Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Meditation for Monday

Monday, December 10th, 2018

The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. John 12:21

A little boy had heard in Sunday School about the greatness of God. So he asked his mother if God is so great, is it possible to see Him. His mother didn’t think so, but suggested he ask the pastor of the church. No, the pastor told the little fellow, nobody can see God. Disappointed, the lad asked the same question of his Sunday School teacher. He received the same answer, nobody can see God. A few days later the boy was visiting an old fisherman when a rainstorm came up. As the clouds started to break, a rainbow appeared, bringing tears to the fisherman’s eyes. Touched, the boy asked the fisherman if he thought it was possible to see God. The fisherman hugged the boy and told him that he saw God every day since he was saved, because God was living inside him.

What would you tell somebody who asked you – like those Greeks asked Philip – if they could see Jesus? The old fisherman had it right, the only way for us to see Jesus is if Jesus is within. And where do we see Jesus? Like the old fisherman, we can see Him in the beauties of nature and the display of His power and majesty in His creation. We can also see Jesus in the beautiful lives of His people, those who display the love of Christ to those around them, those whose kindness and compassion reflect the heart of the Saviour. Best of all, we can see Him in His Word as we allow the Holy Spirit to unfold the riches of His grace in His kindness toward us.

Because the Lord Jesus is not living within the unsaved, they are unable to see Him. Because He is living within us, we should be able to see him. Our days should be spent in exploring the ways in which we can see Him, because there is no greater occupation than to be looking at Him. Like those Greeks who came to Philip, it should be our desire to see Jesus. It should be our purpose each day to look for Him in the saints around us, in His Holy Word, and in the hour of meditation and prayer. We will see Him if we it is our desire to do so.

While we wait for the shout that will call us Home to be with our Lord, let us appreciate that we can see Him now by the eye of faith. – Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. John 12:13

It was not the entire nation, and it certainly was not the Jewish leaders, but the crowd that thronged the arrival of the Lord Jesus that day was certainly impressive, so impressive that the Jewish leaders did not dare to interfere. Their plot to kill Him was not able to proceed because of the crowd and their excitement at His arrival. If we had been there that day, how joyfully we would have joined in to celebrate the arrival of the Messiah! This was a great event, by any standard. For most of the people, they were welcoming One Who was powerful enough to raise people from the dead, a Worker of miracles, a great and wonderful Preacher. Some of the actually understood that this was the Messiah, and were wildly excited about His arrival. Some recognized Him as the King, the Son of David, the rightful occupant of the throne of Israel. And He was arriving in His capital city.

Humbly riding on an unbroken donkey’s colt, the Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem to a measure of acclaim. We consider those who were in the welcoming crowd and are glad that He received praise. We consider the purpose of His coming, remembering that in a few short days, He would be rejected, despised, and forsaken, and it was all part of God’s great plan of salvation. We consider how He knew, as He entered the city, that he was soon to undergo great depths of shame and suffering, and would emerge from the city carrying His cross. What grief filled His heart to realize that many of those shouting His praises on His arrival would be clamoring for His crucifixion on His exit. As joyful as the arrival of Jesus was on this occasion, it could certainly not have brought joy to His heart.

A day is coming in which the same Jesus, in full recognition as Lord and Christ, will return to that same city. His arrival will not be in humility and accompanied by a few hundred excited folks, but will be in power and great glory, and accompanied by ten thousands of His saints. No despisers or rejectors will be in evidence then. No sanhedrin will plot His death on that occasion. The nation that heaped on Him such great shame on His first arrival will then be ashamed of themselves for ever doubting and rejecting Him.

The Word of God records that Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It also records that He Who is now rejected will soon be given the welcome He deserves. – Jim MacIntosh

Sermon for Saturday

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death. John 12:10

A jewellery store manager in Toronto is under a death sentence in Egypt. Although Nader Fawzy’s only ‘crime’ is to be part of an organization that speaks up for the rights of Coptic Christians in Egypt, an Egyptian court has convicted him of blasphemy in relation to an anti-muslim film that was produced in the United States, even though Mr. Fawzy had nothing to do with that film. Although Mr. Fawzy is relatively safe if he remains in Canada, he fears he could be kidnapped and taken to Egypt to be killed. And he would never dare travel to any country with any significant moslem presence. The case shows the total injustice of Islam’s mindless blasphemy laws and the demented moslem clerics who enforce them. It’s an unfair price Mr. Fawzy has to pay for not being part of the moslem majority in Egypt. Just as a death threat from the chief priests was an unfair price for Lazarus to pay for being a recipient of Jesus’ great miracle. Christians often have to pay unfair prices for our affiliation with our Lord, too.

A death threat against Lazarus makes no sense, does it? The only reason the chief priests wanted to get rid of him was his testimony to the power and proof of Jesus Christ as God. For the same reasons today, men are doing everything possible to destroy the credibility of the Bible by pushing such unscriptural agendas as evolution and global warming. The Bible condemns their sin and presents them with their responsibility before God, so they mock the Scriptures as irrelevant, inaccurate, and antiquated. Christians are labelled ignorant, uneducated, and superstitious. In a land that prides itself on freedom of speech, many Christians are denied the right to speak freely on such topics as the Bible, sin, and judgment, while the proponents of evil lifestyles, abortion, and immorality of all kinds are free to openly promote their filth. The Christian’s lifestyle reveals the evil of the evildoers. And the Christian’s Bible condemns their sin.

No, we are not on anyone’s death-list because of our faith, although many Christians elsewhere in the world are. But the devil and his children would like to do away with us. All we can do is remain faithful and confident in the knowledge that the enemies of our Lord are already defeated. – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. John 12:3

There is an old saying that fragrance clings to the hand that gives a rose. When we consider Mary’s act in our text, we see that the Lord Jesus received His worship and offering, and the people in the home were able to appreciate the wonderful odour of the ointment. Her act of giving resulted in blessing for others. But note that she used her hair to wipe Jesus’ feet. For many days afterward, Mary would be marked by the fragrance of that spikenard. All those she came into contact with would know what she had done. And she would rise each morning with the reminder of that great event, and spend each waking moment appreciating that Jesus had received her offering. And so it is with all who will pour out their devotion and worship to the Lord Jesus.

Spikenard as an ointment is – and always has been – very valuable, because of its relaxing and comforting fragrance and because of its many medicinal benefits. Applied to the skin, spikenard is noted for relaxing and softening. To have so much spikenard applied as Mary used on this occasion would have been most delightful. It is certain that none of the others in the house had ever experienced such a treat as Jesus received that day. When we think of such a wonderful present given to the Lord, we can only be amazed at Mary’s outpouring of gratitude and worship. It makes us wonder today if there is anything comparable that we can do for Him.

Because we don’t have the presence of our Lord with us physically, we must find other ways in which to express our worship and devotion. Such ways are available, and we have appreciated those who have found them. Preparation for worship at the Remembrance meeting of the Assembly produces sweet fragrance that is appreciated by the Lord and by all those in attendance. A life that is lived in obedience to His Word and in conformity with His life is also like precious ointment poured forth. Doing deeds of kindness and devotion unto others as we would do to our Lord and Saviour is also an ointment that is sweet and precious. So is the giving of our substance for the honour of His name and the furtherance of His Gospel.

If we would be numbered among those who savour of Christ, we must know what it is to pour out our resources, energies, and passions on those things that bring glory to His Name. – Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with His disciples. John 11:54

The preachers obtained permission to hold Gospel meetings in the little country schoolhouse in West New Annan, although the permission was given grudgingly. From the beginning of those meetings, it was obvious that the folks in the neighbourhood were not going to attend. None of them responded favourably when invitations were handed out, and none of them came to any of those meetings. Obviously organized by the community leaders, they were smug in their church affiliation and resentful of the perceived intruders and their Gospel preaching, and they unitedly showed nothing but cold shoulder. Our family was the only one in the entire community to attend. We were rather surprised because, the year before, in nearby Millbrook, everybody in the entire community made it out to at least one of the Gospel meetings held in their schoolhouse. As far as I know, there has been no Gospel stir in West New Annan since. When people shun and reject the Gospel, God often takes them at their word.

Our text speaks of Jesus’ response to the animosity of the Jewish leaders. Those spiteful vengeful men had not only rejected the Messiah, but they did all they could to make sure nobody else had an opportunity to accept Him. No doubt there are those in hell who are cursing the Jewish leaders for preventing them from meeting the Saviour, just as there will be those in hell who will curse the community leaders in West New Annan for rejecting the Gospel. What an awful judgment those folks are facing!

Every time we hold a Gospel meeting, we can appreciate those who come, but we should also mourn over those who don’t come. We realise there are two purposes for Gospel meetings: to give sinners an opportunity to hear the Gospel, and to give rejecters an opportunity to seal their condemnation. We don’t like to think of that aspect of it, but sadly, it’s true that those who turn away from the Lord Jesus will themselves be rejected by Him. This makes us appreciate all the more those folks who persevered with us when we were less than interested in the Gospel. It also makes us appreciate the patience of the Holy Spirit, in ever taking an interest in us and in striving with us.

The Gospel has a joyful side for believers and a tragic side for rejecters. Let us give thanks for the joy and pray for the ones who are still outside. – Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

And this spake he, not of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation. John 11:51

Many years ago, a bitter opponent of Christians in a European country had devised a plan for eliminating all of the churches in his region. With his considerable authority and money, he managed to secretly buy up all of the land around every church. When his land purchases were all finalized, this man announced that he would prevent anyone from crossing his property to enter any of the churches. Setting up guards on his new properties to prevent the faithful from reaching their churches, this man called in his like-minded friends and threw a great victory party, confident that Christianity in the region was defeated. But at his party, the tyrant suffered a seizure and died. Because he had no children, all of his property went to his brother. The brother, deeply ashamed of what had happened, quickly donated all of the properties to the churches which they surrounded, leaving them better off than they would have been had the wicked man left them alone. God can, and often does, use wicked men to His purposes.

The declaration of Caiaphas that Jesus should die for the people carries far more meaning and far greater impact than what Caiaphas intended. This wicked man had his intention that Jesus of Nazareth should be disposed of. And the conspiracy to carry out that disposal went into effect that day. But what Caiaphas could not know was that his words, and his actions that followed, were in perfect harmony with the everlasting purposes of God. Instead of thwarting the mission of the Lord Jesus, Caiaphas was actually setting into place the very plan that would enable the fulfilment of prophecy in the rejection, suffering, and death of the Messiah.

Led by Caiaphas, the Jewish leaders were determined to get rid of the meddling Galilean. Beginning with Caiaphas’ declaration that Jesus should die for the people, they began their campaign of spying, plotting, and recruiting that eventually let to Christ’s betrayal and false trials. The experts on the Old Testament failed to see how they were falling right into line with the prophecies they claimed to hold in such high esteem. If in the greatest event in this world’s history God uses His enemies to work His purposes, how can we doubt that He uses enemies today to advance the efforts of the Lord’s people?

Do not be dismayed today if you encounter opposition to the Gospel and to your testimony. God may well be using that very opposition for your blessing and for His glory. – Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him and let him go. John 11:44

Among the amazing medical stories that are being made possible these days with advanced technologies was a recent account of a man who had been in an apparent brain-dead condition since being injured in an accident more than ten years ago. In an attempt to communicate with the man, doctors connected monitoring equipment to his brain and asked him a question: was he in pain? They told him that if he was in pain to think of the colour red. But if he was not in pain, he was to think of the colour blue. With their equipment, they were able to determine that the man was thinking of the colour blue. This was a great leap forward in the case of a man who had been physically alive but had not been able to communicate with anyone for more than a decade. He was like Lazarus after Jesus brought him back from the dead, but before those at the graveside delivered him from the graveclothes.

It took no miracle to remove the graveclothes and untie the napkin. But it had to be done. Notice that Jesus assigned this task to others; He did not perform this act Himself. He does the same today, after a precious soul is reached and saved by the power of God. Like the good Samaritan who instructed the innkeeper to take good care of the injured man, the Lord commits the care of new believers into the hands of His people. New believers left to themselves might well be like a bound Lazarus, alive but unable to function. They need to be unbound from the graveclothes of old habits and companions. Like Lazarus whose napkin would prevent him from seeing, hearing, and speaking, they need to have their eyes opened to see the wonders of the blessings of God’s Word, their mouths unstopped so they can worship and praise their Lord and their ears opened to the fellowship of the Lord’s people. New believers are in need of encouragement, teaching, and guidance, and this great task Jesus delegates to others. He delegates it to us, actually.

What is our responsibility when it comes to new Christians? We need to first of all be an example of what God wants a Christian to be like. The new child of God will learn far more from what we are than from what we say. But what we say should be that which will build up and develop the new believer in our most holy faith. Much of what new believers become in their Christian life depends on how well other Christians deliver them from their graveclothes. – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how He loved him. John 11:35,36

There was a time when Jesus stopped a funeral procession and instructed a grieving mother not to weep over her son. On another occasion, Jesus chastised those who were weeping over the death of a little girl. But in today’s text, He does not seek to halt this expression of grief, but actively participates. The Greek word for ‘wept’ in this text is not that of the silent shedding of tears, but the audible sobbing of the broken-hearted. No wonder the Jews could exclaim that it was evident that Jesus loved Lazarus. But even they could not realize how deep that love was.

If you or I had shown up at this scene with the power to raise Lazarus, we would have rushed forward to the grave joyfully, exclaiming how wonderfully the dead man was to be raised. Rather than tears, we would display rejoicing and happiness. But Jesus knew why Lazarus had died. And He knew why all those around Him were going to die. He also knew why He Himself was going to die. Yes, Jesus wept over the death of His dear friend. But He also wept over the tragedy of sin that the first Adam had brought into the world. And He wept at the magnitude of the price the last Adam must pay to overcome the death that was the consequence of sin. Just as the great loss suffered in Eden was very evident at Lazarus’ grave, so too was the great price to be paid at Calvary. The One Who shared openly in the grief of the sisters was also grieved at the sorrow that he could not share with anyone.

Few other scenes from the life of the Lord Jesus portray the love of God like the weeping Saviour. Yes, Lazarus was a personal friend, but Jesus’ love for Lazarus was no more than His love for you and me. Did He shed tears for us? I believe those tears He shed with Lazarus’ sisters were for all those who have come into the condemnation of death. Consider His grief at Golgotha, as we have it described by Jeremiah in Lamentations 1:12: behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger. We are unable to fathom that grief, but we appreciate that it was for us.

The preciousness of the reality of Jesus’ grief on our account touches our souls today, as we paraphrase the words of the Jews beholding Him as He wept: Behold, how He loved us! – Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018

Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. John 11:21

Was Martha delivering a compliment or a reproach? Was she acknowledging that Jesus was powerful enough to heal her sick brother, or was she complaining that Jesus was not on hand when he was needed? I fear it was the latter, and if so, Martha is like many people in the world today, including many Christians. You have heard them, the folks who look at the huge death toll from an earthquake, a hurricane, or a military clash, and wonder aloud where the God is Who could have avoided such pain and sorrow. Some will even try to use such occasions to ‘prove’ there is no God, or at least not a God of love and compassion. Christians would never dare to voice such thoughts, but often privately wonder why a loving God would allow them to go through times of trial and loss. It’s a subject that touches us very deeply.

Martha was undoubtedly right; if Jesus had been there, He might well have prevented Lazarus’ death. But if He had been there, we would not have the amazing events of this chapter, the proof of Jesus’ power over death and the grave. If He had been there, we might be missing the lovely truth of Jesus as the resurrection and the life, and the evidence of Jesus’ compassion in His weeping with the sorrowing sisters. As we read the account after the fact, we can see the miracle and the wonderful blessings that followed from Lazarus’ death, and we can be thankful. We need to keep our minds open today to the great possibility that God is going to bring great blessing from something that we view as disappointment and tragedy. It’s not easy to trust at such times, but if we do, we will find rich treasures on the other side of the tears.

Martha was mistaken when she assumed that Jesus was not there. His physical absence did not mean he was at any distance from his dear friends. He knew at all times what was happening, and He never ceased to care. And He has not changed today. Because we cannot see Him, we might bewail His absence. But there is never a moment when our Lord does not see and know everything we are encountering. If in the midst of our trial we could look up and see Him standing beside us, what a comfort that would be! That same comfort is available to all who will see and appreciate His presence though we see Him not.

We can never truthfully say like Martha, ‘Lord, if Thou hadst been here’. Because He is always here. And He always cares. – Jim MacIntosh

Sermon for Saturday

Saturday, December 1st, 2018

And many believed on Him there. John 10:42

Official statistics show 1.7 percent of North Koreans are Christians, or about 400,000 people. That doesn’t sound like many in a country that proclaims that it allows religious freedom but in practice murders and tortures Christians with atrocities that are possibly worse than those inflicted by the Nazis on European Jews. But the official figures are wrong, according to underground sources who know about the underground Christians in that sad land. I read one estimate of at least ten percent of the population there being Christians, impossible to confirm but proof that despite the opposition, many are believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.

We feel so alone and small by times, isolated and so weak compared to all the big things going on around us. Our Assemblies struggle to survive, and our Gospel meetings see so little results. We wonder if anybody is trusting Christ these days. But our text tells us that many are. Just because we don’t see or hear of them doesn’t mean that God is not working, that His Holy Spirit is not striving, that some are repenting and trusting the Saviour. Maybe they are just not being saved in the places we expect.

Honest Gospel preachers will admit that the Gospel is being preached in other places. While it is true that many so-called evangelistic denominations are losing their Gospel focus in favour of their social and entertainment agendas, many of them still do present the Gospel. And God is still saving in those places, despite a woefully high percentage of false professions. Even among the old formal denominations are a few true believers functioning as best they can in stifling situations. I have even encountered some true believers who found salvation among – or in spite of – the traditions and idolatry of Roman Catholicism. Many of these dear saints are unrecognizable because they don’t look or act like what we have been taught that Christians should look and act. But they have believed on the same Saviour Who saved us, and we are going to the same Glory to sing the same redemption song.

Just because it doesn’t seem like there are many of us, don’t be deceived into thinking that. Praise God that many have believed on Him. – Jim MacIntosh