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Daily devotional

December 4 - Jesus is coming!

“Behold he is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even So AMEN.” - Revelation 1:7 

Scripture reading: Revelation 1:1-20

Once more we look at the introductory verses, this time to notice what John draws our attention to. Look, he says! And he concludes this verse with the word AMEN: so shall it be. We must take note of what is so certain, that Jesus is coming, not now as the Saviour in the manger, but now as the sovereign Lord, coming on the clouds of heaven to judge the heavens and earth.

Clouds in scripture are symbols of majesty, glory and judgment. In Psalm 97:2 we read, “…clouds and thick darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne.” Jesus will return on the clouds, that is with majesty, glory and judgment, and every eye will see Him. His enemies will see Him and tremble in fear. They will mourn because of Him. Mentioned are those who pierced Him, those who put Him to death at the crucifixion. All who are unrepentant and unforgiven will mourn because when Jesus returns, they suddenly will see their folly and the dawning of the day of their destruction (see Revelation 18).

In verse 1, we believers were promised grace and peace. This warning is given here to encourage all who hear, to flee to Christ and put their faith in Him. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Believers need not fear our Saviour’s return.

Suggestions for prayer

Thank the Lord for the redeeming work of Jesus and for the promise of His return as judge to make all things new. Ask for forgiveness of our sins, in Jesus’ name.

Rev. Calvin J. Tuininga has served in four churches and he retired in September 2019. He and his wife now reside in Washington, North Carolina. He presently serves as a relationship Counsellor with Coastal Pregnancy Centre, as the chairman of the Synodical appeals committee of the URCNA, and also enjoys helping in various churches when possible. 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

November 29 - The far greater Saviour

“…to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord…” - Jude 25a Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 10:23-33; Jude 24-25 The grace of God isn’t worth turning into lewdness and denying the only God and our Lord Jesus Christ (verse 4). That will bring us no joy. Making idols of our desires and using the gospel to excuse our sins is the life of a miserable slave, not of a joyful servant. What misery are you masking with the gospel so that you can stay in your sins? What idol have you crafted that is keeping you from giving a full-hearted doxology to the Lord? Remember that we have a far greater Saviour than any satisfaction that our sins can provide. Idols cannot even hear or speak, but the only God, our Saviour, speaks His gospel to us through His Word, and hears even our groaning prayers through His Spirit. The guarantee of a life of purpose and eternal joy is nothing less than Jesus Christ our Lord Who gave Himself up on the cross so that we could be spared from the judgment our sins deserve. So do not be discouraged when you are contending for the faith. Yes, we are weak in this struggle, and the church will always prove inadequate to the task, but our God and Saviour will keep us in His mercy! Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord for revealing Himself to us as our Saviour through Jesus Christ. Thank Him that He has not abandoned us to a fruitless struggle against our sins, but has pledged victory for us by the blood of Christ alone. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 28 - Beautiful Saviour

“…and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy…” - Jude 24b Scripture reading: Revelation 7:9-17; Jude 24-25 When we stand before God’s glorious throne on the Day of Judgment, will we have a disappointed look on our faces? Are we going to regret that the Lord’s mercy has taken us out of our sins? Will we despise that new and eternal life because we can no longer indulge ourselves in the passions of a sinful heart? The only ones who will be uncomfortable to stand before the presence of His glory will be those who have made excuses for their wickedness, instead of repenting at the news of His gospel. Receiving the righteousness of Christ to cover our sins and to make us blameless, is not a gospel for a day we hope will be as far in the future as it can be. Meanwhile, are we trying to enjoy as much of our sins as we can? How can we who belong to such a beautiful Saviour despise the beauty of His righteousness for us? We cannot live hypocritically by loving our sin-filled lives while being grateful that we will be saved from those sins when Jesus returns. Today is the day of salvation! This is a doxology to sing today and the great joy that verse 24 anticipates is ours to enjoy as a foretaste already now. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the righteousness that we have in Christ today, and for the sanctifying work of the Spirit Who will bring us to blamelessness when we stand in glory. Pray that the Spirit would give you the sincere joy to sing God’s praises. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 27 - The first step

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling…” - Jude 24a Scripture reading: Psalm 121:1-8; Jude 24-25 With these final verses of his letter, Jude begins to sing a doxology. But this doxology could not have been sung with conviction by the false teachers he had warned the church about in his letter. They would not have sung about the Lord keeping them from stumbling because what they wanted was to stumble into the mud of their sins and then wallow in it some more. They wanted the gospel to let them stay defiled. But we have been called “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Verse 3). Jude has reminded us how many have stumbled before us and the danger is just as much in front of our feet today. We are just one step away from stumbling back into our sins; none of us should have the pride to think that we can keep ourselves from stumbling. That pride is often the first step of our fall! Even if we do stumble, if we struggle with doubt, or if our ungodly passions still plague us, the Lord does not wait for us to pick ourselves up, clean ourselves off and prove that we are worthy of His mercy. He gave us the proof of His love in Jesus, so we will never stumble too far that His mercy cannot save. Suggestions for prayer Wherever you are fighting the desires of your flesh, plead with the Lord to keep you from stumbling. Ask that the Word that is preached to you today will encourage your faith to rest in the Lord’s care for His people Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 26 - Fireman’s carry

“…save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” - Jude 23 Scripture reading: Acts 2:29-39; Jude 17-23 When a firefighter rushes into a burning house, he doesn’t ask the person lying in the middle of the flames and suffering from smoke inhalation, “Would you like me to show mercy to you?” No, he yanks that person up and over his shoulder and carries him out of the house as quickly as he can. Verse 22 encourages us to have mercy on those who doubt, which requires patience and compassion. Verse 23 commands us again to have mercy, but this time there is no room for patience. Perhaps you’ve had patience with this person in the past, but they’ve become so consumed by their sinful desires that they need to be rescued immediately from a much more dangerous fire – the wrath of God. In this case, tough words need to be said, knowing that they might not be welcomed. Perhaps friendships or possessions need to be left behind because they lead to uncontrolled temptation. But if these tough words are not said and sinners are left to continue in their ways, they risk the judgment of God that Jude described in verses 5-11. May God have mercy and snatch sinners from the fire! Suggestions for prayer Pray for loved ones or church family who are shutting their hearts to God’s call to repentance. Ask the Lord to help you not to be afraid of speaking words of mercy to them. Pray that God would gather the lost and show them His mercy. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 21 - Division must occur

“It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.” - Jude 19 Scripture reading: John 14:25-31; John 17:20-26; Jude 17-23 It is lamentable that the church is not as unified as it ought to be, but what compromises would have to be made to satisfy everyone who claims to be a Christian so that they can belong to a single, global church? Considering the corrupting influence of sin and the persistence of the devil to use false teachers to lead people astray, is it really surprising to see the church splintered into so many denominations? Some say that doctrine divides and that’s why Christians can’t get along. In one sense, that’s true: false doctrine leads the church away from the Bible and true doctrine keeps the church from compromising with the world. False doctrine and true doctrine cannot live peacefully together. Division must occur if the church is to keep its life and witness pure. That’s why, whenever division occurs, we must ask, “What kind of worldliness caused this disunity?” The Holy Spirit does not cause disunity. The Holy Spirit brings peace, just as Jesus promised. Even though contending for the faith might seem to be combative, the fruit of that struggle is a church unified as its rests together in Christ. That is a peace worth all of the watchfulness, discipline and prayer we can muster. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for faithfully giving His Spirit to the church even though there have been many divisions. Pray that the Lord would heal those divisions and encourage a spirit of unity and faithfulness to His Word. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 20 - Did God really say?

“They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”” - Jude 18 Scripture reading: 2 Peter 3:1-9; Jude 17-23 Wherever the gospel is faithfully preached and the church begins to grow, scoffers quickly follow. Scoffers try to undermine the effectiveness of the gospel by mocking those who strive for holiness: “Can Christians really expect to have success in their struggles against sin? You know how weak you are, and you know the wickedness that’s still in your heart!” The devil sends out his messengers to try to cause doubt so that we are discouraged from even trying to persevere in holiness. But when the Apostle Peter warned us about scoffers, he also reminded us of the perfections of our Lord. Even though our battle against sin in ourselves and in the church might seem to have no end in sight, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” No matter how long and arduous the struggle is, there is an end to it that has been predetermined by our Father Who loves His people. The best answer to those who scoff is not to join them in their ungodly passions, but to live with our eyes fixed on the long-suffering of the Lord. Yes, we are too weak to stand on our own against ungodliness, but God’s promises are the surety of our salvation and we will see Christ’s victory in us. Suggestions for prayer Open your heart to the Lord when you have doubts about His promises, and ask Him to show you again the power of His love in Jesus Christ. Pray that you will not grow weary of doing good and that you can be an encouragement to struggling brothers and sisters. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 19 - The old, old story

“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” - Jude 17 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:19-22; Hebrews 13:7-9; Jude 17-23 Whenever the church goes astray, it’s because she first made the decision to forget. When the old, old story of Jesus and His love becomes boring or outdated, Christians might remember that Jesus died on the cross for sinners, but they don’t think the gospel has much power. So they begin to look for something more appealing like influence or entertainment. The preaching turns Jesus into a therapist, Catechism classes become dry doctrinal lectures and Bible study (if the Bible is opened at all) is about finding advice for our marriages or political issues. A church that no longer remembers the gospel is easy pickings for false teachers to lead them into ungodliness. But the church, beloved by Christ, needs to remember the foundation upon which she stands. The Holy Spirit did not give the apostles empty, powerless words to write down in a book and then preserve those words for thousands of years, just to be forgotten today. Through the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit has put in our hands a Word that can renew the most lifeless church and transform the most distraught sinner. Even when it is difficult to contend for the faith in your own congregation, remember the power of the Word. Suggestions for Prayer Pray that your heart would be established by grace, rather than be tossed around by strange doctrines. Thank the Lord for His unchanging Word that He has preserved so that you can stand firmly in His promises today. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

 November 18 - The wolf’s name tag

“These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.” - Jude 16 Scripture reading: Matthew 7:15-19; Galatians 5:16-26; Jude 14-16 False teachers don’t come into the church wearing a name tag: “Wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Instead, they will present themselves as harmless, even humble to a fault. They are the last people you’d think are in danger of the wrath of God because their hypocrisy is designed to deceive. When Jesus says, “By their fruits you will know them,” he is speaking specifically about false teachers. What are these fruits? They grumble about the imperfections in the work of the church’s elders, implying that they could do a better job. They are malcontented about the pace of the church’s growth, proposing their own programs or tactics instead. They are quick to ask for patience and compassion when their teaching doesn’t line up with the Scriptures, but they have little patience for those who rebuke them. They will look to gain a following, force others into choosing sides and play the game of favourites to win you over. These are the fruits of a heart that will not submit itself to God’s Word, a heart that has a zeal to satisfy its own sinful desires instead. So what are we zealous for? Are we quick to grumble or complain? Do we boast about our own ideas and show favouritism? Lord, help us bear the fruit of humble faith! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would bear the good fruit that comes from being rooted in Christ and ask the Lord to prune away whatever is sinful. Pray for watchful elders who have loving and compassionate hearts for God’s people Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 13 - Hidden reefs

“These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves…” - Jude 12a Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-22; Jude 1:12-13 A hidden reef is one of the greatest dangers for ships because if a ship runs aground, the waves will mercilessly slam into it until the ship breaks apart. But what does that have to do with our “love feasts”? Using the Greek word agape, “love feasts” was a nickname Christians used in the early church to describe the fellowship they had with each other during and surrounding the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Jude is warning about ungodly influences creeping into the church and destroying that fellowship, like hidden reefs can destroy a ship. Thinking that grace means we can live as we want, presuming that God doesn’t really care about our sinful choices, and boasting that we can control temptation on our own – those are all shipwrecks waiting to happen. That’s why “the Christian church is duty-bound to exclude such people by the official use of the keys of the kingdom until they reform their lives” (Lord’s Day 30). Whether or not you are having the Lord’s Supper today, treasure the fellowship you have in Christ’s church. Pray for your elders to be faithful in protecting the church. Because if we are not vigilant, we will run aground and break apart. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for the fellowship we have together in Christ and for faithful elders and pastors who stand as watchmen over the church. Pray for a selfless heart that will gladly receive the guidance of the under-shepherds Christ has appointed in your congregation. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 12 - Offended by offensiveness

“Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion.” - Jude 11 Scripture reading: Matthew 23:23-36; Jude 5-11 Israel refused to enter the Promised Land and their generation perished in the wilderness. The devil and his followers refused to honour the Lord and they were cast out of heaven. Sodom and Gomorrah assumed they would get away with their immorality and were consumed by fire. Cain murdered his brother and became a wanderer. Following Balaam’s advice, Israel joined themselves to the pagan women of Midian and a plague consumed 24,000 Israelites. Korah and his family were jealous of Moses and the earth swallowed them up. If today’s false teachers are distorting the gospel and threatening the church, should we expect God to deal with them any differently? Or are we so “nice” that we deprive our brothers and sisters of loving admonishments? Are we too hesitant to take a stand for the truth, and thus leave others to be led astray? Are we afraid to risk being offensive even though the Bible tells us that Jesus is a “a stumbling stone and a rock of offence”? (Romans 9:33). Contending for the faith can only happen if we truly believe that Jesus is the only Saviour and that every blessing comes only through Him. If we know the extent of His love for us, let us be eager to encourage others to cling to Jesus alone and not be swayed by a false gospel. Suggestions for prayer Pray to be Christ-like in your patience for sinners and in your steadfastness against false teachers. Ask God for an even greater love for Jesus so that you can love your neighbours with His gospel. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 11 - Risky reasoning

“But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.” - Jude 10 Scripture reading: Hebrews 3:1-19; Jude 5-11 It’s easier to throw stones at the ungodliness and foolishness of others than it is to confess our own need for repentance. Jude is not speaking about these false teachers and their blasphemy in order to puff up our own pride and ego, but to warn us so that we don’t fall into the same wickedness. Contending for the faith also means watching over our own hearts. When we keep our Bibles closed and live by our own assumptions, we risk thinking that we have the right to decide how much the Holy Spirit is allowed to work in us. We risk making God’s law a superficial influence on our conduct. We risk thinking that we are righteous in our actions when our hearts are growing cold. This is blasphemy and it is destructive. We do not have more freedom and more joy by thinking that grace allows us to sin. Instead, we disgrace God’s Name by our actions, set unholy examples for our fellow Christians, break the unity of the church and we destroy our witness to a world enslaved in its sin. Christ saves us to free us from sin, not to give us an excuse to stay in our sin. Suggestions for prayer Confess your struggles with rebellion against God’s will. Pray for the Spirit to give you a zeal for sanctification. Ask the Lord to make holiness become more beautiful to you and sin become less enticing. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 10 - The word of rebuke

“But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”” - Jude 9 Scripture reading: Psalm 16; Jude 5-11 Sometimes difficult passages in the Bible worry us, especially when they raise more questions than answers. The events described in verse 9 are not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, and knowing that the devil and Michael were disputing about the body of Moses seems unsettling. Do evil spirits and godly spirits really wrestle over our bodies after we die? Passages like Psalm 16 reassure us about the outcome of those disputes, but that’s also not actually the point that Jude is addressing. We’ve been learning about false teachers who use their own ideas, and even their dreams, to lead the church into immorality and to keep us from contending for the faith. Now that we know the danger, what tool do we need to contend for the faith? We need to use God’s Word. Verse 9 shows us how even the powerful and glorious archangel, Michael, did not rely on his own strength, nor on his own word, to refute the lies of the devil when they were disputing over something as precious as the body of Moses. With the Word of God, even the angels have everything they need for their spiritual battles. Don’t be afraid to take up God’s Word and stand firmly on His truth! Suggestions for prayer Ask for God’s blessing upon he who is preparing today to preach God’s Word to you on Sunday. Pray for His protection over your congregation to keep you from following opinions and preferences that will lead you astray Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 5 - Creeping in unnoticed

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” - Jude 4 Scripture reading: Romans 6:1-14; Acts 20:28-31; Jude 3-4 Many of us have fears of things that creep into our homes unnoticed – spiders, ants, even snakes. But Jude is warning Christians to be just as concerned about certain people who creep in unnoticed into the house of God, the church. Their creeping is not accidental, as if they stumbled into their schemes to undermine the gospel, but they have set their hearts on abusing the grace of God. Though they speak openly about Jesus, Jude says they “long ago were designated for this condemnation.” These are enemies of the church even while appearing to be allies for the gospel. They will happily speak about Jesus dying for our sins and the freedom we have because we’ve been spared from the wrath of God. But be on guard for the fruits of their message! These certain people are turning grace into their excuse for “sensuality.” They teach a false gospel that being free from sin means being free to live however we please, enjoying all kinds of immorality without consequence. This makes our desires our master, and we live to please ourselves rather than live to please our Lord. What a dangerous threat this false gospel is to the church! Never forget that the gospel means that Jesus has spared believers from judgment for our sins, and He gives the Holy Spirit to lead believers to walk with God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that your elders would be alert to the wolves that threaten the flock. Repent of the presumptuous sins that demand more of your attention than the lordship of Christ. Rejoice that Jesus calls us to enjoy the holiness of God. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 4 - Contend for the faith

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” - Jude 3 Scripture reading: 1 Tim. 6:11-21; 2 Tim. 4:1-8; Jude 3-4 Nothing brings a preacher more joy than to see sinners respond to the gospel by putting their faith in Christ. That’s why Jude’s first desire was to write about “our common salvation.” But like every faithful preacher, Jude knows that the joy of proclaiming Christ must be partnered with warnings and admonishments to protect believers from going astray. We need those warnings because it’s easier to go astray than it is to remain faithful. It’s easier to think that being saved means we don’t have to struggle against sin. We even excuse our careless attitudes by thinking, “God will save us anyway, right?” But that shows how little value we put on our faith. We don’t think that it’s worth the struggle to keep our focus on Jesus. We don’t think it’s worth contending for the faith to keep ourselves holy, so that we can serve the Lord. Contending for the faith is hard work – but it’s worth it. The faith is what the Holy Spirit gives to every generation of the church so that sinners can be reconciled to God. It doesn’t change with the times. It’s not trying to stay relevant or be politically correct but clings to Jesus, as uncomfortable and as unpopular as that may be. When we are tempted to compromise our faith by taking the easier and more worldly path through life, is it really worth it? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you take the lordship of Jesus for granted. Repent of any spiritual carelessness. Pray that God will give you the zeal to contend for the faith in every part of your life. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 3 - Mercy, peace and love

“May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” - Jude 2:  Scripture reading: Psalm 23; 1 Peter 1:1-9; Jude 1-2 When we hear God greet us at the beginning of every worship service, we expect to hear a blessing that includes some combination of the words: grace, mercy, peace and love. But if one Sunday morning God refused to allow the minister to speak those words to us, how different that worship service would be! In the same way, Jude’s greeting to believers is not at all casual or routine – we need it! Jude is writing to those who are being called to “contend for the faith” (verse 3), a task that would be impossible without God’s blessing. God’s mercy means that He will strengthen the church while overcoming our pride, our foolishness and our mistakes. God’s peace gives us courage to continue to stand for truth and godly living even when the church’s voice appears to be withering. God’s love assures us that He will not abandon the church to our struggle against worldliness. Jude describes these blessings as being “multiplied” to us, so he expects God to continue to pour out His mercy, peace and love. Jude also expects that we are going to continue needing these blessings. When you hear God’s greeting this coming Sunday, remember that he is multiplying those blessings once again for you. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for how God has faithfully given His mercy, peace, and love to every generation of the church. Ask Him to multiply these blessings in your life, giving you greater courage to live faithfully as a Christian. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 2 - Those who are called 

“To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ…” - Jude 1b Scripture reading: Romans 8:28-30; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Jude 1-2 In the New Testament, the church is described as those who have been “called out” by God. We have been called out from our bondage to sin and misery, we have been called into grace and righteousness through Jesus Christ, and we have been called to a new life of gratitude and holiness. All three parts of that calling matter to God, and they ought to matter to us. Have we neglected any part of that calling? Have we become indulgent, proud, or spiritually lazy? Jude’s purpose in writing this epistle is to urge us to live by that calling. He will warn us about those who are trying to lead the church away from its calling to love and serve God faithfully. He will sound the alarm about false teachers who say that the gospel gives us the freedom to indulge in sexual immorality and other fleshly lusts. Instead, we need to remember that we are “beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.” Our calling is much more fulfilling than the empty promises of false teachers and much more valuable than the reward of momentary pleasures. Are we choosing to give into temptations that take us away from the love of our Father? Are we listening to false teachers that try to keep us away from Jesus? Let’s remember our calling! Suggestions for prayer Ask for forgiveness for how you forget your calling and replace it with your own self-interest. Pray that the love of the Father would bring you greater joy. Ask that Jesus would keep you from walking closer to sin. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

October 28 - The great blessing of prayer

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:6-7  Scripture reading: Philippians 4:4-9 and Matthew 6:25-34 We live in a world of anxiety and stress! We experience it at work, at home, and even in church. Our many challenges with Covid-19 over the last few years are proof of that. Paul tries to help his friends keep their perspective on life. For if we are to “rejoice” (v.4) and live a life of “gentleness” and grace in these last days, knowing that our Lord will return (v.5), then we need to have “peace” of mind. And that peace only comes from God. That peace is accessed through prayer! Do we pray regularly? Paul says in Colossians 4:2 that we are to “continue earnestly in prayer” and in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we are to “pray without ceasing.” But sadly, for many, prayer is something they turn to as a last resort. And yet, Paul gives us a wonderful pattern for our prayers and the petitions we offer to God. First, don’t let anxiety consume you, rather, “in everything”, come to God in prayer. We should spend more time looking upward rather than worrying about what’s going on around us. And second, pray with “thanksgiving” in your heart as you make your requests known to God. Prayer should not be something we do grudgingly, but thankfully. For when we come to God in this way, He will send us His “peace”, and that peace will “guard” our hearts and minds, so that regardless of our situation, we may know that everything is in His hands! Suggestions for prayer Pray and don’t give up! Don’t let the worry and trouble of the day hinder your walk with God. Come to the Father in Jesus’ Name with confidence and a heart of gratitude. Be assured that He will send you peace in the storms of life! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 27 - Our citizenship is in heaven

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body…” - Philippians 3:20-21  Scripture reading: Philippians 3:17-4:1 and John 14:1-6 Now, as we saw in vv.12-16, striving towards the heavenly goal and the prize of life with Christ is an ongoing process. In this life, there is no such thing as perfection or instant sanctification. The process of God’s working in us by His Word and Spirit is life-long. Therefore, as Christians, our lives are to give evidence to this mighty work. It’s to be seen in godly living, in dying to the ways of the flesh and the sinful pleasures of the world. As Paul makes clear in vv.18-19, there are many so-called Christians who live carnally minded lives. They are governed by their desires and they seek to fulfil their pleasures. But as Paul so clearly states, that cannot be for those who have their “citizenship in heaven”! For though we live, work and worship on earth, heaven is our true home! How often does our heavenly citizenship come to mind? Does the Spirit use it to quell our desire and to fight against temptation? If we belong to Christ, then we should strive to live the Christ-like life. For as Paul says, Christ will return and when He does, we will be transformed, and our earthly bodies will be made glorious like His body! Do you desire this? Does your life reflect it? It should, for you are a citizen of heaven, bought with the blood of Christ, and not like those without hope in the world! Suggestions for prayer Remind yourself of your heavenly citizenship and let it be for your encouragement in how you live your life! For your life is in Christ and one day your Lord will return for you, and so take care of how you live your life! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 26 - Pressing on toward the goal

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” - Philippians 3:12  Scripture reading: Philippians 3:12-16 and Hebrews 12:1-2 In vv.7-11 the apostle Paul spoke of the rich blessings that he now has in Jesus Christ. But as vv.12-16 show us, he has not attained the ultimate goal. As he says in v.14, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Thus, Paul’s race, his running of the course of the life of faith, only ends once he is in Glory with his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! As he rightly notes in v.12, we shall never reach “perfection” in this life. In other words, the process of sanctification is lifelong and the goal unattainable in this life. But for the followers of Christ, they press onward, toward that heavenly goal, letting everything else drop to the wayside including any earthly loves, selfish goals, fears or regrets. For Christ has “laid hold of me”, says Paul, and therefore the only direction the Christian can go is to Him! For the course in which Paul runs, is the same one in which we as believers must all run. We have salvation and belong to Christ, but the fullness is yet to come. Like an Olympic runner, we run with all our heart, soul, strength and mind to reach the heavenly prize, the fullness of life in Christ! This is the upward call of God to us, and we cannot take it lightly or ignore it. And so, let us run with perseverance in the race before us! Suggestions for prayer Look to Jesus and fix the eyes of your faith on Him. Do not lose heart or grow weary in this spiritual race, but find your strength in Him and rejoice in the glorious prize that awaits all His redeemed at the end, the fullness of eternal life! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 25 - Growing to know the Lord and his power

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…” - Philippians 3:10a  Scripture reading: Philippians 3:1-11 and Ephesians 1:15-23 One of the key aspects of the Christian life is spiritual growth. And for the Christian, nothing is greater than growing to know Jesus Christ more and more in the life of faith. For Paul, Christ filled the empty place in his heart. As we saw yesterday, all the many things of this life that Paul once counted as important, he now views as nothing for the sake of Christ (vv.4-8). For what can compare to Christ and knowing Him? As Christians, we desire to know more of Christ’s grace, of His love, mercy, faithfulness and power! And what “power” Christ has! The “power” made available to us through His resurrection is beyond what we can imagine! For in Christ, we have our life, and by Him, we grow spiritually. We die to the old nature and come to life in the new nature. Our hearts and minds are set on things above, where Christ is, rather than being rooted in things on the earth and the things that pass away with time. Do you desire to know Christ and the power of His resurrection? Are you willing to suffer for His sake? To know Him means to obey Him, which means taking up your cross and following Him. To truly know Him and His mighty power means you are willing to suffer for His sake, knowing the glorious reward of your own resurrection to come! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would grow to know Christ more and that you would desire to live for Him in every area of life. Pray for the spiritual blessings that come to you because of His resurrection. Live by that power rather than by your own strength! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 20 - The majestic glory of Christ

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow…and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” - Philippians 2:9-11  Scripture reading: Philippians 2:5-11 and John 17:1-26 What we have in our text is a striking contrast to what we see in vv.6-8. For Jesus, the humble servant of God, Who gave Himself up to death on a cross is now exalted to the highest heights of glory! For this exaltation is a reward from His Father for His perfect saving work! (John 17:1-5). This is a glory He enjoys now, but it also has a future goal, for, in time, all the created order will be subject to His glorious majesty! (Philippians 2:9-11) And yet, why does Paul speak of the glory of Christ right after his charge to live the humble servant life? We might sum it up this way: (1) It convicts us that this humble servant's life is the only life we can live before God! For this is the way Jesus went. This is the way that is pleasing to God, and this is the only way that ends in glory. (2) It reminds us also of the love of Jesus for His elect, that He suffered and died to “bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18) so that we might be with Him forever. And (3) it assures us that even though we face many trials and adversities, the glorious end of our faith is in eternal glory with our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we are called to the humble servant life on earth, but we look for our eternal reward to come with Christ from heaven! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for the eternal riches you have in Christ! Ask Him to strengthen you to live that humble, giving, selfless life for the sake of the church and as part of your witness to the world. Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 19 - The amazing sacrifice of Christ

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” - Philippians 2:8  Scripture reading: Philippians 2:5-8 and Galatians 3:10-14 The apostle wants to make clear to his audience that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, took upon Himself a real human nature. Some have said that as true God, Jesus couldn’t take on sinful human flesh, therefore He had flesh that only seemed to be human but was of some heavenly substance. But Paul says, “No! Jesus is true God and true Man!” Only in this way could Jesus be our divine Substitute. Thus, as the incarnate Son of God, Paul tells us that Jesus gave Himself to the ninth degree - even death on a cross! Crucifixion was the worst form of punishment in Roman society. For the Jews, to be hung on a tree was a sign of being accursed of God (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). That Jesus endured this shows us the extent of His saving work on our behalf, of His willingness to become a curse for us to remove our curse before God! (Galatians 3:13) For through His perfect obedience and sacrificial work, He has earned our salvation and is now able to impute His righteousness to our account when we confess our sins and trust in Him as our Saviour and Lord (2 Corinthians 5:21). Yes, how amazing is the work of Christ on our behalf! What joy and thankfulness should fill our hearts as a result! We should desire to live in such a way that others see Christ in us, and that the Lord might draw them to Himself! Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord for His gracious, saving work! Let us not take the suffering of our Saviour for granted, but be ever thankful. May that be seen in our lives, in our worship, and in our witness to the lost of our world! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 18 - Having the mind of Christ

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” - Philippians 2:5-7  Scripture reading: Philippians 2:5-8 and Mark 10:35-45 As we noted in yesterday’s devotion, this humble, servant attitude Paul is seeking to instill in the hearts of his friends is the very attitude that marked the life of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. For as Jesus says in Mark 10:45, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” And that sacrificial character of His work stands out so clearly in Paul’s words. For Jesus, as the eternal Son of God, is true God, just as the Father and the Holy Spirit are. But in His role as our Mediator and divine Substitute, Jesus has taken on our flesh and blood and come into our world. That He did not consider it “robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation”, reveals this so powerfully! For here we see the absolute willingness of the Son of God to humble Himself, to lay aside His heavenly status and glory to stoop to our weakness and take the form of a “bondservant” in the “likeness of men.” Yes, Jesus had a real humanity. Jesus lived a real life on earth and was subject to the demands of God’s Law. He was like us in every way, except for sin (Hebrews 4:15), so that He might fulfill all righteousness, and do for us what we could never do for ourselves, namely, pay the debt of our sin and set us free! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for the glorious gift of His only Son, Jesus Christ, as our Saviour and Lord! May the selfless example of Christ be the pattern for how we live toward each other in the church, in our homes and as a witness to the world! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 17 - Live with lowliness of mind

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” - Philippians 2:3  Scripture reading: Philippians 2:1-4 and 1 Peter 2:18-25 Having a humble heart as a Christian is vitally important to the life of the church. It is through humility and selflessness that oneness in the church is encouraged, as Paul shows us in vs.1-2. Often, however, “selfish ambition or conceit” clouds our vision and instead of encouraging unity and peace, it leads to division! For “selfish ambition and conceit” reflects the sinful desire to have what belongs to our neighbour, and with that, a false sense of superiority over them, where we look at others as inferior to ourselves. But Paul says that instead of cultivating that kind of arrogant attitude, we are to be clothed with a “lowliness of mind”, that is, with a humble, realistic view of ourselves. For we are sinners saved by grace and not of our own doing! We have nothing to boast about or gloat over, especially, in looking down on our fellow believers. Instead, we are to see our neighbours through the eyes of faith, putting their needs and interests ahead of our own. For as we will see in vs.5-8 this was the way of our Lord Jesus Christ, that faithful Servant, Who humbled Himself to greatest depths for our salvation! Yes, Jesus has left us with an example that we are to follow. We are to have “lowliness of mind”, a humble spirit and a life that will foster oneness and unity in the church, thereby providing a powerful witness to the world. Suggestions for prayer Pray for this spirit of lowliness in the hearts of Christians. Pray that the Holy Spirit would root out any selfish ambition or conceit from us so that we might live the sincere, heartfelt Christian life that is a blessing to the church. Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 12 - The challenging of standing fast

“That you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” - Philippians 1:27b  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:27-30 and Ephesians 6:10-13 Opposition to the Christian faith is always a challenge and the saints in Philippi knew it well. Therefore, Paul wants to encourage them to be strong and not lose heart. He does so by focusing on two things. First, “that you stand fast in one spirit”, that is, hold your ground by being of like-mind, purpose and disposition. For when Christians rely on God’s Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit, they can endure life’s trials and challenges. But then Paul adds to that, "with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”. This has the idea of standing side-by-side. It's a term used for those who fight in battle or engage in an athletic contest because the closer they stand, the more formidable they are to the opponent. Division often leads to defeat! For this reason, they do this, "with one mind"; that is, as one man. If you are on a team you must work together; you can’t be going your own way. You need to be unified if you’re going to weather the attacks. This is vital, for as Paul says, the "faith of the gospel" is at stake! In other words, this is a battle not only for the faith created by the gospel but for Christianity itself! Are we ready and willing to stand firm? Christ commands us to do so. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the church and her ability to stand. Pray that the church would stand strong against heresy, worldliness, and secularism and that she might even more consistently proclaim the gospel of Christ to a fallen world. Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 11 - Conduct befitting the gospel

“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs.” - Philippians 1:27a  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:27-30 and Colossians 1:9-14 Paul longs to return to his friends in Philippi, for as he says in v.25, he desires to supervise their “progress and joy of faith”. But when will that be? Only the Lord knows. Paul must rest his plans in God’s sovereign hands. And so, he encourages them, "Only, let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ." The word “conduct” literally means, "to conduct oneself worthily as a citizen of the city-state." It was regarding how people were to live as citizens of the state. In Roman times the “city-state” demanded your complete loyalty, and you, as a faithful citizen, would give it willingly. When Paul uses the word “conduct” he’s not telling these Christians to conduct themselves faithfully to the Roman state, rather, he’s thinking of their heavenly citizenship, of how they’re to live faithfully as citizens of heaven in a pagan culture. He is compelling them to live their lives, worthy of the gospel, by being living testimonies for Jesus Christ, by letting their light shine among their neighbours, and by not compromising their beliefs or worship. Paul urges them to stand firm lest they compromise their faith before the world. How is it with you? Does pressure from others affect how you live your life or express your faith? Remember, in Christ you are a child of God and a citizen of heaven. Therefore, your entire life, in thought, word and deed are to reflect that. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to give you the strength you need to live a godly, consistent life. Do not fear the world nor be afraid to live out your faith or to worship God. Yes, you live on earth, but your citizenship is in heaven. Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 10 - Our progress and joy of faith

“I shall remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy of faith…” - Philippians 1:25  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:19-26 and 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 Even though Paul was unsure how specific events were going to unfold for him in regards to Caesar (vs.19-23), his great desire was that he would continue in this earthly life to carry on his ministry, especially, so that he could return to his friends and oversee their growth in the Christian faith. How blessed we are to have those over us - whether at home with our parents, or in the church with the office-bearers - those that “continue” with us, instruct us and help us along the way in our Christian walk! We should be extremely thankful that God cares for us so much that He places over us those who “continue” with us for our “progress and joy of faith…” Today in Canada, a National Day of Thanksgiving is being celebrated. Many will gather with family and friends and will reminisce and relax. Many Christians will gather for worship giving thanks to God for His mighty deeds and the grace lavished to them in Jesus Christ. And rightly so! For look at how the Lord has blessed us, look how He has provided, even though 2022 has had its many trials and struggles. God has been at work for our “progress” in the faith and for our “joy” as believers who cling to our faithful God and Father. Let us give thanks for the rich spiritual blessings bestowed on us in Jesus Christ! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for His many gifts! Ask the Lord to continue His good work in you, that you may grow spiritually as a Christian and that your joy in Christ may abound more and more! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 9 - Paul’s great comfort in life or in death

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” - Philippians 1:21  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:19-26 and Romans 8:31-39 Our text is one of the most glorious confessions of the apostle, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain!” When we read it in the context of vs.19-20, we see that Paul didn’t know what was going to happen to him. Yes, he believed he would be delivered, as he says in v.19, but how? Whether in life or in death? And yet, notice his willingness to suffer for Christ! There’s no hesitation! This is a man who desires to serve God in any way so that Christ may be “magnified” before the world! Basically, Paul says, “Your will be done, O Lord!” As Christians, those words should be found on our lips, especially, in this present age, where Christianity and the church are under attack like never before. Regardless of what we go through, no matter the hardships or trials, we have Christ and Christ has us. So what do we have to fear? How can we lose our joy, or how can we lose our comfort? We “belong” to Christ, do we not? (Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 1, Q&A 1) And that includes not only in this life, but when we die! For then we enter our reward and look forward to the great resurrection of the dead and the restoration of all things at the return of our Lord! Paul had no fears about this life because he knew God kept his life eternally secure! Suggestions for prayer Let it be our desire to magnify Christ in all of life! Be assured that the Holy Spirit will give you what you need for your service to Christ, in life or in death. Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 4 - God faithfully completes his good work

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” - Philippians 1:6  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:3-6 and 2 Timothy 1:8-12 Paul took great joy in the spiritual children the Lord had given him. He prayed for them often and always thanked God for them (vv.3-4). He especially appreciated their participation in the spread of the gospel(v.5). And he was greatly assured of the fact that the work God began in them He would finish! For if God has given you a new birth by the Holy Spirit, if He has created faith in your heart, if He has been sanctifying you and conforming you to His image, then those things shall NEVER be left undone! Rather, He has declared something different, something marvellous to our ears and for the comfort of our souls, namely, “I will complete that good work in you until the day of Christ.” Notice here the future tense of the verb: I will complete! That’s God’s sure pledge to you, His unwavering promise! In fact, His work will only come to an end on a certain day. That is, “the day of Jesus Christ”, the day of His glorious return! Yes, until that very day we shall be preserved in our salvation! And so, to that glorious Day may you fix your faith and rest your hope. For the fullness of redemption that comes in Jesus will be ours in the resurrection of our bodies and in the blessing of life everlasting. For God WILL bring to completion the good work He has begun! Suggestions for prayer Let us offer a prayer of thanks to God for His gracious working in our lives. For apart from our deserving, He has saved us in Christ, and through His Word and Spirit, He is sanctifying us and will bring to completion that good work! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 3 - Paul’s greeting to the church

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” - Philippians 1:2  Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10 and Philippians 4:6-7 When Paul says, “Grace to you and peace”, he’s not expressing some wish that God might be gracious to His people and bestow His blessing on them. No! This is a sure declaration by Christ’s authorised servant, sending them grace and peace. This is a gracious bestowal of God upon His covenant people. For if God doesn’t send us His grace, and if that grace doesn’t produce peace in our hearts, how can we then live as faithful servants? How can we live holy lives as His saints? (v.1). But what is this “grace” and “peace”? Well, “grace” is the unmerited favour of God to sinners for salvation in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). But this grace is also experienced in our sanctification, where we die to the old life and grow in the new life. Through grace, we are saved and sanctified! Thus, from God’s saving grace comes our “peace”! Peace is the fruit of grace. This is seen so marvellously in our being reconciled to God. We are no longer His enemies, but now children and heirs! (Romans 8:17). Such gifts Paul says come to us from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. Yes, how blessed we are and how encouraged we should be in living for God as we ponder His rich gifts! For as we continue to trust in Him, He will send us “grace” for daily living and fill us with His “peace” which will guard our hearts and minds. Suggestions for prayer Let us pray daily for God’s sustaining grace in our lives, trusting that He will impart to us all that we need. Let us rest in the finished work of Christ that gives true spiritual peace to our restless and needy souls. Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 2 - Paul’s specific audience - saints!

“To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi…” - Philippians 1:1b  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:1-3 and 1 Peter 2:9-10 We might think this opening address is just a formality. But is it? Notice what Paul says, “to all the saints…” Now, “saints”, is a designation for Christians and it was first used that way in Acts 9:13 during Saul’s persecution of the church. To be a “saint” doesn’t mean the Roman Catholic Church has granted you sainthood, rather, it means that you are “set apart” or “consecrated” to God. We see this language used by the Priests, Levites, and by Israel in the Old Testament. God set them apart for His service and glory! And so, it is for the church of today! We too are “set apart” to God and are members of His covenant. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are made “holy” in God’s sight. You see, holiness is not the result of our morality or good works. No, it’s only by the grace and mercy of God! As the apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 2, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people…who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” What grace and mercy God has bestowed on us! For in Christ, we are holy and now able to live as thankful servants! May our worship today reflect the joy and gratitude of our hearts as we meet with our holy God! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to enable you to live a holy and godly life, so that your walk and talk as a Christian would be consistent. Pray that the Lord would bless your worship as you come to God’s House today and that He would be glorified. Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

October 1 - Introduction to Paul

Acts 16 relates to us the work of the apostle Paul in the founding of the church in Philippi. It began with the Lord’s direction to the apostle to not preach the word in Asia, but to go to Macedonia. Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!”(v.9). Immediately, Paul went and began the gospel ministry in Europe. In Acts 16, we read of Paul’s first visit to Philippi and the response of Lydia, the seller of purple from Thyatira, and of the conversion of the Philippian jailer. But we also read of the persecution that Paul and Silas endured, including their imprisonment and release. And though this is the extent of what we read of Paul’s ministry in Philippi, there was more to it. Both Timothy and Luke spent much time there carrying on the work after Paul left, and as well, he returned to the church, as alluded to in Acts 20. Paul had a great investment in these saints and they, in turn, showed their love to him by providing for his needs on various occasions, such as when he went to Thessalonica (4:16) and later when he departed Athens for Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:9). Now that he’s imprisoned in Rome, they again show their generosity, and that, in part, is why Paul is writing this letter to the Philippians, to thank them for their support! Truly, this is a letter of love, joy, hope and encouragement for his dear friends! And may it be so for us as we spend time looking at it this month in our devotions. (All Scripture references this month are from the NKJV) The author’s self-designation “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ.” - Philippians 1:1a  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:1-2 and Romans 1:1-7 This opening line begins with what we would call a common form of address in letters of Paul’s day. That’s why many New Testament letters begin in this fashion. Normally what Paul does is refer to himself as an “apostle” when he begins his letters. But, as you see, he does not do that here. In fact, he refers to himself as a “bondservant”. But why? Well, it has to do with his relationship to the church in Philippi. He is writing to friends and fellow servants in the gospel and doesn’t need to remind them of his authority as an apostle. But even more, it’s to stress the nature of his calling, that he is a “bondservant”, or also translated, a “slave”, that is a slave of Christ! For Paul belongs to his Lord Jesus Christ! Because Christ bought and paid for him by His precious blood, Paul is now a thankful servant who is willing to give himself fully in the service of his Master (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Is that your desire, to live as a faithful “bondservant” of Christ? Ponder the depth of His grace to you in your redemption and then joyfully take up your calling in service to your Lord. To be sure, following Christ is not easy, but how wonderful are the rewards. May the truth of who we are in Christ, spur us on to a life of joy, good works and thankful service regardless of our circumstances! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to create in you a servant-heart. Pray that you would grow in your devotion to Christ, being willing to serve whenever He calls and to go wherever He may direct you! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. 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

September 27 - The questioning of the Lord (Part 2)

“And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” - Jonah 4:11  Scripture reading: Romans 3:23-26 What makes Jonah so angry is that God is not just showing mercy to any old city, but that He is gracious to Israel’s enemies. It is recorded in history that Assyria treated Israel horribly. No empire was as cruel and evil toward Israel as Assyria was. “God,” Jonah is saying, “You are not just sparing any empire. You are sparing an evil empire bent on destroying your people.” God is a God of justice who hates evil. So how can He let these evil and violent people off the hook just because they repent? Does God then not care about evil? We have the privilege of seeing history from this side of the cross. God’s justice indeed demands that every single sin is paid for. As we read in Romans 3, in his divine forbearance, God passed over former sins, to show his righteousness so that “he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (v.26). All sins do get punished. No sin will be overlooked by God, whether big or small. But either the sins have been paid for by the Lord Jesus on the cross, or they will be paid for by ourselves in hell. God does not violate his justice. But on that day of Judgment, mercy will be given to those who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus. Praise God! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He is both perfectly just and merciful and that He has provided a way of salvation through His Son. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

September 25 - The gift of the prophet

“When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”” - Jonah 4:8 Scripture reading: Jonah 4:5-9 The Lord is not done with Jonah yet. The Lord is still appointing, providing and directing. Now He appoints a worm to eat the vine so that it dies. He also appoints a scorching east wind. This was most likely a sirocco wind, which is more common in the Middle East, typically coming from the desert and reaching speeds of up to 100 km an hour. The combination of sun and wind causes Jonah to physically overheat. He also overheats with anger. He exclaims that he would rather die than keep on living. Jonah’s emotions run deep. His blood is boiling. Anger has been defined as a person’s negative whole-body reaction that arises when he/she has made a moral judgement against a perceived wrong. This, in Jonah’s eyes, is morally wrong. It’s not right. He is very angry. The Lord is working here. The worm, the shrivelling of the plant, the scorching east wind…The Lord is going to use it all as a real-life illustration for Jonah. As we’ll discuss more later on, the Lord will use this moment to counsel His angry prophet by asking him a series of questions. The Lord often teaches us lessons about himself or the condition of our own hearts. These lessons regularly come in ‘living illustration’ ways that we would not have chosen ourselves. He does this in his wisdom and love, to help us grow and draw near. Suggestions for prayer Is the Lord giving you a “living illustration” in your life to reveal your sin? If so, ask the Lord to give you the eyes of faith to see it. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

September 24 - The gift of the vine

“Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort.” - Jonah 4:6  Scripture reading: John 4:4-6 In this next section of the book, we read that Jonah goes out, sits down at a place east of the city, makes himself a shelter, sits in its shade and waits to see what will happen to the city. Then the Lord does something very kind for Jonah. He appoints a vine and makes it grow up over Jonah so that it provides shade for him. The word ‘appoints’ is used throughout this book, repeatedly demonstrating how the Lord uses His creation to accomplish His purposes. The Lord God appointing this plant is a miracle. The plant shoots up overnight, likely a big-leafed fleshy-type plant, such as a castor oil plant, a shrub that grows to 12 feet high. Jonah was delighted and very happy with the vine. It was giving him comfort and shade from the hot sun. But did Jonah do anything for the provision of this plant? Did he work for it or earn it? Did the Lord say: “Okay, Jonah, great job and good work out there in Nineveh. Here’s a little prize for all your effort”? No, not at all. Jonah is very flawed. He is arrogant, pouty, and impatient. This vine was a gift. It was grace. It was an unmerited favour. And through this vine, the Lord is preaching grace to an ungracious Jonah. The vine was a demonstration of God’s love, patience and compassion on Jonah, despite his arrogance and sin. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for his kindness to us despite our arrogance and sin. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

September 23 - A revelation of the heart

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” - Luke 6:45 Scripture reading: Jonah 3:10-4:4 Why is Jonah so angry? Jonah has just been used by the Lord to ignite one of the greatest spiritual awakenings in history. Humanly speaking, he’s been an extremely successful evangelist: an entire city has heeded the Word of the Lord and repented. But he is angry. It is like a salesman who makes the biggest billion-dollar deal, going home to his wife very upset and complaining, “Too bad, they bought it.” Jonah’s reaction reveals his heart. He does not want God’s grace extended to his own enemies. Remember, the Ninevites have caused a lot of hurt and damage to the Israelites. Perhaps even some of Jonah’s own relatives were killed or captured by them. Jonah’s reaction – while understandable – reveals that he must learn more about God’s super-abundant, extraordinary grace. As we will learn in the following days, our patient God is gracious towards His prophet and will teach him a lesson on compassion. For us too, our reactions reflect what is going on in our hearts. When we see someone else’s success, are we happy for them? When we are single or in a difficult marriage and see another couple thrive together, do we get jealous? When someone ‘unlike us’ comes to faith, do we rejoice with them? Let your reactions to other people’s successes and failures be a signal to you about the state of your own heart. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to reveal the areas of your heart and life where you need to grow in grace and holiness. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

September 18 - The power of God’s word

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” - Isaiah 55:11  Scripture reading: Isaiah 55:6-11, Jonah 3:4-5  You may sometimes have the feeling that the preaching of God’s Word is not powerful or effective. Sometimes, it seems like there is no response in the hearers, either good or bad. When God sends Jonah to Nineveh, he is giving the Ninevites grace by sending them a warning. It’s not a very long or detailed message. Jonah doesn’t hand out theology textbooks or set up a four-week Bible study. The message is simple and clear – it is a message of judgment. And yet, this Word from the Lord is enough to cause a fire of repentance throughout the city. That’s the thing with God’s Word: something always happens. When God speaks, something always happens. To our human eyes, it may not be obvious immediately. But it is a guarantee: God’s Word always succeeds in its purposes. As it’s been said, the same sun that melts wax also hardens clay. God’s Word will either soften hearts or harden hearts – but it will not be ineffectual. In the case of the Ninevites, the result of hearing God’s Word is immediate -- they repent. They believed God, called for a fast and from the greatest to the least of them put on sackcloth (Jonah 3:5). This is a gift and grace of repentance. The Lord is doing this work. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that his Word always accomplishes its purposes. Ask Him to help you see the power of his Word in action. Pray that his Word may lead to a response of faith for the hearers. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

September 17 - A new beginning

“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time.” - Jonah 3:1  Scripture reading: Jonah 2:10-3:1-3 After the three days and the three nights in the belly of the fish, the Lord spoke to the fish, and Jonah was burped up on the beach. Jonah is alive! The Lord has been gracious to him: the Lord protected his defiant servant from the storm at sea; He preserved his runaway prophet from drowning; He kept his disobedient messenger safe within the dangerous stomach of the fish. The Lord has preserved Jonah’s life over and over. The Lord saves Jonah for the sake of Jonah’s calling and gives him a new beginning. Notice how Jonah 3:1 is almost an exact repetition of the first words of the book, Jonah 1:1. The story is starting over. How patiently the Lord deals with Jonah, giving him a second chance, an opportunity to begin again. This second re-commissioning is an act of divine mercy and grace by our sovereign God. Jonah 3:1 and these three words – “the second time” – are a picture of the gospel and the story of redemption. With God, it is never a “you-mess-up- so-badly-you-will-never-get-a-second-chance.” The Lord still has work for Jonah to do: He has a mission for Jonah and a plan for Nineveh. Our God is the God of new beginnings and fresh starts, when we come to Him in repentance. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He doesn’t give up on us even though we deserve it. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

September 16 - The Lord’s deliverance

“For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas” - Jonah 2:3  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:17-2:10 Jonah 2:1-9 is the prayer Jonah composed while in the belly of the fish. Suddenly it feels like we are in the book of Psalms. As a prophet from Israel, Jonah knew the Psalms very well. These Psalms he had memorized and sung as a child would come to mind to give comfort and encouragement. Jonah gives a reason for his thankfulness: he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord answered his prayer (v. 2). He then finds comfort in God’s sovereignty: Jonah knows that it is God who has put him in the ocean. He says: "You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me…all your waves and breakers swept over me." Jonah believes in the sovereignty of his God. The billows and breakers that almost took my life and were terrifying to me, were not apart from God’s sovereign control. As painful as it was, this discipline is a gift of love from God to Jonah. Rev. 3:19 states: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” Jonah then longs for the temple, for the presence of the Lord. Although earlier he had run from the presence of the Lord, now Jonah longs to be in the presence of the Lord (v. 7). He is experiencing the healing power of repentance. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would be strengthened by believing in God’s sovereignty and control over your life. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

September 15 - Out of the depths

“The Lord provided a great fish to swallow up Jonah.” - Jonah 1:17  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:17-2:2 The Lord does something remarkable and miraculous. When Jonah has literally hit “rock bottom” lying on the seafloor with seaweed grabbing for his throat, he feels something enclose his body. The Lord executes an extraordinary rescue mission by appointing a fish to pick up Jonah from the murky seaweed at the bottom of the ocean. The appointment of the fish was an act of divine grace. It is a means of deliverance and saves Jonah from drowning. "And Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights." The fish is Jonah's classroom. It is a horrible place to live but a great place to learn. Jonah needs to learn some lessons. The fish is also Jonah’s hospital room: he must heal and recover from the consequences of his sin. What does Jonah do when he feels the discipline of the Lord's hand against him in the belly of the fish? He prays! And he knows that God hears his prayer. For all his sin, for all the Lord's anger against him, Jonah knows that he can still pray. “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me.” And Jonah’s prayer is not even a prayer of petition, a "get-me-out-of-this mess" prayer. No, Jonah prays a prayer of thanksgiving. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would know the privilege of prayer and that you would know the Lord Jesus better as you commune with Him in prayer. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

September 10 - The finger of God

“But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea so that the ship threatened to break up.” - Jonah 1:4  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:4-6 The Lord responds to Jonah's defiance. Although Jonah had sought to run away from the omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (all-present) and omnipotent (all-powerful) God, the Lord will conduct all the elements of the cosmos against this prophet. Jonah can run, but he can't hide. The use of the word "hurled" here in verse 4 in the original Hebrew is striking. The image is of God hurling a great wind on the sea like a man hurling a javelin with great force. Like a javelin thrower, the Lord hurls the storm on the sea. The storm is so severe that it threatens to break the ship, or as the Hebrew imagery implies, the boat “herself threatened to break apart.” The ship itself became a “nervous wreck.” These waves are so high, the wind is so mighty, and the storm's scream is so loud that the boat itself becomes a nervous wreck and is about to fall apart. No one - the sea, the ship, the sailors, or the runaway prophet can escape the presence of God. There are times when you flee from the presence of God. Can you look back on your life and recall what “storms” God has “hurled” your way so that you would repent and turn back to Him? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for how He pursues His people in His covenantal love. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

September 9 - Jesus, the prophet better than Jonah

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” - Romans 5:10 Scripture reading: Jonah 1:3 Jonah is the prophet living in relative comfort and security in Israel. The Lord commands him to leave his comfortable and secure place and do a difficult thing. He must go to Nineveh, the mortal enemies of his people, and preach a word of warning. Jonah resisted: “No, I won’t go.” Jonah, the prophet, ran away from the message because he did not want his enemies to repent. But this is the gospel: that a better Jonah would come in the fullness of time, the better and perfect prophet – Jesus Christ. And where was Jesus before He came to earth? He was in heaven. This, too, was a very comfortable and secure place. He is with His Father in all the glory of heaven. But the Father sends His Son to leave the comfort and the glory of heaven to come to this earth's pollution, perversion, and pain. On earth, He will be utterly rejected, leading a life that will lead to torture, crucifixion, and death. He will become an atoning sacrifice for people who are facing eternal judgement. To this mission, Jesus said: “Yes, I will go.” Jesus, the perfect prophet, perfectly obeyed the will of God. Jesus willingly absorbed judgement upon himself because He wanted His enemies to repent, be saved, and escape this terrible judgement. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord today that a better prophet than Jonah has come. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

September 8 - Running from God

“But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” - Jonah 1:3  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:3-6 We might scoff at Jonah for thinking he can run away from the Lord, but we are no better than Jonah. You don’t need to be below deck on a ship, on the sea to be running away from the Lord. Running from God is something we do all the time! God gives us a direct, can’t-be-confused, clear as crystal command, and we run in the diametrically opposite direction! We find all kinds of invisible ways, refined ways, and private ways when we flee from the presence of God. We are all runaway prophets because of our sin. As one pastor has astutely said: “It’s not the parts of Scripture that we find difficult to understand that are the really difficult parts of Scripture. It’s the parts of Scripture that none of us could conceivably misunderstand that are the really difficult parts.” God commands us to not commit adultery and to pursue purity, but we flirt with this sin when we allow ourselves to see images we should not see. God commands us to not bear false testimony against our neighbour, but we gossip about others thinking we have the liberty to do so. God commands us to honour those in authority over us, but we openly grumble about these authorities and find ways to disobey them. What are some other parts of Scripture that are clear to understand from which we run away? Suggestions for prayer Ask that the Lord might work powerfully with His Spirit so that we will be eager and able to obey His clear commandments. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

September 7 - Why did Jonah run?

“This is why I made haste to flee for Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful…” - Jonah 4:2 Scripture reading: Jonah 4:2 Jonah is called to go where he doesn’t want to go, to do what he doesn’t want to do and to say what he does not want to say. Why did Jonah run away from the Lord? It’s not because he did not get the message straight or that the command was unclear or confusing. The command was clear. Was he afraid? Probably. As we said before, the Assyrians had a terrifying reputation. Was it a novel mission? Sure. It was an unusual thing for an Israelite prophet to be sent to a heathen nation: this is uncharted prophetic territory. Jonah confesses his real and ultimate reason for his running away in Jonah 4:2. He says: “This is why I made haste to flee for Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” Jonah does not want to go because he does not want Nineveh to be saved! Jonah knows that if he goes to Assyria, preaches his message and they do repent, God will possibly relent and have mercy on them. The real problem is that God might bring these people to repentance! The issue Jonah has is with the character of God himself. Jonah knows the Lord loves to show mercy and grace but he does not want that for his enemy. Jonah does not have a category for extraordinary, super-abundant grace. Rather than celebrating grace, he grumbles at grace. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we might always rejoice when someone repents. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

September 2 - A book of warning

“And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”” - Jonah 4:4  Scripture reading: Jonah 4:1-4 The book of Jonah is a book of encouragement and comfort, but it is also a book of warning. The story of Jonah was a warning to the whole nation of Israel during the time in which it was written, and it continues to be a warning to us today. In a sense, Jonah the prophet is representative of the nation of Israel, the covenant people of God. Although Jonah is an Israelite, a member of God’s covenant people, and a recipient of God’s compassion and patience, we notice repeatedly how flawed he is as a person. He is a sinner, and he sins badly throughout this story. Jonah is not the hero of this story. As Jonah is a representative of the covenant people of God, we witness the worst tendencies that tend to form inside God’s covenant people. The events of Jonah’s life are representative of what happened and what happens to God’s people. Those sins can be pride, hard-heartedness, judgmentalism, tribalism, small-mindedness, and the inability to change and grow and be amazed by God’s amazing grace. We need to see ourselves in Jonah, and like him, we must learn the wonder of God’s patience toward us and others and the beauty of the grace of repentance. Suggestions for prayer Pray that through the story of Jonah the Lord would reveal to you your own sin. Are you proud, judgemental, small-minded, and lacking amazement of God’s grace? Pray that the Lord would work repentance in your heart. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

September 1 - Introduction to Jonah

We will be looking at Jonah, the likely author of this book, who is a minor prophet, living in the eighth century B.C. during the reign of Jeroboam II who ruled the northern kingdom from 782 to 753 BC (see II Kings 14:23-28). During this era of Israel’s history, the nation was doing well materially, enjoying peace and prosperity, but was not doing well spiritually. The tragic thing about this epoch in Israel’s history is that although the Lord had been good to Israel and had lavished a super-abundance of blessing upon the nation, their expression of gratitude was missing. They had forgotten the Lord’s grace. 2 Kings 14 states that Jeroboam II did evil in the sight of the Lord. The warning of Deuteronomy 6:10-14 hadn’t been remembered and heeded. When they would reach the promised land, get settled, and eventually become prosperous, they would be prone to forget all the blessings and gifts from the Lord. This forgetfulness would show itself in disobedience to the Lord. The book of Jonah is a word of warning to God’s covenant people about the danger of taking God’s grace and favour for granted and failing to live in obedience and thankfulness to Him. Despite this, the Lord still blessed the nation, demonstrating his mercy in this period of prosperity and peace. He was giving Israel time to repent, to turn from their wickedness and turn back to the Lord. Surprisingly Jonah doesn’t hide his failures in this story but puts his sins on full display for all to see. After living through all these events, Jonah became transformed by God’s grace. Eventually, he understood God's superabundant, extravagant, and indelible grace more fully, personally, experientially, and wonderfully and wanted the world to know and love this Gracious God The runaway prophet “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”” - Jonah 1:1-2 “And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”” - Jonah 4:11  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:1-2, 4:11 Who is the story of Jonah about? Who is the leading actor in the book of Jonah? Who sets the stage, dominates the scenes and directs the events? Our first impulse might be to say “Jonah,” for indeed, the title of the book is attributed to his name. The events of this story are focused on the life and times of this prophet from Israel. If you ask a roomful of children about the main character in Jonah, they might exclaim, “the fish!” Undoubtedly, the fish makes the story memorable, and it’s a “whale of a tale”, but the fish is a mere puppet in the hands of the puppeteer. What is the Lord doing in the book of Jonah? What is God saying? The first opening lines direct us to that question, as God has the first word (1-2) and the last word in this book (4:11). God is the one who is in sovereign control, and He is moving and orchestrating all these events. The first phrase in the book of Jonah “the word of the Lord came” is a common phrase used in the Old Testament to indicate that God is saying something important to his people. God has an important message for us in the book of Jonah. It teaches us about the sovereignty of God, His incredible love and the heart of God for lost people. Are we ready to hear and apply what the Lord says to us through Jonah? Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would receive the Word of the Lord in faith and belief. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. 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

August 31 - Still sacred

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” - 1 John 5:21  Scripture reading: Jude 17-25 What a strange ending to a letter? After the stirring climax of the previous verses, shouldn’t there have been a doxology of praise from John like we appreciate in Handel’s “Messiah,” and with which many of the other New Testament letters end? But, this? Yes, this! For what is happening here is a logical progression from the previous verses, tying it all up. The Son of God will keep His own, but that doesn’t take away from the responsibility we have. There was a very real danger. That’s been clear as we’ve gone through 1st John. But as to what is exactly meant by “idols” we don’t know. It seems the apostle had a particular danger in mind, perhaps it was the pagan idolatries that flooded Ephesus. But it could also be false pictures in their minds planted by false teachers. That’s a stumbling block which would continue to plague the early church. But the Lord speaks. “Little children” John writes, and he hasn’t used this expression for nearly two chapters. However, in ending his letter, he does it with the Lord’s tenderness and affection. Just as a mother tells her child to be careful, the Lord tells His children to watch for danger. He doesn’t want us to be hurt. How much isn’t this message for us also? What are those idols keeping you from truly worshipping and serving? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His promise to keep and bless us; ask Him to defeat what blocks us from His blessing. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 30 - Still secure

“…and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” - 1 John 5:20b  Scripture reading: 1 John 2:28-3:3 You might well be nervous and feel inadequate upon meeting what seems to be persuasive and sincere folk at your door. Just like, no doubt, the early Christians were with the Docetists of their time. Those people present themselves in such a nice way. Moreover, they very smoothly show how everything fits into their way. However, don’t forget Who Jesus Christ isn’t to them. What any serious study of Scripture will show is how much they take God’s Word the wrong way. Take, for example, the words of our text. We have that translation in the ESV, as you’ll find it in the NASB, the NIV, the KJV, and the NKJV, after years of careful, detailed and verified work, following the established grammatical rules. But the New World Translation, the Jehovah’s Witness version states: “And we are in union with the true one, by means of his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and life everlasting.” Notice what happened? Certainly no centrality of Christ; instead, He becomes merely a way to the Father, not the Way. Naturally this leads to a salvation that can be earned, it’s what you have to do because Christ hasn’t done it all. What a bottomless pit that can never be filled. What a life without peace, until by faith they meet the Prince of Peace. Suggestions for prayer Pray for those caught up in the cults and our interaction with them; may we be kind and gentle, but clear on Who Jesus is. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 25 - Has the time come?

“…and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” - 1 John 2:18b  Scripture reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Have you ever been in a town or city centre and heard a street preacher? “The end is nigh!” he calls out, “Repent and believe, before it’s too late!” Dressed conservatively and using King James English, positioned on busy street corners or open park spaces, they can often become the butt of jokes and public derision. In one way, though, he is quite right. Despite their off-putting manner, their theology which can be quite unreformed, their warning is yet relevant. The end is actually very, very nigh! In fact, the end is closer than it has ever been before in human history. How much don’t the signs show this to be so? If it was so in John’s time with the presence of many antichrists, it is even more so now. You see, antichrists teach against Christ. They deny His work of atonement. While we might think this should be easy to notice, it is actually coming in the most subtle shift away from focussing on what God has done in His Son to what you can be in God. Is the “alone” in “Christ alone” dissipating? What the reformers saw in the false teaching of the church in their time hasn’t taken a holiday today. But have you? Do you know what time it is? Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for a spirit of discernment to test the spirits of the age. Thank God that His Word and His Spirit are always true. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 24 - Where did the time go?

“Children, it is the last hour…” - 1 John 2:18a  Scripture reading: 2 Peter 3:10-15 Isn’t it true that one thing we always seem to be running out of is time? There is the last rush to catch the school bus, a homework assignment that should have been handed in yesterday and the job at work which needs overtime to get it done on schedule. Where did the time go? As the saying goes: ‘Time lost won’t be found again!” As we reflect on our text, this is so true. The early church very much lived with the urgency of so little time being left before the Lord’s return. Time was of the essence and they knew there wasn’t much of it left. How many times in the New Testament letters weren’t they exhorted to make their time count? Perhaps we know better now. After all, Christ hasn’t come back for two thousand years. Yet, can we, of all the ages of believers, afford to be lax? Isn’t the time we’re in right now so much closer to Christ’s second coming? Seriously! If it’s already been two thousand years, is there much longer to go? Let’s also see this personally. We might live, Lord willing, for eighty years, or perhaps longer. But that’s not long. The years quickly fly and don’t they get much harder the older you are? Time is running out. How are you getting ready to meet your Maker? Suggestion for prayer Praise God that He’s working out His plan for our future and plead that we claim every moment for Him. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 23 - He seemed so genuine!

“There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.” - 1 John 5:16b  Scripture reading: Acts 5:1-11 This is a situation that’s hard to write about. To be told that there are those in the church who don’t belong; indeed, they shouldn’t even be prayed for. Plus, when God has nothing to say to a person, they have no hope! Calvin described this as nothing less than apostasy, where men completely cut themselves off from God. These ones were not part of us. Perhaps they were attracted by certain ideals – such as the self-attainment of Docetism. But they came in for the wrong reason; it wasn’t the gift of faith they had. For the early Christians this was difficult to understand. These people had seemed so genuine. They had been so full of vigour – especially in supporting that extra-holiness found in Docetism. Some had even been teachers. Yet they walked right away and so they showed they weren’t part of the fellowship, for in rejecting the Son, they turned their backs on life itself. Ananias and Sapphira showed this vividly. And it wasn’t because only a portion of the land sold went to the Lord, but that they pretended to be something they weren’t. They lived the lie – and so they were of the Father of Lies. Sadly, they were never of us. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the truth is what matters most, and not our friendships. Thank God that despite those leaving He is always with us. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 22 - Our brother’s lifeline

“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life – to those who commit sins that do not lead to death.” - 1 John 5:16a  Scripture reading: Galatians 5:22-6:5 ‘There are no strangers here – only friends we have yet to meet,’ is a saying that caught my eyes a while ago. I found it a strange quote and not always entirely true. But, now, I use it quite confidently in the Church. As those who share in a common faith commitment, we have no need to fear one another. Together we serve the Triune God – the Father Who in His Son, Jesus Christ, has made us perfectly able to stand before His awesome face and Who, through the Holy Spirit, makes that tremendous knowledge ours. We are in a relationship with God Himself. That’s why the power of prayer is so important. Prayer is the way in which we draw closer to God and to being open to His will. It’s also the way we are open with each other. This is why the believer “shall ask” when he’s sadly and devastatingly hit by the presence of sin in a fellow Christian’s life. It would be easy to be condemning, but that’s not said, only that you should pray and in this way God will give our brother or sister the true spiritual renewal they need. To be open to God is to open up a huge vein of blessing to those around. Suggestions for prayer Pray for someone you know needs revival; pray for God’s humbling; but also pray that you will be the way for He who is The Way. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 17 - May the real force be with you!

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” - 1 John 3:18  Scripture reading: 1 John 3:11-20 We are never on our own. This may seem an obvious enough statement. Of course, we’re never on our own! Even retreating to an uninhabited island means we have to be connected to someone. The apostle John recognizes this. He, however, doesn’t see relationships as something to put up with; rather he has a positive message for it. He says they are opportunities for love: Real love. Not something we might feel or say is good, but something deeper and meaningful. He ties it in with a foundation – “in truth” he describes it. What could that be but the truth of the Gospel? What Jesus Christ did in His sacrificial death is the only proper motivation. It’s only on that basis that there are “deeds”. Take a minister, for example, preaching a sermon on the eighth commandment. He preaches it with a fiery conviction. Yet, that same afternoon he casually takes an apple from his neighbour’s tree. All those pious words counted for nothing. Unless the motivation which generates our words also works a redeeming grace in our lives, we are spiritually useless. It’s this redeeming grace which makes all the difference in our relationships. It means what we say, is what we are. For our brother or sister, or neighbour, that’s what really counts. Then the Holy Spirit – the Real Force for good – is with us and in us. Suggestions for prayer Seek repentance for your acts of hypocrisy. Pray for genuine love to break through all our relationships. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 16 - No limit!

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” - 1 John 2:2  Scripture reading: 1 John 5:1-5 The heresy of Docetism had many of the early Christians misled. Instead of that rich, nutritious feeding upon God’s Word, they had become caught up in seeking fulfilment through their own achievements. The wonderful, liberating news about the Son of God becoming man had been deliberately ignored. John responds by lifting those believers’ eyes above themselves. Instead of looking down to what is so earthly, so self-seeking, he urges them to look up: “He” – Jesus Christ, Son of God – “is the propitiation for our sins…” In the Old Testament, it’s recorded how often the Israelites rebelled against God. Many times they complained, saying to Moses that they’d been brought out of Egypt only to die in the desert. The Lord wasn’t impressed. On one of the occasions, he severely punished them by sending venomous snakes amongst them. They bit the people and many died. The people, in repentance, sought their covenant God’s relief. And the Lord did provide it through a bronze snake placed upon a pole, becoming God’s power for healing for all who looked to it. A true healing is also there for John’s readers who have slipped away, enticed by Satan. It is a healing so immense that not only will it be enough for them, but also for the sins of the whole world. If only they would look up! Suggestions for prayer Plead for God’s Spirit to keep you looking up and plead for others to also be humbled so that they may join with us. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 15 - The cook behind the meal

“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” - 1 John 3:8a  Scripture reading: 1 John 3:4-10 ‘You are what you eat’ is a quote many of us know. And in certain ways it is definitely true. Those reared on limited food group meals suffer the result of that later in life. This is why governments spend much money on promoting a variety of foods from different groups. Mums are encouraged to be adventurous in their cooking. Moreover, this quote is also true spiritually. We have touched on this. But let’s now go beyond the food itself. Let’s take ourselves a step back before the eating of what is a truly unfulfilling meal. Let’s walk into the kitchen. We want to see who it is that could dare to feed us this way. What’s the name of the chef ignoring the rules for a healthy spiritual diet? No need to guess any further, is there? The devil has surreptitiously taken over the stove. We find him cackling to himself as he busily prepares the ingredients of worthlessness, hate and selfishness. No wonder no one’s getting healthy – it’s junk food at its very worst! What we need right now is another kitchen with another chef, where the food is up-building, positive and strengthening. There our taste buds are finely tuned and our bodies renewed. We need to feed upon God’s Word. We need what’s inside Christ to be inside us. Suggestions for prayer Plead the help of God’s Spirit to keep us reading His Word. Moreover, let that Word stir us to challenge our fellow believers as well. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 14 - The way we eat

“For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world.” - 1 John 2:16  Scripture reading: 1 John 2:15-17 I’m sure our parents at times corrected our eating habits. They would direct us to sit up straight, not to talk with our mouth full, or show us how to use our knives and forks correctly. They didn’t want us to develop the wrong habits. Likewise, it’s something we have to be careful to also do spiritually. Our text shows such an instance of getting caught up in the wrong thing. Alas, before you know it, you’re well and truly caught up in sin’s slide. Back in Paradise, before man’s fall into sin, his will reflected God’s will. They were in harmony together. Unfortunately, something tragic happened – that fall into sin. Now what we want, couldn’t be more the opposite of what there had been before. In our text John describes what our natural will is now – the desires of the flesh and the eyes and of pride. Genesis 3 tells of this through Eve being tempted. She craved for what was wrong. And then she lusted for it. Then she boasted about it. She thought she could be like God. How much don’t we have to turn from this world and turn to the God above it! And, indeed, that is what we do today as we worship the Triune God through the Son Who came to this world and turned our natural diets upside down! Suggestions for prayer Ask God that today we eat the right food spiritually in hearing His Word and that in this way we may this way be strengthened to keep away from the wrong food. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 9 - The first word

“…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” -  1 John 1:3  Scripture reading: Romans 8:9-17 A child’s first word is a thrill to his parents. Quite unexpectedly, out pops a comprehensible sound! But then again it shouldn’t be such a surprise. In all kinds of ways he has been growing and developing and this is just another sign of this growth. The positive influence of a loving family and wider environment nurtures this. This also shows us what Christian fellowship is all about. In the original Greek the word for this is ‘koinonia’. It means possessing something in common. In this way, a young Christian is nurtured within the appropriate environment. That’s why there is a bonding with other brothers and sisters in the Lord. Flowing on from Christ’s life to His Body runs His equipping power to all the parts. We are bonded with the Heavenly Father Who set out and uniquely commissioned His Son to fulfil His pre-planned action of love. We’re joined to Jesus Christ Himself Whose doing and dying has brought this wonderful unity to reality. Looking up, we naturally look around. In that fellowship the Spirit of the Father and the Son brings us to cry out where we are, for isn’t a child’s first word usually, “Mama/Dada”? Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for the Body of His Son, the Church. Commit yourself to always honouring her and nurturing those within her. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 8 - Living under the light

“…whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” - 1 John 4:7b  Scripture reading: John 3:1-18 I’m sure that at some point you have been affected by power strikes. Without any warning and at any time, your electricity is cut off. And what a shock it is when it strikes at night. Darkness hits, and then we haste to grab torches and candles and whatever else might give a little light. Soon you have alternative lighting. Yet that substitute is a far cry from having the power on; the light from torches and candles is barely enough. But how is the light shining on our spiritual path? It’s here that John wants us to be really ‘lit up’ by Jesus. He desires we have Christ’s Spirit brightly highlighting where we’re going and what we’re doing. But through what, we wonder? What are the batteries for our spiritual torch? David answers this by describing his sole source of spiritual light: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” To know God is to know this lamp to our feet. If we want to know about a particular author, we read his books. How much more isn’t this true of the Divine Author? And doesn’t that place the need on our hearts of not just reading, but of reading with the awareness of who’s speaking? Then those born of God will know God. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for His Spirit to stir us to read His Word and so know Him and His will clearer and dearer. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 7 - Beyond myself

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake.” - 1 John 2:12  Scripture reading: Acts 2:29-41 Our meditation text describes our position as being “forgiven for His name’s sake.” This name is none other than that of Jesus. This is the name which means ‘Saviour’. As Joseph was told by the angel: “…you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). We cannot separate the Person of Christ from His Work. Therefore, forgiveness through Jesus means forgiveness on the basis of Who He is, and what He does. How much doesn’t this day – the Lord’s Day – speak to this? This is the day Christ arose victorious over sin and death and the devil. This is the day that makes the difference to every other day. But, dear friend, will you be in prayer for that? Will you seek to give this whole day over to Him, because He has completely given Himself over for you in His doing and dying and rising? Following on from seeing God’s love personified and our acknowledgement of total inadequacy, are you ready to worship and serve Him? By the Spirit’s help are you able to point this world to the Answer beyond itself? Suggestions for prayer Thank God that Jesus lived up to His Name. Pray to God for His Spirit’s help to live up to what we are now in Him. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 6 - An honest beginning

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” - 1 John 1:8  Scripture reading: Psalm 51:1-12 Isn’t it true that the hardest part of a task is in its beginning? To start a project requires determination, creativity and a sense of vision. We very much need to know within ourselves that what we’re doing has value. Think of children trying to build a sand castle. How many won’t give up having failed to learn about compacting sand? The foundation proves to be the most difficult part. This especially applies to our position before God. To truly grow in this most blessed of all relationships requires a constant confession of those things that disrupt this communion. Again and again, we need to deal with those obstacles. And here we need to be so prayerfully careful. Ever since the fall into sin there has been that force at work in our own nature which fights against God. Like David, we need to prostrate ourselves time and again before the all-glorious and all-holy God. We have to be taught never to take anything for granted. We must constantly examine ourselves under the light of God’s Word. And we do that looking to him in prayer, laying every day before him. That makes the difference to every day! Suggestions for prayer Plead for God’s forgiveness for not looking to him and thus giving way to our own nature. Ask him for the ability to forgive others, also. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 1 - Introduction to John

John the Apostle was reputedly the only disciple not to be martyred for the faith, aside, naturally, from Judas Iscariot. However, while he did not pass from this life by being killed for the faith, he certainly suffered extensively for the faith while alive. Many of us will be familiar with his exile on the Isle of Patmos, but there were other times also when he was publicly reviled for the faith. There is a legend associated with John towards the end of his earthly life, probably when he was in Ephesus. Jerome, in his commentary, says: His disciples could barely carry him to church and he could not muster the voice to speak many words. During individual gatherings, he usually said nothing but, "Little children, love one another." The disciples and brothers in attendance, annoyed because they always heard the same words, finally said, "Teacher, why do you always say this?" He replied: "Because it is the Lord's commandment and if it alone is kept, it is sufficient." As we go through John’s first letter, we will see how much the Lord’s beloved disciple sees those in the family of faith as also the Lord’s beloved. How many times does he address us tenderly? He is truly a father in the faith intimately involved in guiding, encouraging and gently rebuking in the faith. What a wonderful testimony to his faith this letter is. Let’s see this month how much those words quoted from him by Jerome flow through in his first letter.   A letter to you “My little children, I am writing these to you so that you may not sin.” - 1 John 2:1a  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:3-11 Letter writing isn’t one of my great strengths. It’s a real struggle to prepare myself and try to start. There I am, the blank screen or paper before me, trying to think of something to write. And then, when I have a subject to write about, I spend so much time trying to express myself correctly. The apostle John certainly had a subject to write about to the churches - a subject that had been causing much difficulty amongst the brethren. And doesn’t that kind of controversial subject make us even more wary of what we write? In fact, wouldn’t we then rather not write at all? That John does write, shows us the extent of his concern. He put the pen to paper. And he does so in a way which becomes a positive testimony to the faith we have. He doesn’t skip the problem either. His letter is a wonderfully Spirit-inspired balance. That’s what’s so special about Scripture. Another apostle, Paul, in 1st Corinthians 2:3-5, speaks of this as a demonstration of the Spirit and of power so that we don’t rest on the wisdom of men, but in God’s power. Hearing this, wasn’t it a real blessing that the churches were being written to by John? Even today, and in this month ahead, we too are having it personally posted to us. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His Spirit bringing His Word to us and pray it will truly expose and convict us. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

July 31 - Time and purpose

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the heaven.” - Ecclesiastes 3:1  Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 We live in a world of constant motion. We are surrounded by perpetual change. We can’t begin to keep up with it all. It is beyond our comprehension. Against this background, our verse for today declares that there is a time and purpose for everything. Everything happens on time according to a predetermined plan. God is working “all things according to the counsel of His will.” God is going to accomplish all His gracious purposes. The details of God’s plan are totally hidden from us. We cannot begin to understand it all. To us it is unknown. So hidden is God’s plan that the natural man and not a few professing Christians refuse to believe that it exists. But what is hidden from us is known to God. Acts 15:18 affirms, “Known to God from eternity are all His works.” God knows what He is doing and His word declares that it is all good for His people. Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” No matter what you are going through in life right now, it is part of God’s plan and purpose to do you good. Believe it and move forward encouraged. Our times are in His hand (Psalm 31:15). This is all being done to the praise of God’s name. Since this is the Lord’s Day, let us all be sure to join with God’s people to worship and praise Him together. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to open minds and hearts to the truth that He works all things for our good. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 30 - Food

“He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.” - Proverbs 28:19  Scripture reading: Proverbs 28:18-25 We all like to eat. We enjoy our meals and they are the source of our daily energy. Food is necessary to sustain our lives and our Proverb today shows us the way to have plenty of it. The land needs to be tilled. If the land is not tilled it produces thorns and thistles instead of food. So the farmer tills his soil in order to produce food. The principle at work here is that food requires labour. The apostle Paul put it this way in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” So if you want to eat, find yourself a job and the Proverb assures you of plenty. The alternative to work is to slack off, following the vain soul who does no work. This was the path taken by the prodigal son until he would gladly have filled his stomach with pig food and was denied even that. That was enough poverty for him. That was also when he remembered that his father’s workers had enough to eat and some to spare. He would return home and seek to become one of his father’s workers. Your father may not hire workers and you may believe that jobs are hard to find. Meanwhile, employers needing unskilled workers for low paying jobs can’t seem to find them. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom. Prove yourself a worker and move up from there. May God bless your labours today and feed you well. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help us all to get working and see that we are well fed. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 29 - Bad influences

“Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them; for their heart devises violence, and their lips talk of troublemaking.” - Proverbs 24:1,2  Scripture reading: Proverbs 24:1-9 This proverb is concerned about the company we keep and makes its warning very clear. Have no desire for or delight in evil company. It is very dangerous for your faith which is why 2 Corinthians 6:14 inquires, “What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?” For one thing, the hearts of evil people are always planning to pursue some manner of iniquity. They happily turn to violence or any number of violations of God’s law. This is their way of life. In addition their lips talk about the evil that abides in their hearts. They make a habit of talking about troublemaking or the other evils they plan to carry out. They advertise their folly. All of this has a bad influence on believers. In Psalm 73 the psalmist confesses that he was envious when he considered the prosperity of the wicked. He admits he almost slipped and fell from his standing in the faith. 1 Corinthians 15:33 simply tells us, “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Don’t let it happen to you. We can learn from our psalmist friend who almost fell. At that point, he says that he went into “the sanctuary of God.” There the ways of God and His righteousness were brought back to his understanding and he realized God was all he desired. Ever keep the truths of God’s word in your mind and heart. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help us hide His word in our hearts so that we might not sin against Him. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 24 - Faithfulness

“Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, But who can find a faithful man?” - Proverbs 20:6  Scripture reading: Proverbs 20:6-12 Most of us are inclined to think we are sufficiently good in and of ourselves. We readily proclaim what little goodness we can find in ourselves. It is easy to find people of this persuasion. Finding a faithful person is an entirely different matter. They are scarce among us. Psalm 12:1 declares, “The faithful disappear from among the sons of men.” We find the names of very few identified as faithful in the Bible. Moses and Daniel are two that come to mind. In Daniel 6:4 it is said of him, “They could find no charge or fault because he wasfaithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.” Psalm 101:6 describes the faithful as, “He who walks in a perfect way.” It is true. Really kind, generous and faithful people are hard to find. Gospel grace is required to be faithful. Only hearts renewed by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus will be inclined to pursue faithfulness. These are the hearts that seek to be faithful to God, faithful in keeping the Sabbath Day, faithful to the truth, faithful to their marriage vows; indeed faithful to all the commandments of God’s word. This is Sunday, the Lord’s Day, and you will find the faithful worshipping God today, as His people assemble in His church for public worship. May God bless today’s worship and worshippers. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will renew hearts today and be pleased with the worship of His faithful people. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 23 - A brother offended

“A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle.” - Proverbs 18:19  Scripture reading: Proverbs 18:14-19 Brothers can be and are too often offended. Scripture records a number of such offences. Think of Cain and Abel, the first brothers born. Think of Joseph and his brothers or the sons of David, Absalom and Amnon. Such family breakdown should not happen and displease God. Of even greater concern is when an offence occurs between brothers in the church where we are called to endeavour “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Such offences easily occur and, as the proverb points out, are hard to fix. What can be done about them? The easiest thing to do is not to let them happen. Be careful to think before you speak or act. Ask, how will what I say or do impact the person to whom I speak or with whom I act. If it could cause offence, don’t say it or do it. Don’t be the cause of offence. Offences do happen and fixing them is not easy, but the effort should be made. Jesus counsels both the offender and the offended to seek the other out to make reconciliation. See Matthew 5:24 and 18:15. Carefully follow the directions given in these verses. Ideally, the sides should meet as they seek one another out. Do it lovingly (John 13:35). Do it gently (Ephesians 4:2). Do it promptly (Ephesians 4:26). May God bless you in all your relationships. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to keep you from causing offence and may He be pleased to bless any efforts made to reach out to offended brothers. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 22 - A merry heart

“A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” - Proverbs 17:22  Scripture reading: Proverbs 17:22-28 The broken spirit of this proverb is a downcast brooding spirit that always looks on the dark side of things, always finds fault, and never finding anything right. Such a mindset is bad for both soul and body and when prolonged “dries the bones.” No Christian should exercise such a mindset. It is far better to exercise a merry heart which can act as a medicine for both the soul and body. Indeed who has better reason to exercise a merry or cheerful heart than the Christian? When we come in repentance and faith to Jesus, He says to us, “Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” (Matthew 9:2). It is a command of our Lord we need to give more attention. Other scriptures give us even more reason for merriment and cheerfulness. We don’t have a worry in the world because we cast all our cares upon God Who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Beyond that, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). And “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). The Bible gives us good reason to, “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). This proverb reminds me of my rancher friend in Manitoba. He always had a smile on his face, attended every church activity, and when our youth arranged a camping weekend, he would load his trailer with horses and go along so they could go horseback riding. The world needs more Christians like him. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to fill more hearts with joy that will act as a medicine for all. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 21 - Lots and lotteries

“The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.” - Proverbs 16:33  Scripture reading: Proverbs 16:27-33 Lots in the Bible are a means of making decisions and the Proverb tells us the decision of the lot was determined by the Lord. The land of Israel was divided among the people by lot. It was a lot that exposed Jonah as a fugitive from God. The last lot mentioned in the Bible concerned the choice of Matthias as the replacement for Judas. After the Spirit was poured out, the church used the enlightenment of the Spirit in making decisions. We might use a lot today to determine who gets the last cookie in the jar, but the lot has been set aside for serious direction. What is common today is the use of lotteries. In my youth lotteries were illegal in this country and while the Bible makes no mention of them, there is good reason for avoiding them. Advertising and promoting them is very misleading. They are poor stewardship and the idea of my riches at your expense is definitely not Biblical. God wants you to earn your way through life. There is one other lot in the Bible that I would mention. Deuteronomy 32:9 appears in the KJV as, “For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” In other words, God chooses His people by His own determined lot. The same can be said of the church. Has He chosen you? The only way to find out is by you casting your lot for Him. Give Him your heart and prove you belong to Him. Suggestions for prayer Ask that God by His word and Spirit direct your faith to Christ, confirming that you belong to Him. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 16 - A way that seems right

“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” - Proverbs 14:12  Scripture reading: Proverbs 14:1-12 How did this man come to think that his way was right? A number of factors could explain it. Let’s look at a few. It is the nature of the human heart to conceal its sinful character. Jeremiah wisely points out, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Too many folks don’t realize how sinful they are. Many don’t know the Scriptures as well as they think they do, as much of what they know has come from faulty sources. Their knowledge of the Bible is tragically incomplete. Many think they have done enough good in their lives to be accepted by God. They have not understood Romans 3:20, “By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight.” The fact is a man can’t make it on his own. The end result of this folly is death with no hope. There has to be another way. We find it in the gospel. The gospel, while it confronts us with our sins, also points us to the Saviour. Jesus Christ came into the world to fulfill all righteousness. He earned life, but instead of clinging to that life for Himself, He offered it up to God, a sacrifice to cover for our failures. Now He calls us to turn away from our sins and follow Him, believing that He can give us eternal life. Daily we all need to be“looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help all to see the error of their ways and keep looking unto Jesus. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 15 - Hopes

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” - Proverbs 13:12  Scripture reading: Proverbs 13:12-17 Nobody likes their hopes denied or put off. If you fail your driver’s exam, the girlfriend says no, or the promotion goes to someone else, you are disappointed. But, if you pass your driver’s test, the girlfriend says yes, or you get the promotion, you are delighted, or as the proverb puts it, “It is a tree of life.” All of this suggests we need to be careful about what we hope for. Don’t set your hopes too high. You don’t need riches and the best of everything to be happy. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. You don’t need to be number one or king of the world. Romans 12:3 tells us not to think too highly of ourselves. Have modest hopes and keep them at a level at which you can fulfill them. The problem here is that we are born sinners. We are prone to be too self-centred and self-promoting. We need to listen carefully to Jesus as he tells us, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” This amounts to the death of our old sinful hearts. Galatians 5:24 says, “Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” This sounds demanding, but it comes with the promise of sin forgiven and a new heart. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:26). That leads to modest desires and “a tree of life.” Suggestions for prayer Ask God that we might all have new hearts and desires that can be fulfilled. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 14 - Idleness and diligence

“The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” - Proverbs 13:4  Scripture reading: Proverbs 13:1-11 The Bible begins with the account of God’s six days of work in creation. Then Genesis 2:1 tells us, “on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work.” God is a worker. So is His Son, Jesus Christ, Who said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” Later from the cross He cried out, “It is finished.” He finished His work. Since God created man in His likeness, man too is to be a worker. At the beginning, God set man in a garden “to tend and keep it.” In Exodus 20:9 man is told, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” God intends for us to be workers. He also intends us to be good workers. Colossians 3:23 teaches us, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” The proverb before us speaks of “diligent” work and warns us against being lazy. Too often we go by our feelings. If we don’t feel like working we slack off, work poorly or perhaps do nothing. The result is that at the end of the day we profit nothing and feel worse. You now have a day ahead of you. Hopefully, you are ready to follow the Scriptures. Use the day well. Give it your best work and when it is over, your soul will be enriched and you will feel good about yourself. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to move many, to become diligent workers so that they may enjoy the richness of soul that it brings. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 13 - Creation and creatures

“A righteous man regards the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” - Proverbs 12:10  Scripture reading: Proverbs 12:1-10 In Genesis 1:28 God appoints man as the lord of creation. “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Clearly, man is to rule over creation and its creatures. Much evidence today suggests that man has failed in his task. I have seen comments in the media suggesting that God’s assignment to man was very foolish. The commentator should read further in his Bible. Proverbs 12:10 will tell him that the wise man “regards the life of his animal.” He takes good care of the creatures around him. It is the wicked and the cruel that cause neglect and damage. Man does well to care for the creatures because God himself sets the example. Consider Psalm 145:9, “The LORD is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.” This care also appears in the fourth commandment where the ox, donkey, and any cattle are given rest on the Sabbath day as well as man (Deuteronomy 5:14). This indicates that man’s dominion is to be of a caretaker. Man is not free to treat creation and its creatures any way that he pleases. His stewardship of creation will be judged by God. May the Lord give to us all the wisdom we need, to treat and use the creation and its creatures He has given to us, with thoughtful and appropriate care. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God’s people will be joined by many in the responsible care of creation and its creatures. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 8 - Covering sins

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.” - Proverbs 10:12  Scripture reading: Proverbs 10:6-12 The Proverb sets before us the contrast between Hatred and Love. There is much we can learn by considering what is here. May our hearts be open to what we find. Hatred is to be avoided at all costs. It destroys peace and stirs up irritation, contention and strife. It separates friends and sets them against one another. If unrestrained it can become murderous (Matthew 5:21,22). The condemnation of God rests upon it. Hatred is always ready to find fault. It turns minor matters into great offences. It exposes secrets and keeps reporting them, not willing to see any disturbance die out. It holds tight to its record of wrongs. Its author is the prince of darkness. On the other hand, love could not be more different. It seeks to make peace at every opportunity. It overlooks every grievance it possibly can. It is quick to forgive and forgets every offence when it is over. The words of 1 Corinthians 13 cannot be improved. Love “does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Love covers all sins. Scripture teaches that “God is love.” Love originates in Him and He “demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), that all our sins might be covered. How can we fail in any way to love one another? Suggestions for prayer Ask God to fill our hearts with love and move us to cover any sins perceived against us. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

 July 7 - Escaping the snare

“His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, And he is caught in the cords of his sin.” - Proverbs 5:22  Scripture reading: Proverbs 5:21-23 This Proverb teaches us that sin is a snare. Once you are caught by sin it is very difficult to escape. From a human point of view it is impossible. You are caught and there is only one escape. Jesus declared, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me… to proclaim liberty to the captives” (Luke 4:18). Only Jesus can rescue you. Turn from sin and embrace Him by faith and He will set you free, But be careful. Don’t get ensnared again. There are things we can do to promote our freedom. Keep God’s law in your thinking (Psalm 119:11). Romans 13:14 tells us to “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Do not go where you can anticipate temptation. David tells us in Psalm 101:3 “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.” Looking with approval at portrayals of sin can take you where you do not want to go. Learn to keep your distance from such portrayals. Kick sin off the doorstep before it enters your house. It is very possible that in an unguarded moment you will fall into a sin. Be careful not to repeat the error. Repeated sin quickly becomes a habit. It is like having someone tie a light string around your wrists. You can easily break free. Have them keep winding it around your wrists and you can’t break free. It is the same with sin. Keep doing it and you are trapped. Seek the Lord’s pardon any time you fall into sin. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord will help us to keep His law in our minds and to avoid making provision for sinful desires. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 6 - Keeping the heart

“Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” - Proverbs 4:23  Scripture reading: Proverbs 4:20-27 Heart in the Bible refers to the inner you; where you think, feel with emotion and make decisions about what you will do. It defines who you are because as a man “thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). We like to think that we are good-hearted people, but the Bible disagrees. It tells us that, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked.” We all need to cry out with David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” God does this renewing creative work in us as we turn from sin and look in faith to Jesus (Ezekiel 36:26). Now we can love God and make good decisions. But be careful. Our Proverb urges us to keep our hearts “with all diligence.” Guard them with care and let them direct your life as God intends. We need to know how to do this. The Psalmist leads us in the way when he says that he hides God’s word in his heart “That I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). Then think in harmony with God’s word like the righteous man in Psalm 1 whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.” Set your affections on God’s ways and act accordingly. That will keep your heart focused on God and you can say with the Psalmist, “I delight to do Your will, O my God” (Psalm 40:8). Suggestions for prayer Pray for hearts to be renewed and guarded by God’s word. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 5 - A call to humility

“Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.” - Proverbs 3:34  Scripture reading: Proverbs 3:31-35 Scornful people are the opposite of humble people. They think very highly of themselves and look down on others, despising them and pouring scorn upon them. The Lord, ever being just in His judgments, treats them with the scorn they so richly deserve. They lose out on His favour. The story about the humble is entirely different. Upon them the Lord pours His grace and favour. For them He makes room in His heavenly kingdom. In the words of Psalm 149:4, “He will beautify the humble with salvation.” Humility is highly desirable, but how do we attain it? It begins by seeing ourselves as the sinners that we really are. We are all failures in keeping God’s law. Our hearts should be broken and contrite. We have nothing of which to boast. The remedy for sin is to look to Jesus who promptly tells us, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” Learn humility from Jesus. He will impart His Spirit to you and the better you know Him, the more humble you will be. We find further good advice in Philippians 2:3, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Be sure to see the best in those around you. See them as better than yourself. Your assignment today is, “Be clothed with humility” (1 Peter 5:5). Suggestions for prayer Ask God to move hearts to seek after humility. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

June 30 - Renewing your strength

“But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Psalm 103:5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” - Isaiah 40:31  Scripture reading: Isaiah 40:25-31 The difference between a two-year-old and a twenty-year-old eagle is scarcely noticeable. Eagles retain their strength and speed and vision until they die. Their feathers also remain in excellent condition as God regularly renews them through molting. This amazing process is still not entirely understood, but it is estimated that the eagle renews its feathers nearly once a year, in a gradual process. We picture the eagle soaring effortlessly through the sky. Yet when an eagle mounts up on its powerful wings or takes down its prey, it requires tremendous strength. So there are times we soar high in the Christian life. But there are also demanding periods which take great effort. As our years advance the LORD continues to renew our strength. ”Though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). And God has also said, “They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing” (Psalm 92:14). God also gives the ability to run and not be weary! When demanding challenges and crises arise, He gives the spiritual adrenalin and muscle you need as you look to Him. When life calms down, He continues to provide the stamina and nourishment you need to steadily gain spiritual ground and “walk the talk” as a believer. So wait on the Lord. Renew your strength in Christ. Run spiritually and don’t be weary! Walk in faith and do not faint! Suggestions for prayer An aged saint who recently went to be with the Lord would ask family members to pray that he would not sleep so much. His deep desire was to be able to still serve the Lord as much as his strength and ability allowed! You may feel like you need to pray for more sleep instead of less. But let the goal of your prayer be the same: to serve the Lord to the very best of your ability! Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 29 - Wait on the Lord

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” - Isaiah 40:30-31  Scripture reading: Psalm 27:1-14 We usually think of waiting as something unpleasant. No one looks forward to waiting in a doctor’s office. Waiting in line at the grocery store or a border crossing are things we’d rather avoid. But waiting on the Lord is so different. For the Psalmist, it was something he was really willing to do. “Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:5). Waiting on the Lord means looking and listening for Him in faith! For the Christian, waiting on God is done with an air of expectancy. There is an eager suspense in this waiting. It’s like waiting for a birthday party or a wedding. It’s not a lazy waiting, but an energetic one which motivates a person to do whatever needs to be done, in order to get ready for whatever is coming. Think of soldiers who at the end of a day may be faint and weary from successfully engaging against the enemy. They are hoping and waiting for the day they can go home to those they love. But their expectant waiting doesn’t paralyze them. In fact, the prospect of victory energizes them each day. Similarly, a waiting that believes in the goodness of God and in a victory through Christ, won’t drain you. It will strengthen you! Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! (Psalm 27:14). Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will strengthen your heart, deliver you from the paralysis of fear and doubt and enable you to wait actively upon Him! Ask Him to give you an exciting and energizing sense of the victory accomplished by and guaranteed to you in Christ! Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 28 - Antidote for fainting

“He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall…” - Isaiah 40:29-30  Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 The mighty apostle Paul was not exempt from weakness when he found himself buffeted by a thorn in the flesh. He wrote, “Who is weak, and I am not weak” (2 Corinthians 11:29). Even the strongest Christians know what it’s like to faint and be weary. But why? One of the big reasons is a failure to really hold on to and believe God’s promises. When Israel complained that their way was hidden from the Lord, their just claim was passed over by their God, their complaint was understandable. They were languishing in captivity. God responds by sending Jeremiah with a message of Babylon’s imminent destruction and a blessed promise, “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 33:14). Letting go of God’s promises is draining. Holding on to them gives hope and strength. Are you letting go or holding on? God may be chastising you right now, but ask yourself, has He ever actually gone back on His word to you? You may have failed Him, but has He ever failed you? When you feel faint, refresh your faith by obeying promises like this, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28). Suggestions for prayer Whatever may be burdening or threatening you in a particular way right now, bring it to the Lord! Remember that He lovingly calls you to be “casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you!” Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 27 - God’s greatness

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.” - Isaiah 40:28  Scripture reading: Psalm 139:1-24 Isaiah dispels our doubts about the Lord’s ability to watch over us by listing four more truths about our God. First, He is the Everlasting God! We are creatures limited by time. From our perspective the present moment looms bigger than everything else. The future is very uncertain to us. But our everlasting God sees our momentary problems from the perspective of eternity! He knows how everything will unfold in our lives. He will make sure that it’s for our good, just like He did in the lives of Job and Joseph. God knows precisely how our disappointments, struggles and losses will fit together for our ultimate good. Second, He is the Creator of the ends of the earth. That means that wherever you find yourself, His power and presence will be there. Rest assured that wherever you go and whatever you face, “Even there, God’s hand shall lead you, And His right hand shall hold you!” Third, God neither faints nor is weary. We spend more than a quarter of our lives sleeping because we need to renew our strength. But God doesn’t have to. He never tires. He is always alert, aware and up to any challenge. Finally, God’s understanding is unsearchable. Just as children don’t need to be second-guessing their mother or father, neither do we need to second-guess God. He is far wiser than us and knows precisely what He is doing with us and where He is taking us. Suggestions for prayer If you feel that you or your just claim is forgotten by God in any way, then bring it to Him in prayer. As you do, ask Him to help you remember that Jesus was forsaken on the cross so that you might never be forsaken or forgotten by Him!! Appeal to His promise to never leave you or forsake you. Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 22 - Comparing the nations to God

“All nations before Him are as nothing, And they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.” - Isaiah 40:17  Scripture reading: Isaiah 40:15-18 On D-day, the Allied forces’ naval arm included 130,000 troops and 6939 ships. Even more heart-stopping is the fact that the one nuclear explosion which wiped out Hiroshima could have virtually destroyed the entire D-day forces in a few moments. Yet the power and weapons of the nations is just a drop in a bucket to God. On His scale, they are like fine dust. They don't even move it. He lifts up the isles as a very small thing!! “And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, Nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering” (Isaiah 40:16). When Solomon began to build the temple for the Lord, the first thing he did was send a message to Hiram King of Tyre asking him to provide cedars. Today the cedar is still the emblem of Lebanon. Isaiah tells us that if we were to take all their cedar forests, light one massive bonfire and offer every animal in them as a burnt offering, such an act of worship would still be far less than the glory and holiness of God warrants! “Yahweh, the God of Israel, is so high and exalted above man that man is in no way able to present unto Him a sacrifice or offering worthy of Him.” (E.J Young) Only one sacrifice was ever sufficient to fully glorify God and satisfy His holy justice. That sacrifice on the hill of Calvary was so awesomely sufficient that it shook the earth and split rocks in two! Hallelujah, what a Saviour! Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God fully satisfied the perfect divine justice and anger of God against all your sins. It did what no other sacrifice could do! Ask Him to deliver us from being afraid of what men or nations can do, knowing that their combined power is no more than a drop in the bucket to Him. Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 21 - Divine wisdom

“Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counsellor has taught Him? With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, And taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, And showed Him the way of understanding?” - Isaiah 40:13-14  Scripture reading: Proverbs 8:1-36 Who directed the Spirit of the LORD? No One! Who counselled Him? Nobody! Who instructed Him? Not a soul! No being, no force or law outside of Himself ever taught God anything! God never gained understanding because He always had it! From eternity past, before the world or the universe, or you or I, ever existed, God was, God is and God ever shall be: perfect in understanding and wisdom! God never says, “If only I had known that!” or, “If only I had been ready for that!” He is always ready. Nothing takes God by surprise. God never had to say, “Oh, I didn't realize that he would not quite be able to handle that” or, “I totally forgot that she would need extra encouragement today.” When things are tough, it’s easy to doubt whether we can really trust God's wisdom, power and care. Don’t belittle God by such a lack of appreciation for His infinite wisdom. And if you feel like you lack wisdom, then go to Him and ask Him for more! “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Suggestions for prayer: Ask the LORD to forgive you for the times you questioned His ways and wisdom and for the times “I have uttered what I did not understand. Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3). Thank Him that He is a God Whose wisdom and ways are far superior to ours. Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 20 - Divine Measurement

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, Measured heaven with a span And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales And the hills in a balance?” - Isaiah 40:12  Scripture reading: Psalm 46:1-11 He calculates the dust of the earth in a measure. God knows the exact volume and weight of all the dust of this world! Knowing the number of hairs on your head is a piece of cake in comparison! God never ‘guesstimates’ anything. You and I couldn’t even count the grains of sand in a single handful without losing track. Yet He knows it instantaneously! Years ago, we could view the Canadian Rockies in the distance outside our front window. We also took breathtaking drives through the Cascade mountain range which was even closer by. Yet, as vast and awe-inspiring as the mountains are, our God can pick up the whole Rocky mountain and Cascade range combined and put it on one side of the scale, take up Mount Everest and the entire Himalayan range and place them on the other side, while not straining a single muscle or forming one drop of sweat! God has unlimited power. He has the seas and lakes, mountain ranges, with all their volcanoes and fault lines, in perfect balance. Nothing is ever out of His careful and measured control! This is why it is such a comfort to be able to say, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”Let us, “Be still and know that He is God!” (Psalm 46:1). Suggestions for prayer Thank God His thoughts towards you are more in number than the sand of the seashore. Praise Him for being your powerful Protector and a very present help in trouble! Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 19 - The right approach

“Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end.” - Psalm 119:33 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:33-40 Today, we have the privilege of joyfully worshiping our God and hearing the preaching of His Word! The psalmist’s prayer is, "Teach Me, O Lord, the way of your statutes.”We need to remember it’s not a book of man’s statutes, but of God’s! It has all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden in it. He purposes that we discover those treasures through the preaching and teaching of the Holy Spirit! Proverbs 2:3-6 (ESV) tells us, “Yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Loving God with our whole mind means using it to know God better. It involves listening for the ways God's Word impacts every single facet of our life! Too often we find ourselves sitting in church or reading the Bible without a real hunger for a life impacting experience! If that’s the case, we need to say, "Wait a minute! What am I doing here?” Then pray for God to bless your mind and heart with the truth you are about to hear or to read!" It’s vital to approach worship and God’s Word with a prayerful hunger and thirst for the blessings of salvation and righteousness in Jesus Christ! Suggestions for prayer Proverbs 2:3-6 is really an amazing promise. Quote it in prayer and ask God to fulfill its promise in our lives. Pray also that He would help you to approach both scripture and worship with the right attitude. Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 14 - The Lord is my shepherd

“Behold, the Lord GOD shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.” - Isaiah 40:10-11  Scripture reading: Psalm 23:1-6 The LORD is my Shepherd. I shall not want! I will never be unprotected. I will never lack anything I truly need. Why not? Because the Lord, my Shepherd, is both a gentle God and yet the God of limitless power and infinite wisdom. He is above us, beyond us, and yet still with us! He will gather the lambs with His arm and gently lead those with young. The youngest, the weakest, the defenceless, the ones with greatest need and least stamina, are special objects of His attention! Who are these lambs? They include any Christian, any weak one, any handicapped one, or anyone with special needs. Without a doubt, this also includes every little child that He gives to believers and to His church. The Greek word in the New Testament for young boy “talya”, and for young girl “talitha”, actually come from this Hebrew word for lam, ”tela”. They are no less important or valuable to Him than you are!! Their souls are just as eternal as yours! He gathers them with His arm. He uses you as parents and grandparents to love, nurture and teach them about Jesus, their Shepherd, Who died and rose again for them! He uses you as elders, pastors, and teachers at home and school to gather them as you teach, lead and love them self-sacrificially! And He shows the power of His arm by working faith in these young hearts and minds and using them to shine as lights in a dark world! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for all those He has used to shepherd your soul. Continue to pray for them, express your indebtedness to God for them. Be thankful for any and all opportunities God gives you to lead and love young souls. Pray for wisdom and faithfulness in doing so. Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 13 - Behold your God

“O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!" Tell His people to be ready for His coming! He is coming as King, with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him. Behold His reward is with Him.” - Isaiah 40:9  Scripture reading: Isaiah 40:1-17 In Chapter 40, Isaiah describes how absolutely stunning God is in every facet of His Being! He measures the waters in the hollow of His hand. He weighs the mountains in scales. He doesn’t need to be taught anything… He knows everything! Compared to Him, all the nations are like a drop in the bucket and dust on the scale. This description is not designed to intimidate us. It’s designed to comfort us. God is not just some impersonal unreachable, untouchable force governing everything. He is both our infinitely powerful Creator and our Judge, and yet also our tender Shepherd. He is a compassionate, caring God. He shepherds gather, carries, and gently leads His people. He will tend His flock like a shepherd. The word ‘tend’ represents everything a Shepherd does to care for and protect His sheep. There are bad shepherds and there are good shepherds, but only One is ‘the’ Good Shepherd: “I am ‘the’ Good Shepherd. ‘The’ Good Shepherd lays down His life for the Sheep.” David risked his life defending his sheep from the lion and the bear. Jesus didn’t risk His life. He purposefully gave it to save you from hell and Satan. There is no better place for you or your children than under the protection of the Good Shepherd! Suggestions for prayer Ask God that you will grow in your awareness and appreciation of His stunning power and glory. Thank Him that your fear of Him only needs to be one of reverence and child-like trust, not of terror. Ask God for boldness to lead others to see and know Him as the Good Shepherd Who lays down His life for the sheep. Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 12 - His enduring word

“The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever."” - Isaiah 40:7-8  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:189-196 God knew a fallen man could live for hundreds of years; it would not be good. Evil men would have too long to learn and carry out their evil designs. There is reason to take comfort in the fact that God blows on them, and they perish. However, God’s Word has truth, for you will never wither or fade! “Forever O LORD your Word is settled in the heavens!”  In the fourth century, the Roman emperors Diocletian and Julian ordered their soldiers to destroy every Christian writing they could find. Marxist regimes, which at one point controlled a third of the world's population, destroyed millions of copies in every nation under their grip. Yet, recently, the United Bible Society alone distributed 184 million full Bibles over five years. God’s Word remains the world’s most widely published book. Two hundred years ago, the Bible was available in just 68 languages. In 2020 this rose to 704, with the New Testament in 1,551 languages and portions of scripture available in an additional 1,160 languages. There is a goal in place to eradicate ‘Bible poverty’ by 2033. His Word has stood the test of time. Since God never changes, His Word doesn’t either! The Word of our God is the Word of the I Am that I Am. He guarantees that the Church that gathers to worship Him today from every nation will always have His Word! Suggestions for prayer As you gather to worship God today, pray that God would impress on His people’s hearts that God’s Word never changes because God doesn’t change. Thank God for preserving His word and truth throughout the millennia and for revealing it to you and your loved ones! Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 11 - The brevity of life

“All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.” - Isaiah 40:6-7  Scripture reading: Psalm 39 In Psalm 39, David contemplates how brief life really is. He prays, “Lord make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.” David even answers his own question when he says, “Certainly every man at his best is but vapour!” What is a vapour? It’s the fog that appears for a little while in the early morning. The sun burns it away and you would never know it was there! It’s the warm breath from our mouth that condenses into thousands of tiny water droplets and then they’re gone. Life is like a vapour! A buddy of mine died just after high school in a tragic accident. Another friend died of very brief sickness just after his marriage. A colleague, ordained shortly after me, died some years ago in a bicycle accident. A minister close to me in age just died a few months ago of Covid19. None reached what we consider ‘old' age. It’s good to keep in mind that God hasn’t guaranteed that you will either. But even if you do, this life will soon be at an end. God keeps us from falling into the trap of living as if this is all there is! May God help us travel lightly, laying up our treasures in heaven instead of here. Let Jesus Christ, Who is seated in heaven be your priceless treasure! Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also! Suggestions for prayer Pray with David that God would, “so teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Pray that you would make the best use of your God-given time this week! Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 6 - Her warfare is ended

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!" Says your God. Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the LORD'S hand double for all her sins."” - Isaiah 40:1, 2  Scripture reading: Isaiah 40:1-5; 53:1-6 God warned Hezekiah that Judah would be carried away into captivity because of her sin. Yet, nearly 150 years earlier, God inspired Isaiah to author truths to comfort them during this time. Isaiah’s writing is designed to infuse believing hearts with hope and give powerful reasons to know that God had not deserted them. Their suffering would come to an end. Though God has to chastise them, He still calls them “My people”! He says, “You are mine! On the day I make up my jewels, I will not forget you. Though you are suffering right now, the sufferings of this present time will not be worthy to be compared with the glory that’s going to be revealed in you!” Tell her that Her warfare has ended. The spiritual battles involved in discipline and suffering have their place. When we forget our need for Him, God needs to pull the rug out from under us so that we will fall into His arms! God graciously allows sufferings and struggles to burn up dross and purify the gold and silver in us. He uses them to make plain to us our own weaknesses and to reveal His strength and grace to us. Our suffering doesn’t atone for sin. Jesus has done that for us: He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed! The end of warfare and suffering is assured because “our iniquity is pardoned!” Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you accept suffering as something He can use for good and for His glory. Pray for the “patience of Job” (Jam 5:11) during it. Thank God that all suffering for the child of God will come to an end. The eternal suffering we should have received was endured by Jesus and in Him we are pardoned! Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 5 - The Spirit as wind and fire

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” - John 3:8  Scripture reading: Acts 2:1-21 In Hebrew, the words for breath, wind and Spirit are one and the same. In Greek, the words for wind and Spirit are also identical. ‘Wind’ illustrates the invisible way the Spirit works. You can’t see Him, but the powerful impact He makes on a person’s life is unmistakable. Like the wind, the Spirit’s presence drives away the putrid air of a sinful life and replaces it with the fresh atmosphere of a new life of love for God and neighbour! The 'breath’ of the Spirit is so transforming and powerful it gives new life to the dead. Like fire that warms and illuminates, the Spiritbrightens the souls of men. The oil of the Holy Spirit sets the candlesticks of our hearts aflame and makes us burn like lights in a dark world. As Pentecostal Christians, the wind and fire of the Holy Spirit must be blazing brightly in us for all the world to see! We may not remain cold and dispassionate. We can’t be content to be (theo-) logical but unemotional. We should never ‘notch down’ our zeal and love in order to not draw unwanted attention. If Ukrainian citizens and soldiers are ready to sacrifice everything for earthly freedoms, how can we fail to be willing to sacrifice our all for spiritual freedom? Don’t hesitate to let your faith burn brightly. Let your hearts and tongues be on fire with the message of the cross of Christ and its saving power! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the theological riches and depth of our Reformed faith. Pray that these truths may not just fill our minds but set our hearts aflame. Pray that ‘frozen chosen’ would be furthest from the minds of those who get to know us. Pray that the Spirit may teach us more and more of Christ! Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 4 - A sobering message

“In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the LORD; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign. But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.” - 2 Chronicles 32:24-26  Scripture reading: Isaiah 39:1-8 In Chapter 38 Hezekiah is severely sick. God sends Isaiah to tell him to prepare to die. But Hezekiah prays fervently that God will spare him from dying so soon. Isaiah comes back to Hezekiah with an amazingly gracious message from God. "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city” (Isa. 38:5-6). The king of Babylon hears what happened to Hezekiah and sends a congratulatory note regarding his miraculous recovery. Hezekiah, in turn, thinks highly of himself. As a result, he is overwhelmed by a desire to impress the messengers and he ends up showing everything he has to them. He leaves nothing out. It’s easy, like Hezekiah, to become inflated with ideas of personal accomplishment when we are especially blessed by God. The apostle Paul had the same problem so God had to give him a thorn in the flesh. God responds by sending Hezekiah a sobering warning that Babylon would soon ruin Israel and bring them into captivity. Hezekiah, in turn, meekly acknowledges God’s undeserved mercy in sparing him further personal suffering. God gives us a good reminder here to not so easily trust those who don’t put their trust in Him. Be thankful that He is a God Who, in grace, works to pierce our inflated views of ourselves so that we can serve Him with humility. Suggestions for prayer God tells us that the prayers of a righteous man avail much. Thank Him for being a God who hears and answers prayers. Pray also for grace to keep you from being inflated with pride on account of God’s blessings and to humble yourself if you are. Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

June 3 - Serious about sin

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” - Isaiah 1:16-18  Scripture reading: Isaiah 1:1-31 Isaiah chapters 1 - 34 are brimming with judgment against the sin and evil that have taken root in the hearts of God's people. They present a stark picture of God’s righteous anger against sin, reminding His people again and again that God is Holy, Holy, Holy! He is not a God to be recklessly ignored or disobeyed. Chapter 1 itself is nearly all about God’s judgment. Yet in the middle of God’s strong warning you find these verses of forgiveness and hope: “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool” (1:17-18). They form jewels of gospel hope which shine all the more brilliantly against the dark backdrop of Israel's sin and rebellion! You can’t sweep sin under the carpet. Jesus said, “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matt. 5:30). You’ve got to learn to be truly serious about sin in the world and in your hearts. But thank God and rejoice that you can do so in the wonderful assurance that, by Christ’s cleansing power, though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool! Suggestions for prayer Pray for a real dying-away of the old self by learning “To be genuinely sorry for sin and more and more to hate and run away from it.” Pray for the rising-to-life of the new self that results in “a love and delight to live according to the will of God by doing every kind of good work.” (Heidelberg Catechism Q&A. 89-90) Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). 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

May 29 - Gratitude for God’s grace and peace

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” - 1 Corinthians 1:3  Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; Philippians 4:4-9 One of the most precious greetings in God’s Word is often just received as a formality. Because we hear familiar words of greeting, we sometimes take them for granted. But what gratitude we should have for God’s grace and peace! Grace refers to unmerited favour. We who by nature are objects of God's wrath, we who have transgressed God's law, and who are prone to wander and struggle against the Holy Spirit with our sinful nature, are yet cleansed by Christ, loved by the Father and in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit. That is unmerited favour! Knowing the grace of God in our lives gives us true peace: peace with God, peace with one another and peace with our circumstances, no matter what they may be. But only a prayerful Christian, focused on Christ, experiences that peace which surpasses all understanding! (Philippians 4:6-7). Knowing God's grace and peace leads to the sanctified life that 1 Corinthians 1:2 calls us to live; it leads us to truly thank God for His grace (1 Corinthians 1:4). It does so because God’s greeting of grace and peace consists not just of words, but is rooted in the faithfulness of God who calls us into fellowship with Himself (1 Corinthians 1:9). May those words of greeting, often heard on Sunday, not be taken lightly. Instead, may they result in deep and joyful gratitude expressed through obedient living every day of each new week! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His grace and peace, and “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7). Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. 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

May 28 - Praise from a grateful heart

“Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of all His wondrous works!” - 1 Chronicles 16:8-9  Scripture reading: 1 Chronicles 16:1-36 When the ark was returned to Jerusalem, David praised the LORD because the ark represented God’s presence with His people. Tomorrow, wherever God’s people assemble in His presence, all have the same reasons for praise which David had! First, David praised God for the wonders He has done. He wrote, “Remember the wondrous works that He has done, His miracles and the judgments He uttered” (12). David was reflecting on how the ark had been returned to Jerusalem and how God was dwelling with His people. But that verse transcends time to focus us on all the wonders God has done in our lives -wonders of redemption, providence and creation! David goes on to thank God for His faithfulness to the covenant made with Abraham (15-18), which includes wonderful promises of inheriting the land and having the blessings of God (Genesis 17:7-8). Those promises transcend time and bring us into eternity, into the heavenly Canaan. And those promises are ours if by grace we have saving faith in Christ alone, for, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29). David also praised God for His protective care for His people through the pilgrimage of life (19-22). God still leads, guides and protects His people. Whether in times of joy or sorrow, He is ever faithful! Considering the wonders God has done, is doing, and will do throughout eternity, our response should mirror the response of David. May that be true today, tomorrow, and forever! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for all His wondrous works: His majesty in creation, His perfect providence, and above all, His redeeming love.  Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. 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

May 27 - Living as grateful adopted children

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.” “…I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” - John 14:16, 18  Scripture reading: Romans 8:12-17 When Jesus spoke to His disciples about His ascension into heaven, they were grieved that He would be leaving them. But He gave them this wonderful promise, “I will not leave you as orphans.” (John 14:18) He was speaking about how after He ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit would be sent by the Father and the Son in a unique and powerful way. It is by the Holy Spirit’s power that we are given life from above, adopted into the family of God and have been given the privilege of calling, “Abba! Father!” Because we are adopted into God’s family, we are given all the rights of children and become co-heirs with Christ of the immeasurable inheritance of heaven (Romans 8:15-17). J.I. Packer, in his classic book, Knowing God, recounts how the concept of adoption into God’s family has been lost in the church today. He writes: “If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thoughts of being God’s child and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.” May you and I always be grateful that because of Christ, through the Holy Spirit’s power, we are God’s children with access to our gracious heavenly Father, Who is the giver of every good and perfect gift! (James 1:17) Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the blessing of adoption. Acknowledge that your adoption is all by grace and not by works. Pray that God would enable you, as an obedient adopted child, to live a life of gratitude for embracing you into His family. Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. 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

May 26 - Grateful praise to our ascended Lord!

“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 Did you notice how verse 24 points out that Jesus entered heaven “to appear in the presence of God on our behalf”? That phrase describes an amazing truth concerning the ascension. Jesus ascended into heaven to intercede eternally on the behalf of those who by His grace have saving faith in Him alone “since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). As He intercedes, He does so with great compassion, for He has been tempted in every way as we are, yet is without sin (Hebrews 4:15). He knows the human experience completely. He has experienced hunger, thirst and conflicts from angry people; He has lived under ungodly political rulers. He knows what it is like to live in a fallen world and face the attacks of the evil one. And as the Mediator of the New Covenant, He has shed His blood to cover – propitiate – the sins of His people. Not only does the ascension assure us of our salvation through saving faith in Christ, but it also assures us that just as Jesus ascended bodily into heaven, so will we on the last day when He returns in glory. (1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 3:20, 21). Unfortunately, people today, including many Christians, don't give much thought to the blessings that flow from the ascension. The knowledge of our ascended Saviour should instill within us praise and adoration. Jesus Christ has entered heaven to intercede on our behalf! Our redemption is complete in Him! He is returning again to receive us to Himself! Alleluia! Alleluia! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord Jesus Christ for His perfect life of obedience, His sacrificial death, His resurrection and His ascension into heaven to “appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (v. 24). Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. 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

May 21 - Living a life of gratitude

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” - Romans 12:1  Scripture reading: Romans 12:1-21 In Romans 12, the apostle paints a picture for us of what a life of gratitude looks like. Gratitude is more than syllables from our lips; gratitude must be expressed by the way we live our lives. After urging us to live lives that are sacrifices of praise to God (v. 1, 2), the apostle describes specific ways to live out that gratitude. In verses 3 to 13, he points out our need to humbly evaluate ourselves and the gifts God has given us. He points out that we don't all have the same gifts, but we all have gifts. Did you notice how diverse the gifts are? They include, among other things, teaching, contributing financially, cheerfully doing acts of mercy and extending hospitality. In other words, as you look at yourself, and look around at others in the church and the community where you live, you will see many practical ways to express gratitude to God. We express gratitude by using our time and gifts for God’s glory and the good of others. As the chapter closes it stresses that we are not to take revenge. Few things rob us of gratitude more than the feeling that we have been wronged and a desire to retaliate. Instead, we are to express gratitude to God, recognizing that He will right all wrongs; and in the meantime, we are to overcome evil with good. Syllables of praise are necessary and good, but actively living a life of gratitude is too! Suggestions for prayer Pray that as He sanctifies us, God would enable us to use the gifts He has given (4-8), focusing on love for Him and others (9-13). And pray that He would guard us from retaliation and enable us to overcome evil with good (14-21). Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. 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

May 20 - God’s grace: The cause for our gratitude

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!” - Romans 11:33  Scripture reading: Romans 11:33-12:2 A principle in philosophy is that every change in nature is produced by a cause. That principle applies not only in philosophy, but also in theology. When, by God’s grace, we begin to understand “the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God” (Romans 11:33), we cannot help but be filled with gratitude! When we realize that the eternal, omniscient and omnipotent God, Who is described in Romans 11:33-36, has mercifully saved us from our sin through the giving of His Son, it must have a “cause and effect” result in our lives. The effect is described in Romans 12:1 where the apostle urges us, in view of God’s mercy, to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. Meditating on God's mercy instills within us gratitude which leads to a life of worship. Instead of worship being limited to church services on Sunday, worship becomes the focus of each day, keeping us from wanting to be conformed to this world. It instills within us the desire to be increasingly transformed by the renewal of our mind. Then, out of gratitude, we will seek to discern God's will, knowing that it “is good, acceptable, and perfect” (Romans 12:2). As we reflect on our guilt and God's grace, may it cause us to express sincere and joyful gratitude as we are transformed by the mercy and grace of God! Suggestions for prayer Pray with a grateful heart, thanking God for His mercy in saving you from sin. Ask Him to guard you from conformity with the world and to give you a wholehearted commitment to know and to do His will. And if you doubt your salvation, prayerfully seek the Lord in His Word, trusting His promise that “You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. 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

May 19 - The immeasurable grace of our triune God

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” - 2 Corinthians 13:14  Scripture reading: Galatians 3:23-4:7 Although we see God’s grace in each individual member of the Trinity, we see the pinnacle of grace interwoven through the unity of the Godhead (the Trinity). In Galatians 4 we read how the Father “sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (4, 5). And almost in the same breath we are told of the Spirit’s work, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son (or daughter), then an heir of God through Christ” (6, 7). The Father, Son and Holy Spirit work together in perfect harmony, granting us a trifecta of heavenly grace. Their triune work of redemption reminds us that all things are of the Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Spirit. That truth flows from the Benediction which concludes Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. No wonder that before pronouncing the Triune blessing, he wrote about rejoicing and living in peace (2 Corinthians 13:11, 12). If we truly know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, then you and I have great reason to rejoice, making every effort to live in unity and harmony with others, all for the glory of God’s immeasurable grace! Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord for His harmonious work in your life. Praise Him for His Fatherly love, the redeeming work of Christ, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. 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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