Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Sermon for Saturday

Saturday, October 20th, 2018

And I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing, and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. Ezekiel 34:26

I grew up in a house where we listened to many Christian radio programs, including many that played some wonderful old hymns. One of my favourites was one called Showers of Blessing. It is in essence a prayer for showers of blessing from the Lord. Its words always carried some wonderful pictures into my mind, especially the line in the chorus about ‘mercy drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead’. Those words about mercy drops reminded me of the sprinkles of raindrops we would see before a storm broke. Not enough to even settle the dust, those drops served only to promise that more were on the way. On the farm, showers were important to grow our crops and to keep the water in good supply in wells and brooks. Showers, frequent showers, were always welcome because they are needed. Today, spiritual showers are in short supply; we are having to make do with the mercy drops until the showers arrive.

In many ways, God is showering us with blessings each day. We receive the food and shelter we need, we are surrounded by good neighbours and friends, and we live in a land of peace and plenty. Our Assemblies are relatively peaceful and active, and the fellowship we enjoy is sweet. But there is in each of us a longing to see God’s hand in blessing, showering us with good numbers of people being saved and good exercise on the part of the Christians to fervently serve and praise our God. God has promised such showers, let us earnestly pray to see them.

We have heard about Gospel series when the number of those who have professed is in the double digits. I remember attending one series where 25 were saved. Now, that’s a shower of blessing! These don’t happen very often, so we relish them when they occur. But in our day, we are living in a wicked world whose apathy and degenerate lifestyles are having a detrimental impact on us. We lack the drive and passion of earlier days to see sinners reached and the Lord’s people blessed. Our attitudes have a great deal to do with the scarcity of showers of blessing.

God has promised a day when showers of blessings will be real and precious. While we wait for that day, let us pray for those showers around us now. What a joy it would be to see one! – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, October 19th, 2018

And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now, where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Hebrews 10:17,18

Did you ever delete something from your computer and then wish you hadn’t? It happens to people all the time. Many of these people have discovered that there are programs and people who can recover what had apparently been lost. That is why you should always have your computer’s hard drive professionally erased when you get rid of it… just to make sure that your personal information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. If you really need to, you can make sure that the memory is definitely erased. God has a program like that too; it’s called Salvation.

Many of us have made huge mistakes in our lives, grievous sins that caused us and others much pain. We find ourselves unable to forget those things. Not God! His Salvation program has purged that from His memory. We stumble and stray from God’s path and purposes all the time, and it makes us feel badly. Not God! His Salvation program enables Him to see us, not as the weak and stumbling failures that we often are, but as the saints who are sheltered forever by the blood of His own dear Son. Yes, God knows what we are like. He knows our mistakes and errors, our weaknesses and missteps. But He will not, and cannot hold them against us because we have been forgiven. We have received everlasting life, and none of those things can be placed against our account. God’s Salvation program will not allow those things to be stored in His great database.

So where does that leave us? Free to act as our sinful natures desire? Of course not. When we consider all that God has done for us, and the eternal provision He has given us, we must respond in loving thankful service and worship. Our hearts overflow in gratitude to Him for His Salvation.

Do you appreciate today that God has forever erased your sins from His memory? Does it cause you to be a different person from those who have not received His Salvation? – Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, October 18th, 2018

Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you. 1 Corinthians 1:6

When I was in high school, we had a wonderful English teacher named Kline Langille. He did his best to instill good writing habits into us and to instruct us in the wonderful capabilities of the English language. He taught us to love English, and to use it well. These many years later, those fortunate enough to have been his students still share a great respect for the language that we use. For my part, as a writer, I have used English as my primary tool for making my living, and I remain amazed at the effectiveness with which Mr. Langille laid the foundations for using the world’s greatest language effectively. I hope that I can be called a testimony of his work. But you and I who have trusted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour are even more the testimony of Him Who has saved us.

When we go to work today, or to school, or to any place where other people are, we are a testimony to our Saviour. Our words should be different from the profane babblings of the lost. Our actions should be reflective of the kindness and compassion of Jesus the Nazarene. Our attitudes should display the glorious certain hope that we have in a home in Heaven and in the imminent rapture of the Saints when our Lord returns for us. Our lives should be directed toward others, as Jesus lived. Everything He did was for others, so our unselfishness is a testimony for Him.

What do the people around you know about Jesus Christ? What do they know of His great eternal love for sinners? What do they know of His desire that poor, undeserving creatures will share the joys of Heaven forever with Him? Most of these people will never read the Bible. Instead, they read you and me. We are His witnesses.

Are you a true testimony for Jesus today? Or will you send out mixed signals that will serve no good for the Saviour’s great cause? – Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 2 John 8

When Tompkins Industries was trying to increase its hydraulic hose repair business, one of the employees came up with the idea of allowing customers to select from an assortment of Buck knives when they had brought in ten hoses for repair or replacement. The promotion worked well. Tompkins became a very popular place to get hydraulic hoses repaired. Tompkins also became one of the largest distributors of Buck knives in the United States. The company was able to buy them at a very good price and provide them as a reward to loyal customers who found them very attractive. God has a reward system too, and He is going to hand out something far more glorious than a Buck knife, to all those loyal Christians who don’t lose the things that they have received.

Did you notice who John says is responsible for holding onto the truths and doctrines that have been taught? Look to yourselves! It’s easy to blame others for no longer standing up for the truth, or for allowing little errors and bad language to corrupt. Finger pointing, John reminds us, begins with ourselves. What is our stand on the New Testament Assembly principles that we profess to hold? Godly men of years ago strove hard, paid a great price, and faithfully taught those truths that they mined from the Scriptures. It cost us little to receive them. And God promises us a reward if we hold onto them.

We face a huge challenge these days. There is a massive assault on our young people to go along with the popular ideas and approaches. Entertainment venues that young people 50 years ago would never have considered attending are drawing crowds of today’s young Christians. Practices that Assemblies of yesteryear found to be wisely followed are being challenged and questioned. Many of our young people do not have a firm grasp on all the truth. As a result, they will lose out on some of the rewards that God would have for them.

What sort of reward would keep you loyal to a specific repair shop? Would a Buck knife do it? OK, then, what sort of reward would keep you loyal to God’s Assembly and the principles for which it stands? Would a golden crown do it? – Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land, and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. Ezekiel 34:25

I was only four years old at the time, but memories of the event remain with me to this day. I had made my way into the woods by a woods road that I had seen my father and a neighbour use all morning to bring logs out to the field. Unknown to me, he had not gone back into the woods, but had taken the horses to the neighbour’s barn so he – and they – could have their noon meal. As I made my way along the logging road, I reached a place where the woods seemed to be much darker ahead of me. In my child’s thinking, I felt it to be much safer to turn to the left, and proceed parallel to that dark area. I clearly remember thinking about those dark woods, saying to myself, ‘That’s where the bears are’. I don’t know if there were any bears around; I didn’t see any. And I didn’t want to. Even as a small child, I knew there were dangers in the woods, dangers that our text says are going to be removed.

Wild animals have been a mortal threat to people throughout history. But in truth, it is not their fault. Before Adam’s fall in Eden, no animal offered any threat to a person who might wish to sleep in the woods. It was our federal representative who caused the change. Animals became wild, and some of them dangerous, because of sin. Their wildness and the peril caused by fang and claw will only be removed when sin is removed. It might not seem important to you, but to me it’s a fascinating thing that in the Millenium reign of Christ, people will safely sleep in the woods. It’s just a little illustration of the change that will be wrought when this world is in subjection to the Last Adam.

The first Adam failed in his responsibility to God, to us, to his garden, and to the animals over which God had given him dominion. The Lord Jesus will not fail, and has not failed. His righteous rule and dominion will show us what earth should have been like under the first Adam. Beauty and peace and comfort will become the norm. It will be wonderful to see. We will be amazed. But let us never forget that His reign will not begin after Armageddon. It has already begun, for those who acknowledge Him as King and Lord. And, in many ways, He is taming the wild animals that would threaten us: the fears, sorrows, and discouragements of life, even the great king of terrors, death, has been vanquished.

To the child of God who learns to trust the Lord, there are no perils that disturb our sleep, because of His covenant of peace. – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds, woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves. Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ezekiel 34:2

Since Kim Jong Un succeeded his late father as the leader of North Korea, a few changes are visible in the country’s capital city of Pyongyang. Stores have more items on display, Markets have more people setting up stalls to sell food, snacks, and other merchandise. Some people are wearing modern, colourful clothing, and are seen on the streets talking on their cell phones. But inside observers say it is all a facade, that little has changed for the poor and hungry country people. Most workers are forced to get by on about a dollar a month in salary, and the price of rice has doubled in recent months. Millions are undernourished because of a lack of food and a lack of resources to buy or grow food. But what about Kim Jong Un, how does he fare in all this poverty? Like his father before him, he surrounds himself with opulence, with the best of clothes, homes, and cars, with the world’s finest wines and foods. It costs a fortune to sustain his lavish lifestyle. Like the shepherds in our text, he is interested in feeding only himself although he has the power to ease his people’s suffering.

It is a sad and shameful thing to have shepherds who care more for their own stomach than for the welfare of their flocks. We see spiritual shepherds, or at least men who claim to be spiritual shepherds, filling their own pockets and bellies at the cost of their congregations’ welfare. These men use enticing words and flowery promises to gain a following, and then feed them with nothing but fluff. In denominational systems where one man can rise to prominence and hold great power, this type of abuse can more readily occur than in the environments of Assemblies where the plurality of oversight acts as a preservative for the truth of Scripture. But we still need to guard against shepherds who might be more interested in themselves than in the flock.

Yes, it is the responsibility of shepherds to feed the flock, and we can give thanks that God has given us such shepherds. These men know the meaning of sacrifice for the good of the saints, because they care for the flock. They are also aware that they must give an account to the Chief Shepherd. There is an accountability that preserves, but we are not immune to problems. Prayer for our shepherds, and appreciation for their faithfulness, should mark us as God’s people.

When the shepherds feed us, let us give thanks. When they do not, let us pray. – Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

And when this cometh to pass (lo, it will come), then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them. Ezekiel 33:33

Remember Harold Camping and his rapture prophecy? Defying scripture to set a date for the return of the Lord Jesus for His own, Camping was proved to be a false messenger. Other date setters have had to withdraw in shame as their predictions as to the time of the rapture have proven false. These foolish people have proved two things: that the Word of God is true when it declares that we cannot know, and that their own foolishness has proved themselves to be false prophets. A true prophet is one whose words come to pass, as our text reminds us. Our duty today is not to prophesy but to declare the truth that has already been revealed. The time will come when the One Who revealed the truth will be proven perfectly accurate.

Those of us who have believed the words of the Lord Jesus are saved, and can agree today with our text. We know, by the forgiveness of sins and the witness of the Holy Spirit, that He is true. And it is precious to us that He came to us. We rejoice that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. We are thankful today for His life and ministry, His sacrificial death on our account, and His glorious resurrection. A Prophet, yea, more than a prophet, hath been among us, and we are glad. This gives us purpose in life and hope in eternal life. As believers, the reality that a Prophet has been among us is the greatest truth we know.

But what about unbelievers? What about those who deny the existence of God, who reject the teaching of Scripture, who scoff at the truth that they are sinners before a holy God and that the wages of sin is death? What about those who simply don’t care, whose apathy is so apparent all around us despite the warnings of the Gospel? And what about those who are trusting in their religion or other affiliations to preserve their souls? It is true that there is no confession from them about the Lord Jesus and His truth. But such a confession will come. There will be a day when every one of them will stand before Him and confess that a Prophet hath been among us. Being without excuse and covered in their shame, they will have to admit that He is right and they were wrong. Thank God we will not have to stand there on that day!

To know Who holds the future is a great comfort to the child of God today. What He has declared will surely come to pass. And for us who are saved, it means His presence forever. – Jim MacIntosh

Sermon for Saturday

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities. 1 Timothy 5:23

Part of this verse appears to be one of the best-known portions of Scripture! Especially among the unsaved. I’ve heard it quoted (and misquoted) many a time by people, as an excuse for them to drink, although they ignore the ‘little’ part and drink to excess. Properly read, and placed in its context, this verse does NOT give us license to drink. Properly read and placed in its context, this verse called Timothy to engage in wise and proper behaviour, as it calls for us today to do the same.

No, Paul was not telling Timothy to abandon his intake of water and replace it with wine. No, he was not encouraging Timothy to become a regular partaker of alcohol. What was Paul telling Timothy? First of all, look at the verse just before today’s text… the last phrase says ‘Keep thyself pure’. In light of the admonition to keep himself pure, Paul reminds Timothy that his zeal for purity does not deprive him of the opportunity to use wine in a medicinal way. According to my Scofield notes, Paul was telling Timothy not to drink only water. Paul was telling his younger brother that he could use a little wine as his stomach required it, and still remain pure. We need to recognize these caveats that Scripture gives us in the use of alcoholic drinks.

For one thing, Timothy was to use only a little. Just what was needed, no more. Secondly, the wine was to be used as a medicine. Timothy had ailments. The wine was to ease his discomfort and improve his condition. Thirdly, it was to be used as a supplement to the water, not as a replacement. In all these things, Timothy was at no time encouraged to abuse alcohol nor given a license to use it recreationally.

There are many Christians today who don’t see anything wrong with alcohol, in moderation. It becomes one of the little foxes that creep into the garden and eventually destroy the grapes of testimony and service. To those who ask, ‘what’s wrong with it? I respond, ‘why bother with it at all?’ Why does anybody need it? What purpose would it serve? Those in the world think they need it in order to have a good time. But if Christians can’t have a good time without booze, we are a long ways away from the Lord and from each other.

Rightly dividing the Word of Truth means we don’t use the Bible as an excuse for wrong. As Paul told Timothy, keep yourself pure. – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, October 12th, 2018

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die, o house of Israel? Ezekiel 33:11

Many years ago, when I was a cub reporter in the office of a daily newspaper, I was a bit shocked to read the column of our editor in chief. In his editorial, he was commenting on the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was president of Egypt. Our editor in chief was no admirer of Nasser, and set out to describe how Nasser was the cause of many of the ills besetting the middle east at that time. Titling his article ‘A Force of Evil Spent’, the editor explained why he was glad that Nasser was dead, and suggested that the death of Nasser was good news for most of the world. He was not alone in rejoicing at the Egyptian leader’s demise. But we know that Nasser’s death brought no joy to God, who takes no joy from anyone’s death. Neither should we.

Many people were relieved when we heard that Osama bin Laden was dead. There was comfort in knowing that his campaign of terrorism and destruction and killing of innocent people was over. We have also heard of the deaths of other criminal and cruel people with relief or satisfaction, or both. We don’t think like God does; we don’t have His compassion or desire that all should come to repentance. We all have a sense of needing to mete out revenge and retribution when we hear of terrible atrocities by wicked people. And yet, when all those wicked people died, they did not die unloved. Just as we have always been loved, even when we were far from God and with our backs and our animosities toward Him.

Pride keeps us from understanding that we were no better than the people we deem wicked and deserving of death. Only the grace of God has kept us from sinking to their level of degradation. Only the mercies of godly parents, a protective environment, and proper training, have kept us from their shameful behavior. The same nature that those folks inherited from Adam was part of our heritage, too. We are just sinners who God reached and saved. In addition, we are instructed to love our enemies and pray for those who misuse us. It’s not easy to pray for somebody and wish them dead at the same time! We don’t have the right to wish anyone ill. We should copy our Lord’s attitude toward sinners.

If we keep our attitudes sweet even against those who are sour against us, we will be a little more like our Saviour. – Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, October 11th, 2018

He heard the sound of the trumpet and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. Ezekiel 33:5

During a recent series of Gospel meetings, one of the preachers made a point, during the prayer meeting just before the Gospel meeting, to pray for every person he had visited that day. There were times when that list was extensive. And there were times when the same names were mentioned that had been mentioned in previous days. I remember thinking that those folks – even though they did not come to any of the meetings – were visited with tracts and invitations, and with the prayers of the preachers and the saints. Those people received fair warning of their need to prepare for eternity, and they ignored the watchman’s warning. How terribly responsible they are!

The scene set by Ezekiel in our text reminds us of two important needs: the need for the watchman to be faithful in sounding the warning, and the need for the people who hear the warning to heed it. There were dire consequences if either shirked their responsibility. As Christians, we need to acknowledge our responsibility to the lost around us. We can’t all be preachers or teachers or out-and-out witnesses, although we might all do more than we do in those areas. But we can be faithful lights shining forth the love of our Saviour in good and kindly deeds to those we see and know. We owe it to them, when we consider that we might be the only Gospel they will ever hear or see. We also owe it to them when we consider how much our Lord did to save them. It should be our constant desire to be a faithful watchman.

But what about those who hear, or receive an invitation, or are given a Gospel tract, and turn away? If we have been faithful, the outcome is not our responsibility. God has given everyone a free will, and they are responsible for every warning they receive. If they never are saved, they will stand before a Judge Who will remind them of every one of those opportunities. They will have no excuse to give, no reason for ignoring or turning away from the Gospel. They will be reminded that the watchman sounded the warning, and the warning went unheeded. And the blame will fall on them forever. The tragedy of such an outcome should grip us now, but the blame will be theirs, not ours, if we are faithful now.

It is a privilege, and a responsibility, to be a watchman. Let us discharge our duties in light of the eternal consequences. – Jim MacIntosh