Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, February 17th, 2019

And to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel. Hebrews 12:24

Abel was a righteous man; we know this because of Scripture’s testimony regarding his excellent sacrifice. Abel is the first in line in Faith’s Hall of Fame as registered in Hebrews 11. Following Abel’s benchmark, all other Old Testament saints stepped into faith and established proof of their righteousness. When he died, it was the blood of a righteous man that flowed, and that cried out to God from the ground (Genesis 4:10). We will see Abel in Heaven one day. But he will not be there because of the value of his own blood, but by the value of the blood of the sacrifice. And the value of the blood of his excellent sacrifice was itself a proxy for the blood of the one great Sacrifice that would be made for sins forever. That is why our text speaks of blood that speaks better things than that of Abel.

Abel’s blood called for vengeance. Cain deserved and received punishment for his great crime, bearing punishment greater than he can bear for eternity. He was guilty of Abel’s blood. When the Jewish leaders and people cried for Jesus blood before Pilate, they were guilty of spilling greater blood than that of Abel. We recognize and accept our responsibility in that crime as well. And today, the blood that our Saviour shed on Calvary cries out. But unlike the vengeance that Abel’s blood sought, the blood of Christ cries out in grace and mercy. It is true that those who are guilty of shedding His blood must bear the punishment… but only if they fail to trust in that blood’s merit. The very blood that our Saviour shed was able to provide forgiveness and grace to those who shed it. And it continues to offer forgiveness and grace today to all who will trust.

Abel’s blood has no value for us today, nor does the blood of the sacrifice that he offered to God. That blood speaks to us today of Abel’s faithfulness, and of God’s provision for those in his day. But today, we need a better sacrifice, and God has provided it. God is satisfied with the blood of His son as the atonement for our sin. And so should we be. – Jim MacIntosh

Sermon for Saturday

Saturday, February 16th, 2019

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness and darkness and tempest. Hebrews 12:18

No Israelite who was there that day could ever forget the great manifestation of the power of God at Mount Sinai. The tremendous thunderings and quakings would reverberate through their lives, as they would remember how God made His presence felt. They would shiver in remembrance, and hope to never experience such frightening events again. How much better it was to have Moses go and speak with God instead of having God address the entire nation! And, today, we say how much better to have one intercede with God who is far higher and greater than Moses!

The awesome presence of the Almighty is not something that we appreciate today. We never heard or felt Sinai’s power. We know nothing of the unleashing of God’s manifestation of His presence, although the heart of a severe thunderstorm can sometimes seem close. It is difficult to imagine the dread that the Israelites felt as they gathered at Sinai’s base when all we have is the Bible’s description of it. Not even a video or a sound clip! We can’t imagine how frightened and shaken those folks were, and our text makes it plain that we never will. Ours is a different time and dispensation. Ours is the calm assurance sins forgiven and peace with God, with no dread of dire judgment for breaches of the Law of God. The storm to be unleashed against sin, with all of its dire warnings at Sinai, has already broken on Another. And He Who exhausted the judgment that we deserve now stands as our advocate to make sure we never experience the terror of God’s wrath. But sometimes, the position that we occupy seems to remove us from the awe that we should feel when considering the God Who is our Lord.

Take our remembrance meetings, for example; how often does the reality grip us that we are sitting in the Presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, the God of eternity? As we view the wonders and mysteries of creation, does our heart ever skip a beat at the realization of the wisdom and power of its Creator? As we consider the ugliness of sin and the wretchedness of our own hearts, does it ever grip us that God is holy and righteous beyond our understanding?

Contemplating the awesome demonstration of God’s power and holiness at Sinai might help us today to appreciate Him Who has delivered us from Sinai’s dread. – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, February 15th, 2019

So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he did eat continually at the king’s table, and was lame on both his feet. 2 Samuel 9:13

If Mephibosheth were living today, I believe he would have made a good addition to one of God’s Assemblies. There is much about this man that is comparable to Christians of today. Features of his life after he was brought from Lodebar by David are similar to the features of New Testament Assembly principles.

For one thing, Mephibosheth was occupying a place that was his solely by the grace of the king. We acknowledge that our place in God’s Assembly is not something that we in our unsaved days would have ever sought, or ever been able to attain. How gracious of God to bring us into the fellowship where the Lord Jesus has placed His Name! May we ever appreciate it as much as Mephibosheth appreciated his seat at David’s table.

We are also told that Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem. He has no interest in the old life in Lodebar. He has a new and better home; no other place will do, because David is there. Can we ever be content in a place that bears the name of men’s ideas or mortal heroes rather than the Name of the Lord Jesus? Our home is His presence.

Mephibosheth was continually at David’s table, just as members of God’s Assembly feast weekly on the emblems that remind us of His death, feast daily on the Word of His truth, and feast hourly on the goodness of His drawing us unto Himself and His Assembly.

Despite his newly exhalted position, Mephibosheth remains lame. He can never forget that his place at David’s table is not because of his own capabilities but because of David’s grace. We too are reminded that despite our salvation, we are still in sinful bodies, still helpless to accomplish anything outside of God’s power and direction.

Are we like Mephibosheth? Do we appreciate the King’s table? Like him, we are former enemies who rejoice at His marvellous peace and eternal friendship. In God’s Assembly, we can fully appreciate our King. – Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. Jonah 3:7

We hear it all the time, don’t we? People blame God for the death of a child, the destruction of a home, the suffering of a loved one. If God was a good God, they say, He would not let bad things happen like that. Jonah had a nice gourd that provided him with wonderful shade, and he enjoyed it fully. But God sent along a worm that killed the gourd, and Jonah lost his shade. Was it fair of God to take away such a blessing? How could God possibly be good if He would do such a mean thing?

For one thing, it was God Who provided the gourd in the first place. Jonah had nothing to do with its provision, even though he appreciated its shade. God provided it, and God removed it. We need to take that into consideration when we lose a loved one, or suffer a catastrophe. That which we enjoyed was on loan from God, and we have no right to criticize His recalling it.

For another thing, God was trying to get through to Jonah. Somehow, Jonah had a twisted idea about God’s character. By removing the gourd, God was able to get Him to understand His mercy and grace. Jonah needed to know that God’s ways are far above our ways, and He loves to dispense mercy. Do we understand God’s character? Sometimes it is only in the removal of His gourds of blessing that God can get through to us.

Has God removed one of the gourds that he gave to you? Maybe it’s time to ask Him why, and to reveal Himself to you, that you might appreciate His goodness and mercy. – Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14

An old friend of mine had become involved in a dispute over some property. Although he tried to resolve the dispute, the other man was very unreasonable, and refused to even negotiate a settlement. As the dispute dragged on, and as Christmas drew near, my Christian friend bought a large number of boxes of chocolates to give to friends and to people he did business with. One day, while dropping off a box of chocolates to a friend in a store in a mall, he noticed in the next store his opponent in the property dispute. He rushed into that store, and with a friendly smile handed his opponent a box of chocolates, and wished him a merry Christmas. The man was too shocked to speak, and almost too shocked to accept the candy. But the next day, he phoned my friend and suggested they get together and resolve their disagreement. Although peace is not always so easily obtained, it should always be the Christian’s goal.

Peace and holiness are indeed the ingredients for seeing the Lord. God’s salvation gives us peace with God, removing the enmity that would have kept us from Heaven and damned us to hell. God’s salvation also gives us holiness, forever removing the sin that once barred us from God’s presence and blessing. Peace and holiness are integral components of the eternal life we received when we trusted Christ. However, they are not automatically displayed in the life of every believer; they must be developed and practiced in order for them to be vibrant components of our testimony for our Lord.

There are Christians around us who are not at peace, practically speaking. They become involved in arguments and disputes, and make little effort to avoid contentious situations. They are unhappy about conditions around them, and are often at loggerheads with fellow believers over matters large or small. The peace that they have with God is not displayed in their life. Perhaps more of a reproach to their Lord are those Christians who live in disregard to the need for holiness. Such Christians associate with people whose influence on them is bad, or they attend events or frequent places that allow or promote immorality and wickedness, or they engage in dishonest business dealings. As our God is holy, so should we be holy.

The peace and holiness that salvation brought us will take us to Heaven. The peace and holiness that we display in our lives will enable us to represent Heaven while we are still here. – Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

For whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. Hebrews 12:6

You hear them, and often see them, almost every time you go shopping. Some child will throw a screaming fit because his or her parent doesn’t want to buy the candy or toy that the child wants. In most cases, the parent gives in to the child, to silence the embarrassing racket, and the shoppers and staff around them shake their heads in disgust. Everybody knows that such children misbehave because they have not been chastened. Their misbehaviour brings no pleasure – only shame – to their parents. Wise parents will discipline a child for such misbehaviour, to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Out of love for the child, a wise parent will take action to correct inappropriate behaviour. God also disciplines His children when we misbehave. But He chastens us for other reasons as well.

The God Who knows all about us surely knows when we deserve to be corrected. He understands our motives better than parents understand their children’s motives, and His correction is always just and perfect. His correction is not from any desire to make us suffer or to repress us. No, just like a wise earthly parent, He acts in love, to remove from us that behaviour that is not appropriate for His child. Without God’s chastening, God’s children would act as foolish as an undisciplined child in a candy store. We need God’s hand to make us behave so as not to bring shame on our Lord and on ourselves.

But sometimes we see Christians who are enduring hard situations and painful experiences, and we can’t understand why. We see such a Christian who has a good testimony, a zeal in the Gospel, and apparently is doing well spiritually, and we wonder that God allows such a Christian to endure so much. This may well be a case where God is not acting in correction, but in refining the gold. The Lord loves to teach His people lessons to bring them more into His image. Sometimes, He allows us to encounter problems so that we will have the experience to help others when they encounter the same problems. Sometimes, He needs us to learn more about patience, more about trusting Him, more about showing love and compassion to others. God is not ‘spanking’ us for misbehaving, He is shaping us for our good and for His glory.

Although we might not like to be chastened, we should take it as proof that the Lord loves us. And if we love Him, we will accept the discipline graciously, and let it do its good work in us. – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, February 11th, 2019

Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Hebrews 12:4

Ancient Greek boxers had two stages to their competitions. In the first stage, the boxers used rope wrappings on their fists, which could help deliver a severe blow but which usually did not cut the person who was struck. In the second stage, the boxers had metal and other sharp objects woven into the rope, and blood was often drawn. As a result, the first stage of competition was not usually bloody, while in the second stage, the boxers would often be covered in blood. This what the Apostle is referring to here as he speaks of resisting unto blood, the more gory and brutal part of the struggle.

According to About.com, some 160,000 Christians die every year for their faith. Now, that number is rather skewed because it includes all members of all groups who call themselves Christians. But it is probably safe to say that about half of those – or 80,000 – are true believers who perish at the hands of those who are enemies of the cross. That is an astonishing number, when we consider how safe we in our civilized society are from even the remotest harrassment for our faith. Those dear folks have indeed resisted unto blood. Although none of them volunteered to die, they allowed themselves to be put into harm’s way in order to be faithful to the Word of God, to be involved in the spread of the Gospel, or to take a stand against sin. We cringe at the realization that many of these dear saints endured torture before they died. But we rejoice at the knowledge that they entered into comfort and great reward for their sacrifice. And we blush at the realization that we are not only glad that we are not faced with similar threats but that we could possibly fail if we were to be.

Like the folks being addressed in the epistle, we have not resisted unto blood because we have not been asked to. God has not called us to be martyrs, at least not yet. We serve in a venue where safety and comfort are the norm, and risks are slight. But that does not excuse us from faithfulness. That does not prevent us from standing up for godliness and decency in a world awash in immorality and blasphemy. It does not keep us from heralding the Gospel and supporting those who carry the Word to the unsaved. It does not keep us from gathering with the people of God for fellowship, worship, and edification.

While we are thankful that we need not resist unto blood, we ought to be as faithful as those who do. – Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, February 10th, 2019

For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:3

A friend of mine had an interest in collecting old magazines, and frequently read articles related to his hobby. One day, someone told him about an article in a local newspaper related to old magazines, and asked him if he had read it. My friend, who apparently had a low opinion of that newspaper, declared, ‘Life is too short to read that paper!’ The impression he was making was that there were more important and worthwhile things he could be doing. If we were to rank all of the things we do, and list them according to how worthwhile they are, we might come up with some interesting observations about our sense of priorities. May I suggest that there is one activity that we would do well to place at the top of our list – consider Him.

Time is too short and eternity too long to NOT spend as much of it as possible considering the Lord Jesus. Remember, all the poor souls who will enter hell will do so because they failed to give Him enough consideration. All the Christians who make shipwreck of their testimony, or who fail to accomplish anything worthwhile in their spiritual lives can ultimately lay the blame on their failure to give enough consideration to their Lord and Saviour. On the other hand, all of those who have accomplished great exploits for God, every saint who remains faithful in their service and witness for Christ, every child of God who enjoys daily communion with their Lord and appreciates fellowship with His people gives evidence of the sustaining and elevating power of considering Him. Perhaps none of us are all that we ought to be, but our focus on Christ makes all the difference in separating us from the world and unto Himself.

Our text reminds us that He is the One Who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself. From the rejection and hatred displayed by Herod and his cronies in His childhood, to the Jewish leaders and religious hypocrites who hounded and plotted against Him during His ministry, to the crowd that cried for His blood at Gabbatha, to those who mocked and jeered as He hung on the cross, the Lord Jesus endured the contradiction of sinners. In doing so, He proved that our hearts were at enmity against Him and were guilty of His death. He also proved how far it was necessary to go to fulfill the will of His Father. None of us will ever go as far as He must go, of course. But He sets for us a great example. and our hearts are encouraged as we consider Him.

Considering Him today is the best use of your time. – Jim MacIntosh

Sermon for Saturday

Saturday, February 9th, 2019

Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Our text has an extra word, one that the translators tucked in there to help us understand the meaning. But in my opinion, their extra word confuses the meaning somewhat. The word ‘our’ is not in the original. If we omit this word, we have Jesus identified as the Author and Finisher of faith. And that links us back to the previous chapter, known as faith’s hall of fame. All of those great Old Testament heroes inspire us and instruct us with their faithfulness to God. Because they believed, they achieved great exploits for God. Over thousands of years, they functioned in many different capacities, but maintained a wonderful harmony in their portrayal of the God they served. And our verse explains why: they had an Author and Finisher, an Overseer and Perfecter. The Lord Jesus is not just the Author and Finisher of our faith, He is the Founder and Maintainer of all faith for all people for all time.

Without the Lord Jesus, there would be no faith. Without Him, Abraham would not have been able to please God, Moses would never have chosen affliction with the people of God, prophets would never have endured burnings and tortures, and Samson would never have pulled down pillars. We cannot imagine faith – in Old Testament days or in our own time – without the Lord Jesus. If we look at different translations of this verse, we find a variety of terms, all of them instructive, to refer to Jesus as the Author of faith: Champion, Source, Founder, Pioneer, Leader, and Prince. As the Finisher, He is identified as the Perfecter, Goal, and Completer. In all these terms, we obtain a sense of how faith takes its very fabric from His person. Just as in creation, He is before all things and by Him all things consist, so in faith, all faith proceeds from Him and without Him cannot even exist. The very faith that you and I used to identify Him as our Saviour and to enter into His salvation came from Him.

Even great worldly minds recognize the need for and importance of faith. The great German philosopher Wolfgang Goethe stated that epochs of faith are epochs of fruitfulness, while epochs without faith are devoid of all permanent good. If we study Chapter 8, we can identify the great events that needed to occur, all the result of faith. Nothing worthwhile that you and I ever achieve is possible without faith. And that faith comes only from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Just as He has freely given His life that we might have life, the Lord Jesus has provided faith that we might use it to access His power and direction. – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, February 8th, 2019

Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1

Two young men bent on mischief had picked up another man in a Moncton bar, and convinced him to take them for a drive. When they were outside the city, the two took over the car and headed toward the US border. Along the way, they killed the man they had pretended to befriend, and dumped his body in a Sussex area gravel pit. Stealing his money and other possessions, they went on to Maine, where they were eventually arrested and returned to New Brunswick for trial. During the course of the trial, I watched as a carefully prepared list of police investigators, eye-witnesses, and others were called to testify. The prosecutors called many witnesses, and left no detail unaccounted for. All the two accused men could try to do in their own defense was blame each other for the killing. To no one’s surprise, they were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The jury had the advantage of a cloud of witnesses on which to base their decision. So do we as we make life decisions for ourselves.

The writer of this epistle has just described the faith of Old Testament saints, which he presents as evidence in favour of our pursuing a life of faith for ourselves. The evidence that is presented in Chapter 11 is very convincing, and we are put to shame as we realize how pathetically little we do, even with all of the advantages we have over the Old Testament folks. They never had the opportunity to read the evidence put forth by the writers of the Gospels about the life of the Lord Jesus. They had no privilege of reading of the acts of the apostles, or studying the teachings of the epistles, or examining the future as detailed in the great book of the Revelation. No, based on the evidence they had in the writings of the prophets, or in the revelations that God provided, they lived fruitful testimonies to God’s purposes and mercy. And, as our text reminds us, there was a cloud of evidence from them.

What have we done with the evidence from that cloud of witnesses? Have we allowed their evidence to dispel all of our doubts about God and His Word? Have we allowed their evidence to convince us of our own responsibilities as children of God? Have we taken their evidence as instruction and encouragement for ourselves? Have we rested our case on their evidence as proof that the Christian’s race is a worthy pursuit?

The cloud of witnesses beckons us today to faithfully and diligently pursue the only race for which there is an eternal reward. – Jim MacIntosh