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Daily devotional

September 28 - Justice and mercy

“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” - 2 Corinthians 5:21

Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 5:18-21

The Lord relented from the disaster He had planned for Nineveh. It is not that He ignored justice. God cannot violate His justice. There would still be a day when justice would be served. But at the same time when justice was served, mercy would be given.

Justice and mercy meet at the cross. Justice was served by God’s own Son. He paid the full punishment. Instead of punishing sinful, selfish humans, the Father put his righteous anger on his Son, and His Son was willing and able to pay for our sins. He became sin on our behalf, so that we might become “the righteousness of God.”

As commentator Jacques Ellul describes, “The just and perfectly holy God condemns, and can do no other, but when a man repents…God suffers for having condemned him. He takes upon himself the evil which was the wages of man’s sin.”

The Ninevites were wicked. But we are not better than them. Jonah had to learn that. The same grace that saved the Ninevites is the same grace that saved Jonah and saves us when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you put your trust in Him? Put your faith and hope in Christ!

Suggestions for prayer

Thank God for His offer of salvation through Christ.

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, Uncategorised

September 22 - I knew that you are a gracious God

“That is why I made haste to 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 4:2  Scripture reading: Jonah 3:10-4:3 When we read this passage, we don’t know whether to laugh or cry. We might laugh because what Jonah says is so dramatic and silly. But we might cry because we also see a bit of ourselves in Jonah. Jonah is very angry when he sees that God has relented from the disaster He had planned. When Jonah describes God’s character, he is quoting from Exodus 34:6. God described himself this way when Moses had come up Mount Sinai after the Israelites had made and worshipped the golden calf. At that time, God had revealed his patience and mercy to a very undeserving people. Jonah knew that! But this was different because these Ninevites weren’t Israelites; they were Israel’s mortal enemies. Jonah was not okay with his God showing mercy to his own enemies. As Hugh Martin notes, Jonah’s sin here is ‘pretending to be more careful of God’s glory, and more qualified to advance it, than God himself.’ Jonah wishes he could tell God what to do. Whereas Jonah was running from God in chapter 1, he now tries to run God! God is bigger than we can fathom. We only have a limited grasp of His character. It is a marvellous thing to know that God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and relenting from disaster. Suggestions for prayer Praise and thank God for his character, and for his patience and love towards us. Pray that we might have a right understanding and deep appreciation of his character. 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 21 - A relenting and responsive God

“…If that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.” - Jeremiah 18:8  Scripture reading: Jeremiah 18:4-11, Jonah 3:10 When the Lord God saw what the Ninevites did and how they turned from their evil way, He relented from the disaster he had planned (Jonah 3:10). This part of the narrative is an example of God’s sovereignty needing to be held in tension with man’s responsibility. Did God just change his mind because of the Ninevites’ repentance? Believing in the sovereignty of God means that salvation is all the work of God (see Jonah 2:9). Yet there is also man’s responsibility to respond to the command to repent. In Jeremiah 18, the Lord explains how He will relent from the disaster He had planned against a nation if they will repent. He also warns that He will relent from the good that He had intended if a nation stops listening to His voice. In addition to relenting, this narrative shows how God is a responsive God as well as a God of compassion. He responds to our actions, to our repentance, and to our prayers. He isn’t obliged to, but He does because He is a God who keeps his covenant promises. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you trust in his sovereignty. Sing “I sought the Lord and afterward I knew.” 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 20 - Roadblocks to repentance

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness”” - Hebrews 3:7-8 Scripture reading: Hebrews 3:7-8, Jonah 3:5-10 True repentance is a heart-level change that involves the whole person. However, as Ian Duguid describes in his study guide Jonah: Grace for Sinners and Saints, there can be real roadblocks to repentance. What are some repentance roadblocks? We might not want to change. The sin feels too good, or it seems like repentance will take the fun out of life. So we think we can put off repentance until a later time. But imagine if the Ninevites had thought that. “Thanks Jonah, but we’ll deal with this next year, after we’ve conquered a few more nations.” That would have been too late! We can also make light of sin, not becoming truly convicted. We might also be fearful because we have little hope in God, or because it means admitting to God and others that we are sinful and broken. We may also fail to pray, not trusting God’s work in our hearts to bring us to repentance. Lastly, we may try to rely on our own willpower instead of looking to the Lord Jesus Christ for aid. Let the Gospel motivate you to repent. Your guilt is washed away. You are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. You are loved by the Father. He gives new beginnings. There is a good future for you! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to remove roadblocks to repentance that might be evident in your life. Ask Him to open the eyes of your heart, and to have you experience his love and forgiveness. 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 19 - A lesson on repentance

“But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”” - 2 Timothy 2: 19  Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 2:15-19 When explaining what repentance is, we can summarize it as turning, turning around. It means getting off the wrong road and turning on the right road. There are four things that make repentance true and genuine. Repentance involves 1) conviction of sin, 2) sorrow for sin, 3) change in behaviour, and 4) hope in God. Being convicted of your sin means that you realize that what you’ve been doing is not right and that it is evil in the sight of God. To be sorrowful means that you feel badly for having sinned. In ancient times, this sorrow was expressed through fasting and wearing sackcloth (very itchy and scratchy dark-coloured material made from goat or camel hair, used to make grain sacks). The king of Nineveh ordered a fast and wearing sackcloth for all the citizens to show their sorrow for sin. Thirdly, the change in behaviour means a change of course in your ways. For the Ninevites, it meant turning from their evil and violent ways and calling out mightily to God (Jonah 3:8). Lastly, repentance also involves hope in God. The Ninevite king said, “Who knows? God may turn and relent from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish” (Jonah 3:9). Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that we do know that God is willing to turn and relent from his fierce anger, as He has demonstrated this to us at the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ! 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 14 - The wages of sin is death

“So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.” - Jonah 1:15  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:14-16 With no other option, the mariners throw Jonah into the sea. And Jonah is going down, down, down, gurgle, gurgle, gurgle into the dark, pitch-black icy cold sea. Jonah is under punishment. In a sense, the Lord is saying: You want to flee, Jonah? Okay, I’ll let you flee. Do you want to run? I’ll let you run. But your running will be your downfall — and you will run yourself into the morbid, murky, and muddy sea. Jonah expects to die. Once he hit the ice-cold water, he expected to drown and never be heard from again. He doesn’t know about the fish yet. Jonah’s “death” corresponds with the nature of his sin. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Jonah is punished for his sin. But he does not die. The Lord isn’t done with him yet. The Lord appoints a fish to swallow Jonah, and he will live. In the future, another prophet will be thrown into a storm. Not a storm at sea of water, but the storm of God’s wrath. He would not be punished for His own sin — He was sinless. He wasn’t running away from the Father but was perfectly living, “Not my will, but yours.” And in that storm, the full fury of God’s anger would be upon Him. This is Jesus. What brought Jesus to the cross was our sin, our fleeing from God’s presence. But Jesus died so that we don’t have to. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord Jesus for diving into the storm of God’s wrath in your place. 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, Uncategorised

September 13 - The mercy of the pagans

“Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them.” - Jonah 1:13  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:11-16 The sailors, however, do not quickly act on Jonah’s advice. They do not want to get rid of him and throw him overboard. Why not? They were unsure of his extreme idea. One commentator suggests: “Jonah’s diagnosis is certainly correct, but is his prescription the right one?” They do not want to be guilty of shedding innocent blood, which could only increase their culpability. They don’t want to get Jonah’s God even angrier at them. There is a contrast and irony here. Or is it compassion and concern? The heathens are concerned about Jonah, but Jonah is unconcerned about the heathens. Their treatment of Jonah is generous and chivalrous, especially after all that Jonah has done to give them a terrible day. Because of him, they lost their cargo and almost died. Even after Jonah confesses his crime, they are unwilling to throw him overboard. The pagans are concerned about the prophet, but he seems indifferent to them, doesn’t he? Isn’t it tragic when God’s people are indifferent and apathetic regarding the plight and future of those around them? Isn’t it ironic that unbelievers show more mercy and compassion than believers? Earlier, we said that the book of Jonah is a warning to the covenant people of God. We are warned against having indifferent and apathetic hearts toward the lost people around us. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would reveal indifference in your heart. Pray that by the Spirit, you will grow in concern and kindness for others. 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, Uncategorised

September 12 - Jonah’s testimony

“I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” - Jonah 1:9  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:7-11 The sailors believe that the storm represents divine punishment. Someone on the ship has done something to offend a god. Casting lots will let them know who this person is. "And the lot fell on Jonah." As soon as he is singled out as the culprit, the crew wanted to know the whys and wherefores of this mysterious and troublesome passenger. Jonah gets peppered with questions, rapid-fire. "Tell us now! On whose account has this evil come upon us? What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?" Jonah answers the last question first. He states that his nationality is Hebrew. But then he elaborates. Literally, verse 9 reads: "and the Lord, the God of the heavens, I fear, who made the sea and dry land." Jonah uses the covenantal name for God: Yahweh. He defines and describes his God. His God is the sovereign Lord of everything, the one who created the sea and dry land. Jonah's God is in control of the storm of the sea. He assures the sailors of that. That only makes the sailors more terrified. They ask: “What is this that you have done!” Are you crazy? You ran away from a God who can do this? Jonah’s God is the supreme and sovereign Lord, the Creator of land and sea. This God is pursuing Jonah in His power and love. Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord for His sovereign power and control and that He uses this power for the good of his children. 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 11 - What do you mean, you sleeper?

“What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us that we may not perish.” - Jonah 1:6 Scripture reading: Jonah 1:4-7 But where is Jonah in all of this? He's fast asleep. He found some corner at the bottom of the boat where no one could disturb him and fell fast asleep. The frenzy and fear of the sailors contrast with Jonah's slumbering state. God has sent the storm to arrest Jonah, and the storm is God's tool to bring Jonah to his senses. The pagan mariners do not know all this — they think they will go down with the storm. Eventually, the ship's captain finds the sleeping prophet and wakes him up: "What do you mean, you sleeper?" In other words: Are you for real? How can you sleep during a storm like this? The captain continues: “Arise, call on your God, perhaps your God will take notice of us, and we will not perish.” The captain knew they had not "tapped" or “dialled” the right god yet with their prayers, so it was essential that they “tap” and “dial” every possibility. If they "dial" the proper deity, sooner or later, he might have mercy on them and stop the storm. Perhaps Jonah's God was the one behind the storm. The religions of these sailors are false, and therefore their prayers do nothing. Notice, though, that they are more committed to their gods than Jonah is to his God! At least they were praying! Jonah doesn’t pray to his God. Suggestions for prayer Pray for people in your life who may be putting their trust in idols and false gods. Pray that they may turn in faith to the Living God. 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 6 - Anywhere but Nineveh!

“But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” - Jonah 1:3 Scripture Reading: Jonah 1:3-4 Jonah hears the command of the Lord and what does he do? He goes in the direct opposite direction of where he was told to go! He’s a runaway prophet, and he’s serious about running away. He’s not like a kid who says to his parents that he’s going to run away from home and then only gets to the neighbour’s driveway. No, Jonah goes as far as he can: he’s gone, and he’s gone for good. He’s told to go eastward (toward modern-day Iraq) and he goes westward (modern-day Spain). Jonah goes up to the ticket booth, and says, “One ticket to NOT Nineveh, please!” Anywhere but Nineveh! Jonah is determined to run away. Riding a ship was an unusual thing to do for a Hebrew because the Hebrews were not seafaring people. Plus, the Philistines had control over the coastal waters at this time. This was a very dangerous voyage. One pastor has said: “If you start running from the Lord, the devil will always have a boat for you. And you’ll always have money to pay the way.” Jonah is intent on running away from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord pursues Jonah. The Lord won’t let Jonah run away completely. This is God’s grace toward Jonah. Suggestions for prayer Pray for those who might be running away from the Lord for whatever reason. May they know that they can’t escape the Lord’s presence. 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 5 - A storm warning

“for their evil has come up before me.” - Jonah 1:2c  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:1-3 The sense here: “Their evil has come up against me” implies that their wickedness has become so extreme that God could not take it anymore. The temperature of His wrath has hit a melting point. So, God decides to do something about it. The Lord tells Jonah to go and preach against it, to warn her of impending judgment. Jonah is to be a “storm warning” to Nineveh. Warnings are a blessing. The right warning at the right time can be a lifesaver. If you are driving your car and fail to see the car backing up in front of you, the “LOOK OUT” from your spouse or child can prevent an accident. We are thankful when we are warned of a serious “storm warning” when a storm approaches so we can get prepared and find safety. If we act on the warning, lives can be saved. Jonah is called to be a warning system to the Ninevites. A great storm of God’s wrath is about to come upon them. God’s judgment is warranted – the Ninevites are wicked people. God’s judgment is terrible – He threatens to destroy them. But God’s judgment is also escapable -- they may escape judgment if they repent. The fact that the Lord gives Nineveh a “storm warning” in the command to Jonah is a demonstration of the Lord’s patience and kindness. But Jonah’s sin in this story is that he doesn’t want to be this storm warning and fails to understand the extent of God’s mercy. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the opportunity to be “a storm warning” to someone who does not know the Lord. 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 4 - A surprising command

“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” - Jonah 1:2  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:1-3 The Lord gives Jonah a surprising command. The Lord tells Jonah to leave his preaching post in his homeland of Israel, go to the influential, great city of Nineveh, and preach against it. He must give the Ninevites a warning that if they do not repent from their wickedness, God will judge them for their wickedness. The audience of Jonah’s message is surprising: Nineveh? Nineveh? The Lord cares about Nineveh? Nineveh was one of the greatest cities in the ancient world, located approximately six hundred miles northeast of Israel of what is now northern Iraq. It was the capital city of the Assyrian empire. But note this: Assyria had been and would become a terrifying superpower. They were the most brutal, oppressive and terrifying people in the ancient world. Their powerful army was manically arrogant and ruthlessly violent. The battle and torture tactics of the Assyrian army would instill unbelievable fear in their enemies. The prophet Nahum who prophesied against Nineveh approximately 100 years after Jonah depicted Nineveh as the embodiment and epitome of evil. Does the Lord care for Nineveh? We can appreciate why Jonah is startled by the command to go to Nineveh. But does this excuse Jonah to disobey the Lord? Suggestions for prayer Pray that we would be faithful in obeying the Lord in all his commands, especially the commands that are hard to obey. 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 3 - A special calling

“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah, son of Amittai.” - Jonah 1:1 Scripture Reading: Jonah 1:1-3 God’s word – His command, His will – came to Jonah. This underscores the incredible privileges that Jonah had. He was “the mouthpiece of God” (see Amos 3:7) and therefore was privileged beyond ordinary believers. Prophets had a nearness to God’s will and a special relationship with the Lord as they were the Lord’s instruments to make His will known to the people. With these privileges came enormous responsibility. The prophet had to get it right. He had to speak it just as God spoke it – whether he liked what God had to say or not, whether the recipients would like it or not. In the Old Testament, the revelation of God was reserved just for prophets. But because of the coming of Christ, we have the Holy Spirit who reveals God’s word to us. We all have access to God’s will equally. We have the entire Bible. What the Old Testament saints saw in types and shadows, we see in full reality and light! Our privileges, likewise, come with great responsibility. Lord’s Day 12 of the Heidelberg Catechism states that we, as Christians, are called to confess Christ’s name. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give you the opportunity to reveal God’s word to someone today and that you would have courage and love as you seek to fulfill the prophetic role the Lord gives to you. 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, Uncategorised

August 29 - Still saved

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true…” - 1 John 5:20a  Scripture reading: 1 John 5:6-12 Psalm 150 is a stirring climax to the book of Psalms. The collection of songs from Psalm 146 to 150, which so vividly describes the Lord’s peoples’ response to God, is brought to a triumphant close. The divine organist is there busy increasing the crescendo. The tremendous finale is brought near. Truly this is a fortissimo – a majestic, imposing and grandeur filled conclusion. The stops have all been pulled out! In a similar way, John comes to his concluding words. It is such a point of victory that all else is immediately overshadowed, especially those heretics who had been so zealous. While the phrase “we know that the Son of God has come” confirms what the Spirit has already written here, it is yet leading into something more. Not only did He die nearly two thousand years ago for our sin and rise victorious over the forces of evil, He is also reigning now. While He is the Saviour, He is just as much the Lord! God placed everything under Him for Him to be head over everything for the Church. How phenomenal that is! Such amazing love – that we are still saved, and so “we are in Him Who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” Suggestions for prayer Thank God for sustaining and keeping us. Pray that more of His own will see His Son’s Lordship. 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 28 - Still a child of God

“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” - 1 John 5:19  Scripture reading: 1 John 2:7-14 Yesterday, there was that wonderful affirmation of what we are in Christ. We have been “born of God”. Within the family of faith, we know who we are and where we’re going. But we live with many who aren’t spiritually related to us. John describes them: “…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” It’s a terrible position to be in, but for those in it, there’s no awareness of the horror. In total ignorance they’re happy in the arms of Satan. Haven’t we experienced something similar in our lives, as when there’s something we aren’t aware of, we remain blissfully ignorant of it? If we know about it, though, we have the obligation to change for the better. As Christians, we do know better, for we have been born of God. Like the young children we are, we are sticking to our parents, because there we know we’re safe. Yet the unbeliever is lost. This grim, dark and sad world is the limit of his hope. We must pray for the unbeliever. If we’re so grateful for God’s grace, don’t we want that for our neighbour also? This is the neighbour that sees us going to church today. But does he see us doing that in true obedience today? Are we trying to be good children? Suggestions for prayer Pray for Christians gathering in worship today. But also pray for their neighbours that they will see genuine faith shown in doing that today. 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 27 - Yet, the sure promise 

“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” - 1 John 5:18  Scripture reading: 1 John 5:13-21 “When all is said and done…” is a phrase used when we conclude matters. What we introduce with such a phrase is the substance of what we are saying. In the same way, our text begins John’s summing up. That’s why he commences this by affirming that our new birth has a permanent effect. Nothing is temporary about our faith. The phrase “does not keep on sinning” might distract us into thinking there is some super standard of holiness. But the key word is translated as “keep on”. It’s not that we won’t sin, but that sin does not have an ongoing hold over us. Rather than being hooked to the world, we’re hooked into God. His grace is the ever-present feature of our lives, as our text goes on to say, “He who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” In Christ’s victory, we are victorious. How much don’t the words of Answer 1 in the Heidelberg Catechism profess this? There the Church declares: “…I am not my own but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.” What an assurance to begin the rounding off of a letter. Could we have it any better? Is there a higher calling – anywhere? Suggestions for prayer Praise God for his great love in sending His Son. Ask that we live every day proving what He has done. 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 26 -They just took off!

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” - 1 John 2:19  Scripture reading: 1 John 2:18-27 In any kind of team sport, there needs to be a combined commitment. Imagine turning up to play for a sports team – and you’re the only one there! How much don’t you feel this just to be even one player short? We feel let down. Can you feel that same sadness with the first five words in our text above: “They went out from us…”? Because we treasure what we are in Christ, we’re deeply disappointed when folk just walk out. Don’t you then wonder: Was it something I said or did? When this happened in the early church John was quick to reassure. In this situation it wasn’t about us. You see, “They were not of us.” This teaches us a vital fact about the nature of the Church, for not all who worship the Lord with us on Sunday are necessarily part of the invisible church – those who truly believe. And then it’s just as well they are gone. They would not have been a positive, spiritual part of the congregation. However, we remain. God is faithful. He preserves us in His grace. As Hebrews 3:14 declares: “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” When numbers seem low, be all the more thankful for those who are there. Suggestions for prayer Ask for God’s comfort with the loss of those who’ve left the fellowship. Thank Him for genuine believers staying. 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 21 - Synagogue to Satan

“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” - 1 John 3:13 Scripture reading: John 15:18-25 Something we can easily do with a Bible passage is to not think of the situation in which it was written. We read our verse above and understand it, naturally enough, to refer to everything which is unbelieving as being against the Church. What’s not so obvious, though, is that John is speaking specifically of just one group amongst all those unbelievers out there. From the Scripture reading and the title above, we have perhaps picked up who they are. We would know that the “world” here is those who have had God speak to them, and yet they rejected Him. They were like Cain, who should have known far better. Yet, he murdered his brother. And why did he murder his brother? That’s the question raised by the verse before our text. It answers it by stating his actions were evil while his brother’s were righteous. Cain belonged to the evil one, like the Jews verse 13 points to. They were those who ignored the truth of the Old Testament, which now had happened before their very eyes. They are so set against the Saviour, so much under the power of Satan, they won’t only throw Christians out of the Synagogue, but declare that killing them is serving God. Imagine, those so close to you can viciously turn against you. Even in the church! Suggestions for prayer: Pray for faithful teaching and ruling elders who look to the Lord alone. Ask God’s help to support and encourage them. 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 20 - Making happiness last forever

“And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” - 1 John 1:4  Scripture reading: Philippians 2:2-9 You are sitting at the table, writing or typing that letter to a loved one. Now, as you are doing that, what do you find yourself writing? Aren’t they the interesting and important things in your life of late? And after a lapse of some time since those things happened, you must have remembered it, in order for you to write it down. It left an impression! Sadly, though, much of what leaves an impression is of an unhappy nature. Family crises, marriage breakdowns, terrible accidents and juicy gossip are what we can’t help but recall. To think of happy times is more difficult. Recalling that kind of memory goes through an extra layer of fog. John, however, so much wants to express an ongoing happiness. He declares that our lives are tied to eternity. That’s an assurance able to see us through all those struggles of the present. We are not on our own – our “joy” tells us of our place within a fellowship. We are joined to God and our fellow believers. Although perfect joy isn’t possible in this world of sin and so perfect fellowship isn’t here yet, we do so much look forward to that time of our joy being made complete. Tied to God’s eternity is the only sure safety rope! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for knowing where you are going. Ask Him to now live in the light of that glory. 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 19 - With our love we are loved

“No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” - 1 John 4:12  Scripture reading: 1 John 4:13-21 A great struggle for many Christians over the centuries has been in relation to the assurance of their faith. They wonder how they can know they are truly saved. In order to prove their faith, some have turned to doing extreme things. So extreme, they have made a mockery of the very faith for which they wanted assurance. We don’t need to do or feel anything extraordinary to “prove” our faith. The test for the genuineness of our faith is quite simple: “If we love one another, God abides in us…” This is something so simple, you might have to read it again. It says that in our everyday relationships, we have our faith confirmed. This is where “love” is so vital. The Greek word for this is ‘agape’ – a type of love beyond sexual attraction and even deeper than our best friendships. This is the love shown perfectly in the doing and dying of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we love each other in this selfless way in which He loves us, God is living in us. Note the end phrase: “…and His love is perfected in us.” God is working toward our perfection. He is doing it and sooner than we think, we’ll be spotless in God’s presence. Imagine that: In our lives right now, He’s preparing us for that great event! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for all He’s done and is doing in us. Thank Him it’s not up to us, we only have to rest in Christ’s finished work. 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 18 - Still shining?

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” - 1 John 4:11  Scripture reading: 1 John 4:7-12 We have touched upon what love is. We have seen that it begins first in seeing ourselves as sinners. We confess to our utter unworthiness. Before God, we have seen ourselves as the most wretched of all people. We have acknowledged that we should be punished by God. In His justice, He would be quite right to clearly convict us. Yet we’re saved! By faith we are freely justified through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. He sacrificed Himself for us. Nevertheless, being claimed by God also means some serious changes need to take place. The Good News cannot be held back, but must be categorically demonstrated in all its saving power. It must live up to its name. We love those next to us. Having been rescued from this world’s self-love, we seek to give as we’ve been given. You see, you don’t have the Gospel unless it’s being shown. Like the Lord’s picture of light in Matthew 5:15-16, we cannot hide it. Instead, it must be put on a stand so that all in the house may see. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to keep working on what needs to be changed in you. Thank God for what He has done in you and through you. 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 13 - An unfulfilling meal

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” - 1 John 4:1  Scripture reading: 1 John 3:19-4:3 Doesn’t our modern world seem like a huge smorgasbord? There, laid out before us, is a vast array of all kinds of different opinions, philosophies, religions, political persuasions, moral choices and material comforts. You can see this vividly shown in our society’s children being treated quite differently by parents who are either rich or poor, strict or soft. With such diversity does anything in particular really matter? Yes, it does! There is a direction that is true. The difficulty, though, is in being able to discern that direction when so many all around us, including Christians, are swept along with this tsunami of non-judgmentalism. It takes effort to discern between right and wrong. How much don’t we need the help of God’s Spirit through His Word? “Don’t believe every spirit” our text warns. This is because there are “many false prophets” who are more than happy to guide us on the way to our own self-fulfilment, which naturally suits them. It is not a meal that satisfies. It is just a diet of junk food which creates the desire to keep on eating and eating, but which doesn’t actually give you what you need. And look at who's table you’re eating from then? Suggestions for prayer Pray for a discerning spirit that God may be glorified and the Church guarded. 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 12 - A luring away

“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous.” - 1 John 3:7  Scripture reading: Hebrews 5:11-6:12 Once upon a time, an Arab camel-driver was asleep in his tent in the desert on a bitterly cold night. In the middle of the night, he awoke to find the camel’s nose beneath the flap. He thought to complain, but there was so little he left it. He woke up later to find the camel’s whole head and long neck in the tent. The Arab was going to protest, but the camel spoke saying how cold it was outside and he wouldn’t come in any further. The man dropped off to sleep again. But a third time he was awoken with the camel’s front legs and hump now in the tent. As he was about to jump up and drive it out, the camel spoke again. He was emphatic, not a single square inch further would he come in. And anyway it was warmer with both inside. The Arab was so lazy and, although worried, fell asleep again. Yet soon, he awoke with a cry of terror. The heavy weight of the animal was on top of him. Then the camel replied, “If it's room you want there’s plenty outside – get out!” This is what sin does to Jesus’ work in our lives. It pushes Him out and the devil slips in. You could almost say it was without knowing. But you did know, didn’t you? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to cut off sin straight away. Ask him to make Jesus fill you more every day. 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 11 - Between the flags!

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” - 1 John 1:7  Scripture reading: 1 John 1:5-10 A quick study of Christianity in the first century shows us their lot was not an easy one. If we can become bogged down by our worries and concerns, what would it have been like for them? If our society has become drawn into an immoral and free-for-all morass, theirs was even worse. In fact, some of what was then common practice would shock even the most hardened to the core! Yet, those early Christians lived amongst it all. And because of the danger the world then posed, the Lord responds through such messages as John’s letters. The call goes out, “walk in the light”. Therefore believer, keep yourself away from the world – avoid any hint of sin! Or to put it in contemporary terminology, “Keep between the flags!” You see, we know that when we are at the beach, we are safest between the flags the lifesavers have put out to show where they’re patrolling. It’s in this secured environment that we have the right conditions for enjoyment. How much doesn’t that flow into the spiritual, so that within God’s commands we have true joy and growth in the faith? Then we are truly blessed. Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for the Holy Spirit to keep you in the right place. Thank God for the blessings you receive keeping to His 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 10 - And keep on growing

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” - 1 John 1:9  Scripture reading: 1 John 2:1-6 As God’s people join together before Him in public worship, they not only open in praise to Him, but also in confession. You see, we have sinned and fallen short. We know we cannot continue on in sincere worship unless we are forgiven our sins. Thus this verse is valuable in calling the saints to come clean as they are together before Him. The verse before our text is clear in saying that if we say we are sinless, we deceive ourselves. Then, if in faith we have laid our sin at God’s feet, the words of our text are true. We receive His pardoning grace. We can continue on in worship knowing our fellowship is direct and undefiled. This is what John has also said in his Gospel, declaring that God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). But how much isn’t this also relevant for our everyday lives? If we are to live being open to the Lord, we must keep whatever hinders that, away from us. So we must constantly repent of our sins. Through that, we are open to God’s redeeming work in our lives, because only His Spirit can guide and keep and bless us. Suggestions for prayer Confess your sins to the Lord, whether known to you or those unknown. Dedicate yourself to doing this every day, looking out for whatever might hold you back from the Lord. 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 5 - A witness

“…the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us…” - 1 John 1:2  Scripture reading: John 1:19-34 Imagine this situation: You have a very valuable piece of information to give a friend. As you speak with your friend, you extol the virtues of this knowledge. Yet you feel within yourself that this positive message still lacks something. So you’re wondering what could be a really strong way of convincing your friend. Now, put yourself in your friend’s shoes. What would he need to confirm that this new information is important? He is looking very closely at you. He is seeing if it is important to you. He doesn’t want you to sell him something in which you yourself don’t believe. What better way then, of convincing your friend than if you have personally experienced this important knowledge? It is not something you have read or heard third hand, but your own eyewitness account of it. It is so important to you. The apostle John was communicating the most essential of all knowledge to the churches. This was most definitely life-changing. Therefore, what more convincing argument could he make than to say he was an eyewitness. He has seen it, he declares. And not only “he”, but “we”. There are others who witness to the same. This is absolutely real! Suggestions for prayer Pray for God’s strength and guidance to be a witness for him wherever he places you, and so prove Jesus is alive in what you do. 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 4 - The love personified

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life…” - 1 John 1:1  Scripture reading: John 1:1-14 For God to create this immense world is a grand act. This is something we can truly wonder at as we consider His personal design all around us. And all this was planned long ago! Before Adam and Eve, before Satan and his cohorts thought to be like God, - indeed, way back in time immemorial, this fact has struck John. Yet, how could it? How was it possible for this man, of such a limited lifespan, to have experienced what the Almighty and Everlasting God had been working out over all time? Here we come to the heart of the Gospel. The fulfilment, which the Old Testament had so strongly pointed toward, had in John’s own lifetime, sprung forth within our small planet. Yes, Christ Jesus, Son of God, had joined Himself with humanity in a mystery beyond comprehension! Rather than the wise teacher wandering about Palestine two millennia ago, Jesus was and is God, and so is the Word of God. That’s why to truly know God’s Word in Scripture is to have met the Living Word by faith. Faith sees that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” and so we can truly declare with John, “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Suggestions for prayer Praise God for sending His Son to be born, live, minister, suffer, die and rise again. Thank Him that we like John witness to this. 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 3 - How great is the love!

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” - 1 John 3:1  Scripture reading: 1 John 1:1-4 I’m guessing you have experienced a scenic area of tremendous grandeur. It might have been the Grand Canyon, Milford Sound in New Zealand’s south-west, the Twelve Apostles on Australia’s Victorian coast, or the Niagara Falls. Yes, we had our idea of how awe-inspiring it would be before we got there. But to be actually there - to see it in person! Then our senses become flooded by the enormity of it all. A whole range of individual reactions take place – some feel fear of heights, others their own insignificance and still others the inspiration of nature. This realization strikes John spiritually. In the midst of a deeply pastoral letter there springs from his heart this doxology of praise. Indeed, he shows where he stands with God. In amongst the normality, there lies the enormity! Like John, have you had that happen to you? And also like Paul, who exclaims after being convicted by God’s teaching through him: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his ways! … For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever” (Romans 11:33, 36). Dear believer, surely you too must sing out your “Amen” with the apostles! Yes, how great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the greatness and graciousness of Who He is and the gratefulness that it brings out in you. 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 2 - My little children

"Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." - 1 John 4:4 Scripture reading: 1 John 4:1-6 John wrote to address a special concern within the churches. As we study this letter, this underlying issue will stand out. It was a very dangerous heresy. It challenged the very heart of the gospel as it actively promoted the view that Christ hadn’t really become a man. So Jesus hadn’t physically ministered and suffered and died – a belief later known as Docetism. Naturally the whole faith belief of Christ’s atoning death – our being made right with God – is denied. So then, where would we go for our salvation? Why, if God hasn’t done it, we must do it! Can you see what’s happening? Yes, another religion of salvation by works – a belief far from the gospel. This is certainly a difficult pastoral situation to address. You see, a belief like this hasn’t just crept in overnight. For a while already it’s been subtly spreading its tentacles into Christ’s Body. Knowing this, John has to be careful how he writes. A short-fused reaction would attack the target, but likely not succeed. Instead, it would be better to start from what they shared together. Rejoice in the faith there is in God. Bring out its multi-faceted beauties. And from that point of union, tackle the difficulty as an interruption to their combined celebration of love. Now that’s an approach we can learn from too! Suggestions for prayer Pray for unity in your local congregation and denomination, especially that it will be a unity in truth. 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 28 - Train up a child

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” - Proverbs 22:6  Scripture reading: Proverbs 22:6-12 There are only two pathways through this world, God’s way and the devil’s way, otherwise called the narrow way and the broad way. The training your child is given will greatly influence the way he or she takes. What more important task does a parent have? Complicating the task is the truth that we are all born with a sinful nature that inclines the child to take the wrong path. Disobedience will need correction early. May God grant you wisdom to do it in a firm and gentle manner. Homes having a Christian father and mother have a strong influence. How the parents live in the home will be the model conveyed to the child’s developing mind. Blessed is the child that has such parents. Daily family worship not only glorifies God, but profoundly influences the child. My father faithfully leading our family worship, is one of my earliest impressions and memories of Christian faith. No child should be deprived of that blessing. The child must learn the truths of the Christian faith. Reading Bible stories early gets Bible knowledge into the growing and developing mind. The earnest teaching of the Heidelberg Catechism is a marvellous means of training our children. Do not neglect it. And see that they get a Christian education either at home or in a Christian school. May God bless your efforts richly in this vital and important task. And be sure to claim the promise of the proverb by faith. “And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Suggestions for prayer Ask God to bless the training in our homes and root the hearts of our children deeply in Christ. 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 27 - A good name

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favour rather than silver and gold.” - Proverbs 22:1, 2  Scripture reading: Proverbs 22:1-5 Our proverb today teaches that a good name is of great worth. Seeking a good name should be a top priority in all our lives. Here are some Biblical directions on how to do it. Seek a good name with God first. We read of both Samuel and Jesus that they increased in favour with God and men (Luke 2:52). The order is important. Seek favour with God before with men. Have faith in God and in Jesus Christ. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” The renewal of heart and life required comes with faith in Jesus. Keep the ten commandments as a way of giving thanks to God for renewing your heart. This is pleasing to God and works to establish your good name. Commandment breakers never deserve a good name. Last but not least, learn to serve God and others. Psalm 100:2 tells us to, “Serve the LORD with gladness.” Jesus tells us that He “did not come to be served, but to serve.” To be like Jesus we need to serve others. Serving is how Jesus received a good name. Philippians 2:7-9 tells us that Jesus, “taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men… humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death… Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.” Serving God and one another is the way to seek a good name. Suggestions for prayer Ask for humility and readiness to serve God and one another. 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 26 - Wine

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” - Proverbs 20:1  Scripture reading: Proverbs 20:1-5 I am writing this devotion in the midst of wine country. There are vineyards and wineries scattered by the dozen throughout the region. It raises the question, what does the Bible say about wine? Psalm 104:14,15 informs us that God causes vegetation to grow and brings forth food and “wine that makes glad the heart of man.” Wine was a significant part of life, honoured by our Lord Jesus when He provided the wine at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It brings joy to the heart. Wine is a gift of God. At the same time, we must recognize that it is given along with the warning that we find in our proverb. It can easily lead one astray. God has given us minds to control our behaviour and wine can disrupt our thinking so that appetite, lust and passion take over that control. This leads to the bites and stings reported in Proverbs 23:32 as well as the sorrows, contentions, complaints and wounds reported in the same passage. This is why the Scriptures command us not to get drunk. The Bible’s ultimate counsel to us for this problem is found in Ephesians 5:18, “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” This gives us both God’s prohibition and requirement. Don’t get drunk. Rather be filled with the Spirit who enlightens our minds to control our behaviour according to the Spirit-inspired Scriptures. Thus we avoid the dangers and enjoy God’s blessings. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to fill you with His Spirit so that you can control your life according to His 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 25 - Friendship

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” - Proverbs 18:24 Scripture reading: Proverbs 18:20-24 Good friends are much desired and greatly appreciated. Our proverb today wisely points out that to have friends we must be friendly. A friendly person is a loving person. Proverbs 17:17 tells us clearly, “A friend loves at all times.” Paul refers to his friends as the “beloved” (Philemon 1). Love leads to many actions and high on the list is giving. “God so loved… that He gave” (John 3:16). Friends give thought, time, encouragement, assistance and service to the beloved. Job tells us, “To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend” (Job 6:14). Friends care for one another and will give freely to meet needs in any way they can. Love in action creates the bond of friendship. The surest bond of friendship is the one that unites the family of God. The best friends are one in faith toward Jesus Christ. No one sticks closer as a friend than Jesus Christ Himself. All the time He was with us, He showed Himself friendly by ministering to human needs. Again and again He fed the hungry, healed the sick and brokenhearted, gave sight to the blind, rescued the fearful, pardoned sins, and gave life to the dead. He continues serving us today by sending us His Spirit and pleading our petitions before the face of God. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.” At the cross He gave His life for our sins. I recommend Jesus as a friend to you all. Suggestions for prayer Learn to take “everything to God in prayer.” 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 20 - Pride

“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” - Proverbs 16:18  Scripture reading: Proverbs 16:18-24 Pride has brought trouble our way since the dawn of creation. It was the serpent’s suggestion that we would be like God, that puffed us up and led to our fall into sin. There are multitudes that have since followed the way of pride. One of the more noted examples in Scripture is Nebuchadnezzar, who prided himself as the world leader of his time, only to fall and be reduced to eating grass like the oxen, until he acknowledged God as sovereign. Scripture warns us repeatedly concerning the sin of pride. Don’t follow the way of destruction. We are told in our reading for today, “Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly.” Follow after humility rather than pride. There is no better example given than Jesus, “Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation… coming in the likeness of men… He humbled Himself” (Philippians 2:6,7,8). Our challenge is to be more like Jesus. Paul gives us good counsel in Romans 12:3, “I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” We are all God’s lowly creatures and we should never forget it. Jesus encourages us in the right direction in Matthew 23:12. “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted,” Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will humble us all so that we might be better witnesses of 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 19 - Many counsellors 

“Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” - Proverbs 15:22  Scripture reading: Proverbs 15:20-26 So you don’t think you need anybody’s advice. You can work things out all by yourself. Don’t be so sure. You may be young and confident you can do it, or you may be older and of the same opinion; but our proverb warns you, “Without counsel, plans go awry.” They fail. We are all sinners and this clouds our thinking. Our minds are not as sharp as they should be. It is better to get all the advice you can. The first place to get advice is from the Lord Himself. He is the Wonderful Counsellor (Isaiah 9:6). He has also given us another Counsellor in the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). Their counsel is preserved for us in the Bible (Psalm 119:24). Always follow the counsel of the Bible as closely as you can. But the proverb speaks of a multitude of counsellors and we do well to consider others. Proverbs recommends listening to your parents (Proverbs 23:22). That is always wise. Job tells us, “Wisdom is with aged men, and with length of days, understanding.” You can turn in that direction for advice. The pastor and elders of your church should always be ready to give the help you need. Good friends who have proved themselves can be another source. Multiple counsellors should not be hard to find. Follow good counsel and your plans too can be established. The Psalmist followed good counsel and wrote, “You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:24). Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for the counsel you need and trust Him to receive you to glory. 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 18 - A backslider and a good man

“The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied from above.” - Proverbs 14:14  Scripture reading: Proverbs 14:14-21 A backslider turns back from following Christ. He does not guard his heart. He yields to a single temptation, but that step fails to satisfy. He then yields to another, then another until his heart grows cold towards the Lord and he loses the ability to resist what is wrong (Matthew 24:12). He ends up, as our Proverb points out, “full of his own ways.” His conscience is guilty and takes away his peace. His heart is dissatisfied. and never has enough. He is left to his own misery. Paul found Demas to be a backslider and reports, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” By way of contrast, “a good man will be satisfied from above.” He is a believer in Jesus Christ and his heart is renewed by the Holy Spirit (John 3:8). He loves God (1 John 4:19) and serves Him by keeping His commandments (1 John 3:22). He has the joy of the Lord in his heart (John 15:11). He is satisfied. At the same time he joins Paul who said, “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13,14). He is looking forward to glory. I trust today you are trusting in Christ and pressing on. If not, the counsel of Malachi 3:7 affirms, “Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the LORD of hosts. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to restore backsliders and keep His people moving forward. 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 17 - All things for the Lord

“The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.” - Proverbs 16:4  Scripture reading: Proverbs 16:1-9 God made all things for His own purposes, for His glory. Romans 11:36 instructs us, “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” The prayer of the Psalmist in Psalm 104:31 is, “May the glory of the LORD endure forever; May the LORD rejoice in His works.” We should see God’s glory revealed in all things. Psalm 19 assures us, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” Look to the sun, moon and stars and behold the glory of God. The seraphim in Isaiah’s vision cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3). We see that glory as we behold the mountains, the oceans, the forests and the lily of the field. The Christian reads of Jesus Christ, His death, resurrection and ascension into glory. His response is to declare, “Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honour and glory and blessing!" The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Scripture directs him, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Today, the Lord’s Day, Scripture calls us to, “Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Give to the LORD glory and strength. Give to the LORD the glory due His name... worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!” (1 Chronicles 16:28,29). Suggestions for prayer Ask God to open eyes to see more of His glory in all things. 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 12 - Winning souls

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise.” - Proverbs 11:30  Scripture reading: Proverbs 11:24-31 The winning of souls to righteousness and Christ is ultimately the work of Christ himself, Who purchased them by His blood. Yet He has also given us, His followers, a part in this ministry. He says to us, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” In some situations, souls can be won by a simple explanation of the gospel, but more often than not the process can include a variety of activities. There is a need to win them as friends first. There are a variety of ways this can be done. Exercising hospitality is a very good way to begin. Invite folks into your home. Prepare a tasty meal for them. A wise elder in Philadelphia used to tell me, “You don’t get to know a person until you have had your knees under the same table.” Simply listening to people helps. You can learn much about them, discovering their interests and concerns. Most people like to be listened to and now you can pray for them wisely. Don’t forget to pray. Ministering to peoples’ needs, assisting them in their labours, and demonstrating that you really care for them goes a long way in gathering their attention. Now they will be inclined to listen to what you say and you can tell them about the Saviour we all need so much. Remember Daniel 12:3, “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to move many into doing what they can to win souls. 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 11 - Mercy

“The merciful man does good for his own soul, But he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.” - Proverbs 11:17  Scripture reading: Proverbs 11:16-21 Today, I will begin with the statement, “But he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.” We tend to think of cruelty in its more extreme forms, such as Jezebel’s massacre of God’s prophets or the persecution of Christians in the world today. But cruelty can take on lesser forms. Some folks are cruel with their speech using it to cut down people who are not in their favour. Others can be cruel simply by ignoring people and keeping them at a distance. Surely the proverb would warn us against all forms of cruelty seeing that they add to our own troubles. We all need to be more focused on mercy which does us good as well as those to whom it is directed. There is no finer display of mercy than that of the Samaritan who bound up the wounds of an injured alien, brought him to an inn and provided for his care. But there are lesser forms of mercy calling out for our attention. Pure religion calls us to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, to feed those who are hungry, and to give a cup of cold water to the thirsty. To these Biblical admonitions, we can add any number of kindnesses that are needful today. Shopping for shut-ins, providing transport for medical treatments, helping the unemployed with expenses, and uttering a kind word when it is needed are always in order. There are limitless opportunities for mercy. Let us be keen to observe them and quick to respond. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we all be more mindful of needs and be ready to respond with acts of mercy. 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 10 - Trust in the Lord

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” - Proverbs 3:5, 6  Scripture reading: Proverbs 3:1-8 The contemporary unbeliever has full confidence in himself and does not trust God. He doesn’t see his need for God. He has full confidence that he can figure things out on his own and if necessary provide his own covering for his sins and failures. In practice this approach doesn’t work well. He can’t escape his guilt. He needs to hear the gospel, to acknowledge his sinfulness and turn in faith to Jesus. Jesus will freely pardon and renew his heart. Now he can trust in the Lord. Trusting the Lord is done with the whole heart. The believer puts all his trust and confidence in Jesus. He sees Jesus as the Lord and giver of life and relies completely on Him. Trusting the Lord is also done with a single heart. The believer turns away from trusting his own understanding, trusting simply in Christ and no one else. Now he is ready to face life anew. The believer has turned away from his old course of life. Now he accepts the Lord’s direction for his life which is given in the scriptures. By studying God's word with a prayerful heart, he finds all the direction he needs and follows it. Now he is ready for life. He is also ready for worship. Since today is the Lord’s Day he is eager to join with God’s people in the public worship of God. May you be found among them today. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will turn people away from their own understanding to embrace the Lord and giver of life. 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 9 - Many words

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” - Proverbs 10:19  Scripture reading: Proverbs 10:13-21 The proverb assures us that when many words are spoken, you will hear sinful words among them. The reason is that our words come from our hearts (Luke 6:45) and our hearts are “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). This is no small matter. The solution begins with God giving us a new heart as we come in repentance and faith to Jesus. But be careful! The proverb tells us it is wise to restrain our lips. In Psalm 141:3 the Psalmist prays, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” We simply must think before we speak. How will those who hear us be touched by what we say? We must ask ourselves first if what we say will be true, kind and necessary. If we can’t be sure, it is wise to refrain from speaking. If we profess to be followers of Jesus, we need to remember that no one ever spoke like Him. He always spoke the truth with love and compassion for those who heard. How can we do less? Keep in mind these proverbs. Proverbs 10:20 “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver.” Proverbs 12:25 “A good word makes (the heart) glad.” Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath.” Your kind and careful use of words will bring blessing to others and to yourself as well. It is well worth the effort. Suggestions for prayer “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer” Psalm 19:14. 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 4 - God’s correction

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor detest His correction; For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.” - Proverbs 3:11, 12  Scripture reading: Proverbs 3:11-18 Hardship and affliction are part of our human experience. God brings them our way under His providential rule. It is not a sign of His indifference, but rather an indication that He loves us and cares about us. God is always seeking to move us forward to the goal of our sanctification. As we properly endure affliction, faith is strengthened. Pain leads to gain. It should turn our hearts more towards God and draw us nearer to Him. It is given to correct us when we are tempted or actually go astray. We don’t always listen to God’s law as we should, so God uses affliction to get our attention. If trouble comes when your conscience is being agitated and you are straying, be sure to listen and correct your behaviour accordingly. Don’t let the opportunity go to waste. Hebrews 5:8 tells us that our Lord Jesus, “learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” If affliction was needful for His obedience, you can be sure that it is needful for yours too. Learn from your afflictions. The Psalmist testifies in Psalm 119:67 that he learned from his difficulties. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.” Four verses later he added, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.” May God grant that we all learn from our affliction. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give us all minds and hearts to learn and profit from affliction. 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 3 - Honour the Lord

“Honour the LORD with your possessions, And with the first fruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.” - Proverbs 3:9,10  Scripture reading: Proverbs 3:1-10 It is Sunday today, the day the church is called together to worship and honour the Lord our God. Psalm 66:2 instructs us, “Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.” I trust that you are able and intend to worship the Lord today with His people. Notice that our Proverb today calls for worship with our substance as well as with our lips. It refers to our increase or as we say today, our income. First fruits point to the first part of them. Be sure to take along in hand your offering for the Lord today. The instruction comes with a promise. “So shall your barns be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” If you so honour God, He promises to richly reward you, filling your barn and overflowing your vat. God promises to bless you with plenty in return and He is very good in fulfilling His promises. I have never known this promise to fail. We have here a test of faith. Can we trust God to save our souls in Christ if we can’t trust his provision for our earthly substance? May God grant us a faith that trusts Him for everything for both soul and body. May God bless you richly as you seek to honour Him today. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you a ready heart and hand as you seek to honour Him and trust Him for His blessing today. 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 2 - The law

“My son, hear the instruction of your father, and forsake not the law of your mother.” - Proverbs 1:8  Scripture reading: Proverbs 1:8-19 It appears from Proverbs 1:8 that the writer supposes the parents in view to be godly and that the law of God is the law of the home. Indeed Scripture obligates parents to teach their children the law of God (Deuteronomy 6:7). I was blessed with godly parents and God’s law was taught in our home. My mother had all the ten commandments in shortened form printed on cardboard and posted on the kitchen wall opposite me when I sat down to eat. They were there to be remembered three times a day. I was taught to follow them. Scripture calls the commandments “the statutes of life” and the wisdom they impart will lead into the richest and fullest life if we only follow them. The problem is that we are all sinners and we all fall short in keeping them. We are guilty before God. Happily, the law has a second purpose. It serves as “a tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). Christ totally kept the commandments, but willingly took our guilt upon Himself and died in our place. Now by faith we can be forgiven our guilt and covered by the righteousness of Jesus. This makes us right with God. Now the law serves to show us how to live in gratitude to God for making us right with Him. This is wisdom. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to convict sinners and show the way to righteousness in Christ. 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 1 - Introduction to Proverbs

During my years of active ministry, I always enjoyed preaching from the book of Proverbs. When I was asked to write the devotions for July 2022, it was the one book in the Bible to which my mind and heart was turned. The question I then faced was, “How will I approach this project?” My answer was to read carefully through Proverbs and as I did so I jotted down the proverbs that caught my interest and spoke to my heart. I came up with one short for this devotional, so kept going and picked a final text from the following book: Ecclesiastes. This means there is no particular theme running through these devotions except to say they are all pieces of wisdom gleaned from the word of God. You will find a wide variety of subjects on the following pages. You will find wisdom on such subjects as humility, correction, words, winning souls and wine, to mention only a few. They all touched my heart as I worked my way through them. May they all touch your hearts as you go through them during the month.  The beginning and fullness of wisdom “… you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God…” - 1 Corinthians 1:30  Scripture reading: Proverbs 1:1-7 Proverbs 1:7 recalls what Job 28:28 and Psalm 111:10 teach; namely, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This fear of God is that affectionate reverence by which we humbly and carefully submit to our heavenly Father’s will. To be wise, we must begin by fearing God. God, the infinite, almighty Creator, has made us for Himself and we must live in submission to Him, being fearful of offending Him. This is where all wisdom begins. To seek wisdom any other way is foolishness, as Romans 1:21 declares. This explains the moral confusion of our modern, secular society that rejects God. We start by fearing God. From there we go to Christ because in Him “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). If we come to Him with faith, He becomes “wisdom from God” for us. We are set to learn from Him. Christ speaks to us and makes His wisdom known to us in the Bible. The gospels reveal much of His wisdom. But the whole Bible reveals much more. Recall how he addressed the two men walking with Him on the road to Emmaus, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” He also reveals His wisdom in the book of Proverbs. May we learn much from it as we give it our attention. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to open minds to the wisdom of Scripture. 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 26 - God neither loses track of the stars nor of you

“Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: "My way is hidden from the LORD, And my just claim is passed over by my God?"” - Isaiah 40:26-27  Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 Our sun is estimated to produce enough power every second to power one billion large cities for a year. Our Milky Way galaxy is believed to contain over 100 billion stars. It is part of a cluster of a few dozen galaxies. Other clusters contain thousands of galaxies. “Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might and the strength of His power: Not one is missing”. Can you imagine the energy of God which powers all the stars in all the galaxies? If God keeps perfect track of all these, how can you imagine that God has ever lost track of you and your situation? How can you think that anything about you could possibly escape His attention or exceed His ability even for a few moments? But it sure seems like our way is hidden from him at times. A child is born missing a chromosome, or with some other lifelong handicap. We unexpectedly face a heart attack, cancer or an increasingly rebellious child. A person we loved deeply has broken off our relationship with them. Then we wonder… Where are you Lord? Aren’t you watching? Like Paul we can beg God to take away our thorn in the flesh, but God doesn't seem to hear. Yet, Paul continued praying. He waited and in time God answered. Paul’s strength was renewed. Yours will be too! God keeps his promises! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will deliver you from your doubt about whether your way and your needs are known by Him or not. Ask Him to help us to persevere in hope and prayer even in times of deep disappointment and pain. Pray the same for others you know who are going through tough times. 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 25 - Princes and kingdoms brought to nothing

“He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless. Scarcely shall they be planted, Scarcely shall they be sown, Scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, When He will also blow on them, And they will wither, And the whirlwind will take them away like stubble.” - Isaiah 40:23-24  Scripture reading: Daniel 2:26-49 Back in verse 6, Isaiah reminded Israel that “all flesh is grass.” Their Babylonian captors had brought Jerusalem down into ruins. They made the lives of God’s people miserable. They taunted, “Come sing us one of Zion's songs!” Nebuchadnezzar appeared invincible. But the rulers of this earth who oppress, persecute and take counsel against the Lord and His anointed are grass. They are here today, gone tomorrow. Tyrants and their governments flourish for a time, then disappear. Think of Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin. Think of Lenin, Hussein and Ghaddafi. Think of their painful ends. History has not been kind to them. Alexander the Great won every battle he fought. When he died, at 32 years of age, he gave instructions for his hands to be left dangling outside his coffin, to let the world know no matter how much a man gains here, it’s all so passing. No matter how great he’s become, he leaves life empty-handed. The grass withers. Despite Putin’s aspirations, the Soviet Union is past. Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping and others will soon be no more as well. There is only one kingdom destined to last forever and conquer all others: the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah makes stunning prophecies of the Messiah’s coming. Those prophecies were fulfilled to the letter. He has come and is coming again. His Kingdom will swallow up all others. Courageous Ukrainians were willing to give everything for earthly freedoms. Are you willing, ready to give everything for eternal ones? Suggestions for prayer In the middle of political and economic upheaval, and despite the destructive reality of war, pray for God to show His power and glory over the nations and to preserve His church. Refrain from putting your confidence in men. Pray that according to His wisdom He would “put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalt the lowly” (Luke 1:52). 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 24 - Consider the heavens

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? Isaiah 40:22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” - Psalm 8:3-4   Scripture reading: Psalm 8:1-9 Isaiah calls us to marvel at God’s majesty! He does this by describing the heavens as a curtain being stretched out by God and as a tent that He spreads out for Himself to dwell in. Each of these verbs are in the present tense. God continually fills and stretches them with His power and presence as He sits far above the circle of the earth. How vast are the heavens? The sun is 93 million miles away. It would take 163 years of nonstop driving at 105 km/hr to get there. The planet Pluto would take us 6,500 years to reach. The next nearest star is 25 trillion miles. Our Milky Way galaxy contains 100 billion stars. Yet, God’s glory is far “above the heavens”. They are just the “work of His finger”. Their unimaginably vast expanses cannot even begin to contain Him! Solomon in his wisdom humbly acknowledges this when he prays, “But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” (2 Chronicles 6:18). As we behold our awesome God, let’s be amazed that such an infinite and everywhere present Being is mindful of such puny finite creatures as we are! Do you know how He visited us? By sending His own Son to die for us that we might live for Him forever. He continues His “visiting” with us every moment by the indwelling of His Spirit. Suggestions for prayer In your prayer acknowledge that, “The heavens declare the glory of God, And the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). “Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament!” (Psalm 150:1). Thank Him for visiting us in Christ and living in us by His Spirit. 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 23 - Foolishness of idolatry

“To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him?” - Isaiah 40:18  Scripture reading: Romans 1:1-24; Isaiah 40:18-22 As Christians, we are apt to treat religions that worship idols condescendingly. We think of them as backwards and ignorant. Yet, both Paul and Isaiah give a powerful rejoinder to the idea that such worship is just innocent ignorance. Paul describes it as the product of the suppression of truth in unrighteousness. You see, on the one hand, there is a knowledge of the true nature of God in every human soul. It is clearly seen and understood by the things that are made. On the other hand, idolatry is a willful and rebellious response by which man decides to change “the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” Isaiah exposes an ‘Achilles heel’ of this idolatry. Idolaters have to be very careful how they carve their ‘gods’ or they are liable to totter and fall over! Idol gods are the product of man, not vice versa. Yet, millions in India alone daily worship a pantheon of three million idols. They go from their jobs at high tech call centres and companies like Microsoft to prostrate themselves in worship before man-made idols made of straw and plaster, then gilded with paint and gold and silver. But before you and I go wagging our fingers at these people, we need to remember how prone we are to make possessions, pleasures and careers into idols that we create and believe in as the source of real fulfillment and security. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will deliver us from the delusions of our idolatry. Sing and pray that the Holy Spirit, all divine will dwell within this heart of mine; Cast down every idol-throne, Reign supreme and reign alone! 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 18 - The father’s hand

“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: John 10:24-30 Your hand is an astounding creation. It is superior to the most advanced robotics engineered by man. You can do a myriad of things with it. One of the things you can do is cup it. A child’s cupped hand might hold a teaspoon. An adult’s hand? Perhaps a tablespoon. Years ago, I had a couple of elders who had milked cows by hand when they were young. Their hands were so huge they probably could have held two tablespoons in each. But now think of your God! He takes all the waters of the oceans, the seas, the lakes, the rivers, the swamps, the vast underground reservoirs and every particle suspended in vapour form and measures it all in the hollow of His hand! A hand span is the measurement from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger. It averages 7.5 inches. The largest measured human hand span is 12 inches. Now behold your God! He measures the vastness of the heavens with a span of His hand! Jesus says "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”Is it any wonder that no one can snatch you out of a hand like His? Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His creation. Let the marvels of the body and its ingenious design direct you to the reality and creative genius of your God. (I once even had an unbeliever look at his hand and say, it’s true, just this hand tells me there is a God!) Thank Him for His promise to never allow you to be snatched out of His awesome hand! 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 17 - Tender yet almighty

 “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.” - Isaiah 40:10  Scripture reading: Isaiah 40:9-14 The theme of Isaiah 40 is summed up by the words, “Behold your God!” Isaiah’s purpose is that our attention is riveted on and refreshed by our awe-Inspiring God. We often feel limited when it comes to stretching our minds with thoughts and visions of God. We feel even more inadequate when it comes to sharing the glory of our awe-inspiring God with those around us. J.I. Packer, the author of “Knowing God”, describes it this way: “…as clowns yearn to play Hamlet, so I have wanted to write a treatise on God.” Yet, Isaiah knows we have a deep and ongoing spiritual need to “Lift up our eyes on high, and see Who has created these things!” He encourages God’s people to look away from the power of their captors. He is telling them to look away from their own weakness, helplessness and political irrelevance. No matter how weak they may feel, or how strong their oppressors appear, they need to be lifted up in their souls by a sense of the power and might of the eternal God of heaven of earth Who loves them and shepherds them. We’ve seen how God comforts us with the reminder that He is a Shepherd Who faithfully feeds His flock, gathers lambs in His arms and tenderly leads those with young. Yet, He would never have us fall under the illusion that His compassion, tenderness and kindness is in any way exclusive, awe-inspiring power, infinite wisdom, divine genius and matchless superiority to all of His creation! Suggestions for prayer God tells us it is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes (Psalm 118:9). Pray that God will keep us from trusting merely in man or even ourselves. May we rejoice and trust in the fact that He reigns powerfully over all things as He loves and shepherds His people. 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 16 - Our gentle shepherd

“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 40:11   Scripture reading: Psalm 139:4-18 He gently leads those who are with young. The mothers in the flock and their little lambs are treated with special care and consideration. The shepherd knows every individual's needs. He treats them according to their particular weaknesses and their strengths. He may allow some to travel ahead at a more challenging pace because He knows they can. Others may not be able to handle the same challenge, so the shepherd adjusts His treatment of them accordingly. They are His beloved sheep. He knows them better than they know themselves. Are you in His flock? Is His voice familiar to you? Are you telling those He has given you to teach to be familiar with His voice too? There is nothing more important than together knowing and loving the Great Shepherd Who gave His life for the sheep. He died in payment for our sins and rose again so that He might carry and gather each of us into the safety of His eternal fold. Believe and rejoice that this awesome God stooped down to be the Shepherd of your soul and of the souls of your children. Thank God that He Whom the heaven of heavens can't contain gathers you in His arms, carries you close to His bosom, and leads you to eternally green pastures and waters, forever crystal clear! It doesn't and it can't get any better than that! Suggestions for prayer Pray for young expectant mothers. Pray for mothers with young children. There are many constant demands and pressures on their lives. Thank God for their love and faithfulness. Pray for families with special needs and struggles. 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, Uncategorised

June 15 - He gathers the Lambs

“Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”” - Mark 10:13-14  Scripture reading: Mark 10:13-16 What does Jesus do? He gathers the young lambs with His arm and carries them in His bosom! His bosom is a place of tenderness and safety. When a shepherd leads His flock, young lambs are often first to tire. If they begin to straggle, he scoops them up in His arms and carries them for a while. A shepherd’s strength is wonderfully experienced in his compassionate care and love for the weak. The one time the Lord is said to be “greatly displeased” with His disciples is when they acted like children were low priority for Him and when they rebuked those who brought their little ones to Him. Jesus condemns his disciples' attitude and shows the value He places on their little souls by lifting them up in His arms, putting His hands on them and blessing them. He makes it crystal clear that these children belong to the kingdom of God! Jesus admonishes His disciples about their own need to put away pride and receive the kingdom of God with a child-like trust and humility. In Matthew 18, the disciples ask Him who will be greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus sets a little child in front of them and tells them, "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”Perhaps it’s time for a reset in our concept of “greatness” as we humbly follow our Shepherd! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for covenant children. Pray that they may become faithful and committed young men and women whom God will use to bless and build His churches in the years ahead. Pray for prodigal sons and daughters, that they may be brought back to the safety and blessing of the fold. 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 10 - How to plan and not to plan

“Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."” - James 4:13-15  Scripture reading: Isaiah 40:6-8 We often have a hard time living a lifestyle in harmony with the belief that God is in control. We tend to think and act as if we hold the reins. We plan as if we can forge our own future. When this illusion takes hold of our hearts, our prayers sink to pathetic levels. Prayer then amounts to little more than asking God to sprinkle His blessing on what we plan and want. If we plough ahead without prayer, acting like the authors of our own destiny, we are coming down with a serious case of sinful pride. To those who plan as if the future hinges on themselves, God says, “But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” God warns us to temper our plans with an awareness of the brief, fragile nature of life. You can fill your barns with plenty. You can carefully follow the market and invest wisely. You can get excited about the house you hope to buy, or the one you plan to build. But never forget that you are totally dependent on the Lord for even the smallest measure of success or blessing! Submit everything to Him in prayer. Don’t forget that material accomplishments are temporary and you are only here for a short time. All flesh is grass. Don’t put all your eggs into the basket of your earthly plans and prospects. The chief end of man is not to complete a bucket list! The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him now and forever! Suggestions for prayer Pray that your plans and prayers would always be prefaced with an attitude that humbly says, “If the Lord wills, we will do this or that.” Ask Him to help you to remember what your real purpose in life is! 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 9 - Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth;” - Isaiah 40:3-4  Scripture reading: Luke 3:1-18 When the king was coming, his messenger would go before him. Townspeople would clear up the roads. Washouts that they might have put up with for months, were filled in and debris cleaned up. Effort and expense were not spared. Isaiah’s imagery is even more dramatic! Valleys are filled, hills are brought low, and crooked places are straightened. Road construction in northern Ontario often involves levelling granite hills and filling valleys with great quantities of earth. Even allowing for the use of dynamite and powerful machinery, the work that goes into it is still stunning. Using this kind of analogy, Isaiah calls for a radical transformation in our spiritual topography! Hills of pride and self-centredness needed to be levelled. Spiritual depressions, disappointments and backsliding must be filled in with the certainty of God’s covenant promises and faithfulness. The power of the Holy Spirit is the dynamite (Greek: “dynamis”) designed to level mountains of sin and fill in valleys of despair. This ‘dynamis’-fuelled repentance and faith in the multitudes who listened to John’s preaching and prepared them for King Jesus. God graciously used the preaching of John to prepare hearts for the King’s coming. His cry rings down through the centuries for your ears too. Behold the Lamb of God! The King is coming! Every eye shall see Him and every knee shall bow. Be ready for that Day! By the power of His Spirit in you, prepare a highway for Him in your hearts and lives. Suggestions for prayer Pray that by His Holy Spirit, God will use the preaching of His Word to prepare your hearts more fully for His coming! Pray that remaining mountains and obstacles of sin may be levelled and any valleys of discouragement be filled with faith in the promises of God! 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, Uncategorised

June 8 - Does God overdo it?

“…For she has received from the LORD'S hand double for all her sins.” - Isaiah 40:2b  Scripture reading: Isaiah 40:1-5 What does this mean? It almost sounds like God goes overboard in dealing with His people’s sins. We know that sometimes parents are so upset that they lose their temper and go overboard in disciplining their children. Can the same be said of God? No! The word ‘double’ is to be understood figuratively. Isaiah tells God’s people that they have received more than enough for all their sin! But does this mean they’ve received more than enough discipline? Or does it mean more than enough grace and mercy? In a commentary on Isaiah, the Old Testament scholar, E. J. Young, tells us that this phrase can be interpreted either way. Strikingly the dilemma disappears if you understand that God's discipline is itself born of loving grace. Both interpretations then fit, hand in glove, with one another. The loving grace of God’s discipline accompanied by His mercy and forgiveness are more than enough for all our sins. Isaiah is teaching what the apostle Paul would one day echo in the words of Romans 5:20, “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” Rest assured that a Christian will never pay even once, let alone double for a single sin! Jesus paid it all! If God’s hand ever seems heavy on you, remember that His hand in your life of faith is always filled with infinite grace and love for you! Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He is faithful, and will not allow you to be tempted (or tested) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation (or trial) will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13). Thank Him that He never loses His temper with you and that He measures everything out perfectly in your lives for your ultimate good. 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 7 - Speak comfort to Jerusalem

“Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.” - Isaiah 49:13  Scripture reading: Isaiah 40:1-5; Matthew 11:1-10 What do you think of when you hear the word ‘comfort’? Is it a mattress with a perfect amount of support or a nice soft sweater? We certainly tend to be “creatures of comfort”. Yet, John the Baptist didn’t clothe himself in soft garments or sleep in a comfortable bed. He was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; His food was locusts and wild honey. He lived in the discomfort of a wilderness. We need to stop believing that the best Christian life should be stress-free, trial-free, challenge-free and effort-free. Speaking comfort to Jerusalem is never about God promising His people easy living. Actually, God clearly warns us “many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34:19), and “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). So where’s the comfort? It comes from knowing, “that our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor 4:17). It comes through knowing that Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Our comfort is through believing in Jesus when He says, In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world. Comfort ultimately comes from knowing that our iniquity is pardoned and each struggle will serve the good and ultimate purpose for which God has allowed it. Suggestions for prayer Sing, pray and honestly ask yourself, Why should I be carried to the skies, on flowery beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize, and sailed through bloody seas??! As God comforts you in all your tribulation, pray that He would help you to be ready “to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). 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 2 - The call of Isaiah

“And He said, "Go, and tell this people: Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed."” - Isaiah 6:9-10  Scripture reading: Isaiah 6:1-13 In October 2021, a Barna poll among U.S. pastors asked, “Have you given real, serious consideration to quitting full-time ministry within the last year?” Thirty-eight percent of those polled responded that they had! These past few years have not been easy times for anyone in ministry. The unity of churches has been severely tested by recent political and public health controversies. Sadly it’s pretty clear that as Christians we have not all come through “smelling like roses.” Those who consider quitting may be thinking, “This is not what I signed up for!” If so, it’s good to pause and think of the kind of ministry Isaiah was called to. He was called to ‘pastor’ a people whose hearts were dull, their ears heavy and their eyes shut! Yet he obeyed God’s call. On the other hand, as Christians, we need to ask whether we are really taking to heart the words of Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.  Thankfully chapter 1 ends with this hope: As a terebinth tree or as an oak, Whose stump remains when it is cut down. So the holy seed shall be its stump. From the stump of Jesse, Christ would come! This means that in Him you are a holy seed who can not only survive, but also thrive even in tough times! Suggestions for prayer Pray much for your pastor(s). Pray for your elders. Pray that their ministry to you may not be with grief, but with joy. 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 1 - Introduction to the book of Isaiah

This month we will focus primarily on the riches of Isaiah chapter 40. We’ll begin to refresh our understanding of Isaiah and the nature of his ministry by witnessing God’s call to Him in chapter 6. Then we’ll dip into Isaiah 1 and Isaiah 39 to help us set chapter 40 in its proper context. Isaiah chapters 1 through 35 focus on God’s judgment upon Israel by Assyria. Chapters 40 through 66 focus on God’s gracious deliverance of His people from the predicted Babylonian captivity and upon their ultimate spiritual deliverance through Jesus Christ. Chapters 36-39 are a historical bridge between these two sections, paralleling 2 Kings 18:13-20:19. The two main sections are so distinct that critics say they are written by different authors, especially since they assume that an author can only be writing about the past or present. Yet the New Testament clearly attributes the entire book to Isaiah. As someone else has written, “Isaiah’s remarkable prophecies about Christ’s suffering and death put the case for supernatural prophecy beyond reasonable doubt!” God authors amazing prophecies designed to comfort His people during a captivity 150 years in the future. This inspiring message of salvation for God’s people through Jesus Christ, which Isaiah unfolds, continues to thrill the hearts of God’s people through the ages! Isaiah 40 trumpets the call to “Behold Your God” and to prepare yourselves for His coming! Behold Him in all the facets of His glorious Being! He brings an end to warfare and pardons our iniquities! Isaiah sets before our minds both God’s gentleness as our Shepherd, as well His immeasurable power and majesty. Isaiah calls us to 100% confidence in His care, His knowledge, and His provision for our lives. Nothing is hidden from Him and those who wait upon Him will truly renew their strength!   The cleansing of Isaiah “And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged."” - Isaiah 6:7 Scripture reading: Isaiah 6:1-8 Isaiah’s vision of the Lord defies imagination. He sees the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, His train filled the temple! The glory of the Lord is so awesome that even the perfect seraphim cover their faces and feet with wings while they call to each other declaring, “Holy Holy Holy is the LORD of Hosts!” Isaiah feels himself ‘undone’, which means to be ‘cut off’ or ‘destroyed.’ His lips are so unclean that he does not see how he can survive his encounter with God. Isaiah is not far off the mark, because no man with sinful lips can see God and live unless something drastic happens. And it does! The seraphim takes a burning coal from the altar of sacrifice, flies to him and touches his mouth with it. This fire takes away his iniquity and purges the guilt of his sin! How deadly our unclean lips are! If nothing drastic happens to us, encountering God will leave us destroyed by His holiness as well! To enter into God’s presence and not be consumed, you must believe in Jesus Christ. The coal of the altar of His sacrifice on the cross has to touch your mouth and your heart. Don’t avoid it. Don’t put it off. Let it take away your iniquity and purge your sin. Then you’ll be cleansed and ready both to meet Him and to serve Him faithfully in whatever He calls you to do today! Suggestions for prayer Pray for a deep sense of the holiness of God, an intense awareness of your sinful nature, and great peace and joy in knowing that your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is purged! 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 31 - Living to the praise of his glorious grace!

“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him Who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” - Ephesians 1:11-12 (NKJV)  Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:1-14 If you were to receive a great inheritance, perhaps your parents’ home, retirement accounts or family items that bring back fond memories, would you be grateful? I am sure that you would be! How much more grateful, then, we should be that through saving faith in Christ, we have an eternal inheritance! Furthermore, our inheritance in heaven is not based on our natural parents. Rather we are all adopted children. Our Elder Brother is Christ Himself and we are fellow heirs with Him (Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7). Our heavenly Father has pre-planned our adoption according to the purpose of His will (11). The Holy Spirit has given us new life from above and lives within us, guaranteeing our inheritance (13, 14). How grateful we should be! There are no partial blessings in our spiritual inheritance. Rather our heavenly Father has given us “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (3). He has done so because of Christ, for “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (7). No wonder the purpose of your life and mine is to gratefully praise our triune God! We read about that three times over in this brief passage (vs. 6, 12, 14). As the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever” (Q. & A. 1). May that be the chief end – the purpose and testimony – of your life and mine, today and forever! Suggestions for prayer Pray, sing and live the familiar hymn, “Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise…” (Robert Robinson, 1758, Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing). 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 30 - Growing in grace, knowledge, and gratitude

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” - 2 Peter 3:18 Scripture reading: Psalm 19:1-14 Whenever we consider our guilt and the magnitude of God's grace, we cannot help but be filled with gratitude. But that gratitude must not stagnate. Our gratitude cannot rest on a plateau; rather as we grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord, our gratitude must also grow. Scripture repeatedly calls us to grow spiritually. We see that in the last verse of Peter’s second letter. David also wrote eloquently about the blessings of spiritual growth through the study of God's Word. In Psalm 19, David paints a vivid picture of God's glory and power, both in creation and His Word. Verses 7 to 9 describe the perfection of God's Word, how His testimonies are sure and His precepts are right, of how His commandments are pure and His judgments righteous. And then he points out that they are to be desired more than gold; they are sweeter than honey. He points out that through the faithful study of God's Word, we are both warned and rewarded. David wrote more than 1000 years before Peter, but both have the same message. Both point out the importance of growing in grace and knowledge of God's Word. By doing so we will see our guilt more clearly, God's grace more magnificently, and our gratitude will become deeper and richer as we look forward to an eternity in the presence of our gracious God! May we never rest on a spiritual plateau, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Suggestions for prayer Ask forgiveness for a lethargic attitude toward spiritual growth. Pray Psalm 19 back to the Lord, thanking Him for His creation which reveals His glory and His Word which reveals Christ, “in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3) 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 25 - Gratitude for immeasurable riches

"But God, being rich in mercy…made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places…so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” - Ephesians 2:4-7  Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10 Most things in our world can be measured: the depth of the sea, the highest mountain peaks, the distance to the planets even in their elliptical orbits. But one thing that no one can measure is the depth and the richness of God’s grace given us in Christ Jesus. When God gives a gift, it is a present reality with an eternal guarantee. Did you notice in verse 6 how the Scripture describes the present reality of our relationship with Christ? It is not just in the future that we will be raised up with Christ in the heavenly realms. If by grace you have true saving faith in Jesus Christ today, you are already raised with Him! It is a present reality that will be discovered in its magnitude throughout all eternity. Remarkably, God’s kindness was given to us in Christ while we were “dead in our transgressions and sins” (1), reinforcing the truth that it is “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…” (8). There are so many blessings from God that we are to be grateful for, but no blessing surpasses the incomparable riches of God’s grace expressed through Christ Jesus. May that present reality of being raised with Christ and being seated with Him in the heavenly realms instill profound gratitude in your heart and mine today – as it will throughout all eternity! Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for blessings often taken for granted: food, water, shelter. But above all thank Him for the gift of salvation, a present reality that will grow in magnitude throughout eternity as God demonstrates “the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (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 24 - Contentment and gratitude

 “… I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” - Philippians 4:11  Scripture reading: Psalm 73:1-28 Contentment is crucial to gratitude. We see that in verse 3 where Asaph writes, “For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” When we look at what other people have, we can easily become discontent with what God has blessed us with. The grass always looks greener on the other side. Instead of looking at what others have, we need to focus on what God has given us. Asaph eventually did that when he entered the sanctuary of God and began to understand the plight of those who don't trust in God (17). In the sanctuary of God, as he studied God’s Word and reflected on God's grace to him, he found true contentment and described how God was the strength of his heart and his portion forever (26). It is only by focusing on God and His goodness that we find true contentment, and then the gratitude flows from God's provision for us. The apostle Paul wrote about the same truth. In Philippians 4:11 he described how he had discovered contentment in every situation of life, whether living in plenty or in want. His focus was on Christ; his contentment came by trusting Him. In 1648 Jeremiah Burroughs wrote a book based on Philippians 4:11 entitled, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. Contentment is indeed a jewel, but it is rare. By God’s grace, may it be a reality in your life and mine, today and always! Suggestions for prayer Ask forgiveness for envy and discontentment, and pray for eyes to clearly see the greatest blessing: Salvation from sin and eternal life through saving faith in Christ alone, “for from His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” (John 1:16).  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 23 - Gratitude for cleansing

“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.” - Luke 17:15  Scripture reading: Luke 17:11-19 The hardest arithmetic to master, it has been observed, is that of counting your blessings. We see that truth in the healing of ten lepers. All ten were in the same situation. All ten were afflicted with leprosy. All of them called out to the Lord for mercy and asked for healing. Jesus, kind, compassionate, gracious, merciful and all-powerful, healed all ten. But how many expressed gratitude? How many were filled with praise and adoration for their cleansing? Only one, and he was a Samaritan, not even a true Israelite. Unfortunately, that scenario is not a one-time event that took place thousands of years ago. That event has repeated itself throughout history innumerable times. Leprosy is a dreaded disease indicative of our sinfulness. Just as Jesus mercifully cleansed the lepers, He cleanses everyone who comes to Him when they acknowledge their sin with genuine repentance and ask for forgiveness with true saving faith in Him alone. That describes you and me, if by grace our faith and trust is in Christ alone. But how often do we get so busy with our lives that we fail to reflect on the cleansing that we have in Christ? I have to admit that my arithmetic is not so good. I have often failed to count my blessings and express my gratitude to God. What about you? Seeing that you and I are cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, do we daily express our gratitude to Him? Suggestions for prayer Ask God to enable you to express gratitude for salvation more consistently and faithfully. And if you have never been cleansed, pray for salvation with assurance, for Jesus has promised, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37) 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 22 - The law and our expression of gratitude

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” - Exodus 20:2-3 (NKJV)  Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 5:1-7 Each Sunday we are reminded that God’s law reveals our guilt. But the law also serves as a rule of gratitude, enabling us to express our thankfulness to God for His deliverance from sin. We see that truth in the prologue to the Ten Commandments. The prologue sets the stage for the commandments. It is only after the people are reminded that God delivered them from Egypt (6; Exodus 20:1-2) that they are given the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” And just as the LORD delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt, so too, He has delivered us from our bondage to sin and misery. He has delivered us from the tyranny of the devil, who is a far worse taskmaster than Pharaoh ever was. Just as Israel was given the law to express her gratitude to the LORD for deliverance, so are we. That is a distinctively Reformed view (as we are Reformed to Scripture) of God’s moral law. We see the law in three ways: It drives us to Christ as we see our sin. The law restrains evil in society. And, for those who have true saving faith in Christ, the law serves as a rule of gratitude, a way to live obedient lives that express praise to God for delivering us from our sin. This Sunday, and always, may we see our guilt in the light of the law, our redemption in Christ, and then strive to live in obedience to God’s commandments out of gratitude! Suggestions for prayer Pray for increasing obedience, that by it you may express your gratitude to God. And thank Him that He loves you even though your obedience is far from perfect in this life. Praise Him that throughout eternity our obedience will be perfect! 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 17 - Grace upon grace through Christ

“For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” - John 1:16-17  Scripture reading: John 1:1-18 Just as there is no timeline for the grace of the Father, so also the love of Christ transcends time, for “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:20). He loved us from all eternity and demonstrated His love for us in that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We see His grace, not only at the cross, but throughout His life on earth. Every leper cleansed, every person who received sight, each one healed from an otherwise incurable disease, and those who were raised back to life, are all witnesses to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. But it is still at the cross where His grace is most evident. It was there that “for our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). From the cradle to the cross, we clearly see the truth of 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” Throughout eternity we will praise Him who is the Alpha and the Omega, our eternal Saviour and Lord. But if you have experienced God’s grace, through saving faith in Christ alone, then live a life of gratitude and praise here and now, each and every day! Suggestions for prayer Thank God, with awe and wonder, that He has loved us with an eternal love. Pray that in the brevity of our lives we would strive to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength – with all that is within us!  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 16 - Our gracious father in heaven

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” - James 1:17  Scripture reading: Psalm 103:1-22 There is no timeline for God’s grace to us; the love of our heavenly Father transcends time and is eternal. In eternity past, long before you and I were born, we received the love of the Father as He predestined us to live to the praise of His glorious grace (Ephesians 1:4-6). He also set the exact moment in history for our lives to begin and to end here on earth, for all our days were written in His book before one of them came into being (Psalm 139:16). And during each day of our lives, He provides for us. We are taught to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and who is it who supplies our daily needs? It is our Father in heaven. He watches over us, provides for us and protects us (Matthew 6:25-34). He holds us in the palm of His hand as we are given triple protection, held in the hands of the Father and the Son (John 10:28-30) and in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22). And throughout eternity we will experience the fullness of God’s Fatherly love and grace. In the parable of the prodigal son, recorded in Luke 15, we see a picture of the Father’s love for us. Just as the prodigal son was welcomed home and given a joyous feast, so all who have saving faith in Christ alone will bask in the love of the Father at the wedding feast of the Lamb – and throughout all eternity! Suggestions for prayer Pray Psalm 103 back to the Lord. Thank Him that He is merciful and gracious and does not treat us as our sins deserve, but has compassion on us. Ask Him to enable all of us to praise Him more fully and gratefully! 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 15 - God’s grace in the sacraments

“…for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” - Matthew 26:28  Scripture reading: Matthew 26:17-29 It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures reinforce truths that words convey. Between the words and the pictures, we have a clearer understanding of what is conveyed to us. In the church, the Lord has also given us “pictures” to convey the spiritual truths of His Word. The sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper portray the reality of what the Word teaches. In Baptism we see that just as water cleanses, so the blood of Christ cleanses His people. The Lord’s Supper portrays the same truth as we “take, eat, remember and believe” that the precious blood of Jesus Christ was shed for us. The picture in the sacraments is not photo-chopped. It is a mirrored copy of the Word of God, and it is signed and sealed by the Holy Spirit to deeply ingrain in our hearts the blessed assurance of salvation. For instance, when the Lord’s Supper is taken with true saving faith, then Christ is truly in those elements. He is in the elements not in a literal sense, but spiritually, causing us to be drawn closer to Him and closer to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Whenever a sacrament is celebrated, it is a blessed opportunity to relish the depth of the Lord’s love. His love is so deep that He not only tells us about it in His Word, but He also portrays it, signing and sealing it in the sacraments for all who partake with saving faith. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He has structured the church so that we are nurtured by both the Word and the sacraments. Pray for those who have seen and participated in one or both sacraments, yet failed to understand their true meaning and the proper response. Pray that the Holy Spirit would draw them to Christ and back into His church.  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 14 - Grace for the chief of sinners

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” - 1 Timothy 1:15  Scripture reading: Psalm 130:1-8; 1 Timothy 1:12-17 There is a timeline for introspection. Both the Psalmist and the apostle Paul reflected on their past sins. By doing so they saw God's grace more clearly. The same principle applies to you and me. The reason why introspection – examining our heart (2 Corinthians 13:5) – requires a timeline is that we see God's grace most clearly when we see the enormity of our sin. God's grace shines through the darkness of our depravity like a brilliant ray of sunshine cutting through stormy clouds. It was when the apostle Paul honestly reflected on his past (13) that he recognized the enormity of God's grace (14). In reflecting on the past, he came to realize the present reality that Christ came to save even the chief – foremost – of sinners (15). With that knowledge he could look forward with confidence to the future because Jesus Himself has promised, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). May the same be true for you and me! As we acknowledge sins of the past, we may have the present reality of forgiveness, with future confidence through faith in Christ alone, knowing He came to save sinners. And there is a time to let the past go, trusting with blessed assurance that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to convict and comfort you through the Spirit’s work. Thank Him that His Word is “sharper than any two-edged sword…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). And pray for those whom you misled, or caused to stumble, that they too would come to repentance and faith.  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 9 - Your own worst enemy

“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” - James 1:14 (NKJV)  Scripture reading: Genesis 3:1-24 Blaming someone else is deeply rooted in the human heart. It has been that way ever since the fall when Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent for the disobedience that plunged all humanity into sin. The effort to blame the devil is still popular. We recognize that he does great damage in leading people astray and in attacking Christians, for he is described as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Many people blame the devil for their sin and many others blame God for their troubles. Natural disasters are described by the insurance industry as “acts of God” while a beautiful sunset is attributed to “Mother Nature.” But the Holy Spirit points out that when we fall into sin, we have no one to blame except ourselves because “each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:14). It is our desires, springing from our sinful nature, that so often plunge us into sin. Instead of blaming others for our sin, we must recognize that we are often our own worst enemy. Instead of fleeing from sin, we often longingly gaze at sin allowing desire to conceive and give birth to even more sin. The devil, the world and our sinful nature are three sworn enemies that never stop attacking us. We have little control over the world and the devil, but by God’s convicting and comforting Spirit, may we exercise prayerful self-control in the face of temptation. Suggestions for prayer Ask forgiveness for blaming others and pray for a heart of purity and holiness that radiates throughout your life and into the lives of others. 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 8 - The law, our guilt, and God’s grace

“Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” - Galatians 3:24 (NKJV) Scripture reading: Galatians 3:1-25 Churches that are Reformed to the truths of Scripture focus on both the law and the gospel in their services. The law reveals our sin and the gospel reveals our Saviour. The two go hand in hand. You cannot worship “in spirit and in truth”(John 4:24) unless both elements are proclaimed. Charles Spurgeon wrote: “I do not believe that any man can preach the gospel who does not preach the law. The law is the needle, and you cannot draw the silken thread of the gospel through a man's heart unless you first send the needle of the law to make way for it. If men do not understand the law, they will not feel they are sinners. And if they are not consciously sinners, they will never value the sin offering. There is no healing a man until the law has wounded him, no making him alive until the law has slain him.” By the Holy Spirit’s power, the preaching of the law and gospel work repentance and faith in the hearts of God’s people. And the means that the Holy Spirit uses, both to save us from our sin and to sanctify us, is the preaching of the whole counsel of the Word He inspired. Today, may we be convicted of our innumerable sins. But as we confess our sin, may we rejoice in our Saviour! By His sacrificial death and perfect life, we are acquitted of our sin and credited with His righteousness! Rejoice always in those truths from the law and the gospel! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for faithful churches where both our guilt and God’s grace are clearly proclaimed. Thank the Lord for the law and the gospel, for conviction and comfort. And pray for your pastor as he proclaims the whole counsel of God. 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 7 - Guilt and our conscience

“…Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…” - 1 Timothy 4:2 (NKJV) Scripture reading: Genesis 42:1-28 Joseph’s brothers were hardened men. Their hardened consciences gave them no qualms as they contemplated the murder of their brother, but sold him to the Ishmaelites instead (Genesis 37:18-28). But years later, God pierced their consciences through their confrontation with Joseph whom they did not recognize (v. 28). Our conscience is the sentry of our heart. It is the guard at the door of our heart that sounds the alarm when we are tempted to sin. In 1 Timothy 4:2 Paul describes consciences that have been seared as with a hot iron. He is pointing out that you can harden your conscience so that it won’t convict you when you are tempted to do wrong. But anyone who hardens their conscience is like a homeowner who tells his watchdog to be quiet when the burglars are coming. Just as you can command a dog not to bark over and over, until that dog is no longer a worthy watchdog, the conscience can be hardened to the point where you will hardly feel a twinge of guilt even when you sin wilfully. The conscience has been likened to a sundial. Sundials are used to tell time, but they are only effective when the sun is shining. In a similar way, God has given us a conscience, but it is only accurate when the light of His Word is shining on it. Although Joseph’s treatment of his brothers may seem harsh, it was gracious, for it awakened their deadened consciences. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for giving you a conscience and pray that instead of hardening it, you would seek the light of God’s Word to guide you as it illuminates your conscience and your heart. 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 6 - Our sinful nature enticed by the law

“For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.” - Romans 7:7b, 8a Scripture reading: Romans 7:1-25 These verses speak of a tragic reality: Our sinful nature is so strong that even a knowledge of God’s law incites sinful thoughts within us. Some people are surprised by that truth, yet every true Christian has experienced that sad reality in their life. If you and I truly see that our sinful nature is so evil that we are enticed to sin even when we think about the law, we will be brought to the same sad conclusion of Paul, “Wretched man” – or woman, boy or girl – “that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” But if, by God’s grace, you see beyond your sin to see the only Saviour, you can joyfully exclaim with Paul, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” He is the only One Who can, and Who has, delivered those who trust in Him from both their acts of sin and their sinful nature. The Heidelberg Catechism, following Scripture, assures us, “that God, because of Christ's atonement, will never hold against me any of my sins nor my sinful nature which I need to struggle against all my life. Rather, in His grace God grants me the righteousness of Christ to free me forever from judgement” (Lord’s Day 21). May you and I always confess our sins before God, but also always rejoice in His grace with the knowledge that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His law, which reveals the depth of our sin. And thank Him for the gospel which assures us of salvation through saving faith in Christ alone. 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 1 - An introduction to this month's study on guilt, grace, and gratitude

Three words define the life of every Christian. In the pilgrimage of life, every true Christian experiences guilt, grace and gratitude. Those three words, along with their counterparts of sin, salvation and service are often used to summarize the Heidelberg Catechism, but they also summarize the struggles and joys that every Christian experiences. We all experience guilt because we are all sinners. The dark cloud of our sin, especially recurring sin, drains us of our joy and pierces us with the reality of how dark our hearts really are. But against that dark and stormy background of sin, we see the brilliance of God’s grace. Through saving faith in Christ, we realize that our sin is covered by His precious blood, and amazingly, we see that Christ imputes – credits – His perfect record of righteous obedience to the life of everyone, who by His grace has true saving faith in Him alone. The knowledge of God’s saving grace in Christ Jesus leads inevitably to gratitude. If you and I truly see ourselves as guilty sinners, yet realize with clarity that, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), we cannot help but be deeply grateful! Our gratitude leads us to works of service as we endeavour to walk in the good deeds ordained for us (Ephesians 2:10), not to earn our salvation, but to reflect our Saviour and that we are profoundly grateful for what He has done. This month, as we open the Scriptures and see our guilt and God’s grace, may we truly be filled with gratitude, eager to joyfully serve our gracious God, now and forevermore!   The best day of the week “How lovely is Your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!” - Psalm 84:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 84:1-12 Arriving home is such a good feeling. Perhaps you have been gone on business, or had a hard day at work, or even a week or two of vacation. As you get close to your home, you have that anticipation of how great it will be just to be home. In this Psalm, we read of the same joyful anticipation of arriving home. We are all on a pilgrimage. We are just passing through this world. The world holds so much trouble and conflict. We need strength to continue on the path, steep and narrow, that leads to our heavenly home. Where do we gain that strength? Verse 5 reminds us that our strength is from the LORD and verse 7 describes how we “go from strength to strength.” On Sunday, as we gather with brothers and sisters in Christ, we are faced with our weakness on the one hand, as we see our sin in the light of God's law. But we also see God’s glorious grace in the gospel and we are strengthened! Through the faithful preaching of God's Word, we are not only strengthened, but given great joy as we sing praises to our God. In the words of verse 2, our “heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” It is no wonder that the Psalmist, as he exalts in joyous praise to the LORD, exclaims, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” May that be your experience and mine, this Sunday and always! Suggestions for prayer Pray for your local church and the church universal. Pray for your pastor and his family as well as the elders, deacons and congregation. Pray for faithful seminaries to train another generation of ministers who will boldly preach the whole counsel of God. 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

April 30 - A lesson on God’s timing

"But the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do….”" - Exodus 6:1  Scripture reading: Exodus 5:21-6:13 Moses’ first encounter with Pharaoh did not go well; matters worsened. Moses, not understanding God’s timing, complains: “Why has God not come through with His promises?” Moses wants instant results. Moses’ need for patience is clear. He needs a lesson on submitting to God’s timing. In our age of instant gratification, we can appreciate such a necessary lesson. We want things now, but God may say, “Not yet,” or “Not at all.” We are called to get our timing in sync with God’s. Life is not about what we think is best, but what God thinks is best. The quicker Moses discovered that, the quicker he could get back to serving the Lord. God sees everything going exactly to His plans. We see that, too, when we remember His Word. When we leave God’s Word behind, we lose proper perspective. Jesus’ disciples could not see the death of Jesus as reason for rejoicing. However, they had forgotten Christ’s Word. God’s timing is always good. It may not fit our plans, but that does not matter. God has always timed things well. His Son came in the fullness of time. Those who humble themselves before Him, He will lift up in due time. As we watch for the Lord’s return, this too will be at just the right time, in accordance with God’s plans. We don’t know exactly when that day will come, but we can count on it—a good note on which to end the month! Suggestions for prayer Pray with adoration for the Lord’s timing in the history of redemption and the ways He has worked in your life with remarkable timing. Pray to the Lord for the patience needed to submit to His timing in your life. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 29 - The ploy of false-god pharaoh

“The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” - Exodus 5:21 Scripture reading: Exodus 5:1-21 The other ploy of Pharaoh was to play God’s people off on one another. It had temporary success. Turmoil can turn people against one another. This is a problem that plagues the history of the church. It is not that God is not clear with His promises; instead, people lose sight of them, turning against those whom God has entrusted to their care—or turning against one another. How difficult it can be for people to live contentedly within the church of Jesus Christ. Harmony can be an elusive pursuit far too many times. Christ knew such betrayal and discontent. When we pray for patience and submission, though, we will devour each other less and be united more in the Lord as we wait on the Lord. Spiritual arrogance and ignorance are disappointing. But God is not on the side of arrogance and ignorance; He is on the side of those whom He has saved and will deliver in Christ. They are the ones with peace. They are the ones who have the privilege of worshiping Him—and why wouldn’t they? They are not praising Him for what they have done, they are praising Him for what He has done in giving peace from evil, peace with God, the peace of God and true peace among Christians. In the end, it will all work out for those who are followers of the God of grace. We just need the patience to believe that good news for our lives. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord if you live in a harmonious relationship with your fellow-church members and leadership. Pray to the Lord for the submissive spirit that is needed to promote the harmony of the church even when turmoil strikes. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 28 - The ploys of false-god Pharaoh

“The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” - Exodus 5:21  Scripture reading: Exodus 5:1-21 Moses said that if Pharaoh would not let God’s people go, the people would be plagued by the sword (5:3). Yet Pharaoh in false imitation has his own sword (5:21) to plague God’s people so that they would lose heart and lose sight of the promises that Pharaoh calls lies (v. 9). In a pleasure-seeking world, the temptation for everyone in Christ when life is unpleasant is to lose sight of the joys set before us and the promises that await. It is hard to live by faith and not merely by sight or our feelings. Yet looks and feelings can be deceiving. Wickedly, Pharaoh, as an agent of evil, thought he could take God’s place; yet the Word of the Lord declares differently. The Word comforts when sight or feelings cannot. We are to live by what we hear: Christ says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. I am with you until the close of the age.” Faith recalls Who is LORD and Who is to be followed. Pharaoh’s plagues were nothing compared to the plagues of the Lord. Pharaoh’s injustice could not compare to the justice of the Lord. The trials of this life are nothing in comparison to the joys set before us. Pharaoh wanted to think he was the ultimate boss. We are tempted to find another boss. But there is only One and He sits at God’s right hand. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that in His inscrutable ways He can turn all things to the good of those who love Him. Pray that the Lord will grant you the spiritual vision to see the eternal joys that are set before you in Jesus Christ, so that you won’t live a disheartened life. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 23 - God further prepares the deliverer

“And the LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.”” - Exodus 4:19  Scripture reading: Exodus 4:18-20 We often read here the word “return.” Through Moses’ “returning,” he is encouraged in his calling. One confirming encouragement is that family (Jethro) doesn’t become an impediment to his return. More encouraging to Moses is the further revelation that he receives from the Lord. God’s Word is meant to be such an encouragement. Kings come and go, but the Word of the Lord carries on. The desires of men will go with them to the grave, but the desire of the everlasting Lord will be fulfilled. What God says to Moses reminds us of Matthew 2:19, where God tells Joseph to return to Nazareth because he who was trying to take the Christ-child’s life was also dead. Moses pictures the Christ—the truest Deliverer of God’s people. The first Pharaoh of Exodus had not known Joseph, a deliverer of his people, and now the second Pharaoh of Exodus doesn’t know Moses, who will also be a deliverer of his people, just as Jesus would deliver His people under a domain which did not know Him. Evil wanted to deliver Moses to death, but he was not delivered to evil, so that he could be a deliverer from evil. Evil also wanted the Christ-child to be delivered unto death prematurely, but God had superior plans to deliver His people through Christ. God’s superior plans to deliver from evil were meant to encourage Moses; in Christ, they are meant to encourage us in our battle with sin as well. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the deliverance Christ has given you from the penalty and power of sin. Pray that He may continue His deliverance from sin in your life, as you heed the call to live more and more sanctified before Him, with the promise of full deliverance from sin’s power awaiting you in glory filling your heart with Christian hope. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 22 - No reason for reluctance

“But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”” - Exodus 4:13  Scripture reading: Exodus 4:13-16 Moses has run out of excuses with God, but at least we get to the bottom of his unwillingness: Excuse #5: “Send someone else.” No grounds here! Moses just doesn’t want to go. We can empathize with Moses. It is quite a job to be a mediator for God’s people, to be the one used by God to go and save His people from slavery, to be God’s representative here on earth. In Moses we see that we needed a better Mediator, a Mediator who would not go reluctantly, kicking and screaming, but willingly, of His own accord, saying, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” That Mediator was Jesus Christ. The only One, “For there is only one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). It is for Christ’s sake that when we run out of excuses, the answer is not to say to God, “Use someone else to do what I have been called to do.” We cannot have that attitude as Christians, to expect everyone else to do what we are called to do, or are called to be. Our motto in the Christian life cannot be, “Send someone else; let someone else do it,” whether it is because we feel inadequate, or simply because we don’t want to do it. Instead, our attitude has to be like our Saviour’s: “Here I am, send me.” Go and serve the Lord and just watch how God will be with you. Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for providing the willing Mediator to restore peace between you and God. Pray that the Lord will equip you so that more and more you will seek to be a willing and obedient servant of the Lord. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 21 - No reason for reluctance

“But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent….”” - Exodus 4:10  Scripture reading: Exodus 4:10-12 As we have noticed, the sinful attitude comes up with excuses to turn from the Lord’s callings. Here is another from Moses: Excuse #4 “I won’t know what to say.” It seems odd that someone trained in the courts of Egypt would use such an excuse, especially when we read that Moses was “strong in speech and power,” according to Stephen in Acts 7. Yet, that is what Moses says. Moses is getting low on excuses, but even so, the Lord counsels him graciously: “Who made the mouth? If this is what I have called you to do and if I am the Lord over everything, doesn’t that include your vocal cords? I am going to be with you in every way—including what you have to say. Now go!” Jesus said that when it comes to defending the faith, we would not need professional orators; He would give the courage to speak for Him (Luke 12:8-12; Luke 21:12-19). It wasn’t so much that people would listen right away or be convinced at all. Look at the hardness of Pharaoh, after all. However, the Spirit would give us the courage to honour the Lord with our speech. We may not all be called to be missionaries in the formal sense, but we are all called to be ready to give an account of the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the ability to live a life worthy of the gospel, but then ask the Lord for the courage to be ready to speak about that life when people ask you about the hope that is within you. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 20 - No reason for reluctance

“Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’”” - Exodus 4:1 Scripture reading: Exodus 4:1-9 We can come up with plenty of excuses not to serve the Lord. Moses could, too: Excuse #3 But what if they don’t believe me? God said that the elders would believe him, but as with us in Christ, God is long-suffering. God gives us His Word and also signs to believe Him. He did it with Adam, Noah and Abraham. He does it also through Christ and the apostles, and here with Moses. “I will give you signs to perform, Moses. Drop the staff and pick up the snake by the tail that the staff has become.” Typically, you don’t pick up a serpent by the tail. It will bite you! Not this serpent! All it represents in a world of evil is under the control of the God of creation and redemption. Warn Pharaoh with the sign of the cloak as to Who is in charge of pain and pleasure; it is not Pharaoh; it is Almighty God. Turn the Nile into blood to show Who is God and that He is aware of the injustices against the covenant youth who are thrown to the gods of the river. God gives us an abundance of reasons to trust and serve Him, His creation, His miracles, His promises, the crucifixion, the resurrection and the testimony of the Word of God—plus His sacraments! He gives His Word; He gives His signs. So, go! Be strong and courageous and serve the Lord! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He makes it so clear in His world and His Word that He is to be trusted and served in Christ. Pray that you might have the strength and courage to serve Him in a manner worthy of the gospel. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 15 - Enlightened by the burning bush to the mercy of God

“He looked and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.” - Exodus 3:2 Scripture reading: Exodus 3:1-10 The fiery bush speaks to the holiness of God, but also to the mercy of God. For Moses’ sake and for our sake in Christ, we can be exceedingly glad for this. God is holy and we are not, yet we are not consumed. We can see ourselves in the burning-bush event as unconsumed, celebrating God’s mercy to us through faith in Christ. What made the bush unusual was not that it was burning, but that it was burning and not being consumed. Scripture does indeed speak of God as a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29), but here the fire does not consume. When you think about what Israel and Moses had been enduring, such a bush is a fitting sight. Israel was God’s chosen people, treated differently than other nations so as not to be consumed like other nations, but not because of anything deserving about her. Such a non-consumption is how it is for God’s covenant people, both in the Old Testament days and now in the New Testament days. Hebrews 12 says that kingdoms of the world will not last, but the kingdom of Christ, to which we belong through faith and grace, will not be consumed because of the grace of God and the righteousness of Christ. This is the joy of the gospel, for before the holy face of God, we all deserve to be consumed, but by the wondrous mercy of God through the crucified Christ we can confess that we are not. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to the Lord for the marvellous mercies of God, who consumed your sins in Christ so that you need not be consumed. Pray for an ever-increasing devotion to serve your Saviour well, given the marvels of His grace. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 14 - Enlightened by the burning bush to the holiness of God

“Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”” - Exodus 3:5 Scripture reading: Exodus 3:1-10  These commands refer to “holy ground.” This area had become the house of God, His sanctuary, because He was dwelling there. In this sanctuary, God had made ground that was unclean, clean. God had cursed the ground in Genesis 3:17. In this event, however, God overcomes the curse by His very holiness. He can sanctify what would otherwise be perverse. Moses was called to respect that restored sanctity. Such a sense of sanctity and godly respect are to extend to farther ends for the followers of Christ today, where “holy ground” is found wherever God’s Spirit-inhabited people worship and work; both are realms of holy endeavour. As temples of God’s Spirit, our bodies are to be respected in a stewardly and chaste way as well. In all places and things, God’s people are called to godly respect for Christ’s sake—a respect that goes lacking in much of our world today. We are called to respect what God has given us to use for His glory. We are called to respect authority for the sake of Christ Who endows it. We are to respect the time that we have been given and to approach all our callings as holy and pleasing to God, which is our spiritual worship. As we live reverentially, we do so, anticipating the return of Christ, Who will make all things new and holy unprecedentedly. “Respect My holiness,” says the Lord, “wherever you go, and certainly whenever you gather to worship to hear My Word.” Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the various ways in which you can carry out holy endeavours in His name and thank the Lord for His Spirit’s presence in your life that allows such holy endeavours to take place. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 13 - Enlightened by the burning bush to the holiness of God

“Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”” - Exodus 3:5  Scripture reading: Exodus 3:1-10 Moses sees an unusual sight, a burning bush that is not consumed. He comes closer, only to hear the Word of God coming forth from the bush urgently telling him to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground. In those days, as is often the case today, people did not wear their shoes indoors. It was a matter of respect, of cleanliness, because your shoes were carrying in dirt from the outside. However, Moses is not inside, but outside. Yet, Moses is asked to take off his shoes for where Moses stands has now become a sanctuary; God is present. Shoes are removed out of respect for the person whose house you entered—even more so for the sake of God, Whose sanctuary Moses was entering. Without a respect for the person and Word of the Lord, we will not be ready and willing to serve Him. Such respect is missing from much of our world today. People’s actions today of impurity, discontent and destruction betray their irreverence for God. God demands and deserves our reverence. Whenever He meets with His people to supply His gospel Word, that is a holy place. Wherever people are, that is a place where they ought to live as if they are in the holy presence of God, for they are. When we know Christ as Saviour and Lord, such reverence makes us respect every moment as a holy endeavour before God, which is what makes life worth living. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you appreciate the holy act of worship all the more and to be more sensitive to the Christian ideal that we live Coram Deo—in the presence of God. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 12 - God prepares a deliverer: A lesson from Midian

“She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”” - Exodus 2:22  Scripture reading: Exodus 2:11-25 In Midian, we again see Moses’ tie with the past. Isaac received a wife after an episode at a well (Genesis 24). So did Jacob (Genesis 29). Moses increasingly is identified with God’s people and his forefathers—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. By grace, God was blessing Moses in Midian, equipping him with power, hospitality, and providing a wife and a son. Israel, in Exodus 1, knew similar blessings. God’s deliverer identifies with his brothers. Exodus 22:21 says that Israel was to treat the sojourner with respect because they too were aliens in Egypt. Moses has no land to call his own so God can use him to save His people. Moses pictures Jesus Christ, Who had no place to lay His head, humbled to the point of crucifixion. No one can relate to us like Christ, tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin, so that we can seek Him out in time of need. If we follow Christ, we too are aliens and strangers in a world that is alienated from Christ. We know God blesses us now, but the lasting and greater blessings are yet to come, lest we get cozy with the passing things of this world. We do not see perfection yet, but we know it is coming, so we are content to be strangers now, called to a holy life of faith in Christ as lights to the world, salt to the earth, as reflections of the Light of the world Himself. Suggestions for prayer Be thankful if you find that your different life in Christ is shining forth as a light to the world. Pray that the Lord will use you to be a difference in the world and that you will be ready to give an account of the hope within you to anyone who asks. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 7 - God prepares deliverance through a special infancy

“When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank.” - Exodus 2:3 Scripture reading: Exodus 2:1-10 The infancy of Moses is also special because Moses is placed in a basket—literally an “ark” lined with pitch and set in the Nile River. Our children know about Noah’s ark, but this is Moses’ ark. The same word that is used in Genesis 7:1 for “ark” is used here. Noah put pitch on his ark (Genesis 6:14), as did Moses’ mother on Moses’ ark. Another allusion to Genesis! God delivers His people through Noah, but Noah must survive a water ordeal for it to happen. Moses also survives a water ordeal; he is drawn from the water. In the end, he delivers God’s people from the waters of death. Also, Moses was laid by “reeds”, the same word that describes the Sea of “Reeds” through which the people went in Exodus 13:18. A remembrance of the past and an anticipation of the future are revealed here. God provides a deliverer who will take them through the waters of death in victory and rest over their enemies. Jesus undergoes death for His people and comes out alive so that He can be their deliverer. When we are in Christ through faith, we are buried with Him, dead to sin, but then made alive to Christ and righteousness. Through Him alone, we are delivered to everlasting rest. The special infancy of Moses led to the deliverance of God’s people. The special infancy of Christ led to a fuller deliverance, one that we can know through faith and await in certain hope. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the great deliverance that Christ has won for you. Pray that the Lord might fill your heart with the hope that the promised fullness of that deliverance provides. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 6 - God prepares deliverance through a special infancy

“Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.” - Exodus 2:1-2  Scripture reading: Exodus 2:1-10 Looking at the special infancy of Moses, we see that Moses’ mother “saw that he was a fine child” (v.3). Literally, she “saw that he was good.” Exodus 1 already alluded to Genesis, because Exodus continues the covenant revelation of Genesis. Genesis 1 speaks often of how God saw the good creation. Someone reading Hebrew wouldn’t miss the same refrain here, his mother “saw that he was good.” Why use this creation-type language? When God delivers, it is like a re-creation. In the flood event of Genesis, God uses creation terms as He delivers His people from judgment. The New Testament says that anyone who is in Christ Jesus is a new creation, the old has passed and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). We also await a new heaven and a new earth where there is complete deliverance for the people of God, the home of righteousness (2 Peter 3:13). Here God prepares a deliverer associated with new beginnings, a new land, a new creation, if you will. This newness is part of what makes this infancy special. Moses will be used to deliver God’s people and bring them to a new land. He will be a saviour of sorts, picturing the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, the reason why we can live in hope of a new heaven and earth, and the reason we can be new creatures, saved and delivered by Christ, so we can serve God as His new creatures. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His transforming grace that makes us new creatures in Christ. Pray for the opportunities to display that new creation before a world in need of spiritual transformation. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 5 - God prepares deliverance through a special infancy

“Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.” - Exodus 2:1-2 Scripture reading: Exodus 2:1-10 Yesterday, we saw that God delivered through a special infancy. Part of what made that infant special was the times in which he was born—a time when male Hebrew infants were not allowed to exist. Pharaoh decreed that all the males should be thrown into the Nile River—considered a god of life, yet used for death. The river of life is used as a river of death by the one who wishes to destroy the covenant seed of the woman. The days of Exodus were anti-Christian days governmentally, but the parents of Moses did not let those days become reason to give up hope or faith, for the Almighty God had promised a deliverer. Hebrews 11:23 says that the parents of Moses hid Moses for three months and were not afraid of the king’s edict. They feared God rather than men, even as the midwives of Exodus 1 had done. Their assurance of things hoped for and their conviction of things not seen moved them to do the right thing. Things did not look good, but they still did not fear men more than the Almighty God of promise—to save, preserve and provide for His people. In essence, they were saying, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid, what shall man do to me?” Things may not always look good, but those things give no reason for us to trade in our fear of the Lord for the fear of men. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that we might find our peace with Him in Christ, and our peace in life through Him in Christ. Pray for the courage to place our reverence for God before our fear of others. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 4 - God prepares deliverance through a special infancy

“Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.” - Exodus 2:1-2 Scripture reading: Exodus 2:1-10 God’s plans prevail for His glory bringing hope to God’s people for deliverance. Here, God is preparing a deliverer for His people. God’s preparation for deliverance includes a special infancy. Two from the house of Levi marry. Their names are not as important as their lineage. Soon, the Levites were going to be priests mediating for God’s people before the Lord. Moses’ infancy is special in part because he would be a special instrument from the tribe of Levi used by God to deliver His people. This special servant and work would picture an even more special person and work—the greater priest and apostle over the house of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. In this special infancy and preparation, we get a foretaste of God’s desire to commune with His people through the priesthood. God’s plans to deliver His people are being made clearer, slowly but surely. Deliverance begins with small things, a birth of a child—but that seed blossoms to a grand deliverance from Egypt, a testimony to the power of God to overcome the powerful through weakness. In due time, an even grander deliverance would begin with a special birth, Christ the Lord, born to deliver His people from their sins. Our passage teaches, in part, that God will not leave His people without a deliverer, despite evil’s power. How thankful we can be for that truth. How thankful we can be when we find ourselves to be beneficiaries of this deliverance through faith in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray with thanks for the desire and the power of God to provide spiritual deliverance through the coming of Christ. Pray that the Lord would help you to glory in Him all the more for His sovereignty over evil and His sovereign grace at work in your life. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

March 30 - No enemy can stand in the way of our salvation in Christ

“Moses, the servant of the LORD, and the people of Israel defeated them. And Moses the servant of the LORD gave their land for a possession to the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh.” - Joshua 12:6  Scripture reading: Joshua 12:1-6  The chapter starts talking about Sihon and Og, two mighty kings with huge kingdoms on the eastern side of the Jordan outside the land of Canaan. When Israel was on the way to Canaan, they came to the border of their kingdoms and asked politely if they could pass through. But they attacked Israel and Israel defeated them by taking possession of their land. These events might not stand out for us in the history of Israel, but they’re quite prominent in the Bible. Judging by what Rahab and the Gibeonites said, everyone in Canaan was terrified because of what Israel had done to them. In Psalm 136, among all of the reasons why we should give thanks to the LORD, the psalmist mentions how God struck down Sihon and Og, and gave their land to Israel. The victories over Sihon and Og weren’t politically important, in the first place, but spiritually important. It was the offspring of the serpent against the offspring of the woman, trying to keep God from giving His people the inheritance He had promised them. We need to know what God did to Sihon and Og because the offspring of the serpent continues to oppose the offspring of the woman. Those mighty enemies show you that God will never let anyone or anything stand in the way of us receiving the inheritance that Christ has gained for us. We are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to use God’s defeat of Sihon and Og to build up your faith, so that you may wrestle against “the rulers”, “the authorities”, “the cosmic powers over this present darkness” and “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”, in the strength that He provides. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 29 - The Arc de Triomphe

“Now these are the kings of the land whom the people of Israel defeated and took possession of their land beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise, from the Valley of the Arnon to Mount Hermon, with all the Arabah eastward. . . . And these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the people of Israel defeated on the west side of the Jordan.” -  Joshua 12:1,7  Scripture reading: Joshua 12 Even if we’ve never been to Paris to see the real thing, many of us have at least seen pictures of the Arc de Triomphe. It’s one of the landmarks of that city. It was commissioned by Napoleon, in imitation of the emperors of ancient Rome, who built more than fifty triumphal arches celebrating glorious victories. You could almost describe Joshua 12 as a kind of triumphal arch, a monument built in words, because it records the great victories of the first two Israelite generals, Moses and Joshua, for the same reason that those arches of the Roman Empire did. It doesn’t only mean to say, here are some things that happened in the past. It wants to make an impression; it wants to communicate a message that goes beyond just passing on the historical information. You can divide the book of Joshua into several parts. Chapter 12 closes off the first part of the book, which tells the story of Israel entering the Promised Land and conquering it. And the writer of Joshua closes off the story of the conquest of Canaan with this catalog of the cities that were conquered by Moses and Joshua in order to show that the conquest was complete. This record of Israel’s complete conquest of Canaan is a prophecy of the complete conquest of the world, when the God of peace crushes Satan under our feet (Romans 16:20), and the great Conqueror Jesus Christ establishes His eternal kingdom. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the promise, embodied in this passage, that Jesus will carry out a complete conquest of the world and on the day when His victory is complete, we will enjoy eternal rest and never be troubled by our enemies. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 28 - Victory through Joshua

“Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses. And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel . . . And the land had rest from war.” - Joshua 11:23a Scripture reading: Joshua 11:21-28 To hear the Holy Spirit tell it, you’d almost think Joshua defeated all Israel’s enemies singlehandedly. Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses. Joshua was faithful to God; he was careful to follow all the law that Moses had commanded him. And he won the victory. Not even the Anakim, who were giants, who had terrified ten of the spies in Numbers 13, could stand before him. Who would have imagined, who would have believed, that Israel would ever conquer Canaan? Who would ever have imagined that they would ever possess the inheritance that God said He had prepared for them? They had been slaves in Egypt. And they were up against powerful enemies. Giants. But Joshua was faithful and through him, God gave them the victory. Joshua gave all the land for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war. That’s the gospel. It is for us. The Spirit highlights Joshua’s faithfulness and the victory that God gave him and the inheritance he gave Israel because they’re pictures and promises of the faithfulness and the victory of our Joshua. God gives us this picture and this promise to encourage us: Put all your trust in Joshua; follow Him. That’s the way that leads to salvation. That’s how you share in victory over your enemies, even sin and death and how you receive all the wonderful things that God has prepared for you. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the faithfulness of Jesus and for His victory over His enemies and ours in His death and resurrection. Pray that soon we will enjoy the rest that God promises when we receive the inheritance Jesus has won for us and go to live with Him in the new heaven and the new earth. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 27 - Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” - Psalm 46:1 Scripture reading: Psalm 46:1-11  We know that we’re not in control of what happens in our lives, or in the world. But in another way, we all feel like we can steer things in the right direction, that the way things go depends on what we do. We have an expectation that everything’s going to turn out the way it should like it does in our favourite stories. Maybe you feel like the ground is shifting under your feet right now; maybe God is making it clear to you, in one way or another, that you’re not in control. Things in your life and in the world might not turn out the way you think they should. It’s frightening. It’s disorienting. Psalm 46 says, Don’t be afraid, because as complicated as things may seem, as big a mess as you might feel you’re in, the almighty Creator, your faithful Father in heaven, is your refuge and strength. He will keep you safe. He will bring you where you need to be; He knows the way. Worship is a time for us to be reminded and to rejoice, that God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. He loves you in Jesus Christ; He is absolutely faithful; His promises are sure. “Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with their surging” (Psalm 46:2-3). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for a day of rest, in which you can hear the gospel, remember God’s work of salvation in song and confess your faith in Him, and, ask the Holy Spirit to make you thoughtful and attentive and intentional, so that you may genuinely worship Him and be encouraged to live in faith. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 22 - The victory that overcomes the world

“And the LORD threw them into a panic before Israel, who struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah.” - Joshua 10:10 Scripture reading: Joshua 10:6-11 The Holy Spirit opens our eyes here to the way things are in the conflict between the church and the world. The bottom line, if you want to say it that way, is that though the world attacks us because we are not of the world, the war is actually between God and the world. That’s reflected in the way the Spirit describes the battle. On the one hand, He says Joshua and the army marched all night and came upon the Amorite armies suddenly. At the same time, He says the LORD threw the Amorite armies into a panic. That means that the LORD used what we might call the powers of nature, to terrify the Amorites. (see also e.g. I Samuel 7:10-11, Psalm 77:13-20) And then it says that Israel struck the Amorites with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by way of the ascent of Beth-Horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. But the footnote says that we could also translate this way: He - the LORD - Who struck them and chased them all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. It seems like two contradictory accounts: the LORD did it and Israel did it. But both are true. Israel had to fight, but the LORD was fighting for them. The battle belongs to the LORD, but we must put on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), and overcome the world by faith (I John 5:5-6). Suggestions for prayer: Pray that the Holy Spirit will make you fully confident that the battle belongs to the LORD and that He will enable you to fight against the devil, the world and your own flesh in that confidence. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 21 - The Lord’s friend is their enemy

“Come up to me and help me, and let us strike Gibeon. For it has made peace with Joshua and with the people of Israel.” - Joshua 10:4  Scripture reading: Joshua 10:1-5 We don’t know how much military or strategic sense this attack made, or what those kings were hoping to achieve from a strategic point of view by attacking Gibeon. But the author of Joshua says they didn’t attack Gibeon for military reasons, or for strategic reasons. They did it for spiritual reasons. Notice what Adoni-Zedek said: We have to attack Gibeon because they made peace with Joshua, and with the people of Israel. The name of Joshua was bound up with everything the LORD was doing, to judge the nations and to give their land to Israel as an inheritance. And in their minds, when Gibeon made peace with Joshua and with the people of Israel, Gibeon became their enemy. The Spirit is showing us again how the world instinctively reacts when God enters the world to bring salvation. The world reacts with hatred and violence to the church and to anyone or anything that seems to be connected in any way to the name of Jesus Christ. And whatever differences there are between the West, Islam and communism, they’re united in their hatred for Christ and in their warfare against Him and His people. This is how the world reacts to anyone who identifies himself, or in their eyes seems to identify himself with Jesus Christ. It doesn’t always make very much sense, logically speaking. It’s actually irrational. But this is what it’s all about; we shouldn’t be surprised and we should remember the history of Joshua and the history of Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to recognize that the world’s hatred for the church is rooted in its instinctive response to Jesus and to strengthen our faith by the gospel that God has triumphed over our enemies in Him. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 20 - Who shall dwell on God’s holy hill?

“Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right.” - Psalm 15:1b-2a Scripture reading: Psalm 15:1-12  Today is our day of worship. When we worship, we enjoy fellowship with God. But Psalm 15 says that only the blameless may have fellowship with God and that might make you wonder whether you have the right to enter His presence in worship. That’s because we think that blameless means sinless. But if you look the word up in a concordance, you’ll find out that David, Noah and Job were blameless, and some who are called upright in the sight of God and righteous. Since the Bible says that every person is conceived and born in sin, the Spirit can’t be saying that these people were sinless. We know from the Bible that Noah got drunk; Job demanded that Lord explain Himself to him and Zechariah didn’t believe the angel Gabriel who told him that he and Elizabeth were going to have a son. So blameless doesn’t mean sinless. In the Bible, blameless means, trusting in God’s Word and seeking Him with all your heart. It means, living in repentance for your sin, claiming God’s forgiveness for the sake of Christ’s death and seeking to live the holy life that David describes here in Psalm 15 – the life God gives you through faith in Christ. If you are a sincere believer, if you live by faith in the promises that the triune God made to you when you were baptized, you have peace with God and stand in grace. You are welcome to enter the presence of God in worship. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that in Christ, He has opened the way for you to worship Him with a clear conscience today and to live with Him forever. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 19 - People loved the darkness rather than the light

“As soon as Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard how Joshua had captured Ai and had devoted it to destruction … and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel … he feared greatly.” - Joshua 10:1-2a  Scripture reading: Joshua 10:1-5 We’re not sure how much difference it makes why the king of Jerusalem responded the way he did to the news that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel, but the writer of Joshua obviously thought that was an important part of the story. The Holy Spirit keeps coming back to this in the book of Joshua, how the Canaanite kings and their people responded to the news of what the LORD did to Jericho and to Ai, and before that, to Sihon and Og on the far side of the Jordan. They’re always afraid. On the one hand, we say, of course, those people were afraid when they heard what the LORD had done. The foundations of their world were shaking. This is how the world naturally feels and responds when God comes into their land and into their world, so to speak. They don’t welcome the arrival of this righteous and almighty God. It terrifies them. But they don’t surrender. Of all the people in Canaan, it seems like Rahab was the only one who repented and believed. The overwhelming response is fear and hostility. Jesus explains this natural response to God in John 3: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. This is the suicidal impulse of the guilty conscience: to fight God rather than repent of sin. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His sovereign grace, by which you were brought to repentance and faith in Jesus, so that you would not perish, but have eternal life. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 14 - Disguised hatred is still hatred

“…when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning” - Joshua 9:3b,4a  Scripture reading: Joshua 9:1-6 The Bible says that God put enmity between the offspring of the serpent and the offspring of the woman; the Lord Jesus told His disciples that the world would hate them as it had hated Him; Paul told Timothy that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. The world hates the church, but its hatred isn’t always shown in open hostility. The opening verses of Joshua 9 tell us that the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel. In other words, those people showed their enmity by getting ready for war. The Gibeonites showed their enmity toward Israel in a different way: when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning. Until recently, the church in the West has not faced open opposition or persecution, but we have nonetheless been under assault from the world in the constant enticement to pursue “the good life” as our culture defines it, the life we receive from the gods of pleasure, power, money, technology and science. The Holy Spirit has told us that the world will hate us and we should believe Him. We should recognize the world’s propaganda for what it is: a cunning strategy to undermine our faith and our commitment to live by faith in the only true God. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to help you believe that the world hates you, to recognize its hatred even when it is disguised and to live only by faith in God’s promises. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 13 - God calls his people to worship him before the world

“…they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD and sacrificed peace offerings. And there, in the presence of the people of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written.” - Joshua 8:31b-32  Scripture reading: Joshua 8:30-35 The altar Joshua built on Mount Ebal wasn’t the first altar to Yahweh in this part of Canaan. Both Abram (Genesis 12:6-8) and Jacob (Genesis 33:18-20) built altars to Him at Shechem, which is right between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim. That history was probably one of the reasons the LORD chose this place for this worship service. Geography was another reason: Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim were also close to the very centre of the land of Canaan. He said, “I want you to go to that place, in the heart of this land, where Abram and Jacob confessed their faith and set up an altar to Yahweh. In public worship, I want you to testify before all the gods and all the people of Canaan that Yahweh has done all that He promised, that He has given you this land as an inheritance and that the worship of His Name has been established in the land.” In the shadow of the stones on which Joshua had written the law of God, Israel showed their thankfulness to Yahweh by offering burnt offerings and rejoiced in their fellowship with Him by offering peace offerings. This is what our worship today is all about: before the world and in the company of His people, we will offer ourselves to Him in thankfulness and commit ourselves to live in obedience to Him, because He is our God and we are His people, and in Christ, He has redeemed us and given us an eternal inheritance. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to help you worship the Lord in thankfulness, to consciously and intentionally present yourself to Him as a living sacrifice and to sincerely submit your life to His Word. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 12 - God calls his people to confess him before the world

“At that time Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded … “an altar of uncut stones, upon which no man has wielded an iron tool.”” - Joshua 8:30-31a Scripture reading: Joshua 8:30-35 You could compare the ceremony that’s recorded here at the end of Joshua 8 to a public profession of faith. In our tradition as Reformed churches, pretty well from the moment they’re baptized, parents and elders and ministers are leading the children of the congregation to make a profession of their faith. In their baptism, God has shown and confirmed His covenant commitment to them and as His covenant partners, He expects our children to commit themselves to Him, to believe His promises, to walk in His ways and to confess Him before a watching world. That’s what this ceremony is about. In Deuteronomy 11:29, Moses said, “When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.” And in his instructions in Deuteronomy 27:12, Moses told them that they had to do all of these things on the day they crossed over the Jordan. Moses didn’t mean, literally, “Hold this worship service on the first day you get into Canaan.” He meant, “The LORD wants you to do this as soon as you can.” You might say that Israel had been headed toward Mt. Ebal pretty well from the moment they entered the land of Canaan. As soon as they could, in response to the proof of God’s commitment to them, they answered Him with their public commitment, to walk with Him in covenant fellowship, namely, in repentance, faith and obedience. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to be ready to profess your faith in God and your commitment to Him, both privately and publicly, in response to the faithfulness and mercy He has shown you, above all, in the gift of salvation through Christ. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

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