Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying; Jonah 3:1

I read one time of a man who had lived a very uncomplicated life, who generally took good care of his health, and who somehow managed to arrive at the stately age of 100 in fairly good shape. Taking stock of his circumstances, this man realised he had achieved what few others do but would love to do. He decided to share his story and possibly be an inspiration to others. So he bought a travel home and went from place to place, speaking with groups as diverse as school classes and seniors’ clubs. He had a fascinating, rewarding, and useful time of it for several years. In effect, he had a second chance at life, and he took it. For all who are willing to do so, God offers us a second chance if we have messed up the first.

Jonah might well have considered himself a great failure. After all, he had totally disobeyed God and had suffered greatly for it. Maybe God wouldn’t trust him anymore, and for good reason. God could surely find someone who was more willing and obedient than himself. We might well feel the same way if we have been disobedient and have had to be chastised by God. But sometimes, God is able to bring out of our disobedience something valuable for Himself. For one thing, we have a better understanding of our own weaknesses and should be more willing to rest on the Lord for strength and direction. For another, we should be more understanding of the weaknesses of others and will be more sympathetic when they encounter the same stumbles that we did.

If a runaway like Jonah got a wonderful second chance, don’t you think God will be willing to pick you up, dust you off, wind you up, and set you back on the track of His divine purpose for your life? Not only is He able to do so, He is also anxious to do so. We are assured by Jonah’s example that God will resume His dealings with us and make use of us.

Remember, if God speaks to you again, your only appropriate response is ‘Yes Lord!’ Especially if you said ‘No’ the first time. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. Jonah 2:10

Do you know how to talk to a whale? God does!

Many children’s stories include imaginary conversation among animals and between people and animals. Despite these fanciful tales, I have often wondered how animals communicate, and whether the sounds we hear them make carry any significant amount of information to other creatures. Does a sparrow’s song represent a joyous outburst on the part of the tiny singer, or do those warbles and trills carry information that other sparrows can use? I don’t know.  But I do know that the God who created them understands everything they say, and can communicate effectively with them. He was able to do so with Jonah’s submarine.

The whale had a big problem, of course. God had prepared the huge beast to be Jonah’s residence for a few days. The whale’s digestive system had been miraculously placed on hold during that time. Normally, a backslider might well have provided enough nourishment for a day or two, but this backslider would not digest. It was undoubtedly a relief to the whale to be instructed by God to offload the unwanted cargo. The whale obeyed, not because of backslider poisoning, but because God told it to.

As humanity about us plunges ever deeper into godlessness and sin, we can sometimes get the idea that things are out of control. Nothing could be further from the truth. God knows all about every evil deed, including those deeds and attitudes of those who reject Him. He permits men to build for themselves wrath that will be poured out someday. He knows the spiritual, economic, moral, and intellectual condition of the entire world.

Although Jonah may not have realized it, he was never in danger. And in a very real sense, neither are we. Sheltered by the Blood of Christ, we are eternally secure. Come what may, the only things we can lose are those things that do not matter.

If God can get a whale to obey when He tells it to upchuck a prophet, that same God can manage all of the circumstances around you and me. He is ever and always in control. Trust Him for everything. –Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, December 9th, 2019

And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1

Do the words ‘hath He quickened’ actually belong in our text? Well, yes and no. The first answer is yes, because although they are words supplied by the King James translators to make the wording flow well, the reality of our being quickened, or made alive, is fully supported by the context in which this verse is placed. Our salvation has not simply taken bad sinners and made them good, but it has taken dead sinners and has made them alive. So the translators are fully justified in inserting these words here. The second answer is no, because these words do not actually appear in the original Greek. I believe there is a good reason why the Holy Spirit did not lead the apostle Paul to insert these words. He wanted this verse to emphasize, not our salvation from our sinful condition, but our utter deadness when we were in our trespasses and sins.

We were dead in both trespasses and sins. These words are almost synonyms; both of them refer to our rebellion against God. But there is a difference in their meaning that emphasizes how each of them caused us to be dead. That there is a difference between trespasses and sins is emphasized in the book of Leviticus, in which chapter 4 describes the sin offering and chapter 5 describes the trespass offering.

We know what a ‘No Trespassing’ sign means. To violate that sign, to trespass, means to go beyond a specific boundary and encroach on property where we have no right to be. Our first parents were given a ‘No Trespassing’ sign by God in Genesis 2:17, when He informed them that partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would result in their death. So we know that trespassing means taking the wrong path, going in the wrong way: ‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way’ – Isaiah 53:6. Before we were saved, we were dead in trespasses.

Sins are the transgressing, or breaking, of God’s laws: ‘Whosoever committeth sin trangresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression against the law’ – 1 John 3:4. This refers to knowing what is wrong, and deliberately doing it anyway. This is why the Bible calls sinners children of disobedience. Before we were saved, we were dead in our disobedience, or sins.

Now we can appreciate why the translators inserted those lovely words ‘hath He quickened’ into our text. Even now, being made alive, we continue to be amazed at the death from which our salvation has brought us. – Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, December 8th, 2019

And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the church. Ephesians 1:22

Many of the splendours from the ancient reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun (King Tut) are on display in a huge museum in Cairo. Among the many artifacts on display are the walking canes used by Tut. Each one is shaped like a shepherd’s cane, except that the hook of the cane is on the bottom. Engraved along the length of each hook are images of conquered peoples from foreign lands lying prostrate on their stomachs with their arms reaching upward in adoration of the Pharaoh. Every time the Pharaoh walked with his cane in hand, these figures literally rolled on the bottom of cane, symbolically bowing before him. The symbolism is obvious: all of Egypt’s enemies are defeated and are directly under the feet of this mighty Pharaoh. We have the same symbolism in today’s text in the putting of all things under the feet of Christ.

The word translated ‘under’ is the Greek word hupotasso. This word was originally a military term meaning to subjugate or to dominate. It described forcibly subduing a conquered people and putting them in their place, and it is the exact idea that the images on King Tut’s canes were designed to convey. King Tut is dead and gone for thousands of years. But the Lord Jesus Christ has conquered death by His own death and resurrection. Death is now hupotasso (under) His feet, along with all of His enemies. ‘Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him, and hath given Him a Name which is above every name; that at the Name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father’ – Philippians 2:9-11. We who have confessed Him as Lord also acknowledge Him as our Head. But unlike all of the forces of evil and all of the myriads of unsaved, we are not under His feet; we are at His feet.

We are not enemies of the Lord Jesus. Unlike His enemies, we do not grovel in dread under His feet. We have been raised up to a relationship that enables us to praise His great deliverance and worship His holy Person. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

Saturday, December 7th, 2019

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

I was fascinated at the players’ reactions during the hockey Olympic medal ceremony in Salt lake City. Such ceremonies for hockey are a bit different from those for other sports, because, unlike individual events, entire teams can’t be placed on the podium. Instead, the players line up and have the officials go down the line with flowers and medals. The jubilant Canadian players waved and cheered, holding their gold medals high as they laughed and shouted. The silver medalists, the Americans, looked like they were attending a funeral. Some wiped tears away and all sported long faces as they felt the sting of their final loss (you don’t win silver, you lose gold) to the Canadians. But there was another team that filed in for that ceremony, the team from Sweden. They appeared to be as joyous as the Canadians. And well might they be happy! They arrived at the games with no expectations for a medal, and they took home the bronze! They knew they could never match the level of the North American teams, but they tried their best. They put their best efforts into it, and they were Olympic medalists. Christians should be like that.

Like the Swedish hockey team, you and I can never be the very best in our service for our Lord. We can’t preach like Peter, evangelize like Paul, pray like Elijah, or perform to the gold medal standard. But we should be willing to accept that, and like the Swedish team, simply do our best. If our abilities are mediocre, our efforts don’t have to be. How happy those women were that they had done their best. Those medals made all their efforts worthwhile. The lack of hope for gold or silver didn’t keep them from pursuing bronze. Think about it, if the Lord Jesus were to place a bronze medal about your neck for faithful service, would you be happy?

Our text tells us that the apostle was willing to press toward (strive for) the prize. The Lord Jesus has plenty of prizes to hand out; wouldn’t you like to have one too? Trust me, the award for effort is much higher than an E! There is a joyous awards ceremony coming. – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, December 6th, 2019

Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places. Ephesians 1:20

In no other book in the Bible is the phrase ‘in heavenly places’ used. Yet, here in Ephesians, it is used five times. Translated from the Greek word epouranios, this term means the sphere of spiritual activities. Unique to this very special book, this term has rich lessons for us. Shall we briefly examine them?

The first use of this term is Ephesians 1:3: ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ’. Here we have the introduction to our spiritual blessings, and the sphere in which we obtain them. While we appreciate the temporal blessings that God grants to us, we are lifted above the temporal to appreciate the spiritual blessings, that which is available to us only through Christ. That is why these blessings are available only to Christians.

Today’s text is the second use of this great expression, and it brings us to the Father’s highest exaltation of the Son. Having finished the work of redemption, the Lord Jesus, ‘when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high’ – Hebrews 1:3.

The third use of this term is Ephesians 2:6: ‘And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’. Where in Ephesians 1:20 we find the exaltation of Christ, here in Ephesians 2:6 we see the exaltation of the saints. Because we are in Christ Jesus, we have been raised to a position so high that we cannot grasp it until we reach Heaven. And yet, this position gives us the privilege of enjoying heavenly places as we worship and serve our Lord according to His Word.

The fourth use of this term occurs in Ephesians 3:10: ‘To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God’. This verse brings us into the revelation of the heavenly realm and the extent to which we are able to grasp the mind of God. The manifold wisdom of God can be known by the Lord’s people, and only by the Lord’s people.

Finally, in Ephesians 6:12, we read, ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’. The words ‘high places’ are the same as ‘heavenly places’. This reminds us that the sphere into which our salvation brings us is not only inhabited by God and His angels but is also accessed by the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). The devil remains our bitter enemy and will do be as long as we are in this world. As a roaring lion, he seeks to devour us (1 Peter 5:8), destroying our testimony and depriving us of the joy of our salvation.

May God grant to us the spiritual eyesight to appreciate the heavenly places into which He has brought us. -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power. Ephesians 1:19

The US Navy has what is believed to be the world’s most powerful gun, and it doesn’t use explosives! The electromagnetic railgun is able to accelerate a projectile to 8,000 kph in one-tenth of a second using a simple but enormous electomagnetic charge. The projectile can travel up to 160 kilometers, and in tests has been known to penetrate all the way through three reinforced concrete walls or three steel plates. Despite its power, this gun requires only one man to load and fire it. For those of us who like guns, this weapon is a fascinating marvel because of its incredible power. But like all of the powerful things of this world, this gun is pathetically puny when compared to the exceeding greatness of God’s power that He speaks of in our text today.

Can you hear the thrilling majesty in these words: ‘the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe’? It almost seems there should be a drum roll as they are spoken. Certainly the English language – the greatest language in the world by far – does not contain the words that describe this power. The first use of the word ‘power’ is translated from the Greek word that gives us ‘dynamite’. But it refers to a power far greater than all of the dynamite ever produced, even greater than all of the nuclear weapons ever designed and siloed. Consider what it has done for us. It has blasted us out of the quarry of sin, transformed us from helpless and pathetic losers into worshippers and servants of the most high God, established us as the inheriters of the kingdom, and prepared for us a mansion in Glory. And that is just the highlights of its accomplishment in us.

There is a reason why God can display and provide this exceeding greatness of His power, and it is to be found in the next verse: ‘Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places’ – Ephesians 1:20. That’s right, this great power is none other than the resurrection power. God raised Jesus from the dead, never to die again. The power that brought our Lord forth from the tomb has forever broken the power of death for all who are in Christ Jesus. The enemy, death, is defeated. For Paul, the death of Christ was the death of death. Yes, we as believers may die. But the sting of that death is forever removed. What was once a poisonous event has become a pathway to paradise. And even while we are still here, that victory over death is an enabling power that allows us to triumph over temptation, overcome any obstacles, love the unloveable, evolve into the image of Christ, and rejoice evermore.

The working of God’s mighty power is so amazing, it would take me the rest of your life to begin to describe it. – Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Ephesians 1:17

Something was blocking the light from coming in the window. Because it was outside, I could not tell what it was, only that by blocking the light, it had caused the room to be darkened. So I went over to the window and opened the curtain. There stood my grandson, grinning mischievously at me. I had no idea it was him there, until pulling that curtain open revealed what was in the window. We have the same thought in our text today, in the meaning behind the word ‘revelation’.

The Greek word that is translated ‘revelation’ in our text is ‘apokalupsis’. It means something that has been veiled or hidden for a long time and then suddenly, almost instantaneously, becomes clear and visible to the mind or eye. Just like pulling the curtain open and seeing what is there. That’s what happened in a spectacular way when at the moment when we were saved. The great truths of God’s salvation were revealed to us in a truly remarkable way. We found the Bible to be a totally different book, overflowing with precious things that were hidden from us before. We had an appreciation of the things of God that we could not have imagined in our unconverted days. But God has even more revelations to unfold for us. Today’s text is Paul’s prayer that we would receive wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God.

It’s not every day that we receive new revelations from God. But it is only by reading the Scriptures every day that we receive such revelations. In His Word, God grants us our prayers in unfolding precious things that our souls need concerning His direction and supply. These revelations are great moments in our spiritual life, events that startle us into worship and action. Sometimes these revelations open up to us the direction God wants us to take. Sometimes these revelations clear up confusion we have concerning truths in the Word. And sometimes, these revelations open our understanding concerning God Himself, as our text says ‘the knowledge of Him’. And God truly wants us to know, and He promises us that He will reveal: ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him’ – James 1:5.

If you have never experienced the revelation of God to you, it is only because you have never asked Him to. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers. Ephesians 1:15,16

It doesn’t seem to make sense at first: Paul is writing his letter to the Ephesians somewhere around the year 60 AD, and he is writing in our text today about his hearing of their faith in the Lord Jesus. But some nine years earlier, Paul had spent a good space of time in the city of Ephesus, where he had seen a good number of souls saved and had seen a vibrant assembly planted for Christ. And he is just hearing about their faith now? No, he obviously is not referring in our text to the act of faith they exercised on the day of their conversion, but to something much larger and more evident than that. And he couples it with another valuable trait, the love they had for all the saints. These are two of the primary hallmarks of godly Christians individually and of godly Assemblies of Christians collectively.

It was faith in our Lord Jesus that brought us into the blessings of our salvation. And it is the continuing faith in the Lord Jesus that causes us to continue reading, believing, and obeying His Word. That same faith brings our minds and our lives into conformity with those of our Lord Jesus. We are the better for this faith, and so are those around us, as we display the attributes of a child of God. And when we are part of an Assembly in which the members unitedly hold and display our faith in our Lord Jesus, we produce worship that glorifies God and thrills our souls, and service that brings sinners to Christ and edifies the saints. That is real faith.

Do you love the saints? Of course you do, they are the most lovable people you know. Well, most of them anyway. We get to know and appreciate the Christians around us, and we delight in spending time with them and in helping them when there is a need. But our text speaks of love to all the saints. That includes Christians in other places as well, perhaps even in other countries who we don’t personally know. It also includes folks who are not in our own Assembly fellowship, some of whom hold different doctrinal views than our own. The Christianas in Ephesus didn’t make any distinction, they were known for loving all the saints. Like me, you have probably encountered a Christian somewhere who you knew nothing more about than that they were a fellow believer in Christ. And you felt an instant bond and affection that proved a delight to you and that other Christian during the brief time you spent with them. This is not normal for the world, but it is the norm for Christians.

Is it any wonder that the apostle mentions in our text that he continually gave thanks for the faith and love of the Christians in Ephesus? Would he be able to give thanks for your faith and love too? – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13,14

As a boy, I watched many times as my mother would make jam and jelly from the many berries and apples that we had available to us on the farm. As the jam was boiling in a large kettle on the stove, she would sterilize the bottles into which the jam was to be poured. And she had another pot on the stove, a smaller pot containing parrafin wax that would be heated until it was a clear liquid. After she poured the jam into the jars, and skimmed off the bubbles and foam that would rise to the top of the jars, my mother would take the pot of melted wax and pour some of it on top of the jam in each jar. After an hour or two, as the jam cooled, the wax would solidify and become translucent, forming a seal that would prevent any bacteria or other contaminants from spoiling the jam. Very seldom did that seal fail to do its job; every jar we opened during the winter months was as fresh as the day it was made. God has also placed a seal on us as Christians to preserve us. But it is not a seal of wax, it is a seal of the Holy Spirit Himself. This seal is another of the wonderful spiritual blessings that are referred to in verse 3 of Ephesians 1.

The seal that our text refers to is actually a mark of identification or ownership. What better mark of God’s ownership of us than the Person of the Holy Spirit living in us. 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that each of our bodies is actually a temple of the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit is our guarantee of authenticity as a child of God: ‘The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God’ – Romans 8:16. The Holy Spirit’s residence within us makes a huge difference in our lives. He empowers us, equips us for ministry, and for our functioning through the gifts He has given us. The Holy Spirit is our Helper and Advocate. He protects and encourages us. He also guarantees our inheritance in Jesus Christ.

In Bible times, a seal was also a designation of authority. If you had the king’s seal, you could act with the full authority of the king, and your actions would be just as valid as if the king himself had done them. So anything that we are led of the Spirit to do, we have Heaven’s highest authority to do. When God gives us His Holy Spirit, it is as if He stamps us with a seal that reads, ‘This person belongs to Me and is an authentic citizen of My divine kingdom and member of My divine family’. Our text’s reference to the earnest of our inheritance means that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a down payment by God on the great inheritance that he has in store for us for all eternity. So while we are still here in time, we can appreciate and access the authority of our Lord that will be our lot for eternity.

To be sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise is a spiritual blessing indeed. Do we appreciate it as we should? -Jim MacIntosh