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Sermonette for Saturday

January 18th, 2020

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Ephesians 5:6

Do you know what wrath is? One type of wrath is what you feel when you have to slam on your brakes to avoid hitting the person who cut in front of you in busy traffic. You might also feel wrath against the person who stole your credit card and used it. The Greek word for that kind of wrath is ‘thumos’, and it refers to the explosive rage you feel when something nasty happens. But ‘thumos’ is not the Greek word used in today’s text; the word here is ‘orge’, and it refers to the type of wrath that applies to God. Unlike us, God does not blow up in sudden and uncontrolled rage at somebody who is sinning, and then apologize for His outburst. The word ‘orge’ applies to the kind of wrath that is a strong, settled opposition to all that is evil, arising out of God’s own nature. It is God’s holy revulsion against that which contradicts His holiness. His wrath is a slowly building revulsion toward everything that is against His holiness. It is a wrath that, when it reaches its capacity, is poured forth on those who deserve it, as occurred at the time of the Noahic flood and as will occur during the Great Tribulation. In our text, it applies to wrath that is coming against ‘these things’ that are listed in the previous verse.

Verse 5 tells us that ‘no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God’. If we go to Colossians 3:6, we find essentially the same list and the same warning of wrath. This is serious! God does not take this kind of behaviour and these types of people lightly. His wrath against these is building, and will soon be poured out. Of that, we can be certain. Because God says it, regardless of the vain words of those who would try to deceive us.

And people are trying to deceive us today with vain words. Look at all of the vigorous campaigns underway these days to try to convince us that pornography is beneficial, that homosexuality is normal and right, that drug abuse and marketing are acceptable, that murdering the unborn is a human right to be promoted, and so forth. As Christians, we need to see these things for what they are: sin. And we need to make sure we don’t get swept up in the vile flood of the world’s opinions and attitudes. Because the wrath of God is building against all of these things and against all of these people. If we allow ourselves to be deceived, we may also face judgment as well.

We are not the children of disobedience. But we can become disobedient if we allow the vain words that are swirling around us today to deceive us into accepting that which God declares is worthy of His wrath. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

January 17th, 2020

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children. Ephesians 5:1

There is a very real reason why advertisers often put a disclaimer on many of their television ads: ‘Don’t try this yourself’. A number of years ago, the Reebok company pulled one of its ads which showed an athlete jumping over an oncoming car, because some teenagers in Kentucky were trying to do the computer-generated stunt for real. One of them broke his leg and ankle trying to perform the daredevil stunt. One television show got in trouble when a stuntman, among other things, tried lying on a barbecue in a fire-resistant suit with steaks attached. A 13-year-old in Connecticut suffered second-degree burns when he tried to imitate that trick. You and I might shake our heads, but there really are some people who lack the common sense that would prevent them from imitating such dangerous things. That type of imitation can be very dangerous. Other types of imitation can be childish or foolish, such as teenagers insisting on wearing the same styles as the movie and music stars they admire. But some imitation is good, as we see when teachers and coaches every day urge those they are instructing to imitate the way they do things. We all have people who we imitate because of things about them that we admire or appreciate. Many times, but not always, that form of imitation is good for us. But there is one form of imitation that is always good for us, and that is obeying today’s text by being followers, or imitators, of God.

Obviously, some of the attributes of God we cannot imitate. God is omnipotent, all powerful; we are not. God is omniscient, all knowing; we are not (regardless of the impression some people might try to give). But many attributes of God can, and should, be imitated. For example, God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18); neither should we. Leviticus 11:45 tells us ‘Ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy’. And in the very next verse, Ephesians 5:2, we have following appeal for imitation: ‘Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us’. This verse reminds us that God has not simply called us to imitate Him; He has given to us a perfect Example to follow.

Only the Lord Jesus could truthfully declare, ‘The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him’ – John 8:29. As God, the Lord Jesus had both the desire and the capacity to always please the Father. As mortals, we lack that capacity, but we ought to have the desire. We have four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John describe to us how the Lord Jesus conducted Himself while among us. Reading, and following His example, will allow us to be imitators of God.

We are God’s dear children, why would we not want to follow Him? -Jim MacIntosh

Sussex Winter Weekend

January 16th, 2020

Title: Sussex Winter Weekend

Location: Sussex, NB

Description: Annual Winter Weekend of Fun!Skiing at Poley, Swimming at the Civic Center, and Skating at CTR.
Supper and Hymn Sing at 6pm Jubilee Hall 50 Perry St, Sussex.

Date: January 25, 2020

Days Meeting to follow on Sunday, January 26th, 10AM @ Sussex Regional High School.

Thought for Thursday

January 16th, 2020

And be ye kind, one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

There are many people in this world who will be kind to you today. From the man who waits an extra moment so he can hold the door open for you, to the person who wishes you a cheery good morning, to the lady who goes out of her way to make sure you are comfortable in the waiting room, many people really do show kindness to those around them. When you encounter these folks, please be aware enough to express your thanks. Kindness isn’t something that everybody shows, so it should be recognized when it happens. As kindness becomes the more scarce in this day of selfishness, it should become more pronounced in the life of every believer.

Our text is speaking primarily of kindness to other Christians, although it is not exclusively so. There is no reason to be unkind to anyone. Kindness is a good testimony, and often opens the door to an opportunity to witness for our Lord. Kindness was epitomized by the Lord Jesus as he walked among us. His tender heart was always ready to provide comfort and caring to everyone He encountered. That should be our attitude, because we should have His attitude toward people.

Someone has defined kindness as love in work clothes. While this should be true of our interactions with unbelievers, as we seek to point them to the God of love, it should be especially true of our interactions with those of the household of faith. The context of our text is in connection with our relationships with other believers. What was the greatest kindness that God has shown to us? He forgave our sins. He has shown the same kindness to other believers. If God thinks enough of those folks to bestow His forgiveness on them, we should feel the same way. We will not only forgive anything they have done against us, but we will open our hearts to receive them as brothers and sisters in the Lord. We will be anxious for their welfare and interested in their comfort and success in all things. We will want to shower them with appreciation for anything they do for us, and to keep their best interests at heart.

Kindness is an individual thing. Don’t set out today to be kind to everybody, set out to be kind to one person in particular. And then look for a second person to be kind to, and then a third… -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

January 15th, 2020

Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ. Ephesians 4:19,20

Do you remember that line in your marriage vows that said ‘As long as you both shall live’? It seems today that that line in the vows has been replaced with ‘As long as ye both shall love’. Couples who get married these days (and most don’t even do that), they do so with the attitude that if things don’t work out, they can toss the marriage aside like last season’s sports coat or dress, and go on to another one. This lack of commitment in this most important of institutions is all part of the attitude of sexual impurity that has swept through society. The age you and I are living in is marked by rank immorality that goes far beyond what we could have imagined 50 or 60 years ago. With such slogans as ‘If it feels good, do it’, and ‘Anything goes’, there are no limits these days to the unbridled rush to explore the depths of depravity. There is a word for this depraved attitude; the word is lasciviousness. We don’t use that word much these days. And as Christians, we should know as little about it as possible. We have learned something better.

Our text actually explains what lasciviousness is: all uncleanness with greediness. This is what the world learns. They learn about the uncleanness in the attitudes and language all around us. The media are filled with messages promoting pornography, near-pornography, immoral behaviour, filthy talk and jokes, and lust-provoking images. The savage promotion of such deviant behaviour as homosexuality is rushing forward to the extent that some are even pushing to ‘normalize’ the sexual abuse of children. Oh, it’s very easy to learn to be lascivious these days. And it is made all the more pervasive because of the selfish attitude we see all around us. Everyone is ‘entitled’, we are told, to have whatever they want, and that includes whatever immorality strikes our fancy. Parents who display this greediness in their own lives teach it by example to their children. How do we as Christians avoid falling into this filthy mess? By learning Christ!

Notice that our text does not refer to learning about Christ. The world does some of that. There are plenty of books and movies about Jesus’ life and teachings. Some of them might even be worthwhile. But that’s not what our Lord wants us to learn; He wants us to learn Him. Just as sheep in a flock learn to follow and appreciate the care of their shepherd, so the Lord Jesus wants us to get to know Him personally and deeply. He wants us to feed on His Word so that we can become more like Him and follow Him more closely. He wants us to fellowship with His people so we can worship and serve Him more effectively.

Let the world give itself over to lasciviousness. But let us give ourselves over to learning Christ. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

January 14th, 2020

Neither give place to the devil. Ephesians 4:27

What is the biggest room in your house? That should be easy to answer, although it will differ from one person to another, depending on the house. Some will have a kitchen that is bigger than the other rooms, some will have a large living room or bedroom suite. Still others might have a huge rec room. Now, let’s change the question a bit and ask what is the largest room in your life. That too should be easy to answer, it’s the area of life where we spend the most time and exert the most effort. For some, their biggest room is their job, for others, it’s their family, their sport or entertainment, or their hobby. Someone once told me my biggest room was the one for improvement. For a Christian, the biggest room should be reserved for the Lord Jesus and spiritual things. But there is somebody else who wants that room, and he doesn’t want it for anything good.

Our text speaks of not giving any place, or room, to the devil. Our enemy will do everything he can to move into our lives and rob us of the joy of our salvation. The devil will try to get as much of our time as he can. He doesn’t care much how we spend our time, as long as it’s not at anything that brings glory to our Lord. Even things that appear legitimate and proper can be in the devil’s domain if that time could have been better spent in worship or service to the Lord. The devil also likes to get control of our intellect and our abilities. Everything that God has given us to enable us to become more Christ-like becomes a waste when the devil gets us to spend it on unprofitable things. Money that we could use for the furtherance of the Gospel is given to the devil if we don’t direct it aright. Oh, there are so many ways that the devil can sneak into our lives and erode those things that we ought to reserve for our Lord.

Our text comes on the heels of Paul’s admonition to not allow anger to drag us into sin. A Christian who gives no place to the devil is a Christian who controls his emotions and his reactions to the things around us. Giving no place to the devil involves self control and discipline. It involves maturity, honesty, and integrity in our dealings with all those around us. We can live so as to give no place to the devil, and this should be our goal.

If you give the devil an inch, he’ll want to be the ruler. If you give him no place, you’ll have more room for the things of Christ. -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

January 13th, 2020

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind. Ephesians 4:17

I have just been reading on a website a challenge that offers more than a million dollars to anyone who can provide proof of the theory of evolution. Specifically, this website is looking for proof that includes transitions from one species to another. The website points out that similar offers have been made in the past, and nobody has ever been able to provide the proof. A million dollars is a lot of money, even with inflation. If there were any proof, some scientist would surely have come forward to claim the prize. But there isn’t any proof. And there can’t be any proof, because the theory of evolution is scientifically impossible on many fronts. It can be proved to be impossible. But the scientists refuse to look at that proof, because they are so sure that evolution is true. In the vanity of their minds, they think they know more than the Bible. But at Christians, we must always recognize that the Bible is always true, regardless of what man says.

Most schools today teach evolution and refuse to teach creation. Most schools, governments, and other organizations preach global warming today, even though it is just as impossible and unprovable as evolution. These are just examples of people walking in the vanity of their minds. Rejecting the truth, they barge ahead with their own ideas and inventions, sure that they are right and God is wrong. The trouble with these deceivers is that their ideas have so permeated our society that it is impossible for Christians to avoid them. For example, Christian parents cannot avoid having their children taught evolution, unless they home school or send their children to Christian schools. The news media constantly bombard us with fake science about the impact of global warming (they call it climate emergency now although there is no emergency). Society all around us constantly batters us with the so-called need to recognize that homosexuality is normal and acceptable. How do we prevent these things from contaminating ourselves and affecting our faith?

Paul speaks of these things as walking in the vanity of their mind. You and I need to recognize that we are not the ultimate authority. We need to bow to the Scriptures as the authority as to what is right and wrong. We need to recognize that God’s Word is always correct in everything that it teaches. We need to accept the Bible as the guide for everything we believe and accept. We need to affirm that everything that is not biblical is not true. We can allow no exceptions because every exception is an example of the vanity of our mind.

Do we walk in the vanity of our mind or do we stand sure on the Word of God? -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

January 12th, 2020

And He gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. Ephesians 4:11

Do you know any apostles, or know of any apostles among us today? Most of us recognize that the apostles were among the early Christians in the short period that followed the ministry, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. They served their specific roles and died and are gone from the ranks of the Lord’s people. There are some today who would claim to be apostles, such as the pope and various leaders of various cults. There are also those who would claim that everything to do with apostles has totally been terminated, and we have neither the office nor the work of apostles today. Actually, the truth lies between these positions, and there is a lesson for us today as we examine the truth about apostles.

Apostles were real men. They had a real job to do in the early days of Christianity, which would not be the same without the work those men did. It was as apostles that the disciples preached and spread the Gospel. It was as an apostle that Paul conducted his missionary journeys and wrote his epistles. These men spoke with authority, made decisions, and established principles. But the function of the apostles was foundational, and only until the Word of God was complete. Once the foundation was laid, the office of apostle was terminated, and needs no replacement. The office of apostle is vacant today, because its purpose has been fully served. This office is no longer needed.

But some of the work of the apostles has not ended. Remember the Great Commission Jesus gave his disciples before He returned to Heaven? They were to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). The word ‘apostle’ means ‘sent one’. And it certainly includes the evangelists, pastors, and teachers listed in our text. But not all of us are evangelists, pastors, or teachers. And yet, I believe all of us are sent ones. We all have a responsibility concerning the Gospel. If we left it up to the evangelists, pastors and teachers, there would be little accomplished in reaching souls. There are many things we can do when it comes to spreading the Gospel. The most important is to make sure our life is in accordance with the Word of God. We cannot expect anyone to want to be a Christian if the only Christians they know are unkind, unpleasant, and uninterested. We can also be strong supporters of those who do preach the Gospel, attending meetings, providing help wherever possible, giving out invitations and tracts, and being faithful in prayers and financial support.

You are not an apostle; neither am I. But there is one aspect of apostleship that we should never ignore or neglect. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

January 11th, 2020

I therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. Ephesians 4:1

According to Sir Charles Lyell, you should never call an accountant a credit to his profession; a good accountant, he says, is a debit to his profession. We know what he means. And we know well the expression ‘a credit to his profession’. If you do a Google search, you will get half a million responses. In every area of expertise, there are those who excel and those who perform stalwart service, just as there are always those who are a disgrace. In the sports world, not everybody is selected to the Hall of Fame. But of those who are not, there are many who discharge their responsibilities admirably, and they are appreciated for doing so. They are like those of whom Paul speaks in our text today, who walk worthy of their vocation.

Christians, what is our vocation? The term ‘vocation’ as used in this text refers to a calling or invitation by God to a life of worship and service for Him. Just as God did not force us against our will to be saved, He does not force us against our will to serve and worship Him. He desires that we do so of our own will. In doing so, we bring glory to Him that is impossible from angels, for example, which are obedient and reverent because they cannot be anything else. So God calls us, or invites us, to the highest purpose that humanity can reach, that of serving and worshipping our God. Such a lofty vocation is surely a great honour. And our text tells us that it is possible for us to walk worthy of that vocation. How can we do that?

Paul gives us some ideas in the next verse. He starts off with lowliness and meekness, because, despite the loftiness of our vocation, there is no room for pride in it. Pride is the greatest stumblingblock to a walk worthy of our vocation. Paul also speaks of longsuffering and forbearing one another in love. A Christian must be able to get along well with other Christians, and to value and appreciate those other Christians, even when those other Christians are not easy to get along with. This is far more important that we realize, and we often forfeit a worthy walk by a wrong attitude to other believers. There are many other aspects of a worthy walk, but humility and love surely head the list. If we can get that far, we will have a good start on the greatest vocation to which we can possibly be called.

Even as a prisoner, Paul had a deep interest in seeing the Christians in Ephesus walking worthy of their vocation. The Holy Spirit Who inspired him to write those words is also deeply interested in whether we walk worthy in our day. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

January 10th, 2020

I have coveted no man’s silver,or gold, or apparel. Acts 20:33

In 1829, a British dentist, Anthony Norris Groves, set out from England for Baghdad and later for India to preach the Gospel. Dr. Groves was one of the early leaders among a small group of Christians who met in the Plymouth area according to principles that they found in the Word of God concerning God’s Assembly. As he set forth on his missionary journey, Dr. Groves determined to follow New Testament practice and doctrine for his ministry. His pioneering venture was, simply put, living by faith! He set forth without any salary or solicitation of funding support, declaring, ‘God can provide for my needs’. And He did. Christians had not seen such practice for centuries. Would faith principles work? Could God provide for His servants?

George Mueller and many other preachers caught the vision as initiated by Dr. Groves, served God in faith and did exploits without relying on organized support or the solicitation of men. Missionary work along these faith lines spread like wild fire and girdled the globe. These heroes of the faith were following the principles of the early missionaries such as Paul, with the other Apostles, who walked such a pathway of faith, trusting God to supply. Paul was not afraid to work if necessary to be an example or to provide for need — ‘these hands have ministered unto my necessities and to them that were with me’ (Acts 20:34). Various Assemblies voluntarily sent funds to help him (Phil. 4:15).

But today such men and faith principles are being belittled and put down as not being efficient. The positive example of the New Testament is put aside as outmoded. In the 21st century with its computers, photography and mailing lists, so-called Christian organizations rely heavily on the fact that people respond to solicitation. This vital spiritual heritage of living and serving by faith is also in danger of being jettisoned by some that call themselves assemblies. Salaries are being discussed; solicitation is being practiced; workers’ needs are advertised. The erosion of the faith principle is well advanced in some circles.

To serve the Lord along faith lines is not just an interesting option for the Church. If Christians take seriously the teaching and example of Jesus and His apostles, it is imperative. And a practical outworking sharpens the cutting edge of spiritual life in both the Lord’s servants and His Assemblies. The principal of faith for financial support of Christian service is as vital to the Assemblies as the truth of baptism or the Lord’s supper. -Jim MacIntosh