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Sermon for Saturday

May 26th, 2018

Then answered the Jews and said unto Him, What sign shewest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things? John 2:18

Our text follows a most remarkable event, in which Jesus clears the temple of the livestock and the money tables. You would think that the lads conducting their business in the temple would have raised a howl, and the people who had sanctioned their presence there would have done the same. Jesus’ actions have disrupted the entire temple community. And they could not refute His statement that the merchandising was inconsistent with the nature of the place. His claim that he was defending the honour of His Father’s house had them stumped. What did this mean? This is God’s house, and if this Stranger is claiming that it is His Father’s house, then the Stranger has to be claiming to be the Son of God. So they demand proof of His identity. As if they hadn’t already seen it! The Lord Jesus always defends that which is His.

There was so much wrong with what was going on in the temple that we would not have been surprised to see Jesus turn His back on it and dismiss it as irrelevant. But He didn’t. He declared it to be His Father’s house, and He purged it of the merchandisers. Sometimes, we see things going wrong in our Assemblies, or in other Assemblies, and we wonder when God is going to cut them off. He may not. Instead, He may – and often does – do His own housecleaning. He often removes offending brothers or sisters, and removes or alters situations that cause trouble with the testimony. In doing so, God proves His love for that which is His, and demonstrates His authority to do so.

We might well ask the Jews who challenged Jesus who they thought they were. They were the ones making a mockery of God’s house. With His words, Jesus had placed them clearly in the wrong. Those who would cause damage to God’s house today are also clearly in the wrong. God’s Assembly is not theirs, or ours, and we have no right to defile it or conduct business other than that which is prescribed by Scripture. The mocking world today would look for a sign. All they see is a tiny company acting very old-fashioned and out of date. When the Gospel condemns them, they look for a sign, asking who do we think we are to tell them they are sinners. All we can do is be faithful with the Gospel and allow the Word of God to do its work.

If Jesus’ great display of authority in clearing the temple could not convince the Jews, we should not be surprised if our efforts to preach the Gospel and to preserve God’s Assembly are met with ridicule and doubt. But Jesus will preserve His own. – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

May 25th, 2018

And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money, sitting. John 2:14

Another employee and I were busy unloading a shipment of steelware products in a hardware warehouse when a man in a blue suit approached my companion. He led him over to a nearby desk, opened his briefcase, and began talking to him. I didn’t get the drift of their conversation, other than to grasp that the man in the suit was trying to sell something. I also understood that the burden of unloading the shipment was left entirely to me, which was difficult, because some of the items were large and bulky, requiring more than one pair of hands. Suddenly, I heard a roar, and the warehouse foreman charged into the shipping area. Angrily, he ordered the salesman out of the building, telling him he had no business being there. ‘And don’t come back!’ The foreman then informed my companion that he was not to allow any more salesmen onto the floor, because they interrupted our work and interfered with the business. He must have felt as the Lord Jesus did to find livestock and money clerks in the temple.

The problem was these cattle merchants and money traders were conducting crass business in the House of God. They might well have had a valid reason to be outside nearby, but there was no role for them within the temple itself. Their presence was an insult to the One Whose house it was. Today, there is no physical temple to be kept cleared of everything inappropriate. But there is a House of God, and it still needs to be kept clear of everything that is not appropriate. The Lord Jesus has promised to dwell in the place where His saints are gathered to His name. His Assembly is holy, and we need to respect that holiness. We need to be careful that, when we meet, we do not bring along those things that don’t belong, because they would interfere with the proper functioning of the Assembly. To use a crude example, it would be inappropriate for a brother who works in sales to make a plug for his product during a Bible reading.

But we need to remember that God’s Assembly is not the gathering of the saints in a building. We are an Assembly all the time, even when at home, at work, or at play. And we need to keep the cattle vendors and money changers out of our lives. Anything that interferes with our functioning as part of God’s Assembly should go. That means, anything that keeps us from attending meetings of the Assembly, anything that prevents us from preparing for participating in Assembly meetings, anything that would discredit the Assembly or any of its members, all are cattle vendors and money changers, and are inappropriate.

Reverence for the Assembly as the Father’s House will help us to keep the wrong things out of it. – Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

May 24th, 2018

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory, and His disciples believed on Him. John 2:11

An automobile plant in Michigan, operated by one of the major automobile manufacturing companies in Detroit, provided a parking lot for its employees in a convenient location. One day, one of the employees who parked there was called in to the office to be told he was fired. He was told that his car violated company policy, because it was made by a different manufacturer. The company demanded loyalty from its employees, loyalty that extended to the make of cars that they drove. If they didn’t believe in the company’s cars, they would not be committed to the company in other ways, either. Although it seems a little extreme, that company’s policy makes sense in terms of having committed employees. How much more important is it to have committed followers of the Lord Jesus, both now and during His ministry?

We don’t read of any other results from the great miracle of the water being turned to wine. Impressed as the governor of the feast was, and as amazed as the servants must have been, and as delighted as the guest were, we don’t read of any of them following Jesus or making any commitment to Him. No, all we read is that the disciples believed on Him. These same men who were drawn to Him by His teaching and His knowledge were now convinced by His power. From this point on, they had no serious doubts about Him. They were now ready for whatever service their Lord was to ask of them. They abandoned all of their reservations, and became followers indeed. They set an example today for you and me, as we consider our commitment to the Lord Jesus. Like them, are we totally convinced of His Deity, His power, His wisdom, His purposes, and His leadership? In short, is He our Lord?

These disciples made a permanent and full-time commitment to follow the Lord Jesus every day. We can’t make the same type of commitment, of course, because of our responsibilities to our families, homes, employers, and other duties. But we can make a full-time commitment to accepting His lordship. Even in our families, homes, employment, and other duties, we can place His interests first. In fact, we must place His interests first, or else risk stepping outside His will for our lives. No life will be as rewarding, profitable, or meaningful as a life in which the Lord Jesus receives His rightful place as Lord. And we can only do that if we truly believe in Him.

Just as believing in the Lord Jesus was necessary to save our souls, believing in the Lord Jesus is necessary to save our lives for serving Him. – Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

May 23rd, 2018

And He saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. John 2:8

Place yourself in the position of the servants who have just filled half a dozen waterpots with water. In a way, this task might make sense, because these waterpots were on hand so that the wedding guests could perform the appropriate ceremonial washings as they ate the reception meal. As a servant, you complete that task without question, even though it is a bit unusual. Now comes the tough part! You are instructed to draw out of those waterpots into the jugs that are intended for wine. No, you are not rinsing out the jugs, you are to fill them from the waterpots, and carrying them to the governor of the feast, for him to approve and pass on to the reception tables. Having filled the waterpots with water, you expect to draw only water out. As far as we know, nothing has changed. Your jugs are full of water, and you begin the short journey to the governor’s table. What is going through your mind at this point? What are you expecting to happen? How great is your faith?

The servants who carried the jugs to the governor must have been in some apprehension! What would the governor say? He is expecting wine, and here comes water! Imagine their amazement as they begin to pour the first jug into the governor’s goblet! Any lack of faith now disappears, and they boldly bring the rest of the water – now wine – to the reception tables. You and I have experienced similar changes in attitude, as we have seen our God work, for example in a Gospel series. We faithfully attended, brought folks along to hear, prayed regularly, and went through the motions. But, as soon as one soul trusts Christ, everything changes. Prayer becomes more fervent and confident, attendance becomes more joyful, and invitations are more readily distributed. Having experienced God’s working, we realize that He can, and will, save precious souls. Doubt flees at the evidence of miraculous power.

Let’s give the servants credit. They did as Jesus told them. Even when it didn’t make much sense, they obeyed. Even when their ears were red with embarrassment, they forged ahead with their mission. Would you have done likewise? Would I? Doesn’t it make you wonder what we have missed out on because we failed to act when the Lord bid us to move forward? We have not had all the thrills that He had in mind for us because we did not think it made sense to go forward.

God never intends for us to figure out how He is going to perform His miracles; He just wants us to act on the promise of His blessing, and let Him act on the blessing of His promise. – Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

May 22nd, 2018

Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. John 2:7

Do you believe the servants in this story had any faith that Jesus could resolve the problem of a lack of wine? Either they did or they didn’t. The fact that they did as He told them shows that they either believed Him and rushed to obey Him, or else they did not believe and rushed to embarrass Him. After all, they had no experience with Jesus power. He had not yet performed any miracles; this was to be the first. But the bottom line is they did as He told them and blessing resulted. The fact that they filled the waterpots to the brim meant that there was as much blessing as possible. And that’s a nice lesson for us today as we look for the Lord’s blessing.

Can we see these servants as they go about their work? They have received an unusual command that makes no sense by itself. But they obeyed. Sometimes, we are directed to do things that don’t make much sense by themselves. But we need to remember that God never asks us to understand, He just asks us to obey. It is our acting in faith and not acting in understanding that He can use to His glory. So we do what He says, and leave the miracles to Him. And, like these servants, we do what he says, and exactly what He says. To these servants, filling the waterpots meant filling them to the brim, not just filling them to the usual level. It meant more work, but it resulted in more blessing. It also resulted in a greater miracle. How much more blessing would we see for God if we injected this kind of effort into our service for our Lord?

Blessing results, not from our belief, nor our understanding, nor our expectation, but from our obedience. And the greater our obedience, the greater God can bless! – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

May 21st, 2018

And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine. John 2:3

Most of the wedding receptions I have attended have had plenty of good food and beverage. The food and drink are there to help everybody have a nice time. Weddings nowadays are much different from what they were in Jesus’ time, but many of the same things apply: people are there to have an enjoyable time and to share in the joy of the newly-married couple. When provisions run out, things must start to get unpleasant for the organizers as well as for the guests. It was embarrassing. Somebody did some poor planning, and the lack of planning was now a problem. But the story ended happily, because One of the guests was able to resolve the problem and because another of the guests knew where to go for a solution.

There had been wine at the wedding, but it was now all gone. The world is like that today: all around us are people who have used up their health, their money, their energies, their talents, and often their sanity, and now there is nothing left to bring them joy. Most of the people who desperately need the Gospel to provide them with hope have no idea that there is a Gospel. As far as they know, a life of disappointment and struggle is all there is, and there is no expectation of anything for eternity. Life’s party has run out of wine, and as far as they know, it is a permanent loss. That’s why we need to get the good news of the Gospel out to the world, to let them know there is hope. That is also why, like Mary, we need to intercede with the Lord Jesus on behalf of those who have no wine.

We have no idea what would have happened at that wedding if Mary had not been there. But she was there, and she approached Jesus about the problem. We have no idea what will happen to the folks around us if we don’t pray for them and witness to them. But we are here, and we can pray and witness. Mary probably had no idea what Jesus would do to resolve the problem. But she asked Him anyway. We have no idea either what Jesus will do when we bring the needs of the lost to Him. But we can ask Him anyway. It was not Mary’s responsibility to supply wine for the marriage, not is it your or my responsibility to provide salvation to the thirsty souls around us; we couldn’t do it if we wanted to. Salvation is of the Lord, not of ourselves. But the Lord Jesus does desire to hear from us about the need.

The Lord knows the need for the wine of blessing, and He delights to bring the blessing, if only we will bring the need to Him and witness for Him. – Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

May 20th, 2018

And He saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see Heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. John 1:51

Between the time of today’s text and the crucifixion, the disciples spend three years in the company of the Lord Jesus. John’s Gospel, and those of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, record many of the events that occurred during those three years. Obviously, they couldn’t record everything, and, guided by the Holy Spirit, they wrote everything we need to know, including the most spectacular of the miracles and other events. The event Jesus describes in today’s text sounds like something spectacular, and yet, we don’t read of it being described in any of the Gospels. This was something special for Nathanael and perhaps for the other disciples. As disciples of the Lord Jesus, we too can have those special promises and moments that are just between us and our Lord.

Nathanael was convinced that Jesus was the Son of God and the King of Israel all because Jesus told of seeing him under the fig tree. Jesus now assures him he is in for some spectacular events. Regardless of the events and situations that brought us to Christ, we all recognize that the rest of the ride home to Glory will have its special events. Nothing like what Nathanael was in for, of course. We may never see anything that resembles a miracle to anybody else. We may live what the world might call a boring existence. And yet, for the child of God, life has those wonderful events that thrill our souls and make our salvation exciting and worthwhile.

The folks around us who are not saved don’t know anything about answered prayers. They know nothing about the precious promises that God gives us and delivers on. They have no concept of the sweet fellowship between a saint and his Saviour during times of prayer and meditation on the Word. They can’t understand the relationship that exists among believers when we assemble to worship, pray, study, or even to socialize. There is no way that an unbeliever can grasp the significance of the comfort, protection, guidance, and encouragement that the Holy Spirit gives as He resides in each believer. All these are the special mysteries that God reveals only to His own.

Don’t ever consider yourself to be as limited and weak as the unredeemed folks around us; God’s kingdom includes so much that is precious and powerful and only a mystery to those who are not saved. – Jim MacIntosh

Sermon for Saturday

May 19th, 2018

Nathanael saith unto Him, Whence knowest Thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. John 1:48

What was Nathanael doing under the fig tree? We can’t know, of course, although many people have speculated that he was probably praying. It would have made a nice place for daily devotions, because the fig tree is not large, and its branches are low. Perhaps we can get a clue from Jesus’ choice of the definite article rather than the indefinite articler. He did not say a fig tree, He said THE fig tree. There was a specific fig tree under which Nathanael was accustomed to sit or kneel. It was not just a casual happenstance that he was there, it was a well-known place to which he was wont to resort often. So it is highly likely that Nathanael was praying under the fig tree. What was he praying about? Like most devout Jews, he would know that the fig tree was a picture of Israel. Under the fig tree, he would most likely pray for God’s blessing on Israel, and for the Messiah to come. No wonder he responded with worship and devotion when Jesus told him He had seen him under the fig tree.

Nathanael’s prayer place was no secret to the Lord Jesus. Neither is your prayer place. He has seen us and heard us every time we have ventured there. He is deeply interested every time we go under the fig tree. And the issues we raise with Him there are carried to His Father’s throne. You and I can sometimes fail to grasp the significance of Jesus’ knowledge of our fig tree experiences. Sometimes we don’t realize that we are tapping into Heaven’s resources and contacting Heaven’s highest level. But our lack of understanding and appreciation has no bearing on whether the Lord Jesus sees and hears us. But it does have a bearing on our worship.

If we read the next verse, we encounter Nathanael’s great confession of Jesus as the Son of God and as King of Israel. I believe if he had continued speaking, he would have thanked Jesus for hearing his prayer, but we don’t know that for sure. But his confession shows how deeply he appreciated the Lord Jesus and His knowledge of the fig tree. The more aware you and I are of Jesus’ intercession for us at the Throne of Grace, the more profound will be our worship of Him. We will appreciate in a greater way what He has done for us, and what He is doing for us each day.

As you slip quietly and reverently into your fig tree bower of prayer today, don’t forget to acknowledge the presence of the One who sees and hears you there. – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

May 18th, 2018

The day following, Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow Me. John 1:43

A company that used to be my employer wanted me to work on some new courses on a contract basis. First, they needed to know if I was available. Then, after confirming that I would be able to devote the necessary time to the project, we had to do some negotiating about the pay I was to receive. Once that was finalized, they informed me about the topics that were to be covered in the courses, so I could familiarize myself with them. Then, they supplied me with a large amount of source material and a long list of links to other source material, all of which I was to use for creating the courses. After I had collected all of the material, I had a meeting with representatives of the company I was doing the work for, as well as representatives of their client. After that meeting, I was provided with an outline of the proposed lessons for each course and a breakdown of the material each course was to cover. After I had determined that the outline was reasonable, the company issued me a schedule, and I began to work. It was a complicated start-up process. Far more complicated than Philip’s two-word command!

The command that Philip received came after Jesus found him. Jesus issued the same command to you and me after He found us. When we consider all of the teaching we received as new believers, and even when we consider all of the teaching that we received since, all of it can be boiled down to that two-word command from Jesus: Follow Me. In a way, the Christian life of obedience is not complicated; it’s just two words. We sometimes make it complicated and break things down into their parts, but obedience is no more and no less than what Philip did that day when Jesus found him.

How do we follow Jesus? First, we get to know Him. Time spent in His Word and in prayer is the best way to start. Time spent in the company of His people in His Assembly is also essential, because many of those in His Assembly have learned a great deal about following Him and will be glad to share their experiences. Attending conferences, becoming involved in Assembly activities, and developing a strong interest in spreading the Gospel are also important ways to learn how to follow Jesus. We can get involved in many other aspects of life, but among them all, nothing should ever take priority over the simple command to follow Him.

If we, like Philip, make up our minds to follow Jesus, we will live a life of great fulfilment with no regrets at the end. – Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

May 17th, 2018

One of the two which heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. John 1:40

The great symphony conductor Leonard Bernstein was once asked what instrument is the most difficult to play. His answer: ‘Second violin. I can find plenty of first violinists. But to find someone who can play second violin with enthusiasm, that is a problem. And if we have no second violin, we have no harmony.’ It might have been Bernstein, or it might have been C.H. Spurgeon who first recited the pithy ditty: It takes more grace than I can tell to play the second fiddle well. It is a rare person indeed who doesn’t mind somebody else always getting the attention and glory. And yet, in Andrew, we find such a person. Without an Andrew, we would never have a Peter and everything that Peter brought to the ministry of the Lord Jesus. As great as Peter was, as powerful as He became in the early days of Christianity, as essential as Peter’s epistles are to our understanding of God’s instructions to us, none of this would have been possible without an Andrew to bring his brother to the Lord.

Our text has two great lessons for us; the first is this, never belittle the position of second place. Pride would have each of us seeking the forefront, seeking the attention, striving for own own interests and our own advancement. Nobody would have known Peter like his brother Andrew. And yet, knowing that he would have to take second place once Peter showed up, Andrew wasted no time in bringing his brother to the Lord. Like Andrew, we need to push pride back and not to be concerned about the possibility of somebody pushing in ahead of us. Andrew knew what was the most important, not only for himself, but for Peter. And he did not hesitate to step into the role of second fiddle. How thankful we are than he did! And how thankful others might be if we were willing to do the same!

The second lesson we learn is the importance of inviting people to meet the Lord Jesus. Andrew did not hesitate, and he went straight to the most important person in his life, his big brother! What a thrill he must have received in the years to come as he remembered his witness to Peter, as he saw his brother become a great apostle. He had no regrets, as far as his brother was concerned. What about us, have we done all that we could to introduce our brothers and other family members to the Messiah? We won’t know how much blessing will result unless we at least try.

We can all think of some wonderful Andrews that we have known, and appreciate their willingness to play second violin. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt us to try a little harder to play second violin ourselves. – Jim MacIntosh