Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them. Acts 4:1

A silly story is told of an optimist who fell off the roof of a 50 storey building. As he fell past the tenth storey windows, somebody heard him say, ‘So far, so good’. This man was in for a rude shock at the first floor level, I think. So were the disciples at this point in the early days of Christianity. In the first few days after Pentecost, everything had gone well. They had seen thousands respond to the Gospel, and great miracles met with excitement and favourable reaction. But now, that is all going to change, and change with a vengeance. The priests, temple officers, and Sadducees wanted nothing to do with the Gospel and they were going to protect their turf. Today’s text marks the beginning of the persecution that Jesus told the disciples would come. It’s still coming, although we don’t yet see the worst of it in our part of the world. But the devil hates to give up his goods.

An organization that calls itself the voice of persecuted Christians estimates that more Christians were slain for their faith during the 20th century than in the previous 19 centuries combined. And the rate of persecution and slaughter has risen sharply since the 20th century ended. We appreciate the freedom we have from such persecution in our country, including the freedom to publicly preach the Gospel. But there are growing threats that could well mean that the days of publicly proclaiming the Gospel are drawing to a close. Enemies of the cross are becoming more powerful and vicious, even more so than the priests, temple captain, and Sadducees in the early days. Moslems with their satanic Sharia law and avowed extermination of Jews and Christians have already gained strength in many countries and have a toehold in ours. As they grow in strength, the Gospel will be forced underground. The filthy homosexuality movement is already turning our society against decency and godliness and is striving to have the Bible condemned.

Despite its bloody consequences for many Christians, persecution was the best thing to happen to the Gospel in those early days. There is no reason to believe the same won’t happen here in our day. Persecution will weed out the half-hearted and nominal Christians. Persecution will bring out the best in the true and faithful believers. If we are concerned for our own personal safety, we will dread persecution. If we are concerned for souls and the spread of the Gospel, we must welcome persecution. – Jim MacIntosh

Sermon for Saturday

Saturday, August 18th, 2018

And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? Acts 3:12

Some years ago, when several of the most outlandish of the televangelists were being caught in scandals and inappropriate behaviour, I noticed an interesting aspect of all those people. Their television programs and their various other campaigns were all named after themselves. The Jimmy Swaggarts, Jim Bakkers, and Rex Humbards were all flaunting their names and faces on all their programs. People who worked with them identified themselves with those men. They were promoting themselves as men who were reaching large audiences and accomplishing great missions and doing great exploits. Presumably, they were preaching the Gospel, although it wasn’t much of a Gospel, so they should have been seeking to give glory to God, and not to themselves. Most of the denominational groups around us aren’t much better, always promoting their pastor, preacher, or spiritual leader as being the best, the holiest, the most amazing thing to hit Christianity since the reformation. So it’s refreshing to see, as Christianity launches, Peter rejecting any credit for himself and John when a miracle was performed.

The greatest miracles we see – or ever could see – are when a lost soul trusts Christ and passes from death unto life. If it happens during a Gospel series, we might tend to credit the preachers. But we know better, although God certainly uses the preachers to sow the Good Seed. We know that only God can convict of sin and produce repentance in anyone. Only God can save a soul, and while the preachers deserve credit for their efforts, they willingly step back and acknowledge that salvation is of the Lord. if it were otherwise, we might have some uppity preachers among us, instead of the humble, faithful workers who we know and appreciate. A man who could save souls might raise himself in pride and become useless to God.

Humility in Gospel work is critical, whether it’s the preachers or anyone else. But it is also comforting. If we inject the best of our efforts and see no results, our pride might perceive a failure. But our humility patiently leaves the results to God and willingly grants to Him all the glory when results do become apparent.

Peter’s humility is a good example for us, to never take any of the credit for work that God alone can perform. – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, August 17th, 2018

And he leaping up stood and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. Acts 3:8

Someone read this verse to me one time and cited it as proof that we as Christians should be more lively in the meetings of our Assembly. In fact, this person attends a place where leaping – and other lively activities – are common events during their services. Now, I will be the first to admit that our meetings can get much too subdued on occasion. But to use this verse as a proof text that we should be leaping during our meetings is a gross misapplication of Scripture. In fact, this verse has nothing whatsoever to do with any meetings of the Assembly. But, spiritually speaking, there is a time and place for leaping in the life of a Christian.

Why was this man leaping? If that had been me, I would have been leaping too, and so would you. This man, who had never walked in his life, now had strong and able legs. This wonderful change was so great that he could not help himself from leaping with joy and wonder. He was like a newly saved Christian, who is so excited about God’s salvation that he tells everybody he encounters. He shares his testimony, he invites others to Gospel meetings, and he gets excited about every occasion of meeting with the Christians. Some dear Christians never lose their desire for spiritual leaping, savouring the excitement of being saved every day of their life. The rest of us need to be reminded of how thrilling it is to be saved, and to have the joy of our salvation restored. We get too bogged down sometimes in the effort of life, in daily activities, even in Assembly activities, and tend to forget that we are captives who have been set at liberty, strangers who have been adopted, sinners who have been forgiven, and enemies who have been reconciled. We forget to be excited about it.

Some of us are too old to do much leaping, in the physical sense. But we should never feel too old to leap spiritually, to become excited about our salvation and the things of God. In fact, the older we get the closer we are to the glorious future God has reserved for His own. We are nearer than ever to the Rapture, to the glorious mansions prepared for us, to the wonder of beholding the Lord Jesus in His glory. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him. 1 Cor. 2:9 Think of that and your heart – if nothing else – will leap with joy.

If a lame man would leap at getting the use of his legs, how much more ought you and I to leap at having our souls redeemed? – Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, thee I give, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. Acts 3:6

All we were looking for was a quarter and a dime; we needed the coins to open the bus station lock box where we had tossed our suitcases the day before. Since leaving the bus station, my friend and I had been grabbed by some ruffians who had driven us miles out into the country and had taken everything we had in our pockets except the lock box key. It had taken us a day to walk back to the bus station. Cold, hungry, and tired, we still needed 35 cents to get our luggage, and hopefully enough money for the bus fare home. We approached a kindly looking gentleman who got off the bus, and told him our story, pleading for a quarter and a dime. He smiled and shook his head. He had no money in his pocket. But, maybe he could do something for us. ‘Come with me,’ he said. We went to his house, where he and his wife fed us a huge meal and showed us to a cozy bedroom and bid us get a good night’s rest. In the morning, they gave us a hearty breakfast, and a couple of warm coats, and sent us on our way. For a man with no money, he had given us much. But not as much as Peter and John gave the lame man.

The little expression ‘such as I have’ sounds small, but it was far beyond the lame man’s expectations. He was hoping for pennies but received the use of his legs! He had never known how to stand up and take baby steps, how to run and play as a child, how to walk to work, worship, or window shop, how to climb a flight of stairs, or stroll along a riverbank. Now, Peter’s ‘such as I have’ gave him a new life and wonderful prospects. God may not give to you and me the same ‘such as I have’ gift that Peter employed that day. But He has given us a ‘such as I have’ that includes the Gospel. And it is a far greater blessing than a pair of sturdy legs.

Folks around us are worse off spiritually than the lame man at the temple’s Beautiful gate was spiritually. Unless the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ has shined into their souls, they are not saved. They are helpless and hopeless, ungodly souls who are hurrying to perdition and most of them are not even aware of it. But we have something that we can share with them. We can tell them what the Gospel has done for us, tell them about God’s great plan of salvation, invite them to Gospel meetings, hand them a tract, and live before them so they will know that our ‘such as I have’ is worth having.

If we will share ‘such as we have’ with our friends, neighbours, workfellows, and others we meet, we will share far more than they could ever expect. – Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts 2:47

Roy was a nice guy, friendly and pleasant to talk with, but he never seemed to have much ambition. He worked at a menial job that paid little more than minimum wage and that required little more than minimum effort. He never married and lived in a humble apartment in a quiet part of town. Roy was saved in Gospel meetings many years before, and he became a regular attender of most of the Assembly meetings. But it took Roy several years to come to the conclusion that he should be baptized. After that, he continued his casual attendance at meetings, and was seldom seen or heard from at other times. The last I heard, Roy was still a casual attender and is still not in Assembly fellowship. There’s something wrong with that, according to today’s text.

Actually, most of the Christians we know are not in Assembly fellowship, although they are in fellowship with other types of gatherings. We all know folks who are saved but who are content to attend services at places that do not meet the New Testament pattern to qualify for the Lord’s presence with the company. We also know some who have been saved and who occupy the seat of the unlearned during out Assembly meetings. Some may have been but recently saved, but others have been there a long time. This is not according to the plan that is described in today’s text. Simply put, every person who is saved is to be added to the Assembly. God never intended or expected that it would be otherwise. If God saved souls, it was that they would bring glory to Him as members of the an Assembly gathered to His Name.

But there are some Christians who would desire to be part of the Assembly but are not permitted to do so. These folks are deemed to be unfit for Assembly fellowship because of certain events that happened in their unsaved days. Specifically, these folks were divorced and had remarried. This has not stopped these folks from being reached with the Gospel and being saved. It has also not stopped these folks from desiring to be obedient to the Word of God in baptism and in gathering to the Name of the Lord Jesus. But there are Assemblies that do not permit such to be obedient in this. They see a limitation that the Word of God does not include in our text. Note that the Lord added to the Assembly such as should be saved. Period. The text makes no mention of exceptions. And any Assembly that inserts an exception is unscriptural.

If God saves souls, they should be in His Assembly. That should be their own exercise. And it should be the Assembly’s desire as well. – Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42

Where did the apostles get their doctrine? And what was so special about the apostle’s fellowship? These are important questions when we realize that the first ever Assembly in the New Testament made these two factors their chief occupation. Did the apostles suddenly acquire wisdom and information that they did not have before Pentecost? Did they assemble in that upper room and draft a catalogue of doctrinal statements and principles? Did they issue doctrinal proclamations and publish them among the rest of the believers. What was their doctrine, and how did they obtain it? And what was so special about their fellowship that the rest of the believers made it a point to stay close to them? The simple answer, I believe, is that these men had spent the past three years with Jesus.

The past three years had been filled with amazing events. Miracles, sermons, long discussions about parables and their meanings, interactions with all types of people, including ordinary folk, religious leaders, high-ranking officials, publicans and other Roman government employees, and Gentiles. During this time, the disciples were able to witness the perfect life of God’s perfect servant. Uppermost in their experiences were the events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection. All of these experiences had taught the disciples much, although at times it seemed they had no taken much in. But now, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, these men could gather the other believers around themselves and pass on what Jesus had taught them. That was the sum and substance of the apostle’s doctrine. It also sums up the apostle’s fellowship.

Spending those years in Jesus’ company had made its impact on those men. Now that they had greater reason to be like him, they would recall the things that Jesus enjoyed and disliked, the situations that He sought and avoided, the speech that He employed, His personal habits and mannerisms. As these other believers gathered around the apostles, they appreciated how much they had become like their Lord. Being with the apostles was almost – not entirely, but almost – like being with Jesus Himself.

We don’t have the apostles with us today expounding their doctrine. But we have the Word of God, the witness left by those same apostles. We don’t have the fellowship of those apostles, but we do have the fellowship of those men and women whose words and character give proof that they have been with Jesus. Let us seek their doctrine and fellowship. – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, August 13th, 2018

For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Acts 2:39

What promise? That’s easy; the previous verse tells us that the promise is remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Remission of sins is God’s salvation, eternal life, translation from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the ability to live as a child of God. That’s the greatest promise we could ever imagine. So who is this great promise extended to? Our text spells it out! Peter points to his audience and declares that it is to all of them. And he points to the future by declaring it is for their children. Then, he points to the entire world by declaring that it is for all that are afar off. So this promise is not only the greatest offer that could possibly be given but also to the greatest audience that could possibly be reached. What a Gospel!

Peter’s words were part of the first Gospel meeting of our age of grace. If we keep reading, we find it was an amazing meeting, with three thousand saved as a result. That may well be the greatest response of any Gospel meeting of all time, considering that many of the responses of such great crusades as those of Billy Graham involved people who were responding to Billy’s invitation, not to Christ’s offer. Despite the great start, the Gospel has not slackened in its ability to reach and save sinners. In Gospel meetings today, in personal witness, in Gospel tracts, Bibles, taped and printed Gospel messages, and in covert messages shared in communist and moslem lands, many thousands have heard the Gospel today and possibly thousands have trusted Christ. This glorious promise has lost none of its appeal and power.

We often get discouraged when we receive rejection after rejection when we attempt to pass out a Gospel tract or invite somebody to a Gospel meeting. It’s not easy to become excited about the Gospel promise when we see all the empty seats in the Gospel tents and at regular Gospel meetings. When we see a series end or a conference conclude without any apparent stir in the community or in the audience, we shake our heads in discouragement. What’s wrong? we wonder. Is the preaching not good enough? Are we not praying hard enough? Are we not working hard enough at inviting and at spreading the Gospel? That may be. But it may also be that God is offering His Gospel promise to people who want it instead of those around us who aren’t interested.

The Gospel promise still holds true. The commission for us to share it remains valid. Rejoice, God can save. Pray that He will call. – Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, Whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Acts 2:36

For most of us, there is a difference between what our close friends call us and what the government calls us. I feel awkward whenever anyone calls me ‘James’, for example. But it is my formal name, along with my middle name and surname. Together, they are who I am officially, identifying me not only as a person in my own right but as a member of my family and my heritage. I don’t have a title, or any letters to append to my name, but many people do, and that forms part of who they are. Those titles and letters are important to them. Titles are also important to God, especially when it comes to His Son.

When Jesus was conducting His earthly ministry, many called Him Master, Rabbi, and other such titles. Only a few acknowledged Him as Lord, including the repentant thief on the cross. His title as Lord was always His, from eternity to eternity. The fact that few acknowledged that title had no bearing on His right to it. Peter is pointing out to his audience in today’s text that God is declaring publicly and convincingly that Jesus is Lord. As those who have come to trust in Him, we appreciate today His Lordship and would seek to proclaim it. He is our Saviour and Lord, and we acknowledge this with worship and thankfulness.

But the Jesus Who died for our sins and rose again for our justification is not only Lord, but also Christ, as our text declares. This is not a title that He always had, but a title He received when He came into this world as our Saviour. Remember what the angel said at His birth: Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. The promise of the Messiah had been a vibrant thread throughout the Old Testament, throughout God’s dealings with the patriarchs and with the Israelites. Even today, devout Jews daily pray for the Messiah to come. At Bethlehem, the Messiah – the Christ – came. As the Messiah, Jesus came and fulfilled the mission that His Father sent Him to do. And Peter could proclaim at Pentecost that the Jews, and the Gentiles too, could receive the Lord Jesus as Christ.

All that mankind ever needed for a Lord and Messiah, all that God ever required as a spotless paschal Lamb, is found in the one we recognize, worship, and obey today as the Lord Jesus Christ. – Jim MacIntosh

Sermon for Saturday

Saturday, August 11th, 2018

This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Acts 2:32

Every religion and cult that has been concocted by man has had a founder, a leader or prophet responsible for writing their phony scriptures or creating their phony doctrines. Except for the most recent ones, these men and women are all dead and gone, and in most cases, you can find their graves. Some of them lived short lives, but many lived into old age. But they are gone, and none of their followers make even a pretense of claiming that they are still alive. And that’s why they are just religions and cults, the spawn of liars now dead and in hell. As Christians, we have so much more, because our Leader is alive forevermore.

No, we have not seen the Lord Jesus in person, and we can’t point with our physical finger and say, ‘There He is’. But we have the proofs of His resurrection in the Word of God, as Peter reminds us in today’s text, the witness of all those people who had actually seen Him alive. Their uncontradicted testimony stands as a guarantee that our Redeemer liveth. The disciples, the faithful women, the others who were faithful and who had remained with the disciples, these had all seen Jesus in the flesh, and had spoken with Him. We accept their witness, as well as the witness of the Holy Spirit as He convinces us of the reliability of the Word of God. If the Lord Jesus is raised from the dead, we have hope of eternal life. And this is the only source of that hope. For this reason, every believer is also a witness to the resurrection.

Peter told his audience that all of the Christians there were witnesses to Jesus resurrection. But all of those witnesses have died. True, they left their account in Scripture, their descriptions of the details of Jesus’ life, His death, and His victory over death. The Bible stands today as the primary witness of Jesus resurrection. But in a different way, you and I are also witnesses. If we have been brought to faith in Christ, we acknowledge His resurrection as our hope. We know the truth of this great pillar of our faith. If we know it, we are responsible for living its truth and telling its truth. The people around us can not see our Lord, nor can they speak with those who witnessed His resurrection. But they can speak with us and view our testimony before them.

Can we display to those around us that God has raised the Lord Jesus from the dead? Let us be faithful witnesses of His resurrection. – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, August 10th, 2018

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel. Acts 2:16

You and I are living in a valley. The period of history that we occupy, as far as the writers of the Old Testament prophecies are concerned, was unknown. Those prophets could foretell the coming of the Messiah, His sufferings, death, and resurrection, His return in judgment and claiming His kingdom, and much of the end-time events. But the prophets had little concept of what is commonly referred to as the ‘church age’. The exception was in the prophecy of Joel, which Peter was about to quote in today’s text. But even Joel’s prophecy had been taken to apply to the end-times events, with none realizing that Joel was speaking of the launching of a great intermediary period when God would bless the Gentiles.

Peter’s address at Pentecost was primarily to Jews. And in the early days of Christianity, mostly Jews were saved. But since then, the percentage has changed, so that the vast majority of those who have trusted Christ as Saviour have been Gentiles. Peter’s address makes it clear that the prophecies of the Old Testament always had the blessing of the Gentiles in view. The miraculous events at Pentecost were amazing, but greater miracles have occurred since, when we consider the millions in our world today, saved by the grace of God, who are indwelt, empowered, guided, and comforted by the Holy Spirit. Before Pentecost, the disciples lacked the power and courage to preach the Gospel. Since then, even martyrdom has been unable to quench the flames of the Gospel, so that the initial miraculous signs referred to by Joel and recorded in Acts 2 are followed by centuries of miraculous moving of the Holy Spirit in our world.

For the first time in Jewish history, Peter has a reference point for Joel’s prophecy. It had meant little or nothing before, but now Peter points out its great application. You and I were not there at the start, although we have Luke’s faithful recording of the events of those early days. But almost two thousand years later, we are part of God’s great program for the ages, foretold by Joel and proclaimed by Peter. We don’t always act like we are part of this program, do we? Maybe we need to regain some of the excitement that Peter was explaining when he identified the events of Acts 2 as being God’s unfolding of His blessing in the Gospel.

Joel’s prophecy dates back several hundred years before Christ. It is not new, nor was Peter’s reference to it. You and I are part of an ancient program of God’s purposes for our world, and it should still be as exciting today. – Jim MacIntosh