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Lesson for the Lord’s Day

July 31st, 2022

For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

A little boy, obviously remembering his Sunday School lesson about creation, asked his mother if it is true that we come from dust. Yes, his mother assured him, the Bible tells us Adam was made of the dust of the ground. And is it true, the little boy wondered, that we are going to return to dust? Oh, yes, his mother declared, we are all going to return to dust. Then, the little boy declared, somebody is either coming or going under my bed! The story strikes us funny because we know that it’s not as simple as that. But we need to keep in mind that the creation, specifically the creation of mankind, is just as simple as the truth of Scripture that God made our first father from the dust of the earth. Even Christians tend to forget the simple truth of that sometimes.

A Christian recently asked me if I believed that there is intelligent life on other planets. I am afraid I gave a rather non-commital answer. After all, there are vast numbers of stars, galaxies, and other heavenly bodies out in space. Based on the known number – which is probably woefully inadequate – there are more than two billion stars for every person currently living on earth. Such a vast number causes some people to speculate that some of those stars must have planets on which intelligent life forms could possibly exist. But if we think about it, we must realize that we are assuming that those life forms would have evolved on those planets, a process requiring billions of years. Yet Genesis 1 tells us plainly that God created the stars on the fourth day of creation. If we accept creation for the earth, we must also accept creation for the stars. Our imagining life on other planets is a subtle acceptance of the lie of evolution. And we should be ashamed of that.

Even a non-technical examination of the human body reveals that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. The wonders of the intricate design that God has given us never cease to amaze those who study how we are assembled. The study also reveals that the elements that make up the human body are identical with the elements in common dust. Our creator has assembled those elements in an amazing way, and we are proof of His genius and perfect design. It should humble us today to understand that we are nothing but dust that our Creator has touched.

God never intended that we should be filled with pride. And a right understanding of what we are made of will keep us humble and keep us thankful to Him. -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

July 30th, 2022

But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

Fanny Crosby, who wrote so many of our best-loved hymns, was never too dismayed by the fact that she was blind. She declared that her blindness probably kept her closer to the Lord, and kept her from becoming occupied with meaningless things. She spent her life not knowing what grass or flowers or trees or anything of nature look like. She never knew the brightness of a friend’s smile or the twinkle of a sister’s eye. You would have difficulty describing a beautiful painting or work of art to her. She had no reference point on which to base an imagination. Yes, she was just like us trying to imagine all that God has in store for us beyond this life and experience.

We who have reasonably good eyesight appreciate being able to see and recognize loved ones, being able to feast our eyes on autumn’s splendid foliage, to read our Bible and other books, to follow a path or road to a destination based on familiar landmarks. Yes, we have eyesight for earth’s temporary things. But while we are here in the flesh, we lack the eyesight to perceive the spendours of Heaven and its occupants. We can tax our imaginations to their limit and totally fail to grasp the beauties of Heaven’s jasper wall and pearly gates, of the streets of gold and the prepared mansions, of the angels’ beauty and our Saviour’s smile. Our text tells us we can not grasp it.

Beauty appreciated here will be as nothing compared to glory displayed there. Heaven will be beautiful. But we will enter into so much more than its beauty. Unshackled by sinful flesh, we will be able to understand the depths of Scripture that elude our feeble minds here. Liberated from flesh’s limitations, we will be ushered into an appreciation for the excellencies of Christ. The wiping away of earth’s tears will unfold to us the vastness of the meaning of pleasures forever more.

All of the glories and joys of Heaven are for those who love the Lord. And we do so because He first loved us. – Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

July 29th, 2022

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10

Some years ago, a political party arose in our province and used a particularly contentions issue to attract significant support, winning a surprisingly large number of members to the legislature in the provincial election. Shortly after the election, however, different groups within the party began disputing with each other. The contentions were so bitter that within a few months, the party’s support disappeared, and it was eliminated in the next election. Disputes and disagreements in any group are not good for the group. But disagreements among the people of God are bad for morale within the Assembly, bad for the Assembly’s efforts to serve the Lord, and bad for the testimony of the Assembly before the world. No Assembly can survive long if those in fellowship are at odds with each other and in disagreement over important matters.

In an Assembly where Paul has much to address in terms of problems, this is the first issue he raises in his letter to the saints in Corinth. He is not addressing gossip either; he has reliable reports of the problem, and he quotes his source, the house of Chloe. Every Assembly needs such a house, a family that is grieved by disagreements among the Lord’s people and willing to do something about it. Paul addresses the issue strongly because correcting this problem is critical to restoring the Corinthian Assembly in its function and testimony. If we have disagreements or disputes in our Assemblies today, we also need to get them cleared up. Thankfully, we have a resource today that the Corinthians did not have at their disposal: the Word of God in its entirety. Faithfulness to the Scriptures will eliminate contentions in God’s Assembly.

As the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write his epistle to Corinth, he produced a document that serves us well today. Paul’s admonition and teaching on this problem is a wonderful guide to Assemblies almost two thousand years later. Paul explains what is wrong (and sinful) about a party spirit in an Assembly. And in today’s text, he urges the saints to unity. And that unity is found in the truth.

What divisions do you see in your Assembly? What side have you taken in those divisions? Scripture does not find any sides… there is only unity in Christ. – Jim MacIntosh

Thought for Thursday

July 28th, 2022

He spread a cloud for a covering, and fire to give light in the night. Psalm 105:39

As the children of Israel made their journey through the wilderness, they would occasionally encounter other people. Whether friendly or antagonistic, those other people would encounter the same weather, the same geography, the same flora and fauna as the Israelites. But those other people were missing something that was very important to the Israelites, something that not only marked them as very different from their neighbours, but which also gave them great blessings. The pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, marking the presence and the guidance of God, was unique in all that great desert, and applied only to the Lord’s people. God today provides His people with unique benefits that are unknown outside the circle of His salvation.

The heat of the desert sun was dangerous for all those people. But the cloud offered them some shadow and shelter from the heat. A different type of heat beats upon the Lord’s people today, the heat of the devil’s opposition and temptations. The enemy keeps trying to defeat us and to make us ineffective for our Lord. And yet the Person of the Holy Spirit is with each believer, reminding us of God’s presence and protection. We are not left to defend ourselves, but are entreated to rely on the God Whose presence preserves and shelters us. The cloud in the wilderness provided protection as long as the Israelites were within its shadow. The cloud of protection that Christians enjoy is also available if we abide in our Lord’s will. The cloud of guidance would mark out the path for the Israelites to follow, just as the Word of God is our guide today.

Imagine an Israelite mother attempting to calm a child who was timid of the dark. That mother might take the child to the door of the tent, and point to the fiery pillar. She could assure the child that the light marked God’s presence and protection, and everything was safe. We can also appreciate that in the night of sin that surrounds us, our God is always on guard to give us the comfort of His light and the assurance of His presence.

We might well pity the world of unsaved people who know nothing of God’s presence, protection, and guidance. Let us remind ourselves that God has greatly blessed us in our wilderness journey. -Jim MacIntosh

Word for Wednesday

July 27th, 2022

Nevertheless, He saved them for His name’s sake, that He might make His mighty power to be known. Psalm 106:8

The late evangelist Doug Howard was telling us about a conversation he had when he was a young Christian with a sceptic. The man asked Doug if there was anything God can’t do. No, Doug assured him in his innocence, God can do anything. So, the man asked him, can God make a stone so big He can’t lift it? Although it was a trick question, Doug realized that there are some things that God cannot do. For example, He cannot lie or renege on any of His promises. God’s perfect integrity is such that He cannot move outside of His own character. Our text reminds us today that one of the great principles of God’s character is the preservation of His Name by saving undeserving sinners, thus displaying His loving kindness and His grace.

We have a bad habit of attempting to understand God by comparing Him with us. When we try to grasp God’s loving kindness to us, we consider someone we know who is known for showing loving kindness, and we say that is what God is like, only more so. But that comparison fails, because nobody on earth can possibly display the kind of compassion and grace that belongs to the Lord. We are simply unable to grasp the reality that God’s love is so great and His integrity is so pure that He saves us for the honour of His own Name.

We all have standards that we try to live by, and it’s important to us that other people see us as upholding those standards. We will often do certain things just to make sure people understand how firm our principles are. In a small way, that something like what God does. His great plan of salvation was conceived and implemented that He might prove the reality and greatness of His love, and the extent of His grace. His preservation of us since we were first saved is another proof of His character. Day by day, we see continued proofs of Who our God is and what His character is like. Our text is a wonderful meditation on God’s character. It reminds us that for His Name’s sake, He saved us. When we wonder why God would ever step into our experiences and save sinners like us, we can remind ourselves that, despite our lack of merit, His salvation reinforces His character and His almighty power.

Although our lifelong goal should be to explain and describe our loving and gracious God, we know the subject is far beyond us to exhaust. -Jim MacIntosh

Tidings for Tuesday

July 26th, 2022

…the Gospel of God, which He had promised afore by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures. Romans 1:1-2

A radio commentator became agitated as he discussed the lack of a catastrophic drug program for our province. He pointed out that such a program was a key part of the election platform for the political party that had won the previous year’s election. Noting that the time set by the party for setting up the program was about to expire, and no consultations has been held with any of the involved parties, the commentator declared the program to be another broken election promise. We’ve seen those before. In fact, broken promises are pretty common these days. You have to carefully read the fine print on every contract, guarantee, or offer to find all the loopholes that allow companies and organizations to fudge on the promises they make. But when we turn to the Bible, it is refreshingly comforting to discover that God’s promises are always kept and His fine print doesn’t exist. That applies to the topic of today’s text, the Gospel of God.

In the Garden of Eden, God issued His first promise of the Gospel when He declared that the Seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head. The writings of Moses contain volumes of references, illustrations, and patterns that relate to the Gospel and the Person of the Lord Jesus. The poetry of David and Solomon, and others, contains vivid pictures of the same. All the prophets foretell the Gospel. God’s promise of the Gospel is clear and expansive in the Old Testament. And His promise is fulfilled in the New Testament. All of the promises from the Old Testament that relate to our age have been fully kept.

How do you feel when somebody makes good on a significant promise made to you? Gratitude and pleasure would be a good start. When we consider the promise of the Gospel, we see that it does not come with any strings attached. It also does not come because of any merit on our part; we don’t deserve the Gospel in any way. In fact, most of humanity rejects, ignores, and mocks the Gospel. But God keeps His promise in providing undeserving sinners with a message of hope.

The Gospel is God’s great display of His faithfulness to us, His total commitment to keep His Word. Let us be thankful, and let us show others His faithfulness. – Jim MacIntosh

Meditation for Monday

July 25th, 2022

Be it known therefore unto you that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. Acts 28:28

Some 15,000 Jewish people in Israel call themselves members of Messianic Judaism, which is an acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. As many as 250,000 people in the United States claim to be Messianic Jews. These people, although still following many of the tenets of their Jewish religion, recognize the deity and resurrection of Jesus as Christ and Lord. Although this sounds impressive, this number represents only a tiny percentage of the world’s Jews. Because Israel as a nation rejected Jesus when He came, only a tiny few have ever been saved. As Paul pointed out to the Jewish people in Rome, God had turned to the Gentiles, and many of them were welcoming the Gospel.

Today, many groups of the Gentiles are also rejecting Jesus, just as the Jews did two thousand years ago. And just as He did with the Jews back then, God is turning away from the nations that have rejected Him and is turning to those people who will listen to the Gospel.

Many times, a series of Gospel meetings in a community fails to draw any of the people in that community to hear the Gospel. The tent or hall is filled with Christians who bring their children and their friends. But from the actual community, the no-show is almost total. They will not hear the Gospel, despite the valiant efforts of preachers and helpers to issue invitations and texts. Sadly, God is listening to their rejection, and frequently, a Gospel series comes and goes with no visible impact on the community. The day of visitation comes and passes, leaving people responsible for their rejection of the Gospel.

Amid the struggles to get people out under the sound of the Word, the discouragements of poor attendance and lack of interest, listen to the words of today’s text, ‘the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and.. they will hear it.’ God is still saving souls, still rescuing the perishing, and still working in the hearts of the lost. We just don’t see it around here very much.

In lands and places where the Gospel is going forth with power and is being received, preachers are delighted at the response. Pray that people in our land would see the folly of their rejection, and turn to the Saviour. – Jim MacIntosh

Lesson for the Lord’s Day

July 24th, 2022

I said in my haste, All men are liars. Psalm 116:11

Has your mother ever told you a lie? I can’t remember my mother ever telling me a lie. But I have to admit she was capable of doing it. And you have to admit the same. We know some people who are hopeless liars; their word on any topic is always suspect. We know others who we can trust completely, because we know they would never deceive us. And in between, there are folks that we treat with varying degrees of trust. We can see how the psalmist would utter this cynical expression that everybody is a liar. But if we look into the Word of God, we can see how this expression could have been uttered only in haste and not upon consideration of the God of the Bible. Scripture makes it plain that God cannot lie. Because we know that Jesus is God, we also conclude that Jesus could never tell a lie. And He did not, despite our frustration with the rest of humanity; there was One Whose words were always faithful and true.

There are other people whose words should also be faithful and true. I am referring to Christians. If we are to be Christ-like, we are to be truth-tellers. If we are liars, we are not being Christ-like. We all fail in this, although it should not be the pattern of any Christian’s conversation to be untruthful. Just as we appreciate our Lord for His faithful honesty, so we should be able to appreciate our fellow believers for their faithful honesty. And they should be able to so appreciate us. A Christian who is known for telling lies is a poor testimony. A Christian who is known for telling the truth is a good testimony.

We can excuse the unsaved folks around us for playing fast and loose with their facts. For many of them, it’s no big deal. They don’t understand the consequences. Sadly, they are sceptical about everybody else, even those who would present them with the Gospel. Judging others by themselves, they assume there is no absolute truth. That is why it is so important for us to be honest at all times. If we give the unsaved an example of the truth, they can more readily accept that the Gospel is true. If we give them a poor example of the truth, we have little reason to expect them to accept the Gospel from us.

Are all men liars? Do we give people a reason for believing so? -Jim MacIntosh

Sermonette for Saturday

July 23rd, 2022

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15

To be known as a Christian today in North Korea is to be as good as dead! In the past few years, some 50,000 Christians have either died or have disappeared into the country’s prison system. That figure is staggering, and speaks to the inhumanity and barbaric attitude of the communist government of that pathetic nation. It also speaks volumes about the courage of the brave Christians there who undoubtedly place their lives in grave danger every time they witness for their Lord. North Korea is rated as the most repressive and dangerous countries for Christians to live in, worse even than other communist nations and the brutal Mohammedan countries. Despite this, North Korea’s underground Christian community is thriving and growing, and those martyrs are trading their very blood for precious souls won for their Lord. And their deaths are all precious to Him.

Is it just the deaths of martyrs that are precious in the sight of the Lord? Of course not! The death of every child of God is precious to Him. The word ‘precious’ carries with it the thought of something of great value, something that accomplishes an important purpose. What important purpose does the death of a Christian accomplish? Is it different from the death of an unbeliever, given that every death is the result of sin? I remember a famous quotation from my early days as a Christian: Every person who is born twice dies only once, but a person who is born only once dies twice. The death of a Christian is different because the Christian’s body will not experience the second death. The Christian’s soul will find its eternal home in Heaven, not in the hell reserved for the lost. The Christian’s spirit is sealed with the Holy Spirit and is released from the judgment that faces the unsaved. The death of the Christian is proof of the redeeming power of the blood of Christ. That is precious to God.

We have all seen loved ones pass from time into eternity. We have experienced the comfort of knowing that those who were saved passed through something that was precious to the Lord. When we feel our own mortality and realize that our own death is closer than ever, we can take comfort that we will also experience that which is precious to our Lord.

Will you and I experience the great event called the Rapture? We don’t know, although we hope so. But if we should not, we will still offer to our Lord that which is precious to Him. -Jim MacIntosh

Food for Friday

July 22nd, 2022

The Stone which the builders refused is become the Head of the corner. Psalm 118:22

If you have ever built a house, a garage, or other structure, you have no doubt run into problems in which some of the necessary materials were not on hand. Perhaps you ran out of nails, or found there were not enough studs for the walls, or you were missing some of the joist hangers. These are common problems, and even experienced carpenters and builders run into them occasionally. But there are some things that even an experienced builder would never start a project without. Unless the foundation was right, the builder would never venture to put anything on it. Our eternal welfare must also be built on a good foundation, with the correct cornerstone in place.

The Jews thought they were building well for eternity. But they rejected the Cornerstone. They didn’t just ignore Him, they did everything they could to exclude Him, even to having Him crucified. Their building was flawed beyond hope because the cornerstone is missing. Their hope for eternity was based on a design that could not work. There was a time when our lives were the same.

Before we were saved, some of us had a form of religion. But the house of religion does not even have a provision for the Cornerstone. It has plenty of place for ritual, for works, for traditions, and for pride. Religion builds a fancy house, but it cannot stand for eternity; it has no cornerstone. Good works also lack the provision of a cornerstone, despite their great achievements in the annals of mankind. The same goes for good neighbourliness, good citizenship, and good friendship. These all have the footing course of self and pride, and nothing for the Cornerstone that alone can allow our house to endure for eternity.

Israel as a nation and people will acknowledge the Lord Jesus as the Head of the corner. That is part of God’s great plan for His earthly people. That wonderful time will come, despite the nation’s lengthy rejection that persists into our day. But the Lord Jesus is not waiting until that time to claim His place as Head of the corner. Among those who have received Him, He holds that position now. Among little companies that gather to His Name, He holds that position now. As believers, we acknowledge that everything we have and are for eternity is based on Him and Him alone. As Assemblies that gather to His name, everything is based on His presence, His lordship, and His provision.

The One Who is the Head of the corner deserves our praise and appreciation as we recognize what He has done for us. – Jim MacIntosh