Food for Friday

April 3rd, 2020

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1

When we gather in our little companies to obey our Saviour’s words, ‘This do in remembrance of Me’, we consider how our gatherings are made up of insignificant sinners who were brought to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus. There was a time when there were no such gatherings, a time when there were no people to gather, a time when there was no earth to gather upon. Our text speaks of a God Who spoke, and the worlds came into being. The God of Eternity fashioned a little bubble of time, and stepped into that bubble to build a creation that eventually included us. The omnipotent God who created all is the same omniscient God who knew/knows all. Even as the six days of creation brought about all that we see and know, The God of creation knew what would happen to that creation. He knew of Adam’s fall, of humanity’s depravity, and of Satan’s opposition. And yet, He created.

Dr. Scofield tells us that the word ‘God’ in the opening verse of our Bible is the term ‘Elohim’. This term speaks not only of the power of the Almighty but also of the harmony of the Trinity. All three Persons of the Godhead were united in desiring creation to occur and in achieving the desired result. The Father concurred, knowing He would need to send His Son to be the Saviour of the world. The Son concurred, knowing that only His sacrifice at Golgotha would bring glory from the depths of earth’s tragedy. The Spirit concurred, knowing that only His striving would bring fallen man to repentance and faith.

In the two words ‘God created’, we see all the divine power and knowledge manifested. We see also that Elohim is also Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides. The God who made us also made a way for our redemption, and always had that plan in mind, even as He brought forth everything from nothing. What a God we worship! -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

April 2nd, 2020

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. Romans 8:1

This verse holds a special memory for me as I re-read the first part of it and remember the week I was saved. We had gathered around the campfire, a large group of children ranging in ages from eight to 12, and were singing enthusiastically to the accompaniment of Marilyn’s accordion. Someone fitted the first part of our text into one of the choruses, and we lifted up our voices. For me, it was good to be able to sing it, knowing that I was no longer condemned. Actually, this verse carries two promises. The first promise is positional, and enables us to actually place a period after the word ‘Jesus’. The second promise is conditional, and requires the entire verse.

Well might we lift up our voices in an anthem of praise to realize that our condemnation is gone. The next verse tells us that our Salvation has made us free from the law of sin and death. We who once were under condemnation because of our sin can rejoice forever. The judgment against our sin was poured out in full measure on Jesus Christ at Calvary. He proclaimed its completion, died, and rose again to never more face death or judgment. In all the value of the work of the cross, we accept release from our condemnation. This is true for every believer, regardless of our faithfulness or service. This is our eternal position.

But our condition may well be another story. The latter part of the verse reminds us of our responsibility to walk after the spirit. The One who gave us our release from condemnation also gave us the Holy Spirit to empower us to live our freedom. If we live after the flesh, we compromise the conditional enjoyment of our salvation and face chastisement.

Our enjoyment of our freedom from condemnation is all the greater when we keep ourselves free from the things that displease our Saviour. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

April 1st, 2020

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psalm 14:1

Today is a holiday for a growing number of people. Many of the holidays on our calendar – such as Christmas and Easter – have something to do with Christianity. Jewish people have their holidays that relate to their religion and heritage, such as Pesach (Passover), Purim, and Yom Kippur. Even false religions such as Mohammedanism have their so-called holy days, such as Ramadan and Eid. But for those who do not recognize any god (except themselves), today stands unique. This is the day when atheists can celebrate what they don’t believe. Today is set aside specifically for fools.

I remember as a boy being the target of April fool pranks, and how stupid I felt when I was tricked. It still happens, and I still feel silly. You probably feel the same way. Imagine how foolish the atheists feel when they discover they have been wrong. But it’s no trick. God has been very clear in His word that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Our consciences and nature are very clear in their testimonies to the reality of God. But the atheists are the victims of their own fool tricks.

Think for a moment of the Great White Throne of judgment. All atheists will appear there. Not only will they be made to confess that the One sitting on that throne is God, but they will also all bow the knee and acknowledge Him as Lord. The same people who put signs on buses urging people to accept their lie about God’s existence will in that great day be totally put to shame as the greatest of fools. Make no mistake, the atheists are fools now, and not just in eternity. Proverbs 9:10 tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding. Atheists display their ignorance by denying God. They have not even begun to approach wisdom. Now, and in eternity, they are fools.

Will you play an April fool’s prank today? Please be gentle. And also please pray that some poor atheist, whose holiday you are celebrating, will recognize his folly and find God. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

March 31st, 2020

And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me? Genesis 27:46

One of the greatest spiritual tragedies that can come into a Christian’s life is to enter into the unequal yoke of marriage with a nonbeliever. Rarely does such a union end in anything but disaster and a life that is an utter waste for the Lord. As a godly mother, Rebekah is determined that Jacob will not fall into such a pit. She has already seen the sorry sight of Esau, with his lack of appreciation for the things of God and the Heavenly promise, marry women who pleased his nature although they displeased his parents. Now, she discusses with Isaac how to preserve Jacob from such a mess. Rebekah knows what the women of the land were like, and she is weary of them. She wants better.

During a ministry meeting in Sussex a good many years ago, Dave Kember was speaking about young people, and how many of them attend conferences primarily in hopes of meeting with a potential future life partner. ‘What better place?’ he asked. I believe he was right. One of the great benefits of our conferences is as a place where young men and women can become acquainted with other spiritually-minded young people. Many a happy marriage among us began with a conference acquaintance. But conferences are only one way in which young Christians are encouraged to avoid taking partners from the world.

Do the young people in your Assembly know why marriage to an unbeliever is wrong? Have they heard the clear teaching of Scripture on this vital matter? Can they quote the verses that spell out the prohibition?

If we adopt Rebekah’s weariness with the unregenerate around us, we will do all possible to avoid having our young people become ensnared in a condemned union. -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

March 30th, 2020

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power, for Thou has created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11

I have often wondered, as I looked on tiny, obscure wild flowers in some isolated clearing in the forest, how much God appreciates the beauty of such insignificant blooms. And what about the startling beauty of chain lightning, or the magnificence of a giant waterfall, or the glorious eye-filling displays of the Aurora Borealis? Do all these things delight His heart? Our text says so. Creatures that we deem ugly are not so to the Creator who fashioned them to give him pleasure. Natural wonders that human eyes have not yet seen are all known and appreciated by him. This includes the splendors of other world in galaxies and systems far beyond the capability of man’s telescopes to bring into focus. And yet all these are but a fraction of what the four and twenty elders were referring to as they uttered the words of our text.

These words were chanted as part of the vision that John had as his spirit was called up to Heaven. We must remember that the creation of which these elders spoke was not limited to the earth and the worlds that are visible to humanity. Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the heaven and the earth. All of the glorious realm where God and His angels dwell was at one point created by God. And it all gives Him pleasure.

Sin has rendered all of nature in a minor tone. Despite its beauties and wonders, sin robs God of much of the delight he sought when he created the earth and its environs. But no such defilement affects Heaven. That is one part of creation that never will and never can disappoint God. Nothing that defiles can ever enter there. But we will be able to. Our sins have been washed in the Saviour’s blood. God has made us ready for Heaven. And someday soon He will change these vile bodies and draw us up hither. We will become part of that of which the elders chanted: a creation that will forever bring pleasure to God.

If God receives pleasure from Heaven’s glories, how much more will we, when we are delivered from the shackles of this life, and take on the glorified bodies of Heaven! Even so, come, Lord Jesus. -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

March 29th, 2020

But now being made free from sin, and become servants of God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. Romans 6:22

There are some people who claim that after a person is saved, that person can never sin again, and they even use today’s text to ‘prove’ their point. Oh that it were true! What would it be like if you and I were incapable of telling a lie or uttering an unkind word? What would it be like of every believer were perfectly honest in all his dealings with everybody? What would it be like if we never had any temptation from the world’s devices and attractions that seize upon our lusts and weaknesses? Sadly true, we still sin, and will until we reach the Glory. So what is Paul referring to here when he speaks of being free from sin?

A young man who had only a short time before trusted Christ was speaking to me of his new life. ‘I used to be a sinner,’ he said. ‘But now I am a saint who sometimes sins.’ This young man had the right idea. We who have been saved have a freedom from sin that the unredeemed cannot know. The unsaved are under the total domination of sin, and can do nothing about it. They are helpless to do anything to please God or to obey His laws. But we who have been saved are set free from that slavery. We have dwelling within us the Divine nature, the Person of the Holy Spirit. He enables us to be and do what we of ourselves could never be or do. If we follow His direction, we will produce fruit unto holiness.

There is a Vatican man who is referred to as his holiness. But I have read some of the things that the pope has said, and I have serious doubts whether he is saved. Oh, for sure Francis knows a lot about his religion and his church’s doctrines, and he is able to speak great and stirring sermons and make powerful proclamations. But if he has never trusted Christ as his saviour, there is nothing holy about the pope, nor anything the pope says or does. Holiness is not a title conferred by any organization; holiness is fruit that grows in the life of a believer. And only in the life of a believer.

Holiness is the nature of God. As those who are partakers of this nature, let us cultivate a good crop. Live as Saints, not as sinners. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

March 28th, 2020

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:17

I watch a skilled cabinet maker ply his trade, and admire the lovely creations that appear in his hands. I stand behind the easel of an artist whose brush brings out the loveliness of a scene that had appeared commonplace before. I gaze enraptured as the sculptor’s chisel pares away all but the breathtaking beauty that was locked inside that granite. Each of these artists allows their hands to bring out beauty that arises in their hearts, and, lacking any artistic talent, I can only envy their abilities. But there is another medium in which I am able to work a bit, that of the English language. As a wordsmith for some 50 years, I know the thrill of a well-written line that unfolds far more than the sum of its individual words. That’s why I thrill at the way in which the apostle Paul pens this great benediction that is today’s text, words so magnificent that only the Holy Spirit could inspire Him to write them.

Among the many gems of Scripture are those, like this text, that exalt the wonders and greatness of our God. If we will study these, we will surely discover that the very best words ever written, the most beautifully arranged expressions, the highest use to which language has ever reached, is the speaking forth of the majesty and glory of our God. And this should be a lesson for us today. How will you and I use words? Will we allow our lips and our pens (keyboards in this electronic age) to toss around the language on the mindless fluff of this world? Or will we seek to express our thanks and appreciation to our Lord, using the language to uplift and honour Him? Even in our Bibles we see the pattern for the way in which our tongues should employ the language.

I am not a King James Only purist. I know this version is just a translation, and there may well be better ones that are more accurate in their presentation of the truth of the original. But I also know that God has blessed this great version as no other book in the world has been blessed. The KJV has something that every other version of Scripture lacks, a beauty of expression and a regal cadence that brings out the very character of our God. As this Book honours God in its expression, God has honoured this Book. Will we ever give up the KJV as our primary version for use among the Lord’s people? Maybe. I surely hope that day will be long after I have ceased to need its paper pages and my eyes lift in Glory to behold the Word of God Himself.

May our words today be like those of Paul, in ascribing honour and glory to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

March 27th, 2020

And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel feared to show Eli the vision. 1 Samuel 3:15

Samuel knew that Eli would be asking about the vision that the lad had received during the night hours. God had delivered to Samuel some very bad news concerning Eli and his family. After many years of no open vision, God had broken His silence toward Israel with a condemnation of the line of Eli. The old judge’s sons were extremely evil and yet were permitted to handle God’s ordinances. Eli had failed to control and punish them. Samuel could surely see their evil ways, because he worked among them. Yet he was not tainted by it. He had learned the good from Eli, who was in many ways a good man. God had delivered the message to Samuel, and now it was time for him to deliver the message to Eli. And he didn’t want to do it; he loved the old man.

Delaying as long as he could, Samuel went about doing the chores of the tabernacle, including opening the doors for the day. Then Eli came, undoubtedly excited that God had spoken to Samuel, and anxious to hear the message. He must have known the news would not be good, or else God would have spoken to him instead of Samuel.

Even as a lad, Samuel was faithful, and God could pass the message on through him. His reluctance to tell Eli shows his loving care for the Lord’s people. These two features marked Samuel all the days of his life. The world doesn’t like to receive bad news, and yet sinful men, women, boys, and girls, have definitely earned judgment from God. Many Christians who have slid into wrong practices and immoral behaviour also don’t want to hear about it. But they need to be told. Just like Samuel, we need to be very faithful and deliver to them exactly what God says about sin and judgment. The vile sins of today’s immoral and corrupt world need to be called what they are, along with God’s condemnation of these sins. And yet, there must also be a loving spirit about us as we deliver the message, as we faithfully present the truth of scripture. But for the grace of God, we are in the same condition.

Do you need to deliver bad news to a sinner today? Do so with a heart of love and compassion, just like Samuel. -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

March 26th, 2020

They that dwell under His shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine. The scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. Hosea 14:7

As a boy, I used to go out to the corn patch when the tiny green shoots would emerge from the ground, to throw stones at the crows and blackbirds that would gather. The seeds had been planted a couple of weeks earlier, but the birds had no idea that they were there. Once the rain and sun began their work on those dead-looking seeds, they would begin to grow and push the tiny blades of life above the surface of the ground. That was the signal for the birds to come and have a feast, and no scarecrow that we ever made could keep them away. To the birds, those green blades meant an illicit feast. To us, they were proof that the seed was alive, and they were the promise of a harvest in a few months. A Christian’s testimony is like that corn: proof of life and promise of a reward.

A bag of corn seed looks rather dead. It can sit on a shelf for years, with no evidence of life. It’s like you and I were before God came in and saved us. Like a seed germinating in good soil, we began to show evidence that God had worked His miracle in our lives. One of those proofs of divine life is the attacks of the devil, just as the attacks by the crows are proof that corn is starting to grow. The devil doesn’t care what happens to unbelievers, but he hates to see God receive the glory from a believer’s life. So he throws his fiery darts of doubts, cares, and temptations at us. We don’t like to be attacked by the enemy, but it’s a good sign that we are alive to God and are beginning to grow in grace.

Most corn seed that I have seen is yellow. It looks nothing like the bright green of the new plants when they emerge. A radical difference in appearance also marks a sinner who trusts Christ. Old clothing and trinkets, old companions, old habits and desires, these all drop away when God brings into a believer’s heart the desire to please the Lord. Time spent at entertainment venues becomes time spent in sweet fellowship with the Lord’s people. Selfish desires and ambitions are replaced with a yearning to know and do the will of God, and to be involved in the furtherance of the Gospel.

Dwelling under the shadow of the Lord revives us just like a new corn crop. We can thank Him today for bringing us forth from death to make our lives fruitful and beautiful for Him. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

March 25th, 2020

Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God and David their king, and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days. Hosea 3:5

Let’s play a little game of imagination, and pretend that someone from a thousand years ago, who lived where I live now, were suddenly transported through time, and appeared in my living room. Such a person would never have heard of white people, and could never have imagined a house like mine in his wildest thoughts. Setting aside the language barrier, this Malecite brave would have no reference for the laws that now govern our province, the customs that guide our society, the foods that sustain us, the clothing that we wear, or the technologies that enable us to function as we do. Even if he could understand English, very little of our conversation would make any sense to him. He could just as well have appeared on another planet as in a different time. This time traveller would be like us, if we were to suddenly appear in the circumstances described in today’s text.

The latter days tell of a time when the children of Israel will be fully restored to God, as they wholeheartedly welcome the reign of great David’s greater Son. They have a long ways to go before they reach that point, and it is difficult for us to imagine that. Today, Israel struggles to survive amid fierce and unreasonable enemies, and with diminishing support among her few friends. Despite assurances of God’s protection and aid, Israel seeks safety in conciliation and negotiation, offering to give up what is rightfully hers to appease the ravening wolves about her. Those wolves cry for Israel’s extermination, sealing their own doom thereby, but causing fear and pain on God’s chosen people until that certain doom appears. Israel is the target of hatred and lies like no other nation on earth. Despite strong leadership, valiant security and defense forces, and the aid of good allies, Israel remains in existence only through God’s provision. God sustains a nation that has yet to accept its true King, and will someday bring it into the glory described in our text. But today, as Israel struggles, God is blessing you and me.

Many Jewish people have turned to Christ, and rejoice in His salvation. But they have received Him as individuals, just as you and I have, not as a nation. As individuals, they have come into the blessing of the Gentiles. They take their places within the body of Christ and face the glorious prospect of the rapture at His coming, and the joy of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The blessings that delight us are their delight too. But the blessings that God has promised for their nation must wait a different dispensation.

Our instructions are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), our desire is for the salvation of the Jewish people, and our joy is to know that God’s great program includes a time of Jacob’s blessing. -Jim MacIntosh