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Tidings for Tuesday

January 12th, 2021

And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them, for the Levites and the singers that did the work were fled every one to his field. Nehemiah 13:10

A preacher was telling me one time about a series of Gospel meetings he and another preacher held in a certain place. Although it was a new place, it was not far away from two or three Assemblies in that state. But very few Christians from those Assemblies ever showed up. And none of them gave the preachers any fellowship during the entire time the meetings continued. ‘We almost starved,’ my preacher friend declared, remembering the sad lack of support they had received. He must have felt as Nehemiah felt to see the failure of the Israelites to provide their tithes that should have supported the service and worship in the temple at Jerusalem. How much of God’s work is stifled today by the lack of exercise and stinginess of the Lord’s people?

How much more would be done in Gospel work by your Assembly if you and everyone else in the Assembly gave everything they should to God? No, we don’t necessarily tithe as the Israelites did, but do we truly give God His share of our monetary blessings? If our giving was as it should be, how many more preachers and missionaries could we provide support for, how many more resources would be available for those who work with Sunday School classes and children’s meetings, and how many more tracts, calendars, and Bibles could we see distributed? Even more important, if we contributed all the time we should to the things of the Lord, how much more would we see done for Him? How many shut-in and discouraged saints could we visit, how many more tasks would we see completed around the Hall, how many more invitations to Gospel meetings could we deliver, how much more preparation could we put into upcoming activities and efforts of the Assembly?

If we could, like Nehemiah, appreciate the need to give to the Lord His portion of what He gives to us, we would be better stewards of our money and our time. Nehemiah was dismayed to see the Levites forced to go and fend for themselves to feed their families, when they should have received the tithe support that would enable them to serve in the Temple. If we are faithful givers of our time and resources, we will enable others to also serve the Lord as they should. -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

January 11th, 2021

And these are the singers, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers were free, for they were employed in that work day and night. 1 Chronicles 9:33

I am a most fortunate man because my wife loves to sing. I often tease her about getting the words wrong, but there is melody in her heart and she is usually singing as she goes about her household chores. I love to hear her sing. Our text today is about some people whose daily chores were singing. It was their business and calling in life, and it occupied them fully. Undoubtedly they had excellent voices and they used them to praise the Lord. There is no higher use for our voices than worshiping Him and singing His praises!

Singing in the temple was an important role. These singers were of the highest rank among the Levites. No higher position was to be had. This shows us the emphasis that God places on praise. Even those of us with inferior voices should offer what we can to the Lord.

Note also the liberty of these singers. Although they remained in the temple, they were free. They did not see their service as a burden but as a great liberation. Only they had the honor and opportunity to lift their voices continually in service to God. They were like today’s believers; we are the only ones able to bring before God’s throne the service He desires, whether it be singing, or any of the multitude of things that we can and should do for Him. Freed from our sins, we are now free to enter His courts with praise and service.

The world about us today is shackled to Satan’s demands that they sing the depraved and degrading lyrics of a dying sin-drenched world, but you and I are free to sing of the mercies of the Lord forever. The unregenerate sinners about us are slaves to Satan’s habits and destructive for-the-moment-only pleasures; but you and I are free to enjoy the peace and joy of sins forgiven and Heaven assured. The unsaved souls about us must be content with earning the uncertain wages of trouble and disappointment; but you and I are free to build for eternity on the firm foundation of God’s salvation.

Rejoice and sing today, because you are free to live for the highest and best that God ever planned and desired for you. -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

January 10th, 2021

Then said Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of Me this night, for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. Matthew 26:31

One of the most poignant news photos I have seen was of a hearse pulling out of the driveway of the house where former prime minister John Diefenbaker lived. Diefenbaker had just died, and the undertaker had come to take the remains. As the vehicle began to pull away from the house, Diefenbaker’s old dog McAndy, tied to a leash, sat watching it go with a mournful look on his face. We all know some dogs can be unbelievably faithful to their masters, remaining with them even after death. Sadly, this trait is missing in most humans. And it caused grief to the Lord Jesus to know that, when he was seized, tortured, and crucified, that his closest followers would forsake Him and flee. He tried to warn the disciples about what was to happen by quoting Zechariah 13:7, but Peter replied with his proud boast. The disciples were not like faithful dogs, they were like frightened sheep. And the Lord Jesus knew that they would scatter and flee as the Shepherd was smitten.

Today, there is no scattering of the sheep, but a gathering as we the sheep assemble to remember Him. From all corners and walks of life He has gathered us; our assemblage is miraculous because nothing else could have ever brought such a diverse people together for one purpose. We are united in our desire to honour and worship our Shepherd. And we are deeply thankful that we who were once so scattered are united forever. But it took the smiting of the Shepherd to achieve our unity today.

Against the backdrop of man’s unfaithfulness we see the faithfulness of the Shepherd. He did not, and could not, forsake His own. For our sakes, He was stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. We were the ones who were offended; He is the one who stood and bore our stroke. We were the ones who had scattered; He is the one who has gathered. Ours was the love that faltered and failed; His is the love that endured all. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

January 9th, 2021

And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing. Luke 22:23

For most of the disciples, the Lord’s statement that He was to be betrayed by one of them was a great shock. They could not imagine any such thing. They loved their Lord deeply, and had no regrets about their past three years of following and serving Him. Only Judas Iscariot had to put on an act during this self-inquiry process. As the group’s treasurer, he would have been more above suspicion than most of the others.

Look around the circle tomorrow as you gather to break bread, and wonder if it would be possible for any of your little group to commit such a great tragic crime as Judas was about to commit. You won’t find anybody there who could possibly do it. And yet, we are all capable of tremendous falls, or tragic mistakes in spiritual discernment and behaviour. Surely not as horrific as Judas, but tragic, nevertheless.

Just as the disciples had been spending months in Jesus’ presence, so to we have been enjoying His presence as we delve into His word. We appreciate His presence during the meetings of the Assembly. We all seem to be getting along fine in our walk for Him. But who among us will become betrayers? Who among us will make a deal with the world to extract a bit more money at the cost of our Saviour’s name? Who among us will tumble into sins and activities that dare hardly be named?

Pray today for the preservation of the Lord’s people. Cry to Him for aid in repelling Satan’s advances. Plead for mercy on your own soul, that you would not be guilty of betrayal. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

January 8th, 2021

So they and their children had the oversight of the gates of the house of the Lord, namely, the house of the tabernacle, by wards. 1 Chronicles 9:23

I remember a man who was very upset one time because he came to the Remembrance meeting on Sunday morning and was not permitted to take part in the Lord’s Supper. This man was an active member in a denominational church, had a good testimony as a Christian in his community, and did not hold to any wrong doctrines concerning the person of Christ. And yet this man could not grasp one of the simplest yet most profound principles of God’s Assembly: the Assembly does not receive people to the Lord’s Supper, the Assembly receives people to the Assembly, and participation in the Lord’s Supper is but one of the privileges of Assembly membership. This is critical to the preservation of God’s Assembly and the truths that the Assembly holds dear. This is why there are overseers in the Assembly, to guard that which God has given us.

A set group of Levites had the responsibility to watch the gates of the house of the Lord. They took this responsibility very seriously. They devoted their lives to this task. They grasped the concept of the holiness of God’s presence. It was critical to them that nothing come into the house that would defile or defame it. No unacceptable person and no unacceptable offering was to enter the gates. How similar are the gatekeepers of God’s house today!

There are some places that call themselves Assemblies that permit outsiders to come in and join them in worship and in the Breaking of Bread. Their leaders say they have no right to keep anyone away from the Lord’s table. They feel a responsibility to those outsiders. But what about their responsibility to God? Is there not a responsibility to protect and preserve His Name? And is there also not a responsibility to those who are obediently gathered within to protect them from error and harm? Just as the Levite gatekeepers would prevent all outsiders from entering the House, so must the keepers of God’s Assembly. Regardless of how good the testimony of the outsider is, if that person holds to the doctrine and accepts the practices of denominationalism, that person holds to false doctrine that must not contaminate God’s Assembly.

The goal of the gate-keepers to God’s Assembly is to preserve truth and to protect the Assembly. Just like the Levite gatekeepers, they take this responsibility seriously and scripturally. -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

January 7th, 2021

And they were helped against them, and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand and all that were with them, for they cried to God in the battle, and He was entreated of them, because they put their trust in Him. 1 Chronicles 5:20

How many wars can you name? After you get them all named, check to see if the war in today’s text is among them. I’m pretty sure it’s not! What was this war? Who started it, and who all was involved? We really don’t know much about it, except that part of the Israelites were involved. As the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, moved to take their portion of the promised land, they met opposition from the Hagarites. Crying to God for help, the Israelites went to war to take what God had promised them. Because they trusted in God, God gave them the victory, and the Israelites had a good land to occupy for many years. They learned a simple but powerful lesson in that war, a lesson we do well to heed today.

Who did the armies of these two-and-a-half tribes defeat in this war? The only thing we can be certain is that their opponents were the offspring of the bondwoman, Hagar, and were probably the descendents of Ishmael. They had no claim on God’s promises and no access to God’s help. They were defeated by those who had received God’s promises and who were taught to seek God’s help. Has God given us promises? Has God offered us His help? Yes, He has! Have we received God’s promises? Have we accepted His help? To a certain extent, we have not!.

Just as the Israelites were promised a possession and His help in obtaining it, so we have been promised eternal life and God granted it to us in the day that we put our trust in Him. He has also promised us victory over sin and temptation; how are we doing in that battle? He has also promised to help us in our testimony before the world; are we winning that battle? He has promised to supply our needs and to bear our burdens; how victorious are we in trusting Him in these?

It would seem that the only reason the Reubenites, Gadites, and Manassehites won the war was their trust in God. That is also the only way we will win any wars today. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

January 6th, 2021

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8

Most of us remember when we were little children and had broken or damaged something, how we hid from our parents because of our fear of retribution. A guilty conscience can make us very irrational. We knew we had to face the matter eventually. But we still hid, we still ran, we still avoided contact with our parents. It was irrational for Adam to hide. He knew that God could surely see him. But he was embarrassed and ashamed. And he did exactly what you and I would have done had we been in his place. We know that, because we are still doing it.

In the early days of our world, Adam and his wife knew sweet fellowship with God. We are not told much about it, but it seems that God spent time communing with them on a regular basis. Sadly, we read nothing about Adam’s communion with God after the fall. Nothing is recorded about anything God said to Adam after he and Eve departed Eden. The great act of disobedience had destroyed their fellowship. Adam never recovered from his shame and embarrassment. And neither have we. Just as God clothed Adam and his wife with skins, so God has clothed us in His righteousness. Despite being covered by God, a sad and disappointed Adam spent the rest of his life in labour and regret. This was not what God intended. And we should learn from Adam that our salvation should restore our fellowship with God, not prevent us from establishing and maintaining a warm relationship with Him. Yes, we have sinned, and yes, we are at fault in so many ways. But the God who knows and understands all about us has forgiven us and longs that we might join with him in a ‘cool of the day’ conversation.

Can you and I hide from God today? No. Then let us spend time in His presence, appreciating His grace instead of grovelling in our shame. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

January 5th, 2021

And it grieved me sore, therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber. Nehemiah 13:8

It seems amazing that Tobiah had ever obtained entrance to the temple of God, let alone be allowed to take up residence there. Tobiah was an Ammonite, an enemy of Israel. He was a powerful man who had strongly opposed the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the temple, and the restoration of God’s order. Through political pressure and politically-arranged marriages, he had gained the favour of Eliashib the priest, who allowed him to set up a home and business headquarters within the temple. He was using the space that was reserved for the Israelite’s grain offerings, incense, temple articles, and the tithes of grain, new wine and oil. As a result, none of those things required to sustain the work of the temple or the people who belonged there were being gathered. No wonder Nehemiah was grieved. No wonder he threw out all of Tobiah’s household stuff. Nehemiah’s zeal for the House of God should be evident today.

Are enemies like the troublemaker Tobiah in God’s house today? Are the things of the world occupying the place of the things of God in God’s Assembly? Has the enemy managed to move some of his own stuff in to take the place of true worship and faithful service? We hope not. But it can happen, and it has happened. There are some places that used to call themselves Assemblies where musical entertainment has taken the place of the Person of Christ as the focus of worship, where compromise and accommodation have replaced the Word of God as the authority for the gathering, where personal conviction has replaced divine principles as the guide for order and deportment, where political correctness has replaced ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in matters of reception and governance. Tobiah has set up residence and has a friendly relationship with those who should be booting him out the door.

Do you know what belongs and doesn’t belong in God’s Assembly? Have the courage to get rid of Tobiah’s belongings, so God’s people can function as God intends. -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

January 4th, 2021

And God saw every thing that He had made, and behold, it was very good! And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Genesis 1:31

The snowstorm dumped 20 centimeters of heavy, wet snow on my walk, and as I shoveled it, I became very aware that the earth is not perfect. Snowstorms cause a great deal of inconvenience in our part of the world each winter, and some snowstorms have been blamed for deaths on the highways, although the blame should more rightly be placed on those who drive inappropriately for the conditions. Some parts of the world experience terrible droughts, other parts devastating floods; some parts of the world experience blistering heat, other parts bitter cold; some parts of the earth experience wars and strife, other parts peace and tranquility; some parts of the world suffer from deep poverty and famine, other parts have wealth and prosperity aplenty. In the past year, some parts of the world have experienced many deaths and much disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic while other parts have experienced few deaths and only temporary and minor disruptions. If our world experiences all these inconsistencies and contrasts, it is surely not the same as it was when God could declare it very good. The amazing thing is that there will be a time when God will again be able to declare this world and all in it very good.

Adam’s sin caused the good that God saw to change for the worse; your sin and mine keep the world entrapped in its cursed state. And we can do nothing about that. But God can. His great calendar of events continues to unfold, with Christians eagerly awaiting the next great event: the Rapture. After the great tribulation concludes, God will usher in a period of a thousand years in which He will be able to declare that the earth is very good. What makes the difference? The One who will reign at that time.

We know that today the world lies in the power of the wicked one. Much is not good about this world because much is controlled and influenced by the spirit that works in the children of disobedience. But in the Millenium, Christ will reign. All will be under His control. Once again, peace will prevail, truth and righteousness will be the standard, and God’s will will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. But while the world awaits its redemption, Christ has redeemed individuals from the world. We who have been set free from the penalty and power of sin can appreciate the righteous rule of Christ in our individual lives. We can experience today, in a small way, that which God will do for the world in a great way, in the great day coming.

Will you allow Christ to rule in your heart today? Will God be able to look at you today and declare your life very good? -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

January 3rd, 2021

And God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; He made the stars also. Genesis 1:16

A little boy once observed that the moon is more important than the sun because the moon shines to give some light in the dark, whereas the sun shines in the daytime when it is light anyway. We smile at that, because we know that all of the light comes from the sun, including the moonlight, which is merely reflected sunlight. The greater light is in reality the only light. This statement from the account of our world’s creation is a type of the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and His people.

In our created world, all energy of all kinds comes from the sun. It provides all of the light and heat that our planet needs. Old Sol is the one great source of everything. Some of that light and heat is withdrawn from us during the night. During this period, the moon provides some light. Not as much as the sun, but it does offer some help. Our world is currently in a period of spiritual night. Darkness cloaks the people as the devil keeps his victims in blindness, many of them unaware and uncaring that there is a God who loves them and a Saviour who died for them. The Son of Righteousness is not visible to them; He is not physically present in the world. But the Holy Spirit is, dwelling in the believers. Those of us who have received the Light of the World have the privilege and responsibility of being the moon that displays the light of the Saviour to the dark world.

When we gather on the Lord’s Day to remember the Lord, we are very aware that it is not in any righteousness or worth of ourselves that we come. All that we have received and all that we can reflect is the glory of our Sun. Just as the moon has no source of its own illumination, so we have nothing in ourselves to offer the world. But just as the full moon casts a lovely light on the world on which it looks, so we have the lovely light of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus to shine upon the world.

What beauties we have to pass on to the dark people all about us! What wonders we have to proclaim! What joy and delight we have to tell about as we appreciate what our Lord and Saviour has done for us! In His Name we gather and rejoice that He sheds His light upon us, and enables us to pass it on to others. -Jim MacIntosh