Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

At that time, Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus. Matthew 14:1

There was plenty that was interesting about the life of Herod Antipater, but little that was admirable. One of the sons of Herod the Great, he was given the rule over the Roman provinces of Galilee and Perea. One of his greatest mistakes was to divorce his wife Phasaelis and to take up with Herodias, who had been his brother Philip’s wife. Not only did Herodias goad Herod into committing such crimes as the murder of John Baptist, but the liason also created political conflicts that later had Herod accused of treachery against Rome. This accusation by his nephew Agrippa led to Herod being exiled, with Herodias, to Gaul (present day France), where he died within eight years of killing John. Little more than a blemish in the annals of history, Herod at one time was interested in Jesus of Nazareth. Like too many today, his interest did not lead him to change.

Herod was convinced that Jesus was a reincarnation of John Baptist. We would have thought that such an idea would have led to Herod repenting of the murder and of his adulterous marriage. But all that Herod had in mind was to see a miracle performed by Jesus. He had no interest in changing his wicked ways or of abandoning his life of reckless sinfulness. His was a callous and cruel nature with little regard for issues of eternity. He is well represented in our world by those who pursue evil while professing to have an interest in spiritual things. As Christians, we see these people, and they concern us, because we know that the Gospel will never make much headway among them. Although like faithful John we must remind them of their sin and warn them of judgment, we seldom see any sign of repentance among such people.Let’s face it, most of the people who we invite to meetings, most of the people who receive a Gospel tract or calendar, most of the people who drive past the places where a sign proclaims that the Gospel is being preached, will not ever pay attention to the message, let alone attend meetings, become convicted of sin, and trust Christ. Only a tiny few are ever saved, because the vast majority, like Herod, never get past hearing of the fame of Jesus. So, is it pointless to go forth with the Gospel? No, of course not. Even if there are few that are saved, they are saved, and one sinner coming to Christ is worth whatever effort is required on our part to see.

Herod never got past hearing of the fame of Jesus. But some of those around us might, if we are faithful in praying for them and speaking to them. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brethren James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? Matthew 13:55

I ran a Google search on the term ‘Jesus Christ’ and received 112 million responses! Every history and reference book includes Jesus, as does every on-line reference. Some of the descriptions are slanted, twisted, or outright wrong in how they identify Jesus of Nazareth. Only a few, the descriptions presented by the most fundamental and scripturally sound organizations, are near the truth as it is contained in the Bible. So it is little wonder that we find the people in our text getting some of the facts wrong concerning Jesus, even though they were His neighbours and acquaintances from His early years. They were wrong about His Father. Even today, most will deny that Jesus was, and is, the Son of God.

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke make it clear that Jesus was not the son of Joseph, the carpenter. Not that there was any shame for anyone to be a son of a hard-working and honest tradesman. Growing up in the carpenter’s home, Jesus no doubt spent many hours of labour with carpenter’s tools. There is little doubt that He was Joseph’s helper on many projects, and many would assume that he was Joseph’s son. According to the writings of Justin Martyr in the second century, Jesus was a maker of farming implements such as yokes and ploughs. But no carpenter’s son – nor any son of a merchant, herdsman, banker, prince, or emperor – was worthy to be the Lamb of God. Only One born of a woman, born of the Holy Spirit, could qualify as holy, undefiled, and separate from simmers. To identify Jesus as the carpenter’s son was to miss the all-important truth of deity taking on humanity to become our substitute in bearing the judgment for sin.

No, this was not the carpenter’s son. And their identifying Him so disqualified them from receiving the blessings that He had come to give. We read three verses later that Jesus did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Today, people all around us are missing out on the magnificent blessings that come from acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. To confess that Jesus is Lord and to believe in the heart that God has raised Him from the dead is to receive salvation (Romans 10:9). But all those who deny that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 4:3) set themselves against Him and are condemned. As Christians, no truth is held more highly nor regarded more precious than that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world (1 John 4:14).

Our trust is in the Son of God, not the son of a carpenter, because we accept the record of the Word of God. -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Then said He unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. Matthew 13:52

The old chemistry teacher instructed us to turn to a certain page in our textbooks. There on the page was a picture of a leading chemist in Europe, and a description of what that chemist had discovered in his studies. Our chemistry teacher told us that the famous chemist was one of his teachers. That was just one of the many interesting items that Benjamin Skakke came up with. Every class, he would have some new and fascinating bit of information, or interesting experiment, or an unusual chart or picture. We looked forward to his classes, because of his ability to surprise us with the vast store of knowledge and experience that he was able to pass on to us. He was like a student of the Bible, who always has a vast treasure house from which to bring forth treasures for himself and others.

Even young, inexperienced Christians have a huge treasure store from which to draw when it comes to the Scriptures. As young Christians learn how to access the resources of the Word of God, as they become familiar with its contents, as they learn how to use valuable tools such as concordances and Bible dictionaries, they can find, appreciate, and pass on those treasures. But the best knowledge of the Word comes from daily and consistent study, year after year, so that the Christian has a vast treasure chest of Scripture stored in his own heart and mind. Such a Christian fits the description that the Lord Jesus gives in our text as being a scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of Heaven.

The context of our text is after the Lord Jesus explains yet another parable to the disciples, and then asks them whether they understood. When they answer in the affirmative, he tells them that the things they have learned are like the treasures that a householder is able to access in his home. Those treasures would be used for whatever purpose the householder deemed best for his house. So it is with us, as we access the spiritual treasures that we have stored in our hearts. These Scriptures, these truths that we have learned, this instruction that we have received, we put into practice in our lives. We apply the truths of our salvation to give us encouragement, comfort, and joy in this world of discouragement, suffering, and hopelessness. We apply the truths of the apostle’s doctrine to give us guidance in our Assembly lives, zeal in the Gospel, and protection from the wiles of the devil. That vast treasure store is all we need to be a faithful testimony to the unsaved and to be the happy saints that our Lord intends.

Daily fill your heart with the Word of God, and daily live in the good of the treasure of the Word. -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field, the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Matthew 13:44

It was a common practice in the early days for prospectors to spend months exploring through the mountains and canyons in search of gold. Wherever they found traces of gold, or rocks that appeared to be likely places to dig for gold, they would record those locations, so they could stake claims to them when they returned to civilization. They could then work those claims or sell them to miners. But once in a long time, a prospector would run across a very rich vein of gold. Excitedly, the prospector would cover up all traces of the find, and rush back to stake a claim to as large an area as he could afford. This happened only if he knew that he had run across a lode that would make him rich. Such a prospector was like the Lord Jesus when He sold all that He had to purchase us.

Our text speaks of a treasure in a field. Probably that treasure occupied a very tiny spot in that field. But to obtain the treasure, the man needed to buy the entire field. That is what the Lord Jesus did when He came into this world to seek and to save that which was lost. When we consider the price that the Lord Jesus paid, humbling Himself to become human, enduring shame and agonies untold, submitting Himself to death on our account, and shedding His precious blood, we must acknowledge that the price He paid was infinite. Some would tell us that He paid only for the sins of those who will be saved. But that is not what the Bible tells us. 1 John 2:2 tells us that He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. What this is telling us is that when the Lord Jesus died on the cross, there was not one sinner ever born, nor one sin that any sinner ever committed, that was not covered by the payment that was made. In other words, the Lord Jesus purchased the entire field, that He might obtain the treasure therein.

I don’t know about you, but when I look into my heart, I don’t see much of a treasure for the Lord Jesus to be excited about. I do know many Christians who are surely gems, but I also know some who aren’t much better than myself. I might well wonder what He ever saw in me to lead him to become the payment for my sins. And yet, the Lord Jesus saw in those who would trust in Him, who would appreciate His offering of Himself for us, who would return to thank Him for coming to save us, a great treasure, well worth the price He must pay.

Whether we feel like treasure or not, we are part of the great reason why the Lord Jesus should purchase the field to obtain us. For that, let us bow in humble gratitude. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father; who hath ears to hear, let him hear. Matthew 13:43

Huge throngs of people filled the streets ahead of us and behind, as they came and went around the many attractions of the theme park. Free admission had brought out many thousands more people than had been expected, and all the attractions were running at capacity with long lineups. We made our way through the mob to a building that had a huge staircase that reached a high balcony overlooking the park. When we finally reached the balcony, we could see the entire park, with its swarming masses of people. As I looked down on all those thousands, I wondered how many of them were Christians. Just by looking, there was no way to tell. I wished that there was some way to have the Christians emit a glow that would identify them. Someday, according to our text, I am going to get my wish.

We know about the terrible fate of the Christ rejectors, those who reject or neglect so great salvation. Part of their torment will be the blackness of darkness for eternity. But for the redeemed, there will be no darkness. The glory of Heaven will render the sun useless. But the saints in that glory will shine forever. Daniel writes of those that are wise shining as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:2). This indicates that soulwinners will probably shine the brightest in our eternal home. How wonderful to know that we who deserve the darkness as much as the rejectors and despisers will become part of the light of glory!

There is more than one way to be bright, of course. When we speak of bright people, we usually refer to those who are intelligent and wise. The world in its opposition to God and His Saviour shows a great lack of intelligence and wisdom. Especially do we see the foolishness behind those who would deny the existence of God. Scripture identifies those people as fools (Psalm 14:1); certainly not very bright. In the world, some of these people are seen as highly intelligent and are given great honour. In contrast, the world likes to portray Christians as old-fashioned, superstitious, and ignorant. Sadly, those people will learn too late that they are wrong. Meanwhile, as Christians, we need to acknowledge that other Christians are those who are bright, even as we acknowledge the ignorance of those who reject God and His Word.

The most ignorant and backward Christians that we know are far brighter than the most brilliant of the ungodly. And eternity will make the Christians all the brighter. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, June 14th, 2019

The Son of Man shall send forth His angels and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend and them which do iniquity. Matthew 13:41

I had taken at the flower bed with a hoe, to clean out the few weeds and bits of grass that had begun to emerge. I thought I had removed them all. But it rained hard for the next couple of days, and when I went past the flower bed on the third day, I noticed one of the weeds had not only survived but had stood up bright and bold as before. So I quickly picked it out and tossed it aside. Now the flower bed is clear of weeds and looks perfect…. for now. Weeds are the bane of every gardener; they keep reappearing from day to day, from week to week, and from year to year. Getting rid of them is impossible, just as it is impossible to root out all of this world’s troubles and troublemakers. But our text speaks of a time when it will happen.

Can you imagine a world in which there are no criminals? Even in police states such as communist countries and dictatorships, there are always some criminals working underground, and the police themselves become evil and corrupt. But even if we did manage to eliminate all the murderers, violent offenders, thieves, extortioners and embezzlers, and the highway speeders, backstreet muggers, and jaywalkers, we would still not have a perfect society. We would still have unkind and cruel gossipers, greedy and grasping people, and liars of all stripes imaginable. No, we certainly cannot imagine a world in which all things that offend are removed, even though we are assured that it will surely happen. When our Lord will reign on this planet for a thousand years, the world will see what is possible with a righteous ruler and a righteous enforcement of righteous rules. Comfort and security will be the hallmarks of that kingdom, far beyond what we can understand today. That time is coming. But it should have already arrived in our hearts.

What the coming kingdom will be like for this world should already be taking place with the lives of the believers. Today, it is the Holy Spirit, not the angels, who is removing from us those things that offend. His goal for us is the removal of all dishonesty, all unkindness, all selfishness, and all bad and annoying habits be removed from our personalities. He removes those things, because He works to make us to be more like the Lord Jesus. And He succeeds as we allow Him to use the Word of God to do its work.

When the Millenium arrives, the world will behold and say, ‘So that’s what the Christians were trying to show us’. But they will say that then only if we are faithful today. -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Then Jesus sent the multitudes away and went into the house, and His disciples came unto Him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. Matthew 13:36

Only once did I have the privilege of being in the premier’s office. I had made an appointment, so I could do a series of short interviews for use in our year-end news reports. When the appointment time arrived, I was there, and the premier admitted me to his large and very comfortably furnished office. We sat down in a couple of those comfortable chairs, and for half an hour, we discussed a number of topics. I asked a variety of questions, and he responded in a candid and animated manner. It struck me as we sat there that I was privileged to have the undivided attention of the most powerful man in the province. But it was not anywhere near as great a privilege as the disciples had to sit and listen to the Lord Jesus explain His parables.

The multitudes heard their messages, but the disciples heard the explanations and had an opportunity to ask all the questions they needed in order to understand. To the multitudes, Jesus was a fascinating teacher, a great healer, and a very interesting person. But to the disciples, He was the Son of God, the infinite wisdom and the fount of all knowledge. And they were privileged to sit down with Him and have His undivided attention. He was glad to explain things to them, and to have them appreciate His presence. From that time until now, the Lord Jesus has always been glad to meet with His own, to expound His wisdom and to open their understanding.

Matthew 18:20 reminds us of our Lord’s presence. Why does He make such a promise, and why is His presence important? It’s important, because He wants us to understand His Word and to know that it is He Who gives us this understanding. We have not dreamed up our understanding of the Word of God from our own ideas, our own concept of God’s purposes, our own interpretation of the doctrines of Scripture. No, we have received our knowledge from time spent in the Lord’s presence, and from others who have done the same. For example, godly men of a couple of centuries ago spent much time and study to glean from the Word of God those truths that we know today as the principles of God’s Assembly. These precious truths are also appreciated and reinforced in our souls today as we continue to spend time in our Lord’s presence with His Word.

It is not only a great privilege to spend time learning from our Lord Himself, but it is also the only way to learn the deep and precious truths that bring us closer to Him. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given. Matthew 13:11

We took my boss’s stepchildren with us to visit the Balmoral grist mill, and they had a wonderful time. The beautiful old mill had many features that the children found fascinating, because they had never seen anything like it before. All the way back, they commented on the mill and the delightful visit there. That evening, when their stepfather joined us for the night, they told him about going to the mill. As they described the various features, the huge mill wheel, the wooden gears, the toasting floor, the screens, and the chutes for the grain, he listened intently, but shook his head in lack of understanding. Because he had not seen the inner workings of the mill, he had no idea what they were talking about. It was as though his stepchildren were talking a different language. Just like Christians speaking to the unsaved about the things of the Lord.

Mind you, a grist mill is very unusual, and most young people today have never seen one and have no idea what it is. The things that God has revealed to His people are also uncommon elements to the world around us. The unsaved are so steeped in the need for sinful activities to give them pleasure that they can’t understand how Christians can find delight in the fellowship of the saints, singing hymns and spiritual songs, and in discussing the greatness of our Lord and Saviour. Never having known the forgiveness of sins, they can’t understand the thankfulness and worship that the Christians so readily express. The greedy world’s pursuit of money, power, and popularity has the unsaved blinded to the riches of the Word of God and the blessings of following the will of the Lord in our lives. It is as though we are speaking a different language, which we are, because we are able to enter into the language of Heaven itself.

Heaven will be far more wonderful and glorious than any of us can imagine. But when we arrive, we will be surprised at how much of Heaven will be familiar to us. Take the people, for example. Many of them will be those we have known here on earth. But we will also know the many historical characters who have been an inspiration to us as we read their testimonies. And we will know the biblical characters whose lives we have studied from Scripture. These would all be strangers to the unsaved. The language of Heaven will also be familiar to us. Far more wonderful than even the great English language, the conversation of Heaven will be filled with praise and glory to God and His Son, thankfulness and worship in pure form. This would be gobbledegook to an unsaved person.

As Christians, we really do live in a different world from the unsaved. And we are going to an even better world that would be forever a mystery to the unsaved. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up. Matthew 13:4

Our neighbour drove his little grey tractor around and around the field, hauling the seeder, and halting occasionally to replenish the bins of oats and fertilizer. Every time he drove across the lower corner of the field, the seeder would lurch upward and then plunge back into the soil. Later, when the field was all seeded, we watched as the crows came to check out the work. They congregated in the lower corner and ate the seeds they found on the surface, leaving the rest of the field alone. I asked the neighbour why there were seeds available to the crows in that one area. He replied that a roadway ran across that corner of the field, and his plow and harrows had been unable to break up the soil. So the seeder had been unable to penetrate to any depth, and the seeds remained on the surface. To germinate – and to not be eaten by birds, the seeds needed to be in well tilled ground. The Word of God is like that in our lives.

God’s Assembly is described in Scripture as a cultivated or tilled field, or as God’s husbandry (1 Corinthians 3:9). The tilled field is a good picture of the Assembly as a place where God’s people labour and produce fruit for His glory. The field has opportunities for those who would work the soil, break up the clods, level the ground, apply the fertilizer, plant the seeds, water the crop, keep the birds and other destructive creatures out, monitor for maturity, and reap the harvest. These tasks all have their parallel in the work that goes on in an Assembly. For a fruitful and prosperous Assembly, all must participate and share the responsibilities, although some will be better at some tasks than others. The time will come when the workers will rejoice and appreciate the value of the Good Seed of the Word of God.

To produce the best grain crop, the ground must be properly cultivated. To produce the best spiritual crop, the crop must be planted in the truths of Scripture, and by those who understand and apply God’s principles. It is little wonder that organizations and denominations that drift away from the truth produce little that is of any true value to God. Such places may have well-paid organizers and performers, but they lack the submission to God’s principles and patterns. They may produce plenty of activity and excitement, but they produce few true converts to Christ and very little growth in the lives of those who are saved. Like a roadway through a field, they allow the Word of God to be snatched away by the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Are we labouring for the Lord in His cultivated field, or on the roadway of disobedience and futility? -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, June 10th, 2019

And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprung up and choked them. Matthew 13:7

Behind my garage is an unfinished area in which grows weeds and very little real grass. I try to keep the weeds knocked down so it doesn’t look too scruffy. But off to one side of that patch grows a huge thistle. It is a handsome big plant with broad leaves and a deep green colour, and I have allowed it to grow as I trim the other weeds around it. But much as I like that thistle’s looks, I avoid touching it, because it has long, sharp spines. Nobody hugs a thistle plant, and few people even like them, because of their prickly nature. They are part of the curse that was placed on the ground because of our Great-Grandpa Adam’s sin. They continue to exist and torment gardeners because of our sin. They represent the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches that choke out the Word of God. That applies to saint and sinner alike.

There is a reason why thistles grow in a garden; the gardener fails to root them out. The gardener allows the thistles to coexist with the vegetables. There is a reason why the cares and deceitfulness of riches plague the life of a Christian; the Christian allows those things to remain as part of his life, to coexist along with the things of the Lord. Too many of the activities of life interfere with time that should be spent in prayer and meditation on the Word of God. Too many of the world’s opportunities interfere with the pursuit of Gospel work and contributions to the work of the Lord. Too many of the friends of the world take the place of fellowshipping with the Lord’s people. All those thorns and thistles mean that such a Christian’s life accomplishes very little in terms of spiritual progress.

It’s not easy to pull out and eliminate all the thistles that grow in a garden. Those roots run deep, and it takes some digging and hard work. But it can be done with some persistence and with a desire to see the garden free of the prickly weeds. In the same way, it is possible for Christians to get rid of the cares and temptations that threaten our ability to be happy and fruitful Christians. We need to be aware of those things that interfere with our enjoyment of the things of God, and we need to deliberately and systematically eliminate those things from our lives. When we do this, we allow the Word of God to feed and encourage us, we allow the people of God to cheer and support us, and we allow the Spirit of God to guide and control us.

Thorns and thistles are part of the curse of sin. By eliminating them from our lives, we return to the joy of the garden of God’s presence. -Jim MacIntosh