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Meditation for Monday

May 18th, 2020

To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6

Our friend Bobby had invited us to his birthday party; he told us that when we arrived, to tell the man at the door that we were his friends, and were to be granted admission. But the man at the door was anything but welcoming. He refused to even talk with us, and ordered us to leave. Disappointed, we turned to go, but stopped when we heard a familiar shout. It was Bobby, and he was going to escort us inside. ‘They’re with me,’ he told the doorman, and the doorman smiled and waved us inside. As long as we were with Bobby, we were welcome. Being with the Lord Jesus is something like that, except that being with Him means far more than admission to Heaven.

Admission to Heaven is, of course, one of the first things we think of when we consider being accepted in the Beloved. Those pearly gates that will forever bar everything and everyone with a trace of sin will forever welcome us, because the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin. Whatever doorkeeper might be at the entrance to Heaven will welcome us gladly, because we will enter in the presence of the Lord Jesus Himself. That wondrous place that recognizes Him as its very reason for existence will accept us because He has accepted us. Our eternity is secure in His acceptance.

There are good reasons why the Assembly does not automatically admit strangers to participate in the Breaking of Bread. Just as Heaven cannot admit those who have not been accepted in the Beloved, so the Assembly cannot admit those who we don’t know have been accepted in the Beloved. Once proof of the recognition of His lordship is established, admission can be arranged. But those of us who have entered into the Assembly fellowship can appreciate that it is the Lord Himself Who has admitted us. In His Assembly, we enter into the good of our salvation, including the opportunity and right to worship and serve our Lord in the place where He is pleased to have placed His Name.

Everyone who is saved, including those not yet baptized or accepted into Assembly fellowship, can enter into the glorious relationship of being accepted in the Beloved. We can appreciate that we have been delivered from the penalty of our sins. We can appreciate that the Holy Spirit now lives within and seeks to guide us into conformity with the image of the Son. We can appreciate the Word of God, that volume that was hidden from our understanding until our eyes beheld the Lamb of God. We can appreciate all the wonderful blessings that come from being possessers of eternal life.

No eternity can be long enough to unfold the riches of the grace of the beloved One Who has accepted us. -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

May 17th, 2020

And, because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Matthew 24:12

Do you know why the love of many is waxing cold? We do know about the coldness. Whether Christians or otherwise, there is less and less care one for another in this world. The definition of a neighbour has been watered down to mean somebody who lives nearby, instead of the caring, sharing do-anything-for-you person who we knew or might have been 60 years ago. Love has grown cold. But why? I read a lot of commentaries and sermon excerpts to see what others thought, and most of them missed the mark. Some said it’s because we are in the last days of Laodicea. Others said it’s because of materialism and selfishness. But our text does not leave any doubt about this important issue. Love has grown cold because of iniquity!

Iniquity means lawlessness. And our text speaks of iniquity abounding. Abounding means multiplied. We can see that. Our day knows of lawlessness abounding. The principles of decency and morality, of family values and honesty, of respect for human life, these have all been shed in favour of everybody doing that which is right in their own eyes. Talk about multiplying, iniquity is unbridled in a way many of us could never have imagined. And that’s why love is waxing cold.

Our text is not talking about ordinary love, it’s talking about the agape, unconditional love that God is, and that He enables us to display and express. This is not a love that an unsaved person knows or shows. It is known only by Christians. So our text is telling us that, because of lawlessness multiplying around us, the love of the Christians is becoming cold. Your love to other Christians, my love to the unsaved, the Assembly’s love to the community in which we function, these are all growing colder. And it is happening because of the sinfulness all around us.

It shouldn’t be. But there is no doubt that the rottenness of the world all around us is having its impact on us. Sadly, God’s people are not standing out in sharp contrast to the world. If we were, our testimony would attract many more to the Gospel. We are getting to be too much like Lot, righteous, but too comfortable in our sinful surroundings. Maybe we need to move.

If we could separate ourselves from the sinful conditions around us, our love would burn more brightly, and our testimony would have more impact. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

May 16th, 2020

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 1 Corinthians, 1:26

I realize that there needs to be advertising on the Internet, but some of the ads are a real nuisance, although the popup blocker gets rid of the worst of them. The ones that are the most irritating are the ones that seem to be everywhere and follow a specific theme, such as the ones that challenge you to beat the IQ of some famous person. I haven’t tried any of those challenges, and I don’t really care whether George Bush is smarter than me. But these ads do point out the fact that people like to think of themselves as a bit more intellectual than the next person. Today’s text reminds us that God didn’t save us because we were any smarter than anybody else. In fact, just the opposite may well be true.

Pride is one of the greatest of sins. It was pride that had Lucifer cast out of Heaven, and our first parents out of Eden. It was pride that kept us in our sins while the Holy Spirit strove with us to bring us to repentance. It is pride that interferes with our submission to the Saviour’s will in our lives. God can make no use of the pride that we struggle with and that Satan encourages. Today’s text reminds us once again that our Salvation is neither of ourselves or because of ourselves.

We don’t like to think of ourselves as foolish, but the next verse tells us that God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak and base things of the world to confound the world. Let us willingly take our place today among those that God can use, not because of our smarts, but because of our submission. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

May 15th, 2020

Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:2

Did you ever notice that all of Paul’s epistles to Assemblies include the salutation ‘Grace be to you, and peace’ or some variation of it? When he writes to individuals, such as Timothy and Titus, he expands it to ‘grace, mercy, and peace’. Is this greeting just a nice style that Paul has adopted, like most of us do in our letters? Or is there a deeper meaning behind Paul’s use of this term? Remember, the Holy Spirit does not include anything in Scripture that is not necessary or important. In his greeting, Paul combines two forms of greeting to form one. A standard greeting for a Greek or other Gentile was ‘Grace to you’. A standard greeting for a Jew was ‘Peace to you’, or ‘Shalom’. By uniting these two greetings into one, Paul is emphasizing the unity of the Assembly regardless of the makeup of its members.

Unity in God’s Assembly is impossible by ourselves. So God gives us His grace and His peace. An Assembly that appreciates the grace of God and the peace of God will be a harmonious Assembly. The grace of God brings us into a place where we don’t deserve to be. As sinners, we had no right to enjoy fellowship with God or with His people. As saints, we have been seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, enjoying all of the riches of His blessings. The grace of God unites us in thanksgiving and appreciation. So does the peace of God. We were once at enmity with God, and with each other. The peace of God has replaced that enmity, and we now rejoice in the Lord’s presence, and in the presence of His people. The anger, resentment, envy, and all the other emotions and attitudes that were once part of our unredeemed life are washed away in the wonder of the peace of God.

Note that the grace and peace Paul speaks of are from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. If we receive this grace and peace from God, we ought to show them in our own lives. As God has been gracious to us, we ought to be gracious to others, especially including those of the household of faith. We need to display grace even to those who don’t deserve it. After all, we didn’t deserve the grace we received from the Lord. We also didn’t deserve the peace we received, either. So, now that we are at peace with God, we must also be at peace with our fellow believers.

God has bestowed His grace and peace on His Assemblies. We will appreciate these great blessings only if we bestow our grace and peace on all who are in His Assembly. -Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

May 14th, 2020

And this oblation of the land that is offered shall be unto them a thing most holy by the border of the Levites. Ezekiel 48:12

When the soviets ruled Russia, it was an embarrassment to the communist government that tiny garden plots tended by individuals and families – amounting to four percent of the agricultural land of Russia – generated one-third of the country’s food. Workers had no incentive to produce much on the large state and communal farms. But because they were allowed to sell what they produced in their gardens (free enterprise in the midst of communism), they had an incentive to work hard and make them productive. And they were very productive, while the big state farms were ridiculously wasteful and ineffective. Those tiny plots of land had a special significance for the Russian people, and they were a perpetual reminder of the failure of communism. In Israel, there was a small portion of land that also held special significance.

As Ezekiel rehearses the allotment of the land of Israel to its people, he describes this oblation that was not assigned to any tribe or group, but was the Lord’s portion. What the Israelite kept forgetting was that this little piece of land was to produce far more than all of the rest of the land. As long as God received His portion, the farms of Israel were productive. But when the Lord’s portion was siphoned off, failure resulted. Oh, how often that happened in that nation’s history!

Does God have His little plots of land, His oblation, on the earth today? Of course He does. Those little groups of saints who seek to learn and follow the Word of God, in particular who follow the pattern of New Testament gathering, are His. Our Assemblies are the oblation that He claims. He calls them holy. Are they productive?

Just like those Russian gardens that were productive because the folks poured their best efforts into them, so too our Assemblies will be productive for God if we pour our best efforts into them. We need to work hard in the presenting and spreading of the Gospel. We need to study well the Scriptures and live the truth of them ever day. We need to learn well the principles of the Word on which our Assemblies are based and commit ourselves to preserve and protect them against the enemy’s attacks. We need to love and care for one another as our Lord loves and cares for us His children. We need to draw closer to our Saviour and strive to be more like Him.

Giving God the best portion is our best hope for prosperity. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

May 13th, 2020

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Romans 12:3

An evangelist and temperance campaigner of a century ago named Billy Sunday had an interesting explanation of the difference between reputation and character. He said a man’s reputation is what his neighbours think of him. His character is what his wife and God know about him. We all know there can be a wide difference between a person’s reputation and character. Trouble is, when some people set out to take their own measure, they look too closely at the reputation side of the column and not closely enough at the character side. All you need for a good reputation is the ability to behave yourself in public. But a good character comes only from self-discipline and sincerity when nobody is looking. You can’t fake a good character, and you shouldn’t pretend to have one if your heart’s secrets include malice, avarice, lust, or envy.

What do you think of yourself? No, I don’t mean what do you hope people think about you. Our text says you should consider this question soberly. You should try to examine your heart as God might examine it. Most of us don’t try to assess ourselves like this, It’s not easy, and it can be unpleasant. But we will be the better if we try.

We have a perfect example in Scripture of this principle. We read of One Who made Himself of no reputation. Even though He was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He humbled Himself. He never put on airs or made a show of dominating people. He knew Who He was and He knew what His purpose was. And He stayed within His Father’s will. There’s a recipe for a happy, fulfilled Christian life!

Soberly considering who we are and what our purpose is can make us humble. Fervently committing ourself to bow to the will of God can make us effective. Wouldn’t it be great to know that we’re not trying to fool men or God about who we are?

Now, what do you think about yourself? Be careful, don’t think too highly!. The lower the place you take before God, the higher the place He can lift you to in His service. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

May 11th, 2020

And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie, but they which are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Revelation 21:27

Every day throughout the world, 115,000 abortions are performed; that’s 42 million unwanted babies exterminated every year. More human lives have been sacrificed on the altar of unbridled lust than were ever slain by Moguls, Nazis, or even Mohammedans. As frightening as that carnage is, we can take a bit of comfort in knowing that most of those discarded children are probably better off than if they had been born. Regardless of what the godless judges of earth say, life begins at conception, not at birth, according to Scripture. That means all those aborted children have eternal souls. Unaccountable to God for their sin, those precious souls are sheltered by the blood of the Lamb, and are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, along with all other children who fail to reach the age of accountability, and all those who trust Christ as Saviour. But those aborted children have no names! So what is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?

Note that our text doesn’t speak of names. The late Albert Ramsay used to ask people if their names are written anywhere besides the phone book. It’s nice to think of the Lamb’s Book of Life as a great listing of the names of all believers. But it is so much more! If it were just a listing of names, problems could occur because of misspellings, duplications, and name changes. No doubt names will be there. But the Book contains not only names – because some have none – but also the very personalities of those who are saved. The Lord Jesus didn’t write only your name, He wrote you in His Book. This glorious truth is one more aspect that is precious about the eternal security of the believer.

The verses that precede today’s text describe the Holy Jerusalem, its dimensions, its description, and its dazzling splendour. Such a place awaits us as our eternal dwelling, and the language of our chapter only begins to bring it into focus for our frail little minds. We rejoice that it is for us. But we pause at the solemnity of the fact that it is only for us. Our text tells us that, as welcoming as the New Jerusalem is for those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, it excludes all of those who are not written there. We fear for our unsaved loved ones. We fear for those who attend Gospel meetings but make no profession of salvation. We fear for those who refuse an invitation to the meetings, and those who never receive an invitation. The gates of the New Jerusalem will keep out far more than they admit. And it is only the grace of God that they will admit us.

Membership in earth’s clubs, organizations, and societies can be expensive in terms of dollars, but they are pitifully cheap when compared to the price paid for you and me to be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Praise the Lord for writing us there! -Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

May 11th, 2020

O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! Romans 11:33

Do you know what an agnostic is? An agnostic is a person who believes there is no way to tell if God exists or no way to tell anything about God if He does exist. The apostle Paul was not an agnostic, that is for sure. He firmly believed and taught that we can know God personally and can learn much about Him. But in today’s text, Paul is acknowledging that the extent of God’s wisdom and knowledge are far beyond what you and I could ever figure out. Just thinking about God’s wisdom and acknowledge amazed the apostle. It should amaze us too.

Our God is all-knowing and all wise. He can never be surprised and He can never make a mistake. We can’t get our minds around that because our minds are continually being bombarded with surprises, with confusion, with disappointments, and with errors in judgment, all of which are foreign to God. As we stagger at the magnitude of a God of such wisdom and knowledge, we seek to grasp the significance of that wisdom and knowledge combined with a love that is perfect, unconditional, and eternal. No wonder Paul could exclaim about the depths of the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge!

A little boy plays on the beach, allowing the ripples of the gentle waves to bathe his tiny toes. He picks up pretty shells and stones, and wades a bit deeper to the pools around the rocks, and delights in the minnows and crabs that live among the seaweed. For this little boy, the ocean is a marvellous place, and he gazes occasionally out across its broad expanse to enjoy the beauty of the sunlight sparking on the waves. But, we might say, the lad knows next to nothing about the ocean; all he has ever seen and heard, smelled, and felt, is just that one tiny beach. The ocean is so much more, so vast and deep, so far-flung its shores, so varied in the scenes along the coasts of the lands it laves. And yet, that little boy is like you and me. We are delighted with what little of God we are able to experience and grasp. But beyond our depth, beyond our sight, beyond our experience, lies so much more than we could ever imagine of God and His wisdom and knowledge.

It is true that in this life we cannot ever know very much about God. But we can praise Him today that in the Person of His Son, He has revealed Himself to us as the God whose depths of wisdom and knowledge are incalculable and inexhaustible. -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

May 10th, 2020

And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write, for these words are true and faithful. Revelation 21:5

A year earlier, it had been just part of an old field, long since abandoned by the farmer and his cattle, with just some old foundations left from where a barn once stood. But it was part of the development plans for a new subdivision, and we had struck a deal with the developer for a new house. On that lonesome bit of field, the builders did their work, digging a foundation, diverting a spring, building slowly until a little bungalow took shape. As the weeks went by, a well was dug, siding and roofing were installed, tradesmen installed wiring, plumbing, and drywall. After some unplanned delays and disruptions, the work slowly became more finalized, with painting, cupboards, flooring, and light fixtures, until we were informed that the house was ready for occupancy. There, on what used to be a plot of alder bushes and goldenrod, stood a pretty little house, and we were pleased. An even greater pleasure awaits us when we see how our Lord will make all things new in the time of the new Heaven and new earth.

Nobody has an imagination anywhere near good enough to visualize or understand the remake that the world is due for at the end of time. Far beyond the beauties of spring blossoms or the wonders of nature that we can see in our world, the new Heaven and new earth are to be transformed in spectacular fashion, and it will all be for our delight and enjoyment. But let us not forget that – for us – the transformation began on the very day that we were saved. Our Lord’s promise that He will make all things new started when He translated us into His kingdom. The new birth brought us out of the old world of judgment and sin and into His world of peace and promise. Although still pent in sinful flesh, our spirits soared into the glorious joy of the knowledge of sins forgiven, and the happy realization that our future is with our Saviour and Lord. We were given power to overcome temptations, resist the devil, and serve the Lord. We received the desire and right to worship, and we entered into the appreciation of the fellowship of the Lord’s people. Life changed at salvation’s moment, and it continues to change as we grow in Him.

As we live our Christian lives, we continue to develop in our appreciation for the things of God. We learn more of His Word, we learn more of fellowship with Him and His people, and we learn by our experiences in faith more of the holiness, wisdom, and power of our God. Unless we are backsliders, we have experienced during the time since we were saved the transforming power of God in bringing us into conformity with the image of His Son. All things are becoming new.

We need not wait for Heaven to experience and enjoy that God has, is, and will be making all things new for us. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

May 9th, 2020

O taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man that trusteth in Him. Psalm 34:8

As she walked past the Superstore meat counter, Judy picked up a small packaged piece of meat and remarked that, at half price, it was still too expensive. I looked at the package and agreed, although my mouth watered. That piece of meat was a very nice portion of filet mignon, and I could just imagine how wonderful it would taste, properly barbecued and seasoned. I love a good piece of steak, and I am sure that filet would not have disappointed. But the price was just too high. What is it that grabs the attention of your taste buds? And how much are you willing to pay to obtain that taste? Our text today tells us that the offerings on the Lord’s plate will always delight. And His price is never too high.

We have tasted of God’s salvation, and have found it refreshing forever. Salvation has satisfied in a way that nothing of this world could ever do. The pleasures of sin may be sweet for the moment but always leave a bitterness and emptiness. The price is far too high in loss of eternal satisfaction. As the Gospel hymn says: Now none but Christ can satisfy, none other name for me. There’s life, and love, and lasting joy, Lord Jesus found in thee!

The Lord also has His delights that far outstrip anything the world would present to us. The world’s philosophies would have us build up our self-esteem, to seek to glorify ourselves. But self becomes a flat and stale diet when compared to the bounty of placing Christ first and seeking the things of His kingdom. As young Christians look for a career or vocation that will satisfy their abilities and meet their desires, they do well to remember that the life that is dedicated to Christ and His will can never lack for challenges, opportunities, and a deep and abiding sense of fulfilment.

A life lived to satisfy self always carries too high a price tag. But a life lived to serve Christ is a bargain forever. -Jim MacIntosh