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Sermonette for Saturday

May 25th, 2019

For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. Matthew 10:20

Frank McKenna, who served as a very popular premier of New Brunswick, was later appointed Canadian ambassador to the United States. In that role, he appeared to perform very well. But when the Liberal government that had appointed him to the post was defeated in a general election, McKenna resigned his ambassador position. His decision to do so was based on his belief that his views would no longer be in line with those of the new government. While he was comfortable speaking for the Liberals, he might well express opinions that would be at odds with those of the Conservatives. McKenna was like a wise Christian, who is careful to speak the views of our Heavenly Father.

Our text is part of Jesus’ charge to His disciples as He sends them to preach. They are going to let the nation know that their Messiah has come, and they will seek to bring followers to Him. In a way, their mission was not much different from ours. We are to let people know that their Saviour has provided salvation and they are invited to receive Him. As our text makes plain, the message is not ours, but the Father’s, and the power to present it is not ours but the Holy Spirit’s. Our mission is to be faithful presenters of the Gospel that we have received.

Not all of us are going out to preach. Some will, and they have the Word of God as their direction, and the Spirit of God as their power. Some will support those who go forth to preach. Some will present the Gospel in quiet and faithful testimony, speaking a word here or there, passing out Gospel tracts, inviting folks to meetings, living a godly and consistent Christian life. But we are all tasked with taking the same Gospel message to the unsaved. Nothing needs to be created or designed or choreographed. We simply need to pass on the message that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

When Jonah was in the belly of the great fish, he was made to confess that salvation is of the Lord. Let us never lose sight of the great truth that Salvation was planned by God, was paid for by God, and was presented by God. Our part is to simply take what God has provided and pass it on to those who are in need of it. We can never hope to improve on the message that our Father has prepared for us to give. With such a glorious message, let us deliver it joyfully, enthusiastically, and urgently, just as it was passed on to us by those who allowed the Father to speak through them. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

May 24th, 2019

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. Matthew 10:5

I have met a few Jewish Christians, but not many. Among Christians, I expect the percentage of Jews is rather small. Most Christians are Gentiles, so it makes us realize how dramatically things have changed since the Lord Jesus sent out His disciples on their first mission. Specifically told to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, they were to avoid Gentiles. Maybe some of the disciples had this admonition in mind in the early days of the book of Acts. Their initial efforts were certainly directed toward the Jews. Initially, almost all Christians were Jews, and it took a few decades for that to change as the Gospel spread throughout the world. So, why does today’s text contrast so sharply with the Great Commission Jesus gave the disciples after His resurrection?

Our text provides a directive to the disciples to target Israelites only. I believe this was the great opportunity being given to the Jews to as a nation accept the arrival of their Messiah. We are not told exactly what they were to preach as they went out, but it would certainly be a message that the Son of God was with men, and that Israel’s long wait for the Messiah was over. Nationally, the Jews failed to accept that message, although many individuals did receive it. In the great program that was to bring in us Gentiles, the Jews were to first exercise their responsibility. Their rejection was to our benefit. The Gentiles are greatly blessed with the Gospel. God’s great program is working.

The instructions given to the disciples bring us to another important truth: the spread of the Gospel is not a haphazard, random, or unorganized effort. Just as the Lord Jesus had specific instructions for those to be approached by the disciples, He also has specific instructions for us today as we carry the Gospel forward. No, we are not to ignore or avoid anyone with the Gospel message. We definitely desire and try to reach everybody, because the Gospel is for all. But we will never achieve much in Gospel work if we don’t find out who the Lord would have us target with our efforts. If our personal exercise in the Gospel is ‘everybody’, we will never zone in on anybody. Some have zoned in: some will preach, some will go to mission fields, some will teach Sunday School, some will giver out tracts, some will witness to friends, neighbours, and co-workers, some will pray, some will provide financial support. But without specifics, nobody is reached with the Gospel.

Jesus’ instructions to His disciples were specific. His instructions to you will be specific too, if you ask. -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

May 23rd, 2019

Then said He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Matthew 9:37

A wealthy farmer had planted several hundred acres of crops, dwarfing the efforts of his poor neighbour, who could afford to plant only a couple of small fields. The growing season was favourable, and the crops flourished. But as the harvest neared, the rich farmer was stricken with a fatal disease. After he died, it was revealed that he had bequeathed his fields to his poor neighbour. It seemed like a generous gesture until the harvest time, when the poor farmer realized he did not have the machinery or the manpower to gather in all those bountiful crops. He must have felt as the Lord Jesus did to see a great potential harvest that might never be realized for lack of workers.

With the world population now in excess of seven billion people, the harvest truly is plenteous. Most of those seven billion people have no idea of who Jesus Christ is. And of those who recognize His name, most of them believe Him to be merely a religious historical person. Not in a thousand years has there been such a high percentage of ignorance concerning the Gospel. As the world’s population grows, and as the multitudes age and die (one Canadian, for example, dies every two minutes) the need for the Gospel increases exponentially. And yet, the number of preachers is barely holding its own. We rejoice at the expansion of Gospel work in countries such as Mexico, but weep that the numbers reached in such places are pitifully small compared to the need. As handfuls are rescued, millions perish without Christ. As a faithful few men and women are added to the ranks of missions, an ocean of opponents sweep across the world with cults, false religions of all kinds, apathy, and atheism that sop up the vast majority of mankind in their destruction of souls. What a desperate need exists for labourers!

In the verse that follows our text, Jesus tells his disciples to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers. As we wring our hands in helplessness at the great need, we can take courage in this: we can pray for labourers. As we encourage each other to be better witnesses for our Lord and to be faithful supporters of the spresd of the Gospel, we can pray for labourers. As we take an interest in the work of the missionaries and the preachers, and as we provide them with financial and spiritual support, we can pray for labourers. As we pray for our lost loved ones and the unsaved family members of others in the Assembly, we can pray for labourers.

Our Lord desires that we pray for more labourers for the harvest. And He desires that we do our part of the labour. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

May 22nd, 2019

And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake, and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. Matthew 9:33

A silly story is told of a little boy who had never spoken a word. His parents had taken him to many doctors, who could find no medical cause of the lad’s inability to speak. So his parents resigned themselves to having a dumb child. One day at dinner, the lad pointed to his plate and declared, ‘This meat’s too tough.’ His mother exclaimed, ‘You can talk!’ ‘Of course I can talk,’ he replied. ‘So why didn’t you ever say anything before?’ He replied, ‘Up until now, I haven’t had anything to complain about.’ This unlikely story is just the opposite of Christians who, until they are saved, have had nothing to rejoice about.

The demon’s power that had prevented the dumb man from expressing anything is similar to the power of sin that had prevented us from uttering anything of any real worth in our unregenerate state. We could talk about school, work and business; we could discuss family issues and neighbourhood news; we could discuss business matters and political scandals; we could tell jokes, complain about things, argue and debate, tell lies, pass on compliments, and sing the world’s songs. But we were entirely incapable of uttering words of true worship to the God Who made us and the Saviour Who paid for our redemption with His blood. Our recitation of Bible verses and our singing of hymns were empty sounds that came only from our lips and not from our hearts. What a great miracle it was when we were given the liberty to speak to and about the God of our Salvation!

The multitudes might well marvel when they heard the dumb man speak. This was no small miracle. We are not told what the man said, but it is most likely his first words were an outpouring of thanks to the Lord Jesus. That is the first expression that comes from those of us when we first are saved. And it should be the first expression that comes from us every day of our lives. There was much the man would have to say later. He undoubtedly told family members, neighbours, and everyone he know about his great delivery. And it is most likely that he spent much time extolling the greatness of the One Who had healed him. These should also be the occupation of every Christian, as we use our new ability to speak to spread the great news of deliverance.

Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul. Thank you, Lord, for making me whole. Thank you Lord, for giving to me Thy great salvation so rich and free. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

May 21st, 2019

Then touched He their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. Matthew 9:29

A woman who had been experiencing severe anxiety attacks went to see her doctor. After examining her carefully, the doctor issued her some large brown tablets and told her to take one after breakfast and one after supper, every day. She was to be careful never to miss her medication. Three weeks later she returned to see the doctor, and reported that her anxiety attacks had gone away. The doctor credited the pills for the cure, never telling the woman that the pills contained nothing but brown sugar and an inert filler. He knew that the woman’s healing had been a result of her belief in the pills, not a result of the pills. Such placebos have proven very effective in many ailments. But no placebo has ever cured blindness. So how did the blind men in our text receive their sight?

If those blind men had approached the Lord Jesus with a ‘it can’t hurt to try’ attitude, they would have remained blind. But they had much more than that. They approached the Lord Jesus with the knowledge of Who He is. And because they knew He was the Messiah, they had confidence that He would restore their eyesight. In the previous verse, when Jesus asked if they believed that He was able to give them their sight, their response was ‘Yea, Lord’. Recognizing Jesus as Lord was critical to their healing. If they believed in His deity, of course they believed in His power. It is this same recognition that is the secret to the power in our prayers today.

Like the blind men, we have great needs today. And, like the blind men, we bring those needs to the Lord. And, as He did with the blind men, the Lord Jesus tests our faith. As with the blind men, the test is not whether our faith is strong enough, but whether we believe that He is able. Do we believe He is able when we gather to bring the needs of the Assembly before Him at our weekly prayer meeting? Of all the prayers that are uttered there, are there any that the Lord cannot answer? Of all the prayers that rise from our hearts during our day, do any contain elements that are beyond His power? Of the family needs that are brought daily to His throne, can any be said to exceed His ability? We know the answer to these questions. So why are prayers unanswered? There are several possibilities. But one of them could be our failure to submit them to His Lordship.

Requests made today in the will of our Lord will receive His response, if we understand Who it is we are praying to. Unlike a placebo, faith in Him has real power. -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

May 20th, 2019

And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? Matthew 9:4

One of the Queen’s duties over the years has been to visit schools and meet the children. One day early in her reign, she and Prince Philip arrived at a school where they had never been before. The children were all lined up in front of the school to greet their monarch, all dressed in their nicest, and with their hair carefully combed and with bright happy smiles on their faces. As they walked toward the children, still too far away for their voices to carry, the prince turned to the queen and jokingly said, ‘Remember to keep a stiff upper lip’. To their surprise, the children burst into laughter. What the prince did not know was that the school they were visiting was for deaf children. And those children knew how to read lips. But a bit of embarrassment for Prince Philip is insignificant compared to the embarrassment of those who fail to realize that not only all their words but also all their thoughts are known by God.

The miracle that Jesus had performed in healing the sick of the palsy should have convinced the scribes of Jesus’ deity. But they rejected that possibility, instead opting for the unreasonable conclusion that Jesus had blasphemed by declaring the man’s sins forgiven. This was their thought; they did not say anything. Immediately, Jesus provided another proof of His deity by revealing their thoughts. So these men were doubly guilty of failing to recognize their Messiah. And they will one day be doubly judged for their unbelief. Many today know, or should know, that their thoughts are all known to God, but they continue on with their wicked thoughts and the wicked actions that follow those wicked thoughts. And they are responsible for them all. But sometimes I wonder if some of the Christians are not just as prone to forgetting that all their words and thoughts are known and read of the Lord.

We would never utter some of the things we sometimes think. And while we would never be guilty of using words that would be described as potty-talk, we sometimes use substitute words and expressions that convey the same meaning, and think we are innocent. Our speech abounds with the minced oaths and suggestive expressions that we hear the ungodly around us using. The world is filled with actions and images that defile our minds; it is hard to escape it all. And the gutter language of the people we encounter every day tends to affect our own speech, unless we are very careful. We need to focus our thoughts on holy things to keep our minds and tongues pure.

We know that the Lord Jesus knows our thoughts. Do we always act according to this knowledge? -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

May 19th, 2019

And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw Him, they besought Him that He would depart out of their coasts. Matthew 8:34

Our text describes what may well be the worst reception that the Lord Jesus ever received. The entire city came to see him, which actually sounded hopeful. Jesus had drawn large crowds before. But this crowd did not come in welcome; it did not come even in curiosity. It came in total rejection. These people took one look at the Lord Jesus and insisted that He leave. We wonder what could possibly have turned them so totally against Him. Was it the healing of the demoniacs? Was it the destruction of the herd of swine? Or were they just not the least interested in having guests, regardless of how well commended and interesting? Whatever it was, the Gergesenes were unwelcoming and inhospitable toward the One Who had come to save them. They were just like you and I used to be.

As a child, I knew about the Lord Jesus, and could sing Jesus Loves Me. I knew about Him being the only Saviour for guilty and helpless sinners. But I neglected and rejected Him until I was 12. Although I never told Him to go away, as the Gergesenes did. But I made no place for Him in my life, and no provision for Him in my plans. Because I knew more about Him than the Gergesenes did, I was more responsible to receive and welcome Him. What a wonder that He did not leave me to a Christ rejector’s fate!

Reaching others with the Gospel is a difficult task, because so many are not interested in what the Lord Jesus brings. Like the Gergesenes, they don’t want to give up the elements of their lives that would be incompatible with having the Lord Jesus present. Sinful habits, ungodly pursuits, unholy entertainment must all depart when He is present, and those things are so much a part of so many people that they don’t want to let go. We hear so many tell us that they have their own religion and to keep ours to ourselves. But we are not trying to introduce them to a religion, but to the Lord Jesus. And it is extremely difficult to get people to listen. The vast majority of them just tell us – and the Lord Jesus – to go away.

How kind it was of the Lord Jesus to visit the Gergesenes, and how disappointing that they failed to recognize their opportunity. How kind of the Lord Jesus to visit us today with His offer of Salvation. Most of the world is not interested. How interested are we? -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

May 18th, 2019

And behold, they cried out, saying, what have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time? Matthew 8:29

We cannot tell what tomorrow’s news headlines will be, but we can tell what the long-range future holds, because the Bible tells us. Most of us have a general idea of the unfolding of end-time events, beginning with the Rapture, proceeding through the tribulation and the Millenium to the final judgments, the end of time, and our entry into the eternal state. We have heard ministry on prophecy, some of us have read good books on the subject, and we have held frequent discussions among ourselves. Knowing our long-term future is for us comfort, hope, encouragement, and incentive to live for our Lord. But what about the fallen angels, the demons, who have no comfort or hope in the future, and who, as our text makes plain, understand what the future holds? In their evil rebellion, they continue to oppose God and fight against Him.

We know little of the demonic world, and don’t want to know much about it. But we need to be aware of these evil opponents of God’s purposes. Directed by the devil, they do all in their power to deprive God of the glory that is rightfully His. And they work hard, because they know the time is short. In today’s text, they fear their time is about to be cut even shorter. They also know there is nothing they can do about it because the One they are facing is the Son of God. But they make an appeal to not be tormented before their appointed time. They seemed to understand the principle of God’s calendar better than people do.

The demons speak of something called ‘the time’. To them, this referred to the great event when they will be placed in eternal torment. The expression ‘before the time’ refers to the period in which they remain at liberty to ply their evil trade. These two expressions also have great significance to humanity as well as demons, although humanity pays little attention to them. As believers, we ought to keep these terms in mind because they refer to things very important to us. For us, ‘the time’ must refer to the Rapture, that great event when we will be caught out of this scene of mortality and failure and will be translated into the presence of our Lord. Unlike the demons, we do not fear this event, in fact, it is our life’s greatest expectation. The term ‘before the time’ refers to our current occupation, our opportunity to serve our Lord. While we exist in the same world as the demons, we are looking forward to joys, not to torments.

While the demons serve their evil master in hopeless desperation, let us serve the Best of Masters in joyful anticipation. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

May 17th, 2019

And when He was entered into a ship, His disciples followed Him. Matthew 8:23

Every day, people embark on what they assume are ordinary events that turn out to have life-changing consequences. Consider the passengers that boarded the Titanic on her maiden (and only) voyage. Consider the passengers that boarded the flights that were commandeered by terrorists on September 11, 2001. Consider even the many people who started out for work yesterday morning and were involved in car accidents on the way. None of those people had any inkling of the disasters about to occur, or they would never have gone. If the disciples in our text had known about the great tempest that was about to engulf Galilee, they would never have embarked on that journey. And in doing so, they would have been the losers.

When the Lord Jesus entered that ship, He knew all about the coming storm. What transpired had no surprises for Him at all. And yet, He entered the ship. And He took the disciples with Him. He did not inform them of the coming storm, nor of the way in which He would calm the elements. He had a valuable lesson to teach them about Himself. They would learn of His control of storms, of His almighty power, and of His care and protection of them in the circumstances. They needed to experience the tempest to learn these lessons. By following Him, they saw not only the wind and waves of the tempest but also the control the Lord has over all the stormy times.

Being a disciple of the Lord Jesus was not a boring occupation. As they would later recall their years of following Him, the disciples would recount many exciting and unusual events, especially the miracles they saw and experienced. And the calming of the storm was just one of those great events. By following the Lord Jesus, you and I have never seen all the dramatic miracles that those disciples beheld. But we have seen the hand of the Lord in marvellous ways in our lives. We have seen Him bring us to Himself and enter His great salvation. We have witnessed answers to prayer, and heard many others tell of the same. We have been given daily provision, protection, and power as we have lived our Christian lives. We have known of our Lord’s compassion and care, and of the strength and encouragement He has imparted to us. None of this would ever have been ours if we had not simply followed Him.

Today is another ship into which we embark with the Lord Jesus. Whether we sail into high adventure or calm waters, the Lord Jesus is with us to bless and preserve. -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

May 16th, 2019

And a certain scribe came and said unto Him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. Matthew 8:19

It was a beautiful morning as we loaded the tools into the back of the pickup truck and prepared to leave. Seeing that we were headed out for a job, one of the young boys came up to us and pleaded to go with us, telling us he would do anything we wanted him to do. Sitting him down on the tailgate, we told the lad that we were going to dig down to lay a foundation for a barn, and it was not going to be fun. We told him of the hard earth that would need to be shoveled and removed by wheelbarrow, of the hard, backbreaking work and the hot sun that would be our working environment. He considered our words carefully, and then announced that maybe he wouldn’t come with us this time. What looked at first like a fun outing took on the form of a lot of hard work. It’s the same prospect that often turns people away from following Christ.

The scribe in our text was initially fascinated by the prospect of following Jesus. He saw adventure and enjoyment in the prospect, until he heard the Lord Jesus tell him that the road would not be one of comfort and ease. His old duties back home looked a little more appealing than the difficult path that the Lord Jesus was presenting to him. Because he could not see beyond the rocky road to the glorious destination, he was no longer interested. Many of us would have given up long ago if all we were looking at was the Christian journey with no grasp of where it would eventually take us.

And yet, the Christian journey is far more rewarding in itself than a life lived for this world and for self. Despite the sacrifices that obedience often brings, following the Lord Jesus is fulfilling and far more worthwhile than following the world’s false pursuits. There is the joy of having the Lord’s presence and the Spirit’s guidance and direction. There is the comfort of the Word of God and its never-ending supply for our spiritual needs. There is the companionship of the Lord’s people, the certainty of the many promises of God, the care of the shepherds of the Lord’s flock. So many delights along the Christian pathway far exceed anything that the world can offer. And when we have appreciated the preciousness of the Lord’s presence, we have not yet plumbed the depths of the great rewards that lie in wait for us when this pathway has come to its conclusion.

Following Him has little attraction for the blind sinner, but great anticipation for the faithful saint. -Jim MacIntosh