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Tidings for Tuesday

November 21st, 2017

And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a certain King, which made a marriage for His Son. Matthew 22:1,2

Amid all of the pageantry and romance that surrounded the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981, I recall one line spoken by Dr. Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury, as he prepared to perform the ceremony: “This is the stuff that fairy tales are made of”. A lovely commoner was marrying the heir to the throne, and took the title of princess. The whole world watched and rejoiced at the spectacle and promise in a royal wedding. It was a beautiful, spectacular, and joyous event. But with all of its splendour, there is a greater marriage in the works, and we are all invited – not merely to be guests, but to be the bride!

Most of us were saddened to see the royal marriage eventually crumble and end. But it is so typical of many marriages today, if the couple even takes the time to get married. In today’s society, marriage has lost its special status as an institution of honour. So much of the meaning of marriage has been lost that even the disgusting homosexuals seek to take the term to refer to their abominable unions. We sorrow to see such degradation in what God has ordained. But we rejoice to consider that there is coming a marriage that will forever dispel all of the lies and broken promises of earth.

Consider how our text refers to a King who made a marriage for His Son. This reminds us today that it is God who has lifted us up to the status of a bride for the Lord Jesus. We deserved nothing, not even the crumbs from the wedding table. It was the Holy Spirit Who called us out of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son. It was Jesus Himself who bore our punishment and paid for our redemption in drops of His own blood on the cross. Yes, it was God who made the marriage. But it will be us who come into the joy of an eternal relationship with the Son.

The glorious truth of the coming Marriage Supper of the Lamb is enough to keep us excited about our salvation and full of service to our Bridegroom. Let the joyous prospect fill your heart today! -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

November 20th, 2017

Therefore say I unto you, the Kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. Matthew 21:43

I grew up during a period when the Montreal Canadiens were assumed to be the natural heirs to the Stanley Cup. This hockey team was so powerful and had such a rich history of victories over the other teams that nobody even thought of any other team winning the cup. So, great astonishment marked the victory of the Chicago Black Hawks in 1961. I also grew up in an era when the Liberal party dominated federal politics in Canada. The party had held power for many years, through the prime ministerships of MacKenzie King and Louis St. Laurent. So, great astonishment marked the rise to power of the Progressive Conservatives under John Diefenbaker in 1957. In today’s text, Jesus was foretelling a similar upset of events. Everyone assumed the Jews would be the ones through whom God would work. But just like the Habs in 1961 and the Grits in 1957, they were in for an ousting. This is where we, among the Gentiles, come into the blessing and responsibility of the Kingdom of God.

From the Gentiles, God continues to call out a people for His kingdom. With no regard for race or place, God through the Gospel calls sinners to become saints and take over the work of spreading His name. God calls those same saints to serve and worship Him, and to give to Him a dwelling place on the planet. Jesus was letting the Jews know they were being temporarily replaced. Why? the previous verse tells us it was because they had rejected the Stone Who was to become the Head of the corner.

God is still rejecting those who reject His Son. We in North America live among great apathy toward the Gospel. God is being displaced all around us with material things, with the delusions of the cults and Mohammedanism, with worldly knowledge, with anything but reverence for God and acceptance of His Son.

We who have trusted Christ have a great privilege – to serve and worship Him. We also have a great responsibility – to serve and worship Him. If we fail to treasure our privilege and fail to perform our responsibility, God may turn away from us to others. -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

November 19th, 2017

And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying in the temple and saying, Hosannah to the Son of David, they were sore displeased. Matthew 21:15

Oh, how we would have loved to be there! Jesus had just purged the temple of the cattle-sellers and money-changers in most dramatic fashion, claiming it to be His house, and there was nothing the temple security could do about it. Then He further demonstrated His authority and power by healing the blind and the lame who came to him there. Nothing like this had ever happened in the temple before! Our text tells us that two things happened directly in response to the temple cleansing and the healings: the children sang praises and the religious leaders were very upset! Not surprisingly, things have not changed today.

Do the children yet sing? Yes, we who have become the children of God as a result of the work of Jesus Christ will sing today as we gather to remember Him. We echo the theme of the children in the temple by singing of Who He is. Yes, we appreciate what He did on the cross, and what He has done for each of us personally; we rejoice in our salvation. But we appreciate today most of all the wonders of His Person, the fact that He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We sing of His majesty as the Highest in Heaven. We sing of the perfections of His character and life as he sojourned among us. We sing of the infinite value of His offering on the cross, of the preciousness of the blood shed for our sins, of the unfathomable and immeasurable love displayed to sinners in the offering of Himself. How can we not sing of Him today as we are taken up by His greatness and power, by the beauty of His holiness? As His children, we sing!

But there were more than singing children in the temple, there were also the angry rejecters. These religious leaders bribed Judas to betray Jesus, they enticed the people to cry for His crucifixion, they twisted Pilate into a false condemnation, and then they gathered about the cross, wagging their heads and flinging their vile taunts at the Saviour. How ashamed we are today that there was a time when we might have taken our place among that angry mob.

How great is the mercy of God today, that you and I are no longer among the angry rejecters, but by His grace are today among the singing children! -Jim MacIntosh

Sermon for Saturday

November 18th, 2017

For thus saith the Lord, that after 70 years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. Jeremiah 29:10

This was not a happy moment for Judah and the people in Jerusalem; Nebuchadnezzar had come and carried all the princes and most of the people off to Babylon. Undoubtedly many of them were wishing that they had listened more closely to Jeremiah. But in His goodness, God did not take away the voice of Jeremiah, but instructed him to continue speaking to God’s people. God always has His voice to speak His message, regardless of the situation or the period of history. No power on earth can silence the voice of God.

This time, Jeremiah had no reproach, but encouragement. He urged the people who were taken captive to make the best of their life in their new homes, and to raise families so that there would be a people to return to Jerusalem. But there was a catch, a huge catch, as far as the Israelites were concerned. Jeremiah told them that their captivity would be 70 years.

What would you do if you were in difficult circumstances and were told that those circumstances would be remedied in 70 years? Not much short-term comfort in such a long-term promise! Very few would ever see Jerusalem again in their lifetimes. Most would die in captivity.

God has also given us some long-term promises, things that we will not see in our lifetimes, at least not before the Rapture. But unlike the Jews in captivity, we will actually see the fulfillment of our long-term promises. What an encouragement! The wonderful environment of the Millennial Reign is coming. And we should eagerly anticipate it. But God has given to us to occupy here now, seek to win souls, and live for him.

Unlike those Jews of ancient time, we have a hope of our Lord’s imminent return. So let us rejoice in serving Him, secure in the knowledge that we shall indeed see the results of His long-term promises. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

November 17th, 2017

And when He was come into the temple, the chief priests and elders of the people came unto Him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest Thou these things? And Who gave Thee this authority? Matthew 21:23

A friend of mine who worked for a large national corporation was sent to company headquarters to build a new project. As he and several other experts were working on the project in a large studio, a short, balding man in casual dress and carrying a clipboard came into the studio and sat in a corner to watch. As the development team approached a crucial point in the project, each member seemed to have a different opinion as to how they were to proceed. At this point, the man observing from the corner spoke up and made a suggestion. All the team members immediately deferred to this man, except my friend, who asked him, ‘Why, what do you know about this?’ The man smiled, and replied, ‘I’m the company president’. How embarrassed my friend was! Just as embarrassed as the chief priests and elders should have been to question the right of the King of Kings to teach in the temple. Sadly, we all question His authority every day.

Who better to teach in the temple than the One who the temple was built to serve? Who better to lead the people and explain the Scriptures than the One of Whom all Scripture spoke? Who better to take charge of the temple activities than the One Who holds the entire universe in the hollow of His hand? Jesus had every right and all authority to be where He was and do what He was doing. Everyone there should have listened attentively to all He said and then have gone and followed His teaching. We have His Word today. The Bible gives us clear direction from the Saviour Himself. But do we follow all its teachings? Or do we challenge some of it? Do we pick-and-choose the Scriptures that we want to apply to us? Do we use the pen-knife approach and dispose of those portions of Scripture that cramp our lifestyle?

The Word of God is clear and plain. Jesus’ teaching is not complicated. Are we following His teaching today, or are we challenging the authority of the Son of God? -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

November 16th, 2017

And when He saw a fig tree in the way, He came to it and found nothing thereon but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. Matthew 21:19

As a lad growing up on the farm, one of my favourite places was the apple orchard, always a wonderful place for climbing, and frequently a fine place to find a tasty morsel of fruit. In early August, my sisters and I would comb the Red Astrachan trees in the orchard’s southeast corner, looking for the first sign of ripening apples. We loved those first signs of pink, knowing the apples were beginning to sweeten. But there was an interesting aspect to those trees; after a bountiful harvest one year, they would produce few or no apples the next year. This led to many disappointments as we searched for ripening fruit. But we would know that the next year, there would be plenty of apples again. We simply had to delay our expectations for a year. What about the fig tree that Jesus saw, was it having an off year? The Lord required fruit that day, and waiting was not an option. So the tree forever lost its ability to be fruitful. Do we ever lose out for the same reason?

Do you know of any withered Christians, folks who profess to belong to the Lord but who never have anything in the way of service or testimony for Him? Do you ever encounter times of fruitlessness in your own life? There is a great danger that if we fail to produce fruit when the Lord is looking for it, He will take away our ability to ever serve Him. Can you imagine such a sorry condition? Unable to appreciate a lovely hymn of praise, unable to live a thankful heart in worship, unable to hand out a Gospel tract to a needy lost soul, unable to appreciate the fellowship of other believers, unable to give money or other materials to the Lord, unable to show a Christ-like spirit of loving and caring to those around. A fruitless Christian is a sad Christian, losing out on all that is worthwhile in time and depriving himself of all reward in eternity.

Jesus is looking today to all of us to produce fruit in our lives. How plentiful is the supply on my tree? -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

November 15th, 2017

And He left them, and went out of the city into Bethany, and He lodged there. Matthew 21:17

The magnificence of the temple drew people from all over the known world to see it; the beauty and splendour of Jerusalem was legendary and attracted visitors from far and near just to be within its walls. This was the seat of the only God-given religion in the world. This was what Jesus Himself said was His Father’s house. This was the place where, reportedly, God had His dwelling place on Earth. And yet, we find the Lord Jesus did not remain there, but went outside of Jerusalem to a little village where His friends lived, and made their place His residence. This is exactly what Jesus has done in this period of human history.

Where does God dwell in the world? We read of the tabernacle in the wilderness and how, after it was completed according to the pattern God gave Moses, the presence of the Lord was there. We read of the greatness and splendour of Solomon’s temple, and how, after it was constructed according to God’s pattern, God’s presence filled the house. Nothing remains of the tabernacle or of all its furnishings. Nothing remains of the temple except one solitary wall. Is there nowhere else that is God’s dwelling place? Is there no other place for which He gave a pattern and in which He took up residence? Oh, yes, there is! Can we find this dwelling place for God today? Oh, yes, we can! The tabernacle and the temple were where God made His residence among His earthly people, the Israelites. These were the focal point for all their activities, the centre of their service and worship. Now, God has temporarily set aside His earthly people and has taken up His dealings with a heavenly people. So we do not have an earthly temple made with hands. But we have a spiritual building composed of all those who are in Christ. And God has local representations of that great spiritual building. Local Assemblies of Christians gather according to the pattern God gave the apostles. And in today’s text, we find such a dwelling place. Jesus’ true friends lived in Bethany. Lazarus appreciated that Jesus had restored him to life, Mary sat at His feet to learn, and Martha served Him. This family represents the place where Jesus still dwells today.

Our Assemblies, where we claim the Lord’s presence, are marked by thankfulness, learning, and true service for Him. Do we make such a dwelling place the center of our lives? -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

November 14th, 2017

And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. Matthew 21:11

The word ‘multitude’ refers to the crowd that escorted Jesus into Jerusalem, as He rode into the city on a donkey. Their cries of ‘Hosannah’ were still ringing in their ears, along with their recognition of Him as the Son of David. When the people in the city wondered who was arriving, the multitude’s response seems to be a withdrawal. Now, He is seen as just a prophet. This is interesting, because that is how most of the world views Him today. Even the leaders of so-called Christian denominations reject His deity and dismiss His crucifixion as an interesting but irrelevant incident of history. As much of the world rejects Christ’s work and claims, it becomes more and more necessary for you and me to live and speak in acceptance of Who He is and what He has done.

Was Jesus but a prophet and did He come from Nazareth? We know better. Yes, He was/is a prophet. And yes, He did live most of His earthly life in Nazareth. But He is so much more than a prophet. And long before He ever entered Nazareth’s carpenter shop, He dwelt in ivory palaces above. The humble, itinerate preacher who arrived in Jerusalem from Galilee that day was so much more than what He was recognized for. And when He returns to Jerusalem in a coming day, He will have a far more spectacular entrance than He did in Matthew chapter 21. The world does not recognize Him today. But all will recognize and bow down to Him then.

As we wait for the Lord Jesus to call us Home, we are but a rag-tag remnant who accepts Him for Who He is. He is our King and Lord, and will be forever. We have been made by the Spirit’s striving to bow heart and knee before Him, while the world’s rejection of Him grows. Will we, can we, continue to sing His praises and carry His banner day by day? Does the world’s rejection of Him affect how we live for Him? Or are we relegating Him to the position of a prophet, when He should be our Lord? -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

November 13th, 2017

But Jesus said, Suffer little children and forbid them not to come unto Me, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 19:14

One of my earliest memories is of a family get-together on a beach in the Brule area of Nova Scotia. I can remember my parents and several uncles and aunts laughing at me as I joyfully raced around in circles in the soft warm sand. I suspect my parents were a bit embarrassed, because I didn’t have a stitch of clothes on. But I was a little boy, perhaps three years old, and things like that didn’t matter to me. I was loving my time at the beach. Most of us can go back into our memories and recall those wonderful, carefree times of childhood. Good news folks! Those carefree times are coming back! I believe our text today tells us that when we reach Heaven, we will have again the carefree joys of little children.

Yes, I know Jesus was reminding adults, in particular his disciples, that the simple, uncluttered faith of little children is essential to those would come to Himself. Looking back on Salvation’s day, each of us must acknowledge that we were brought to a place that a young child can understand, the simple trust in the loving sacrifice of our Saviour. We’ve grown a bit since then. We appreciate a capable preacher who is able to break open the depths of Scripture and unfold great truths to us. We study complex passages and appreciate the magnitude of the Word of God. But isn’t it true that the sweetest truths to our souls are the simplest? Do we not, on a Lord’s Day morning, repeat over and over the simple truth that God loves us and Jesus died for us? In reality, it is those grand themes that will hold us enraptured for all eternity as their spendour is unfolded to us. As little children, we will forever laugh and cheer and celebrate these things.

No wonder Jesus was glad to see the children come to Him! They weren’t trying to figure Him out, they were just accepting and welcoming Him. We should do the same. -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

November 12th, 2017

I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not My face from shame and spitting. Isaiah 50:6

The New Testament writers of the Gospels recount the suffering of the Lord Jesus, how He was whipped, how the cruel soldiers tore the beard from His face, how Jew and Gentile alike punched Him with their fists and spat in His holy face. We shudder at such shameful treatment of our Saviour, bitterly regretting that it was our representatives who heaped such shame and abuse on Him, and it was to deliver us from our sins that He was there. But it is in the Old Testament, in the writings of the great prophet Isaiah, where we find the reason why such inhumanity was visited on Christ. When we gather to remember Him, we will probably hear this verse quoted as we consider His sufferings.

What thoughts passed through Isaiah’s mind as the Holy Spirit guided him to pen this verse? Most of the Old Testament writers reflected their own experiences in the things they recorded. But Isaiah had never seen anything like this! He was a good prophet and lived during days of some bad kings, and had undoubtedly been mistreated at times. If he had encountered the mistreatment recorded in this verse, he had surely not done so willingly. So he was not writing about himself, but of Another. Just as Isaiah must have been, our hearts are touched today to realize that the Saviour was to willingly offer His back as a smiting place, where the stripes were to be received for our healing. With Isaiah, we wince today to think of facial hair being yanked out of Jesus cheeks. How extremely painful! And we cringe with Isaiah at the thought of spittle on those cheeks. How disgustingly shameful! And yet we read that the Lord Jesus freely and willingly gave His face to receive that shame and spitting.

We think today of the words of Galatians 2:20 -the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me. He gave Himself, all of Himself. To save you and me. -Jim MacIntosh