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Daily devotional

July 14 - Put to death the old man

“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth:” - Colossians 3:5a 

Scripture reading: Colossians 3:5-7

With the Heidelberg Catechism (LD 38), we confess about the Sabbath day, "Every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through His Holy Spirit, and begin in this life the eternal Sabbath."

Today should be the start of putting what Paul now commands the Colossians into practice. He speaks first to their present struggles with heresy and such and calls them to set their minds on the things of Christ and then to remember where they came from. They were sinners living in a world that praised sin and rewarded them for lewd behaviour.

But now they were circumcised of heart, baptized into the death of Jesus. If you were to put to death the religious practices of the world, so too would the sins of this worldly flesh die. If it was confirmed that the ceremonial law had served its purpose, the Ten Commandments were still intact as the way to live as people who set their minds on the things above.

I love Sunday worship because it is a great weekly reset. Sins, habits, horrible thoughts, and our nasty imaginations are confronted with the Good News, the reading of the law, and the confession of sins. There, we meet Christ in Word and sacrament; we are challenged to live as new creatures and put to death what Christ died for. Bring your burdens to Christ, bend the knee to Him, and live for His glory and honour.

Suggestions for prayer

Repent and believe. Ask for a heart open to receive forgiveness and worship the Lord. Pray that you will love Him with your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and pray for the members of your congregation and the church worldwide.

Pastor Al Bezuyen is married to Sanya and has been blessed with six children and two grandchildren. He is a Mid-America Reformed Seminary graduate serving at the Zion United Reformed Church of Sheffield, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.

Daily devotional

July 9 - Paul’s shepherd’s heart

“Though I am absent in the flesh, I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.” - Colossians 2:5  Scripture reading: Colossians 2:1-5 It was a struggle for Paul because the desire was deep to lead, guide and pastor the flock in Colosse. Though he had not been there, the news of Christ's work had reached him, and in prayer from the heart of thanksgiving, Paul diligently interceded for this young church. Paul is also a protector and desires that they will not be deceived. We know his reason for the thanksgiving and prayers and his desire for the Colossian church, which would be for their unity and maturity. Knowledge is such an essential part of the Christian walk. The more we learn about God and His Son, the cross, and our forgiveness, the more we can mature to become forgiving individuals and a community of love, faith, and grace. Grace and mercy are known in a community like that. The city of Colosse needed a community like that. And so does your community. God has blessed our cities and towns with churches. Our prayer ought to be for our churches' growth, maturity and doctrinal unity as places of growth, love and forgiveness and for those who live in the full assurance of grace in a graceless world. As Peter would write about, Paul's prayer and desire were for growth in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we head further into the letter, we will see Paul's instruction and guidance to maturity and wisdom. We hope that this will be beneficial for us, too. Suggestions for prayer Please pray for your church community's growth, unity and maturity. Pray that you and your church will bless your community, and pray for your local community that the Gospel will be preached and blessed. Pastor Al Bezuyen is married to Sanya and has been blessed with six children and two grandchildren. He is a Mid-America Reformed Seminary graduate serving at the Zion United Reformed Church of Sheffield, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

July 8 - Rejoicing in suffering for preaching

“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God,” - Colossians 1:24--25 Scripture reading: Colossians 1:24-29 It was a fantastic time in world history, let alone church history. Jesus sent men into communities that had never heard the good news. Walls were falling, hearts were changing, and the Kingdom of God was growing. Although Paul is likely in prison while writing to the Colossians, he can rejoice. The Lord fills Paul with joy as the gospel goes forward and the mystery is revealed. What is that mystery? Paul writes that it is Christ in you, the hope of glory. The Greeks loved their glory, power politics, the arts and culture. The Jews dreamed of a past glory of a Davidic Kingdom. How many dream of glory and fame today? But what is genuine glory? It is faith! It is Christ in us. The love of God gives us hope both for this life and for eternity. Yes, Paul can rejoice in a prison cell! You are part of Jesus's mission to the world. We give and pray for missions. We call and pray for preachers who bring the Word. If this preaching has changed you, your life will show it. Your life must show it. We have been perfected and are being perfected by the cross of Christ, which Paul preached then and the church preaches now. We could hear it yesterday by God's grace. We rejoice. Let us pray for men to be called to continue the joyful work of preaching the good news of the death and resurrection of the Son of God that the mystery may be made known to all the world. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord will give many opportunities for the gospel to be preached this week. Ask that He will provide you with an opportunity to share the Gospel. Finally, pray that the Lord will create and call men to be preachers. Pastor Al Bezuyen is married to Sanya and has been blessed with six children and two grandchildren. He is a Mid-America Reformed Seminary graduate serving at the Zion United Reformed Church of Sheffield, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

July 7 - The gospel preached to you

“…if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” - Colossians 1:23  Scripture reading: Colossians 1:21-23 Do you still look forward to it? Is there joy in you going to church today and hearing a sermon? By the Word preached, the church in Colosse was formed. There was no church but God sent the preachers, the good news was heard, and people confessed Jesus had risen from the dead and is Lord! (Romans 10). Preaching is foolishness to the world, but to us, it is food and water for life. Come to the Saviour, He gently calls you, hear the Shepherd's voice—go to church and worship by listening and drinking freely of the water of life. Do you still look forward to it? As a church, we are free to assemble and preach to the world and, as the children of God, listen to it. In other places that will happen under duress, in hiding, in prisons and concentration camps, in secret rooms and basements. But it will happen. It will happen today in bombed-out buildings in Ukraine, in communist and Islamic kingdoms and places unknown to many, but God. Jesus will not be stopped. Today, we hope many of the yet-to-be-called elect will hear the good news that brings us joy and peace. We may go to church as the reconciled enemies and sinners, saved by grace, and the impure made pure in the blood of Jesus. Go to church today and praise God from whom all blessings flow. Suggestions for prayer Pray for your church today as it assembles to worship God. Ask for a blessing upon the means of grace: the preaching and sacraments, and pray that many will kneel in the name of Jesus to the glory of God the Father. Pastor Al Bezuyen is married to Sanya and has been blessed with six children and two grandchildren. He is a Mid-America Reformed Seminary graduate serving at the Zion United Reformed Church of Sheffield, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

July 6 - The head of the church

"And He is the head of the body, the church, the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." - Colossians 1:18-20 Scripture reading: Colossians 1:18-20 Through Jesus, the world was created, and by Him, the creation, fallen and broken because the first image bearer broke with God, but will be restored, reconciled and renewed. God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son to redeem it, as John tells us in chapter 3 of his gospel. Paul told the Romans that the creation is waiting for the sons of God to be adopted and for the glorious liberty of the sons of God (Romans 8). The firstborn of creation is the head of the church. He rules all things by the will of the Father and the Spirit of wisdom for the well-being of the church so that all things work for the good of those who love the Father in Christ Jesus (Romans 8). He gave His body and blood for the complete remission of all our sins. Again, we read that word peace, which is well with our souls. Part of the way He rules us as head of His beloved bride is to call us into the presence of His people and worship God. He calls us to assemble as Christ's body to worship and receive hope and comfort. As we hear the preaching of Christ and Him crucified, perhaps accompanied by the sacraments that focus our attention on Christ and His completed work, give God all praise and honour due to His name. Prepare your hearts and souls! Suggestion for prayer Pray for the men preparing to bring the Word tomorrow so that Christ and Him crucified may be boldly declared, and the people of God challenged to repent and believe. Pray for the true worship of God around the world in freedom and even in persecution. Pastor Al Bezuyen is married to Sanya and has been blessed with six children and two grandchildren. He is a Mid-America Reformed Seminary graduate serving at the Zion United Reformed Church of Sheffield, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

July 1 - Introduction to Colossians

The meditations for this month are based on Paul's letter to the Colossians. Much like his letter, written from prison, to the Ephesians, the first part of the letter concerns theology. Addressing some of the heresy that had infiltrated the Colossian church, Paul, by the spirit, reveals the supremacy of Christ over all things for the church and as our only and sufficient Redeemer. The second part of the letter deals more with practical theology regarding how we ought to live as new creatures in Christ, both individually and as a church. We will also look at Paul's pastoral theology in terms of preaching and preachers. I have kept the daily reading short, as I hope you can take some time to memorize these verses for the day and take them along with you. I pray that Christ's beauty will inspire us and want to represent Him as the body of the redeemed and converted. Grace and peace to you “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” - Colossians 1:1-2  Scripture Reading: Colossians 1:1-2 What god is like our God? Other gods demand, want and ask for things, but our God gives freely in Jesus Christ. Paul and Timothy send the saints in Colosse greetings from God with grace and peace. We think for a moment when the Angel of the Lord brought God's good news to Gideon. In Judges 6, we read how Gideon was filled with fear when the Angel of the Lord brought the sign of fire and disappeared. Then God told him, "Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die." When John meets Jesus, as we read in Revelation 1, he falls, but Jesus says, "Don't be afraid." When the Father comes to His own, in this case by letter, through the Word, that is, Jesus by the pen of Paul and Timothy, He comes in the grace and peace He provides. He puts us at ease, though we know our guilt, which causes us to fear before a holy God. "Grace and peace," He says. Who is a god like ours? There is no other! Why do we deserve this shalom? We don't, of course, but, that the Father has sent the Son to make atonement on the cross for our sins. With that grace, the letter is full of faith, love, hope, challenge and even rebuke. He is the Lord our God Who has brought us out of the bondage of our sin. Let us not forget to give Him the glory for this freedom! Canadians celebrate Canada Day today. Let us glorify God for the shalom (peace) that Canada is still able to celebrate and pray for those who long to have God’s shalom in their country. Suggestion for prayer Thank God for the freedom still enjoyed in North America and in other countries. Pray for a tremendous outpouring of grace and peace throughout the world and give God the glory due to His name. Pastor Al Bezuyen is married to Sanya and has been blessed with six children and two grandchildren. He is a Mid-America Reformed Seminary graduate serving at the Zion United Reformed Church of Sheffield, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 30  - Jesus with thy church abide 

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” - Jude 24–25 Scripture reading: Nehemiah 13:23-30 This is no “happily ever after” ending. The joy of chapter 12 would be a fine ending to the book of Nehemiah, but the Christian life is full of ups and downs until the day when Christ returns. You might have made changes in your life and progress in spiritual growth, but there are still areas that need work. Nehemiah comes back and sees areas of compromise, and he is quick to act. While I would never recommend Nehemiah’s example of hair-pulling and beating, his actions were not out of line with that time. Hair-pulling was an act of humiliation. People needed to see the wrong in mixed marriages and the need to live and raise their children in the ways of God. They must not lose their identity as God’s people. Careless of their spiritual future, people today want to live a life that suits them. We need correction to seek our life and blessing in what the Lord gives, not in chasing our dreams. Nehemiah corrected the people and he prayed. His ministry is coming to a close – and he kept on praying. When we go to church and the Word of God corrects us and makes us uncomfortable, give thanks. Let it correct us and bring us to seek our blessing and our peace in the Lord Jesus. What hope do we have against the enemies of our sin, the world, and the devil? The battle continues on. We have a sure and perfect hope as we cling to Christ Jesus our Lord. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the church and her members. “Jesus, with Thy church abide; be her Saviour, Lord, and Guide, while on earth her faith is tried: we beseech Thee, hear us.” Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 29 - Sickening compromise 

“They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”” - Jude 18  Scripture reading: Nehemiah 13:3-22 Compromise, compromise, compromise. When someone thinks they don’t really need to apply the Word of God to their life, there is something sick and wrong. They are not walking in the truth and then the next generation will not learn the truth. Tobiah the Ammonite should not have been allowed in the temple courts. J.I. Packer writes, “Tobiah was a worldly-wise formalist and pragmatist; he would not let his faith affect his personal or professional life.” We see these types in the world. They bring Satan’s lies, telling us not to trust God’s Word, but to follow what we feel in the moment. Perhaps you have friends, co-workers, teachers, or family members that don’t care about following God and instead pressure you to compromise? Don’t give them a place of influence, lest they lead you to be like them. More compromise. Israel neglected the house of God and was failing to honour the Sabbath. Thankfully, Nehemiah had zero tolerance for this sort of compromise. If our faith is healthy, we will seek first the Kingdom of God and seek to obey God’s Word above all. We are prone to forget and misplace our priorities, and the work of turning from sin and living for God is never done. Thank the Lord that He sent servants like Nehemiah to show us our wrong. Thank the Lord that He sent Christ, Who shows us we are sick, and offers the cure we need through His blood which atones for our sin and His Spirit which makes us new. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for those who have the love and courage to correct you when needed. Ask God to help you love holiness more than your own pleasures. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 28 - Definite conversion

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” - Romans 12:11 Scripture reading: Nehemiah 13:1-3, Deuteronomy 23:3-8 Being converted to God means we must both embrace what is good and reject what is bad. Some people have an easy time singing in the choir, but they have a hard time putting away wicked and greedy habits. The law of God makes clear that we cannot serve two masters or hold two identities. The law of God commanded the Israelites to live distinct from the Moabites and the Ammonites because the Moabites and Ammonites had despised God and His Word. They would lead Israel down a path of constant compromise. So, with trust and obedience to the Word of God, the Israelites exclude those of foreign descent. Now this does not mean everyone with foreign descent would be excluded. The most famous Moabite was a woman named Ruth. She renounced her old ways, came into Israel, and was honoured with being one of the mothers of Christ. Those who renounce the foreign identity and fully embrace the identity of the people of Israel could stay – of course they could. However, those who wanted to be both the people of God and also of the people of the world, they had to go. Conversion means a clear turning from the old ways. We cannot love and pursue sin, while also calling ourselves part of the holy people of God. Our devotion to the Lord includes separating ourselves from compromise and from those who push us toward compromise. Our identity must be firmly and fully in Christ Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you to identify things in your life that push you to compromise. Pray for the Lord to help you persistently turn away from sin and toward thankful obedience. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 23 - O Jesus I have promised 

“Join with their brothers, their nobles, and enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law that was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord and his rules and his statutes.” - Nehemiah 10:29 Scripture reading: Nehemiah 10:1-23 If the Lord is our King and He has graciously brought us into His kingdom, then it is only right that we aim to walk in His ways. As Israel learned their history and their identity as covenant people, they realized that they needed to make a commitment. That commitment had to show itself with particular action. It showed in who they married, how they observed the Sabbath, and in how they handled their money. Some call this legalism. But legalism is when we think that what we do causes us to be accepted by God. Israel had learned that the joy of the Lord was their strength. God did love them, and now they wanted to respond in love. What about us? Jesus tells us that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. Do we recognize the call to action? Looking at the vows Israel made, we notice these are commitments that affect relationships and spending habits – sensitive stuff. A young guy is dating a girl, and she is really nice and funny and they get along great, but he has to break it off because she does not fear God. Business opportunities come, but they are turned down because they involve work on the Sabbath. These things can be difficult. But we need to trust in the Lord. But failing to follow God’s Word brings trouble. Let us seek to always go where God leads, knowing that one day we will receive an inheritance from the Father’s mighty hand. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord helps you to renew your commitment to Him. Ask the Lord to expose areas of weakness and to help you to treasure Him above all. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 22 - The peace of knowing who we are 

“And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” - Luke 23:41  Scripture reading: Nehemiah 9:33-38 This long confession of sin by the Israelites in Nehemiah 9 has so much to teach us about a relationship with God and trusting God in this life. When we know our good God and know our own ugly sin, can we still trust God, even when He allows trouble and hardship for us? The Israelites knew the horrors of war; many lost grandparents, aunts and uncles and grew up with deep wounds due to the exile into Babylon. When we face such things the temptation is to be bitter and to grumble. But notice their confession in verse 33: “Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully, and we have acted wickedly.” There is neither entitlement nor anger against God, but trust. God was mercifully working in this. What we need is for the Lord to help us be at peace in our situations and to trust His mercy going forward. What do we do when we feel we have been wronged, when we feel we are not getting a fair deal, when we suspect God does not care about us and our situation? Remember who we are and who our God is. Don’t judge God by our perceptions and feelings. Rather, trust God. He is holy. This means God is not sloppy in the ways He cares for His children; God does not put His children through trials for no reason. God is good and wise, and we are like restless children. When we are still and know He is our God, we can have peace. Suggestions for prayer Pray for peace in your own heart. Take time also to pray for people around you who have faced serious hardships, that they may continue to trust God. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 21 - The assurance of knowing who we are

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” - Hebrews 4:16  Scripture reading: Nehemiah 9:9-32 “We have been through a lot together.” A 90 year-old man told me about his deceased brother. They lived through the war in the Netherlands; they served together in the Dutch army, moved to Canada and started a business together. A great history can tell a lot about a relationship. The Israelites were rebuilding their identity as the people of God, and in doing so they had learned that they have been through a lot together; or rather, God had brought them through a lot. This gave them assurance. Look back at the past, look at what happened when the people sinned and at what happened when they sought the Lord. And why was God merciful? Because He is righteous; because He is faithful to Himself. God in His mercy punished, but did not destroy His people. In relentless mercy, God sent His Son to bear the punishment that we deserve, so that through faith in Jesus we can confidently lay claim to God and the promises He gives to His children. Galatians 3:7 says that it is those of faith who are sons of Abraham. This means by believing in God and His promises; this is our history too. Let us learn and recall and retell the old stories. May our prayers reflect this understanding and our faith be assured. Though we have come through many dangers and have frequently wandered, in Christ, we can boldly approach the throne. God would no sooner deny us than He would deny His own Son – Great is His faithfulness! Suggestions for prayer Pray that your faith may be strengthened by understanding that God will comfort you with the knowledge that you belong to Him, because He has been merciful. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 20 - The humility of knowing who we are 

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.” - Romans 7:18a Scripture reading: Nehemiah 9:1-8 When the law was read in chapter 8, the people were told not to weep. Then the Feast of Booths was celebrated with much joy. It is vital for God’s people to rejoice in what the Lord is doing. But even the believer who is assured of God’s love needs to be keenly aware of his sin, own that sin, and confess it to God. The law is read. Then for three hours the people confess their sin and worship God. How can confession and worship go together? Wouldn’t the confession discourage them and leave them feeling worthless? No, not when they remember who they are in the Lord. Confession and worship go together when we honestly confess our sin, knowing the goodness of God that triumphs over our sin. The Bible teaches us to confess our unworthiness and God’s worthiness. Confess our pathetic foolishness and God’s patient faithfulness. Confess how we wandered and how God pursued us. Yes, we have sinned, but we praise God for He is righteous. The Israelites found comfort in the lamb that was offered for their sin. That lamb points to Jesus who was offered that our sins may be removed. It is humbling to think of our sin and of Jesus suffering on the cross to remove our sin and guilt. But we worship, for this is the working of the grace of God. Like Romans 7 ends and Romans 8 begins, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ…. …there is therefore now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Suggestions for prayer Spend some time confessing sin in your heart and life; then as you consider God’s grace (in prayer or song), praise God for His amazing love. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 15 - What if God’s servant lies? 

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” - 1 John 4:1  Scripture reading: Nehemiah 6:10-14, Psalm 31 If the only thing Nehemiah fears is the Lord, then why not pay a prophet to lead Nehemiah astray? This was the new strategy to bring Nehemiah to ruin. If he would go into the temple, he would sin against God, he would lose the support of the people, and he would no longer be able to lead. And what a good strategy. Nehemiah did not know Shemaiah was paid to mislead him. These verses remind us to know the law of God and to test all other words against it. On the surface the advice seems good and wise. One might say that it is better to go into the temple than to die. But Nehemiah knew that what Shemaiah told him was against God’s Word. I have heard ministers and elders give terrible advice. Essentially, they told certain young people that holiness does not matter, and that they may sin that grace may abound. Bible teachers in schools and colleges have advised their students to ignore the Word of God and go by what the world says instead. This advice, if followed, would lead people to eternal condemnation in hell. This is serious stuff. This is why Nehemiah prays, placing his opponents and the false prophets into the hands of God. Again, we are reminded to look to the Lord and lean on the Lord, trusting our troubles to Him. The refuge we need is in the Lord. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the goodness of His Word. Pray for preachers and teachers of God’s Word, that they will never compromise in their calling. Pray for wisdom and discernment to tell the difference between true and false prophets. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 14 - Conspiracy! 

“Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” - Psalm 144:1 Scripture reading: Nehemiah 6:1-9 Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Doing the work of the Lord and fighting sin is good, sweet and satisfying. Yet, it is not without trouble and opposition. The book of Nehemiah makes this plain. Nehemiah was following God’s lead every step of the way, and yet it seems that every step of the way there was opposition and trouble of one sort or another. Here comes the three malicious opponents to the work. They flatter Nehemiah by inviting him to an important meeting. But Nehemiah knows they want to harm him, so he deflects the enticement. Then they shift strategies and claim Nehemiah is building the wall in defiance to Persia and wants to make himself king. This is all a lie. Have you ever been accused of having wicked motives for doing something good? The intent of the accusation was to make Nehemiah afraid to do what is right. They will make him fear he is doing something wrong, and fear facing the wrath of King Artaxerxes. It is in these times we need to know that we answer first to God. Fear the Lord, not people nor mobs! Looking to the Lord, Nehemiah is able to call the bluff and press on with the work. And how does he do that? Again, by coming to God in prayer. We are so weak, we are vulnerable and we often fear the worst. But our God is a rock, and in Him we are strengthened. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the victory He has already won for us through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Pray for strength as you battle the three enemies of the world, our own flesh, and the devil. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 13 - Grace-filled leadership 

“And whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” - Matthew 20:27–28 Scripture reading: Nehemiah 5:14-19 There are many politicians who don’t have a generous bone in them, and yet they speak loudly on the need for the rich to share. We sense their hypocrisy and are outraged. It happens in homes too. If a father demands his children always tell the truth, but lies to save himself trouble – it is a shame. Now, no human leader is perfect, but we should expect leaders, husbands, elders and politicians to be examples. We see that in Nehemiah. These verses look at over 10 years of his role, and we notice a few things. First, Nehemiah refused to be a burden. He could have placed a tax on the people for food for himself and his servants. But he did not need it, so he didn’t ask. Second, he regularly fed and served others. From his own supply he showed hospitality to those in need. Nehemiah was keenly aware of the burden that was on them and laboured to support them. In this we see the ministry of Christ. He was rich beyond splendour and because of His love for lost sinners like us, He became poor. King of kings, Jesus came to serve. Do we recognize this service? Do we know that in following Jesus we carry a burden that is light? Jesus is the Good King that we need. And knowing this, then we are able to show grace to others and bless those weighed down and in need. We can focus less on serving ourselves and more on serving those around us. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for the Good King you have in Jesus Christ. Ask the Lord to look upon you with favour and bless the good you have done for those around us. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 12 - Trouble at home 

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” - 1 John 3:17 Scripture reading: Nehemiah 5:1-13, Deuteronomy 23:19 The wall was going up, but things were not well at home. While fathers went to the front lines of building the wall, mothers had to make do without income. Land was mortgaged, and children were being sold in order to buy food. Those lending the money were supporting the work of the wall, but at the same time they were greedily taking advantage of the circumstances of the poor. Do you sense the injustice? Can you see the division that would be forming? There is nothing wrong with wealth, but getting richer by taking advantage of the poor is plain wrong. Disgraceful. What good is a nice wall when the people are filled with greed or bitterness? Angry at the injustice, Nehemiah calls the people to walk with fear of the Lord. A child will not bully his sibling if his parent is right there. So why should we take advantage of others when God sees all? Everything we have comes from God. God loves the one who is oppressed, and God is able to take our livelihood from us in a moment. We cannot try to build our own kingdom and at the same time seek first God’s kingdom. What is the answer to injustice? Grace. When the lenders stopped charging interest, when we show the grace of God to others, then hearts are blessed. Bitterness is replaced with thankfulness. The nations around should see not only protective walls, but a community that shows the love of God. Suggestions for prayer When others are inconsiderate toward you, pray for grace to know your life is in God’s hands. Pray that God will help you know His love and patience to help you be generous to others, especially those in need. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 7 - The body of Christ 

“Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel.” - Nehemiah 3:1  Scripture reading: Nehemiah 3:1-32 Psalm 133 says it is good and pleasant when brothers dwell in unity. Here brothers (and sisters – vs 12) work in beautiful unity. A priest is the first to put blisters on his hands. Men of Jericho (this is not their town) come to help, as well as rulers, perfumers, gold smiths, some with their families, some with people of their trade. These are not professionals, but God writes their names down. This work is noted; it is done for the glory of God We don’t read about grumbling. No one says, “Why do they get to do the sheep gate, and we have to do the dung gate?” This is work God has given them. They do it with God’s help. God has worked in their hearts and strengthened them for the task. For us, work needed in the church and in our own hearts and lives is not a one-man job. God has given us community. God intends for us to grow with other believers. 1 Peter 2 starts with a call for us to turn away from all sorts of sin (think of the disgrace of walls in ruin), and then it says we come to Christ, the living stone. We are (as verse 5 says) “being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” When we commit to Christ and walk with other believers, we make a statement for ourselves, to God, and for the world to see; that God is at work among us. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for those who labour alongside you in the fight against sin and in the task of serving the Lord. Ask the Lord to help you cheerfully use your gifts to serve Him. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 6 - Through the thresher 

“Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem.” - Psalm 51:18  Scripture reading: Psalm 122:1-9 What is so important about the walls? In the book of Ezra, we see the temple being rebuilt, wasn’t that enough? When our family lived in Iowa, we put a fence around our garden to stop the rabbits from eating the beans and lettuce. Living in Northern BC, we talk about putting a fence around our apple trees to keep the bears from eating the apples and wrecking the trees. The fence protects something important. Nehemiah was set on repairing the walls because walls mean perseverance, walls mean a secure future and protection. When you bring gifts to the temple, walls mean you don’t have to worry about thieves breaking in. Walls can ensure that the worship of God and the learning of God is not trampled by the enemies of the kingdom of God. When the walls are strong, it often means things inside the walls are well too. Are there things like this that we need in our lives? Things that some might say are not absolutely necessary to have a relationship with God, but without them, our relationship with God is fragile. Think about (or discuss): What do you need to keep walking with faith in Jesus Christ? What holds you accountable to God’s Word? What do you have that draws a line for that which opposes the faith saying, it can’t enter here? What protects your worship of God and ensures your children will be handed the same faith that you firmly cling to? Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for the protections He has given us and His church. Ask God to help you see what is needed in your life so that your faith perseveres against the assaults that are sure to come.  Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 5 - Troublemakers 

“But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?”” - Nehemiah 2:19 Scripture reading: Nehemiah 2:9-10,17-20 Repairing and rebuilding the wall is hard enough without opposition, accusation and mockery. This is true also in the Christian life: it is hard enough to be fighting sin and temptation, to be thankfully and humbly serving the Lord when there is no opposition. But it will come. You turn away from selfish desires and people say, “Why beat yourself up, it does no good.” Or if you are striving to be patient with a difficult person, people might tell you, “You are a fool to even try.” We live in a time when the world says we are better off ignoring God than following God. Today, we meet people who don’t mind the church as long as she is insignificant and does nothing. You might have friends who don’t mind that you are a Christian as long as your Christianity is meaningless. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshom at worst hated Israel and at best hated Israel for being a holy nation. They wanted Israel to be owned and swallowed up by the other nations. Today people want the church to be swallowed up by the world and live by the ways of the world, and the Christian to be swallowed up by sin, living for the idols the world lives for. In these times we need to know Christ has come to us and is with us for a good reason. The whole world might stand against us, but when we are doing the work of God and serving His Kingdom, we will not be put to shame. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to strengthen you with His presence and to fix your eyes on His will so that you can serve the Lord faithfully even as you face opposition. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 4 - Examining the damage 

“Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode.” - Nehemiah 2:12 Scripture reading: Nehemiah 2:9-18 On June 1st, we asked what our priorities are. Maybe you have realized areas where you have been living for the wrong things and, as a result, your life is a mess. So like Nehemiah, start with prayer and confession, asking for God’s help, and then roll up your sleeves and face the work before you. Some people pray, but that is all they do. Nehemiah saw the disgrace and went to see what needed to be done. Nehemiah was not interested in mere appearances. He would not put new paint on a rusty car without first removing and repairing the rust. Nehemiah carefully and secretly surveyed the damage so he could take account of what needed to be done. In doing this, Nehemiah shows us the work of Jesus. Revelation 2:1 tells us that Jesus Christ walks among the seven golden lampstands (which are His churches). This is good. Jesus walks among His church. Jesus sees where there is disgrace, and He knows what the needs are. As we struggle, let us look to the Lord Jesus who knows the difficulties we face, to also supply, strengthen and restore our lives and His church. With the help of Christ, will you address areas of trouble and disgrace? Though it may be ugly and the task may seem impossible, keep your faith fixed on the good hand of God to strengthen you for His work. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord strengthen you to look at what is in disgrace in your heart, to help you consider why it is so, what needs to be done, and how the Lord will help you.  Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 30 - Of pots and kettles 

“Just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” - 2 Peter 3:15b-16 Scripture reading: Ephesians 3:1-10 When it seems to us that person A is as guilty of what they accuse person B of, we call it ‘the pot calling the kettle black.’ There are things in 2 Peter that are ‘hard to understand.’ Nevertheless, it is comforting to hear what Peter says about Paul’s writings, because there are some parts of Paul’s letters that are tricky to understand and interpret. Perhaps one of the more obvious examples of this is Romans 11 and the place of Israel in God’s plan of salvation. Paul says that there is a partial hardening of Israel “until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in.” But they will be once again grafted into Christ, “and in this way all Israel will be saved.” There have probably been more words written about what this means and how and when it will happen than of any other part in the Bible. An important principle of Bible interpretation is that we must let the plain interpret the less plain. And in this way, Peter helps us understand Paul, because he explains that Christ will not return until every last Gentile or Jew, whom God has chosen in Christ, comes to faith in Christ. And so, it does not matter if we can’t quite work out all the details of exactly how this works out and when, so long as we believe that all the elect will come to faith in Christ before He returns. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His Word, and pray for humility and insight when it comes to hard-to-understand passages. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 29 - A call to evangelism 

“And count the patience of our Lord as salvation.” - 2 Peter 3:15a   Scripture reading: Matthew 28:16-20 In relation to the return of Christ, we have already seen that He will not return until the full number of His elect have come to faith in Christ. What this means is that if God had decided to just be done with it and send Christ back in 1925, none of us would have been born and none of us would have gotten to enjoy eternal life! But salvation is not just about our coming to faith, it also includes sanctification, as we saw earlier. The patience of God gives us time to grow in godliness, to become more and more like Jesus (Romans 8:29), to experience more of His equipping grace and power. But this reality has implications also for evangelism. As was just said, Christ will not return until the last of those whom God has chosen to salvation come to faith and He has accomplished all that He has planned and purposed for them. Well, Christ has not come back yet, which means …? That there are more out there who must still come to faith. And how do sinners come to faith? Romans 10:17 tells us: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” This is a task that belongs to all of us. What a wonderful and powerful encouragement to share the gospel with others – maybe they are one whom the Lord will bring to salvation through your sharing of the gospel! Suggestions for prayer Pray for courage and eagerness to tell others the good news of salvation in Christ, that comes through repentance and faith. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 28 - We can hasten the coming of the day of God!

“Waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,” - 2 Peter 3:12a  Scripture reading: Acts 17:31 Hastening means ‘to hurry’ or ‘to speed up.’ Picture a time when Mum or Dad announced a family trip to the park when the lounge and bedrooms were tidy. And the tidying went very slowly at first, until Dad said, “The sooner all this is tidied up, the sooner we will go!” Then everyone got really busy! This was Dad trying to hasten the time of departure, to bring it about sooner than might otherwise have been the case. What we see in verse 12 is that pursuing holinesses and godlinesses hastens the coming of the Lord. Isn’t that striking?! If you love the Lord Jesus and desire to show your thankfulness to Him for your salvation, then every act of devotion to Him, and every effort to resist temptation, and every choice made to do what pleases your Father in heaven, hastens or speeds up the day of Christ’s return! Now, I know what Calvinists are thinking – but isn’t God sovereign? Doesn't everything happen according to His plan? And doesn’t Acts 17:31 say that God “has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness”? Yes. All this is true. But we cannot let that cancel out the call to pursue holinesses and godlinesses, which hasten the coming of the day of the Lord. This is one of those wonderful mysteries that we simply must affirm and celebrate. Let us heed the call to intentional Christian living. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for an ever-deepening thankfulness for Christ’s person and work. Ask Him to cause this to lead you to a deeper obedience. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 27 - The new heavens and new earth 

“But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” - 2 Peter 3:13  Scripture reading: Isaiah 65:17-25 When believers die, their souls go immediately to be with Christ in heaven (Luke 23:43). But after the Day of Judgment, our resurrected and glorified bodies, having been reunited with our souls, will be welcomed into the eternal kingdom. 2 Peter helps us to see that the eternal kingdom will be a new heaven and new earth. Revelation 5:9-10 says of believers: “They shall reign on the earth.” So, heaven will not be an ‘up there on the clouds’ existence, but a wonderful ‘on the earth’ existence. It will be a purified and refined version of the earth we stand on today, having been purified by the burning that Peter describes. In other words, sin and all its consequences will be destroyed. The new creation will no longer be in “bondage to decay” (Romans 8:21). There will no longer be tears or death or mourning or pain (Revelation 21:3). As one author said, “Christ will renew the world to make it a fitting dwelling place for His renewed people.” When we visit friends who have had their house renovated and upgraded, we typically say something like, “Wow! I love what you've done with this place!” And with the greatest of reverence, that will surely be our reaction in the new heavens and new earth, Lord, I love what you have done with the place! But this wonderful world is only for those who have received Christ as their Lord and Saviour in this life. Have you done so? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the promise of His return. Ask Him to come quickly! Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 22 - For scoffers will come 

“… knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.” - 2 Peter 3:3-6  Scripture reading: Genesis 1:1-8; 7:17-24 Usually, our confidence that a promise will be kept has a lot to do with the one who made the promise. For example, if it was our parents, confidence is probably strong. But would we be confident if it were a politician or a used-car salesman? And no offence intended to any politicians or used-car salesmen who may be reading this. The promise that 2 Peter is interested in, is the Bible’s promise that the Lord Jesus will return to earth, bodily (Acts 1:11). What is a problem for many is that in Revelation 22, the Lord Jesus said that He would return “soon” or “quickly.” This part of the promise had led false teachers to scoff at this promise. As they reasoned it, 30 long years had passed since that promise. So, Jesus was clearly not coming back. His return was just a myth. Here we are, over 2000 years later! And none of us would describe 2000 years as soon. So, what Peter does is to argue from the lesser to the greater. He reminds his readers of the global flood of Noah’s day. It was a judgment that came 120 years (Genesis 6:3) after it was promised. Noah preached the coming judgment during that time, but the people scoffed at his warning. But it came. And because it is the same God who made both promises, we may be certain that Jesus Christ will come again, as He promised. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for all those who have taught you that Christ will return. Pray that the Lord would use your witness to help others to be ready for His return. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 21 - Peter’s much-needed reminder 

“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles,” - 2 Peter 3:1-2  Scripture reading: Isaiah 24; Revelation 22:7 I am sure we have all forgotten a long-planned event. Often, it is just the busyness of life that can lead us to forget even things we look forward to. And so, to prevent forgetting, we might put a calendar reminder on our phone. When the reminder pops up, a few days before the planned event, we remember. Well, the Lord Jesus commanded us to “be ready” for His return (Matthew 24:44). And although we may eagerly look forward to that day, because the days roll by, we can easily forget to “be ready.” A simple way to test this is with the following question: If you knew that Jesus was coming back next week, would you suddenly have an urgent list of things to stop doing, start doing, and/or relationships to repair? I am sure we all would. Knowing this, Peter provides his readers with a reminder. His reminder is the predictions and commandments of Scripture. For example, Isaiah 24 is known as ‘the little Book of Revelation.’ The Lord Jesus also gave us parables that were about His return – the foolish virgins and the talents (Matthew 25), and the wedding feast (Matthew 22). The Apostles too, were clear about Judgment Day (Acts 17:31 and 2 Corinthians 5:10). Paul even explained how the return of the Lord Jesus would unfold (1 Thessalonians 4). Even our worship is preparation or ‘practice’ for our life with Him in eternity! May He use it to help us ‘be ready.’ Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for being able to participate in public worship. Ask Him to use it to help us to be ready for His return. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 20 - The dangerous activity of false teachers (part 2)

“What the true proverb says has happened to them: "The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire."” - 2 Peter 2:17-22 Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 4:10-14 Peter completes his identikit sketch of false teachers with two animal illustrations of their dangerous activity. A sick dog, if it is hungry enough, will eat its own vomit. How disgusting! And having taken a bath in clean water, a pig will head straight back to mud and manure for a good wallow. One preacher described the gospel as like a spiritual emetic and laxative. An emetic is a medicine that makes you vomit up the poison or drugs that you have swallowed, and I am sure you know what a laxative does. And in a similar way, the gospel makes us ‘vomit up’ our addictions and habitual bad behaviours. But false teachers basically put addictions and habitual bad behaviours, which is what “sensuality” is, in front of us again and they tell us it’s all OK, and in so doing, they invite us to eat our own vomit. But to listen to them, would be as disgusting as the dogs and pigs described here. Peter was called by the Lord Jesus to feed His sheep. One way that a shepherd feeds and cares for sheep is to steer them away from predators and poison. There will be those who try and lead us away from Christ and the Christian life. But now we know what they look like; we know their warped personality and dangerous activity. May Christ and His way be what we seek. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our salvation. Ask the Lord to raise up a new generation of men who would preach the full counsel of His Word. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 19 - The dangerous activity of false teachers (part 1)

“These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” - 2 Peter 2:17-22   Scripture reading: Ezekiel 34:1-10 Peter continues his identikit sketch of false teachers by exposing their dangerous activity. Storms cause havoc, but at least they bring water that refreshes. False teachers create spiritual havoc, but they do not bring any grace or assurance or hope. In contrast, the preaching of sound doctrine is described in Scripture as like living and clean water (John 7/Ezekiel 36). From it we receive Christ and learn how to live a life that is pleasing to God. It truly cleans and satisfies and revives! But false teachers are not only empty, they are also enslaving. They preach freedom from the law. They say you can live as you please. But this is not freeing; it is enslaving. People just become slaves to their wicked passions. A Scottish minister of many years ago said, “The best preaching is: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and keep the Ten Commandments.” Today, many would accuse him of legalism – preaching salvation by works. But he was not explaining how to be saved, but what the best preaching is. Think of the Great Commission that Christ gave to the church: Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." We are saved by grace alone, through Christ alone, which we receive by faith alone. But we are to present our whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Suggestions for Prayer As we go to the house of the Lord, give thanks for faithful preachers. Ask Him to keep them from error and to exalt Christ. Ask Him also to help us to be doers of His word, and not just hearers. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 14 - The wicked condemned - Portrait two

“if He did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;” - 2 Peter 2:5  Scripture reading: Genesis 6:5-22; 7:10-24 The second portrait of the condemned wicked that Peter reveals is of the wicked world in Noah’s day. The widespread wickedness of that time led to the global flood. Conservative population models suggest that there were likely to have been between 200 million and 1 billion people on the earth in those days. But God did not spare those millions or billion people, instead judging them for their unbelief and wickedness. Those who thought they could ignore God and carry on eating and drinking and committing violence and immorality, without fear of punishment, all perished in a watery grave. Early last year, our manse was flooded when 240mm of rain fell in a day, which was a new record. But as the waters rose, we knew that eventually the rain would stop, because of God’s promise (Genesis 9:15), which it did. But I could not help but think about the flood of Noah’s day, and the terror that came upon the people when the rain did not stop. Peter’s point is that if God did not hold back judgment on millions or a billion, then neither will He hold back judgment on false teachers and those who follow them. So, let us praise God for His promise to never destroy the world as He did then. But every ‘natural disaster’ is another foretaste of Hell, and a warning from God for sinners to repent before the Great Day of Judgment comes. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for opening our eyes to the reality of judgment and bringing us to faith in Christ. Pray that he would use our sharing of the Gospel to awaken others to this reality also. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 13 - The wicked condemned - Portrait one 

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;” - 2 Peter 2:4  Scripture reading: Genesis 6:1-4 Peter’s concluding word about false teachers in verse 3 was that their condemnation and destruction was certain. To demonstrate and illustrate this certainty, as well as to expose the foolishness of their rejection of judgment as unbiblical, Peter pulls back the curtain on three portraits of judgment that are found in the Bible. The first one is the judgment of wicked angels. This could refer to all the fallen angels (Revelation 12:9 & 20:10). Another possibility is a particular group of evil angels who left their heavenly abode and somehow engaged in sexual relations with human women (Genesis 6:1-5 and Jude 6). For this grossly immoral wickedness, they were “committed to chains of gloomy darkness.” I believe that it is this group of evil angels that is in view here. But many good Christians prefer the first interpretation. The key point is that God did not spare even evil angels who rebelled against Him or wickedly intruded into human life. They are already under judgment and an even worse judgment is to come. And just as God’s judgment came to them, so it will come on false teachers and those who follow them. This is a most sobering warning. These angels once stood in the presence of God. So, let none of us fall into pride or arrogance, as though sin and false teaching could never get the better of us. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for humility and discernment. Pray that the Lord bring reformation where it is needed in the church. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 12 - The tactics of false teachers 

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them ... And many will follow their sensuality … And in their greed they will exploit you with false words …” - 2 Peter 2:1-3 Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 3:1-9 You may have heard before that the way that bank-tellers learn to recognize counterfeit money is by regularly handling genuine money. For if you know the real thing well it is easy to spot the fake. Yesterday we saw the importance of being under faithful Bible teaching and having faithful elders. But we are wise, also, to understand the tactics of false teachers. Peter tells us that false teachers “secretly bring in destructive heresies.” Jude talks about them “creeping in unnoticed.” Paul says, in Galatians 2:4, “Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in – who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus.” And in 2 Corinthians 11:13, he said of them, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.” So, they are cunning weasels. Ultimately though, what they teach is contrary to Scripture and Confession. They undermine rather than build up. They promote sensuality rather than sanctification. Peter speaks of them “even denying the Master who bought them.” Some see this as proof that the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is wrong. It is not! These false teachers taught a Saviour Jesus, but not a Master. Thus, their refusal to obey His commandments and the false doctrines that they taught revealed that they were not true believers. In this way, they denied the Master who bought them. May the Lord guard our pulpits from error today and bless us with faithful teachers/teaching. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the preaching and teaching of God’s Word today. Ask the Lord to keep our ministers from error, and to speak His truth through them. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 11 - “There will be false teachers” 

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you…” - 2 Peter 2:1  Scripture reading: Matthew 24:1-13 Can you remember a time at school when you were thinking, “Why do I need to know this?” Well, that is the question of believers that Peter anticipates with the beginning of chapter 2. He has reminded believers of the certainty of the Second Coming and Judgment by appealing to the authority of the Apostles and Scripture. And now, so that there is no doubt about why this doctrine is important, Peter explains why a godly life and maintaining the truth of Jesus’ Second Coming is so important. And the why is false teachers and their devastating impact. In Matthew 24, Jesus spoke about the time between His first and second Coming. He said, “Many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” That warning is what Peter echoes when he says that “there will be false teachers among you,” and that many will follow their destructive heresies and sensuality. Paul said the same thing in 2 Timothy 4:3-4. These truly are sobering words that we do well to heed. To think that this could not happen to us is foolishness. This is why active membership in a local congregation, where elders who take their shepherding responsibilities seriously is so important. We need regular exposure to the truth and warnings about error. We should also do as the Bereans did and examine the Scriptures to see if what we are being taught is so (Acts 17:10-11). Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for elders who take their responsibilities seriously. Thank Him for the privilege of being able to participate in the life of a congregation in freedom. Pray that the Lord would be with our brothers and sisters who do not enjoy these freedoms. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 6 - What is at stake

“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” - 2 Peter 1:8-9  Scripture reading: John 15:1-11 If you have a fruit tree, you will want to see plenty of fruit. And if it produces little or no fruit, it will be pulled out and replaced with another tree. Well, the same is true with spiritual ‘fruit.’ We know from Galatians 5 that the Holy Spirit produces fruit in the believer. Indeed, in John 15, Jesus told us that if a person abides in Him and He in them, they will bear much fruit. We know from Ephesians 4:11-12 also that Christ gave office-bearers to the church that believers might become mature in faith. It follows from all this, then, that there should be fruitfulness and effectiveness in anyone who professes faith in Christ. We should make progress in the gospel. We should be able to look back and see growth in the qualities that we looked at yesterday. And the absence of growth should give us great cause for concern. Now, it can be the case, especially if we have a tender conscience, that we struggle to see our own progress/fruitfulness. That is where other believers can help us. So, be sure to ask other mature believers if they have seen you growing. But if you know and believe that Christ redeemed you “from all lawlessness and for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14), implore the Lord for His help in Christian growth. Suggestions for prayer Confess those times when there has not been the pursuit of growth. Give thanks that your salvation is secure in Christ. Ask the Lord to give you the desire to grow in fruitfulness. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 5 - The ‘qualities’ we must cultivate 

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue … knowledge … self-control … steadfastness … godliness … brotherly affection, and … love.” - 2 Peter 1:5-7  Scripture reading: Colossians 3:1-17 The false teachers of Peter’s day engaged in and encouraged a sensual lifestyle. They taught a cheap grace and were not concerned with holy living. Many other New Testament letters address the opposite extreme, which is trying to earn or keep salvation through obedience to the law. Both views are wrong. What the Bible continually emphasizes is that because of our position, as adopted children of God, in Christ, by grace, through faith, therefore, we must … And the ‘must’ in our passage is that we “make every effort to…” Later on, in verse 10, it is “be all the more diligent to” and “practice these qualities.” No one has ever ended up as a concert pianist, accidentally, or without any effort. It takes many hours of practice to become accomplished at anything. So it is with holy living, we are called to concentrated effort, zeal, and diligent ‘practice.’ To the faith that we already possess, by grace and by the Spirit’s power, we must diligently seek to add virtue – goodness/excellence (Philippians 4:8), knowledge (correct and experiential), self-control – saying ‘No!’ to worldly passions (Proverbs 25:28), steadfastness – spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:11-14), godliness – Christ-like behaviour (1 Peter 2:12), brotherly affection – love ALL your brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 5:1), including the ‘hard-to-love’ ones, and love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). May the Lord use the faithful preaching of His Word today to cause us to grow in godliness. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for faithful preaching. Pray for your minister and the preaching and teaching ministry in your congregation. Ask Him to also bless your fellowship with believers, that it too may lead to growth. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 4 - The believer’s privileged position 

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” - 2 Peter 1:3-4  Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:3-14 There are many passages in Scripture that describe the believer’s privileged position. Privilege has become something of a dirty word in our day and age, but it shouldn’t be. We do not deserve God’s favour. But by His grace, because of Christ’s work, we possess “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). Peter describes this as “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” He tells us that we have been called to the “glory and excellence” of God, and that we have “His precious and very great promises.” He even says that we “become partakers of the divine nature”! As born-again ones, the image of God is restored in us in the full sense (Ephesians 4:24). We are being made more and more like the Lord Jesus (Romans 8:30). We are adopted children of God (Romans 6), and one day the Lord Jesus will take us home to the place He has prepared for us (John 14:2). This is astonishing! We should burst out in praise as we meditate on these realities. Why this is so vital and important is all that follows in 2 Peter. Peter is about to describe the hard work of Christian living. We will/can only commit to this life if we know for certain that we already possess “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” And we do! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for every spiritual blessing. Name each of them as you read them in passages like this. For, just as we ought to confess particular sins, particularly (Westminster Confession of Faith Ch. 15.5), so we should praise God for particular blessings, particularly. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 3 - The importance of correct knowledge 

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” - 2 Peter 1:2 Scripture reading: Hosea 4:1-6 When we send a card or an email, we sometimes write “best wishes” or “all the best” on the bottom. Regardless of how sincere we might be, however, there is not really anything we can do to bring that about. Peter desired that believers enjoy the grace and peace of God, in abundance. Grace is God’s undeserved favour, and peace is the absence of conflict, turmoil and doubt, and the presence of unity, harmony and confidence. But this was not Peter’s equivalent of our “best wishes.” For Peter was an apostle of Jesus Christ. His words were written with the inspiration and authority of the Holy Spirit. Thus, his words contained the power to convey grace and peace to believers. How? “in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” In other words, the Holy Spirit uses our study of the Word of God to work grace and peace in us and through us. The importance of correct knowledge is a central theme of Peter’s letter. False teachers were a problem in Peter’s day, and the Scriptures tell us that there will always be false teachers. What we need then is correct knowledge. We need it as an anchor for faith, as ‘glasses’ that help us recognize error, and as a guide for life. We get this knowledge only by Word and Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Confess any failures to pursue growth in knowledge. Thank the Lord for His abundant grace and peace to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord. Ask that you may grow in this knowledge. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 28 - The Holy Spirit and worship

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” - Acts 2:42  Scripture reading: Acts 2:42-47 Earlier this month we heard Jesus promise the disciples in the Upper Room that they would receive the Holy Spirit, and after His resurrection Jesus instructed them to stay in Jerusalem and await the Spirit’s coming (Acts 1:4,5). Then on Pentecost Sunday, as the apostles were all together with many others, the Holy Spirit came upon them. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, stood up and preached his first sermon and 3000 souls were added to the church that day. They too were filled with the Spirit and were baptized. But what happened after that? What did these 3000 baby Christians do? Acts 2:42 is instructive, teaching us what to expect when the Spirit is present. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. In the Greek it comes out more clearly that they continually devoted themselves. Where the Spirit is present, so also is a thirst for God’s Word. The early church hungered and thirsted for teaching. They also devoted themselves to fellowship, to koinonia. They had been brought into the family of God and enjoyed spending time with one another as brothers and sisters in the Lord. Further, they devoted themselves to worship. The “breaking of bread” refers to the Lord’s Supper and “the prayers” suggests specific prayers that were offered as they communally worshipped. As you gather for worship today, be devoted to the preaching and sacraments and to the prayers. Enjoy your fellow church members and visitors. This is healthy, and of the Holy Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Pray that your pastor will preach the Word well today. Pray that the Holy Spirit would work powerfully to make your congregation devoted to spiritual things. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 27 - The fruit of the Spirit - Gentleness

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” - Colossians 3:12  Scripture reading: Colossians 3:1-17 The Greek word for “gentleness” (prautes) in Galatians 5’s fruit of the Spirit is often translated “meekness” as in our Colossians 3 passage today. It is the same word Jesus used in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). It is also the same word He used for Himself when He said, “…Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle (or meek) and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). Some might mistakenly identify meekness with weakness, but that is far from the truth. In fact, one might better say that meekness is “power under control.” It does indeed include gentleness, but it is more. It is used in the New Testament to describe the ability to submit, having a teachable spirit, and having consideration of others. The meek / gentle person is not violent, nor has outbursts of anger. In I Timothy 3, Paul says that one qualification for elders in the church is that they are not violent, but gentle (v. 3). Do you see this fruit in yourself? Are you gentle with others? Paul tells us to “put on” this gentleness and meekness like a garment. And we rejoice that the Holy Spirit is at work in us, smoothing our rough edges and making us gentle. He is conforming us into the image of Christ, who was “gentle and lowly in heart.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will increase the fruit of gentleness in you. Confess when you have been needlessly harsh and lacking in gentleness. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 26 - The fruit of the Spirit - Faithfulness

“…Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” - Revelation 2:10 Scripture reading: Revelation 2:8-11 God is a faithful God Who has kept every promise. Faithfulness is being trustworthy, loyal and dependable. And since our covenant-keeping God is faithful, shouldn’t that also be true of His people? We are being conformed to the image of His Son. We are those in whom the Spirit of God dwells. Sadly, even among professing Christians, we find faithlessness. At their marriage, a man and a woman vow to love and be faithful to each other “till death do us part,” and then later break that vow. Church discipline happens in the church often because someone is unfaithful to their spouse, or unfaithful to their vows made at their profession of faith. This is not of Christ. This is not of the Spirit and should not mark the people of God. The church in Smyrna was a suffering church. They were slandered, poor, and Jesus said they would soon face even more trials and tribulation. But then He said, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” The Holy Spirit is working such faithfulness in you and in me. Dear Christian, I encourage you to be faithful. Be faithful to Christ! Be faithful to your spouse! Be faithful to our word! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit’s fruit of faithfulness will increase in you. Pray for God’s blessing on your marriage and the marriages of your loved ones. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 25 - The fruit of the Spirit - Faithfulness

“It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”- Romans 3:26 Scripture reading: Romans 3:21-31 Yesterday, we considered John’s statement that God is faithful to forgive our sins. But what does he mean when he says that God is also “just” to forgive our sins? To say that God is just is to recognize His infinite righteousness. The justice of God is not an optional thing, but an unchangeable attribute of who God is. He gave righteous laws to humanity and requires them to conform to His moral law. God’s essential and eternal righteousness means He must visit every transgression of that law with punishment. As Paul said, “The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). The Canons of Dort puts it this way: “His justice requires that…the sins we have committed against His infinite majesty be punished with both temporal and eternal punishments, of soul as well as body. We cannot escape these punishments unless satisfaction is given to God’s justice” (2.1). But in His amazing love and mercy, God provided His Son to take our place. Christ bore the punishment we deserve by dying a cursed death on the cross. This sacrifice fulfilled God’s just penalty against our sins, and so John can rightly say that God is just to forgive us our sins. While our forgiveness and salvation highlight the faithfulness of God, He is faithful in so many other ways. He is our heavenly Father who faithfully provides our food, clothing, shelter, and every breath. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that God gave Jesus as a propitiation for all your sins. Thank God for His daily provisions for you. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 20 - The fruit of the Spirit - Patience

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” - Romans 8:28  Scripture reading: Romans 8:18-30 In this world we all need patience. We wait longer than we want in grocery lines, in traffic, for dinner or for a spouse. Most things, in fact, don’t happen according to our schedule. The fourth fruit of the Spirit is patience. Patience is the capacity to wait and to endure without complaining or losing heart. But how does the Spirit cause this fruit to grow in the Christian’s life? I believe it is because He convinces us of important truths about God, transforming us by the renewal of our minds. Understanding and believing these truths help us be patient in adversity: First, the Holy Spirit teaches us to believe that God is sovereign. This means that instead of being a bystander, God is in control, governing all things in His creation. The circumstances of your life, each and every day, are not accidental, but purposeful. Knowing and believing this will affect how you react to various trials of life. Second, God is perfectly wise. This means that God not only has the best purpose, but the best means to accomplish that purpose. He knows the end from the beginning, and the best path to reach that end. Understanding this we patiently endure the hardships. Third, we know that God is a loving God. His plan and purposes for His people are not arbitrary or vindictive but proceed from His love. We can be patient and trust God because, as our passage today reminds us, God is orchestrating everything for our good. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the fruit of patience will increase in you. Pray that the Spirit will convince you of God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and love. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 19 - The fruit of the Spirit - Peace

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” - Isaiah 26:3  Scripture reading: Isaiah 26:1-9 Isaiah 26 prophesies that a song will be sung “in that day,” which is the day of God’s salvation, and the song is a song of praise and joy. The coming of Jesus and His salvation is the fulfillment of this prophecy, and that salvation comes to all who believe in Him. As we noted yesterday, in Christ we have been reconciled to God and are now at peace with Him. But this reconciliation, this objective peace leads to an internal peace. It is a peace, a calm, an inward tranquility believers have because they know they are in the family of God, and their heavenly Father is for them, not against them. It is this blessed fruit of the Holy Spirit that compelled Horatio Spafford to write the hymn “It is Well with My Soul” after learning that his four daughters had been killed in a tragic accident. And this sense of peace, this “shalom,” also affects our relationships. The peaceful believer is inclined to be a peacemaker. Paul tells us in Romans 12:18, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Our natural, sinful inclination can incline us to seek conflict and dwell on disagreements, but the Holy Spirit works in our minds and hearts to live peaceably with all. And this blessed fruit of the Spirit, this peace, “which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Suggestions for prayer Pray for that inward, calming peace that only the Spirit can give. Ask forgiveness for the weak faith that causes anxiety and fear. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 18 - The fruit of the Spirit - Peace

"For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." - Romans 5:10 Scripture reading: Romans 5:1-11 The third fruit of the Spirit is peace. This peace is both the objective peace we have with God and the subjective sense of wellness the believer has while sojourning in this world. And the former is necessary before the latter can be truly experienced. Paul begins Romans 5 by saying, “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This means that all those who are not in Christ are at enmity with God and in rebellion against His Lordship. Paul had made this point in the first three chapters of Romans. And in Psalm 7, David writes: “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; He has bent and readied His bow” (vv. 11, 12). Jonathan Edward’s great sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” very graphically brought out the reality of this enmity and God’s inevitable judgment. But the good news is that God sent His only begotten Son to bear the penalty of our sins on Himself, to be our righteousness, and so turn away the just wrath of God that we deserved. In Christ, we have been reconciled to God. Instead of enemies, we are now children of God, in a relationship of harmony. We have peace with God. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that God, in Christ, has saved you. Give thanks for the Holy Spirit, who applies what Christ has done to and for you. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 17 - The fruit of the Spirit - Joy

“I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” - Habakkuk 3:18b Scripture reading: Habakkuk 3:1-19 When the Bible speaks of our joy, we discover that it is the Christian’s response to all the blessings we have from God. But the wellspring, the fount of joy is our salvation in Jesus Christ. For example, James instructs us to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” (James 1:2). But we cannot be joyful in our trials apart from our salvation in Christ. In Psalm 119, the Psalmist says that he delights in God’s Word, in God’s commands, and in God’s testimonies. But we cannot find joy in God’s revelation without being in Christ. And at the end of Luke’s gospel, just after Jesus’ ascension, we read that His disciples “worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:52). But we cannot worship joyfully apart from being in Christ. Habakkuk was a prophet during very difficult days. In the short, Old Testament book of Habakkuk, the prophet raises complaints to God about the sorry state of affairs in Judah. He is burdened because God seems to be indifferent to the appalling spiritual condition of His people (Habakkuk 1:2-4). But after God answers his complaints, Habakkuk responds with those beautiful words, “I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Is that your joy? God sent His only begotten Son to save you. He is the God of your salvation. Do you take joy in Him? Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit would impress on you His great love for you. So great is the Father’s love that He gave Jesus to be your salvation. Pray that your joy would be evident and recognized by others. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 12 - The fruit of the Spirit - Love

“We love because He first loved us.” - I John 4:19  Scripture reading: 1 John 4:7-21 When you understand that the summary of God’s law is to love God and our neighbour, and then consider the many other passages of Scripture that call us to love, it isn’t surprising that the first fruit of the Spirit is love. In fact, as the apostle John says, “anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (I John 4:8). That means if the Spirit of God dwells in you, and God is love, then it follows that you and every true believer will, to some degree, bear the fruit of love. To love is the Christian’s most important obligation as we sojourn in this world, and it’s good to be reminded of this. As a pastor for more than 32 years in reformed churches, I’m so thankful for our commitment to being faithful to God, to upholding the truth of His Word, to teaching and training our children to be confessional. But, in all honesty, I’ve been discouraged at times when I haven’t seen that same commitment to love. Can we truly say we’re being faithful to God if we lack love? I’ve been in congregational meetings where angry speakers gave no evidence of love. I’ve had to counsel church members against their gossip, bitterness, and anger. So, as I am writing this I am praying that you will agree on how important this is, and evaluate your own heart and actions. Do others say of you, “he / she is a loving person who demonstrates the love of Christ”? Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit would convict you of unloving words, thoughts and attitudes toward others. Pray that the fruit of love will increase in you. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 11 - The fruit of the Holy Spirit

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” - Galatians 5:25 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:16-26 We’ve seen that the Holy Spirit is necessary not only for our justification, but also our sanctification. He is renewing us after God’s image and leading us to live in accord with God’s will. And as the Heidelberg Catechism says, “in this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience. Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose, they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments.” (Lord’s Day 44, Q&A 114) The Holy Spirit does this by changing how we think, realigning our minds, thoughts and affections to align with God’s. And this change in the believer’s life starts to make him look very different from unbelievers. In Galatians 5, Paul describes this contrast by distinguishing what he calls “the works of the flesh” from “the fruit of the Spirit.” Paul uses the term “flesh” here to describe the sinful human nature in which the Holy Spirit does not dwell. It is the unregenerate mind and soul that results in a life of “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” That is quite a nasty and disagreeable list. In contrast, the fruit growing in one in whom the Holy Spirit dwells is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,self-control.” This is, as John the Baptist had said to the Pharisees, “fruit in keeping with repentance (metanoia).” We’ll spend the rest of this month looking at these fruits more closely. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would “walk by the Spirit” and “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” Pray that you would not gratify the desires of the flesh, which are against the Spirit. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 10 - The Holy Spirit brings repentance

“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” - Matthew 3:8  Scripture reading: Matthew 3:1-10 Metanoia is the Greek word that we translate “repentance.” It literally means, “changing one’s mind” and when used in Scripture means a change in one’s thoughts and way of life resulting from penitence. John the Baptist was telling the Pharisees and Sadducees that metanoia is what they needed. He was saying that their “righteousness” was mere outward conformity to the law, but lacking an inner, heartfelt repentance. Jesus would later repeat this criticism, saying, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” Metanoia as a change of mind and heart that results in a life of righteousness and obedience. It is something internal that the Holy Spirit does in a believer. Metanoia isn’t simply being sorry for sin, nor does it result in a cold, teeth-clenching obedience. The Holy Spirit changes our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh, so that we recognize our sin, agree that our sin is grievous and an affront to God, are truly sorry for our sin, and so endeavour to turn away from sin and toward God and His ways. If you covet your neighbour’s house, the Holy Spirit doesn’t sanctify you by removing the house. He changes how you think, and what you love. He will give you contentment and gratitude for what God has given you so that your desire for your neighbour’s house diminishes and goes away. The Holy Spirit works metanoia from the inside out. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit of God would grant you and your loved ones true repentance / metanoia. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 9 - The Holy Spirit sanctifies

“But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” - II Thessalonians 2:13  Scripture reading: II Thessalonians 2:13-17 As Christians, we love God and desire to live for Him, but if we’re honest with ourselves we see that our love is lacking. We want to obey Him, but often we disobey. As Luther would say, we are simul justus et peccator, which is Latin and means, “at the same time justified and a sinner.” We’re justified, saved, born again, belonging to Christ, temples of the Holy Spirit and have everlasting life. And even though that is true, we also covet, lie, lust, hate, and treat God lightly. This is every Christian’s struggle and reality in this world. Only death or Jesus’ second coming will put an end to our sinning. But you ought not to despair. The Holy Spirit does indeed dwell in you and shines the light on Christ’s atoning work for you, reminding you that you need the gospel every day. But He is also at work in you sanctifying you and conforming you to the image of Jesus. Lord’s Day 44 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks why God wants the Ten Commandments preached so pointedly. It answers in part, “so that we may never stop striving and never stop praying to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that we may be renewed more and more after God’s image, until after this life we reach our goal: perfection.” Suggestions for prayer Pray for the grace of the Holy Spirit to renew you more and more after God’s image. And pray, “Come Lord Jesus, come quickly.” Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 4 - Who is the Holy Spirit?

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…” - John 14:16-17a  Scripture reading: John 14:15-24 The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. As Lord’s Day 20 of the Heidelberg Catechism states, “The Spirit, with the Father and the Son, is eternal God.” And note how Jesus refers to the Spirit as “He.” The Spirit is not a “force,” nor an “it,” but a person, a “He.” Like the Father is a person and the Son is a person, so is the Holy Spirit. So while Jesus distinguishes between the three persons of the trinity, it is also important to note the unity as well. He had already told Philip that, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” and “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me” (John 14:9-11). But now, as He promises the Holy Spirit, He says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (v. 18). Jesus, Who is one with the Father, is also one with the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes to you, Jesus comes to you. Then Jesus says: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (v. 23). So when the Spirit makes His home in the believer, it is the Father and the Son Who make Their home in the believer. This is the Spirit of God Who now dwells in you! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that God has not left us as orphans, but is ever with us. Pray for increased faith to “see” this reality and be at peace. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 3 - The necessity of the ascension

“It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go I will send him to you.” - John 16:7 Scripture reading: John 16:1-15 If the incarnate Jesus had not ascended into heaven, but stayed with His disciples, He would have been located only in that particular part of the world. His bodily presence could only be at one place at a time. He undoubtedly would have been a blessing to the people in Jerusalem and Judea, and Samaria, but what about the rest of the world? This is why Jesus, speaking words of comfort to His disciples in the upper room, tells of the Comforter to come. Jesus’ imminent departure, though painful, will not be an evil thing, but good. It will not be a loss for His followers, but gain. His bodily absence from them would actually be more useful than His bodily presence. Because in God’s wise and perfect plan, Jesus’ ascension and session at the Father’s right hand were necessary for Pentecost to happen. As we confess in the Nicene Creed, the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son.” This is good and to our advantage. Jesus understood that the Holy Spirit would bestow power and gifts to the church, not just in one localized area, but throughout the world. The Spirit would fill every place where believers are. As Christians we can be assured that whether we’re alone, with family and friends, or with our church family in worship, the Holy Spirit is always there. What a blessing! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for Pentecost and that it is for your good that the Spirit dwells in you personally, and in all believers. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 2 - The Spirit is life

“But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” - Romans 8:10 Scripture reading: Romans 8:9-11 Yesterday, we saw that Jesus’ resurrection was no hoax. Everything, including your salvation – justification, sanctification and glorification – depends upon the resurrection of Jesus. In Him our sins are forgiven, and our faith is valid and worthwhile. Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven, and then ten days after that, He and the Father sent the Holy Spirit upon the church at Pentecost. Speaking of this to His disciples in the upper room, Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go I will send him to you” (John 16:7). This means that if you’re a Christian, the living Christ has given you His life-giving Spirit. You are a regenerate person because the Spirit of Christ dwells in you and has given you life. The Holy Spirit has made you His dwelling place. You are a temple of the Holy Spirit. And this gracious work of the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, changes you. The Holy Spirit is not dormant, but is at work sanctifying you and conforming you to the image of Christ. This month, we will be focusing on the Holy Spirit and what He means to you. Suggestions for Prayer Thank the Father for raising Christ from the dead and giving you the Holy Spirit of life. Pray for the Spirit’s sanctifying work in your life. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 1 - Introduction to the Holy Spirit

I Corinthians 12:3 tells us that “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” This means that if you have sincerely professed your faith in Christ, this can only be because the Holy Spirit has moved you to do so. In fact, the Holy Spirit has made His home in you. You are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. But, who is the Holy Spirit and what else does He do? I recently heard a pastor say, “Many people see the Father as the angry God, the Son as the loving God, and the Holy Spirit as the weird God.” Such a sentiment is sadly mistaken and contrary to what God’s Word teaches. But still, the Holy Spirit can be difficult to grasp. We understand “fatherhood” and are familiar with “sonship.” But “Spirit” or “Ghost” are concepts that are harder for us to fathom. And so this month we will focus on the Holy Spirit. We’ll see that He was sent by the Father and the Son at Pentecost; that He is true and eternal God; that He is one of the three persons of the trinity; and that He is essential for our salvation. But we’ll also see that He is essential for our sanctification and we will then focus on what Paul calls, “the Fruit of the Spirit. No April fools “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’”” - Matthew 28:13  Scripture reading: Matthew 28:11-15 My calendar doesn’t acknowledge it, but today is April Fools’ Day. There doesn’t seem to be agreement on how this all got started, but it has become a day when you can do pranks, practical jokes and hoaxes on others and then call out, “April Fools.” It’s usually quite innocent and all involved, the prankster and the pranked, have a good laugh. It’s rare, though, that April Fools’ Day is the day after Easter, and there couldn’t be a greater contrast. And yet, when the guards told the chief priests about the resurrection of Jesus, these spiritual leaders decided to play a hoax on the people. They instructed the guards to say that the disciples came at night and stole the body. They instructed the guards to tell a lie. Yes, yesterday was Resurrection Sunday. After His death and burial, on Sunday morning, Jesus rose from the grave and conquered death. This really happened. It was no hoax. Jesus’ body was not stolen. In I Corinthians 15, Paul makes the point that Christ’s resurrection was not a hoax. It was prophesied in the Old Testament, He was seen alive by the disciples, by 500 other people, and then by Paul himself. He even goes on to say, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins;” and that “we are of all people most to be pitied.” (vv. 17-19) But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead!! This is no April Fools. Suggestions for Prayer Give thanks that God’s plan of salvation is accomplished because of Christ’s atoning death and resurrection. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 27 - Cross purposes: Sacrifice

“He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal inheritance.” - Hebrews 9:12 Scripture reading: Hebrews 9:1-14 Remember that after Adam and Eve had sinned, God killed animals and made garments of skin to clothe them? That was the first sacrifice. The animals died in the place of Adam and Eve. This substitution was seen in the elaborate system of offerings the Lord instituted in the Old Testament. The premise was that the guilty Israelites deserved death. The killing of an animal in the place of the guilty human was a picture of the work of Christ, the work by which God and His people could live in fellowship. So, Christ comes as the Lamb of God. He sheds His blood on the cross. And then He goes into the Most Holy Place, the real one, not the one on earth, but the one in heaven. He enters the actual presence of God, with His own blood, offering Himself without blemish to God (Hebrews 9:14). And by that work He secures an eternal redemption for His people (Hebrews 9:12). Christ’s giving up of Himself pleases His Father. It is ‘a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’ (Ephesians 5:2). In the Old Testament ritual the guilty person would place his hands on the animal and confess his sin, a symbolic transferring of guilt from the sinner to the animal. This is what we ought to do. We ought to place our hands on the head of our Lord Jesus, confessing our sins, so that we might know the purifying blessing of His sacrifice on Golgotha. Then serve Him sacrificially because He is worthy. Suggestions for prayer Ask God that we would be as delighted with Christ’s sacrifice for sin as He Himself is. Ask the Lord to give us grace so that we might be imitators of the Lord Jesus and give ourselves sacrificially to Him and to others. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 26 - Cross purposes: Redemption

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” - Revelation 1:5b-6 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:13-21 Martin Luther King Jr. ended his August 28, 1963, speech envisioning all Americans singing, ‘Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.’ That is the song Christians can sing with gusto because one of the cross purposes is redemption. Peter speaks about ransom (1 Peter 1:18). Ransom has an Old Testament background. A person could redeem another from slavery for a price. As sinners, we are enslaved to sin’s guilt and power. There is no way we can release ourselves from it. The chains binding us to sin are too strong. All the perishable things such as silver or gold cannot pay the ransom. Indeed, wealth cannot even keep people alive. The graves of the wealthiest are with us today. And if wealth can’t rescue a person from the death of his body, how could it ransom a soul from bondage to sin? But Christ can and does. He was chosen before the foundation of the world to be the ransom price for sin. He takes our sin. The price He pays to God for our freedom is His own life. The Son of Man gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). He must be the acceptable redemption price. God would never have put His Son through the ordeal of the cross if He could ransom sinners with wealth. Do you know the redemption of God paid on Golgotha’s cross? Then sing it out, ‘Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, I’m free at last!’ Suggestions for prayer Praise God that the Son of God loved us and gave Himself for us. Ask God to give us a hatred for sin and its enslaving power. Pray that the Spirit would make the blood of our Lord Jesus precious to us. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 25 - Christ’s return

“This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” - Acts 1:11  Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 When special guests arrive at your home you don’t want to miss their arrival! A concern the Thessalonian Christians had was that their deceased fellow believers would miss out on Christ’s return. It was enthusiastically anticipated. They were waiting for God’s Son from heaven (1 Thessalonians 1:10). And so should we. We don’t know when our Lord will return. But we know that He will return and what a glorious day that will be. It will mark the end of the suffering and hardship for the people of God. The returning Christ will come with power to vanquish the enemies of the Church of God (Revelation 19:11-21). He will usher the new heavens and the new earth when God’s dwelling place will be with man and they will live in perfect happiness for eternity. For the believer, the return of Christ will be a welcome sight, so we cry, ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’ (Revelation 22:20). But for those who do not know Christ as their personal Saviour, that day will be terrifying. They will call upon the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb (Revelation 6:16). But now there is still time. In the first coming of Christ, He comes with grace and mercy. He invites sinners to flee from the coming wrath by coming to Him for grace. The next time, mercy will no longer be extended. He will come in judgment against all those who have rejected His offer of grace. Do not be one of those. Suggestions for prayer Join with the Church of all ages and pray that the Lord Jesus would come soon. Pray for grace to trust in the Lord Jesus so that His coming will be eagerly anticipated not dreadfully expected. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 24 - Christ, our minister

“I will tell of your name to my brothers.” - Hebrews 2:12 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:11-22 The Lord Jesus is at the heart of Christian worship. He is our worship leader Who presents us to the Father, Who sings together with us, and Who preaches to us. In Scotland, if a little girl, upon entering our church building, didn’t see me, she would ask her father, “Where is God?” Of course, the Minister is not God. However, the little girl was recognizing something intuitively. She had somehow grasped that when the Word of God was being preached, God Himself was speaking to her. She was on good ground in thinking this. Jesus told His disciples that He had other sheep who would come into the fold after His death and that they would listen to His voice (John 10:16). The Apostle Paul says that Christ preached peace to the Ephesians (Ephesians 2:17) even though the Lord had never ventured to Asia Minor. Paul writes that people need to hear Christ if they are to believe in Him (See ESV footnote on Romans 10:14) and that faith comes through hearing the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). When ministers and missionaries faithfully proclaim the Word of God, people are hearing the voice of Christ. As the author of Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 2:12, Christ tells of God’s name to His brothers in the midst of the congregation. That means we should listen carefully to the preaching of the Word. As the Father said on the Mount of Transfiguration, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” (Luke 9:35). Suggestions for prayer Pray for Ministers and Missionaries that they might faithfully preach the Word. Ask God to give you grace to listen with submission to the voice of the Good Shepherd as you sit under the ministry of the Word today. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 19 - Christ our Priest (III) 

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” - Luke 22:31-32  Scripture reading: Romans 8:31-39 We often speak of the finished work of Christ when we refer to His death on the cross. However, we ought not think that Christ is unemployed in heaven as if He is doing nothing there. He is seated at the right hand of the throne, but His sitting is not a sitting of idleness. He continues to minister in the true Tabernacle (Hebrews 8:1-2). What does He do there? Romans 8:34 tells us that He is interceding for us. What does that mean? First, to reiterate what we looked at yesterday, Christ presents His sacrifice to the Father and based on that sacrifice our sins are forgiven. Just as purchasing a birthday present for your child is of no benefit to him unless you also present it, so the death of Christ on earth would not secure our forgiveness unless He presented it in heaven. That is one way He intercedes for us. But He also intercedes for us by His prayers. If our salvation depended on our prayers, we could have no confidence we would persevere in the faith and inherit eternal salvation. But our Lord Jesus prays for us. Christ prays that we would have grace so that our faith would not fail and, if it does fail, that we would be restored. Christ is praying for you and what Father would be able to say ‘no’ to the prayers of such a devoted and loving Son? Our salvation depends on the intercession of our Priest. Thank God He is faithful. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that we have One Who prays for us in heaven to help us in our struggles on earth. Pray for others even as Jesus prays for us so that our brothers and sisters might run the race to the very end and receive the crown. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 18 - Christ our priest (II)

“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” - Hebrews 9:24  Scripture reading: Hebrews 9:11-28 The Old Testament sacrificial ritual took place in two places. One was in the court where the animals were sacrificed. Then the High Priest would enter into the Most Holy Place and sprinkle the animals’ blood on the mercy seat. Similarly, the work of Christ our High Priest took place in two places. On earth He offered Himself as a sacrifice for sinners. Then, Hebrews tells us, Christ, by His own blood, passed through the heavens, and entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf (Hebrews 9:24). There He sat down at the right hand of the Father. This sitting signifies something important. The tabernacle and temple had no chair upon which the priests could sit. They had to stand daily, without sitting, because their work was never completed. Sins were never really atoned for. But Christ doesn’t stand in heaven. Because of the perfection of His sacrifice which has taken away His people’s sins, Christ was able to sit down. Nothing more needed to be done. No more sacrifices needed to be made. And His sitting at the Father’s right hand is a perpetual reminder that on the basis of Christ’s work, the Judge of all the earth can grant forgiveness to guilty sinners who trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus. As Charitie Bancroft so wonderfully wrote, “Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free; for God, the just, is satisfied to look on him and pardon me.” Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give us confidence in the completed, perfect work of His Son so that we might have a clear conscience and may enjoy the assurance of sins forgiven.  Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 17 - Singing with Christ 

“For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing to your name. Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.” - Psalm 18:49-50 Scripture reading: Romans 15:8-13 Singing is a large part of our worship services. We lift our voices in praise of the Triune God. It is a wonderful privilege to sing with our brothers and sisters. More than that, we are commanded to ‘praise him in the midst of the throng’ (Psalm 109:30), that is, in gathered worship. The privilege is so great we don’t even mind if some of our brothers and sisters sing somewhat off-tune! What a joy to respond to the summons, “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” (Psalm 95:1). In our passage, Paul quotes from Psalm 18:49 which speaks of Christ’s praise of God among the nations and His singing to God’s name. That is, when we worship the Lord in song, the Lord Jesus sings with us. Listen to His declaration in Psalm 22:22 “n the midst of the congregation I will sing praise.” I suppose we don’t often think about the worship that Jesus, our brother, brings with us to our God. Yet, that is what Paul says. The Lord Jesus became a servant to the circumcised so that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, and Jesus joins them in the praise of God. In fact, the common theme of our songs, both Jesus and ours, is that God has rescued us from our enemies. Think about why you are singing and Who you are singing with the next time you are in corporate worship. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to teach us to sing with Jesus with joy and gladness. Pray that God would raise up ministers and missionaries to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel of life so that the nations might glorify God for His mercy. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 16 - Christ our priest (I) 

“For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. . . . And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.” - Hebrews 10:4, 10 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:13-21 The Old Testament gives an elaborate ritual, symbolizing the need for the shedding of blood for the remission of sins. Already in the Garden, after Adam and Eve’s sin, God killed animals to clothe them with skins. The necessity of death and blood for forgiveness was pictured in the sacrificial system. On the annual Day of Atonement, recorded in Leviticus 16, the High Priest would kill a bull as a sin offering for himself and his house. Then he would kill the goat of the sin offering for the people. The blood of the bull and goat would be sprinkled on the mercy seat in the Holy Place. Then he would lay his hands on the head of another goat and confess the sins of the people of Israel. That goat would be sent into the wilderness. All this symbolized the Lamb of God Who would come to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Christ is the lamb without blemish and His blood is precious (1 Peter 1:19). But Christ is not only the sacrifice. He is also the priest who offers up Himself, not for His own sins (He had none), but for the sins of His people (Hebrews 7:27). This our Lord Jesus did for us on the cross of Golgotha. He bore our sins on the tree (1 Peter 1:24) as the substitute for sinners. He bore the punishment sin deserved, eternal death, so that all who believe in Him might be forgiven and have eternal life. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His indescribable gift. Give thanks that the Lord Jesus was willing to be our substitute and take the curse we deserved so that we might have His blessing. Pray for the ministers of the gospel as they proclaim the words of life tomorrow. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

 March 11- Christ’s temptations 

“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” - 2 Corinthians 15:21-22  Scripture reading: Luke 4:1-13 Matthew and Luke both record Jesus’s temptations in the wilderness. Although the accounts are similar, the contexts help us to understand the particular point the authors are making about Jesus. Luke 3 ends with a genealogy of the Lord Jesus going all the way to Adam. Immediately, Luke records Jesus’s temptations. Luke is contrasting the unfaithful first Adam and the faithful last Adam. Both were tempted by Satan. Adam, living in the beauty of the Garden of Eden, capitulated to the enemy. Jesus, led by the Spirit into the wilderness, resisted the devil so that he departed from Him. The last Adam was successful where the first Adam failed. Jesus is qualified to be our Redeemer, to undo the ruin Adam had brought. Matthew’s focus is different. In Matthew’s gospel Jesus is the new Israel. Like Israel, God’s son (Exodus 4:22), Jesus is the Son of God and, like Israel, He was called out of Egypt (Matthew 2:15). Like Israel, Jesus was brought into the wilderness. Unlike Israel, Jesus proved to be faithful. You will notice that Jesus’s quotations of the Scriptures are all from Deuteronomy where Moses recounts God’s wilderness dealings with Israel. Where Israel failed, Jesus was successful. In both scenarios, Jesus as the last Adam and Jesus as the new Israel, is promoted as the One to Whom we must be united by faith. Only in union with Jesus will we both enjoy God without being driven from His presence and be welcomed into the Promised Land of His favour. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that in union with Jesus Christ, we will never be driven from His presence like our first parents. Thank God for Jesus’s faithfulness in His temptations and that through Him we shall enjoy God’s presence forever. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

 March 10 - Presented by Christ

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” - Hebrews 4:14-16  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-10 How can we as sinners even think about entering the presence of God in corporate worship? Certainly, it is the height of folly to think He would receive us. Yes, if we come on our own. No, if we come through a mediator. Jesus is the mediator of our worship. He is the One Who presents us to the Father in worship as He says, “Behold, I and the children God has given me” (Hebrews 2:13). He is the One Who has passed through the heavens into God’s Most Holy Place (Hebrews 4:14) and through Him we too may enter the presence of the living God. What’s more, we may approach the throne of the Majesty without cowering, indeed, even with confidence. And through the same mediator we offer our worship. We are not so self-confident are we, to think that our songs and prayers and listening are acceptable as they come from us? We are aware of our wanderings, our coldness of heart, and our lethargy. We sometimes honour God with our lips while our heart is far from Him (Mark 7:6). Whatever worship we offer must be purified by the blood of the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. Through our mediator Jesus Christ, the spiritual sacrifices we offer as the spiritual house and priesthood of God, are acceptable to a holy God. Thankfully, through the Lord Jesus, we may proclaim the excellencies of our Saviour and know that those praises delight Him. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Ask God to help you to worship Him with joy as those called out of darkness into His marvellous light. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 9 - Christ, the warrior

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” - Genesis 3:15 Scripture reading: 1 John 3:1-10 Ask most Christians why Christ came into the world and their answer will be in terms of the forgiveness of sins. And they’re correct. As John himself says in our passage: ‘You know that he appeared in order to take away sins’ (v. 5). But that’s not all the Bible says about the ministry of the Lord Jesus. In fact, the first gospel promise in Genesis 3:15 is couched, not in the language of forgiveness, but in the language of conquest. The Israelites sang on the shores of the Red Sea, ‘The Lord is a man of war’ (Exodus 15:3). The Lord Jesus came into this world to destroy Satan (Mark 1:24), to drive him out (John 12:31), or, as John says, ‘The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil’ (v. 8). It is no surprise that before Jesus’s public ministry He encountered Satan in the wilderness, nor that the first miracle recorded in Mark’s gospel is the freeing of the man with the unclean spirit. Jesus has come to defeat our enemy, to crush the head of the serpent. How does He do that? Satan’s power over us is our sin, but if the Lord Jesus can deal effectively with sin’s condemning and enslaving power, Satan’s authority is broken. This our Lord did in His death on the cross. He paid the penalty sin deserved and, in so doing, He takes away our sins and destroys the works of the devil. Thanks be to our Champion! Suggestions for prayer Thank God that Jesus Christ has delivered us from the tyranny of the devil. Pray that by the Spirit we would not give in to our defeated enemy’s temptations. Pray for listening ears and receptive hearts as we listen to the voice of our Saviour tomorrow. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 8 - Christ, empowered by the Spirit 

“But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” - Matthew 12:28  Scripture reading: Matthew 12:15-32 How did Jesus carry out His ministry? We can explore this by considering how Jesus did miracles. To perform them, did He dip into His divinity? We might be tempted to say, ‘Of course, after all, He was God.’ But we need to be careful here. After all, other prophets like Moses and Elijah could do miracles too and they certainly weren’t God. Our Bible passage points the way for us. Isaiah prophesied that God would put His Spirit upon His chosen servant, the Lord Jesus. At the commencement of His ministry, at His baptism, this happened. The Spirit of God descended like a dove upon our Lord (Matthew 3:16). Then, led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Jesus was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). He returned to Galilee ‘in the power of the Spirit’ (Luke 4:14) and in the synagogue, He quotes from Isaiah 61 alerting His hearers that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him (Luke 4:18). Jesus tells His opponents that He has cast out demons, not by Beelzebul, but by the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:28). If He cast out demons by the Spirit of God, we can be sure that He did all His miracles in the Spirit’s power. Jesus was a faithful servant of God; He was obedient as man. It was the Holy Spirit operating upon our Lord’s humanity, Who enabled Him to perform miracles and to carry out His ministry in faithfulness to His Father’s will and for the blessing of His people. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that the same Holy Spirit Who was upon our Lord, is upon all of God’s people, enabling us to serve our heavenly Father. Ask for grace that we would not quench, resist, or grieve the Spirit of God. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 3 - The worship of Christ

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” - Philippians 2:9-11  Scripture reading: John 8:48-59 As we gather as an assembled congregation this Lord’s Day, it is helpful to remember that the worship of the Lord Jesus is at the heart of Christian worship. As a reward for our Lord Jesus’s humiliation, Christ Jesus, the God-man, is appointed to receive the nations’ worship. As Paul says in Philippians 2:9-11, they will bow at His name and confess that He is Lord. This worship of the Lord Jesus is by the Father’s design. He is the One Who seeks Christ’s glory (John 8:50) and Who glorifies Christ (John 8:54). The Spirit as well longs for Christ to be worshipped. He glorifies Christ as He declares to us the things of Christ (John 16:14). If the desire of the Father and the Spirit is the glorification of Christ, certainly His worship should be front and centre in our worship. If we do not honour the Son, we do not honour the Father Who sent Him (John 8:23). This is not to say that the Father is not to be glorified in our worship. He is as well. Lazarus’s death was for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it (John 11:4). The worship of Christ is “to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). As you assemble for worship, pay particular attention to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ponder His greatness as the God-man. Meditate on what He has done as the Saviour. And worship Him! Suggestions for prayer Pray that Christ’s Spirit would open our eyes so that we would see Jesus and draw us to Him in trust and adoration as we read His Word and hear it preached. Pray for the success of preaching and mission work so that the Lord Jesus would be worshipped by the nations. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 2 - The eternal plan

“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.’” - Psalm 40:7  Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:1-10 In Hebrews 10:5-7, we are eavesdropping on a conversation between the Father and the Son. We overhear the eternal Son telling the Father that Old Testament sacrifices were not fit for His ultimate purpose. In terms of taking away sins they were not desired, and God took no pleasure in them. Not that God didn’t want a sacrifice but the sacrifice He wanted was the sacrifice of His Son. That is why the Father prepared a body for Him. Christ was going to be the final and only effective sacrifice for sins. Then the Son tells the Father that He has come to do God’s will, that is, He has come to reconcile sinners to God. The Son knew that meant suffering, rejection and crucifixion for Him. Yet, He was committed to doing His Father’s will. There is one more thing the Son tells the Father. Jesus’s coming has been written in the scroll of the book. Some think that refers to the pages of the Old Testament. It is better thought of as the eternal plan agreed upon in the council amongst the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Christ was appointed to be the unblemished Lamb Who would take away sin. Christ accepted that appointment freely. He came down from heaven, not to do His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him (John 6:38). When He does come into the world, He reminds His Father of that: I am only doing what We agreed I would do for the salvation of sinners. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He desired the salvation of His own. Thank the Lord Jesus for His willingness to do the Father’s will even when it meant His own sacrificial death. Pray for all of Christ’s servants as they declare the mystery of Christ tomorrow. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 1 - Introduction to the characteristics of Christ

Although we might not know much about Richard of Chichester who was elected Bishop of Chichester in 1244 and died in 1253, we are probably familiar with a prayer written by him. It reads in part: “Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults thou has borne for me. O most merciful redeemer, friend, and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, day by day.” That’s a good prayer and this month’s devotional is written to get us thinking more about our Lord Jesus so that we may increasingly know Him, love Him, and follow Him. From ancient days  “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’” - John 8:58 Scripture reading: Micah 5:1-5a We know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem just over 2000 years ago. But His conception did not mark the beginning of His existence. It marked the beginning of Jesus existing as a perfect man, but that’s not the whole truth of His being, as Micah’s prophecy reminds us. Israel was in trouble because of their incessant sinning against God. God judges Israel through Assyria and Babylon. Micah already sees the siege laid against the city, but God promises deliverance that will come from someone out of Bethlehem. The deliverer is going to be a man, born on earth and of royal birth who will rule Israel. But that’s not all that can be said about this ruler. His coming forth is from Bethlehem and His ‘coming forth is from of old, from ancient days’ (Micah 5:2). That tells us something significant about our Lord Jesus. He is from Bethlehem and from of old, from ancient days. He is from a point in time, and He is from eternity. He had a beginning as a man and He had no beginning as He is divine. John also tells us about the Lord Jesus. ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’ (John 1:1). Before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Jesus existed as God and with God. He is eternal. As Jesus Himself confessed, ‘Before Abraham was, I am.’ There never was a time when Jesus did not exist. He is eternal and He is God. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that when our trouble was severe, God Himself came to bring deliverance. Ask God to teach us throughout this month by the Holy Spirit so that we might understand our Lord Jesus better and worship Him. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

 February 29 - God’s grace to us in healing righteousness

“But to you who fear My Name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; And you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves.” - Malachi 4:2  Scripture reading: Malachi 4:1-6 We have traversed the Old Testament and discovered incredible stores of the grace of God for us from Jesus Christ. Indeed, from Genesis to Malachi, the grace of God is the primary theme. His ‘covenant faithfulness and love’ (hesed) is a key ingredient to His covenant. We are very used to calling this, God’s ‘covenant of grace.’ Now, four hundred years before the incarnation and virgin birth, the promise of the Light of the gospel blazes in the darkness (cf., Matthew 4:16, John 1:4). For all who are in awe of God and live in fear of His Name, the healing of righteousness is promised. That healing is what we need the most! The church has received grace sufficient for the needs we have in our day. God provides to each of us more than enough. Our calling is to “search the Scriptures” and see that it is true. Each Old Testament account is full of hints, clues, or outright statements of the gracious act of God on behalf of His sinful covenant people. So, read! Take up the Scriptures and study. Memorize key passages and be so familiar with the longer narratives that you can summarize and explain them to your children and grandchildren. Know the Bible to know the richness of the grace of God for us in Jesus Christ. Read, beloved, and discover His grace! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to show you more of the treasure of His grace for you in Jesus Christ. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 25 - The grace of God’s reviving work

“O LORD, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” - Habakkuk 3:2  Scripture reading: Habakkuk 3:1-19 This is the day we enter into the house of the Lord for corporate worship. Is there grace for God’s people on the Lord’s day? Of course! But is that still true in our day, in our circumstances? Yes. As Habakkuk writes by the Spirit’s inspiration, “In the midst of the years, make it known.” He is saying, ‘In our day too, revive Your work.’ That act of God to revive His work is our need today, and He will do it. Habakkuk is writing at the end of the 7th century, as Jehoiakim is ‘king’ and Judah, the nation, is about dead. The refusal of the people to repent of their sins is bringing God’s cleansing by the Babylonians. The times will get very tough, but the faithful will still trust the LORD (Habakkuk 3:17-19). And what times do we live in? Do we need God’s work revived? Is preaching having its proper effect? Are Christians repenting of their sins and delighting in God’s law? What expectations do you have as you come to the house of the Lord to attend corporate worship – what work will God do in your heart and life? Ask that question more personally, do you need God to graciously revive His work in your life? We come to corporate worship hungry and with the anticipation of being fed. By His grace in Christ, our God will not disappoint! Suggestions for prayer Ask God to revive His work in you today through corporate worship. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 23 - God’s grace of a righteous ruler

“He trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him.” - 2 Kings 18:5  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 18:1-8 When we look at the local, national and international political scene, things can look grim. As I am writing this devotional (on October 27, 2023) Israel and her enemies are ramping up to what seems like another bloody war. We long for righteousness to be seen in our communities and around the world. We know that complete righteousness only comes in glory, but it is right to look for the best situation we can in the fallen world. That’s what it seemed like in Judah during the reign of king Hezekiah. Why? He trusted the LORD and obeyed Him. “Trust and obey for there’s no other way…” And in our text we see many proofs that Hezekiah put the LORD and His Word first. Hezekiah steadfastly obeyed God’s commandments, ripped out all the vestiges of idolatry, and even destroyed that once useful bronze serpent of Moses’s day – which had become a relic to be worshiped. We would rejoice today to have a president like King Hezekiah who would put the LORD and His Word front and centre in steadfast obedience. We must demand our elders and pastors emulate the worldview of Hezekiah in all that happens in our churches. We are especially thankful for our King, Jesus Christ, Who was the perfect law-keeper and our righteous King! Rejoice today that we have the promise of everlasting righteousness in that world to come. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for kings like Hezekiah, preview of the Perfect King Jesus! Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 22 - God’s grace shows us the terror of pride

“And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and there, on his forehead, he was leprous; so they thrust him out of that place. Indeed he also hurried to get out, because the LORD had struck him.” - 2 Chronicles 26:20  Scripture reading: 2 Chronicles 26:16-23 Uzziah - the mighty has fallen. His fall and the reason for it are gracious lessons for the rest of us. Have you ever met a person so ‘full of themselves’ that almost immediately you knew you could not be around them? Pride is such an ugly sin, especially because the very nature of it is to deny that it is sinful. So it was with the great and mighty Uzziah. He became so full of himself that he usurped the office of the high priest. He went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense. He was in gross violation of God’s law. Azariah the priest took eighty priests with him and confronted Uzziah. When the King’s anger burned against the priests, the Lord’s anger burned against Uzziah and He struck him with leprosy. This was the beginning of the end for the prideful king. Uzziah went from strong and mighty for God’s covenant people, to wickedly prideful and leprous. How far the mighty have fallen. We need the gracious counsel given by God here. “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time…” (1 Peter 5:6), “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Uzziah shows the necessity of humility. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to bring you daily to a humble view of yourself. Plead for a Christ-like humility (Philippians 2:5-11). Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 21 - God’s grace seen in a man’s might and power

“God helped him against the Philistines, against the Arabians, who lived in Gur Baal, and against the Meunites. Also, the Ammonites brought tribute to Uzziah. His fame spread as far as the entrance of Egypt, for he became exceedingly strong.” - 2 Chronicles 26:7, 8  Scripture reading: 2 Chronicles 26:1-15 We are going to examine the grace of God as seen in the life of Uzziah. What’s very helpful about Uzziah is that we get to see two radically different situations with him in the same chapter of the Bible. We will take two different devotionals to work through this. Our passage for today reveals Uzziah, strong and mighty. How was he that way? Verse seven tells us, “God helped him…” The grace of God made Uzziah strong and mighty, and great was his strength and might. Four nations (at least!) had a hearty fear of Uzziah. He put up strong military structures, both in the city and out in the wilderness. The army of Uzziah was a well-oiled machine of more than three hundred thousand fighters. Uzziah was wise enough to have weapons and armament prepared for his army and he was a leader in things “high-tech.” He had advanced, cutting-edge weapons created so that he would entirely overwhelm any enemy. He was a man of might and power. The first 15 verses of this chapter are striking. By His grace God is able to bring about great power and might through His people. He can use you to do great things – truly! Trust the God of grace to use you to do mighty things in His Name. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to give you grace to do mighty things for His glory. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 16 - The grace of dark providence 

“Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” - Ruth 1:21b Scripture Reading: Ruth 1:1-22 Hard times come into the life of the Christian. If you have lived any number of years, this is a fact you probably already know well. One of the great lies of the enemy is that the Christian life should be success after success with only joy and happiness. No, walking the path with Jesus Christ will include some real and serious hardships. Naomi is in the midst of such a hardship. She lost her husband, her only two sons, and the dream of finding relief in Moab. She is returning to Jerusalem with a burden of defeat and despair. Have you ever felt that way? Our Lord experienced the darkest providence. He arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane entering a very dark valley. He faced the torturous cross, which He would come to only after illegitimate trials and through beatings. His disciples would abandon Him. His Father would forsake Him. He was walking into a black hole of God’s providence. But He emerged on the other side, and we are now saved! How are we helped by remembering the glory that comes after the dark storm? Naomi would eventually enter the most fruitful and joyful time of her life – but at the end of chapter one she could not see that.  We would do well to remember all Christ endured for us and learn that all things, even dark providences are for our good (Romans 8:28). Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to teach you His grace of hard providences. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

 February 15 - The grace of a surprising deliverance

“But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Would you plead for Baal? Would you save him? Let the one who would plead for him be put to death by morning! If he is a god, let him plead for himself, because his altar has been torn down!”” - Judges 6:31 Scripture reading: Judges 6:11-35 This is a text full of surprises. To understand why, let’s see what’s going on. Joash is Gideon’s father but was an avowed idolater. This reminds us of Terah, father of Abram. God commanded Gideon to tear down his dad’s Baal altar and sacrifice one of dad’s young bulls to the True and Living God. Once Gideon did this the town leaders wanted Gideon dead. Keep in mind that Joash was THE leader of that clan! But when the other town leaders come for Gideon’s head, Joash stands up for his son and for the God of heaven and earth! Was Joash converted? We’re not sure, but it sounds that way. In any case God used this former idolater to save Gideon from certain death. Gideon would go on to be a powerful Judge over Israel, used by the Lord to save the covenant people, but only after being saved himself. God surprised Gideon by using his dad. How has God surprised you? We should be surprised that God has given us any grace at all. Receiving saving grace through Jesus Christ should stun us. But then we think of all the other ways God surprises us. He has promised that, along with Jesus Christ, He would also “…freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32). We are surely richly cared for by our God and today will be no different. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to show you today some of the surprising ways He cares for you. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 14 - Grace for courage 

“And Barak said to her, “If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go!” So she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.” - Judges 4:8, 9  Scripture reading: Judges 4:1- 5:31 Deborah was not prophesying about herself when she said “…for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, would be pegged by God for the task of killing Sisera. Still, when it comes to courage, both Deborah and Jael had received ample supply from God. Deborah had to hold the hand of timid Barak to wage war against the Canaanites of Jabin. Jael would hold a tent peg to the temple of Sisera and hammer him to the earth. Neither woman, it seems, had been pining for a fight. Yet, when the moment of need arrived, both received grace from God equal to the task. The bigger picture of this text is God’s delight when His people willingly offer themselves in His service (read chapter 5 carefully). This both Deborah and Jael did, but the courage to fight was given to them from the Lord. It is never by might nor by power, but always by His Spirit. The point should be obvious – God can grant us courage equal to the task. We are probably not tasked to fight Canaanites or drive a tent peg into a person’s head (gross), but our task might seem to us too hard to deal with. Remember Deborah! Remember Jael! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to give you courage for the hard tasks you face. Remember those who lived by faith before you and seek help from God. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 13 - Grace of the knowledge of God 

“So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.” - Exodus 17:10, 11 Scripture reading: Exodus 17:8-16 Here is where we meet Joshua for the first time (verse 9). He is a man who will experience amazing things, but who will also need from God amazing grace. In this text, the grace he received was learning that Israel depends completely on God. If you know that about yourself and your situation, you have received grace that is very helpful. Joshua was tasked by Moses to fight with Amalek, a warring nomadic people. Joshua needed grace so that he could fight. Moses said he would go to the top of a hill with the “…rod of God in my hand.” Moses had held that rod as God caused the plagues of Egypt. Moses raised that rod over the waters which God parted to allow Israel safe passage and collapsed back over Pharaoh and the armies of Egypt. Now Moses will hold the rod up so that Joshua will be able to defeat Amalek. The rod has no power itself, but it is a visible sign and seal of God at work to save His people. When Moses’ arms drooped, Amalek prevailed. Why? Because the visual of God’s power disappeared from Joshua’s (and Israel’s) sight. What mattered most was to gain the knowledge that “salvation is of the Lord.” This truth needs to be imprinted on our hearts. God alone is our deliverance. Do you know that none can save you but God alone? Suggestions for prayer Ask God to strengthen your knowledge in His sovereign power to save. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

 February 8 - Grace in time of sinful competition

“When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.” - Genesis 29:31  Scripture reading: Genesis 29:15-35 There are many factors involved in the tussle between Rachel and Leah. We will only focus on one. Love. It is interesting to note how God allowed the misuse of love to bring about the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob’s failure to properly love both women well (how could he have??) brings about a sinful competition between Rachel and Leah, with their two maidservants as pawns. The result is the birth of the tribes of Israel. There is great grace to be discovered here. Jacob loved Rachel. She was a true beauty. As Rich Mullins once put it in song, Leah was there “…for dramatic effect.” The LORD sees that Jacob doesn’t love Leah as Scripture commands and He opens her womb. God granted the grace of motherhood. Leah gives Jacob four sons in a row. Meanwhile, Rachel is experiencing crushing depression (which want-to-be mother hasn’t?) Eventually, God grants Rachel motherhood, including a son she names Joseph. Here is great grace indeed. We might find ourselves in the unwelcome situation of a sinful competition. Sometimes parents do outwardly show more love to one child than to others. Sometimes spouses sin greatly and love some person outside of the marriage. Many other examples could be mentioned. But we need to remember that God sees it all and He is able to grant us rich and deep grace during the grief caused by sinful competitions. Suggestions for Prayer Ask the Lord for sustaining grace when the sins of others hurt you. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 7 - Grace in life’s messes

“May God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you be an assembly of peoples;” - Genesis 28:3 Scripture reading: Genesis 28:1-9 Jacob was crafty. By that we do not mean that he knew how to use Mod Podge or craft a quilt. Jacob deceived his father Isaac and stole a blessing from Esau. But God was working behind these actions of Jacob. Here is the mystery of why God allows the shenanigans we read about in the Bible. Yet, He also puts up with many nasty things from us. After Jacob ‘secured’ the blessing, Issac sent him to find a wife. Where? Where Isaac went to find Rebekah–Haran. God intends to bless Jacob and make an assembly of peoples out of him. Abraham needed Sarah. For Isaac it was Rebekah. But for Jacob it will be Rachel plus. Maybe it would be better to say Leah plus, for Judah will be born to Leah. The back and forth of the birthing history between Leah and Rachel is legendary. Through those turbulent waters comes the nation. Jacob had earlier made Isaac quiver with anger by deceiving him (Genesis 27:33), but then got a full quiver from his two wives, the twelve tribes in seed form. Finally, he reverts to causing man to quiver when he acts unwisely toward his uncle Laban. We must see God’s hand in all of this to bring about His plan of grace. So too with us. Is your life a mess? Trust God and follow Him. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you more grace when you make a mess out of your life. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 6 - Amazing grace in answered prayer

“Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, “The thing comes from the LORD: We cannot speak to you either bad or good. Here is Rebekah before you; take her and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as the LORD has spoken.”” - Genesis 24:50, 51 Scripture reading: Genesis 24:1-67 What should we pray for? When might our prayers be answered? Do we need to use exactly the right words for God to hear and answer our prayers? These and other questions and doubts impede what E.M. Bounds called “The Power of Prayer.” What we need to remember first about prayer is the amazing fact that God listens to us at all. I’m sure we’ll talk more about that another time. But it is clear in our reading that God did hear the prayer of Abraham’s servant. Abraham told his servant to go take a wife from Abraham’s people. He was sending him on a ‘dangerous journey’. The servant wanted some wiggle room. What if she won’t come? The servant went anyway. Gloriously, when the servant arrived in Haran, he prayed. He asked God to be God. And God was indeed sovereign in this wife hunt. As Rebekah’s brother and father would soon say – this thing comes from the LORD. One truth about prayer we learn later in life is that God moves us to pray about things He plans to answer. This way we learn to pray with more boldness. It is truly amazing that God answers our prayers, and His answer is always gracious help given to needy sinners. So, as James would say, we should ask in faith, with no doubting. Our God is gracious and will answer our prayers. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to cause you to pray about that major issue in your life. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 5 - Uprooted and transplanted by God’s goodness

“Now the LORD had said to Abram: Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land I will show you…So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him…” - Genesis 12:1, 4 Scripture reading: Genesis 11:27 – 12:4 By the time Abram and Sarai had moved as directed by the LORD (Genesis 11:27 to 13:1), they had covered over 1500 miles. That’s about the distance between New York and Dallas. Yet the distance of religious reality they covered was far greater. As Joshua is reviewing covenant history, he retells that Abram and his father Terah had worshiped false gods in their ancient city of Ur. Ur was home to the moon god, Nanna (or, Sin). Since Ur was a wealthy city on a major trade route, the people there probably considered the proper worship of the moon god very important to their financial strength. ‘Long live Nanna of the Ur-ites!’ God had a different plan for Abram and Sarai. Grace leads. By moving dad, Terah, to Haran and then Abram and Sarai into the region that Israel would later inherit, God was showing how He can deliver His people. The travelogue of these two was a journey by grace. God commanded Abram in the way he needed to go to depart out of idolatry. And as we probably know, God was at work to bring Abraham into a covenant relationship of grace with Himself. Through Abraham and Sarah, God would create a nation for His glory. Through their Heir, Jesus Christ, God would make a people for Himself, for His glory. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to remind you how He brought you to Himself. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 31 - Iniquity forgiven

“And no inhabitant will say, "I am sick"; the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.” - Isaiah 33:24  Scripture reading: Leviticus 16:1-34 On the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), the high priest would lay his hands on one of two goats. The first goat was sacrificed for the sins of the people. This second goat (where we get the term 'scapegoat') was sent out of the camp and into the wilderness, symbolically carrying upon its head the guilt of the people. Their iniquities were forgiven. Christians have the fulfillment of this Day of Atonement in Jesus Christ. He was led outside the city of Jerusalem to be crucified, and “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6b). This is the only ground for peace - bodyand soul. There is a correlation between sin and sickness. Without sin in the world, there would be no sickness. That is why the new creation is described as having no sickness, as well as no hunger, nor thirst; there will be no sin! How could there be sin? Jesus Christ paid for our sin. Therefore, God has removed our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). God repaid Christ “according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10), and has instead shown steadfast love and grace to us. It is joyful to end our study of this chapter with this final verse. Even though we have repeatedly heard descriptions of the Lord's crushing judgment on our enemies and His faithful protection over His chosen people, none of these deep and rich promises would truly be blessings to us without this final word: your iniquity is forgiven because of the finished atonement of Jesus Christ! Suggestions for prayer Confess your iniquities to the Lord and ask that they be forgiven for the sake of Jesus Christ. Give thanks that your iniquities were laid on Jesus Christ and He made perfect atonement. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 30 - Powerless enemy

“Your cords hang loose; they cannot hold the mast firm in its place or keep the sail spread out. Then prey and spoil in abundance will be divided; even the lame will take the prey.” - Isaiah 33:23  Scripture reading: Romans 8:31-39 Isaiah returns with a final description of the Assyrians. It is a final rebuke against the pride of man. Like sailors vainly attempting to re-position the mast of a ship against forceful winds, so the Assyrians will attempt to withstand the judgments of God in vain. By contrast, God's people will divide abundant “spoil.” Whatever treasures would be aboard that “ship” would be plundered, and plundered easily. The Assyrians will be left so helpless and destitute that even the lame will be able to limp in, take their treasures and safely limp away. In another analogy with a similar meaning, Jesus speaks of “binding the strong man”; that is, in His earthly ministry He was taking spoil from the kingdom of Satan. All His teaching and healing was proving the powerlessness of the enemy. God's people were being healed and delivered! The message to us once again is: do not be afraid. Because of Christ and His blood shed for you, God is for you and not against you. No enemy is more powerful than God's love for you in Christ, because Christ is the One Who died and Who was raised, and is at God's right hand interceding for you! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His great love in Jesus Christ. Praise God for His wisdom and power in defeating the powers through the weakness of the cross of Christ. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 29 - The Lord our judge

“For the Lord is our Judge; the Lord is our Lawgiver; the Lord is our King; He will save us.” - Isaiah 33:22  Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 Because He is the King, the Lord is the only just and righteous Judge and Lawgiver. The Lord alone keeps His just law and judges with righteousness. He is the King of kings and He alone. The Lord is our deliverer and administers justice for His glory and our well-being. This is another promise of the Messiah to come. The Messiah was promised to God's people as their Redeemer, but also the One who would rule with a “sceptre from Judah” (Genesis 49:10). Jesus' work for our salvation consisted not only in our redemption, but also His fulfillment of all of God's justice and righteousness, even bearing the curse of the law that we deserved. “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). In the new heavens and the new earth, Jesus will continue to rule as our King. There will be no sin, but He will still be Judge and Lawgiver; because, in all of the new creation, God's Law will be perfectly upheld. Therefore, living in Christ's Kingdom now, yield to His rule and authority. Listen to His voice and obey Him. We have been delivered from the condemnation of the Law and made new in Christ, that we may walk in newness of life. Obey the Word of your King; it is for service that He saves you. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for help to obey His commandments. Give thanks that Christ by His Word and Spirit has made you a new creation in Christ. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 28 - Forever safe

“But there the Lord in majesty will be for us a place of broad rivers and streams, where no galley with oars can go, nor majestic ship can pass.” - Isaiah 33:21  Scripture reading: Revelation 22:1-5 Isaiah's vision of a fully protected, fully sanctified, filled Church continues here. Not only will God's people feast in joy and peace because God is with them, but there will be ample supply forever. Broad rivers and streams carry with them the promise of fertile land, bountiful harvests, luscious vegetation and productive trees and vines. What is more, is that even though these rivers and streams will be broad and flowing, no passage will be given to any invaders coming by ship. Nautical raiders will not be permitted to pass through and threaten God's people. These rivers and streams will only bring life. In Revelation, the New Jerusalem is pictured as having the “water of life” running through its midst, proceeding from the throne of the Lamb. There is life there, and much fruitfulness. Notice that in both Revelation 22 and here in Isaiah 33 that this life-giving water has Jesus Christ as its source! Life is not life without Jesus; He is the Life! So all life and all joyful blessedness will come from Jesus Christ, even as life came into being through Him (Colossians 1:15-20). Believe in Jesus Christ and be enlivened in His saving grace and righteousness! May you have a foretaste on this Lord's Day of the eternal rest Christ holds for us. May you have that longing to be at home with the Lord where Christ will give us life and rest eternally! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for Christ's eternal salvation and that by His life we may have life. Pray for faith to be hopeful for resurrection on that Day.  Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 23 - The King in his beauty

“Behold, your eyes will behold the king in his beauty; they will see a land that stretches far.” - Isaiah 33:17  Scripture reading: Psalm 45: 1-17 This was an important and immediate promise for the Jews to hear. Their king, Hezekiah, was shut up inside the kingdom and rendered helpless, surrounded by this opposing force. The state of the people and the kingdom was desperate and lamentable. Yet, the promise is the restoration of the line of kings of David. Even in Hezekiah, there remains God's faithful promise that one of David's sons would be on the throne. It is a pledge of God's love for His people. Even though Hezekiah may be “clothed” with weakness, he is a token of God's promise and the former beauty and splendour and greatness of the king will be restored. But the people must see Hezekiah as a sign of God's covenant promise, not its ultimate fulfillment. The church sings of the beauty of the King in Psalm 45. For the King that will restore strength and glory to the Kingdom is Jesus Christ, the Messiah. It is through Christ that God reigns and rules with justice and righteousness, and by Christ's rule that we are secured and restored. The church may look frail and weak today, and while the Kingdom of God has been at hand since Christ's coming, it sometimes seems powerless against the kingdom of darkness. Any kingdom is only as powerful as its king. The Kingdom of God has an Almighty King in Christ. Christ is now arrayed in beauty and regal splendour, even though He first came with “no form or majesty” (Isaiah 53:2). Suggestions for prayer Exalt the Lord Jesus Christ with praise for His majesty. Thank Him for His faithful and just rule over all things by His Word and Spirit. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 22 - Impenetrable defense

“He will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.” - Isaiah 33:16  Scripture reading: Revelation 7:9-17 Because this Man, Jesus Christ, is righteous, He has a secure place with the Lord. Such a place “on the heights” and a “place of defense” evokes the image of a fortified tower high above the reach of enemies, or a naturally rocky crag atop cliffs that cannot be scaled. With such an impenetrable fortress, “What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11). The strategic risk of dwelling in such a fortress, especially one up high, is being able to gather food and drink. If a people has protected itself within a strong city wall, an army laying siege will attempt to cut off the food and water supply. God will provide here as well. Food and water will be constantly available. God will never fail, nor will this Man diminish. There is eternal security here. This is the hope we have as Christians: eternal security by faith in Jesus Christ, where no enemies will threaten. We will lack nothing for our daily needs or supplies. These are rich gifts of grace in Christ! As it says in Revelation 7:16: “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their Shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” So we must always trust God to provide for all our needs and be content with what He provides. Suggestions for prayer Pray these petitions of the Lord's Prayer: for your daily bread, deliverance from the evil one. Praise the Lord that His is the Kingdom and the power and the glory. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 21 - Christ walks and speaks righteously

“He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hand, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil…” - Isaiah 33:15  Scripture reading: Matthew 4:1-11 Only this Man can enter the new Zion and dwell in the presence of God's holy fire. It is noteworthy that the verbs in this verse refer to a singular, individual man. Jesus Christ is this Man of righteousness. His walk is righteous; surely Jesus Christ kept God's will, never straying to the left or the right. He came to do His Father's will and He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 17) that He had accomplished that work. Jesus' speech was righteous; He proclaimed God's glory and God's Word. Jesus knew what was in the heart of man, but did not shrink from proclaiming the whole counsel of God. He said to Satan, “It is written”; He would not allow Satan to twist and stretch God's Word of truth. Jesus was tempted and bribed by the devil in Matthew 4 when the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. Satan offered Jesus food, personal safety and the kingdoms of the world. Jesus rejected these temptations and did not sin. If Jesus had failed the temptations in the wilderness, bloodshed is what would have ensued, for that is what Satan wanted: the eternal condemnation of all people. Jesus' righteousness was necessary to save us. Finally, Jesus never sinned through His eyes. Rather, Hebrews 12:2 calls Jesus “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to the Lord that even though Jesus was tempted as Adam was, He did not sin. Praise the Lord for the last Adam Who is our life-giving spirit. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 20 - Who then is worthy?

“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?” - Isaiah 33:14b Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:11-25 This is another thematic verse in this chapter: a confession of our unworthiness to enter God's holy presence because we are sinful. Psalm 130:3: “If You, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” If you follow the description of the worthy person who could stand in the Lord's judgment on his own or her own, you will quickly see it is not a description of you. Except for Jesus Christ! We will see how Jesus in His righteousness fulfills the requirements in the following verses. Christ's sacrifice for sin was “once-for-all.” We cannot escape God's consuming fire. When offerings were burned before God, it showed the people that His wrath is all-consuming. Jesus' sacrifice is better. Those other sacrifices “can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12-13). He sat down because His saving work was complete; “It is finished,” He said. Only by faith in Jesus Christ can we enter God's holy presence. We “have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh” (Hebrews 10:19-20). Tomorrow, you will enter God's holy presence with the assembly of God's people. Christ's righteousness and atoning blood cover you that you may enter with fear of God's consuming fire, but enter in the joy of Christ's salvation. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to the Lord that He joyfully welcomes us into His presence because of Christ's sacrifice and righteousness. Give thanks to the Lord that we can know Him through Christ. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 15 – The Lord will arise

“Now I will arise," says the Lord, "now I will lift Myself up; now I will be exalted.” – Isaiah 33:10 Scripture reading: Ps. 42:1-11 We do not trust God's wisdom as we should. Not only will God keep His promises, but He fulfills them in the best way, at the best time. We often wonder, why should God wait to deliver us? What purpose is there in His delay? Put these questions another way: would we learn to trust God if He answered us immediately? Does your faith grow more in comfort, or in adversity? So when it appears that the church is in utter ruin, God intervenes. He once again declares that He is Judge over all peoples. Yes, the Jews faced tremendous oppression. They were fearful. They were brought very low. God promises to arise, and we learn that our help is in the Name of the Lord! It is often in the Word of God when God's people are low and oppressed that He arises and shows His might. When God acts powerfully out of earthly weakness and lowliness, the message is clear: God's power does not depend on mankind, and His strength and wisdom are not of this world. God sometimes brings us low and under affliction to teach us that what we need most is Him. He is always with us; He never forgets His own! He will arise, and He will act. Just as He sent Jesus “at the right time” (Romans 5:6; Galatians 4:4), the perfect Saviour. When God determines to save His people, their deliverance is certain!  Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to the Lord for His faithful presence with us and for drawing us near to Himself in our trials and afflictions. Praise the Lord for sending Christ—the right Saviour at the right time!...

Daily devotional

January 14 - The Lord lifted up

“Now I will lift Myself up; now I will be exalted.” - Isaiah 33:10b  Scripture reading: Acts 17:22-34 The kingdom of man has exalted itself and spread itself over the world since the Fall. God bides His time; these “times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). He tells Judah that He is ready to act, to encourage and comfort them. God's actions are not haphazard, but determined and then carried out according to His holy will. God's people see that all other helpers are no help at all, but we must wait patiently for the Lord to deliver. God is no greater exalted than through Jesus Christ. Isaiah will later proclaim the exaltation of the Servant of the Lord in 52:13. Jesus Christ is exalted because of His “wisdom”, but also because “He was despised and rejected by men; a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief...” (v. 3a). Would you bow humbly to Jesus Christ, exalted at God's right hand? Would you repent of your pride and confess your need for His mercy? When the kingdom of man gets proud with God, He declares, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations...” (Psalm 46:10a). Let us not be proud and foolish like the nations, but with humble faith bow to Christ. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for delivering you from the foolishness of unbelief and giving you saving faith in Jesus Christ. Exalt the Lord of glory for His glorious works. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 13 - Even the land mourns 

“The land mourns and languishes; Lebanon is confounded and withers away; Sharon is like a desert, and Bashan and Carmel shake off their leaves.” - Isaiah 33:9  Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-18 This language is not to be taken literally, even though Sennacherib and his army did march down the forests of Lebanon (see 37:24), and did pass through Sharon (see Isaiah 36). This figurative description means that even the land mourns with the people; everywhere you could look, there was a sense of fading, diminishing, or “languishing.” Life, as it were, had gone out of the land. This is used as a picture of the sad condition that the coming of the Assyrians had brought on the land and its people. Lebanon, known for its stately cedars, is now browned out; its leaves have fallen and Lebanon is ashamed. Sharon was also known for beautiful blossoms, but is now a desert region. Bashan and Carmel had verdant trees that were not only bare, but had lost their leaves early. The fear of Assyria has gripped the land; all stands still, cold and lifeless in the grip of dread terror. How can we press on in our present spiritual battle? Fear and dread easily grip us when the present enemies flex and strut. Our weakness in putting sin to death sometimes gives us the same cold and lifeless chill. But “God gave us not a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Jesus Christ gave His Spirit to fill us with power and courage and strength, that we might persevere and not wither, even when the enemies seem so close and so powerful. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ so that by His Spirit you might not languish, but press on in this spiritual battle. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 12 - The fear of man 

“The highways lie waste; the traveler ceases. Covenants are broken; cities are despised; there is no regard for man.” - Isaiah 33:8  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 18:19-37 This is related to the “bitter weeping” of verse 7. The rejection of the tribute is not only a shot against hopefulness, but a breaking of a covenant. The tribute was commanded, with the promise of withdrawal. Not only did Sennacherib refuse to withdraw his forces, but he pressed further, sending his announcers to taunt the Jews. He pressed against the cities and crushed them with little effort. So the highways lie in waste and no one travels out of fear. Here is an enemy who does not care about human life. Here is an enemy who has no honour. There appear to be no limits to his wicked cruelty. We should not live our lives in fear of our great enemies. We should not fear man (Proverbs 29:25). True, our enemies have no regard for man either. But if we fear the Lord, we will fear nothing else. We will continue to worship, work, and enjoy God and His creation, no matter the threats of the enemies. Have you stopped short of serving the Lord in fear of how unbelievers might react? If we give in to the fear of man, it will stifle our God-glorifying service. Christ has given you a spirit of power, not fear. Trust Him to protect you. Suggestions for prayer Pray for courage from the Lord to continue serving Him despite the pressures of the fear of man. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 7 - Christ’s justice and righteousness for Zion

“He will fill Zion with justice and righteousness.” - Isaiah 33:5b  Scripture reading: Psalm 27:1-14 The Lord's Day is a great joy and blessing for us as we come into God's presence in the Name and righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus' sacrifice that we have reconciliation and peace with God. The Lord fills Zion with justice. Jesus is come with justice, by preaching it (Isaiah 61:1-2) and paying for our sins. All our law-breaking and sinfulness deserves the full wrath of God. Justice must be done for the sake of God's glory and honour. Christ satisfies God's justice by being punished under God's wrath for us. Jesus reconciles us to God, having “justified us by His blood” (Romans 5:9); this is true, restorative justice. The Lord also fills Zion with righteousness. Isaiah 32:17: “And the effect of righteousness will be peace and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.” Jesus comes with righteousness. We cannot be accepted by God except through the righteousness of Christ. We cannot enter His presence without “clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:4). Since we do not have a righteousness of our own, we need Christ's righteousness. Christ's righteousness is given to us, or imputed to us, by faith. Behold the mercy of God! As much as He is highly exalted over all His enemies, He is also exalted as the God Who sent His only begotten Son into our misery, our sorrows, to bear our sin, and deliver us in His justice and righteousness! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for Christ's sacrifice for our sins and praise the Lord Jesus for His righteousness. Ask the Lord for the Holy Spirit's help to be joyfully prepared for worship today. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 6 - The eminent and imminent Lord

“The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He will fill Zion with justice and righteousness…” - Isaiah 33:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 115 It is the Lord Himself who reveals His majesty—a wonder that we cannot comprehend. Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that pleases Him.” The same exaltation is proclaimed with respect to Jesus Christ in Hebrews 1:3: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the Word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high...” Unbelievers vainly imagine that God is not present. They foolishly say, “Where is their God?” (Psalm 115:2b). Perhaps the Assyrians vainly imagined that God was far away, distant and aloof with respect to His creation and His people. Their destruction at God's judgment will give evidence of His greatness. But His exalted majesty does not depend on that judgment. The Lord is exalted (eminent), for He dwells on high! Yet, our God is also very near (imminent). He fills Zion. His presence with His people is personal and powerful, and no more so than when Jesus Christ “dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ “made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). In Jesus Christ, our Saviour, the Lord is most exalted and most present with us in justice and righteousness. Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord who is exalted on high and thank the Lord for sending Jesus Christ to “dwell among us” for our salvation and comfort. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 5 - Leaping locusts

“And your spoil is gathered as the caterpillar gathers; as locusts leap, it is leapt upon.” - Isaiah 33:4 Scripture reading: Nahum 3:1-19 Here Isaiah uses the imagery of devouring pests to illustrate how short-lived the Assyrian power would be. Assyria had conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and dispossessed it. Concerning Nineveh, the Assyrian capital city, Nahum also proclaims: “There will the fire devour you; the sword will cut you off. It will devour you like the locust...There is no easing your hurt; your wound is grievous. All who hear the news about you clap their hands over you. For upon whom has not come your unceasing evil?” (3:15, 19). All they plundered would be taken back. Their destruction would be worse than the oppression they had unleashed on other nations. We are no wiser than the Assyrians when we behave as if we boast in ourselves. It is so easy for us to believe we are invincible because of our strength or what we possess. God can strike our possessions and our livelihoods with the same speed and efficiency as grasshoppers tearing through a plump crop. Let us also not be afraid of those instruments of wrath that God takes in His hand to punish and restrain evil in this present age. If the battle belongs to the Lord, so does the spoil of war. He will work His will and protect His church with His rod of discipline and He will also take care of the results. Suggestions for prayer Repent of any trust you have misplaced in yourself, your possessions, or your strength. Thank the Lord for all you have and seek His help to use your gifts for His glory. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 4 - Scattering the enemies

“At the tumultuous noise peoples flee; when You lift Yourself up, nations are scattered…” - Isaiah 33:3 Scripture reading: Psalm 68:1-14 So certain is the Lord's deliverance, that here He tells Israel to live as if the deliverance has already happened. There can be no doubt in our hearts that when the Lord arises to bring justice, it will happen. This was always to be Israel's hope for the coming Messiah: though Christ's coming might be far off into the future, His coming was certain. This is our hope, too: Christ is coming as He promised. The “tumultuous noise” is perhaps a reference to the wailing sound of the Assyrians as the angel of the Lord destroyed 185,000 of their soldiers. This noise is filled with fear and dread at the awful judgment of the Lord. It recalls Revelation 6:16-17, where the unbelievers call out to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” You might also recall the angel of the Lord killing the firstborn sons of Egypt. Only by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, can we be spared from this wrath, this tumultuous noise and fear of God's judgment! These words summon us to repent of our sins and to put our faith in Christ alone! In God's judgment, the nations are scattered. He arises in His might and the nations tremble. Suggestions for prayer Pray with thanksgiving for the blood of Jesus Christ that saves us from the wrath of God and with hopeful expectation for Christ's coming. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 30 - John the Baptizer bears witness to the light

“John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”” - John 1:26-27  Scripture reading: John 1:19-28 The Apostle John makes clear that John the Baptist was not the Light. But the forerunner came to bear witness to the Light (John 1:8). In John 1:19-28, we have the record of John the Baptist denying that he is the promised Christ. Reports about the preaching of John the Baptist had created great excitement. Rumour suggested that the Baptist was the Messiah. His preaching was powerful. He had an impressive method of urging repentance. A delegation came from Jerusalem. The priests and Levites asked John the Baptist who he was. An avalanche of meaning is found in John’s response: “I am not the Christ.” John knew that they were wondering whether he claimed to be the long-awaited Saviour. There had been much Messianic fervour in the first century. There had been many messianic pretenders. The delegation asked whether John was Elijah. He dressed like Elijah. It is true that John came preaching with the fervour and spirit of Elijah, but he was not the Old Testament prophet come back from Paradise. But the committee needed something to report back. John confessed who he was: “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’” (John 1:23). This implied that the Messianic King was coming. John is the road builder who is preparing the way for the coming king. John humbly compares himself to the Messiah. He is not worthy to untie the strap on Jesus’ sandal. John will present this glorious and preeminent Saviour to the covenant nation. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would be humble. Ask God to help you to understand how lowly you are in comparison with the glorious Saviour and that you would willing to serve your beloved Master as a bondservant. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 29 - Christ: The genuine light

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” - John 1:4-5  Scripture reading: John 1:1-12 The Apostle John contrasts the Saviour with the darkness of the fallen world and Satan’s dark kingdom. Speaking of Christ, John calls Him “the Light.” Light is a fitting metaphor or name to use to refer to God because God is light and in Him there is no darkness. The Psalmist sang: “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” God dwells in an unapproachable light. But the Son of God, the Word, is the Light in a unique sense. In Christ, the glory of God shines forth. He reveals something of the glory of God to humanity. Light is a picture of truth and purity. Satan’s dark kingdom is characterized by ignorance and filthiness. The Son of God is the Light in two senses. First, the Son of God plays an important role in the general illumination of humanity. This is what the Apostle John is talking about in John 1:9 when he writes that the Light “enlightens everyone.” The Son of God uses the beauty of the sky to declare and reveal the deity, glory, and power of God. The result is that even wicked men know that God exists. In a second sense, the Word is the Light because He reveals truth and purity to His people. By His Spirit He illuminates the minds of elect sinners so that they can perceive spiritual realities. Christ reveals the truth about how sinners can be transferred into the kingdom of light. His royal law illuminates the path on which we should walk. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would have a sense of the glory of God when you go outside and look at God’s beautiful world. Pray that you would walk in the light since you are not a child of darkness. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 28 - The twelve-year-old Jesus: The God who knows

“And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” - Luke 2:47  Scripture reading: Luke 2:41-52 When Jesus was a twelve-year-old, Joseph and Mary took Him along to the Passover Feast in Jerusalem. Afterwards, Joseph and Mary left for home, thinking that Jesus was in their company. But the boy stayed behind. I have seen parents leave their children behind at church; this can provide some comedy. But Joseph and Mary were not amused when they discovered that Jesus was missing. They had traveled for an entire day. Joseph and Mary spent a day walking back to Jerusalem. After three days, Mary finds Jesus in the Temple. He was sitting among learned biblical scholars, answering them, and asking His own questions. The doctors of the law were astonished at the precocious answers of the young boy. All who heard the twelve-year-old were astounded at His understanding of Scripture and theology. The young Jesus astonished His contemporaries because He is the God who Knows. He is the Son of God in human flesh. Nathaniel, an early disciple of Jesus, would be surprised by Jesus’ omniscience. Somehow Jesus knew that he had been sitting under a fig tree. Jesus confessed His deity to His mother when she asked what he was doing. He said: “Do you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Mary knew that Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father. Jesus affirms that He is the unique Son of God. He is the only begotten Son. Mary had been told that her son would be the “Son of the Highest.” Jesus is the Word and Wisdom of God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would have a deeper understanding of the trinitarian splendour of the one true God. Pray that you would give praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Who are coequal in glory and honour. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

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