Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

I therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. Ephesians 4:1

According to Sir Charles Lyell, you should never call an accountant a credit to his profession; a good accountant is a debit to his profession. We know what he means. And we know well the expression ‘a credit to his profession’. If you do a Google search, you will get half a million responses. In every area of expertise, there are those who excel and those who perform stalwart service, just as there are always those who are a disgrace. In the sports world, not everybody is selected to the Hall of Fame. But of those who are not, there are many who discharge their responsibilities admirably, and they are appreciated for doing so. They are like those of whom Paul speaks in our text today, who walk worthy of their vocation.

As Christians, what is our vocation? The term ‘vocation’ as used in this text refers to a calling or invitation by God to a life of worship and service for Him. Just as God did not force us against our will to be saved, he does not force us against our will to serve and worship him. He desires that we do so of our own will. In doing so, we bring glory to him that is impossible from angels, for example, which are obedient and reverent because they cannot be anything else. So God calls us, or invites us, to the highest purpose that humanity can reach, that of serving and worshipping our God. Such a lofty vocation is surely a great honour. And our text tells us that it is possible for us to walk worthy of that vocation. How can we do that?

Paul gives us some ideas in the next verse. He starts off with lowliness and meekness, because, despite the loftiness of our vocation, there is no room for pride in it. Pride is the greatest stumblingblock to a walk worthy of our vocation. Paul also speaks of longsuffering and forbearing one another in love. A Christian must be able to get along well with other Christians, and to value and appreciate those other Christians, even when those other Christians are not easy to get along with. This is far more important that we realize, and we often forfeit a worthy walk by a wrong attitude to other believers. There are many other aspects of a worthy walk, but humility and love surely head the list. If we can get that far, we will have a good start on the greatest vocation to which we can possibly be called.

Even as a prisoner, Paul had a deep interest in seeing the Christians in Ephesus walking worthy of their vocation. The Holy Spirit Who inspired him to write those words is also deeply interested in whether we walk worthy in our day. – Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Unto me, who am the less of the least of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Ephesians 3:8

An unusual and interesting news account tells of some businessmen who want to charter a space ship of some kind to travel to some of the asteroids that are not far from earth. These asteroids, they believe, contain gold and other minerals, enough to make the very expensive trip well worthwhile. Although little is known about these asteroids, there are hundreds, and possibly thousands of them in space within practical travelling distance from earth. They range in size from a few centimeters across to a few hundred kilometers. They are made up of minerals of various kinds, and those who seek to explore them believe those minerals include gold. This means that the finite amount of gold on earth – much of which has already been discovered – can be supplemented by an unknown amount of gold from asteroids, and even from other planets. If history were to march on long enough, all of this gold, even the asteroid gold, could eventually all be discovered and mined. It’s not like the unsearchable riches of Christ, which can never be calculated or exhausted.

How many times have you heard someone preach a sermon on John 3:16? I can say for certain that every one of those times, the sermon has been different, with something new that you had never heard before. The same goes for all of the great texts of Scripture. As we explore and delve into the wealth of the Word of God, we find that its magnitude appears to expand until our minds must accept the reality that the Word is infinite. No Bible scholar has ever exhausted all that is contained in one book of the Bible, let alone the entire Bible. This great treasure of God’s riches for our souls is indeed unsearchable in its extent.

Just as the Word is unsearchable, so too are the manifold blessings we have in Christ. We could never track the boundaries of our Lord’s daily kindnesses and mercies and provisions. Nor could we ever discover the extent of His blessings in providing us with the Person of the Holy Spirit as our Comforter and Guide, the companionship of fellow believers with whom we fellowship, and exceeding rich and precious promises that give us our steadfast hope in Christ. And these are just a few of the unsearchable riches that we receive this side of the Glory. What will be the extent of the riches that we encounter when we reach Home?

Our text reminds us that Paul never deserved the riches that God brought him into. If Paul was less than the least of all saints, how much less deserving are you and I? And yet, the grace of God has brought us into this wealth! – Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given me to you-ward. Ephesians 3:2

When I was a young Christian, several of us were given an assignment to study the dispensations as outlined in Scripture. We learned, not just the names of the dispensations, but what was involved with each dispensation, and the period of history that each dispensation covered. If I was given a test on the subject now, I would probably fail. I know somebody else who would fail, too; just about everybody else in our Assembly. And it doesn’t seem that long since we had a week of ministry on the dispensations! There seems to be a growing tendency these days for Christians to know less and less about the fundamentals of our Bibles.

Some of the older preachers, like the late Albert Ramsay, used to go over and over the fundamentals, rehearsing basic Bible doctrines, the foundational truths of the faith, and the basics of New Testament Assembly principles. They knew the importance of giving the saints a good foundation of Scripture knowledge. And they worked hard to impress the importance of that foundation on the hearts of young believers. I also remember in the early days, we used to play Bible games, which reinforced on our minds the facts and personalities of Scripture. What the Bible said was important, and we challenged each other on what we discovered within its covers. This should be encouraged among us these days.

Why is it important to know about the dispensations? We need to be prepared for the challenges from those who would deny these truths. Even among so-called evangelical Christians, there are more rapture denyers than we realize. Some who follow the Reformed doctrine, for example, deny much of dispensationalism, including the truth about the Rapture. Christians who enjoy the music of the Gaithers, and even attend their concerts, are often not aware that these musicians do not hold to much of the truth that is precious to us. Unless we have a firm foundation of truth – firm enough that we can explain a doctrine when a stranger asks – we can get carried away by those who hold unscriptural positions.

Paul speaks in our text of the dispensation of grace. this is an amazing period of earth’s history because it allows those of us who would have been alienated in the other dispensations to be brought into the heavenly relationship with our Lord. Again, it is important for Christians to appreciate this dispensation, and to know how it differs from the others.

Can you name the dispensations? Can you explain why the dispensation of grace is important to Gentiles like us? – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. Ephesians 2:21

Some stages of building a house are more exciting than others, because they involve such a dramatic change in the appearance of the project. We experienced this when we had our new home built in Hampton. We marvelled when the basement walls were poured, when the exterior walls were raised, when the roof trusses were installed, and when the doors and windows were put into place. These stages prompted the use of the camera, as we grew more excited at the progress being made. Other states of construction appeared to be much slower, even though the workers seemed to be just as busy. Most of those periods of less apparent progress occurred as the project was coming to a close. But those stages when less seemed to be accomplished were just as important as the exciting impressive times of obvious progress. Our text speaks of such a construction project, the building of the great temple for the Lord Jesus, composed of all those who have trusted in Him.

There have been periods of history when great progress has occurred, great reformations and revivals and awakenings. Those seasons appear to be behind us now, as we often see only the twos and threes being saved during most Gospel series, with sweeping apathy throughout society making it difficult to get folks stirred up to any interest in the Gospel. Does this mean little is being done? Not necessarily. God is still working, still reaching souls, still striving with sinners even in a day of small things. Maybe we are getting closer to the finish of this great construction project. Maybe the Rapture is very near. Although we can’t know the exact stage of the project, we can know that God is fitly framing the building together to the glory of His Son.

Just as we saw the carpenters exercise great care in building our new home, so we can observe God’s great precision in the construction of His temple. The builders’ reputation was at stake as they constructed our home. Any flaws or mistakes would have reflected badly on them. The foreman on the project made sure that everything was done correctly. We see God take the same care in the building of His temple. Like the foreman on a construction project, He takes responsibility, reminding us that Salvation is of the Lord. All the preaching, witnessing, inviting, and other work that we might be involved in comes under His direction, and we simply appreciate being given the opportunity to get involved.

We are a part of the great temple that our Lord is fitly framing together. We also have the honour of helping Him with the work. – Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God. Ephesians 2:19

Some years ago a young man with whom I worked was on his way to a citizenship hearing. He was originally a stranger and foreigner from Central America and had been living in Canada for several years. He had found in Canada a land of greater freedom and opportunities than the poor and troubled circumstances of the land of his birth. He had spent some time studying our country’s history and government system, and was confident he could answer all the questions he would be asked. I wished him well. When he returned from the hearing with a big smile on his face, I shook his hand and greeted him as ‘my fellow Canadian’. He was truly proud of his new citizenship and very pleased to be welcomed in such a way. We too have been given a citizenship into a new and better country. We are no longer strangers and foreigners.

We are also fellow-citizens with all of the other Christians, including those who are now in the Glory. We share all of the blessings, the honours, and the responsibilities of being part of the same heavenly land. We are one with all of the blood-washed saints.

But Paul also reminds us of an even more intimate relationship, that of the family. As part of the household, we share those elements of life that apply to brothers and sisters, those who are near and dear, those with whom we eat and work, play and share on a personal level. The fractured world of Christendom offers little in the way of illustration of this relationship. But God’s Assembly provides us with this place of which Paul speaks, this household of God. In God’s Assembly, we can interact and share, we can exercise our gifts and participate, we can communicate, we can take part in those things that relate to the household of which we have been made a part.

In all of the blessings into which God has brought you, treasure that of being in His household most highly. In His Assembly, we fellowship with Himself and each other. – Jim MacIntosh

Sermon for Saturday

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

For through Him we both have access through one Spirit unto the Father. Ephesians 2:18

I keep receiving reminders in my inbox about a great deal for baseball fans. For a very reasonable price, a subscriber can watch any and all major league baseball games over the Internet. There are two catches. The first catch is that all games within the subscriber’s immediate zone are blacked out. The second catch is that all of Canada is considered the immediate zone for the Toronto Blue Jays. So, most Canadian baseball fans are disappointed because the games they would most likely want to watch are blacked out. Our text tells us that there is no blackout for anyone wanting access to our Heavenly Father.

In our chapter, Paul is discussing the unity that God has brought about between Jew and Gentile. A great change has occurred, because of the work of the Lord Jesus. In the Old Testament days, the Jew had access to God through the offerings, ordinances, and the oracles of God. There were strict limitations, and everything had to go through the priest, but there was a measure of access. Not so for the Gentile, who must come into Jewry to obtain any access to God. This was a very difficult process, and was not available to most Gentiles. But when the Lord Jesus came and broke down the barriers, He made possible a way of access for both Jew and Gentile, through the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, we have an access that is so much more personal and immediate than the Old Testament Jew could know. This access is available; how much do we take advantage of it?

The throne room of Heaven must surely be a busy place. We can’t imagine the incredible flow of information and requests that pass through there each second. The God Who knows all and sees all has given to you and me the right and the channel to access that very throne room and to receive priority attention. This fact should amaze us, and it should prompt us to action. If the Holy Spirit is patching us through to the very heartbeat of Heaven, we had better get busy with our prayers, our praises, and our open hearts. If we have the Father’s attention, we ought to seize the opportunity and make the most of it. There is so much that we need to become, there are so many that we desire to be saved, there is so much work that we long to see advanced for Heaven’s interest. With Heaven’s attention assured, we can bring these things to our Father. But do we? With Heaven’s attention assured, we can pour out our hearts in worship and thanksgiving. But do we? Every day, every hour, we miss out on the benefits of the Holy Spirit’s access to the Father.

There can never be a blackout with the Trinity involved in this wonderful blessing: the Lord Jesus paid the admission, the Holy Spirit provides the access, and the Father offers His welcome. – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, April 20th, 2018

For He is our peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us. Ephesians 2:14

Fighting and killing continued in Syria, despite the efforts of the United Nations to convince the ruling dictator and his opponents to lay down their arms. Meetings and conferences were held, inspectors were sent, leading nations made their pleas for peace, and the UN even appointed a high-level envoy to do everything he could do to bring about peace. The envoy, Kofi Annan, came up with a peace plan, and convinced all the parties to agree to it. His plan had the support of the UN and all the major powers of the world. The day came when the peace plan went into effect. But the killing didn’t stop and the fighting didn’t end, and the animosity didn’t disappear. The best efforts of the peacemaker weren’t enough. Like the animosity that existed between Jew and Gentile, more than a peacemaker was required.

Our text speaks of the Lord Jesus, not as our peacemaker, but our peace. While it is true that He has made peace, He is much more than a peacemaker. Peacemakers bring about an easing of hostilities, an end to combat, and a return of cordial relationship between two warring parties. Peacemakers work out compromises, and allow those who are unable to appreciate the position of the opposing party to give up their prejudices and accept others for who they are. Peacemakers develop a rapport with both sides in a dispute, and earn the trust of both sides by their proven goodwill to both. When we examine the role and position of a peacemaker, we can surely see that the Lord Jesus fits the position perfectly. But, unlike peacemakers like Kofi Annan, He is able to bring about lasting and permanent peace, because He is so much more than a peacemaker.

As our peace, the Lord Jesus went further than negotiations and relationship-building. As our peace, He stood in the heart of the storm of God’s wrath and exhausted that wrath. The result is peace between us and a holy God. Enmity between us and God is removed, not by negotiations, but by a sacrifice. That sacrifice was able to satisfy God’s righteous claims against us. A God Who cannot compromise on righteousness saw that righteousness met in His Son. The Lord Jesus is also the peace that breaks down the enmity between Jew and Gentile. He provides the missing element for the Gentiles who had no claim upon God. And He provides the missing element for the Jew who had a claim upon God based on a law that he could not keep. Now, the Jew and Gentile are grafted in together because of the person of the Lord Jesus.

We appreciate the peace of God that passeth all understanding, knowing that Peace is the person of our Lord and Saviour. – Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:9

A young man carrying a broom walked up to a car dealership and began sweeping the dust from the doorstep. When he had finished his brief task, he set the broom down, walked into the building, and approached the sales manager. ‘I just cleaned your front step,’ he told the manager, ‘now you can give me a new car’. Politely, the sales manager told the misguided lad that cars are not purchased with chores and labour, but with money. We need to keep reminding ourselves that our salvation is not purchased with works of our own, and we are offering God an insult when we offer Him our paltry efforts for His great Gift.

If our salvation were by works, how would we ever know how much works is enough? That is the problem with religion; people may believe, or may be taught, that their religious exercises have merit with God, but they never know for sure if they have collected enough merit. They also don’t know how much of their merit has been cancelled because of their misbehaviour. That’s why religious people are always so diligent and so worried. On the other hand, Christians can relax and rejoice in the knowledge that the only One Who could ever work for salvation has completed that work for us. That doesn’t mean that Christians don’t do good works. In fact, the Christian should be marked by more good works than the unbeliever, even the ultra-religious. But our works are from our salvation, not for our salvation.

As a very young Christian, I used to think that baptism would make my salvation more secure. I changed my mind about that, although I still regard baptism as very important. In fact, any person claiming to be a Christian who doesn’t want to be baptized causes me to wonder if that person is truly saved. Baptism is a work, something that we do. Although not required for salvation, it is required for obedience to the One Who we claim as our Lord. There are other works that our Lord expects, not to earn salvation or to preserve salvation, but to display our salvation. There are some Christians who perform great works of service for their Lord, and they don’t brag about them, because they know that the real work was done by the Lord Himself. There are some Christians who perform little works of service for their Lord, and they brag about them, because they don’t appreciate the difference between what their Lord has done and what they are able to do.

A humble Christian is a good testimony for the grace of God. A boastful Christian is a poor testimony to the grace of God. – Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Wherein in time past, ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. Ephesians 2:2

What’s wrong with walking according to the course of this world? After all, everybody seems to be walking that way; it’s popular and doesn’t involve any conviction or motivation. But for the Christian, the course of this world is dangerous and sorrowful, and devoid of all spiritual benefit. There are many ways in which this is the wrong course for us; let us examine a few of them.

The course of this world is a course of darkness. The light of the Word of God cannot illuminate this course because this dark course is directly opposite to that which God desires. It opposes the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ that desires to shine into souls, that they might be saved. We can sing about sending ‘the light, the blessed Gospel light’, and the devil doesn’t mind, as long as we don’t actually send it. Letting the world remain in darkness is the course of this world.

The course of this world is also a course of human wisdom. We read that the world by wisdom knows not God (1 Corinthians 1:21). The world’s wisdom rejects God and rejects all restraint against sin. Surely this is no course for the child of God! What possible concord can we have with those who deny the existence of the very God Who made them, and who blatantly promote unbridled evil in all its forms?

The course of this world is also a course of disobedience. Our text speaks of the children of disobedience, motivated and activated by the devil. Disobedience is the course of this world, and everything in the life of an unbeliever is disobedience to the Word of God. In contrast, the believer is enabled by the Holy Spirit to obey the Word of God and is motivated by the love of Christ to obey his Lord. Jesus tells us, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’ (John 14:15).

The course of this world is also a course of conformity. This world pushes everybody to conform to the same clothing styles, the same political views, the same eating habits, and just about everything else you can name. Teenagers are so pushed by conformity and peer pressure that they will commit suicide if they are unable to keep up. As the world’s morality plunges to new lows, it drags everyone it can along with it. But the Christian is admonished not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2. It may not be popular and it may not always be pleasant, but the Christian who shuns the course of conformity can be assured of his Lord’s commendation.

May we long to be like Paul, who, at his journey’s end, could speak with confidence of finishing his course, rejoicing in the knowledge that it was not the course of this world. – Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

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

An elderly man who was the leading elder of an Assembly was very conservative in his views, and resisted all kinds of changes, even changes that were necessary. Because he was highly respected and a godly man, the Assembly endured his uncompromising stance, until he died. After his death, changes were made. Those things that required change were changed. But some things that didn’t need to change were also changed, allowing some practices and attitudes to come in that were not good for the Assembly’s testimony and harmony. Some thought that the Assembly would have been far better off if that elderly overseer had not been given such control in the first place. Maybe they were right. Our text reminds us there is only One Who should have complete control over God’s Assembly.

We recognize that Assembly oversight is of the Lord, not of men, with those who serve responsible to the Great Shepherd. Great care must be taken – and usually is – to make sure that decisions regarding the Assembly are in line with the will of God. Direction and guidance for the Lord’s people will be for their benefit only if they are in line with God’s purposes for His people. This places great responsibility on the Assembly oversight to know the Lord’s will and to carry it out. It would never do to go against the will of Him Who is Head over all things to the Assembly.

Not everybody reading this message is on the oversight of an Assembly. But submission to our Head is just as important to everyone else as it is to the elders. Younger Christians need to be aware of their roles as learners and helpers, as those with the energy and enthusiasm to make the Assembly vibrant and alive. Older Christians need to understand their roles of being good examples, of providing wisdom of experience, of being faithful stalwarts of the Assembly. Those with an exercise and with abilities need to use those in accordance with the will of our Head. Everyone has a place in God’s Assembly, and that place is where our Head wants them to function. That might not always be where we want to function, so it is important that each of us learn submission to our Head, so we don’t overstep or understep our place in His Assembly.

The Assembly is not ours; it is not the elders’, it is not the people’s. The Assembly has one Head, and everything pertaining to that Assembly is for His glory and according to His pleasure. – Jim MacIntosh