Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, July 7th, 2022

How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? Psalm 137:4

We almost feel like crying with these folks. Uprooted from their families, their religion, their occupations of home and hauled away to Babylon, these people were broken-hearted at their great loss, and filled with fear, uncertainty, and hopelessness. And now they are being bombarded with an impossible request. Their captors, and other folks in Babylon, want them to provide some entertainment. They want to hear from the Israelites one of the songs from back home. Singing was a very important part of both family and religious life in Israel. These folks would be good singers, and would have plenty of songs they could sing. But no, they were away from home, and had no hope of ever seeing Jerusalem again. In this strange land, they hung their harps on willows because there was nothing to sing about. As Christians, you and I are in a strange land, too. But unlike those misplaced Israelites, we have a song to sing.

The big difference between those poor Israelites in Babylon and the Christians in today’s world is hope. The dreary outlook for those Israelites is so unlike the glorious hope of the Christian. All the Israelites had to look forward to was servitude, loneliness, and a grave in foreign soil. Christians face freedom, welcome, and a home in Glory. The Israelites could take little comfort in their God, but the Christian can rejoice in the perfect comfort of a Father Who sent His Son to be our Saviour, and Who delights to bless His children every day. The Israelites were slaves who had no homes or possessions. Christians, on the other hand, have freedom from sin, and freedom to enjoy our Lord’s presence, and we are eagerly awaiting a home of rest and delight. And our God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. Oh, yes, we have cause to sing, even in a strange land!

Another big difference between us and the misplaced Israelites is the attitudes of those around us. Babylonians would have been pleased to hear these Israelite slaves sing of their homeland, their people, and their God. We don’t get that appreciation today, even when we try to tell those around us of our salvation and the Lord Who provides it. Those who could not sing in Babylon had an audience. Those of us with a song today have trouble finding people who will listen to us. We can only keep singing, in hopes that someone will listen.

Our joyful song of salvation is a wonderful testimony to those around is. It is also a happy reminder to ourselves of our glorious hope. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, July 5th, 2022

Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

Someone told me that a certain Christian had posted some inappropriate material on Facebook. To determine whether this was true, I checked out the postings in question, although I doubted whether a Christian would actually post such material. Sadly, the report was true. Some of what was posted was interesting and funny. But some of it contained immoral references, smutty language, and even profanity. This gutter material was entirely unworthy of a person claiming to be a child of God and seeking to be a testimony for their Lord. Probably this person was simply passing on something that had been sent to them. Did this person just not notice the offensive material? I don’t know. But I do know that as Christians, we need to be very careful not to bring reproach on our Lord with our words, our keyboards, or our Facebook postings.

David didn’t have the Internet, a cell phone, or other electronic communications when he was king of Israel. But he knew the need to have a guard placed on His words. He also knew that such a guard was not something that he dared take responsibility for himself. He called upon the Lord to guard his mouth. David loved the Lord, and would never want to say anything that would bring dishonour on him. He knew that wrong words would not only be a poor testimony to others but would also grieve his Lord. Wrong words today, however we utter them, also are a poor testimony, and they grieve our Lord. We need to pray the prayer in today’s text, because like David, we need to understand how difficult it is to guard our mouths and bridle our tongues.

Many of the wrong words that Christians utter today are done in carelessness, and are not intentional. For example, there is a little expression used in many text messages, emails, and Facebook postings that most Christians don’t realize is rank profanity. If you use the term OMG, you are actually swearing; you are taking the Name of the Lord in vain. No born again child of God should ever use this term. If you know any who do, please beg them to stop. They may say the letters stand for ‘oh my goodness’, but the unsaved don’t see it that way, they see it as ‘oh my God’ and smirk that the Christian swears just like they do. The same goes for many of the exclamations that we use, such as the minced oaths that are creeping into the language of the Lord’s people. For example, maybe you didn’t know that the expression ‘gee’ is just a minced term for ‘Jesus’ and every time you use this expression, you are taking the name of our precious Saviour in vain. Well, you know it now!

There are so many wrong words out there that you and I could be caught saying, texting, or posting. We need to ask the Lord to help us clean up our language and to keep it pure. – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, July 4th, 2022

Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. Psalm 150:6

One of my elementary school teachers said she enjoyed watching the birds drink from a puddle. She said when the birds dipped their beaks into the water and then raised their heads high to allow the water to run down their throats, it seemed to her that the birds were lifting their heads to thank their Maker for the water. It’s a nice thought, although we have no way to know whether creatures such as birds are actually thankful. These creatures act primarily by instinct, and, as far as we know, have no real awareness of God. They probably were capable of such an awareness before Adam’s fall, and we believe will recover that awareness in Christ’s millenium reign. But there are almost eight billion creatures on this planet now who are capable of knowing God and of praising Him. But most choose not to do so. Our text reminds us that the neglect by others does not excuse us from praising the Lord.

Need we ask why we should praise the Lord? Primarily because of Who He is! Not only is He the Almighty, the Creator and Maintainer of all we know and see, but He is also the Essence of everything, the Dispenser of every heartbeat and breath, the Controller of every electron in every atom in the universe. He is also holiness, omniscience, and love without limit or bound. We could never in our lifetimes exhaust the description of Who God is. We must also praise Him for what He has done. Not only has He created us, but He has provided a redemption for we who have spoiled His creation with our sin. The greatness of God’s plan of salvation must cause us to praise Him. All mankind should praise Him, although few do.

The little expression at the end of the verse – Praise ye the Lord – is not an afterthought. Nor is it simply repetition. The first part of the verse says praising the Lord is a universal responsibility. The unsaved will forever pay the price of neglecting this responsibility. The redeemed will forever rejoice in this responsibility. But for now, our verse concludes, this is an individual responsibility. Whether everyone else does or does not praise the Lord, we are reminded of the importance of doing so. Praising the Lord is much more than a responsibility, it is a privilege. To us has been given the spiritual eyesight to recognize that God is worthy of all of our praise. Every day, our lives are to be lived in praise of Him.

He is worthy, but the world’s neglect to praise the Lord is shameful. But when the world will not, cannot, and does not praise the Lord, praise ye. -Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

Sunday, July 3rd, 2022

For the Lord taketh pleasure in His people; He will beautify the meek with salvation. Psalm 149:4

Make a list of all of the things you have done today. Or if you are reading this in the morning, make a list of all the things you remember doing yesterday. Take a good, hard look at the list, and see which items you are proud of. What items on that list would you be proud to show to others? Which ones do you think others would be proud of you for doing? If you are anything like me, too many of the items on that list are pretty worthless. Hopefully, none of them are destructive. Take another look at that list and try to figure out which ones God enjoyed watching you do. How short would that list be? Our text tells us He takes pleasure in us. What is there in us for Him to take pleasure in?

For one thing, God must always take pleasure in His Son, and we are in His Son. Mind you, some Christians show more of the Son than others, and to the extent that we allow the Lord Jesus to be our Lord and to be displayed in our life, the more pleasure God must receive. It is a wonderful privilege, in a world that uses His holy Name as a swear word, to speak well of the Lord Jesus, and to seek to do His will, and to show others what He is like. We have His words to follow and His example to emulate, so we can surely bring pleasure to the heart of God.

Did you ever sit and watch young children playing? Those of us with little children of our own, or grandchildren, are especially drawn to the activities of those who are so dear to us. We enjoy their every move, and delight in seeing them laugh and romp. Even when they are not doing much, we enjoy just watching the expressions on their faces and listening to their chatter. We never tire of seeing them enjoy their play and their companions, and our hearts burst with love when they smile or share a hug. If we so enjoy our little children, how much more must God enjoy His little children? Christians make up a tiny percentage of the earth’s population, and yet, our God delights that the tiny few actually love Him in response to His great love to us. Amid the lies and cursing of earth, there are a few who bless and thank Him. There are a few who belong to Him forever, and we are precious to Him. We are the apple of His eye, the precious jewels He has gathered. He takes pleasure in us.

We may feel like insignificant saints, unnoticed and unappreciated. But Heaven’s attention is focused on us in delight. Our God enjoys the fact that we are His, and thrills when we remind Him of His Son -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

Saturday, July 2nd, 2022

They said therefore unto Him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see and believe Thee? What dost Thou work? John 6:30

One man went alone into a cave in Arabia and spent considerable time there. When he came out, he claimed to have received messages from the angel Gabriel. Because this man could neither read nor write, he had others write down the messages he claimed to have received in the cave. Those messages make up the bulk of what is now called the Koran, so so-called holy book of Islam. Did Mohamed actually receive revelations in that cave? We don’t know. Was it Gabriel who appeared to him there? We do know the answer to that one. Gabriel, as an angel of God, could and would tell only the truth, and Koran is riddled with lies, distortions, and blasphemies. We can only imagine who might have appeared to Mohammed in that cave, if anybody actually did. We can only judge the result, which was a religion of hatred, brutality, and repression based on a cold, cruel, and vengeful god called Allah. How different the life and words of the Lord Jesus, publicly proclaimed and carefully reported by godly men, with the result of salvation freely offered by a loving and caring God.

Our text tells of the Jews seeking a sign, and questioning Jesus about His work. Unlike Mohammed, Jesus, who was literate, did not leave the account of His life, death, and message to any mysterious circumstances. Everything He did was open and in full sight of His followers and His critics. The only exception was the three-hour darkness as He hung on the cross, a scene so terrible that no human eye could view it. So we have the work of the Lord Jesus presented for those who doubted and complained. We have His miraculous birth, His wonderful teaching, His amazing miracles, His infinite compassion, His vicarious death, and his glorious resurrection, all presented through the pens of the Gospel writers, who were guided by the Holy Spirit. There can be no doubt of His work to those who receive His Word.

Two thousand years have flowed through time since the critics asked Jesus for a sign. For those two thousand years, the Word of God has stood clear and plain in its revelation of Jesus Christ in all He is and has done. For most of those two thousand years, much of humanity has accepted, at least at face value, the Bible as the Word of God. We live in a time when the Bible is doubted, questioned, rejected, and even condemned. Mankind is tossing aside the evidence that would lead people to believe on Jesus Christ. The minority who believe the evidence is growing smaller. And the sceptics are mocking us.

That God has revealed His Son to us is a great miracle and a wonderful blessing. Because we believe, we appreciate His work, and will forever. – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

Friday, July 1st, 2022

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent. John 6:29

I watched as a judge in a Saint John courtroom called the lawyers for both sides to stand and discuss a date for sentencing. After a particularly heated trial, the judge had found the defendant guilty, and now he wanted to know when the lawyers would be available  to discuss an appropriate sentence. The prosecutor was flexible, and told the judge so. The defendant’s lawyer, however, wanted to wait awhile. He told the judge, ‘With all due respect, your honour, we intend to appeal this conviction’. The witty judge replied, ‘Respect? You aren’t showing much respect when you speak of appealing my ruling’. We live in a world today that is just like that lawyer, professing some respect for God but challenging everything He says in His Word.

Jesus makes it plain in our text that any relationship we have with God is based on belief. We cannot do anything for a God we don’t believe in or Whose Word we don’t accept. Many of the religious organizations we see around us no longer accept the Bible as the divinely inspired Word of God. Others pick and choose what portions of Scripture they will accept as being from God. Many of the people in leadership roles in these organizations reject the deity of Jesus Christ, and some of them doubt the existence of God or consider the belief in God to be non-essential or irrelevant to today’s world. Is it any wonder that these people sink further and further into irrelevancy and ineffectiveness? As believers, we need to be aware that our effectiveness for the Lord Jesus is based entirely on our belief in Him.

Think of the Christians you know who are effective in their service for their Lord, the ones with good testimonies in their neighbourhoods and work environments, the ones who are respected for their godly character and their example in  the Assembly. I think you will find that these are the people who know the Word of God the best and who follow it the closest. These are the folks who base their life’s decisions on the Word of God and on the examples that the Lord Jesus set for us.

If the most important work you and I can do today is for God, the most important considerations for us are whether we are doing that work in the acceptance of His Word, and in obedience to His commands. – Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

Thursday, June 30th, 2022

But He said unto them, It is I, be not afraid. John 6:20

During a Dale Carnegie training session many years ago, I watched the instructor as he worked with a group of students. It was the opening session of the course, and most of these folks had never spoken in public. For their first session, the instructor simply sat six people in the front row, facing the audience, and he asked each of them a series of simple questions about themselves. The situation appeared to be the opposite of intimidating. But most of the students were very nervous. One woman was so agitated that she broke down in tears as she tried to answer the questions. What was she so afraid of? Experts tell us that one of the greatest fears on earth for many people is the fear of public speaking. Although it sounds irrational, it is a real fear, and it prevents many people from succeeding in many areas of their lives. There are many fears around us, some more terrible than others. Removing the source of the fear is the only solution. As our text indicates, the best way to remove fear is the presence of the Lord Jesus.

We smile at the disciples’ fears now; they were afraid they were seeing a ghost, and we don’t believe in ghosts nowadays. But the fear was very real to them. And there are some fears that are very real to us today, many of them fears that will make us smile a few years hence. But today, they trouble us. Many are afraid of diseases that might destroy our health or even kill us. Many are afraid of losing jobs or of not having enough money to meet our needs. Others are afraid of changing circumstances such as different homes, different neighbours, different government, and a host of other changes that come along. So many fears come along, and they leave us in deep anxiety, in pain, and in confusion. What we need is the assurance of Jesus’ presence to chase those fears away and free us again.

Jesus’ presence made all the difference on Galilee, and His presence makes all the difference now. To know we are not alone and to know that He is near banishes the anxieties and worry. To know He is near is to know that everything will be alright. As we used to sing in Sunday school, ‘With Christ in the vessel, we can smile at the storm’. But it is not just His presence that we appreciate, it is Who He is that makes the difference. None other than the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the God of eternity, the Owner of the cattle on a thousand hills is with us. No need exists that He cannot meet, and no fear troubles us that He is unable to banish with His ‘Peace, be still’.

Our fears all vanish in direct proportion to our acceptance of the reality of Jesus’ presence. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum, and it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. John 6:17

My brother and I were carrying firewood on a small wagon down from the mountainside. We should have stayed in the maple stand where the wood was stacked, because night was falling and the clouds had rolled in. As we made our way downhill, the darkness enveloped us like a fog, and we could not see where we were going. We had to keep tapping the ground before us to make sure we weren’t getting off the path. At the bottom of the hill, we faced a long hard trek across several fields, through a swamp and two brooks, and up another long hill. Apprehensive about wild animals, we made slow progress, and were thoroughly frightened and discouraged before we came to the first brook. Crossing that brook with our wagonload of wood in the dark was a cold, wet ordeal, and we had difficulty finding the path on the other side. We slowly worked our way along, getting more and more discouraged, nervous, and weary. Suddenly we heard a hail. It was our father, who had come to meet us. Instantly, the dark lost all its terrors and the path lost all its agony. But until that point, we felt like the disciples in the midst of the sea in our text today.

The unsaved in this world are in the darkness of sin. Like a couple of lads floundering through the dark fields at night, they operate without much sense of where they are going, or what dangers surround them. Only the glorious light of the Gospel of Christ can shine light into their souls and give them direction and comfort. How important it is that the Gospel be proclaimed to those around us! Without it, the poor sinners around us are lost and hopeless. But note that our text is not speaking of strangers and sinners; it is speaking of disciples. Their problem wasn’t that they didn’t know the Lord, but that they didn’t take Him with them.

It is true that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ has shined on us. It is true that we have come to know and love the Lord Jesus and appreciate Him as our Saviour. But there are times when we don’t take Him with us in our little voyages of life, and we wonder why things are so dark. Perhaps it is a friend who we should not be keeping company with, or reading or web material that is inappropriate for a Child of God, or a job that takes us away from the Lord’s people and the Assembly, or a trip to somewhere that involves activities that we don’t want others to know about. Regardless of the case, if we can’t take the Lord Jesus and our testimony for Him there, we will find ourselves in the dark. And there will be no blessing.

The sunshine of the presence of the Lord Jesus gleams only on the path of obedience. The disobedient tread in darkness. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

When they were filled, He said unto His disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost’. John 6:12

I can’t remember hearing the word ‘leftovers’ when I was a boy. With eight hungry children, my mother had a struggle to put enough food on the table to satisfy us. And we seldom had to be reminded to clean up our plates. My mother always hated to see food going to waste, so very little ever did. With so few fragments that remained, I wonder how the poor dog ever survived. Food left on plates now is a common sight, especially among the children, whose eyesight exceeds their appetite many times, and whose parents rarely restrain their children’s demands. When she was a toddler, our granddaughter Grace, for example, used to insist on two cookies, although she rarely ate more than half of one. The fragments that remain are swept into the garbage; they are lost. To waste must be part of our sinful nature, because our holy God never wastes anything. Jesus proved that by insisting that the disciples gather up all the fragments. Did you ever notice that the Holy Spirit gathers up the fragments of humanity today, because of our Lord’s desire that none would be lost?

I recall a man speaking for an organization that seeks to help the homeless and the destitute, the drunks and bums who have no place to go and no possessions to their names. He referred to these people as ‘human wastage’. Most of society sees these people as a waste of humanity, valueless and a nuisance. But God sees them, and we should see them, as fragments to be gathered up, that none of them be lost.

Before we were saved, we might have looked more respectable than some of the people around us, but we were certainly no better in any way other than appearance. Yet, in His infinite mercy, God dealt with us, striving with our spirit, to bring us to repentance and to faith in Christ. Every one of us was a fragment that needed to be gathered up, helpless as the bits of bread and fish that lay on the grass on that mountainside. We were as lost as the multitude’s orts, but our Saviour didn’t want us to be lost. He Himself paid the price for our redemption in drops of His own precious blood. He sent His disciples to gather us up, as we can remember those who sought to bring us under the sound of the Gospel, those who prayed for us, those who sacrificed that we might be saved. Even today, we desire to be the disciples that our Lord sends to gather up the fragments. And we long, like those disciples experienced, to know the joy of having full baskets to prove the riches of our Saviour’s grace.

How thankful we should be that the Lord Jesus does not believe in waste, or we might have been fragments that remained and were lost! – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

Monday, June 27th, 2022

And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. John 6:11

One of the most poignant set of pictures I encountered on the Web had to do with the quantity of groceries a typical family would have for a week. The first picture was of an affluent family in Germany, with a table loaded with a great variety of foods and beverages. The second photo showing a well-to-do American family was just as impressive. The set of pictures followed a line of descending affluence, through a Korean family, a Mexican farm family, and a few others, where the tables were spread with fewer and less lavish things. Second-to-last was a picture of a poor South American family with a simple arrangement of vegetables and breads. Finally, a picture showed a mother and her three children in an African refugee camp. Before them were a few small pitiful items, and, unlike the other pictures, there were no smiles on the children’s faces. I wondered how much more they would have eaten, if they could have all they wanted. How much more spiritual food would we consume, if we knew all that is available to us?

It seems sometimes that we are like those refugees, subsisting on a few things that somebody hands out; here a prayer, there a word of ministry, maybe a selection from the Choice Gleanings calendar, or a glance through the daily meditation on an Assembly website. Or even the daily message from yours truly. But Jesus wants to feed us with as much as we want from His Word, His company, His presence, and His people. So why do we take so little?

Those folks on the mountainside who benefited from the meal of bread and fish were instructed to do something very important before they were fed. They were told to sit in small companies. We are told there was much grass there, so they would have been comfortable. Then the food came, and they partook with no distractions. That’s how the Lord Jesus wants to feed us with His Word. He wants us to get rid of the distractions. It’s really not a good idea to try to study the Scripture when you are navigating through rush-hour traffic, for example. Then, He wants us to feast on His bounty. Let our souls take in everything that the Word has for us. Of course, if we have been snacking on the devil’s dainties, our appetite for the Word won’t be what it should. And the benefit we get from the spiritual food will be very limited.

Just as the bread and fish were enough to supply whatever the multitude wanted to eat, so the Word of God is enough to satisfy our spiritual hunger. Now, if only we could develop a greater hunger for it! – Jim MacIntosh