Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Food for Friday

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

And as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me. Matthew 26:21

What a bombshell to drop in the middle of a lovely dinner! Thirteen men, all very close friends and all very much into the Passover spirit, are just nicely launched into the evening’s festivities when the Head of the feast makes His startling announcement. The disciples are accustomed to hearing new and different things. They have spent the best part of three years hearing teaching that contradicted much of what had been dogma for most of their lives. So when the Lord Jesus began speaking, they were shocked and startled. We can imagine their eyes popping wide open, and their jaws drop in amazement and shock. They stare in unbelief, and stare at the Lord Jesus and at each other, unsure of what to do or say. The fact that they did not immediately pounce on Judas Iscariot shows how carefully that false disciple had hidden his intentions and feelings. So suddenly, the joyous passover is changed from a merry atmosphere to one of shock and suspicion. The presence of a traitor among them had an amazing impact once the fact became known. What would we do today if we knew that traitors were lurking among the Lord’s people?

Why would traitors, grievous wolves (Acts 20:29) that the apostle Paul spoke of when he addressed the elders of the Assembly in Ephesus, come in among us? The devil has successfully reduced most of the denominational churches around us to meaningless organizations that are largely devoid of spiritual live and are totally incapable of bringing glory to God. Having won this battle, the evil one now targets those little companies who faithfully follow the Word of God and who honour His Son. At no time in history were God’s Assemblies at greater danger than today. Most of society has been reprogrammed to see Bible-believing Christians as old fashioned, out of date, and dangerous to the modern programs of acceptance of gross immorality and evil. Already those who stand for the truth of the Word of God are sneered at and rejected, and openly opposed. In the next few years, we will see individual Christians and entire Assemblies directly targeted for our faith. And the most dangerous challenges will come from those who are within.

Much prayer and much wisdom is needed these days as those who act in Assembly oversight capacity interview new Christians who desire to join the Assembly fellowship. Keeping the traitors out is much easier than dealing with them once they are part of the fellowship. Some Assemblies are already dealing with challenges to the way in which our Assemblies function. Those who would have us water down our opposition to evil, or even to accommodate those who are friendly with evildoers, are starting to show up.

Who among us will betray God’s Assembly? Some will! -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

Now when the even was come, He sat down with the twelve. Matthew 26:20

Sometime in 1498, the great painter Leonardo da Vinci completed one of his most famous works, a mural named The Last Supper, which covers an end wall of the refrectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milan, Italy. The painting shows Christ and the twelve disciples seated at a table. The painting purports to show the reaction of the disciples as the Lord Jesus tells them that one of them would betray Him. An examination of this great mural is fascinating, although we have no idea how far it is from showing exactly what that last supper was actually like. We do know that some details, such as the use of a table, are definitely wrong. But we can see that for centuries, what transpired in that room has been of great interest to many. It is certainly of great interest to us today.

It is difficult for us to imagine what life for us would be like today if the event we know as the last supper had never occurred. Suppose for example the Lord Jesus had been seized by soldiers as He and His disciples were entering or leaving the city, or even as they made their way to the place where the Passover was to be eaten. We would never have the Lord’s revelation of the betrayal of Judas, nor the great institution of the Lord’s Supper. We would also not know about Peter’s boast of not denying his Lord, nor the washing of the disciples’ feet and the accompanying teaching of humility. We would never know of the Lord Jesus’ promise to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house, nor the promise of the Holy Spirit. We would also miss out on the Lord’s teaching of the vine and the branches, the warning about persecution, and the Lord’s great prayer of intercession for His own. With all that and much more, we are deeply thankful today that the Lord Jesus sat down with His disciples for that Passover feast.

But is that the last time the Lord Jesus had a meal with His own? We read of at least two occasions when He ate with them after His resurrection: the upper room when He first showed Himself to them, and the lakeside scene where He had prepared breakfast for the disciples. But the new feast He instituted while at the last supper has been repeated millions of times since that great event. And each time a little company of His, gathered to His Name, meets to eat this feast, He has promised to be in the midst. Just as He desired to eat the Passover, and to institute the Lord’s Supper, with his disciples, so He desires to sit down with His people today. Just as any of the disciples would have missed much by being absent at that last supper, we will miss much by being absent at the Lord’s Supper.

It is touching to think of the Lord of Glory sitting down to a meal with His dearest companions. He does that with us once a week. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus saying unto Him, Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover? Matthew 20:28

The Seder meal that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday called Passover is traditionally a family event. Family members from three or more generations gather to eat this ceremonial meal that marks the anniversary of the meal that the Children of Israel ate on the eve of their deliverance from Egypt. Much preparation went into the meal, which had a lengthy list of requirements. Once assembled, the family members would move through an evening of carefully orchestrated steps, including the eating of various foods and the drinking of various cups at specific times. That the Lord Jesus was going to eat the Passover with His disciples was of deep significance, because it indicated a deep family-like bond among these men. Because the Lord Jesus had no earthly home in which to gather with His family, the disciples asked a very relevant question in our text today. We may well ask a similar question today regarding a difference feast, one that is relevant to us.

In the Old Testament, God made it clear to His people that they were not to make their sacrifices or perform the ordinances of their religion in every place. Explicit instructions were given as to the tabernacle, and later to the temple, which were the exclusive location for the sacrifices. Only when these locations were completed according to the pattern that God had given were the Israelites assured of the presence of God. There is a pattern today for the people of God, a pattern we must follow to be assured of the Lord’s presence when we eat the meal that He has given to us.

We can be assured of the presence of our Lord when we are a company of believers who have been gathered to His Name (Matthew 18:20). As the Assembly functions in accordance with the pattern unveiled to us in the Gospels and the book of Acts, we can appreciate the presence of the Lord Jesus in our meetings. One of these meetings is the Breaking of Bread, or the Lord’s Supper, often referred to as the Remembrance meeting. As we examine the New Testament saints in the Gospels and in the epistles, we find no reference of their ever carrying out this feast in a place and in a situation other than where the Assembly has been gathered. And the principles of the Old Testament hold: public acts of worship were to be in specific locations that God had ordained. Today, He has ordained His local Assembly, and the Lord Jesus desires that we gather as an Assembly to eat the feast of remembrance.

There is no provision for an ad-hoc gathering for the Lord’s Supper in our day. Only by obeying His Word can we enjoy the presence of the Lord Jesus when we eat this feast. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

When Jesus understood it, He said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? For she hath wrought a good work upon me. Matthew 26:10

Not many months earlier, Martha complained to the Lord Jesus about Mary failing to do her share of the household chores when visitors came. Wanting to provide the best of hospitality for her most special Guest, Martha had failed to understand how significant a position Mary had taken. By sitting at Jesus feet, Mary had taken the position of a disciple, something that was rarely accorded to a woman in that day. The account of Mary’s annointing the Lord Jesus with the expensive ointment shows that Mary had learned far more than most others who had sat at His feet. She was the only one who had grasped the truth that the Lord Jesus was going to die. The ointment was in preparation for His burial. For her devotion and her discernment, the Lord Jesus commends her good work.

Mary was criticized for what others saw as waste. The great value of the ointment had the do-gooders crying foul over the loss of support for their social programs. It also had crooks like Judas upset about the loss of lining for his pocket. But Mary saw a program that was greater than social or business issues. And she had no reservations about the ointment. Her act of devotion had significant impact, both in the short term, and in the centuries since. The odour of the ointment would have been obvious to the soldiers who seized the Lord Jesus in Gethsemane, to the Jewish leaders and to the Roman soldiers who insulted and assaulted the Lord Jesus at Gabbatha, and to the other crucified thieves and to the cruel spectators at Golgotha. No other crucifixion victim was ever enveloped with such a wonderful aroma. And ever since that time, the annointing of the Lord Jesus has stood as a monument to Mary’s devotion and her discernment.

Mary is commended because she wrought a good work upon the Lord Jesus. But Mary is not alone in her eligibility for such a commendation. Today, we do not have the option of pouring precious ointment on the Lord Jesus to prepare for His burial. But are Christians any less devoted to the Lord Jesus today than Mary was? Are we any less willing to perform whatever work or pay whatever price to do Him the honour He deserves? Although we don’t have His person physically with us, we do have His Word to tell us about Himself and about His will for us. In our land of plenty, we often fail to realize how much of our effort and income is poured out on ourselves and how little is poured out for the Lord. Our lack of devotion is no doubt linked to our lack of discernment concerning Himself.

Like Mary, let us pour out our best for the Lord Jesus. His commendation will make our devotion worthwhile. -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, August 19th, 2019

There came unto Him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment and poured it on His head as He sat at meat. Matthew 26:7

As the children of Kings County gathered in the sports field of Rothesay Collegiate for the walkabout by the prince and princess of Wales, they were dressed in their nicest clothes and had all been neatly groomed and readied for the event. Boys were wearing dress pants and shirts, with a few wearing ties and sports coats. The girls had pretty dresses and had their hair done up in special ways. In addition to all of the well-groomed look that the children all had, many of them also carried bouquets of flowers, including lilacs, and other bright bits of vegetation. As Princess Diana made her way through the crowds, pausing to greet some of the children, they would present her with their flowers. They beamed with delight as she graciously accepted their offerings, sometimes bestowing a pat on the head or even a kiss, thrilling the children even more. To those children, no greater use could possibly be made of those flowers than to be given to the princess. To the woman in our text, no greater use could be made of the ointment than to be poured on the head of the Lord Jesus.

We are told the ointment was very costly. The disciples thought that its value would have been better applied to helping the poor. After all, the alabaster box was emptied on His head; there was none left for any other purpose. The woman had made a total commitment of the ointment to the Lord Jesus, holding back none and considering no other alternative. She sets before us a wonderful example of the devotion that we ought to have for the Lord Jesus.

We are told that the ointment was very precious. It probably represented years of savings to purchase. It reminds us that each of us also has an alabaster box of precious ointment. We have each been given a life, and we must decide how we will pour out that life. We must pour it all out, one second at a time, one minute at a time, one day, week, month, and year at a time, until it is emptied and we depart this mortal realm. Empty it we must, but empty it how? Will we listen to the disciples and pour out our life helping the poor? Will our lives be poured out to purchase pleasure, money, power, or popularity? As we consider the pouring out of the ointment of our life, do we consider what is the highest and best purpose for our life? Given that the purchase of temporal things will endure only for this life and not beyond, we should consider investing our lives in that which will endure for eternity.

Since we must pour out our lives anyway, let us pour them out in the most worthy manner possible, in devotion to our Lord. -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, August 18th, 2019

Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. Matthew 26:2

Do you know what day of the week your birthday falls on ten years from now? How about the date for Easter 20 years from now? Or the date of the first full moon of the year 50 years from now? Even if we don’t know these things (most of us don’t), we can quickly look them up. The experts have long-range calendars that spell out the exact dates and times for all sorts of events in the future, with absolute certainty. But there are many events of the future that are beyond our power to know, or guess. But as our text points out, they are not beyond the power of the Lord Jesus to know.

Everyone in Israel knew that the Passover was approaching. But only One knew about the great event that was to occur during this Passover season. In fact, even before Moses was given the instructions for the first Passover in Egypt, and the instructions for commemorating the event annually, the Lord Jesus knew all about the betrayal by Judas and the crucifixion at the behest of the Jews and at the hands of the Romans. As the Passover approached, the Lord Jesus knew all about the events that lay before, and yet he did not flee Jerusalem to escape. With no surprises possible to Him, He moved with eternal purpose toward that most significant event in human history. As His disciples could speak with anticipation of the upcoming Passover event, He could speak with conviction of the upcoming betrayal and crucifixion. The purpose for which He had come into the world was about to unfold.

Our text identifies for us the difference between the puny plans of men and the eternal purposes of God. Men could make their little preparations for the upcoming Passover, but God had made His great preparation for His great plan of salvation. The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world (1 John 4:14). All of the Old Testament provides the pictures and patterns concerning that great event. The Holy Spirit guided those holy men of old to speak concerning the Saviour. The birth and sinless life of the Lord Jesus were in perfect fulfillment of what had been prophesied. The calendar that was established in eternity was unfolding in time, and the Lord Jesus could inform His disciples that the upcoming Passover was the occasion for this great event.

As we consider and review the events of Calvary, we remember that it was an event that marked great dismay among the disciples, that displayed rejection and hatred among the Jews, that showed cruelty and indifference on the part of the Romans, and that proved the unfathomable love of God to a world of undeserving sinners. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

Saturday, August 17th, 2019

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal. Matthew 25:46

Next time you are in a large crowd, look around at all the people and see how many differences you can identify: age, gender, race, economic situation, clothing preference, and so on. But also look at all those people and see if you can identify the biggest difference of all: whether these people are saved or lost, whether their eternal destination is Heaven or hell, whether they are brothers and sisters in Christ or strangers forever. In most cases, you won’t be able to detect the difference just by looking at them. By spending a little time with them, by listening to their conversation, by watching their behaviour, you might be able to pick up some strong hints. For example, there is little hope for the profane woman cursing her children’s misbehaviour or the slovenly drunk lounging against the wall, or the bold teenager flaunting her scantily clad body. But even with these, there is no way to tell for sure. And yet, every group of people we encounter has an invisible line running through it, dividing the people into eternal residents of damnation or bliss.

While it is not up to us to make the determination as to whether people around us are saved or lost, it is up to us to make sure the Gospel is available to all who want to escape the judgment to come. When the Lord Jesus gave His great commission to go into all the world with the Gospel, He initially spoke to His disciples. But the great commission is not just for the disciples. It is not just for the preachers, evangelists, and missionaries, not just for the men and boys who take their turns speaking at Assembly Gospel meetings, not just for Sunday School teachers and children’s meeting participants. Whether preaching, or distributing tracts, or helping with Gospel work, or being a faithful testimony, or even being a prayer warrior, we all have a responsibility in reaching the lost people around. Because most of them are going to hell, and all of them could be saved.

Although often invisible to the human eye, there is no greater distinction between people than the distinction of whether they are bound for the mansions of glory or the caverns of the damned. The difference is eternal, and therefore it is critical. But most of those who are lost are totally indifferent to this great difference. They don’t see what difference it makes for eternity because they don’t see what difference it makes now. If they can’t detect any difference between themselves and possessers of eternal life, they won’t feel any need for eternal life. It’s up to us to show them the difference.

Our testimony ought to make our salvation – and our Saviour – the greatest desire of those who see us. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, August 16th, 2019

For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat, I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink, I was a stranger, and ye took me in. Matthew 25:35

We read of faithful and generous women who devoted themselves to providing meals for the Lord Jesus and His disciples during His earthly ministry. Theirs was a great privilege, and they received warm praise and encouragement from the Lord Himself. This was not a small contribution, because food in those days, as well as today, was not cheap, and the preparing and serving of it took time and effort. For those ladies, the privilege of contributing in this way was its own reward, and they were glad to do it for their Lord and Master. We know that there is a wonderful reward for those ladies for such devotion and selfless contribution. But our text reminds us that the Lord Jesus also notes every selfless act that is done for Him, including those deeds done by ourselves.

The women who served meals to the Lord Jesus could appreciate how the Lord Himself would benefit from those meals. They could see how He was refreshed and nourished, and note how He appreciated the various dishes they would prepare. We can’t see that today, because the Lord Jesus is not physically with us as we move through our lives. But we can see how His representatives respond as we serve them. Our parable reminds us that those deeds of kindness and caring, generosity and helping that we bestow on the Lord’s people are deeds that we bestow upon Himself. He notes all such acts, and records them for our future reimbursement. Even to a cup of water given in His name does He extend His promise of reward. That should be an encouragement to us to be kind and generous as much as possible. But to whom do we owe this kindness and generosity?

The giving of a sandwich to a wealthy, well-fed man is not much of a blessing given. But the same sandwich given to a poor and hungry woman is a wonderful blessing given. Just as the Lord Jesus was attuned to the needs of the needy around Him, so we should be aware of those folks around us who are in need. Just as the Lord Jesus could identify the need and provide appropriately, so we should pay attention to the needs that folks around us have, and do what we can to meet those specific needs. The Lord Jesus promised a reward for each kindness bestowed on even the least of His brethren. How do we identify His brethren? Does this apply only to those Christians we know, or those who are in our own Assembly? Surely our vision must never be so narrow! Our responsibility could apply to anyone around us, or even to those in faroff lands who have been brought to our attention. If our Lord makes us aware of a need, we ought to meet it.

Serving others is the same as serving our Lord. We can do that! -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. Matthew 25:17

A large appliance company had many hundreds of employees, most of whom did their work very well. Two of these were Bill, the manager of the sales department, and John, who was in charge of the shipping dock. Bill managed a large sales force, and was responsible for strong growth in sales every year. John had only three helpers, and they did a good job of loading the trucks that came to haul away the company’s products. The managers never needed to worry about the handling of the shipments because John’s little department was efficient, careful, and prompt. When the company decided to replace two of its aging vice-presidents, it selected Bill and John because of their faithful service. Even though John’s department was smaller, he received the same promotion, just like the servant in our text.

If we look at the first two servants in the parable, we find that the one who had doubled the five talents and the one who had doubled the two talents were given identical commendations and rewards. We should find this encouraging today, because as we consider our abilities and talents that the Lord has given us, most of us would place ourselves in the two-talent group. We can appreciate the five-talent Christians, those who are good in many fields of service for our Lord. We see these people who are great prayer warriors, good gospel preachers, good witnesses, good at Bible teaching, good at encouraging and helping other Christians, and many other areas. Sometimes, we feel there is no way that we can measure up to those folks, and we might feel a bit intimidated or even jealous. But our text reminds us that there is no need to be dismayed if our field of service is small. If God has given us less than others in terms of talents, He expects us to work only with those talents.

When the Lord tallies our service for Him, He is not looking for numbers but for faithfulness. If He has made you a two-talent Christian, He desires that you use your two talents, not the talents that He has given to others. Talents given to others are not your responsibility. Talents that you would like to have but don’t are also not your responsibility. Talents that you have received but don’t use are your responsibility, and your failure to use them will result in a loss of reward.

It takes more grace to be a two-talent Christian than a five-talent Christian, and the reward is just as great. Use your two talents well! -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to every man according to his several ability, and straightway took his journey. Matthew 25:15

A radio station where I worked many years ago used to get compliments on how neatly and attractive its property was. The grass was always kept well trimmed, the flower and shrub beds were weed-free and beautiful, and the parking lots and walkways were swept and neat. The man who looked after the property puttered away at it day after day, and his efforts paid off with a beautiful property. The man was not paid much, not nearly as much as the professional people who worked inside the building. The gardener knew nothing about radio production, or news gathering, or music, or programming. But what he did know, he did well. And he was paid for his work, just like the rest of us were. Maybe he was like the man in our parable, who was given a talent to use, and who was expected to use it.

We can probably be safe in saying that the Lord gives every one of His children at least one talent. Some Christians have many talents, and they use them well. Others have many talents, and they use them poorly, or use only one or two well. Still others have only a few talents, or even just one. All of these talents are abilities and opportunities for serving the Lord and for bringing glory to Him. Young Christians should make a point of discovering what talents they have been given. Older Christians should make a point of reviewing how well we are using those talents we have received. At no time should younger Christians or older Christians make the determination of another Christian’s talents.

Notice in our text that talents were distributed according to the master’s knowledge of the servants’ abilities. Only the Lord knows what your abilities are, although wise and caring Christians can often provide valuable help to younger Christians in determining what those talents are. We should never question the wisdom of the Lord in distributing the talents. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, and can never make a mistake. We defy His decisions at our peril. We should also never be envious about talents that others have received. What any other Christian is and has is between that other Christian and the Lord. If He has given another Christian a talent that you would like to have, you should take that matter up with the Lord and with nobody else.

The master in the parable did not expect his servants to make use of talents that he did not give them. Our Lord does not expect you to use talents He has not given you. But those that He has given you are your responsibility. -Jim MacIntosh