…For he must reign.
1 Corinthians 15:24–25
Many people continue to live in daily fear that the world “is coming to an end.”
Only in the Scriptures do we have the description and prediction of the age-ending heavenly and earthly events when our Lord and Savior will be universally acknowledged as King of kings and Lord of lords.
God’s revelation makes it plain that in “that day” all will acclaim Him “victor”!
Human society, generally, refuses to recognize God’s sovereignty or His plan for His redeemed people. But no human being or world government will have any control in that fiery day of judgment yet to come.
John’s vision of things to come tells us clearly and openly that at the appropriate time this world will be taken away from men and placed in the hands of the only Man who has the wisdom and authority to rightly govern.
That Man is the eternal Son of God, the worthy Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ!
Dear Lord, I pray today for the remaining people groups in the world who have not yet heard the gospel message. Without knowing You, Father, many will be lost eternally when the end of the world comes. Lord, raise up specific individuals to take Your Word to those remaining peoples.
|December 30||Satan’s Conqueror|
“Since … the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb. 2:14–15).
Christ came to break the power of Satan which He did by conquering death.
To be free to live with God and share in all His blessings, someone had to shatter Satan’s death grip on us. Sin is what gives Satan his powerful hold on us, but the power itself is death.
Satan knew that God required death for us because of sin. He knew that all died in Adam—that death became a certain fact of life. And he knew that men, if they remained as they were, would die and go out of God’s presence into Hell forever. So the Devil wants to hang on to men until they die because once they are dead, the opportunity for salvation is gone forever.
To wrest the power of death from Satan’s hand, God sent Christ into the world. If you have a greater weapon than your enemy, his weapon is useless. You can’t fight a machine gun with a bow and arrow. Satan’s weapon is death, but eternal life is God’s weapon, and with it Jesus destroyed death.
How was He able to do it? He rose again, proving He had conquered death. That’s why He said, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). His resurrection provides the believer with eternal life.
Nothing terrifies people more than the fear of death. But when we receive Christ, death in reality holds no more fear for us since it simply releases us into the presence of our Lord. We can say with Paul, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Rejoice that you have placed your hand in the hand of the conqueror of death, who will lead you through death and out the other side.
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to give you a greater realization that He has conquered death and is thus able to help you live life more fully to His glory.
For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 15:50–58. How are we to live our lives, based on what we know about death?
THE PERFUME OF REMEMBERED BLESSING
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him….
COLOSSIANS 2:9, 10
Christ is so many wonderful things to His people and brings to them such a wealth of benefits as the mind cannot comprehend nor the heart find words to express!
Bernard of Clairvaux speaks in his writings of a “perfume compounded of the remembered benefits of God.”
Such fragrance is all too rare!
Every follower of Christ should be redolent of such a perfume; for have we not all received more from God’s kindness than our imagination could have conceived before we knew Him and discovered for ourselves how rich and how generous He is?
That we have received of His fullness grace for grace no one will deny, but the fragrance comes not from the receiving but from the remembering.
Ten lepers received their health—that was the benefit. One came back to thank his benefactor—that was the perfume!
Unremembered benefits, like dead flies, may cause the ointment to give forth a stinking savor.
Remembered blessings, thankfulness for present favors and praise for promised grace blend like myrrh and aloes and cassia to make a rare bouquet for the garments of the saints. With this perfume David also anointed his harp and the hymns of the ages have been sweet with it.
We are reminded that much of the Bible is devoted to prediction. Nothing God has yet done for us can compare with all that is written in the sure word of prophecy. And, nothing He has done or may yet do for us can compare with what He is and will be to us!
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 391). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.
 Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 373). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
 Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 377). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.