Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Meditation for Monday

Monday, February 24th, 2020

Let your moderation be known unto all men; the Lord is at hand. Philippians 4:5

I’m sure you’ve heard the old expression ‘all things in moderation’. It’s a good saying, but we have to be careful. That old saying and today’s text are often misapplied to say that all things are acceptable, as long as we exercise moderation. This verse is not teaching that at all. Some things are not appropriate for a Christian, even in moderation. Some things are sinful, and wrong, and need to be entirely avoided, such as the use of alcohol or illicit drugs, sex outside of the marriage bond, profanity and vulgar speech, to name a few. Such things do not require moderation for the Christian, they require total abstinence. So what is the term ‘moderation’ in our text referring to?

Actually, the translators could have used a better word. The term used by Paul carries the thoughts of reasonableness and of gentleness. Now those are both excellent things for a Christian to practice!

Are you a reasonable person? It’s not always easy to tell about ourselves, although we notice unreasonableness in others quickly enough. Jesus was always reasonable. He didn’t place unrealistic expectations on anyone. He didn’t push Himself on others when they didn’t want. He was considerate and mindful of others in all His dealings. We should be likewise. Note the text says our moderation – or reasonableness – should be known to everybody, not just to our best friends, closest neighbours, and favourite relatives. All those who know us should know that we are reasonable.

Everybody should also know us as gentle. I once read that the definition of a gentleman is a man who never intentionally hurts anybody in any way. Of course, we are not violent or destructive, not ever. But are we gentle in other ways as well? Do we watch to make sure our comments about people don’t insult or belittle, or cause resentment? Do we make sure our actions are fair and considerate of all those we encounter? Nobody was more gentle than the Lord Jesus. Let Him be our example.

Oh, how wonderful our world, our homes, our Assemblies would be if we were all more reasonable and gentle! Let’s make the effort, one person at a time. -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice. Philippians 4:4

In 1915, two Welsh brothers, George and Felix Powell, submitted an entry in a competition for the best morale-boosting song for the war effort. Their entry – Pack up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag – not only won first prize, but was later described as the most optimistic song ever written. It became the most famous marching song of the First World War. George wrote the words and Felix composed the music. Surely we would think these were two good-natured joyful lads. But something was tragically wrong, at least with Felix. In 1942, he shot himself to death with his own rifle. The joy that he poured into his famous song was only temporary. The world’s joy is always temporary, unlike the ability that the Lord gives Christians to rejoice always.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you and I are bursting with smiles and chuckles all the time. Not every day is a ride on a fluffy cloud. Tragedies and accidents happen. Disease hurts. Heartaches are all too frequent. It’s often a struggle to keep the corners of the mouth turned upward. And we all know some folks who say they are Christians but their faces are long and their moods gloomy. And yet, Paul is not expressing an ideal here when he tells us to rejoice always; he is expressing a real possibility. And he gives us the key to being able to rejoice always.

The words ‘in the Lord’ make all the difference. On a good day, you and I can rejoice in the knowledge of sins forgiven, the prospects of Glory, the hope of eternal life, the support and comfort of the Holy Spirit, and so much more. On the bad days, we find solace in the knowledge that the best is yet to come and that blessings will not be hindered or denied in the long run. Grief at the departure of loved ones is always tempered with the the sweetness of knowing separation is only for a little while. The knowledge that we are in the Lord allows us to rejoice despite tears, heartache, and pain.

Is it easy to rejoice today? Give thanks for that! Is it hard to rejoice today? Give thanks that it is only temporary! -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Can you name the twelve men who were sent by the Moses to spy the the promised land of Canaan? No, like you, I can remember the names of only two of them, Joshua and Caleb. Why don’t we remember the names of the other ten? Because they brought back a bad report. They were negative thinkers, dismayed by the obstacles and discouraged by the prospects as they could see them. They doubted God’s ability to help them achieve the very purpose that God had delivered them from Egypt for. Forget the bad report, consider the good report, and rejoice that God is able.

Of all the good reports that we can consider, the good report of Caleb and Joshua must be high on the list. If you and I are going to amount to anything for God, if we are to have a good testimony, if we are to be a help to God’s Assembly, if we are to be effective in our support of the Gospel, if we are to find God’s purpose for our lives, we must become aware that God will be our strength and shield. It was faith in Christ that saved our souls, and it will be faith in Christ that will enable us to live for Him. Even the great thinkers of the world acknowledge the role of faith in our accomplishments. The German philosopher Wolfgang Goethe declared that epochs of faith are epochs of fruitfulness, while epochs without faith are devoid of all permanent good. The good report of the Word of God is that God will enable us to do His will. If we grasp this by faith, we will accomplish for Him.

Think about this! Our text today tells us to think about this good report. Actually, there are many good reports in the Bible for us to think about. We can think about the Old Testament heroes of the faith and how their examples can guide and encourage us. We can think about the Gospels and their portrayal of the Lord Jesus, with all the blessings that flow from those accounts. We can think about the apostles and their pioneer adventures in the book of Acts, with lessons that continue for us today. We can think about the doctrines and directions that the epistles provide to us, and also about the hope and purpose we can obtain from the Revelation. The Bible is a Good Report for us to think upon.

What will occupy our minds for the unending ages of eternity? Maybe we should be getting some practice now by thinking on the things that God has set before us. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

We arrived at our friends’ home to a warm greeting. The atmosphere in the home was pleasant, with soft music playing and a cheery fire crackling in the grate. A beautiful table was set, and we sat down to a bountiful and delicious feast, made all the more pleasant by the engaging conversation with friends we deeply appreciated. When we finished our meal and a few hours of visit and prepared to go home, we told our friends that we had enjoyed a lovely evening. Lovely, the same word used in today’s text, what does the word ‘lovely’ mean? And were we using it correctly to describe that visit with our friends?

Only once does this particular word appear in our Bible. Its meaning combines the ideas of acceptable and pleasing. One source I checked even rendered this term ‘lovable’. What a splendid filter for our thoughts! If we kept our minds trained to follow along these lines, we would surely be better testimonies for our Lord, who demonstrated loveliness in His words and deeds.

The unsaved folks all around us do not think about acceptable things, at least not much. We can tell, because their speech contains that which is unacceptable. We hear blasphemies, smutty and potty talk, lies, slander, gossip, and much more pouring forth in unacceptable verbal stream. As Christians, we ought never to let these things escape our lips. And if these things are not in our minds, we won’t be talking about them. Pleasant speech is also not practiced much by the world. Hateful, hurtful, and degrading words come from hearts that are occupied by prejudice, malice, cruelty, and lust. Such motives are surely not for the Child of God! Our thoughts ought to banish these altogether. And we do so by filling our thoughts with lovely things.

There is no shortage of loveliness for our minds to take up. We begin with the Person of the Lord Jesus, Who is altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:16). That topic will take an eternity to explore. The majestic splendours of the Scriptures are also lovely to consider, another eternity of perusal for our hearts. Some other lovely things to take up our thoughts by times are the wonderful Christians you know and love, the beauties of nature all around us, the delightful presence of little children, and so much more.

With so much lovely all around us, let us forget about those things that are not. And we will be more like Jesus. -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

One of the men who helped to shepherd me when I was a young Christian offered me some good advice for the place where I worked. Some of the other people who worked there had calendars and other pictures on the walls, featuring immoral things. The other brother advised me to stay away from the areas where those pictures were displayed, and to have some good pictures (they wouldn’t have tolerated Gospel texts) displayed in the area where I worked. It’s difficult, he explained to me, to keep our minds pure when we expose ourselves to the fleshly lusts that the world enjoys. His advice, to replace the immoral pictures with good pictures, is in line with today’s admonition to think on whatsoever things are pure.

When it comes to purity, the Lord Jesus is not only our ideal example, He is also the ideal target for our thoughts. As an example, Jesus shows us throughout His life and ministry the character of God. His life was marked by holiness and purity in all that He did and said. But He did something that you and I should practice, to enable us to maintain purity in our lives, our words, and our very thoughts: Jesus spent much time in prayer. He was in constant communication with His Heavenly Father. This included times when He would spend the night on the mountainside in prayer. It should be noted that prayer and purity are closely related; praying saints will be pure saints. If our minds are taken up with our communion with God, we won’t have room in our thoughts for impurity.

As the target for our thoughts, Jesus will lead us in a pure pathway. As we read of Him, as we contemplate Him, as we study His person and His work, our minds cannot be distracted by those things around us. We know that the world is becoming more immoral, that gross sins are not only practiced openly and are accepted, but they are also flaunted, promoted, and praised. It can be difficult for us living in such an environment to maintain purity of thought. But it is possible.

The translation of an old German hymn tells us that ‘Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, He makes our sorrowing spirits sing’. He should lead our thoughts today into all things pure. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

How much is your handshake worth? If you were called upon to take part in a joint venture with others, involving a great deal of money and a large amount of work, is your handshake with the others in the venture at the outset as good as the others expect your participation and effort to be at the conclusion? There are great businesses today that operate on the handshake principle, and they are not disappointed. Their partners know that the handshake is worth full value. Their dealings are honest because their hearts are honest. Not many are like that, though. So we need to look to the Lord Jesus for our example and instruction in honesty.

The other day I was impressed with an offer that came in the mail. It proposed to provide me, for considerably less than I am now spending, with Internet service that is better than I now receive. However, throughout the interesting information in the ad were little numbers. I checked the bottom of the page and found those little numbers were exceptions to the offer being made. The descriptions of those exceptions were in print so small that I could barely read them. I was glad I made the effort because the fine print made the wonderful offer into almost a joke. Always read the fine print, says the wise man. And always remember that Jesus never used fine print. Read His words in the Gospels. You won’t find any double-talk, no hidden meanings, no loopholes or preferential treatment. God’s dealings with mankind have always been just and equitable, and honest. And the Lord Jesus showed us that when He was here.

In his excellent books on human relations, Dale Carnegie teaches that the best way to succeed with people is to treat them the same way that you want them to treat you. Now, where did he get that idea? The golden rule has always been the masterpiece in human relations, and it teaches us to always be honest and just.

If we train our minds to always be honest with people, and treat them fairly every time, we will be a little bit more like our Saviour in his dealings with us. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Watch out for the man who declares that he always tells the truth; he’s sure to lie about other things too! We all lie! Every day! And not just with our lips; we have many ways in which we create and pass on false impressions and wrong messages. It’s our human nature, or to be more accurate, the old nature we inherited from the first Adam. But now that we are saved, we have the ability to tell the truth, and to understand the truth. That’s because the Last Adam has given to us His nature, and His nature is true.

Our text tells us to think on whatsoever is true. First of all, that means we think about the Lord Jesus, the One Who declared that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No higher occupation can our minds employ than contemplation of our Saviour. Beyond the precious truth that Christ died for the ungodly lies an eternity of forever unfolding the wonders of the riches of His grace. He alone will be the everlasting occupation of our thoughts.

Truth is also bound within the Bible, as in no other book. All of the writings of men fall so far short of the one Book that contains nothing but truth. It will never guide us wrong, can never fail to help and strengthen us, and must ever reveal to us the character of its Author. To ponder the Bible is to ponder truth.

One of the primary goals of education is to teach us how to think. But if the education is based on that which is false, it must lead us astray. No wonder there is so much wrong thinking in the world today. So much of education is based on the falsehoods of evolution, humanism, and secular reasoning. Parents who subscribe to Christian education or home schooling that focuses on the truth of creation and man’s responsibility before God do their children a great service in preparing them to think on the truth.

Satan is the father of all lies. God is the Author of truth. If we think on those things that are true, we defeat the lies of the devil and bring our minds into line with the thoughts of our Heavenly Father. -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Brain experts tell us that there is never a moment of our life – awake or sleeping – when we are not thinking about something. Even when we are not actively pondering something, our minds are still active, processing input from our senses, sorting through memories, or mentally chewing on a problem we need to resolve. When we sleep, our thoughts continue, with dreams and the sorting and filing of information received during the previous day. Thinking is a very complicated and involved process, and is not well understood by most of us. In fact, most people assume thinking is pretty much automatic, and there is little we can do about it. But our text tells us that as Christians we should be focusing our thoughts on the good things.

The late David Pethrick had a wise saying: It’s not what a man thinks he is, he is, it’s what a man thinks, he is. In fewer words, we are what we think. The things that occupy our thoughts determine the person we are. A person who dwells on gloomy and sorrowful thoughts will be morose and glum all the time. A person who keeps their mind on happy things and pleasant thoughts will be good natured and enjoyable to have around. That’s why Paul tells the Philippians to keep their thoughts on the delightful list in our text.

We don’t need to look far to find harmful and destructive things to think about. The morning newscast, the chat with the next-door neighbour, the visit to the health clinic, all these can direct our thoughts into places that are unproductive at best and often destructive. God wants our minds to be built up, not mashed down and distorted by the worlds worries and evils. By filling our heads and hearts with the positive and the pleasant, we shape our lives and personalities to be more like those of the Lord Jesus.

During the next few days, we will be looking at some of the things that God wants us to focus our thoughts on. Keep reading, and keep thinking on the things of the Lord! -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

I beseech Euodias and I beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. Philippians 4:2

To read some of the commentaries and to listen to some of the expositors, you would think that this verse is the central focus of the entire Epistle to the Philippians! You would think that two sisters in this Assembly are at serious odds with each other, the work and the testimony of the Assembly is deeply affected as a result, and the apostle has taken it upon himself to step into the breach in a bid to resolve this painful situation. I think somebody is reading a whole lot more into this than is actually there, don’t you? Has the apostle gone to the trouble of introducing some wonderful doctrine, providing some excellent instruction and guidance, and everything else in this precious epistle, just for the opportunity of working in a 17-word plea to two sisters to patch things up between themselves?

Don’t get me wrong, disputes between sisters can be bitterly dividing and painfully harmful to the testimony. But it’s just a single verse, a short interjection, that we have here. I really believe it’s just a gentle jab by Paul that these ladies who are in the same pew should be singing from the same hymn sheet. The amount of space devoted to this issue indicates to me it’s just a minor issue, and Paul has every expectation that the ladies will kiss and make up just fine. What this verse does tell me, though, is that the Apostle had a great deal of love and care for the folks in Philippi.

The verse previous to today’s text is full of terms of affection and endearment as Paul addresses the Assembly he planted in Philippi. Paul loved those people. On his back were the scars from the lashing he took during the early days, but his heart was full of great memories as he recalled the results of the Gospel preaching by himself and Silas, of the ministry meetings he held with the new believers, of the planting of the testimony and growth of the Assembly.

Elders in today’s Assemblies feel much as Paul did when they consider the Lord’s people they shepherd. There is much to care for, many to teach and encourage, and deep responsibilities to honour. And like Paul, today’s elders are careful to keep the relations among each of the believers sweet. A word of encouragement here and there will help sisters to be of the same mind in the Lord. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

For our conversation is in Heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20

Many years ago, when the national men’s volleyball team from China was touring Canada in preparation for a major sporting event, they were scheduled to play against a university team in Fredericton. When I arrived as a reporter to cover the event for the newspaper, I was astonished at the crowd in the auditorium. No, not at the number of people who were there, but at the number of Chinese people who were there. More than half of the audience for that game were Chinese. The Chinese population of Fredericton was, and probably still is, fairly small. So I assume Chinese people from throughout the province showed up. Many of these people were one or two generations removed from their parents’ arrival in Canada from China, but they still felt a strong attachment to anything that had to do with China. They were like Christians, living in a foreign land, but with a built-in longing for a homeland far away.

The translator’s use of the word ‘conversation’ is misleading; the meaning is actually ‘citizenship’. When we trusted Christ as our Saviour, our citizenship was transferred from that of earth to that of Heaven. Our earthly citizenship conferred on us only frustration, loss, and death. Our Heavenly citizenship confers on us purpose, blessing, and eternal life. Like those Chinese folks in Fredericton drawn to that which represented their homeland, we are drawn to that which reminds us and tells us of our Heavenly homeland. We speculate on the timing and the nature of the Rapture, we talk about the release from earth’s sorrows, pains, and struggles, we contemplate the splendour of the pearly gates, the Tree of Life, and the Throne of God, and develop a longing to be there.

Paul speaks of looking for our Saviour. This is our precious occupation today. This gives us hope and encouragement when the earthly atmosphere darkens and stinks. This gives us joy when the delights of earth prove to be fleeting foam. This gives us purpose as we persuade others to enter into this great citizenship.

Keep in mind that our Heavenly citizenship is a present possession, not a future anticipation. Let us live here in the good of being Heaven’s citizens, knowing our Savior is soon coming for us. -Jim MacIntosh