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Tidings for Tuesday

November 19th, 2019

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:13

Matter, the scientists tell us, can exist in one of three states: gas, liquid, or solid. Water, for example, can be either a cloud, a river, or a skating rink. Hope, the topic of today’s text, can also exist in one of these three states. Hope is a desire or expectation that our current circumstances will get better. If it is a gas, hope is little more than wishful thinking, like the children telling us what they want for Christmas. It is intangible and there is nothing that anybody can do or be that will influence it. If hope is a liquid, it can be controlled to a certain extent, by our own efforts. A man can hope to obtain a better job, for instance, even as he seeks diligently to find one, improving his skills, his appearance, and the look of his resume. This type of hope has substance and effort but no certainty. Hope as a solid is the hope that the Bible speaks of, a solid certainty on which we can rest secure: ‘Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil’ – Hebrews 6:19. That is the type of hope that our text is reminding us that we should abound in.

Abounding in hope means allowing the hope to flood our lives and be the guiding influence in everything we do and say and plan. How do we abound in hope? Our text tells us how: by allowing the God of hope to fill us with joy and peace in believing.

Does your belief in God and His salvation give you joy? It should. After all, you are delivered from eternal punishment and guaranteed eternal bliss. You have the Holy Spirit to protect, teach, and guide you every minute of every day. You have the fellowship of the Lord’s people who are interested in what is the best they can do for you instead of the world’s friends who are only interested in the best they can get from you. You have the Word of God as an infinite resource for your comfort and strength. You have the assurance that regardless of all of life’s trials and problems, you have the promise of the Lord jesus Himself that he will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). All this and many more should cause us to joyfully abound in hope.

Does your belief in God and His salvation give you peace? It should. After all, the enmity that used to exist between us and God is forever gone, and we are forever on His winning side in every battle. We can relax in the knowledge of the eternal security that our Lord gives us. For all of life’s ups and downs, we are assured that the final move is up. In a world that is awash in uncertainty and strife, we stand firm in the certainty of our position in Christ. All this and much more should cause us to peacefully abound in hope.

To abound means to be filled and overflowing. A day in which we allow our hope to fill and overflow us cannot help but be a wonderful day. – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

November 18th, 2019

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. Romans 13:11

Five lovely young ladies are taking a nap. The wedding party hasn’t shown up yet, and it is getting late. These young ladies are all ready for the procession, they are dressed and have made sure their lamps have plenty of oil. But it’s late and they are weary. So they lie back and catch a few winks. After all, what else is there to do this late at night? When the wedding party comes, they’ll rise up and join it. But it’s comfortable here, and they’ll nap for now. They’re not alone. Five other young ladies are also waiting. But they haven’t prepared, their lamps are empty. They’ll be left behind, and they don’t realize it. If the five with the oil had remained awake, they could have warned the other five to go get oil and be ready. But they didn’t. They are like Christians who fail to warn those around us to be ready for the Lord’s coming.

In our text, Paul speaks about knowing the time. Do we know when the Lord will come for us? No, but we do know that He could come at any time. We know the time is short. We know that it is high time to awake out of sleep. Knowing this, why are we sleeping? Why are we cruising through life on comfort control, enjoying the nice things that our money can buy, the pleasant places our money can take us, and the delicious food that our money can supply us? Even our ‘Christian’ activities are comfortable, including the fine cars we drive to meetings where we sit in soft chairs and air-conditioned environments. Life is pretty posh for Christians these days. We are like the five wise virgins, we know we are ready when the Lord comes, but we don’t have much concern about whether anybody else is ready. We need to rouse ourselves out of our sleep and sound the alarm.

Yes, as Christians, our salvation is nearer than ever. But so is the damnation of the lost all around us. Let us wake up and warn them! -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

November 17th, 2019

Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Romans 15:7

Some people with very unsavoury backgrounds love this verse, because they can use it to get themselves into companies where they have no right to be. They insist that everybody has to welcome them regardless of what they are like. And they get away with it because far too many people simply don’t know the Scriptures. We know better, of course. But when we look at this verse, we can get a glimpse of the marvellous grace of God. We have been royally received despite having nothing about ourselves worthy of being received. Shame on uas if we don’t show that same grace to others.

The man known as the prince of preachers, C.H. Spurgeon, has left us some lovely thoughts on this verse: ‘If the Lord Jesus has indeed received us, and bears with our weaknesses and follies, well may we have patience with one another, and show pity to each other’s infirmities. Christ did not receive us because we were perfect, because He could see no fault in us, or because He hoped to gain somewhat at our hands. Ah, no! but, in loving condescension covering our faults, and seeking our good, He welcomed us to His heart; so, in the same way, and with the same purpose, let us receive one another.’

Thank you, Brother Spurgeon. Believers are to receive one another even as Christ has received us. No person is too prejudicial or critical, too weak or base for us to receive. The point is that Christ received and ministered to the most prejudicial and judgmental (the Jews), the most sinful and base (the Gentiles) people in the world; therefore, believers can receive one another. ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus’ – Galatians 3:28. No one is too far gone to be rejected and cast away.

When the Lord Jesus received us, our text tells us, He brought glory to God. When we receive each other, we do the same. – Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

November 16th, 2019

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus. Romans 15:5

Be likeminded? How many of the people in your circle of fellowship do you agree with 100 percent of the time? That question should make you laugh! It is true that you do agree with them on the most basic of spiritual issues. After all, they are in your circle of fellowship. You agree on the primary doctrines of Scripture, for example, and appreciate many of the same Christians that they do. But even in spiritual matters, there are points that you are not so dogmatic on as some other brother or sister, and you disagree about whether certain types of behaviour or dress are appropriate. Outside of spiritual things, there is almost nothing that you and other Christians have the same mind about. We are shockingly different in terms of our personality, temperament, and perspective. You have different likes and dislikes as far as food, entertainment, make of car, type of housing, and level of schooling go. Diversity like this is not a bad thing, and makes for a more interesting world. But our text tells us that we are to be likeminded when it comes to the things of God. No, that does not mean that I have to become like you, or that you have to become like me. But it does mean that you and I both have to become like Christ!

We are instructed in Philippians 2:5 to adopt the mindset of Christ: ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus’. If we continue reading in that chapter, we find the the meek and lowly Saviour, willing to be completely submissive to His Father, willing to enter humanity,, become a servant, and humble Himself as far as necessary to reach and save sinners like you and me: ‘He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross’. If God the Son exhibited total humility and obedience, who am I to be a rebel and to be arrogant either toward God or toward my fellow believers? And the same goes for you!

Our text tells us that being likeminded is something that Paul is praying for the God of patience and consolation to grant us. The Lord Jesus is the perfect example of patience and consolation. So if we are to be like Him, we are to have patience and consolation. That is not something that we find within ourselves, that is for sure. Patience and consolation are virtues that are becoming more scarce in this selfish and demanding world. But the God of patience and consolation delights to grant patience and consolation to those who would be like His Son.

We will have the same mind when we have the mind of Christ. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

November 15th, 2019

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4

The Jews claim the Old Testament, and only the Old Testament, is their Bible. And there is no question that it is focused on the Israelites: their history, their spiritual experiences, their God-given religion, their prophets, and their ordinances. It would seem on the surface that there is very little for the Gentiles in the Old Testament. But don’t be fooled by that. None of the apostle Paul’s epistles is more clearly directed toward the Gentiles than the book of Romans. And yet, the book of Romans has at least 60 quotes from the Old Testament. So, there must be a great deal in the Old Testament for us Gentiles. And our text today confirms it.

The ‘things that were written aforetime’, that is, the Old Testament, is not only the Bible for the Jews, but it is also a critical part of the Bible for the Gentiles. Our text says it was written for our learning. There is much that you and I will never learn until we turn to the Old Testament. But God has given it to us for a vast treasure house to explore and study.

One of the great benefits of the Old Testament is the experiences of those whose lives are recorded there. From their encounters with God, their mistakes, their victories, and their observations, we can glean precious things for our own lives. This we are told in 1 Corinthians 10:11: ‘Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come’. A wise person once said it is far cheaper to learn from others’ mistakes than it is from our own. How kind of God to record the mistakes of Old Testament characters for us to learn from!

The Old Testament also contains a wealth of types and shadows of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus, in His discourse with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, could open up the Scriptures to them and reveal things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27). In the Old Testament offerings described in Leviticus, in the detailed descriptions of the tabernacle and the temple, in the great messianic Psalms such as the 22nd, the 69th, the 88th, and many others, we find details and depths that are not available to us in the narratives of the New Testament.

Another treasure trove of the Old Testament is prophecy. Prophetic words concerning the Messiah, and His life, ministry, and death, are to be found throughout the 39 books. But so are messages relating to end-time events that we are looking forward to from our own perspective. Much of what we read in the books of Daniel and Ezekiel, for example, have yet to come to pass, and provide us with details that are not contained in the New Testament.

God does not want us to neglect the reading and study of the Old Testament. It is every bit as much His Word as the New. – Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

November 14th, 2019

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. Romans 14:19

The old grey pickup truck beside the busy four-lane street had a large cardboard sign on the back: ‘Deer Apples’, and the back of the truck was filled with drop apples from an orchard. Puzzled, my grandson wanted to know what deer apples were. So I explained to him how hunters would buy some of those apples, and take them to some place in the woods where they would dump them and wait in a hiding spot for the deer to come and get them. At which point the hunter would shoot the deer. That is one way of hunting, but it is not the only way. A much more labour intensive way to hunt is for the hunter to enter the forest and search for the deer. Such a hunter will go to places where he knows deer are likely to be, and will search for their tracks. He will follow their tracks and stalk the animals carefully, using his knowledge of how deer behave. This is the type of hunter that Paul is looking for in today’s text.

We all recognize the need to follow after things that make for peace among the Lord’s people, and to follow after things that edify the Lord’s people. But how do we go after these things? Our text uses the words ‘follow after’. The Greek word for follow here is ‘dioko’, and it does not mean hunting for peace and edification like the first hunter hunted his deer, sitting and waiting for it to chance by. This word means to follow intensely and relentlessly, never quitting the effort, just like the second hunter. Peace among brethren doesn’t just happen by. It requires effort and planning. It requires getting rid of anything that will stand in the way of peace, patching up old differences and disposing of old prejudices. It’s the same with edifying each other, it needs to be diligently pursued and worked at. That requires knowledge of the Word of God and a willingness to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Notice that Paul does not ask us to follow after peace and edification; he asks us to follow after the things that make for peace and edification. Peace and edification are a bit nebulous and difficult to define and pursue in themselves. But the word ‘things’ is concrete. It refers to real actions and attitudes. It refers, for example, to going to a brother or a sister and asking for forgiveness or admitting to a wrong, even if we feel fully justified in how we treated them. It refers, for example, to being less critical of other Christians, offering to help them overcome their weaknesses instead of putting them down for their mistakes.

You might bag a deer by sitting and waiting beside the deer apples in the woods. But you won’t achieve any peace with fellow Christians or edify them that way. There is a better way to hunt. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

November 13th, 2019

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. Romans 14:13

A man whose family was Muslim came into contact with the Gospel and in time was saved. Some of his new Christian friends reminded him of his new freedom from the restrictive laws of Islam. But the man refused to eat pork, which is a serious offense among devout Muslims. When his friends asked him why he refused pork, he told them, ‘Last week, I went to visit my father. The first thing he asked me when I arrived was if I had defiled myself, meaning had I eaten pork. I was able to tell him I had not. And he welcomed me into his home. I even had an opportunity to speak to him a little about the Lord Jesus. I could never do that if I ate pork.’ We must commend this dear brother on his wisdom, and his willingness to forgoe some of his liberty in order to maintain a testimony before his family. It’s a lesson we all need to consider.

Let’s take the example of social drinking, which some Christians see as totally acceptable. Suppose you were one of these Christians, and are having a glass of wine with your meal in a restaurant. Into the restaurant comes a Christian who is convinced that all drinking of alcohol is wrong. When they see you with a drink, they will perceive that you are committing a grave sin, and they will lose all respect for you and your testimony. They may also perceive that Christians are hypocrites. Or else they may decide that if you can take a drink, they can too. In this case, by leading them to do something they believe to be wrong, you are causing them to sin (Romans 14:23). This is one reason why many wise Christians refuse to drink, because to do so would ‘put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way’. It would also be a testimony destroyer to non-Christians, many of whom would see you as a hypocrite because they are convinced that Christians should not drink.

A man who used to work as a waiter in a restaurant said that most waiters disliked working on Sunday afternoons. That’s because many of their customers that day were ‘Christians’ coming in after their church services. He said those ‘Christians’ were always the poorest tippers of any group of people. Not only did those ‘Christian’ diners leave little or nothing as a tip, but many of them would also leave a Gospel tract on the table. None of those tracts were ever read. They were wasted because of the stumblingblock of the cheapskate attitude of the Christians.

Whether it is before other Christians who are watching and learning from us, or before the world to whom we want to present the Gospel of Christ, we need to make sure we don’t give them something to stumble over. We could destroy them both. – Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

November 12th, 2019

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. Romans 14:11

Bowing the knee used to mean something important. Today it is just a courteous formality indicating nothing more than that the person doing it knows their manners. But a few hundred years ago, and for a few thousands years before that, bowing the knee meant the difference between life and death. And even then, some who bowed the knee still died. War captives bowed the knee to their captives and hoped that it was enough, surrendering everything they had. Vassals bowed the knee to their lords, acknowledging that everything they owned, including themselves, belonged to him. Refusing to bow was not an option. Even at the time when our King James Bible was translated, the distinction between the peerage and the ordinary people was so strong that bowing the knee was still a common sight in many circumstances of life. It meant acknowledging the position of the one to whom they were bowing. As Christians, we have bowed, acknowledging the lordship of Jesus Christ. Everybody else will too, eventually.

Our text is quoting Isaiah 45:22, and this is not the only New Testament place where that Old Testament reference is cited. Paul expands this to give full acknowledgment to the Lord Jesus in Philippians 2:10-11: ‘That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’. You and I have no problem with this. It is our delight now, and it will thrill us for eternity to see our Lord given His rightful title and station. That will be the pinnacle of Glory. But those who have not bowed the knee in time must also confess His lordship, and it will not be any delight for them. At the Great White Throne will be the mockers, the scoffers, and the deniers. Here on earth, they were so sure that Jesus was not Lord, or they were so opposed to acknowledging Him. That defiance will come crashing down, and so will their knees. The most difficult words to say are ‘I was wrong’. But these opponents of Christ must acknowledge they were wrong, to their eternal shame.

But there are many today, just as there always have been, who would not consider themselves opponents of Christ. For them, their excuse now is that He is just not relevant to them. He doesn’t fit into their lives. They don’t have the time to listen to the Gospel or to read the Scriptures. Today, they will tell you ‘I don’t know about Him and I don’t care about Him’. At the same Great White Throne as the atheists and opponents, the vast throng of the apathetic will change their tune and admit they should have, and could have, known and cared. Tragically, there is only one exit door from that throne room.

As we bow and confess our Saviour’s lordship today, let us give thanks for His grace that has brought us to this great acknowledgment. And let us also plead with those who have not yet bowed and confessed to do so before they face Him as their Judge. -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

November 11th, 2019

But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Romans 14:10

What is the most important thing to consider about each of our brothers and sisters in Christ? How do we rate each of these fellow saints? By what they have done to or for us? Or by what kind of person they have been to us? Not if we take our text today seriously!

Sometimes we can be very impressed at the way certain Christians treat us. They can be kind and considerate, generous to us, and friendly whenever we encounter them. We judge these people positively and feel justified in doing so. Sometimes, we can be offended by the way certain Christians treat us. They can be distant and cool, paying little or no attention to us, and taking no interest in anything related to us. We judge these people negatively, and feel justified in doing so. Our text asks us why we do that? Unlike God, we cannot look into the hearts of these Christians and determine their motives. We don’t know whether those we judge positively are truly warm-hearted or are simply trying to curry favour with us for their own ulterior motives. We don’t know whether those we judge negatively are truly cold-hearted or are simply reflecting our sour attitude toward them. But God knows. And as our text declares, He will rightly judge the motives of that brother or sister at the Bima.

It’s natural for us to rank people we know according to how we see them. To some, we will recognize their abilities and accomplishments and esteem them highly. To some, we will recognize their lack of abilities and accomplishments, and esteem them poorly. That, as I said, is what we do naturally. But we are not to look at our fellow Christians through natural eyes, but to see them as our Lord sees them. He knows what abilities He has given to each one of us, and how we have used these abilities. He also knows what opportunities for growth, worship, and service that He has directed into our paths, and how we have responded to each of these opportunities. We can’t know all that our Lord knows about these brothers and sisters, and are surely in for some huge surprises as He assignes worth to them at the Bima.

If we try to judge the motives of our brothers and sisters, or if we rate them according to what we think they are worth, are we not trying to set up our own little judgment seat? Let us be careful because we – along with them – shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. – Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

November 10th, 2019

For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. Romans 14:7

A relative was telling me about her visit with someone we both know well. This person has a very fine home with many attractive features in it. But my relative was more than a little shocked at a large plaque on a prominent wall that reads: ‘It’s All About Me’. The plaque’s message shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, because this person’s primary focus in life is obviously herself, and always has been. Boiled down to one word, what is the primary focus of your life? If you are a Christian, the answer to that question cannot be ‘Me’. Jesus Christ has a title: Lord. We acknowledged His lordship when we first trusted Him as our Saviour. And that makes Him our primary focus.

Our text reminds us that we are not islands, living and dying to ourselves. And that is true of everyone, but especially important for Christians. People around us are affected by what we do, as we are affected by what they do. And as Christians, we are affected by our relationship with our Lord most of all. In fact, our lives are enriched to the extent that we submit ourselves to Him and allow the Holy Spirit to perform His work in and through us. Let’s look at some examples in the Scripture of those who were blessed because they did not exalt themselves.

No example is greater than that of John Baptist, who could declare: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ – John 3:30. John’s ministry shrank, and then was terminated by bloody Herod as the Lord Jesus began His ministry, and John was fine with that, because he knew his role as the one who would prepare the way and introduce the Lamb of God. Like John, our role is to exalt the Lord Jesus, not ourselves. The centurion understood that when he told the Lord Jesus: ‘Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof’ – Matthew 8:8, and he had the joy of not only seeing his servant healed but also of having his great faith recognized by the Lord Himself. He sought blessing for others, with no regard for his own interests. And don’t forget the publican in the temple in Luke 18, overcome by the awesomeness of the Lord’s presence and the awareness of his own sinnership. Unlike the self-centred Pharisee beside him, he obtained justification as he cried for mercy from the One Who offered it. Such humility is what the Lord is looking for in us too.

If we would be blessed, we must see Christ as our Centre, surrounded by those who our Lord would have us serve, before we give ourselves any consideration. -Jim MacIntosh