Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Essaias the prophet, saying ‘Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.’ Matthew 8:17

This is not exactly the way most of us memorized Isaiah 53:4. Most of us learned part, or most, of that chapter in Sunday School, and have read it many dozens of times, so it is very familiar to us. But the way we learned it was about griefs and sorrows, not about infirmities and sicknesses. So which one is right? And what is the difference? Is Matthew misquoting the prophet here? No, the Gospel writer is not misquoting this verse at all; he is simply focusing on one aspect of the great depths of the original verse in Isaiah.

Our text comes amid the healing of many people who came to the Lord Jesus. All manner of diseases were cured, including the horror of demon possession. Unlike earthly doctors, who see only the symptoms of their patients’ diseases and whose caring may be shallow and monetary, the Lord Jesus approached every ill and suffering person with a perfect understanding of the problem and a perfect compassion for them. He knew the root cause of all their troubles was sin, the very problem He came into the world to solve. The Great Physician who knew and cared was indeed taking their infirmities and bearing their sicknesses.

Consider how our first parents were told of the sorrow that would result from their disobedience. The woman was told that her sorrow would be greatly multiplied in childbirth (Genesis 3:16) and the man was told that he would struggle to bring forth fruit from the ground and would eat that fruit in sorrow (Genesis 3:17). When our text as first presented in Isaiah speaks of sorrows, it speaks of all our physical ailments as well as all of the tragedies, griefs, and woes that we encounter in this life. He knows about the broken heart as well as the broken leg. He cares about the loneliness and depression just as He knows about the ulcer, the cancer, and the fever. He appreciates the loss of loved ones and treasured possessions as much as He appreciates the loss of health and strength and appetite. And with a perfect understanding and caring, He bears upon His heart that which is often beyond our ability to bear.

We find comfort in knowing about the caring of the Lord Jesus. But He offers more than just His caring; He offers to actually carry our griefs and sorrows for us. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

And He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she arose and ministered unto them. Matthew 8:15

Before they were saved, a couple we knew had no interest in helping anybody but themselves. They never gave money to help others, they never invited company into their house for a meal, they never showed any interest in being kind to anybody. The Gospel changed all that! After a confusing period of conviction of sin, both the man and woman trusted Christ. And their entire approach to others changed, especially their attitude toward the Christians. They became genuinely caring about others in many ways. They were hospitable and generous to people. They were the first to volunteer when help was needed, and the first to donate when money or materials were needed. Their kindness and generosity were wonderful to see. God’s salvation had not only saved their souls from hell but had also rescued their personalities from uselessness to others.

The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law in our text today is marked by the service that followed. We are not told how sick she was, only that her illness prevented her from carrying out her household duties and her usual acts of hospitality. She was like many of the unsaved around us who have no idea how selfish and uncaring they are. The world knows little of brotherly love and neighbourly love. People look out for their own interests and expect others to do the same. That’s just the way the world operates. But it’s not the way the Lord Jesus operated, and it’s not the way His people operate. Most of them, anyway.

The first thing that Peter’s mother-in-law did when she was healed was minister to Jesus and His disciples. She would have prepared a good meal and provided the best she could for her guests. No doubt, her willingness to do so was increased by her thankfulness to the Lord Jesus for his miracle of healing her. In response to His act of compassion, she responded by doing all she could to provide for His needs. It is that same spirit of thankfulness that prompts caring and generosity among the Lord’s people. We consider how much our Lord has done for us, and respond by doing what we can to others. Such an attitude of thankfulness and generosity makes for a wonderful atmosphere among the Lord’s people. The loving kindness we are able to share is a great testimony to the unsaved. As they see us obeying the new commandment to love one another, they desire to have such a loving spirit themselves.

The Lord Jesus has rescued us from a much greater problem than a fever; how much thankfulness have we shown in response? -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, May 13th, 2019

But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 8:12

A nasty boy sneered at me as we played outside the little building where the Sunday School was about to be convened. It was the last day of Sunday School before the summer break, and there were awards to be given to the children who had done the best. I had expressed a hope that I would win the prize in our class. Not that I deserved the prize, because my behaviour and memorization were nothing to brag about. But I hoped, and said so. So the nasty little boy informed me, and the other boys, that we had nothing to hope for, because his daddy, the teacher, would give him the prize. When the time came for the prizes to be announced, I was disappointed. But my disappointment was much easier to bear than I expected; the teacher gave the prize, not to his son, but to the quiet boy in dark-rimmed glasses who always knew his memory verse and who always smiled at everybody. I was happy for him, and glad the teacher did not reward an undeserving son. God doesn’t reward the undeserving children, either, no matter how closely related to His people they are.

Jesus was primarily speaking of the Israelites. These people who could trace their lineage to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob took great pride in that fact, and relied heavily on it for a claim to blessings from God. Their leaders had vast amounts of study to their credit, but had pumped much of their own embellishment into their claim to following the Word of God. These leaders knew all about the letter of the Law, but knew little of its spirit. And they were called hypocrites by John Baptist and by the Lord Jesus. They were the children of the kingdom who knew much about the kingdom and nothing about its King. What those people thought was an inside track to God took them to outer darkness and eternal loss. Sadly, it’s not only those Bible-time Jews who were among the wayward children.

Every time we have a prayer meeting before the weekly Gospel meeting, I am touched by the length of the prayer list that includes unsaved children of those in the Assembly. Some have been prayed for for many years, others are barely reaching the age of accountability. But they are a burden on our hearts because we know that, if they are not saved, they will remain children of the kingdom and never become members of the kingdom. We know how responsible some of these children are, how terrible will be their loss if they neglect so great salvation. So we earnestly pray for them to be gathered in.

For the children of the kingdom, we are greatly burdened. Oh, Lord, save them! -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

And Jesus put forth His hand and touched him, saying, I will, be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Matthew 8:3

Nowhere in the Gospels do we read of anyone coming to the Lord Jesus for help of any kind and being disappointed because Jesus was not willing to help. We read of sick people coming, or being brought by others, and being healed. We read of hungry people fed because of the Saviour’s compassion, of dead people raised because Jesus shared their families’ grief, of all manner of ailments that were put right because there was One who actually cared. Physical and spiritual wounds were healed in every case, proving the truth of the leper’s statement in the previous verse that if Jesus would, He could make the leper clean. If Jesus would cleanse then, He will, and can, cleanse today.

None of the people I have ever met have leprosy. But I know the Lord Jesus can cleanse lepers. Everyone I have ever met is a sinner. And I know that the Lord Jesus can cleanse sinners. I know because he cleansed me. I know because He cleansed you. And I know because His Gospel still rings forth with an invitation to all who will receive His cleansing. That Gospel message tells of a Saviour Who is not only willing to cleanse, but a Saviour Who provided the very means of our cleansing.

The leper knew that Jesus could cleanse him, but he was unsure if Jesus was willing to do so. He should never have had any doubts. From eternity the Gospel message is about His willingness to cleanse. The very drafting of Salvation’s plan was because of His willingness. The prophet’s words, ‘Here am I, send me’ (Isaiah 6:8), were proof of our Lord’s willingness, hundreds of years before its fulfillment. And all of prophecy concurs. The angels’ pronouncement to the shepherds of Bethlehem was also proof that His coming was for our cleansing. And the accounts of the Gospel writers concur. Our Bible’s grand theme is of the One Who came to cleanse us, and of His willingness to come.

That we needed cleansing there is no doubt. We know all about our sins. And just as the leper was unfit for society because of his unclean condition, we were also unfit for Heaven, for God’s presence, because of our unclean condition. The reality of One Who was willing to cleanse is very precious to us. When He declared ‘I will, be thou clean’, He was speaking not only to the leper but to every sinner like us. His blood has made us fit for Heaven’s mansions and eternity’s glories. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

Saturday, May 11th, 2019

And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. Matthew 7:26

How many people, do you suppose, who live in China, have never heard the Gospel? The answer would probably be in the many millions. That nation does not allow Gospel preaching, and persecutes those who would share the Gospel. And yet, there is a thriving testimony for Christ in that officially atheist country, and many millions have in fact heard the Gospel and are being saved. Perhaps a more appropriate question would be what percentage of people in China know of the Gospel. We might then compare that percentage with the percentage in Canada who know of the Gospel. I suspect the percentage in China would be higher. The latest census figures show a sharp rise in the numbers of Canadians who have no religious affiliations. Not that religious affiliations have much to do with the Gospel, but not many decades ago, almost everybody believed in God and had some knowledge of the Bible. But today, people around us are not only not responding to the Gospel, most have never even heard it.

There is no Gospel among the false religions that are on the rise around us. And there is surely no Gospel among the rapidly rising numbers of those who do not know and do not care if there is a God. If they know about the Bible, they know only that it ‘has something to do with religion’. Neither is there much opportunity for the Gospel among the so-called Christian denominations; very few of them know anything but dead religion. Some others mingle some Gospel in among their other doctrines, and a few others have clear, plain Gospel preaching. So there are few that actually hear the Gospel. But it is to those few that the Lord Jesus speaks of obedience, of hearing His sayings and doing them.

Scripture makes it clear what is the end of them that obey not the Gospel. We are saddened to see those around us who were raised in Christian homes, cradled in the Gospel, instilled with the Gospel as memory verses in Sunday School, and regular attenders of Assembly Gospel meetings as well as special Gospel series – highly privileged but neglecting to obey the Gospel. How much is their failure to obey the result of our failure to obey?

Christians are given the responsibility to be a testimony to the unsaved. This means presenting them with the Gospel, when appropriate. It also means living before them a life that displays the power and the blessings of the Gospel. It also means fervent prayers on their behalf. Unless we are obedient, we can’t expect to make much of an impression on convincing sinners to be obedient to the Gospel.

Our house of testimony is to be built on the solid rock of obedience to God’s Word. The sandy soil of neglect offers no foundation for us or others. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Matthew 7:15

A couple of times a week, I receive an email notification of a problem with my bank account, telling me I should log in and correct the problem. None of these emails are for banks that I use. In fact, no bank ever sends out such emails; these are scammers attempting to obtain confidential information so they can steal from others’ bank accounts. These scammers must deceive some people, otherwise they would not keep doing it. Who are these crooks? They are actually a type of the ravening wolves referred to in our text.

The word ravening in our text is usually translated extortioner elsewhere in our Bible. An extortioner is somebody who uses a position of power or trust to embezzle or defraud people. That certainly describes the scammers who use the telephone and the Internet to trick people into giving them money or access to money. But it also includes those who use deceit to gain the trust of the Lord’s people so they can take advantage of them. These false prophets are cruel and dangerous, and they can cause great damage to lives and testimonies. We need to be on our guard, to beware, because, as our text reminds us, they will come among us.

It is hard for us to understand why ravening wolves would want to come in among the Christians. We don’t think they way they do. But the reality is that some people see Christians as gullible and willing to trust other Christians, so they use this environment of trust to prey on easy victims. In some cases, they simply impose to obtain a quick handout, or other possessions. In other cases, they attempt to gain enough trust to steal large amounts of money or valuable pieces of property. These people remind us that we need to be careful about who we trust, and to watch out for these thieves. But there are other types of ravening wolves who are after that which is more valuable.

We have precious truths from the Word of God, those things most surely believed among us, and we hold them closely. We rehearse them and we teach them to our young people, that these precious truths will be maintained and passed on from our generation to the next. But the devil hates these truths, and has his ravening wolves engaged in attacking them, because he wishes to deprive God of the glory that these truths produce. Some men and women, in the guise of godly teachers, will sow seeds of doubt, raise questions, and otherwise seek to undermine the truths we hold. Our Assembly principles and practices are always under their attack.

If we beware, we can prevent the wolves from robbing us of God’s truth. -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12

I was reading about a young woman who was very interested in a certain young man until he took her out to dinner. They went to a very nice restaurant, where the environment was excellent, the service was prompt and good, and where the food was delicious. Despite the courteous and pleasant service, the man found fault with everything and complained several times about minor details. He spoke harshly to the restaurant staff and insulted them. When he left, he gave a minuscule tip. After witnessing his selfish and demeaning performance, the young woman decided she would be better off without him. And so she would. The Lord Jesus, in today’s text, speaks of the righteousness of those who do as they would be done by.

The Golden Rule is important, far more important than we realize. We are so selfish by nature that we often fail to understand our responsibility to others. Fulfilling our responsibility to others is what the Lord Jesus was speaking of when He spoke these words. The Lord Jesus was our perfect Example in this. Everything He did was for others, fulfilling His Father’s will that He should offer Himself as our sacrifice. By following His example, we will discharge our responsibilities to those around us who are in need for us to treat them as we would want to be treated.

Consider the unsaved; what is our responsibility to them? If the roles were reversed, would we want them to witness to us, to make sure we heard the Gospel, to pray for us, to do everything possible to make sure we did not perish in our sins? Of course. Consider the Christians around us, what is our responsibility to them? If the roles were reversed, would we want them to be kind and considerate, to share with us their spiritual blessings, to seek our spiritual welfare, to pray for us and to care for us in loving ways? Of course. Consider those who are sick, or destitute, or grieving, or carrying great burdens of care, what is our responsibility to them? If the roles were reversed, would we want them to offer healing and comfort, compassion and caring, sharing and pouring out their hearts and purses to bring us comfort and relief? Of course. Consider those who happen to be around us in our daily activities, what is our responsibility to them? If the roles were reversed, would we want them to be pleasant, courteous, friendly, and considerate, displaying a spirit of Christ-likeness? Of course.

Treating others as they treat us is revenge. Treating others as unimportant is selfish. Treating others as we would be treated is right. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

And yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Matthew 6:29

The strange people who run the clothing design business – the successful ones at least – are very wealthy and influential. Their creations set the trend for whatever women will wear that year. When the designers unveil their latest work, fashion magazines scramble to get the details and to take pictures. The best looking (in their opinion) models are hired to display the new garments. And although those clothes may look weird to some of us, they set the trend for millions. Funny thing, though, most of the top fashion items of five years ago are not anywhere to be seen this year. Few designers can create anything of lasting beauty and appeal. Not so the Designer of the wonderful creation around us!

Some little white flowers grew on our lawn, so insignificant that I took no notice of them. But somebody picked one of those plants and placed it under a large microscope. Suddenly, the flower was displayed in wonderful beauty and symmetry. The colours around the pearly white petals were spectacular. Evidence of a Designer was apparent in its every pattern. No man, and certainly no haphazard chance, had developed that item of wondrous beauty. When Jesus pointed to the lilies of the field and declared their array greater than Solomon’s glory, He was not understating. Solomon would have worn the best garments that designers of his day could produce, and yet, those garments fell short of the beauty in meadow weeds. Does this fact alone not convince us that such beauty cannot come from anywhere but from the mind and hands of the greatest Designer of all? Have we ever pointed out this truth to our children? Or are we allowing the godless schools of today to brainwash our children’s minds with the folly of evolution’s lies?

Solomon in all his glory was arrayed by the men who knew how to design garments well. Evolution in all its folly arrays itself in impossible theories and the rejection of an all-wise Designer. Is it possible that, given enough time, enough billions of years, that evolution, at least some of it, could have produced what we see around us in nature? Many Christians seem to think so. But they do so assuming that the so-called scientists have proven that the fossil record records such ancient aeons. Actually, the fossil record proves the opposite, but that fact is not taught in schools or told in the media. No law of nature allows a little flower, however insignificant, to develop and arise from a dead rock. Only a Designer with all wisdom and power could array a flower in such glory.

How did the flowers obtain their glory? Are you sure you know the answer? -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, May 6th, 2019

Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 2 Corinthians 1:22

We need an older dictionary to get the proper meaning of two of the words in today’s text. The words ‘sealed’ and ‘earnest’ are not used in this way much anymore, so we need to take a look at what the Holy Spirit had in mind when He directed Paul to pen them in the original Greek. Actually, looking up the meaning of words is a good idea anytime. In the 1960’s, the late David Pethrick used to tell us young Christians that one of our best aids in studying the Bible is a good dictionary. If we know what some of the words in the Bible actually mean, we will have a much better idea of what God is trying to tell us. That advice is still good today.

The meaning of the word ‘sealed’ is that of having a mark – or stamp – of ownership. You and I can not always tell if a particular person is a Christian. But God can. His seal is on us all. Just think about it, every believer has the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within. How much better is that than having a brand placed on us somewhere, like western ranchers do to their cows. We are not God’s cows, we are His children. He lives within us, to give us our encouragement, guidance, and power, and to guarantee that no mistake can ever be made about our salvation. How wonderful to be sealed by God!

The term ‘earnest’ is a little more obscure in today’s world. But it is just as wonderful in terms of what God has given us. This word is similar to the modern term ‘down payment’. But it means even more. As we know, our salvation not only delivers us from hell, but also delivers us to Heaven. But it may be some time before we reach that peaceful dwelling on the strong eternal hills. That’s where the earnest comes in. Until we reach Heaven, we have the reality of Heaven with us now. The term ‘earnest’ refers to the first part – an actual part – of what is to come. The blessings we have in Christ are actually part of what is ours for Eternity. The joy of sins forgiven, the delight in the ever-present Lord, the comfort of the Holy Spirit’s presence, the wonder of God’s provision for our needs, the pleasure of the company of fellow saints, the satisfaction of all that the Word of God has for us, and the sweetness of the fellowship of prayer, these all are just part of what is ours forever, because of our redemption.

We bear the stamp of God’s ownership on our souls, and should reflect that seal in our lives. We have received the down payment of what is ours for eternity, and should live in the good of that earnest today. -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, May 5th, 2019

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

During a recent visit to an Indigo bookstore, I was amazed at the extent of the cookbook section. Not only was there a large section with books describing every imaginable approach for the preparation and cooking of all types of food and every style and ethnic flavour of food, but there was also a large section where many of these books were on sale for very special prices. As I perused some of the titles and flipped open pages to some enticingly attractive pictures of meats, breads, desserts, and ingredients, the thought struck me how preoccupied our society is with what we eat. It is no wonder that Paul, when speaking of sinners, could say of them ‘whose god is their belly'(Philippians 3:19). For some people, their only reason for existence, it seems, is to consume as much food and as extensive a range of food as possible. Yes, we must eat in order to live, but an all-absorbing passion about food is not healthy for body or soul. And that is particularly true for Christians.

In his rebuke to the devil, Jesus reminds him that there is something far more fulfilling and valuable for us to consume: the Word of God! Food is necessary for our bodies, but it satisfies nothing more than the hunger of our bodies. The Word of God feeds our souls and builds up our spirits, that which will endure forever. There are some foods that are not good for us, or are good for some of us but not for others. There are some foods on which we can overindulge to our detriment. But when we turn to the Word of God, Jesus says every Word is good and precious and we can never get too much of it. Just as a hearty appetite for meat and vegetables at the dinner table is a sign of a healthy body, so too is a hearty appetite for the Word of God a sign of a healthy soul.

Do you have a favourite cookbook? Is there a particular type of food that you prefer over other types? That may be good for the body. But for the soul, there is only one sure source of good nourishment. Feast on the Word of God regularly and enjoy knowledge of and appreciation of your Lord and Saviour. -Jim MacIntosh