Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Sermon for Saturday

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

We arrived at our friends’ home to a warm greeting. The atmosphere in the home was pleasant, with soft music playing and a cheery fire crackling in the grate. A beautiful table was set, and we sat down to a bountiful and delicious feast, made all the more pleasant by the engaging conversation with friends we deeply appreciated. When we finished our meal and a few hours of visit and prepared to go home, we told our friends that we had enjoyed a lovely evening. Lovely, the same word used in today’s text, what does the word ‘lovely’ mean? And were we using it correctly to describe that visit with our friends?

Only once does this particular word appear in our Bible. Its meaning combines the ideas of acceptable and pleasing. One source I checked even rendered this term ‘lovable’. What a splendid filter for our thoughts! If we kept our minds trained to follow along these lines, we would surely be better testimonies for our Lord, who demonstrated loveliness in His words and deeds.

The unsaved folks all around us do not think about acceptable things, at least not much. We can tell, because their speech contains that which is unacceptable. We hear blasphemies, smutty and potty talk, lies, slander, gossip, and much more pouring forth in unacceptable verbal stream. As Christians, we ought never to let these things escape our lips. And if these things are not in our minds, we won’t be talking about them. Pleasant speech is also not practiced much by the world. Hateful, hurtful, and degrading words come from hearts that are occupied by prejudice, malice, cruelty, and lust. Such motives are surely not for the Child of God! Our thoughts ought to banish these altogether. And we do so by filling our thoughts with lovely things.

There is no shortage of loveliness for our minds to take up. We begin with the Person of the Lord Jesus, Who is altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:16). That topic will take an eternity to explore. The majestic splendours of the Scriptures are also lovely to consider, another eternity of perusal for our hearts. Some other lovely things to take up our thoughts by times are the wonderful Christians you know and love, the beauties of nature all around us, the delightful presence of little children, and so much more.

With so much lovely all around us, let us forget about those things that are not. And we will be more like Jesus. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

One of the men who helped to shepherd me when I was a young Christian offered me some good advice for the place where I worked. Some of the other people who worked there had calendars and other pictures on the walls, featuring immoral things. The other brother advised me to stay away from the areas where those pictures were displayed, and to have some good pictures (they wouldn’t have tolerated Gospel texts) displayed in the area where I worked. It’s difficult, he explained to me, to keep our minds pure when we expose ourselves to the fleshly lusts that the world enjoys. His advice, to replace the immoral pictures with good pictures, is in line with today’s admonition to think on whatsoever things are pure.

When it comes to purity, the Lord Jesus is not only our ideal example, He is also the ideal target for our thoughts. As an example, Jesus shows us throughout His life and ministry the character of God. His life was marked by holiness and purity in all that He did and said. But He did something that you and I should practice, to enable us to maintain purity in our lives, our words, and our very thoughts: Jesus spent much time in prayer. He was in constant communication with His Heavenly Father. This included times when He would spend the night on the mountainside in prayer. It should be noted that prayer and purity are closely related; praying saints will be pure saints. If our minds are taken up with our communion with God, we won’t have room in our thoughts for impurity.

As the target for our thoughts, Jesus will lead us in a pure pathway. As we read of Him, as we contemplate Him, as we study His person and His work, our minds cannot be distracted by those things around us. We know that the world is becoming more immoral, that gross sins are not only practiced openly and are accepted, but they are also flaunted, promoted, and praised. It can be difficult for us living in such an environment to maintain purity of thought. But it is possible.

The translation of an old German hymn tells us that ‘Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, He makes our sorrowing spirits sing’. He should lead our thoughts today into all things pure. -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

How much is your handshake worth? If you were called upon to take part in a joint venture with others, involving a great deal of money and a large amount of work, is your handshake with the others in the venture at the outset as good as the others expect your participation and effort to be at the conclusion? There are great businesses today that operate on the handshake principle, and they are not disappointed. Their partners know that the handshake is worth full value. Their dealings are honest because their hearts are honest. Not many are like that, though. So we need to look to the Lord Jesus for our example and instruction in honesty.

The other day I was impressed with an offer that came in the mail. It proposed to provide me, for considerably less than I am now spending, with Internet service that is better than I now receive. However, throughout the interesting information in the ad were little numbers. I checked the bottom of the page and found those little numbers were exceptions to the offer being made. The descriptions of those exceptions were in print so small that I could barely read them. I was glad I made the effort because the fine print made the wonderful offer into almost a joke. Always read the fine print, says the wise man. And always remember that Jesus never used fine print. Read His words in the Gospels. You won’t find any double-talk, no hidden meanings, no loopholes or preferential treatment. God’s dealings with mankind have always been just and equitable, and honest. And the Lord Jesus showed us that when He was here.

In his excellent books on human relations, Dale Carnegie teaches that the best way to succeed with people is to treat them the same way that you want them to treat you. Now, where did he get that idea? The golden rule has always been the masterpiece in human relations, and it teaches us to always be honest and just.

If we train our minds to always be honest with people, and treat them fairly every time, we will be a little bit more like our Saviour in His dealings with us. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Watch out for the man who declares that he always tells the truth; he’s sure to lie about other things too! We all lie! Every day! And not just with our lips; we have many ways in which we create and pass on false impressions and wrong messages. It’s our human nature, or to be more accurate, the old nature we inherited from the first Adam. But now that we are saved, we have the ability to tell the truth, and to understand the truth. That’s because the Last Adam has given to us His nature, and His nature is true.

Our text tells us to think on whatsoever is true. First of all, that means we think about the Lord Jesus, the One Who declared that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No higher occupation can our minds employ than contemplation of our Saviour. Beyond the precious truth that Christ died for the ungodly lies an eternity of forever unfolding the wonders of the riches of His grace. He alone will be the everlasting occupation of our thoughts.

Truth is also bound within the Bible, as in no other book. All of the writings of men fall so far short of the one Book that contains nothing but truth. It will never guide us wrong, can never fail to help and strengthen us, and must ever reveal to us the character of its Author. To ponder the Bible is to ponder truth.

One of the primary goals of education is to teach us how to think. But if the education is based on that which is false, it must lead us astray. No wonder there is so much wrong thinking in the world today. So much of education is based on the falsehoods of evolution, humanism, and secular reasoning. Parents who subscribe to Christian education or home schooling that focuses on the truth of creation and man’s responsibility before God do their children a great service in preparing them to think on the truth.

Satan is the father of all lies. God is the Author of truth. If we think on those things that are true, we defeat the lies of the devil and bring our minds into line with the thoughts of our Heavenly Father. -Jim MacIntosh

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Brain experts tell us that there is never a moment of our life – awake or sleeping – when we are not thinking about something. Even when we are not actively pondering something, our minds are still active, processing input from our senses, sorting through memories, or mentally chewing on a problem we need to resolve. When we sleep, our thoughts continue, with dreams and the sorting and filing of information received during the previous day. Thinking is a very complicated and involved process, and is not well understood by most of us. In fact, most people assume thinking is pretty much automatic, and there is little we can do about it. But our text tells us that as Christians we should be focusing our thoughts on the good things.

The late David Pethrick had a wise saying: It’s not what a man thinks he is, he is, it’s what a man thinks, he is. In fewer words, we are what we think. The things that occupy our thoughts determine the person we are. A person who dwells on gloomy and sorrowful thoughts will be morose and glum all the time. A person who keeps their mind on happy things and pleasant thoughts will be good natured and enjoyable to have around. That’s why Paul tells the Philippians to keep their thoughts on the delightful list in our text.

We don’t need to look far to find harmful and destructive things to think about. The morning newscast, the chat with the next-door neighbour, the visit to the health clinic, all these can direct our thoughts into places that are unproductive at best and often destructive. God wants our minds to be built up, not mashed down and distorted by the worlds worries and evils. By filling our heads and hearts with the positive and the pleasant, we shape our lives and personalities to be more like those of the Lord Jesus.

During the next few days, we will be looking at some of the things that God wants us to focus our thoughts on. Keep reading, and keep thinking on the things of the Lord! -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, July 10th, 2017

I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright and morning Star. Revelation 22:16

Many of the world’s religions teach that man can – by devotion to the tenets of their religion – eventually reach the status of a god. We know this is false. But it does thrill our hearts to know that One Who was (and is and ever will be) God was willing to take on Himself the status of a man. Our text today identifies the Lord Jesus declaring the relationship between His earthly humanity and His heavenly deity.

In the Root and Offspring of David, we see the Lord Jesus stepping into humanity as a descendent of Israel’s greatest king. This is in harmony with all of Old Testament prophecy, proving His credentials as the Messiah and Redeemer. David was not perfect, but from his offspring could come One Who was fully qualified to redeem Israel and all who will believe. We have in His place in the lineage of David also the identity with fallen humanity. Never a sinner, He clothed Himself in human flesh in which to endure punishment for sin. As a man, he allowed Himself to endure what we ought to have endured for our rebellion and disobedience. The Root and Offspring of David suffered for our sins on the cross.

As the Bright and Morning Star, we see Jesus as the King of Kings from eternity past and as the Prince of Glory forevermore. The verse is referring to a star that appears at the darkest hour of night, before any indication of the day is evident. A short time later, the darkness begins to fade to make way for the day. The appearance of the Lord Jesus as the Bright and Morning Star speaks of His coming in the rapture of the saints. This occurs during the darkness in this world, before the appearance of the Lord Jesus when He returns to set up His kingdom. So for believers, the Bright and Morning Star is a glorious hope. When we gather on the first day of the week to remember Him, we keep in mind those precious words ‘until He come’.

Our worship of the Lord Jesus is humbling to us to consider Him as the Root and Offspring of David. Our worship is also thrilling to consider Him as the Bright and Morning Star. -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

And in nothing terrified by your adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. Philippians 1:27

In his book Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Lee Stroebel declares that one of the greatest proofs of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the confidence of the early Christians, particularly the disciples. These folks were willing to lay down their lives to proclaim the message of eternal life through the risen Lord. Stroebel’s point was that nobody would be willing to die for something they knew was a lie, so they were telling the truth when they declared that they had seen the Lord Jesus after His resurrection. We have not see Him in the flesh, but we have the eyewitness accounts, and we can believe them. This should give us confidence in the face of our adversaries.

Although our lives are not threatened here in North America for our faith, we still have plenty of adversaries. Many would oppose, or at least ignore, the preaching of the Gospel. Many would take offense at a Christian’s stand against the murder of the unborn, the promotion if homosexuality, the willful disregard for morality and decency in today’s society. If we live for God, we will be targeted for ridicule and discrimination. Satan will see to it that we are harassed by his minions. But Paul reminds us that we should not let these things terrify us, because our testimony is proof that the enemies are facing destruction while we are sheltered by God’s salvation

This is why some missionary martyr stories that seem to us to be tragedies are really triumphant victories by those who allowed God to replace the terror with confidence. This is why Heaven rejoices at all the dear saints – unknown to us – face death bravely in the prison camps of communist China and North Korea, and before the cursed Sharai law courts of Mohammedanism. This is why you and I can place our trust firmly in the God Who calls us to serve and follow Him and Who assures us of a righteous recompense if we do so.

The enemies’ terrors today are but a reminder of the glorious morrow that awaits us in Jesus’ presence. Service for Him is worth it all. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermon for Saturday

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again. Philippians 1:26

When you arrive, do people smile at you because they are well mannered or because they are actually delighted to see you? We all know people whose arrival is always a special event, and others whose arrival is always met by inward groans. Most of us fall somewhere in between. The apostle Paul speaks of rejoicing in Philippi when he shows up. The best example of how to make sure our appearance is a welcome sight is given us by the Lord Jesus, during His life.

Not everyone was glad to see the Lord Jesus, of course. When He was born, Herod was bent on killing him, but the shepherds rejoiced. When He began His ministry, the scribes and Pharisees were miffed but the common people thronged to see Him and hear Him preach. When He entered Jerusalem, the priests and Sanhedrin ignored Him but the children danced and sang. When He was hanging on the cross, one of the malefactors cursed but the other blessed Him. But if we dwell on those who recognized the Lord Jesus for Who He is, we can see that His arrival on any scene was cause for pleasure, joy, and blessing. It was all because His life was lived to fulfill His Father’s will. That’s what you and I can do if we want others to rejoice when we arrive.

Jesus devoted His life to serving others. He helped everyone He could, had kind words and gentle comfort to many, and showed compassion to all who were hurting, grieving, and troubled. The needs of others were more important to Him than His own comfort. That’s how we should be. I heard of a man who was disappointed when he arrived home and found his children paid no attention to him. So he decided to do something about it. He began bringing home little treats and toys, promises of interesting trips and events, and soon he found his children eagerly awaiting him at the door when he arrived. Yes, he bribed them, but he thought of what they wanted, and what would interest them. and he was rewarded.

Not everybody will always rejoice to see us coming, but those who matter will rejoice, if we treat them as Jesus would. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, July 7th, 2017

Nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. Philippians 1:24

Does God make mistakes? Some people think so when they look around the sitting room of a nursing home, and see the vacant faces of some of those old folks sitting in their wheelchairs. None of us wants to be left in such a state, and some people go so far as to say God errs in leaving those old folks alive when their usefulness and ability to function and relate to other people has vanished. On the other hand, we all know some people who were vibrant and productive and valuable contributors to society in general and a good help to the Lord’s people, but were suddenly called Home to Heaven by accident or illness. Of those people, some will say God erred in taking them away too soon. Even the apostle Paul, in today’s text, seems to have a question about what is best for him as he sees the end of his life approaching.

We know God makes no mistakes, of course. Take those unfunctioning folks in the seniors’ home, many of them are unsaved, and have ignored or rejected the Gospel. God is graciously keeping them in their bodies awhile longer to delay their departure for eternal punishment. But in the case of a Christian facing impending death, is it better if we live or die? Paul makes the case in our text that it is better for the other Christians that we abide in the flesh. But only God knows whether that is best for His great plan. Why is it better for the other Christians that you live awhile longer? Why is it better for them not to have to attend your funeral? If we were all like the apostle Paul, we could understand why. But we’re not.

No, we’re not all great preachers and teachers and pastors and guides. God has not given us all the prominent gifts and abilities. We can easily assume we are of little use to the Lord’s people. But as long as God leaves us in the flesh, we can take it from Him that He deems us useful for Himself and for His people. So, every day and at every opportunity, we should practice that usefulness. We should be kind and considerate, we should be supportive and encouraging, we should be faithful. The other saints really do need us.

God has given each of us a row to hoe in his great garden. Until he takes the hoe from our hands and presents us with a crown, let us make use of the hoe for His people. -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel. Philippians 1:12

How many Christians do you suppose there are in North Korea? It’s one of the worst environments in the world for Christians, who can be executed if found out, and where the communist government has created an enforced religion of worshipping the country’s former and existing leaders. In a land where Bibles are forbidden, where religious tolerance is unknown, and where absolute devotion to the Kim family is mandated, the government assumes that there are no Christians in North Korea. The government assumes wrongly! An organization that smuggles Bibles into North Korea is confident that in that tortured nation of fewer than 25 million people, the number of true believers may exceed one million! Sorry as we feel for the persecution of the Lord’s people in North Korea, that persecution has served only to further the Gospel.

In peaceful, free North America, we have little idea how persecution fans the flames of revival and blessing. We struggle to get people interested in a Gospel that can be freely accessed; We can’t get people to read Bibles that can be bought at dollar stores. We can’t imagine the life of dear saints in North Korea who read God’s Word, when they can access it, under threat of death. When we gather for regular meetings of the Assembly, we little realize that such gatherings are unknown in North Korea, where companies of believers can seldom safely extend beyond immediate family. Those dear saints would have difficulty understanding the concept of a conference! And yet, under such repression and opposition, the Gospel is being spread much more effectively than we are doing it in our free society. Freedom has nothing to do with the furtherance of the Gospel, as the apostle Paul reminds the Philippians in today’s text.

In the coming years, as the rapidly growing influence of the homosexual sector places heavy restrictions on access to the Bible, and as Mohammedanism and other satanic religions surge in their opposition to the truth, will we see the Gospel flag or flourish? These things are happening now, so we need to be prepared. Blood will flow. Assemblies will be pushed underground, Public preaching will disappear. Much as we dread these things, more souls will be saved than are being reached now. And that is the most important. -Jim MacIntosh