Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. Romans 9:33

As I went to enter the warehouse, I noticed a large sign on the door: ‘Watch Your Step’. Looking down, I noticed a bright yellow strip of paint on the threshold, and saw that the floor inside the door was a few centimeters higher than the doorstep. I did not trip over the threshold, but a man I was talking with in the warehouse told me that many people did trip over it. Neither the warning sign nor the yellow warning strip on the floor were enough for them. It was not the intention of the owner to create a hazard for people entering. But it was a hazard to some who ignored the sign, just as the One Who our text refers to as a stumblingstone becomes a hazard to those who ignore Him.

It is not God’s intention that the Lord Jesus should be a stumblingstone or a rock of offense. He freely offered His Son on the cross for our sins, and He freely extends the Gospel invitation to salvation to whosoever believeth in Him (John 3:15,16). But with the free and unconditional invitation comes a great and dire warning: ‘He that believeth not is condemned already’ – John 3:18. Jesus’ coming into the world was a great stumblingstone for the Jews, who refused to accept Him as their king. He was a rock of offense, and they accused Him of blasphemy and demanded His crucifixion. He was also a rock of offense to the Gentiles, who could not accept that anyone could rise from the dead. Nor could they accept the simplicity of faith in Christ for salvation or the Name unto which His people are to gather. Instead, they created a pretense of worshipping Him and wrapped around it an elaborate system of religion. There is coming a day when the Jews will be deeply ashamed of their mistreatment of their King. There is also a day coming when the Gentiles will be deeply ashamed of their false religion and fake worship. But there will be those who are not ashamed.

Shame will be a thing of the past when the trump of God sounds and the saints of all ages rise to meet our Lord in the air. Shame will also be non-existent in the Glory, as we explore for all eternity the riches of God’s grace. And here in this world, those whose belief is in the Lord Jesus will be glad to suffer shame for His Name. Like Moses, we ‘esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt’ – Hebrews 11:26. The world may well mock us for our faith, for our obedience, our devotion to our Lord. But their words will eventually all fall flat as they become eternally ashamed of themselves for their mistreatment of our Lord and His people.

‘For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels’ – Luke 9:26 -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans 8:35

Today’s text, and the rest of the book of Romans, was penned by the apostle Paul around the year 60 AD, while he was visiting the Assemblies of God in the Greek city of Corinth. These are bold words, full of confidence in Christ. Paul has had plenty of experience by this time to confirm these bold words. Only six years later, Paul writes again, this time to his protege Timothy, under vastly different circumstances. No longer enjoying the warm and friendly hospitality of the Corinthian saints, Paul is now in the city to which he penned today’s text, confined to a cold and isolated prison cell, and awaiting Caesar’s invitation to attend a gruesome ceremony at the chopping block. He is disappointed that at his court appearance, none of the Christians showed up to give him their support. All of his friends and Gospel associates, other than Luke, have gone away, and in his loneliness, Paul urges Timothy to come and see him one last time. But even in his loneliness and discouragement, the old apostle finds something to rejoice in: ‘Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me… and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion’ – 2 Timothy 4:17. In the final days of his life, Paul proves the truth of his message to us today.

Paul here lists various circumstances, including those who cause those circumstances, and asks whether these can separate us from the love of Christ. It is a rhetorical question; Paul has encountered every one of these circumstances, and has known the love of Christ through them all. As we consider this great question, can we come up with circumstances greater than any on this list? Thankfully, we have not been called upon to go through all that Paul did. But we are all called upon to go through some trying circumstances. And based on Paul’s experience, we can be confident that the love of Christ will be there with us through it all.

The word ‘tribulation’ carries the meaning of being weighted down or pressured by the afflictions and trials we encounter. The distress Paul speaks of refers to being confined or squeezed with no apparent escape. Persecution has to do with the hostility we encounter from those who oppose our faith. Although we know little here about famine and nakedness, they speak of being deprived of basic needs for our faith. Peril refers to the dangers and risks to our person, our welfare, and our daily lives. The word ‘sword’ takes the peril even further, to the point of physical harm and death for our faith. And it reminds us that somewhere in our world today, dozens of dear saints are shedding their blood because they are Christians. As frightening and ominous as all of these things are, they are no match for the love of Christ!

The love of Christ refers to His love to us: precious to know, wonderful to share, and impossible to measure. – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, October 21st, 2019

He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:32

The prophet had a young servant who rose early each morning and went to the city wall to make sure everything was going to be OK that day. And, for awhile, everything was OK; he would return to the prophet’s house each morning and give a good report. But one morning, as he climbed the city wall and looked about, he was shocked to see the little city of Dothan where he and the prophet lived surrounded by Syrian soldiers and cavalry. Alarmed, he dashed back to the prophet’s house and gave his master the shocking news. ‘What are we going to do?’ he cried in alarm. To his surprise, the prophet smiled and quietly replied, ‘Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them’ (2 Kings 6:16). Instead of jumping up and joining the servant’s efforts to either fight or flee, Elisha bowed his head and prayed for the Lord to open the servant’s eyes. And the Lord did! Amazed and no doubt relieved, the young man saw the mountain of Dothan encircled by a host of horses and chariots of fire that dwarfed the host of the Syrians! Read today’s text and see that God wants to open our eyes to all that He has prepared for us.

In the account of the Syrians’ would-be assault on Dothan, Elisha did not pray for the armies of the Lord to come and protect him and his servant. He knew that the armes of the Lord were already there. And so it is with the blessings that God would give to His people today. The blessings are already provided; we just need to accept and receive them. Paul’s argument to saints in Rome begins with the acknowledgment that God has already delivered His own Son to provide our salvation. Because our Father has already done this for us, Paul argues, how can He possibly withhold from us all things for our blessing? We received our salvation by simply placing our faith in the finished work of Christ on Calvary. In the very same way, all of the blessings that come to us because of our salvation are received by faith. These blessings are ours for the taking, if we will just acknowledge that God is offering them to us.

Let us look at one great example: there is one particular group of people – and sadly some of them are not even saved – who insist that after their conversion they need to pray to God for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. That is not something that Christians need to pray for. ‘Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God’ – 1 Corinthians 2:12. We can, and should, pray for our submission to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives. But He already dwells with us, as God’s eternal seal that we are His.And there is no limit to what God will give us of His blessings if we will but take them.

What blessings do you seek from God today? Why are yo waiting to receive what God is already offering? -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Billy was strong, athletic, and played college basketball before marrying his long-time sweetheart, getting a good job, and raising two fine boys. But at 35, he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Although the prognosis was not good, he went through all the treatments with a cheerful spirit, thanking the Lord for all the blessings he had received, and witnessing to those around him of his hope in Christ. Before his final treatment, the pastor of Billy’s church invited him to speak and share his faith. For the first time, Billy’s brother Jack accepted his invitation to attend the service. And during the service, finally convinced that Billy’s faith was not a crutch, Jack trusted Billy’s Saviour as his own. Although Billy did not survive his battle with cancer, he did have the joy of seeing his firm belief in today’s text lead to his own brother’s salvation.

No, our text is not promising that all things we encounter in this life as Christians will be good. We know better than that; many Christians have to go through pain, grief, heartache, and suffering of many kinds. The words ‘all things’ takes in all of those as well as the good things, and looks beyond them to the good that God will work out of them. We can’t always know the reasons why God brings along those things that try and trouble us. And God does not always reveal His purposes in these things in our lifetime. But He will reveal them, whether in time or in eternity: ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’ – 2 Corinthians 4:17.

But the promises in our text are not for everyone, not even for every Christian. they are’to them that love God’. So how can we tell who are the ones who love God? The Lord Jesus gives us the answer to that: ‘If ye love Me, keep My commandments’ – John 14:15. Obedient Christians are obedient because they love their Saviour. And because of their love for Him, God is able to take their obedience and work out good results in ways that may or may not be apparent at the time. It is only in our obedience that God can make all things work together for good. Sometimes God can bless despite our disobedience. But as a rule our disobedience results in that which is not good. Disobedience causes all manner of bad things, including disappointment, shipwreck, and loss of testimony. The wonderful promise in our text does not apply to the disobedient child of God.

Listen to the words of Esther Kerr Rusthoi’s lovely hymn: ‘It will be worth it all when we see Jesus! Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ. One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase. So, bravely run the race till we see Christ.’ – Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26

What does our text today have to do with Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, and dear personal friends of the Lord Jesus? You will remember the account of these two sisters in Luke 10, where Martha, burdened (cumbered) with the work of preparing the meal for their special Guest, and seeing Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet hearing His word, implores Jesus: ‘Bid her therefore that she help me’. Martha was looking for someone familiar with the kitchen and the dining room, someone able to carry out the necessary tasks of providing the meal with familiarity and ease. The Greek word for ‘help’ that Martha used, ‘sunantilambano’, is used only one other time in the New Testament: in our text. The help that Martha was hoping for from Mary is the help that the Holy Spirit gives to us in our prayer life.

Why do we need help with our prayers? Because we don’t always know or understand the mind and will of God. Let’s take the readily available example of an election. We ought to pray for the election, for sure. But what do we ask our Father to do? There is probably a candidate or party that we would like to see win, or a candidate or party that we don’t want to see win. But the powers that be are ordained of God (Romans 13:1). God’s purposes and plans for the future are far beyond our understanding. How do we know which candidate or party God has ordained to win? Obviously, we don’t. But the Holy Spirit does. So we commit the election to Him.

There is a caveat in our prayers: our text tells us that we pray as we ought. That means we are to pray with God’s will in mind. It is always God’s will for sinners to be saved, so we are praying as we ought when we pray for salvation, for Gospel meetings, and for Gospel preachers, as well as those we know are under the sound of the Gospel, and those of our loves ones who we long to see saved. It is always God’s will that His people be edified, strengthened, and increasing in our knowledge of Him. So that prayer is always appropriate. According to the Word of God, we are to pray for all those in authority ‘that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty’ – 1 Timothy 2:2. So we pray as we ought when we pray for counsellors, mayors, MLAs, premiers, MPs, the prime minister, and the Queen, And you can add many others to that list. Ask the Lord, He will help you to know who and what to pray for.

‘The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much’ – James 5:16. And to our effectual fervent prayers, the Holy Spirit contributes all the divine help we need. Let us pray! -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, October 18th, 2019

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. Romans 8:22

The last verse of Genesis 1 contains some beautiful words: And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. If only you and I could step back in time to that evening on the world’s first Friday and see what God saw as He reviewed His creation and proclaimed it very good. Unlike the evolutionist’s twisted concept of a blob of slime in a steamy swamp, God viewed the world in a beauty that you and I have never seen. Everything from trees to shrubs to grasses and flowers to mosses were all perfectly formed and lovely. Animals in the peak of health and sweet of temperament were a delight to behold. And the world’s most handsome man and the world’s most beautiful woman adorned the special garden that was God’s masterpiece of beauty and utility. We can try to describe that scene, but our imagination is too tiny to grasp what God meant when He proclaimed that it was very good. So different from the mess that Adam’s race has made of it, although that will change.

All of the death, destruction, and misery we see in our world today is described so accurately in our text in the words ‘groaneth and travaileth in pain together’. Every cemetery, every law court, every doctor and police officer remind us that this world has continued to run downhill, and we see no evidence that the plunge to perdition will slow anytime soon. Make no mistake, it is sin, and not climate change, that is dragging this world down. And yet, the rescue mission to restore this old world to its former state has already taken place. When the Lord Jesus completed his great work of redemption on the cross, He restored more than Adam had lost in Eden. Except in our own souls, and in the companies of the Lord’s people, we have not seen much evidence of this recovery. But it will surely come, because the work of the Saviour on the cross is not in vain. He restored that which He took not away – Psalm 69:4. And the significance of two words in our text – until now – will become apparent.

You and I will not, in our earthly lifetimes, see this world released from its groaning and travailing. In fact, the groaning and travailing will continue to get worse until the time of the great tribulation. And that time will bring in terrible judgments that will wrack this world as never before. We won’t see that, of course, because the rapture of the saints will carry us far above the torturous tribulation. But the tribulation will endure for seven years, and then will come the time that our text points forward to. During the thousand years in which Christ will reign in righteousness, this world will see what it would have been all these years if Adam had never sinned.

Christians are the first to experience in our souls the release from the groaning and travailing in pain caused by sin. This work in our souls will soon give way to release for our bodies as well. – Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. Romans 8:17

John Newton, the man who gave us the beautiful old hymn Amazing Grace, has also given us an excellent illustration of today’s text. Here are Brother Newton’s words: ‘Suppose a man was going to New York to take possession of a large estate, and his carriage should break down a mile before he got to the city, which obliged him to walk the rest of the way; what a fool we should think him, if we saw him ringing his hands, and blubbering out all the remaining mile, ‘My carriage is broken! My carriage is broken!” Brother Newton would remind us that we are en route to a vastly greater city than New York, to receive a far greater possession than any in this entire world, and there must needs be a breakdown of our carriage along the way. But we will reach the city and will receive the possession.

On their return from their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas reminded the Christians in Antioch that they ‘must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God’ – Acts 14:22. Tribulartion and suffering should come as no surprise to Christians, given the Lord Jesus’ words in His sermon on the mount: ‘Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you’ Matthew 5:10-12. The New Testament has many verses that refer to our suffering for our Lord, including 1 Peter 4:12-13: ‘Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy’.

No person with a healthy mind enjoys suffering. Our physical bodies are designed to recoil from pain. Our reflexes are geared to protect us from situations that will bring hurt upon ourselves. But for the Christian, God has given to us the ability to see beyond the suffering to the glory that the suffering will bring us into. And we are also called to appreciate the benefits that come to us from passing through suffering: ‘Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God’ 1 Corinthians 1:3-4. We have already seen in Romans 5:3 that tribulation worketh patience, and we can all use a little more patience in our lives. Best of all, there is the reward and the glory that God will bestow on those who suffer for Christ: ‘ Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him’ James 1:12.

The dark cloud of suffering that is such a curse to the world has a glorious silver lining that is precious to the Christian who can see it. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15

A preacher friend of mine was chatting with a teenager, who was sharing with him some of the challenges he encountered as a young Christian. This teenager was not a particularly good student, and struggled in some of his high school subjects. He told the preacher that whenever he sat down to write a test, he would feel overwhelmed by the pressure and would not recall what he needed for the test. He asked the preacher if he had any advice for such situations. The preacher asked him what he prayed for when he sat down to write the test. ‘Do you mean,’ the young man asked in surprise, ‘that God actually wants us to pray about things like that?’ Oh yes, dear child of God, our kind and loving Father not only wants us to pray about things like that, He also cares very deeply about things like that.

Can you think about anything that you plan to do today that you don’t think your Father in Heaven is interested in? Think again! We need to rid our minds of the concept of God our Father as a distant and lofty Deity Who knows and cares little about the small and intimate aspects of our lives. The expression in our text ‘Abba Father’ is very revealing as to His character of caring. ‘Abba Father’ = our own dear Father. His love for us is more tender than that of any parent, and His understanding of our situation and feelings goes far beyond that of an earthly father. He can never misjudge us or fail to grasp exactly what we are going through and what is important to us. As dear as He is to us, we are far more dear and precious to Him.

We have received the Spirit of adoption. There was a time when we knew nothing about this, nor even cared. We were enslaved by the spirit of bondage, the devil. Our salvation changed all that. No longer obliged to submit to the grinding thumb of a cruel taskmaster, we are adopted into the family of God. Our relationship has been transformed from slaves to sons and daughters. The more we appreciate this relationship, the more we will gladly worship our Father. And the more we will be willing to serve and follow Him in glad obedience to His Word.

Whether we whisper it or shout it, the expression – or at least the meaning – Abba Father – should draw us more closely to His caring bosom today. – Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. Romans 8:9

One of the interesting and enjoyable things I recall from my high school geometry classes were the exercises in developing corollaries. A corollary is a statement that follows with little or no proof required from an already proven statement. Although it has been more than half a century ago, and my career path took me far away from ever using geometry theorems again, I can still recall how working out corollaries was much like a detective proving certain facts from the clues he found in a mystery case. There is a very powerful corollary that we can develop from the portion of our text today that states that ‘if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His’. The corollary is that if any man does have the Spirit of Christ, he is indeed one of His. And the context in Romans 8 proves that this corollary is true.

It is a sad fact that so many around us do not have the Spirit dwelling in them. This means they have no Guide and Protector in their daily lives, no ability – or any desire – to please God in any of their actions, no hope of eternal rest, and no shelter from the wrath of God. The opposite (the corollary) is true for those of us in whom dwells the Spirit of God: we have a Guide and Protector in our daily lives, an ability – and a desire – to please God in all of our actions, an assurance of an eternal rest, and everlasting shelter from the wrath of God. It is also a sad fact that – as our text declares – those without the Spirit of Christ do not belong to Him. But the opposite, the corollary, to that sad fact is the glorious truth that we belong forever to Christ.

Each Christian is one of His. A newly saved eleven-year-old girl is one of His. So is a seasoned evangelist or missionary. There is no difference in terms of Who we belong to, even though there are great differences in terms of knowledge of our God and our salvation, in terms of our experience in the faith, and in terms of our stability in the doctrines of the Scriptures. We are one of His, and this will be as true throughout the extent of eternity as it is today: ‘And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand’ – John 10:28.

You have the Spirit of Christ. You are one of His. Now, that is a wonderful corollary! -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, October 14th, 2019

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5

Did you ever read about Huckleberry Finn, a prominent character in two of Mark Twain’s best-known novels? If so, you will recall how this homeless and apparently shiftless boy was taken in and given a home by the kindly and wealthy Widow Douglas. Instead of sleeping in a barrel, wearing cast-off clothes, and eating whatever he could find or steal, Huck finds himself in a warm and comfortable home with a beautiful bed, the best of clothes, and plenty of the best of food. For all his new comforts, Huck chafes under the rules, the starch, the routine, and the constant preaching and prodding of the widow’s sister, Miss Watson. So he runs off. His friend Tom Sawyer finds him back in the old barrel, smoking his pipe and wearing the old cast-offs that he had cast off when he went to live with the widow. Huck reminds us of the Christians in the first half of our text, doesn’t he?

Not every Christian is interested in allowing the Holy Spirit to instruct and lead them into a victorious life. Some Christians never lose their taste for the weak and beggarly elements of their former life. The term ‘mind’ refers to thinking about or dwelling on. And such Christians keep thinking about and wanting to participate in the activities and interests of their unsaved days. Instead of reading their Bibles, they fill their minds with the world’s pathetic excuse for literature and media. Instead of praying to their Lord, they play with the devil’s dainties and delights. Instead of finding their fellowship with other Christians, they maintain the relationships that they enjoyed in their former days. And the more they mind the things of the flesh, the less interest they have in the things of the Spirit.

Christians who mind the things of the Spirit develop healthy spiritual appetites and attitudes. They enter into rich spiritual blessings and qualify for rich spiritual rewards. Theirs is a life of fulfillment that leads to a likeness to their Lord and Saviour. Sadly, these are all denied to those who mind the things of the flesh. Their appetites and attitudes are destructive and unhealthy. Although they may temporarily find material gain, it eventually transforms itself into waste and loss.

How is it that some Christians drift back into minding the things of the flesh after they are saved? That is a difficult one to answer, and every Christian who goes that route is responsible for their tragic decision. But there is also a responsibility on those who mind the things of the spirit to take a loving and energetic interest in the weak and faltering ones. We can always pray for them. We can often encourage and help them in various ways. And, unlike Miss Watson, we can show our interest in thoughtful and considerate ways that the struggling Christians will be more likely to respond to in a positive way.

Christians who mind the things of the flesh are a pathetic sight. Let us ask the Lord what we can do to help them. – Jim MacIntosh