Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8

We all remember the fairy tale called The Emperor’s New Clothes, in which a vain emperor was tricked by tailors who claimed to make him garments made of a cloth that could be seen only by those who were wise and worthy of their position. Fools, the tailors claimed, would be unable to see the magical material. They were able to get away with their deceit because nobody wanted to admit that they were unable to see the clothes. To admit that they could not see the clothes would be to admit that they were fools and unworthy of their positions. They are like those today who either deny there is a God or who claim to have their own way of approaching God, because otherwise they would be fools. What they don’t realize is that, like the tricked emperor, they are fools for believing a lie.

Our text tells us that only the pure in heart can see God. That lets me out, at least in my own merit. And it lets you out, and everybody you ever knew or heard tell of. The great religious leaders who claim to have the inside track to God’s presence are like the emperor, they are just pretending, to keep everyone from discovering that they are fools. Remember the pathetic televangelists of a few decades ago, who preached up a holy storm on television while committing gross deeds of immorality and theft behind the scenes. It’s not hard to see behind the whitewashed ceremony and fanfare of the papacy, and the trappings of religious leaders of all kinds. Do these men really think they can deceive people into thinking they are close to God. Unfortunately, many of them are successful with their deceit. But they are not pure in heart, and will never see Heaven, let alone enter it and see the Almighty. Who then can see God? Can we?

Only One who ever walked this planet was pure in heart. And we are told (2 Corinthians 5:21) that He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. We cannot enter into all that is expressed in the term ‘righteousness of God’, but we do know that it includes receiving a pure heart. You and I know the pride, the naughtiness, the disobedience, the deceit that abides in our own hearts. But the One Who knew no sin provides to His own His pureness of heart. And we will one day behold our God. Even today, we can obtain a glimpse of Him in His Word, we can enter His presence in prayer, we can enjoy the fellowship of His people. And our ability to draw near to Him increases the more we put into practice the purity that we have received.

The pure in heart! It’s a title we do not deserve. But it is the only title that includes the privilege of seeing God. -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6

How much money would it take to satisfy you? Don’t be too sure of your answer! I looked into an open casket one time, into the face of a man who a few days earlier was worth somewhere north of seven billion dollars. That is considerably more than the amount you just thought of, and yet it was not enough for K.C. Irving; he always wanted to expand his empire, to make a little more profit, to built a few more mills or ships or service stations. That’s money; it cannot satisfy. We could say the same of power or popularity or pleasure, and point to people who had gained more of those things than we could ever imagine, and they were never content to do anything but pursue more. We all spend our lives in one pursuit or another, some with greater vigour than others, but we all are chasing something. But our text tells us that only one thing can satisfy.

Righteousness is not a natural pursuit of man, although it should be. Our natural pursuits are those things of this world that will never fill us and that will never endure past death’s doorstep. Righteousness is a spiritual pursuit, and it is outside the possibility of the unsaved to even attempt to obtain. Some make a feeble attempt with their religion and their good works, but they can never find satisfaction and fulfillment in those. The righteousness that is by Christ, on the other hand, is the only thing that will give contentment here and give value in the life to come. That’s why a poverty-stricken child of God can wear a smile and sing a melody in his heart; he has feasted on that which truly satisfies. That is also why a child of God who has chosen to pursue material things or the world’s pleasures can never be happy in soul. Our Lord tells us what our appetite should be if we want satisfaction.

There is not enough money in the world to satisfy the billionaire, not enough pleasure in the world to content the heart of its lovers, not enough power in the world to satisfy the greatest despot. But enough righteousness is available to any and all saints who will seek it. Our text speaks of hungering and thirsting. There is a sense of urgency here, a deep and passionate desire. That is the way to pursue righteousness. It won’t fall into our laps if we fail to read and meditate on the Word of God, if we neglect to spend time in our Lord’s presence in prayer, if we refuse to assemble ourselves with His people, or if we develop no zeal in the Gospel.

God longs to satisfy the appetite for His righteousness. Do we long for Him to do so? -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4

A certain family became deeply worried about the illness of their little boy, and, when the lad died, they were overcome with grief. The parents hugged and wept, their sorrow almost more than they could bear. The boy’s grandfather took a different approach. Although he had dearly loved his grandson, he could not sit and mourn as the parents did. Instead, he went to the garden, started up the tiller, and spent the day cultivating the garden. His approach was simply another way to release his deep emotional overload. Family tragedies always result in mourning, and we have all come into contact with it because of the powerful bonds of love within our families. There are other types of mourning as well, when we think of the loss of friends, health, wealth, status, and treasures. But for the Christian, there is a time when mourning for all these losses will terminate forever.

The deep loss of a loved one seems too great to overcome. Wives who have lost a precious husband often say it is a loss that they never get over. Parents who lose a child often say the pain endures for the rest of their lives. For most of us, time will ease the pain of such losses, but the loss is never forgotten. How then can there be comfort for those who mourn? The comfort may be awhile in coming, but it will come. A sense of comfort is available to parents who see a child die, knowing that the child is safe in the Saviour’s arms. But the comfort becomes complete in the coming day when parents and child are reunited in the Glory. The same comfort is available to all of us who have seen loved ones die; the coming day will reunite us forever.

But what about other losses we encounter; how will be receive comfort regarding them? Consider a family whose beautiful and comfortable home is destroyed by fire. The loss seems so huge, and the precious possessions irreplaceable. That is a loss we might feel deeply now, but a loss that will seem so trivial when we enter the mansions of Glory. The loss of health now is to be compensated when we receive our new and glorified bodies. The loss of friends will give way to a glorious reunion that has no end. None of earth’s joys can compare to the promise of pleasures at our Saviour’s side forevermore.

A day is coming when our comfort will be complete and permanent. The anticipation of such a day should give us great comfort today. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermon for Saturday

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain, and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him. Matthew 5:1

One of my sisters was memorizing the Beatitudes, the first section of Matthew 5, so all we heard from her for weeks was her recital of today’s text and a few of the following verses. Over and over she practiced aloud, until everybody in the house knew this verse as well as Mary did. I can’t read this text without thinking of Mary. This is what is referred to as the primacy effect: we remember the most clearly what we hear first. That’s why you think the only right way for a song to be sung is the way you first heard it. For me, this verse has a powerful primacy effect. Are there any Bible verses that stand out for you in this way?

In our early Christian experience, we sometimes encounter a portion of scripture that makes a significant impression on us, so that we recall that impression for many years. This can occur if we hear someone giving a word of ministry, such as a message I heard from Lloyd Cain on Hebrews 12:12 more than 55 years ago in Oxford. Scripture is particularly important for the primacy effect, as the Holy Spirit helps us to recall information and details that become a permanent part of our knowledge of the Word of God. That is why it is so important for young Christians to not only study the Word themselves, but to listen to those who teach it. We will never remember it all, but we will remember some, and some will make its lasting impression on us.

Our text is an introduction to what is very likely the greatest ministry sermon ever preached on this planet. Jesus had a message to deliver to His disciples, some very important doctrine regarding His kingdom, and some powerful guiding principles for His people today. He chose a mountainside for His cathedral, and possibly a rock for His pulpit, and the Galilean songbirds for His special music. How vastly different from the ornate and elaborate settings for the great orations of men! Those of us who enjoy the outdoors would appreciate the beauty of the setting. But it wouldn’t mean much to those who crave the fancy trimmings. And yet the echoes of the great speeches of men have long since fallen silent while the dynamic power of the Sermon on the Mount continues to provide strength to the Lord’s people and will never cease to do so.

Just as I continue to recall Mary’s memorization project from our childhood, so you can benefit from the primacy effect of a deep and passionate study of this great sermon. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, April 19th, 2019

And there followed Him great multitudes of people, from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan. Matthew 4:25

A phenomenon that has developed in our day is a monstrosity called a mega-church. A mega-church is defined as any church with a membership of more than 2,000. The largest mega-church in the world is the Yoida Full Gospel Church in South Korea, which had at one time 830,000 members. The largest mega-church in North America is Lakewood Church, in Houston, Texas, which has more than 43,000 attending each week to hear the prosperity-gospel blasphemies of Joel Olsteen. These organizations certainly qualify as multitudes. But are they following Jesus? Most of them seem to think so. Or are they following something or someone else?

Some of our conferences get pretty big. But usually, when we get together, we would never qualify as a multitude. Sometimes the numbers are pretty small at our meetings, sometimes embarrassingly small. But, by the grace of God, we are following Jesus. It’s not the small size of our gatherings that qualifies us as followers. Those people in our text that followed Jesus were only temporary followers. There came a time when they departed, when the miracles became an old story, when the words became too uncomfortably personal, when the excitement of the Miracle Worker was replaced by something else that came along. Only a few followed Jesus all through His ministry. Only a few follow Him today. The multitude never was faithful.

Here we are in a day when it is not popular to believe the Bible, or to preach the Gospel, or to stand up for the principles of God’s Assembly. The multitude today is not following anybody but themselves. We struggle to overcome apathy as we witness and preach. We see inroads being made by the cults and the false religions and very little progress being made when it comes to testimonies for Jesus Christ. We wonder why, if we have the truth, that more people can’t see that it is the truth. We can’t grasp the reality that the Gospel has no appeal for the multitude. We can’t see how the emptiness of the world is not more apparent. But we need to remember that the Lord Jesus never asked for the multitudes, because He knew how fickle a multitude is. What He does ask for is faithfulness, and He knows that faithfulness is found in the few, not the multitude.

Wouldn’t you rather be among the few who really follow the Lord Jesus than among the multitude who follow only as long as it’s convenient? -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishers. Matthew 4:18

There is an old saying that if you want something done, give it to the busiest person you can find, because he will make time to get it done. It’s true that people with lots of time on their hands never seem to get around to doing things while busy people, even overworked people, can schedule unexpected tasks when needed. That’s why the Lord Jesus, when collecting the men to be his disciples, chose those who were hard at work. In addition to Peter and Andrew, He also called James, John, and Matthew as they were at their employment. Some of the other disciples were undoubtedly called from busy lives, too. It appears the Lord Jesus knew about that old saying long before anybody said it; He doesn’t have much use for lazy people.

What does a fisherman know about preaching the Gospel, or anything else associated with an itinerate Preacher’s ministry? What credentials did these lads have that Jesus viewed as a worthwhile background for being trained to lead Christianity’s foundational years? What did the handling of nets and the knowledge of fish habitat have to do with spiritual matters? Only the Lord Jesus could know why the men He chose were the best choice. And only He knows why each of us were brought into the blessing of the Gospel. We should never question His wisdom in doing so, but should commit ourselves to His lordship for whatever work He assigns us to do.

Consider the first question that Saul of Tarsus asked when he encountered Jesus: Lord, what wilt Thou have me to DO (Acts 9:6)? Even then, Saul knew that he was not being called to a life of ease and leisure but a life of doing and serving. Just as his call brought him into a vibrant life of service, just as Peter and Andrew’s call brought them into full-time commitment, so our call is also to a life devoted to the will of our Lord. As believers, we can never find our fulfillment in the world’s pursuits. Our highest goals are not the passing aims of prosperity, power, popularity, or pleasure but of achieving the commendation of our Lord concerning things that matter for eternity.

Living for Christ is the most fulfilling and satisfying experience available to anyone in the world, as long as you are not a lazy Christian. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

And saith unto Him, All these things will I give thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me. Matthew 4:9

Most of the teenagers who work at the fast food places around here seem to be working for only one purpose, to support their smoking habit. Somehow, a few months or years ago, somebody – one of the devil’s minions – convinced them that smoking was a cool thing to do, that they were ‘chicken’ if they didn’t at least try it. Maybe they did have a bit of fun with it at first. But they were quickly hooked by the nicotine, and now they are wasting their health, their money, and their work breaks on the world’s most useless and destructive pasttime. As they huddle in the cold alone outside sucking forlornly on their stinkweeds, they realize the promise of cool was short-lived. So is the devil’s promise for most of his goodies. Including those he offered to the Lord Jesus.

Did the devil really have those kingdoms and their wealth to offer? Technically, yes, he is the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air. And he has fame, fortune, and popularity aplenty to offer those gullible enough to take his bait. Just as he didn’t mention to the Lord Jesus that his offer of the world’s kingdoms was just a temporary offer, he doesn’t tell people today that he has but a small time frame in which his offers are good. There are pleasures in sin, it is true, but they are only for a season. And some of them have a very short season before the pleasure descends into pain and grief. The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was possibly very sweet while it was in Adam’s mouth, but its bitter aftertaste has never faded in six thousand years. Although his evil temptations could never deceive the Lord Jesus, they have fooled billions – including us. And we need to be on our guard that we don’t see his attractions for more than they really are.

Nothing that the devil offers has lasting value. Some of his dainties endure for years before the sinner realizes how bad the bargain was. Other temptations are fleeting in their offer but eternal in the price they exact. The devil’s offer of this world’s kingdoms is temporary, because he will someday soon lose the right to offer them. His bad bargain shop will soon be closing, and he will have a price to pay for his own pride. The knowledge that his reign is short should serve to encourage us to withstand his wiles. Even the minor battles he wins against us are tempered by the knowledge that we have already won the war.

The devil’s temptations today can fade away as we grasp the greatness of the riches of Christ. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4

It has happened to me, and I am pretty sure you have experienced it too: a situation has developed in which you knew that the correct response was a specific verse of Scripture, but you just couldn’t think of the right verse. Only a few words would come to mind, and not the reference, so you had to bite your tongue and wish you had memorized that verse. If you are anything like me, you have even misquoted a few verses, and have been embarrassed that you conveyed the wrong meaning. That’s why our text is so refreshing, to read of One Who could never misquote Scripture, and Who know where the perfect verse was for every occasion.

The Lord Jesus is a perfect Example of always having the right Bible verse at hand. But that was a given, because He is the Word of God. As its Author, He knows the contents perfectly, and knows where each portion is best applied. How could we ever hope to imitate His example? There are things we can do that will certainly help. And one of them is memorizing Scripture so we can quote it as readily as the Lord Jesus did. We actually have a great advantage when we do this, because the Holy Spirit can use the Scripture that we have memorized, and help us to recall it when needed. Memorizing Scripture is necessary if we are to be effective in speaking for our Lord.

But simply quoting Scripture is not enough. Suppose someone asked about the Rapture and you responded with John 3:16; that would be inappropriate. So it’s important to know not only the words but the meaning of Scripture. If we know the sense, we can apply it practically when needed. All Scripture is profitable, but it does not all apply to all situations.

We also need to know where in the Bible to go for the help we need. That means an understanding of what is in each book in the Bible, and ideally an understanding of every chapter in each book. But that comes only after years of study and work. God does not expect a newly saved Christian to know all of these things. It takes time, but it is time well spent. In fact, there is no such thing as too much study of the Word of God. The more we know it, the more we can obey it. And the more we obey it, the more we are like its Author.

Can you quote Scripture verses like the Lord Jesus did? No, but don’t let that stop you from learning to quote them better than you can now. -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, April 15th, 2019

And when the tempter came to him, he said, ‘If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.’ Matthew 4:3

Did the devil believe that Jesus was the Son of God? Of course he did; if he had any doubt of it he would never have come to tempt Him. The devil knew exactly Who Jesus was. So why did he say to Him, ‘If Thou be…’ if he had no doubt of it? The devil’s most successful tool has always been sowing doubt in people’s minds and hearts. It worked when he said to our first parents, ‘Hath God said…’ And it worked with millions since them, and continues to work today. But it failed when the devil tried it on the Lord Jesus. Will it work when he tries it on us?

The devil hoped that by reminding the Lord Jesus of His power, he could convince Him to perform a selfish act. He wanted to convince the Lord Jesus to do something to prove a point. He was like a manipulative abuser who tells a supposed girlfriend/boyfriend, ‘If you really love me, you will….’ (Everyone who uses that expression is a manipulative abuser and should be avoided. No exceptions.) But what failed to work with the Lord Jesus often works with us. The Lord Jesus had no pride for the devil to appeal to. But we do. The devil’s temptations often seem to make sense. He reminds of the things we need (or think we need) and tells us that we can get those things by ourselves without relying on God and without adhering to the Word of God. We are reminded that the things we can obtain require only small compromises, just small lies, just minor misquotes of Scripture, just brief deviations from the things of God and His people. And the devil laughs when we fail to understand why the Lord Jesus rejected his temptation.

Could Jesus have turned the stones into bread? Of course He could; look at the vast amount of bread He produced from a lad’s lunch! So what would have been wrong with doing so? He was the Word of God made flesh, and His divine capabilities were not for Himself but for those He came to save. If He were to satisfy Himself, He would be doing so outside the Father’s will. He would also be ignoring the provision that His Father would supply to meet His needs. The Father has a purpose for us as well. And moving outside that purpose is disobedience. The Father has a supply for us, too. And seeking to fill our needs outside that supply is a lack of faith.

Do we question Who the Lord Jesus really is? Do we doubt His ability to meet our needs? Does the devil win with us where he failed with our Lord? -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

And, lo, a voice from Heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. Matthew 3:17

A wealthy businessman received a phone call in the middle of the night from the sheriff’s department. Dressing quickly, he made his way to city’s detention centre and told the officer in charge why he was there. The officer led him down a hallway and unlocked a huge steel door. They passed several cells until they came to the one at the end. The officer unlocked the cell door and allowed the man to enter. A young man sat on the cot, his shoulders slumped, his head down. He turned and gave his father an ashamed glance and hung his lead lower. The father sat beside the young man and said nothing for a few moments, then placed his hand on the lad’s shoulder. ‘Son,’ he said quietly, ‘I love you, but what you have done has made me very ashamed of your behaviour.’ This was not the first father to be ashamed of his son, and he won’t be the last. Our earthly fathers undoubtedly were ashamed of us at times. How wonderful to encounter a Son who never did and never could disappoint His Father!

It was just a baptism, a simply and brief ceremony conducted by a plain and rustic-clad baptizer. It differed from the dozens of other baptisms that John performed that day in few details, apart from John’s initial reluctance to proceed. But when it was over, something happened that was unique, unlike anything that John or his followers had ever encountered before: a proclamation from Heaven. John had been reluctant to baptise others, so that was not unique. But those others were questionable in terms of their repentance. Here was one in whom John saw no need for repentance. But he was persuaded to continue. And He was rewarded by having his conviction about Jesus conformed. Just a simple act of obedience and commitment, and Heaven spoke. The launch of Jesus’ ministry was not without Heaven’s confirmation. We don’t have an audible voice from Heaven in our midst today, but all of Scripture confirms Heaven’s approval of the Son.

No, Jesus had no reason to repent. But His desire was to fulfill all righteousness. From His baptism to his crucifixion and death, we see His commitment to His Father’s purpose. We who could never please the Father because of our sinful nature rejoice today that the Father accepts on our behalf the One Who did please Him. -Jim MacIntosh