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Lesson for the Lord’s Day

August 9th, 2020

They gave Me also gall for My meat, and in my thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink. Psalm 69:21

What do you like to drink when you are very thirsty? One of my favourites is lemonade, if it’s not too sweet. Cold water is never a bad choice. Some people enjoy iced tea, others a fruit juice or another of the hundreds of varieties of thirst-quenching beverages available. But the Lord Jesus, as he was enduring thirst far beyond what any of us have ever known, was given sour lukewarm vinegar. Probably nothing more unpleasant could have been offered. When we gather to remember He who thirsted for us, let us remember the lesson of the vinegar and the bitter gall.

According to Wikipedia, the word ‘vinegar derives from the Old French vin aigr, meaning ‘sour wine’. Vinegar is a result of a fermentation process in which a pleasant, sweet-tasting wine is converted into a liquid that is marked by a strong sour taste, among its other properties. In the Scriptures, wine speaks of joy. Vinegar, on the other hand, is seldom given a good context in the Bible. What we have is a source of joy and refreshment being converted into that which is by itself unpleasant. This reminds us of man’s original relationship with God. Surely it was joyous for Adam and his wife to meet with God and to commune with Him. But sin turned that joy into sorrow and trouble. We are therefore reminded concerning the Lord Jesus, that He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

He drank the vinegar that was ours. He bore the horrible abuse, and even the thirst, of Calvary’s cruel cross. Because He drank our vinegar, we can drink the wine of fellowship and are filled with joy at His presence. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

August 8th, 2020

On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people, and therein was found written that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God forever. Nehemiah 13:1

In Old Testament Israel, unlike the Edomite and the Egyptian, who could come into the congregation after three generations, the Ammonite and the Moabite was forever barred from the congregation. If we read the portion in Deuteronomy that is referred to here, we find that the Ammonites and Moabites refused hospitality to God’s people as they made their way through the wilderness, and they hired Balaam to curse the Israelites.

The Lord told His disciples that the world would hate them because it hated Him. But that is not an excuse for their hatred. The Lord will not and does not excuse the world’s hatred and evil treatment of His own. Undoubtedly a major reason why so many perish in their sins is their despising and cursing of Christians. Mark well those who speak evil of the Lord’s own children; they will not escape punishment for their words and deeds.

Something important happened when this portion of Scripture was read. The people took notice, and separation occurred. The mixed multitude found itself on the outside. This should come as no surprise, because a careful and accurate reading of Scripture always produces separation. God makes a difference between the holy and the profane, between the redeemed and the unrepentant, between the worshipper and the despiser, between the believer and the blasphemer. And He marks that difference clearly, and expects his people to do so as well.

We have become slack concerning the mixed multitude. Those who do not appreciate the things of God are allowed to dabble in those things. Let us be careful that only those with a clear profession of faith and a genuine love for God’s truth and presence enter into the holy place of our worship. Ours is a blood-bought right to be there. Outsiders have no such right. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

August 7th, 2020

What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19

Old-timers who showed up for the dedication of the new temple that was built after the return from Babylon wept, even as others rejoiced. Why? The old-timers could remember the glory of the original temple, and could be saddened at the comparison with the new temple. Even as the dedication of a new temple in Ezra’s day could bring forth rejoicing and sorrow from the attendees, even so does the dedication of our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit prompt both rejoicing and sorrow on our part.

What an honour is given to the redeemed of the Lord, to provide a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit! The humblest, weakest believer has been elevated to a level that the greatest personages of earth can never attain, at least not without God’s salvation. Within our being dwells the third Person of Deity. He is our seal of eternal life, and He is the Enabler of our daily path of obedience and worship of God. Our frail bodies, with all their blemishes and stumblings, are His residence. The significance of this honour, and of this enabling, should cause us to daily rejoice and to burst forth with singing. Yes, this truth should indeed cause us to celebrate every day.

But like the old-timers who wept at the sight of the new temple, we ought to be sorrowing daily over our failure to live up to the glory that such a Resident deserves. We know we are not what we should be in our Christian walk. We are aware that our actions and attitudes can often quench the Holy Spirit, and can grieve Him as He dwells within. His temple lacks what it ought to display all the character of God, because we fail to give Him the place He deserves. Our bodies engage in actions that we ought not, go places they should not, spend time with people we should best avoid, neglect the reading and prayer we need for our spiritual vitality. We ought to be saddened to realize the lack of glory we bring to God.

This blend of rejoicing and sorrow is necessary if we are to appreciate and function in our position as the temple of the Holy Ghost. We will be thrilled at the honour we enjoy, and we will be sensitive to the need to live as befits our templeship. -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

August 6th, 2020

And such were some of you. But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11

Those of us brought up in Christian homes and saved in our adolescent years might have a difficult time understanding Paul’s words to the folks in Corinth. Today’s text follows a listing of the disreputable characters who have no claim on the Kingdom of God. Many of us were sheltered from most of that activity, and can’t really relate. But most of the people in the Corinthian Assembly were first-generation believers. They had been recently saved. So when Paul reminded them of what they used to be, they could understand. And they could appreciate what they had been brought into, in terms of a major change in lifestyle. But even those of us who were kept from running to the world’s excess of riot can appreciate what our salvation has brought us into.

We are washed. How wonderful to know that the Blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us from all sin. This means that we have the responsibility to display to the world that we have been cleansed. We need to display that there is a difference between those washed in the blood of the Lamb and those wallowing in the cesspool of sin.

We are sanctified. This means we have been set apart for the Lord. We are purified vessels that the Lord can use for His purposes. So we ought to keep ourselves separate from the world’s filth, so the Lord can use us whenever He has need.

We are justified. In a world full of people over whom hangs the sword of God’s wrath against sin, there are saints who have been cleared of guilt and freed from condemnation. The joy of such deliverance should mark us as a happy people who rejoice in our salvation. Justification brings joy and peace, so foreign to the world’s unsaved citizens.

There is a difference between those of us who were living in sin, and those who still are. Paul reminds the Corinthians of what they used to be, followed by the word BUT. As we consider what we once were, and reflect on what we have entered into, we ought to be deeply humbled and exceedingly thankful. As the old chorus goes: ‘It’s a grand thing to be saved, and to know it too, and to show it too; it’s a grand thing to be saved.’ -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

August 5th, 2020

Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? 1 Corinthians 6:3

A number of years ago, the former dictator of Iraq stood in a courtroom, mocking the judges who were trying his case. Those judges had the nerve-rattling task of looking into the face of one who mere months before was running the country with an iron fist, the one who had absolute charge of everything from courts to coinage, the one who decided who were going to be the judges and lawyers of the country. With steely nerves, those judges handled the case and saw Saddam Hussein convicted, sentenced, and hanged for his heinous crimes. They were in a tough position, but those judges handled their responsibilities well. Our text tells us that we will be judges someday, judging angels, no less. Does that prospect not cause some apprehension? We need to be preparing ourselves today for that responsibility.

What angels will we be judging? Where and when will they appear before us? I don’t know. Will they be fallen angels who are bound for perdition? Will they be faithful angels who will be rewarded for their service to God? Although we don’t know these things, we do know that angels are mighty beings, with many attributes far beyond those of humanity. They are seen in Scripture as having great powers and responsibility, performing miracles and destroying evildoers. How can we stand in judgment over them? Because God has given to us a venue for preparing for such a judgment.

To judge others, angels included, we must know God’s mind and will. We must understand the blackness of sin, and the need for absolute truth and righteousness. We must know how to be entirely impartial and perfectly fair. We must have terms of reference from the life of the Lord Jesus on which to base decisions, speaking and acting as He would act. Thorough and consistent study of the Bible is necessary to our learning the character of God, of learning how the Lord Jesus dealt with situations, of learning how the Holy Spirit moves and guides and influences us.

Did you know you were going to be judging angels? Do you know how you are going to proceed with that task? Better get studying! -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

August 4th, 2020

And ye are puffed up and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 1 Corinthians 5:2

I remember when I was a little boy, one of my younger brothers had broken one of the major rules of the household, and was taken into another room for punishment. As the board of education was employed, the rest of us could hear our brother’s cries of pain. One of my sisters began to laugh at the trouble he was in. Her laughter shocked me, because I could well remember the pain of similar punishment, and my conscience was no doubt causing me to realize that I could well be deserving of punishment, too. To me, my brother’s punishment was no time to joke or to mock, but a time to be very sorry for him. I think that is the attitude that Paul is referring to in today’s text, as he addresses the need for discipline in God’s Assembly.

Some of the people in Corinth were making light of a very serious sin in their midst. They failed to grasp the tragedy of the situation, its consequences on the Assembly testimony, and on the offending brother. Paul tells these people they should be in mourning instead of being puffed up. Why would they have been puffed up! What was there for them to be uppity about? Did they really think that they were immune to such behaviour? Or that they weren’t affected by it themselves? Did they think the sinful situation was outside of their area of concern? A few verses along, Paul reminds the Assembly that a little leaven contaminates the entire lump. This was a serious matter that required the entire Assembly’s attention and resolution. They all needed to repent and they all needed to act. They all needed to be aware that the Assembly is God’s, and not theirs.

Discipline in an Assembly is one of the great hallmarks that establishes the Assembly as distinct from any organization of earth. God’s order and Christ’s lordship are in effect. Otherwise, it is not of God. And the Lord Jesus is not present. Do we treasure the truth that God has committed to us? Do we appreciate that the Lord Jesus has been pleased to place His name with us? Is it our desire that His word be followed and that His will be honoured? If so, let us mourn over sin among us, for surely it grieves God’s heart also. -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

August 3rd, 2020

For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 4:15

There is always something very special and lasting about the relationship we have with anybody who God used to bring us to salvation. There is also something very special about one or two people who were involved in our early months and years after we were saved. I recall some very dear men who were true fathers in the faith, who had a true care and interest in me. I often wonder what might have happened to me had it not been for such fathers as Hiel Patterson and Floyd Stewart, And mothers like Annie Haines. These men and women had a true care and love for the souls of young believers, and a desire to see us preserved and given a solid foundation on which to live for God. These are the people Paul is speaking of in today’s text. Like diamonds, such spiritual parents are rare and very precious.

We should not minimize the value of instructors. At a conference, good men with a deep exercise feed the saints with excellent ministry. Each Lord’s Day, a brother with a good word presents it to the Assembly. Among us are older brothers and sisters who often pass on a word of encouragement and advice to younger Christians. All these are instructors, and we would be a sorry lot without them. We need to appreciate them and accept what they pass on to us. But these instructors will never take the place of our fathers in the faith. These fathers serve a very special purpose, in addition to all they have done for us: they serve as a wonderful example to us of how we can be fathers – and mothers – in the faith to young believers around us.

Paul served as an ideal example of a spiritual father. For one thing, he always told the truth. Those he sought to guide and instruct could count on his faithfulness in his dealings with them. Where correction was needed, he gave it. Where error lurked, he was quick to expose it. Paul’s motives were always the highest. Never seeking financial gain or trying to curry favour, he served with the greatest good of his followers at heart. Paul also did everything he could to draw his followers to the Saviour’s higher example. We see in those spiritual fathers of ours something of Paul’s character. And that is the same character we need to display to those to whom God would have us be spiritual fathers and mothers.

Would you like to have the joy of seeing young Christians going on well for their Lord? Be a spiritual father or mother to them… emulate those who were spiritual fathers and mothers to you. -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

August 2nd, 2020

For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. Job 19:25

When the Lord’s people gather on a Lord’s Day to remember the Lord’s death, we do so, not as those who would gather for an earthly memorial to sadly commemorate the eternal passing of a great person. No, the backdrop for our remembrance is not one of grief but of rejoicing. Job reminds us that we remember not the dead but the living. All the great memorials of earth do not have this hope. That is why the remembrance of the death of the Lord Jesus is so special. The One we gather to remember is not only living but is with us for the remembrance.

As precious as is our consideration today that the Lord Jesus – He who once was dead – is today living, we have also the wonderful anticipation that He is yet to come back to this earth to stand upon it once again. His glorious kingdom will come, and all who live here will acknowledge His righteousness and His lordship. He will be given His rightful place, the place that was denied Him when He first came. Only a tiny remnant today accord Him that place of lordship and supremacy. And we recall with shame and yet with thanksgiving how willingly He entered into rejection and despising so that He might become our Redeemer.

In the verses that precede today’s text, Job speaks of desiring that his words were written in a book and also were graven in rock forever. some commentators believe that Job was desiring that his words would be written on his tomb, so that all who saw it would acknowledge that Job was anticipating the resurrection. We don’t know if that happened, but we do know that many of those who have died in our own time have had written on their tombstones the words ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’. This is surely a precious thought for each believer. The One who suffered so much at Calvary, and laid down His life there for us came forth with power from death’s dark domain and is alive forevermore. And we whose mortal frames must surely die because of our sin can rejoice in the knowledge that we will also rise again in the power of Jesus resurrection.

The book of Job is the oldest in our Bible. And it contains the truth that our Redeemer liveth. This truth adds to the sweetness of the New Testament words: This do in remembrance of Me. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

August 1st, 2020

But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30

A variety of backgrounds and experience is displayed when we gather to remember the Lord in partaking of His supper. Look around the circle, and you might see the housewife and the health-care worker, the tradesman and the businessman, the professional and the office worker, the student and the retiree. Our lives, as varied as they are, come together into an entirely different suite of characteristics. Our text today tells us of some of the things that we have been brought into, and all because the Lord Jesus died for our sins on the cross, and because the Holy Spirit led us into an appreciation of His finished work on our behalf. God has surely blessed and elevated us. And all honour goes to His Son for what we are.

Despite our own foolishness, we have entered into wisdom. This is because our Saviour is none other than the God of Eternity, the all-knowing and all-wise creator and sustainer. Such a one stepped from eternity into time to save our souls.

The only righteous Man to ever walk this earth has also conferred His righteousness on us. In His life, He was perfect; in His death, He was obedient. Even Pilate could declare Him innocent, as could the thief who died beside Him. Through Him, we have received the righteousness of God.

Sanctification is nothing we could attain to ourselves. But we look to the Lord Jesus and see that He fulfilled that for which He was sanctified. The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. and His whole life was set apart to fulfill the divine purpose of purchasing our redemption.

We love to sing of our Redeemer, and His wondrous love to us. We appreciate that He has redeemed us by making Himself what God could accept as the payment, the full satisfaction for our purchase.

Our reflection on our Lord and Saviour today is marked by humility. We have no right of ourselves to draw near. But in the person of the Lord Jesus, we come before His throne to appreciate Him. And to acknowledge all that he has done for us. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

July 31st, 2020

And Saul was consenting unto his (Stephen’s) death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. Acts 8:1

There was a lot of dead grass left behind at the back of one of my father’s hay fields one spring, because that area had not been mowed the previous summer. I was just a boy, and I figured the easiest way to deal with the dead grass was to burn it, so I pulled out a match and set fire to a tuft of hay at one end of the strip. Within seconds, the wind fanned the fire into an inferno that was beyond my imagination, and the fire headed in the direction of the trees along the brook. I realized I would have to do something about it, so I grabbed a large piece of board that was there and began beating the flames with it. Instead of smothering the flames, the board served only to blast the embers further to the side and make the fire much wider. Only a sudden change in the wind saved those trees, and kept the fire to the strip of dead grass. That board I used so ineffectively was like the persecution that was levelled at the early Christians; it served only to fan the flames of the Gospel. The persecution served two miraculous purposes: it resulted in the Gospel being spread much more widely, and it focused the attention of Christians on the chief persecutor, Saul of Tarsus.

Mind you, many of the prayers in which Saul’s name was mention might not have been pleas for his conversion. But undoubtedly, some of those Christians prayed for Saul’s salvation. Saul had heard the Gospel at the time of Stephen’s trial; he must also have heard about it as he carried out his campaign of persecution. Stephen’s death had surely left its mark on his soul. The persecutor was suffering from his own private little persecution, as the Holy Spirit strove with him. Why could have known that he would become the apostle to the Gentiles and see many thousands saved, doing far more to spread the Gospel than he ever did to halt it? In what appeared to be catastrophe for Christianity, God’s purposes were being worked out in a mighty way.

No, we are not suffering persecution in North America. A little reproach we encounter once in awhile, but no persecution. But God still brings into our lives experiences that we feel are disastrous to us, events that force us into major changes of plans such as a move to a new area or a change in employment. We see only the terrible disruption, and fail to understand that God’s purposes are being unfolded.

Are you going through your own little catastrophe? Is God allowing major upheaval in your life? Brace yourself and trust Him. He may be using you to help reach a Saul of Tarsus, or to take to Gospel to someone who needs to hear it. -Jim MacIntosh