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Daily devotional

April 12 - The fruit of the Spirit - Love

“We love because He first loved us.” - I John 4:19 

Scripture reading: I John 4:7-21

When you understand that the summary of God’s law is to love God and our neighbour, and then consider the many other passages of Scripture that call us to love, it isn’t surprising that the first fruit of the Spirit is love. In fact, as the apostle John says, “anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (I John 4:8). That means if the Spirit of God dwells in you, and God is love, then it follows that you and every true believer will, to some degree, bear the fruit of love.

To love is the Christian’s most important obligation as we sojourn in this world, and it’s good to be reminded of this. As a pastor for more than 32 years in reformed churches, I’m so thankful for our commitment to being faithful to God, to upholding the truth of His Word, to teaching and training our children to be confessional. But, in all honesty, I’ve been discouraged at times when I haven’t seen that same commitment to love. Can we truly say we’re being faithful to God if we lack love? I’ve been in congregational meetings where angry speakers gave no evidence of love. I’ve had to counsel church members against their gossip, bitterness, and anger. So, as I am writing this I am praying that you will agree on how important this is, and evaluate your own heart and actions. Do others say of you, “he / she is a loving person who demonstrates the love of Christ”?

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that the Spirit would convict you of unloving words, thoughts and attitudes toward others. Pray that the fruit of love will increase in you.

Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.

Daily devotional

April 7 - The Holy Spirit reveals Christ

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the father, he will bear witness about me.” - John 15:26  Scripture reading: John 15:18-27 As you go to worship today, how do you judge whether a worship service is “Spirit-filled?” I’m afraid many make that determination based on very shallow criteria. Some seem to think that if the music (or the preacher) is lively and upbeat, the Spirit is there. It’s as if the Spirit arrives when the music reaches a certain tempo, or decibel level; or when the pastor gets revved up and is walking all across the stage. Actually, the Spirit may in fact be present, but not because of the tempo. Jesus says that when the Spirit comes, “he will bear witness about me” and “He will glorify me” (John 16:14). This is the better criteria: Is Christ being proclaimed in this worship service? Is the truth about Jesus being taught? Does Jesus have the preeminence in this place? Then you can be assured that that worship service is “Spirit-filled.” If you visit the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC after dark, you will notice that the statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting on his chair is lit up with a large spotlight. The purpose of the spotlight is not to draw attention to itself, but to draw your eyes to Lincoln. The Holy Spirit is like that spotlight, shining the light on Jesus – so that you will know and worship Him. Suggestions for prayer Pray for your pastor that he will faithfully preach Christ. Pray that the Spirit will shine the light on Jesus and that you will worship your Lord and Saviour well. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 6 - The Holy Spirit will convict

“And when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” - John 16:8  Scripture reading: John 16:1-15 The Holy Spirit is a teacher for those in whom He dwells. But in these verses of John 16, Jesus has the world in view; that is, all that stands in opposition to Christ. The Holy Spirit will convict the world. This is a judgment, a sentencing, as when a defendant in a courtroom is convicted and found guilty. First, the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin; specifically, the sin of rejecting Jesus. This is the sin that leads to death and ultimately the unpardonable sin. Second, The Spirit will convict the world of righteousness. This is speaking of Christ’s righteousness, as opposed to their sin. The righteousness of Jesus is proven because the Father receives Christ into His presence. Third, the Holy Spirit will convict the world of judgment, “because the ruler of this world is judged.” There will come a time when all will know that Christ defeated Satan. Hebrews 2:14 says that Christ became a man “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil…” And in Colossians 2:15 we’re told that Christ triumphed over Satan and his hosts. But praise be to God that the Spirit of Christ dwells in you. In Him your sins are forgiven, you are clothed in Jesus’ perfect righteousness, and you will stand at the final judgment because Christ took your place. Suggestions for prayer Pray for God’s blessing on your pastor as he preaches to you tomorrow. Pray that the convicting Spirit will soften hard hearts and add many to the church. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 5 - The Holy Spirit is a teacher

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” - John 14:26 Scripture reading: John 14:25-31 As Jesus comforts His disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit, He not only says that the Spirit will dwell in them, but also tells them what the Spirit will do. Some of Jesus’ description of the Spirit’s work is particular to the disciples. Knowing that His disciples would become the apostles of the early church, Jesus tells them that the Holy Spirit will “bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Some would later write letters that would become canonized in Scripture. Some would travel to distant lands to preach the Gospel. All would be leaders and teachers. What a gift, what a blessing that the Holy Spirit would remind them of Jesus’ words and teaching. Jesus also said that the Holy Spirit “will teach you all things.” That is, He will teach the disciples all they would need to know to fulfill their apostolic mission. He will later say, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…” (John 16:13). And this is also true for you and me. In Romans 8, Paul says that it is impossible for those who are of the flesh (not of the Spirit) to submit to God or please Him. It is only by the Holy Spirit that we can know and discern spiritual things. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would have a receptive heart and mind for the Holy Spirit to teach. Pray that the Holy Spirit will bless your pastor and his preaching. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 4 - Who is the Holy Spirit?

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

Daily devotional

March 30 - Cross purposes: Victory!

“Now is the judgment of this world; now will the rule of this world be cast out.” - John 12:31  Scripture reading: John 12:20-36 We don’t usually associate the cross with victory. That’s the resurrection. That is not how our Lord Jesus sees things. In John 12:27-28, Jesus contemplates the cross and it leaves Him unsettled. His soul is troubled. Yet, He recommits Himself to glorify His Father and tells us that the cross is His victory. Jesus says that ‘now’ is the judgement of this world (v.31), not in terms of condemnation, but in terms of who will be the ruler of the world. After Adam and Eve sinned, Satan was assigned as the god of this age, the ruler of the world. The cross is a time of crisis. Who will be the ruler of the world? Will Satan continue to lead this world to its devastating end, or will the world come under new leadership with a new direction toward restoration. Jesus is in no doubt as to the outcome of the cross crisis. ‘Now’, after years of destructive rule, is the time of judgement. ‘Now’, also, is the time when the ruler of this world will be cast out (v.31). Satan will be defeated. Rule will be wrenched from him. Christ will triumph. The cross is His throne; there He is lifted up. By dealing with human sin, Christ has ‘destroyed the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil’ (Hebrews 2:14). It doesn’t always look like Christ has won the victory. However, if you are Christian, if you have been drawn to Jesus Christ, you are a proof. And you are not alone. Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord for Christ’s victory. Ask that His triumph might be seen more and more throughout the world. Pray for His ambassadors as they proclaim His triumph tomorrow. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 29 - Cross purposes: Reconciliation

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” - Romans 5:10  Scripture reading: Romans 5:1-11 Hostility surrounds us, mars relationships, nation to nation, husband to wife, brother to brother. There is a crying need for reconciliation, for restoration to harmony. This is what the cross achieved between God and His people. The need for reconciliation arose early in human history. In Eden, Adam and Eve had friendship with God. Then sin happened. Harmony was destroyed. Humans became hostile towards God (Romans 8:7) and God was hostile towards humans. We became His enemies (Romans 5:10). Through the death of His Son, we are reconciled. Since it is sin that alienates from God, sin must be dealt with to achieve reconciliation. This is what Christ has done. While remaining sinless, He has taken our sins upon Himself. God was then against Him on the cross and punished Christ for our sins. Having made satisfaction to the justice of God, God removes His hostility against us. You can see this drama played out on the cross. God loved His Son, but could not overlook sin. It required alienation, banishment from His presence. That was the three hours of darkness climaxing in the cry, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ And when the punishment has been meted out and justice satisfied, our Lord was received afresh into fellowship with God marked by His cry, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ There was an armistice between a holy God and His sin-bearing Son. Let us be sure not to receive the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the willingness of the Son to be the instrument of reconciliation. Ask that we might prize the fellowship we have with the holy God. Pray that God would give us grace to pursue reconciliation with others. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 28 - Cross purposes: Propitiation

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:9  Scripture reading: Hebrews 2:10-18 Propitiation is a big word not commonly used. It is an important biblical word that reveals what the Lord Jesus has done. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus identified with us by on taking flesh and blood, by being made like His brothers in every respect in order ‘to make propitiation for the sins of the people’ (Hebrews 2:17). To understand propitiation, you have to think of the wrath of God. God’s wrath is not an uncontrolled fury that escapes Him. It is a deliberate response to anyone that crosses Him or competes with Him in His devotion to His own glory. As sinners, we cross Him all the time. We rob Him of His glory and pursue our own. God’s response is to punish us in His wrath. Our Lord Jesus became man to make propitiation. That is, Jesus is the One Who turns away the wrath of God from His people. He places Himself between God’s wrath and us and absorbs it all. In bearing responsibility for our sin, He becomes liable to God’s wrath. His heart wrenching cry, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ is proof that He experienced God’s wrath on the cross. Because our Lord bears the wrath our sins deserve, God is pacified, He is appeased, His anger is turned away. God’s wrath (Isaiah 51:17; Psalm 75:8) was the cup Jesus so dreaded. Thank God that Jesus drank that cup so that we might drink the cup of salvation (Psalm 116:13). Suggestions for prayer Praise God for the death of the Lord Jesus which covers sin and turns away God’s wrath. Pray that we, by the Holy Spirit, would be careful to please God by our thoughts, words, and actions. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 27 - Cross purposes: Sacrifice

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

Daily devotional

March 22 - Christ’s ascension 

“And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.” - Luke 24:50-51  Scripture reading: Acts 1:1-11 Many churches that give attention to the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, hardly give a nod to His ascension into heaven. Yet, the Bible marks Christ’s ascension. It is His exaltation. Although all authority had been given to Him at His resurrection (Matthew 28:18), the ascension marks Christ’s coronation. As Peter preached, ‘Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified’ (Acts 2:36). Christ went into heaven to reign as King of kings and the Lord of lords. His ascension also reminds us that the work of our Lord Jesus is not finished. At the right hand of the Father He orchestrates the great mission enterprise. The Lord Jesus pointed out Judas’s successor (Acts 1;24-25), poured out the Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2:33), adds to the Church (Acts 2:47), arrested Paul (Acts 9:1-9), directed Peter into the Gentile mission (Acts 10:9-16) and blessed the preaching of His Word (Acts 11:21). He rules to build His Church. From the right hand of the Majesty, He continues to serve His Church by interceding for them. In heaven, He prays for His people and supports them in their Christian journey. Luke tells us that when Jesus was ascending, His hands were lifted in blessing. What a powerful reminder that He is exalted as head over all things to the church (Ephesians 1:22). He rules for our blessing. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that our Lord Jesus is, even now, at the Father’s right hand and that He is in a position of majesty and power for the blessing of His Church. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 21 - Christ our King (II) 

“For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; he will save us.”- Isaiah 33:22  Scripture reading: Exodus 20:1-17 When God delivered His people out of Egypt, He gathered them around Mount Sinai and gave them His law as their rule of life. Basically He was saying, ‘I am your king and I have delivered you from the tyranny of your enemies. This is how you should live as My subjects.’ Christ our king has delivered us from the tyranny of Satan by conquering death on the cross. As the One to Whom all authority has been given, we are to observe all that He has commanded (Matthew 28:20). As our King, we owe Him our allegiance. Our allegiance to King Jesus is demonstrated in our glad submission to His authority. We are His subjects. His word is our law. As He Himself said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46). The apostles understood this well. They happily identified themselves as servants of Christ Jesus (Romans 1:1, James 1:1, 2 Peter 1:1, Jude 1:1). They no longer had an independent existence. If they lived, they lived to the Lord; if they died, they died to the Lord (Romans 14:8). They went where He sent them. They made it their aim to please Him and recognized that they were to live for Him Who for their sake died and was raised (2 Corinthians 5:9, 15). We do well to reflect on how faithfully we are subjects of such a great and gracious King. Suggestions for [rayer Pray that God would forgive us for the times we have put ourselves on the throne of our lives. Ask for a humble spirit which gladly submits to King Jesus. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 20 - Christ our King (I) 

“They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” - Revelation 17:14  Scripture reading: Luke 1:26-38 When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a son, he drew attention to the fact that the Lord God would give her son the throne of His father David, that He would reign over the house of Jacob forever, and that His kingdom would never end (Luke 1:32-33). Christ has come into the world to be our king. This was already foretold in the Old Testament. David was promised in 2 Samuel 7 that he would always have a son to sit upon his throne. Jesus is that Son of David. As king, our Lord Jesus is like His father David, a warrior, who defeated the Philistine giant, Goliath, and all the enemies of the Israelites. David secured peace for the people of God, a peace over which Solomon, his son, reigned. Jesus is the warrior Who defeats all His and our enemies, and through Christ we have come to know peace. How does He defeat our enemies? The apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 3 that Christ, by His death on the cross, disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to shame. In the cross, Christ triumphed over them. The resurrection on the third day was proof positive of His victory over sin and death and Satan. That is why our Lord Jesus told His disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). He is the Mighty God upon Whose shoulders is the government of the universe (Isaiah 9:6). All hail King Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that we are more than conquerors through our Lord Jesus Christ. Pray that Christ’s victory would be seen more and more throughout the world as nations bow down and worship Him. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 19 - Christ our Priest (III) 

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

Daily devotional

March 14 - Christ our prophet (I)

“and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”” - Matthew 17:5 Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 18:15-22 Jesus is, as Peter confessed, the Christ of God (Luke 9:20). Christ means anointed and He fulfills the three Old Testament offices of prophet, priest, and king that required being anointed with oil upon entering the office. Moses was the great Old Testament prophet of God. He spoke to the people of God on God’s behalf because they were terrified of the voice of the Lord. Moses was God’s spokesman. God said He would put His words in Moses’s mouth and Moses would speak them to the people. To reject the voice of Moses was to reject the voice of God. God promised that one day He would raise up for His people a prophet like Moses. He fulfilled the promise in Jesus, the Anointed. Jesus did miracles to authenticate His preaching just as Moses was able to do powerful signs to verify the legitimacy of his ministry (Exodus 4:1-9, 28-31). In fact, when Jesus raised the widow of Nain’s son the people exclaimed, “A great prophet has arisen amongst us!” (Luke 7:16). As the Prophet of God, Jesus speaks words of eternal life (John 6:68). As the Word of God Himself, He came to make God known (John 1:18). As our Lord Jesus stood on the Mount of Transfiguration with two great Old Testament prophets, Moses and Elijah, the voice of the Father sounded from heaven commanding us to listen to the Lord Jesus. If we do not honour the Son, we do not honour the Father who sent Him (John 5:23). Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to give us hearing ears and a submissive heart so that we may honour the Father by honouring the Lord Jesus, our Prophet. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 13 - Christ’s miracles 

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know–” - Acts 2:22  Scripture reading: Mark 1:29-39 Jesus did a lot of miracles. And yet, in Mark 1:38, He considers preaching as the reason He came. What place do His miracles play in His ministry? First, as Peter mentions in his Pentecost sermon, God did works, wonders and signs through Jesus to commend Him publicly. God was putting His seal of approval on Jesus’s ministry. Second, miracles are illustrations of Jesus’s preaching. He had come, Mark 1:14-15 tells us, to proclaim the gospel and kingdom of God. What was the good news of God and His kingdom? Certainly this: the tyranny of sin was over. Jesus Christ had come to set things right. By His death on the cross Jesus would reverse the curse and make all things new. A new day had dawned in the history of God’s dealings with His creation. Well, what does that look like? What does the reverse of the curse mean? Jesus illustrates this by His miracles. Diseases and demonic oppression are a result of sin. When Jesus heals sickness and drives out demons, He pushes back against the kingdom of darkness. These miracles are glimpses of His redemptive work. But they are always temporary. For example, Lazarus died again. But miracles also look forward. Christ’s first coming is the dawning of the kingdom. The full arrival of His kingdom is in the future. Then sin and its effects will be eradicated and all things made new. He preached this in His sermons and illustrated it by His miracles. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that we can look forward to the day when all things will become new and ask Him to hasten that day. Pray that the gospel of the kingdom would be heralded among the nations so that people would place their trust in Jesus. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 12 - Christ’s compassion 

“. . . a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” - Matthew 12:20  Scripture reading: Mark 6:7-34 Our passage today recounts the mission of the twelve apostles and the beheading of our Lord’s forerunner, John the Baptizer. Burdened by the death of John and knowing His disciples were wearied by the constant coming and going of the people, Jesus invites His disciples to come with Him to a desolate place for some rest. The people saw them go and reached the place of repose before them. Jesus, seeing the crowds, had compassion on them and began to teach them many things. Here we see the compassionate heart of the Lord. He saw the crowds were bereft of spiritual care and, although He was weary and hungry, He ministered to them. He pities His people left in such difficult conditions because of human sin. In His sympathetic ministry to them He comes with gentleness. He knows our frailty, understands human weakness, and by grace, treats us with a tenderness that doesn’t break us in our fragility and quench what spiritual life we have. Our need draws His attention to us. Mark tells us that Jesus’s compassion led Him to teach them many things. Certainly, His teaching must have been about Himself as He invited labouring and heavy-laden people to come to Him for rest for their souls (Matthew 11:28-29). And if His compassion is displayed in His teaching the shepherd-less crowds, what does His death as the Lamb of God demonstrate? Surely, immeasurable compassion! Happy are those who are loved by this Saviour! Suggestions for prayer Cast all your burdens upon the Lord knowing that you have a sympathetic High Priest as God’s right hand. Thank the Lord Jesus for His kind compassion in ministering to our spiritual needs. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

 March 11- Christ’s temptations 

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

Daily devotional

March 6 - The word became flesh (II) 

“Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh,..” - 1 Timothy 3:16  Scripture reading: John 1:14-18 The Word became flesh. What profound truth these words contain. God became Man. The second person of the Trinity took to Himself a human nature while remaining divine. Becoming flesh means that Jesus had a true body. He was born as most babies are and developed as boys and girls do. He was hungry and thirsty. He sweated and grew tired. He bled. He slept. He could only be in one place at a time. And He died. Becoming flesh also means that Jesus took a true soul. He had a human psychology. He had a human mind. He learned as we do, growing in wisdom just as He grew in physical stature. In His humanity our Lord did not know everything. He had human emotions. He experienced joy and sorrow, anger and pleasure. He also had a human will with ordinary desires, longings and preferences. He didn’t desire ridicule and mockery and being forsaken by God. He was truly human, though He was sinless. It is important for us to grapple with these truths so that the incarnation might leave us astonished. He Who was eternal stepped into time. The all-knowing embraced ignorance. The everywhere present was confined first, to a human womb, and then, to specific places. The immortal became mortal. And He experienced these limitations while remaining eternal, all-knowing, everywhere present, and immortal. No wonder Charles Wesley has us sing: ‘Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail th’incarnate Deity, pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.’ Suggestions for prayer Praise God that, in His wisdom, He saved us by the man Christ Jesus. Pray that we would be encouraged that our Lord Jesus became like us, sin excepted. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 5 - The word became flesh (1) 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” - John 1:1  Scripture reading: John 1:1-13 We have already noted that Jesus had a pre-existence. He was from ancient days. In our passage today John refers to the Word. It is only in John 1:17 that we learn that this Word is the Lord Jesus. What does John say about Him? John tells us that Jesus is eternal. In the beginning was the Word. Before the beginning of the world and human history the Word was. Jesus existed in eternity past. John tells us that Jesus was with God. Jesus is not another face of the God of the Old Testament, perhaps a kinder and gentler face. John distinguishes between the Father and the Son. Jesus was with the Father while distinct from Him. John tells us that Jesus was God. You have probably encountered Jehovah Witnesses who say that this should be translated as ‘the Word was a god’ because in the Greek there is no article ‘the’ before the word ‘God’. Besides the fact that Greek grammar doesn’t require it, if John had put the article ‘the’ before the word ‘God’ so that it read, ‘and the Word was the God’, you would have other problems. It would exclude the Father and the Spirit from being God. To say that Jesus is a god militates against the biblical truth that there is only one God. John wrote it precisely correctly: Jesus was God. Finally, John tells us that Jesus is the Creator of all things. Nothing was made without Him, not even the eternal Son Himself. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you understand the glory of the Lord Jesus, that He is very God of very God, and keep you from errors about our Lord Jesus. Since the Lord Jesus is God, worship Him in prayer. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 4 - Christ and creation 

“all things were created through him and for him.” - Colossians 1:16 Scripture reading: Colossians 1:15-20 It is a wonderful truth that the Lord Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). It is unthinkable to imagine that He had not come. But in our passage today, the Apostle reminds us of another truth, a truth that is before the one mentioned above. That truth is that the world came into existence for Christ. Paul is talking about how the Lord Jesus is the image of the invisible God. This Jesus is the One Who created all things. All things were created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16). Jesus is the reason that God called the world into existence. Jesus does not, in the first place, exist for us. We exist for Him. We are not the centre of the universe; He is. God’s great desire is that His Son would be preeminent in everything (Colossians 1:18). Everything has been designed so that the Lord Jesus Christ, the One in Whom all the fullness of God dwells, would be worshipped. Creation is a showcase for the glory of Christ, to display His multifaceted perfections. This has important implications for our lives. Our lives should reflect Christ’s glory. We do that when we trust in Him as our Saviour, showcasing His glory. We do that when we imitate Him, displaying, in our lives, His holiness and character. We do that when we pray for people around us to glorify Christ and seize the opportunities we have to commend Christ to others. Certainly, He is worth everything as the glorious God-man. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to re-orient our thinking so that we understand that we exist for Christ before He exists for us. Thank God that the all-glorious Lord Jesus did come into the world to save us sinners. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 3 - The worship of Christ

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

Daily devotional

February 27 - God’s grace brings new obedience!

“Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him; and the people feared the presence of the LORD.” - Haggai 1:12 Scripture reading: Haggai 1:1-15 We are deep into the 6th century BC, now. The covenant people are back from the Babylonian captivity. They have received much grace from God and are living the life of freed people again. But they are already forgetting God, particularly in terms of His House. They have their own modern dwellings and all the comforts of home, but the temple of God remains an unfinished building project. God has begun to discipline His selfish children and Haggai preached repentance. The result is a slow return to obedience and a renewed awe of God. The puritan Jeremiah Burroughs wrote a book titled “Gospel Fear”, and we can rightly plead that He would cause us to fear Him! God applied to His covenant people of Haggai’s day three actions: discipline, His prophet’s Words, and an inner “stirring” of His Spirit in the leaders (1:14). These are each acts of the grace of God designed to issue forth in new obedience. And that’s what happened! And in these same ways God constantly tends to His flock. We need discipline – it is grace; we need His Word – it is grace; and we need His Spirit to stir up our leaders, and the rest of us! God is incredibly kind to work in us, bringing us back to obedience. Do you regularly ask God to bring you back to obedience to Him? Suggestions for prayer Pray to the Lord asking that He would bring you back to a joyful obedience of all He has said. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 26 - God’s grace for righteousness in an unrighteousness age

“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.” - Daniel 6:10  Scripture reading: Daniel 6:1-30 Daniel was a preview of and lived out of the grace from the Lord Jesus Christ. Daniel’s righteousness and ‘rightness’ was his because he “…believed in his God” which is to say – because he was in Jesus Christ. Being an Old Testament servant of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Daniel put all others around him lower than God. God had first place in Daniel’s heart and actions. It should not surprise us to see Daniel praying three times a day after wicked men had gotten an evil law passed, making such praying illegal. There are times when wicked men will force faithful Christians to disobey governments. As often as human rulers demand that we disobey God, we will be found faithfully obeying God, no matter the earthly trouble our obedience brings to us. This sustaining grace of God is powerfully needed in our day, along with a sizeable dose of wisdom. Have rulers demanded that we disobey God? How do we reason from the general principle to the specific instance? This is very important! However, when we are convinced that human laws are requiring that we violate God’s law, we have only one option – stand on God’s Word and accept the consequences of our obedience. “…those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Samuel 2:30). Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for wisdom and confidence that you rightly obey God rather than ungodly laws. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 24 - The grace of God in purification

“He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem.” - 2 Chronicles 34:5  Scripture reading: 2 Chronicles 34:1-7 There is nothing wrong with having two positive and uplifting devotionals in a row! We need the encouragement which God graciously provides us in His Word. But Josiah burned priests’ bones on an altar and that’s supposed to encourage us? Oh Yes!! To understand why this act should encourage us, we need to look back at 1 Kings 13:1,2. After Solomon’s death, the kingdom split into northern and southern kingdoms, Israel and Judah. In the north, Jeroboam decided to make worship convenient and set up altars in Bethel and Dan. These altars were manned by “priests” not from Levi, who allowed for false worship. Once those priests died, their bones were preserved. So Josiah, at age 20, began to purge idolatry from the lives of God’s covenant people. That purification by purging included burning the bones of those false priests who conducted unlawful worship beginning in the days of Jeroboam. God employed the grace of scorching heat to cleanse His people! How has God worked to cleanse you of your sins? We rejoice to the highest heavens that He sent His Son to cleanse us of all our sins, making the impure (us) pure in Him! God still uses fire to cleanse us. This is why Paul tells us – 1 Thessalonians 5:19 – “Do not quench the Spirit.” Don’t put out His purifying fire by sins.  So, by grace, God still purifies us. Praise the Lord! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the purifying fires of His grace. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 25 - The grace of God’s reviving work

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

Daily devotional

February 19 - The grace of knowing God hears our prayers

“And the LORD said to him: “I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me.”” - I Kings 9:3  Scripture reading: 1 Kings 8:22 – 9:9 Prayer is hard. Most Christians struggle with praying faithfully in one way or another. Donald Whitney is a recent author to label prayer a “Christian Discipline.” Many authors over the years have said similar things about prayer. Maybe one reason prayer is such a challenge for us is a nagging doubt that God hears our prayers. We understand that God hears prayers, but we also need to firmly believe that He hears our prayers. We can at least say from 1 Kings 9 that God heard Solomon’s prayer. But why did God listen to Solomon pray? Included in all the answers to this question is a basic and sweet answer – grace. God listened to the prayers of Solomon ‘by grace alone!’ Wait, I thought Solomon was incredibly wise, wealthy and wondrous in his beauty (Matthew 6:29). Yes, but he was also a womanizer and idolater (1 Kings 11:1-13). Solomon was a great king and a terrible sinner. We are godly people who also fight and lose battles with the world, the flesh and the devil (Canons of Dort 5.4). The most basic reason God listens to and answers the prayers of His sinful, covenant people is His grace. What does that mean for us? It means we should be convinced that God is listening to our prayers! His grace is full and free for us through Christ and He has decided to hear us when we pray. So…pray! Suggestions for prayer Believe God and pray! Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 18 - The grace of being allowed to worship a holy God 

“Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due His Name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” - Psalm 29:1, 2 Scripture reading: Psalm 29:1-11 It could be fairly said of King David that he was the ‘worship king.’ That is, David was consumed with the worship of our holy God. Several significant psalms come from David’s heart (by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) which seek to exalt God. David loved to meditate on and engage in the worship of Almighty God. Very often, however, David was unable to enter in and worship God. Yet, he understood that God was the King over the whole creation and was able to be worshiped where one was. We are incredibly blessed. We get to enter in and worship God in a house of worship somewhere. Although some members are unable to come to church for a variety of reasons, most of us can freely and easily enter the church building to “…give unto the LORD the glory due His Name.” Today is the day we make use of that blessing. David does here by inspiration and directs us how we shall “Give the LORD the glory due His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” While it is true that we should worship God in every circumstance of life continually, it is a special blessing of God’s grace to worship Him with His people in His house. Let’s make full use of the blessing of attending church today. Suggestions for prayer Praise God in prayer that we are allowed to gather and worship our God together with His people. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 17 - The grace of giving all to God 

“But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the LORD and remain there forever.”” - 1 Samuel 1:22 Scripture reading: 1 Samuel 1:1-28 This is one of those passages of Scripture which stuns us – especially if we have small children at home. Here is a mother saying she will give her only son to God, forever! In those days that meant bringing him to the High Priest and leaving him there. How could a mother do that?! Perhaps we already know that we must do that – in a sense – with each of our children. God the Father gave up His own Son for us. Giving sacrificially is the way of the Christian (Romans 12:1, 2), and it is the way we should raise our children. Furthermore, we “give our children to God” in baptism, church attendance, catechism attendance, and so on. In one way or another, we are constantly giving them up to God. Since that is true of parents of children, so it should be about the lesser things of life, like money, time, energy and gifts, etc. What would we withhold from Him? Hannah did actually give up Samuel. And look how the Lord blessed that sacrifice! Do we fail to give as we should because we forgot the way God is able to bless our gifts? Tomorrow, we can worship Him sacrificially in many ways. Let’s decide today that we are going to serve the Lord with open hands, ready to give all to Him. Suggestions for Prayer Ask the Lord to accept your sacrificial giving as an expression of thanks for all He has given you. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 16 - The grace of dark providence 

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

Daily devotional

February 11 - Grace for service in the worship of God

“After that the Levites went in to do their work in the tabernacle of meeting before Aaron and his sons; as the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so they did to them.” - Numbers 8:22 Scripture reading: Numbers 8:5-26 On this marvellous Lord’s day, we have the opportunity to look back to the shadowy time of the Old Testament and notice how brilliantly God’s grace did shine. Aaron was tasked with putting the Levites to work in the tabernacle as helpers to the priests. God was calling up those He decided were necessary for the worship of Himself offered in the Tabernacle. These Levites would be living, breathing examples of God’s grace. His grace is fundamentally required if His people are to rightly worship God. We see many helpers in our worship of God today. From the “audio/visual” workers to the accompanists to the janitors and the greeters, the bulletin secretary and many others. The list is long of those who participate by works of service. We can only make rough comparisons between old and new covenant worship. Levites served as helpers to Priests then and today, those who give assistance toward corporate worship help the minister under the elders. It’s a delight to see God’s people working together in tasks that make corporate worship possible, more convenient, more beneficial and more beautiful. For each task and every hour spent in those duties, God grants the needed strength, wisdom and time. Take a moment today before or following a worship service to notice how everything is clean, orderly, well organized, aesthetically pleasing and purposefully designed to make worship a rich benefit to us. Suggestions for prayer Look around and thank the Lord in prayer for His kind grace. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 10 - A “wall” of grace

“You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves that you do not go to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.’” - Exodus 19:12 Scripture reading: Exodus 19:1-25 Moses was a man uniquely used by God. The privilege, power and prestige which he had is unparalleled among humans and eclipsed only by the Lord Jesus Christ. Through Moses, God spoke and directed His own people, Israel. And in our text for today, God used Moses to erect a “wall” for safety. The ones kept safe by the wall were God’s people. What the wall kept them safe from was God! Thus, we can call this a wall of grace. We are reminded by this that God uses prohibitions and restrictions to keep us safe. Moses, God’s man of laws, set down this boundary – a “law” – so that the people would remain alive rather than being killed. If the people were to “…break through” the result would be death. Like a railing at the rim of the Grand Canyon, this boundary marker set up by Moses was a gracious restriction. We should praise God for His Word, “No!” His loving Word keeps us safe, especially ‘no.’ Truly God reveals two significant things in this text. First, His love. He loves His people enough to tell us ‘no.’ Second is His holiness. When His holiness is transgressed, He will ‘break out’ in judgment against the transgressor. May our hearts overflow with thanks for God’s ‘no!’ Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to make you willing to hear His Word ‘No’ and obey the Divine restrictions. Ask God to show you how helpful His wall of grace is. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com...

Daily devotional

February 9 - Grace as relief from struggles

“Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: “For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house.” And the name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”” - Genesis 41:51, 52  Scripture reading: Genesis 41:37-57 We are quite familiar with Joseph. Some of the sweetest pictures of God’s grace in the Old Testament are viewed in his life. Here in chapter 41 Joseph, now fully employed by Pharaoh and as the second in command in Egypt, names his two sons, born from Asenath. Notice two things about the names he gives them. First, the names Manasseh and Ephraim are Hebrew names, not Egyptian. This ascertains that they belong to the God of the Hebrews, even though born in Egypt to an Egyptian mother. But second, the meaning of the two names are quite telling. Manasseh – “God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house”, and Ephraim – “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction”, are also statements of faith. Read these powerful statements – God has brought me through! God has brought me to peace after a great storm! Christians have every reason to believe that God will bring us through. We know that the almighty, merciful God can take a serious and devastating circumstance and bring good to us and glory to Himself from it. Sometimes, God’s grace provides relief from our struggle! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to show you how He has brought you through in days past. Ask Him to give you assurance of His grace for the days that are ahead. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

 February 8 - Grace in time of sinful competition

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

Daily devotional

February 3 - The grace of discipline

“And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” - Genesis 11:4  Scripture reading: Genesis 11:1-9 O the pride of the human race! What wicked pride we easily discover camped out in our own hearts! Included in the Bible are many examples of God using discipline in a way of grace. Here in Genesis 11, ‘the whole earth’ decided to ‘make a name for’ themselves. Note that well – “they”, humans, were convinced that they could do what it would take to make a name for themselves. Satan’s lie (Genesis 3:5) has come to flower in plans to build a tower. God will respond with discipline. Does the Lord God allow humans to build to heaven? By no means. Just like He will confuse the efforts and doctrines of every false, works-based religion He confuses man’s language here. God takes away the most basic, required tool of the building project – the ability to communicate. Humanity is divided and cast far and wide across the globe. God’s discipline kept humans from doing the great harm their pride would have earned. Jump ahead with me to Acts 2. The ascended Lord Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit as He promised (John 16:7), and the work He began in Jerusalem was again gathering together the nations as one. They all heard the same ‘wonders of God’ (Acts 2:11) as if no confusion existed. What grace God worked. Today, humans everywhere can hear the good news proclaimed. Our God is perfectly wise. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to make you confident about His wise use of the grace of discipline. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 2 - A colourful sign of given grace 

“And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: “I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.”” - Genesis 9:12, 13 Scripture Reading: Genesis 9:1-29 It’s obvious to anyone with eyes which see that humans corrupted one of the most obvious signs of God’s grace – the rainbow. We live in a fallen world and know that many will ‘shake their fist at God.’ God still sees the promises He made to Noah whenever the rainbow adds its colours to the sky. For all who read the Bible and take in His Words, the rainbow remains a beautiful reminder of given grace. The sin of Adam and Eve spread like a plague. “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God decided He would cleanse the earth by a flood which would cover the globe. In grace, God commanded Noah to build an ark. God would preserve life inside that ark. After Noah’s family and animal representatives were loaded into the ark, God sent water from above and below and the world was washed by water. Noah and his family were preserved from destruction by the grace of God. From that time until now, every time the rainbow shimmers in the sky, God is ‘reminded’ of His covenant of grace. In chapter 17 of the Second Helvetic Confession, Henrich Bullinger correctly understood the Ark as a type of Christ. God’s grace preserved us in Christ – hallelujah! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to remind you that the rainbow is a sign of His grace!  Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 1 - Introduction to grace 

The devotional for February will be a journey through the Old Testament in search of grace. What do you think? Will we find an ample supply? How often and how explicitly does God reveal His grace toward His erring covenant community in the Old Covenant? Do we find grace in Genesis? How about in Numbers and Judges and 2nd Kings? Yes, of course. We do say that, don’t we – “yes, of course”? But there is a lot of joy to be experienced and knowledge to be gathered up in the search! Louis Berkhof has an insightful explanation of the various ways the Scriptures employ the word or concept of grace. He writes (among other things) that grace in the Old Testament “…most generally means favour or good-will…This means that grace is not an abstract quality, but is an active, working principle manifesting itself in beneficent acts…The fundamental idea is, that the blessings graciously bestowed are freely given, and not in consideration of any claim or merit.” This way of understanding grace will flower and bloom before our eyes in this devotional, but we will also see it transition into the grace of salvation as found in the covenant of grace in Jesus Christ. In other words, it’s not easy to overstate the rich value of the grace of God in Christ to sinners as seen in the Old Testament. Twenty-nine snapshots of the grace of God await you, rushing out of the good old breezes of the Old Testament. Pray that our hearts may be filled to overflowing as we learn how rich is the grace of God in Christ to His covenant people both then and now!  Clothed by the grace of God “Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” - Genesis 3:21 Scripture reading: Genesis 3:1-24 We begin our month of exploring the grace of God with those well-known parents of ours, Adam and Eve. This is an exceptionally important place to start. It helps us on this first day of the month to have our grasp of the human condition and God’s answer set squarely before us. You know this history, don’t you? Adam and Eve, placed in the garden of God’s goodness, had everything going for them. The world was perfect, their relationship with God intimate and joyful and their union with each other sweet and sin-free. Imagine a marriage like that! Imagine a world like that. But. Then. Sin. How? The long and short of it is they did not believe God. When the tempter told them he had a better plan than what God had said, they listened to the liar. Terror and violence and everything ugly and gross was brought into the world all at once. Very soon, jealousy and murder would follow. God provides the answer. The answer of grace was costly. Death. Blood was spilled so that Adam and Eve could be covered. This death-for-covering was real in that moment, but also a preview of what Jesus Christ would do for all His people. Grace. It is vital that we see how costly His grace is. By month’s end, we should know that truth better. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord this month to teach you how much His grace for you cost. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 31 - Iniquity forgiven

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

Daily devotional

January 26 - Insolent people of obscure speech

‘You will see no more the insolent people, the people of an obscure speech that you cannot comprehend, stammering in a tongue that you cannot understand.” - Isaiah 33:19  Scripture reading: Mark 15:16-20 The present verse strengthens what we read in yesterday's passage about the removal of the Assyrian officials. Now we are told that the Assyrian people themselves will also be gone. Part of the oppression against the Jews was the “obscure speech” of the Assyrians—they could not understand their language, could not understand the commands and instructions they were given and were unable to have any meaningful communication with their oppressors. You might not know how that feels. But you do understand that universal shame, embarrassment and hurt when a group points their fingers at you while laughing hysterically, even if you cannot understand their language. God's deliverance of Judah will include the silencing of these insolent people of obscure speech. He will completely remove them. Have you ever considered the suffering Christ endured in the mocking words of the people and their leaders? They hurled words of abuse at Christ. They spoke Christ's own Word against Him! This was part of Christ bearing our curse; it was also that God might judge the world for its unrighteousness. While God the Father did not silence the mocking tongues in Christ's life, He will ultimately turn those mocking tongues to praise Christ the Suffering Servant: “At the Name of Jesus every knee should bow...and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord...” (Philippians 2.10-11). Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God that He speaks to us through His Son and His Word in language we can understand. Give praise to Jesus for enduring hateful mockery for your salvation. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 25 - Making all things new

“Your heart will muse on the terror: "Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed the tribute? Where is he who counted the towers?"” - Isaiah 33:18  Scripture reading: Revelation 21:1-8 In a series of three questions, Isaiah makes an even sharper contrast between Assyria's tyranny and the deliverance of the people. Judah will recall the time of their affliction with a kind of relish, delighting in their new freedom from the oppressor's heel. Assyria had dominated every part of life, but no more! “Where is he who counted?” This representative of the enemy counted, presumably, the tribute (taxes) the people brought. He was a constant reminder of the enemy's daily presence. “Where is he who weighed the tribute?” This was the one who weighed the gold or silver for the tribute. Such “weighers” were probably corrupt, skimming to pad their own pockets, testifying to the inherent corruption. “Where is he who counted the towers?” This man would have made measurements with respect to Judah's forces and fortresses. Assyria would have limited their armaments, for obvious reasons. But notice the certainty of the opening line of this verse: there will barely be the memory of it left, and if that, only a satirical joke. There will not be anything left of Assyria's oppression. This is the beginning of restoration. Romans 6:6 says: “We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” Christ will make all things new. It is guaranteed by His resurrection and ascension. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to the Lord for Christ's ascension to God's right hand, for His intercession for us, and for the hope we have for the new heavens and the new earth because Christ is there. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 24 - As far as the eye can see

“They will see a land that stretches afar.” - Isaiah 33:17b  Scripture reading: Matthew 13:31-33 Even though wickedness spreads, seemingly so easily, in the hearts of people and throughout the nations, we look to our King with a firm hope. His Kingdom might look small and weak to the world, even as the world looked on Jesus with contempt instead of worship (see Isaiah 53:2); but Christ's power and greatness are not of this world. Judah would see a return to the promised land, as a foretaste of the eternal fulfillment of this promise. And this promise here lies in contrast to the desolation that the land is experiencing (see v. 9). When the land was under siege by the Assyrians, it was confined, narrow and desolate. When God restored His people to the promised land, the land stretched out far again and it was fruitful again. We may look forward to the fulfillment of these promises. But we do not merely look to a future “then” without considering the increase of Christ's Kingdom today. A Kingdom needs people. Christ is ruling in hearts already as King. He is also executing His rule through all His servants, even kings, presidents, prime ministers, and nations. Let us rejoice that we are ruled by Christ's Word and Spirit, when His church is strong and growing, and when the devil's work and every force that revolts against Christ is destroyed. Suggestions for prayer Pray that Christ may rule you by His Word and Spirit, keep His church strong and growing. And that the devil and every force against Christ would be destroyed until Christ is all in all in His Kingdom. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 23 - The King in his beauty

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

Daily devotional

January 18 - Acknowledge God’s might

“Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge My might.” - Isaiah 33:13 Scripture reading: Psalm 71:1-24 The Lord now addresses those “who are far off” (the nations), and those “who are near” (Judah), so that there is a total summons to the whole world. The Psalms often include a call to the nations and all the earth to praise the Lord and acknowledge His wondrous works (see Psalms 47:1; 96:3; 98:4, for example). God commands here that all people might hear about His mighty work of salvation and that those who are close (that is, in covenant with Him) should understand its significance. This comes forward more clearly in the New Testament with Jesus' command to “make disciples of the nations” (Matthew 28:18-20), and for His apostles to be His “witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). But the message of the gospel came to Jews first and then to Greeks. John summarizes his gospel's purpose in 20:31: “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in His Name.” God's work of salvation in Christ continues, and those who are far off must hear, and those who are near must acknowledge and understand. In your prayers, do you openly acknowledge the glory of God's saving work in Christ? Are you thankful for Christ? How are you bearing witness to Christ to people around you? How are you “proclaiming God's might to the next generation”? (Psalm 71:18). Suggestions for prayer Give praise to the Lord for His mighty works in creation and in salvation. Ask the Lord for opportunities to bear witness of His mighty works to a neighbour. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 17 - God is a consuming fire

“And the peoples will be burned as if burned to lime, like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.” - Isaiah 33:12  Scripture reading: Hebrews 12:18-29 The imagery of Assyria's destruction continues in this verse. Assyria was a fierce nation with strong warriors and was formidable in conquest. Everyone feared them. They had been undefeated to this point. As powerful and ruthless as they were, they would not be strong enough to withstand God's judgment. As hard as limerock may be, it can be burned by fire; today, lime is even used in making glass. Thorns prick and sometimes draw a drop of blood or two, but when dried up, thorns make great kindling and no fire is pricked by a thorn. “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). The wrath of the Lamb of God will sweep upon His enemies suddenly and destructively; they will be consumed. This is nothing short of what all sinners deserve. Sin has eternal consequences and must be punished with eternal judgment. Unrepentant sinners will endure God's consuming fire in hell forever. Praise the Lord that His wrath was poured out on Jesus Christ in our place so that we would not be consumed! Praise the Lord that the Day of Judgment will be the Day of our full redemption because of Christ! Suggestions for prayer Repent of your sins and praise and thank the Lord for Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Praise the Lord for the righteousness of His judgment. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 16 - Conceiving chaff

“You conceive chaff; you give birth to stubble; your breath is a fire that will consume you.” - Isaiah 33:11 Scripture reading: James 4:1-12 When God arises in His power and acts to deliver His people and vanquish the enemy, He will also show how futile the Assyrian effort was. All their power, their threats, their plan of war—it is all chaff, easily lifted by the wind and blown away to where no one knows, and no one cares. They will also produce stubble—like shortened stalks of corn left in the field after the combine has passed over and chopped it down. All their warmongering produces combustible products. Like their war efforts, they themselves will be consumed by fire. What is more—the fire that will kindle the chaff and stubble will be their own “breath.” Their raging and furious anger will consume them. All their cries of war will later turn into the weeping of defeat. Even Sennacherib, for all his boasting,was killed by his own sons upon his return to Nineveh. God breaks human pride with divine power. The strong cannot withstand Him. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; see Proverbs 3:34). Pride, worldly living, human vanity, and careless frivolity only conceive chaff. It is only by faith in Jesus Christ that we can please God (Hebrews 11:6). Suggestions for prayer Pray that you may not be tempted by the world or by pride. Ask the Lord for grace to keep you humble, doing good works that please Him. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 15 – The Lord will arise

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

Daily devotional

January 10 - The fear of the Lord: Christ’s treasure

“And the fear of the Lord will be Zion's treasure.” - Isaiah 33:6b Scripture reading: John 17:1-26 The last part of this verse is better translated “His treasure.” There is an anticipation that the fulfillment of the fear of the Lord will hang on one Man and that this one Man will actually fulfill it in all righteousness. Surely, this one Man is Jesus Christ. He feared the Lord in all things. He was about His Father's business and He esteemed the smiles and frowns of God far more than anything of man. Fearing the Lord was Jesus' treasure, that is, it took precedence over everything else. He came not to do His own will, but the will of God Who sent Him (John 6:38). Fearing God, Jesus not only wanted to do what was right in every situation, but He actually did what was right. Hebrews 4:15b tells us that Jesus is “One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin”; and Hebrews 12:3 exhorts us to look to Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despised the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Throughout His entire life, Jesus obeyed God, loved Him, praised Him and denied Himself. As Psalm 119 sings with delight in God's commandments, statutes, rules and precepts, David, in the Spirit, is merely taking up Jesus' words of praise and delight in His Father's will. Jesus' treasuring the fear of the Lord is His glorious righteousness! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to the Lord for Christ's perfect righteousness and His fear of the Lord. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

 January 9 - Treasuring the fear of the Lord

“The fear of the Lord is Zion's treasure.” - Isaiah 33:6b  Scripture reading: Psalm 128:1-6 “The fear of the Lord” is thematic throughout Scripture. There are three basic parts: First, it is a correct conception of who God is. God is the Creator Who created all things out of nothing (Hebrews 11:1; Genesis 1). He is without sin and does not tolerate sin (Psalm 11:5; Leviticus 10:1-3). He is love (1 John 4:7-12); He is also a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). He is our Redeemer and the Father of Jesus Christ, Who came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Second, the fear of the Lord is a pervasive sense of God's presence. Psalm 139:7 asks rhetorically, “Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence?” This is comforting because we know that God is always with us. It is also convicting: since God is everywhere; He knows every thought and desire and intention of our hearts. He searches our hearts and knows our thoughts! (Psalm 139:23). Third, the fear of the Lord is a constant awareness of our obligation to obey God. We should live each day and each moment for God's glory and seek to do His will, not our own. Fearing the Lord should be our aim in everything we do, no matter how great or how mundane, as those saved through the blood of Jesus Christ. As one minister said it: “The fear of the Lord is esteeming the smiles and frowns of God more than the smiles and frowns of man.” Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord for Who He is, thank Him for His faithful presence in your life and ask for His grace to obey His commandments. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 8 - The stability of your times

“And He will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion's treasure.” - Isaiah 33:6  Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:3-14 Through changing and challenging times, how do you remain certain and stable? If you try to find it in yourself or another person, you will still be on shifting sand. This gets at one thematic question: is your trust in the Lord? Certainty and stability are in God alone. Isaiah gives three aspects of this certainty and stability. The first is “abundance of salvation”: this is the fullness of God's salvation for us—body and soul. In love, we are predestined for salvation and eternal life (Ephesians 1); we are called to faith by the gospel and the Holy Spirit (Romans 10:14-17); we are justified by Jesus Christ, through His righteousness (Romans 3:21-26); we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit (John 16:4b-15; Ephesians 4:17-24); and we will be glorified (1 Peter 1:3-9; Revelation 7:9-17). The second is “wisdom.” Knowledge is factual and objective, while wisdom is practical and applicable. Christ has revealed wisdom in showing you the Father and revealing the Kingdom of God's truth. Wisdom is what is best for us, andChrist always does what is best. The third is “knowledge.” God's Word is filled with true knowledge. His revelation in the Word gives us a basis for faith and also lets us see the world and ourselves for what we are. Such gifts from Christ keep us certain and stable in changing times. Believe on Jesus Christ and seek assurance of His salvation, His wisdom and His knowledge in His Word. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you understand God's Word for assurance of salvation and growth in God's wisdom and knowledge. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 7 - Christ’s justice and righteousness for Zion

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

Daily devotional

January 2 - Prayer against God’s enemies

“When you have ceased to destroy, you will be destroyed; and when you have finished betraying, they will betray you.” - Isaiah 33:1b  Scripture reading: Psalm 58 What are we to do with Old Testament verses and passages like this one, as Christians today? How are we to sing Psalm 58, when Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”? (Matthew 5:44). Isaiah is speaking the Word of God and that Word is a prophetic Word of punishment against God's enemy. We should be comforted by hope and we may take it up in prayer. We may only pray for God's punishment on the enemies He has denounced. We may pray for God's punishment on all those powers and authorities that oppose Him and on all that unrighteously oppose Christ's church. We may not pray for God's punishment on our private enemies for private revenge. You cannot call down God's judgment on someone who has sinned against you, or someone with whom you have a personal conflict. We may pray for God's punishment on His enemies so long as they remain His enemies. We should also pray for their regeneration and that, by Christ's Word and Spirit, they might have faith and repentance. To pray for the salvation of our enemies is an act of love toward them. We may pray for God's punishment on His enemies, not to rejoice in their destruction, but to desire that God's glory isvindicated and the church delivered. Jesus Christ defeated God's enemies and redeemed His people in His death on the cross, His resurrection from the grave, and He will triumph over them finally at His return. Suggestions for prayer Humbly pray through the words of Psalm 58 using the criteria above. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 1 - Introduction to the fear of the Lord 

Isaiah 33 holds rich promises for God's covenant people. The Lord is with them and will defend them. Isaiah 33 appears to refer to the events of 2 Kings 18-19, though the promises God makes are for His people through the ages. Judah was under the threat of Sennacherib, king of Assyria. He even sent the Rabshakeh to taunt Judah and fill them with more fear: “On what do you rest this trust of yours?” We never have a reason to be afraid, even when our enemies are vicious and frightening. Jesus Christ is with us, He will fill the church with His justice and righteousness, and by faith in Jesus Christ we are acceptable before the Lord and spared His judgment. The threat of enemies often reveals our fear. The threat of enemies also often reveals our depth of trust in the salvation and safety of the Lord. Judah would see the defeat of Sennacherib, who was killed by his own two sons while worshiping his false god. He had returned to Nineveh, the capital city, after the angel of the Lord had struck down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers, crippling their army and leaving them powerless. We have great hope in Christ for final victory over all our enemies, even the last enemy, death. Such hope in Christ's salvation is not merely a future reality. Because of Jesus Christ, the grave has no victory, sin no long has dominion over us, and the head of the serpent has been crushed! In His death and resurrection, Christ has already won the victory! He is now at God's right hand as the King of kings and Judge and Lawgiver, righteous and just. We should never be afraid, but live in the fear of the Lord!  The destroyer destroyed “Ah, you destroyer, who yourself have not been destroyed, you traitor, whom none has betrayed! When you have ceased to destroy, you will be destroyed; and when you have finished betraying, they will betray you.” - Isaiah 33:1  Scripture reading: John 19:1-11 Enemies are frightening—often pictured as growling, baring wicked teeth, with evil slits for eyes. Even the devil is depicted in Scripture as a slithering serpent, a devouring lion and a powerful dragon. Our enemies are not “flesh and blood,” but “rulers...authorities...cosmic powers over this present darkness...the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Philippians 6:12). When your enemies—the devil, the world, and your own sinful self—threaten you, to what do you look for help? In what or whom do you trust? We must trust the Lord! As frightening and evil as our enemies may be, they are merely tools in the hands of the Lord. They are limited by His will and His power. When the Lord is finished using them for His ends, He crushes them. Christ Himself faced this before Pilate. “You would have no authority over Me at all unless it had been given you from above.” Pilate was Christ's enemy in God's hands to exact saving justice; in Pilate's unjust condemnation of Jesus, the Lord was punishing Jesus to save us, using an enemy to do it. Some in Judah thought they could find help from Egypt. Others thought they could appeal to Assyria. Neither nation could help. Assyria would eventually be destroyed. Even Babylon would be overtaken. Jesus Christ has defeated the devil, He has overcome the world and paid for sin, so that sin no longer has dominion over His people. The destroyer has been destroyed! Suggestions for prayer Pray for deliverance from our enemies, the punishment of the wicked, and to learn patience, trust, and hope in Christ alone. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 31 - Behold, the lamb of God!

“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”” - John 1:29 Scripture reading: John 1:29-34 The height of John the Baptist’s ministry was his presentation of Jesus as the Saviour to the covenant nation. He had prepared the way for the Messiah by his preaching and baptisms. He had announced that the kingdom of God was at hand. Now John sees Jesus walking towards him. He announces to his disciples and to the crowds: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John calls Jesus a sacrificial lamb. Each day, lambs were sacrificed in the Temple. When John made this statement, how could the Jews also not think of the Passover lambs? One of the critical events in the history of Israel was the Passover in Egypt. Just as the blood of the Passover lambs had delivered the firstborn sons of the Israelites from the avenging angel, so Christ’s blood would cover and protect His people. The Apostle Paul later explicitly identified Jesus as the Passover Lamb: “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Isn’t it something that we can use such possessive language like this? Christ belongs to us. His sacrifice was on our behalf. This identification of the Messiah with a lamb was bound to be confusing to the Jews who had come to think of the Messiah only in terms of a triumphant victor. But from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry the covenant people are clearly told that the Messiah has come to die. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would deeply sense the truth that because of your sins you deserve death and Hell. Pray that you would be thankful that the Messiah is your Passover Lamb. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 30 - John the Baptizer bears witness to the light

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

Daily devotional

December 25 - Wise gentiles worship the King of the Jews

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem.” - Matthew 2:1  Scripture reading: Matthew 2:1-12 When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, God caused a bright star to shine in the east. Balaam, the false prophet, had predicted that a star would rise out of Jacob (Numbers 24:17). God sent a miracle star. Somehow the magi, who were students of the stars, realized that the star was unique and significant. Later, this miracle star would appear right over the home in Bethlehem where the infant Saviour was living. Jesus is like a star. Stars shine in the darkness. Christ is the “bright and morning star.” Stars provided the ancients with direction for travel. Christ’s teaching reveals the way in which wretched sinners can be reconciled to a holy and just God. Soon, Gentile magi travel hundreds of miles in search of the King of the Jews. What an embarrassing reception the wisemen receive in Jerusalem. The Jews do not even know that the promised Messiah has been born. King Herod becomes suspicious of a potential rival. The king does pretend to celebrate Christmas. Learning that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, the magi continue their journey. The star reappears. The wisemen gave the first Christmas presents: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gentile scholars bow before the infant Jesus. Jesus is king and should be honoured as such. The coming of these Gentiles to worship Jesus prefigures the future ingathering of a catholic church. God sent uncircumcised Gentile magi to worship Christ to show that the Saviour is Lord of all and that both Jews and Gentiles owe Him adoration. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would want to bring honour and worship to the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray that you would be generous with the gifts that you give to the Lord as you donate to Christian causes. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 24 - Elderly Anna’s urban witness

“And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” - Luke 2:38  Scripture reading: Luke 2:36-38 They would have called her “Hannah.” Her Hebrew name meant “grace.” By God’s grace, elderly Hannah was a pious believer. She was among a remnant saved from the tribe of Asher. The so-called “lost tribes” were not completely lost, even though most Jews from the ten tribes probably never returned from captivity in Assyria. Hannah was an elderly widow. Some commentators have thought that she was a widow for 84 years. It is more probable that she was 84 years old. She had outlived most of her contemporaries. She never remarried. As a widow she was dependent and needy. This aged widow devoted herself to God and the worship of Him. Day and night she worshipped in the Temple. When the gates were open, she was there. She fasted and prayed for the covenant people and for the coming of the kingdom of God. In the providence of God, Hannah encountered the newborn Saviour. Joseph and Mary came to carry out the sacrifices connected with redeeming a firstborn child. The aged Simeon had just publicly celebrated the arrival of the promised Saviour. Hannah’s response to meeting the baby Jesus was twofold. First, she gave thanks to God. Second, she was an urban witness. She witnessed about the birth of the king “to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Electrified by the discovery of the promised Messiah, Hannah went around the city, sharing the good news. Elderly saints don’t retire from celebrating the birth of the king. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would continue to be a witness to the Saviour even in old age. Pray that God would give you the joy and courage to witness about the birth of the king to your neighbours who live in darkness. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 23 - God’s Christmas gift

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” - 2 Corinthians 9:15 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 9:1-15 Jesus was a gift from God. If this gift had Christmas wrapping, it was only swaddling clothes. This gift did not come with impressive or fancy wrappings, yet Jesus is more precious than any gift that has ever been unwrapped. Only one gift can satisfy our deepest desires and needs. Any Christmas present that we receive this year can only bring a moment of elation or a little ongoing fun. The gift of Jesus results in everlasting joy and unending happiness. In this life we have only a small beginning of the joy and rest that we will experience in the new world. Christ is the unspeakable gift. You cannot fully explain or describe the greatness of this gift with limited, human language. We can’t put into words what Jesus means to us. Christ is an inexpressible gift. You can’t express how precious and great a gift the Saviour is. Jesus was the perfect gift. Earthly presents and earthly joys do not last. The gift of Jesus brings joy amidst all the trials of life. The Apostle Paul teaches us that the appropriate response to the gift of Christ is to express thanksgiving: “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” You might receive Christmas presents for which you do not feel thankful. Maybe you didn’t need the gift. Some gifts disappoint; it is even hard to smile and say a meaningful ‘thank-you’. But we sinful sons and daughters of Adam and Eve know that we do need the gift of Christ. We better be thankful. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the gift of Jesus. In your prayer try to express why you appreciate the gift of Jesus. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 22 - Mary ponders the incarnation

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” - Luke 2:19 Scripture reading: Luke 2:8-21 Even though Mary was young and might be expected to be immature, she shows a spiritual maturity beyond her years. She pondered the incarnation of the Son of God. She was a meditative young lady. Dr. Luke presents a contrast between her response to the wonder of Christmas and that of the shepherds and the people of Bethlehem. The adversative “but” communicates the contrast: “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” The shepherds were excited and noisy. But Mary is quiet. She reflects. The people of Bethlehem had their ears tickled by the incredible story that the shepherds told. We are not told that any of the other citizens of Bethlehem searched out the cattle stall. But Mary mulled over what the Angel Gabriel told her, what the shepherds said about the appearance of glorious angels, and the marvel that she, a virgin, had given birth to the Son of the Highest. Mary needed to ponder these matters because she lacked understanding. Her situation was one of faith seeking understanding. She believed what God had revealed about her baby boy, but she still lacked full comprehension. Therefore, Mary guarded her memories like precious treasures. John Calvin says that Dr. Luke recorded Mary’s pondering “to afford to all the godly an example for imitation. For, if we are wise, it will be the chief employment, and the great object of our life.” As we ponder, we too can gain fresh insights into the mystery of salvation. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would love to meditate on what the gospel accounts reveal about Jesus Christ. Ask God to give you a thirst for His Word so that you would meditate on it day and night. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 17 - Magnifying the Lord with your soul

“And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”” - Luke 1:46  Scripture reading: Luke 1:46-56 Mary’s prayer is often called the “Magnificat”. The title comes from the first word of this prayer in the Latin Vulgate. Our English versions translate the same word as “magnifies”. The Virgin Mary states that her “soul magnifies the Lord” (Luke 1:46). Mary sang this song when she arrived at the home of Elizabeth. By the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth recognizes Mary as the mother of her Lord. The teenaged Mary responds by magnifying God. She models how worship, as to its inner essence, is the magnification of God and His Christ. To magnify something is to enlarge it or to make it great. You look through a magnifying glass to make something look larger. When God is magnified, He appears larger. The events in Mary’s life are like a magnifying glass that enables her to see something of the greatness of God. The Virgin Mary has larger and grander thoughts of God than ever before. These grander thoughts also cause her to rejoice: “and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:47). The greater her perception of the greatness of God, the greater her joy. Firsthand, she realizes the omnipotence of God: He can cause a virgin to conceive. She also sees the greatness of God’s grace evident in Him choosing her, a youthful and poor girl, to be the mother of the Messiah. She also celebrates the greatness of God’s covenant faithfulness. God has kept His ancient promise to provide the Seed of the Woman as the Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would engage in genuine worship by actively magnifying God’s name. Pray that you would help others to see the magnificence and greatness of the triune God. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 16 - The sign of Immanuel’s virgin mother

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” - Isaiah 7:14 Scripture reading: Isaiah 7:1-14 The unbelief of Ahaz, king of Judah, stands in sharp contrast to the faith of the Virgin Mary. King Ahaz’s lack of faith in God was evident in how he responded to a crisis when King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel joined in an alliance to attack the kingdom of Judah. Ahaz did not seek direction or help from the LORD. God sent Isaiah to meet with the king as Ahaz was inspecting the water reserves. The Lord commanded Ahaz to choose a sign, like a demonstration in the heavens. But Ahaz hypocritically refused to ask for a sign, claiming that he didn’t want to tempt God. In response, the Lord Himself gives a sign to Judah. A virgin would give birth to a child who would be named “Immanuel.” Many commentators have thought that this prophecy had a double fulfillment. They think that a virgin who was a contemporary of King Ahaz got married and then had a child. I think that the reference is solely to the Virgin Mary who, 700 years later, would become pregnant. Both the Hebrew and Greek words for “virgin” refer to a young lady of marriageable age who had never engaged in the act of marriage. In fulfillment of this prophecy, Mary gave birth to the Saviour, Who was the Son of the Highest. The name “Immanuel” reveals that God will dwell with His people. God dwelt with us becoming incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He continues to indwell us by His Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would have a deep sense of how Jesus is with you by His Spirit. Pray that you would not grieve the Holy Spirit by how you use your bodily members. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 15 - Mary’s cheerful self-surrender

“And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” - Luke 1:38 Scripture reading: Luke 1:26-38 The account of the Virgin Mary’s cheerful self-surrender to the will of God is so piercing and powerful because it is historical. It is not just a story. Even though Mary is a young, unmarried girl, she immediately believes God’s Word. It is true that her faith seeks understanding. How can she get pregnant without a man? But she believes Gabriel when he tells her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35a). It dawns on the Virgin Mary that God’s angel is telling her that she will become pregnant, have a child who is the Son of God, and that her child will be the promised Messiah. Mary gladly surrenders to God’s will. She happily submits even though people will assume that she is pregnant out of wedlock. She surrenders to God’s will even though Joseph, her betrothed, will not initially understand. She places her wedding in jeopardy. Yet Mary submits to the Lord’s will. Her response is beautiful: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). And God uses her so that she becomes, as the Creed of Chalcedon states, “the mother of God, according to the manhood.” Mary is a model for how we should respond to Christ and the claims that He makes on His disciples. When Christ calls us to follow Him, we must submit even though it means that we must take up our crosses. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would surrender to God’s wise, fatherly will, when He makes His will known to you. Pray that you would be willing to follow Christ, even when He calls you to sacrificial suffering. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 14 - God raising up a horn of salvation

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David." - Luke 1:68-69 Scripture reading: Luke 1:67-80 Zechariah’s prophecy has traditionally been called the “Benedictus” because of the opening expression: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel” (Luke 1:68). This was rendered in the Latin Vulgate as “Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel.” The title “Benedictus” is fitting because it captures the sense of this prophecy: it is a song in which Zechariah blesses God for raising up a Horn of Salvation. The aged priest was unable to speak for the nine months in which he waited for the birth of the forerunner. When his tongue was loosed, it is striking that Zechariah does not first speak of his son. Before he mentions that his son “will go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke 1:76b), he speaks about One far greater than John the Baptist. He blesses God for raising “up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” (Luke 1:69). He calls the Messiah “the horn of salvation.” This is not a reference to John the Baptist. John was from the tribe of Levi. Jesus came from the house of David. Jesus as a “horn” is an exciting metaphor. A horn is the deadly weapon of the wild ox. An animal horn became symbolic of royal power and strength. By destroying His enemies, Christ saves His people. Therefore, He is a “horn of salvation.” Jesus is a horn of salvation because He is a deadly weapon which destroys death and the kingdom of the Devil. He will powerfully deliver His church from the Antichrist. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would comprehend the power that Jesus Christ is able to wield in the world and in your life. Pray that Christ would empower you by His Spirit to fight against your besetting sins. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 9 - The servant offering himself to the smiters and spitters

“I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.” - Isaiah 50:6 Scripture reading: Isaiah 50:1-11 In the third servant song, which is found in Isaiah chapter 50, the Servant of Jehovah speaks of the fury of His enemies and the spite directed towards Him. In Isaiah 50:6 the Servant of the LORD predicts that He would offer His back to smiters and His face to spitters. In this prophecy, the Saviour predicts that He would willingly present His back to strikers. He would not be compelled. He would willingly offer His back. During His ministry, Jesus emphasized His willing sacrifice: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18a). It is the voluntary nature of Jesus’ passive obedience that makes His redemptive work so meritorious and precious. He freely and willingly suffered pain and shame in our place. Jesus willingly gave His back to the Roman soldiers so that they could whip Him. The good news is that “with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5b). It is remarkable that wicked men dared to spit in the face of the Son of God. In the New World, it will take faith to believe that rebellious creatures ever dared to profane the face of such a glorious king with spittle. At His Jewish trials, “some began to spit on him” (Mark 14:65). Jesus offered His face to the Roman soldiers: “And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him” (Mark 15:19). They were able to spit at Him because Jesus gave His face to the spitters. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would be willing to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. Pray that you would celebrate Christ as your substitute. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 8 - The gentle Redeemer of elect Jew and Gentile

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” - Isaiah 42:3  Scripture reading: Isaiah 42:1-9 Matthew, the gospel writer, tells us that the prophecy found in Isaiah 42 was fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus. He describes how Jesus was healing the crowds and telling them not to publicize his miracles: “And many followed him, and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known” (Matthew 12:15-16). Then Matthew states that Jesus was fulfilling what was prophesied by Isaiah in Isaiah 42 and quotes from it. Jesus is tender with His sheep and lambs. Isaiah predicted this: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11). Jesus will not break a bruised reed. A damaged reed can be in danger of getting knocked over. When a member of Christ’s flock feels weak and at a breaking point, the Good Shepherd will be patient and kind. He gently rebukes us. He redirects us without beating us senseless. When we are fragile, He is our strength. He graciously upholds and strengthens us because He knows our frame. Sometimes, our faith is like an ember, like the glowing orange on the wick of a candle after you have blown it out. We can despair of trusting in God. When our faith is weak because of trials and tribulations, Christ does not send greater troubles that snuff out our faith. He protects the ember. He restores our faith. He fans it into flame again. Such is our tender Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would strengthen the faith of each one of your family members and give them a rich assurance of their salvation. Ask God to strengthen your faith now so that when trials come, your faith can burn brightly. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 7 - Isaiah’s prophecy of the lame leaping

“Then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.” - Isaiah 35:6  Scripture reading: Isaiah 35:1-10 Joy pervades a prophecy about the coming of the Messiah in Isaiah 35. Isaiah has been called the gospel account of the Old Testament because it speaks so prophetically of the ministry of Jesus. When the Messiah comes there will be a radical change. This change is pictured in two ways. First, this radical change is pictured as the land of Israel being transformed from a desert into an oasis. Christ will bring about a complete, all-embracing change. He will produce shalom. The desert will flower. What was formerly desert will be as beautiful and green as Lebanon, Carmel, and Sharon. Isaiah speaks of a raised causeway, a highway, on which the redeemed can travel back to the City of God. Second, this radical change is pictured by the healing of disabled persons. The lame man who needed to shuffle along suddenly leaps like a deer for joy. The mute man does not merely begin to speak, he shouts aloud with joy. The prophecy about the covenant people traveling through the desert on this holy highway was fulfilled typically when the Jews returned from Babylon. It is fulfilled as elect Gentiles come to faith in the Messiah. It is fulfilled repeatedly as individual elect sinners turn to God and as pilgrims hike towards the Celestial City. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy in His ministry of healing. He understood it as referring to His miracles. When John the Baptist had doubts about Jesus’ identity, the Saviour pointed John’s disciples to this prophecy (Matthew 11:4-5). Suggestions for prayer Ask God, in the name of Jesus, to grant healing mercies for any of your loved ones who are sick. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 6 - The nations rallying to the root of Jesse

“In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.” - Isaiah 11:10 Scripture reading: Isaiah 11:1-11 Jesus was called both the root of Jesse and the shoot from the stump of Jesse. Isaiah predicted: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him” (Isaiah 11:1-2a). In these different ways, God predicted that a descendant of Jesse (and King David) would be the future messianic king. Even though it might seem that the Davidic throne had fallen vacant, a future king would sit on it. God predicted in Isaiah 11:10 that the nations would rally to the Messiah. The ESV translation speaks of the nations “inquiring” about Jesus. The NKJV has the nations “seeking” Him. The NIV reads that “the nations will rally to him.” Gentiles would inquire about Jesus and wish to meet Him. This prophecy was already fulfilled during Jesus’ ministry. Gentile Greeks sought out the Saviour, saying: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” (John 12:21). In John’s gospel account, we also have the wonderful story about how many gentile Samaritans rallied to Jesus. The Samaritan woman (whom Jesus met at Jacob’s well) witnessed to her friends in the city. Afterwards, the Samaritans “asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world” (John 4:40b-42). Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would be excited about rallying others to Jesus. Ask God to give you grace so that you want to seek Jesus by listening to and meditating on His teachings in the gospel accounts. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 1 - Introduction to the incarnation

In the month of December, we reflect on the miracle of miracles, the wonder of the incarnation of the Son of God. Isn’t it wonderful that the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures so that we could have wonderful stories about the conception, birth, and childhood of our Saviour! During this month we will begin by reflecting on how Old Testament prophecies pointed ahead to the coming of the promised Messiah. As Christmas Day approaches, we will ponder the stories that surround the birth of Jesus. We will conclude with John the Baptist introducing Jesus as the Lamb of God. As we reflect on the birth of our Saviour, we want to meditate on the astonishing events and astounding realities involved. We want to be like Mary who pondered everything she saw and heard. She mused on what the Angel Gabriel had told her. She reflected on the reports of the shepherds. She thought about who her baby boy could be. Mary is an example of faith seeking understanding. She took the time to think about what everything meant. And so it should be with us. We believe that God became a man. We have faith in Jesus of Nazareth. We worship Him, just as the Gentile magi worshiped the infant Jesus. We believe, but we do not fully grasp. We know that the person of the Son of God united Himself to a human nature. But we do not fully comprehend this reality. Both the doctrines of the incarnation and the trinity are profound mysteries. So, we ponder. We muse. We reflect. We meditate on the wonder of the ages, that the only begotten Son of God came into this world to destroy the power of the Devil and to redeem us, His people. The seed of the woman came to destroy the devil’s work “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” - 1 John 3:8  Scripture reading: 1 John 3:1-10 Why did Christmas occur? Why did Jesus come? Why did the Son of God condescend to assume a human nature? Why did God become man? Why did the Son of God personally unite Himself to a human nature? Part of the answer is that Christ came to fulfill the mother promise made in Genesis 3:15. This oldest of all promises predicted that the Saviour would destroy the Devil. In 1 John 3:8, the Apostle John writes about how Jesus fulfilled an ancient prophecy that God gave in the Garden of Eden. In the mother of all promises, God told Satan: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). God told Satan that the seed of the woman would bruise or crush his head. The Apostle John states that the Son of God came to destroy the plans and works of the Old Serpent. Christmas occurred because Christ came to destroy Satan’s attempt to rule over all humanity. It is true that Christ will punish the Devil by casting him into the lake of fire and sulphur on Judgment Day. But the Apostle John emphasizes that Christ came to destroy the works of the Devil. These works include all his plans to corrupt the church. They include Satan’s work in raising up the final, vicious Antichrist. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would empower you to fight against the temptations of the Devil. Pray that angel armies would guard your children and grandchildren. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 30 - He who calls you is faithful

“He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:24 Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28 Paul now draws the letter to a close and as we, along with the Thessalonians reflect on the contents, we must conclude that Paul has painted a glorious picture of the church. In referring to the pastorate, the fellowship and the worship of the Thessalonian congregation, he has touched on the three main relationships of church members – to their pastors, to each other and to God. They were to respect and love their pastors and elders. They were to exercise mutual care and support for fellow members and they were to listen and respond favourably to God. All of that had been taught them in this letter. What a tremendous obligation he had laid upon the members. That life of sanctification would have seemed impossible to them and it was, therefore, Paul offers one more word of encouragement. He writes, “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.” Paul reminds them that God, having begun His good work among them by calling them out of darkness within them by giving His Holy Spirit, would never abandon the work of His hands. God is faithful; His people often are not. God’s children are weak and often stray from the straight and narrow path. Satan was determined to tear the new saints out of God’s hand. Satan sought to destroy their new found faith, but it would not be possible. When God calls, He also grants what is necessary to fulfill the calling. That was true for the Thessalonians and the promise is still for us today. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He is sovereign, faithful and almighty. Thank Him that His saving power is greater than Satan’s determination to destroy. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 29 - Avoiding appearance of evil

“Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22 Scripture reading: Psalm 84:1-12 The ESV translated the text as: “Abstain from every form of evil”, but other Bible versions translate it to read, “Avoid all appearance of evil”. Although both translations are valid, in the context of testing the teachings of false prophets, and the injunction to “hold fast to what is good”, it would appear that Paul is warning about prophecies that might “appear” to be false. Calvin, reflecting on this text, observes that any teaching, not having been proven false, but yet gives the appearance of perhaps being so, is to be avoided. Any teaching based on Scripture and the “Three Forms of Unity” (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession and Canons of Dort) are to be accepted, but if an interpretation raises doubts and questions, it is better to avoid it unless and until more clarity can be given from Scripture. In other words, Paul’s advice to the Thessalonian Christians is to not only reject any and all teaching clearly in conflict with what they had been taught previously by himself, but they were also to avoid any interpretation or teaching that was doubtful or questionable. Paul’s love for the Thessalonians compels him to warn them of the danger of being led astray while on their road to God and eternity. In another place, Paul speaks of the Deceiver and those who are deceived. Here he warns of the danger of falling victim to the Deceiver by allowing ourselves to be deceived by false prophets. We need to know the Scriptures so we can test and separate the false from the true. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for the gift of discernment, enabling you to distinguish truth from error. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 28 - Test the spirits

“Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:137-144 Paul’s admonitions in 5:12-21 ends with: “do not despise prophecies”. Prophesying was to be considered a special gift, enabling someone to interpret Scripture and it was a gift not to be despised. On the other hand, however, they were not to accept uncritically everything offered as application of Scripture. Paul instructs them to “test the prophecy” to see if it was in harmony with the doctrines Paul had taught them earlier. He is saying to the congregation: don’t despise prophecies but be sure to test them. False prophets are legion, especially in our age and culture and the tendency is to either simply ignore them or worse to accept their prophecy without critically examining the words of the prophet. Here Paul admonishes us not to believe everyone who claims to speak in the name of the Lord but to “test” them. The standard by which a true prophet can be distinguished from the false is that the true prophet will speak or teach nothing contrary to what has been revealed earlier in His special revelation. In the new dispensation, the criterion would be the revelation of God through the testimony of Christ and the apostles. We are to test all religious utterances against the teaching of Scripture. Test the spirits, says Paul. Any utterance that can’t be confirmed by Scripture is not from the Holy Spirit. Once the prophecy has been tested and confirmed, once a true verdict has been reached, hold on to that truth. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for faithful prophets who yet today climb into their pulpits and can say, “Thus saith the Lord”. Thank the Lord that you may sit under the preaching of such a prophet every week again. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 23 - Children of the light

“For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:5 Scripture reading: Matthew 27:45-50 In verse four of this chapter, Paul addresses the Thessalonians affectionately when he refers to them as “brothers”. Here Paul again uses the affectionate term. He addresses them as “you all”. Paul is not using “all” in the universal sense, but he identifies the “all” as: “all” those who by sovereign grace have been adopted into the family of God through Jesus Christ. All those, says Paul in verse five, are “lights”. By nature we are all children of darkness. There is darkness in our hearts and we walk in darkness; but that all changes when God works the miracle of regeneration. He had done so in Thessalonica. God had blessed the preaching of Paul and had worked faith into the hearts of His elect, who in turn had responded to the call of the gospel, had come out of darkness and entered into the kingdom of light. Their sin-darkened minds had been illumined, their stopped-up ears and closed eyes had been opened, enabling them to see their need for Christ and hear His call. In grace, the light of Jesus Christ has shone in their hearts and they are destined for the realm of everlasting light. Because Jesus is the light of the world, the Thessalonian Christians also were lights in the world. God’s Word now would be a light upon their feet and a lamp upon their path and they would take that light into the world. Suggestions for prayer Ask God for more opportunities to take your light of faith into the dark world in which you live. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 22 - Like a thief in the night

“While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:3  Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 Although Paul cannot tell the hour of Christ’s return, he does give us several clues; it will come “as a thief in the night.” When he uses that imagery, his point is not only the thief, but also the night. In fact, the emphasis falls on Christ’s return taking place in the night. His imagery is not literal, but figurative. Jesus will return in the dark night of moral degeneration and spiritual darkness. We are living in the “evening hours” of this world. The spiritual darkness is becoming ever darker and more oppressive. Then, when people are congratulating themselves on mankind’s incredible progress, claiming to see peace and security all around them, Jesus will return. The imagery of the thief in the night also contains the idea of surprise. A thief doesn’t announce his presence or send advance notice of his plan to rob you so that you could prepare yourself. Those who have prepared themselves, who are awake, have nothing to fear. It is only the careless ones, who are at ease in Zion, who slumber with their doors wide open, are the ones in danger. What about us? Are we worried about earthly things, but unconcerned about the heavenly? Are you postponing your conversion, continuing in sin, certain that there is plenty of time? Do you expect the Lord will let you know when He will take you out of this life? Tomorrow is always too late. Provide for the safety of your soul by turning to Christ while it is still the day of grace. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to daily remind you that His return will be sudden and unexpected. Ask to live joyfully each day, eagerly anticipating His coming because you know that even death will not separate you from the love of God in Christ. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 21 - Encouraging one another 

“Therefore encourage one another with these words.” - 1 Thessalonians 4:18  Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul was not telling the Thessalonians anything new when he said, “We shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” That’s precisely what they expected and had been waiting for. They longed to “greet Him in the air”. They longed to prepare a “joyous entry” into the new earth under a new heaven. Every day they had been listening for the voice of the archangel signalling Christ’s return and the end of time as they knew it. Then something happened for which they were totally unprepared: death entered their midst and took some of their members away. Death is always painful for those who remain behind, but those deaths in the Thessalonian congregation were exceptionally painful and confusing for the church. They had believed that Christ would come soon, and would find them all alive, waiting for Him. Then death entered the picture. They had not expected that and were confused. What was most painful for them was the question: what would happen to those who died before Christ returned? They did not know where the dead would be when Jesus returned. Paul sets their mind at ease. Paul declared that “we who are alive, we who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep”. The dead will not be left behind. They will be awakened and then the living and the dead will be taken up in the clouds together. Comfort one another with those words. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for that glorious prospect of joining Him for all eternity. When death approaches a loved one or even yourself, give thanks to God that death is not death, but is your entrance into eternal glory. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 20 - Our daily labour

“1 Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.” - 1 Thessalonians 4:1 Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:6-16 Fanatics, busybodies and loafers can be found in every congregation. Apparently, such people were among the Thessalonian congregation as well and Paul addresses them. He tells them to quietly mind their own business and to get a job. The gospel had been proclaimed to the Thessalonians by Paul. They had been told of the birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and they were told He was coming again. They had eagerly embraced the gospel message, however, many of them were under the false delusion that Christ’s return was at hand. Not only was there excitement among the members about the second coming of their Lord, but numbers of people had become fanatical about it. They had become restless in anticipation. It seems that a significant number of people were so eager for the second coming that they literally quit their jobs and did nothing but talk about and speculate about how that would all be. They even convinced others to also stop working and wait for the Lord’s coming. With his admirable ability to speak paradoxically, Paul urges them to become all stirred up, not by agitating other members, but by living quietly and working diligently at their daily vocation. Scripture speaks even to us today, telling us to live all of our lives to God’s glory, also in our daily work. Christians ought to be industrious. A lazy Christian is an offence to God and a poor example towards those who do not know Christ and now Paul instructs them to properly direct that restlessness. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to fill you with eager anticipation of His coming again, but ask Him to teach you also how you are to work diligently at your daily work while waiting upon that last great Day of the Lord. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 15 - Pleasing God in our walk

“Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.” - 1 Thessalonians 4:1 Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 Paul is still conducting himself towards the congregation as a mother nurturing her infant child. Patiently and lovingly, Paul urges the congregation to greater sanctification. He doesn’t come with any heavy handedness; he doesn’t exercise his authority and command the church to holiness. No, we read he “urges” them. Because of their union with Christ, Whom he represented and Whose Spirit inspired him, Paul’s desire is that they may excel or abound more and more in the business of leading holy, sanctified lives, doing the will of God and conducting themselves properly in their daily walk. It is evident that Paul’s desire for them is that they would keep God’s law for holy living out of gratitude for what God had done for them. In love and with great tactfulness, he assures them that he has noticed that they were indeed already conducting themselves in a manner that pleased the Lord, but their road to sanctification needed to continue. They should not stagnate. Paul’s desire was that the branches that were already bearing fruit would bear even more fruit (John 15:2). The members of the Thessalonian church had just recently been converted from paganism and although there was evidence of genuine zeal among the congregation, that zeal needed to be taught and directed. We know from Scripture that in this life even the holiest of men have yet but a small beginning towards sanctification and that was certainly the case here among these new believers. They needed to be taught in order to grow. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for all of the Biblical instruction available to us. We have preaching, catechism, Bible Study groups, Christian Schools and we have the Bible in our homes. Ask God to help you in your efforts to grow. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 14 - Abounding in love

“…And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.” - 1 Thessalonians 3:12  Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:11–13 Unconverted men and women by nature, hate God and their neighbour. That’s what comes naturally to men and women who know not the Christ. Yet, by the miracle of rebirth, all of that changes. When God opens the hearts to the preaching, hearts are changed and true conversion is seen. As a natural consequence of that change, love is seen emanating from the hearts and lives of the born-again Christian. We see love for God and love for one another. That change had taken place in Thessalonica. Paul had preached, the Holy Spirit had worked and men and women were called out of darkness into God’s marvellous light. A spirit of love took hold of the congregation. Where they had formerly been enemies and haters of God and neighbour, there was now love, love for God and love for one another. But that love was not yet perfect; it needed to grow. The Thessalonians needed to grow in grace, faith and sanctification. Their love for God and for each other needed to grow, day by day. Through Christ’s intercessory prayers, the congregation needed to develop a deeper, stronger, more intense love. There needed to be true empathy and compassion for one another. They needed to be in constant prayer for one another. They needed to learn what it meant to: “Love God above all else and their neighbour as themselves.” If the Apostle Paul was to examine your congregation, if he was to examine your heart and life, would he find that so necessary love? Suggestions for prayer Ask God to create in you a deeper, stronger, warmer love for Him and for your fellow man, beginning with those in the household of faith. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 13 - We have been comforted about you through your faith

“… for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.” - 1 Thessalonians 3:7  Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:6–10 Paul and his companions worked day and night among the Thessalonians, but they were soon forced to leave. It appeared to them that many of the Thessalonians had accepted the gospel enthusiastically, but after leaving, the apostles wondered if the conversion they had seen had been genuine and so Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to gauge the faith of the congregation. He returns bearing great news. Paul’s missionary work had been blessed by the Lord. Despite his affliction and suffering, Paul was greatly comforted by what he heard. His fear, that perhaps his missionary efforts had been in vain in Thessalonica, was now quickly dispelled. Timothy was able to report that there was evidence of love and faith in the church. The congregation also had spoken well of Paul’s work among them. They remembered him with fondness and they longed to see him again. That longing was reciprocal. Paul was concerned about his sheep. He loved them, longed to see them and hoped to see them joyfully serving the Lord, despite their hardships. In turn, the sheep longed for their shepherd. He had brought them to Christ and they now loved him and longed to see him again. Does that reciprocal love between shepherd and sheep exist between you and your pastor? As he labours in his calling, can your minister rejoice as he sees evidence of your faith at work in you? Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you to develop a deeper love for those who labour in the churches as ministers. Pray that your minister may be comforted and rejoice in the faith he sees at work in you. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 12 - Being moved by afflictions

“…that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.” - 1 Thessalonians 3:3  Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 The Apostle Paul sends Timothy to Thessalonica primarily to take the spiritual pulse of the congregation, but here in our text, Paul was particularly concerned that they would put their present suffering in a proper perspective. It is not at all unusual to meet Christians who are convinced that, if they know Christ, everything will be going their way, but according to the Bible the very opposite is true. Christians in Thessalonica experienced suffering and persecution as consequence of their faith and Paul was concerned that these new Christians might become confused and begin to doubt. One of the most difficult things for Christians to understand is that difficulties in life are to be expected and are a normal part of the Christian life. According to Scripture, God actually sends difficulties on our path in order to help us on our road to God and drive us closer to Him. The believers in Thessalonica were to know that and they were to rejoice in their persecution, for their suffering and affliction united them to all Christians and identified them as belonging to Christ. Those who share in suffering for Christ’s sake will also share in His glory. Paul says that suffering is the Christian’s lot in life and is to be expected. Anyone who follows the Good Shepherd will be called a sheep, and sheep as we all know, are destined for slaughter. Suggestions for prayer As you go to church to worship today, ask God to help you to rejoice, even in your suffering. Ask Him to help you to understand that life’s hardships are given to strengthen your faith. Ask Him to help you to count it all joy. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 7 - Not seeking the praise of men

“Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.” - 1 Thessalonians 2:6  Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:1–6 Paul and his fellow servants never sought the praises of men in their missionary efforts. Despite the fact that they worked day and night and despite the suffering they endured, all that mattered to them was that God would be glorified and that He would get all the credit. As they preached, they were determined to preach only Christ and Him crucified for their transgression and raised for their justification. They spoke only the word God gave them. They did not stroke the audience or tickle their ears to tell them what they thought they wanted to hear. They refused to compromise the message. They preached the truth and could confidently say: “thus saith the Lord”. But they also spoke it in love. Speaking the truth in love is not as much about having a gentle demeanour as it is about the way that truth and love go hand-in-hand. Because we love one another, we must speak the truth, but because we know Christ, we must also be a people characterized by love in our efforts to win others for Christ. God has graciously revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ and we are now called to be instruments in His hand to share the good news with those who do not yet know Him. We are called to love those who do not know Christ and the best way we can show love is to share with them the truth of the gospel. Suggestions for prayer When attempting to witness, ask God to give you the courage to present the gospel in truth, but ask also that He will give you the gentleness to speak it in love. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 6 - We had already suffered

“But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.” - 1 Thessalonians 2:2  Scripture reading: Acts 16:13-24 Paul and Silas had experienced suffering in Philippi. They had been tortured and imprisoned, but none of that could cause them to abandon their mission of evangelism. The oppression and persecution could not hinder them from preaching Christ and Him crucified. When Paul refers to the shameful treatment he and Silas endured, he is not only thinking of their being falsely accused in Philippi, for that was only part of what the apostles had suffered. The apostles of Jesus Christ had been dragged into the marketplace before the rulers; they had been slandered, arrested, robbed of their clothing, imprisoned and had their feet locked in stocks. Nevertheless, in spite of this shameful suffering, by virtue of their union with Christ and therefore by His grace, they had summoned the courage to continue their work. They had heard Christ say: “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next.” (Matthew 10:23). That’s precisely what they had done. They fled Philippi and journeyed to Thessalonica and continued to preach the gospel. Sometimes we become discouraged when living in a world filled with devils and here the Holy Spirit encourages us by showing us these disciples, desiring so eagerly and earnestly to tell the good news of the Gospel. They exerted themselves in order to do the will of God and win the Thessalonian people for Christ. Their example is given to spur us on in our attempts to evangelize. Suggestions for prayer Ask that God would fill you with a desire to witness and that He would give you the courage to speak His name boldly despite the opposition. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 5 - Turning away from idols

“For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” - 1 Thessalonians 1:9 Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:6-12 By nature, every person is an idol worshipper. That’s how the Thessalonians and we too, are born as a consequence of the “fall” in the Garden. But the Lord performed the miracles of rebirth in Thessalonica. Paul preached, the Spirit was active and hearts were made new. Idol worshippers were transformed into God worshippers. False Gods were abandoned and the true God was embraced. Those two activities always accompany true conversion. Turning from idols to God is evidence of authentic rebirth. When a man continues to serve idols he is not familiar with true conversion. The same is true for one who turns only temporarily from false gods. Think of Orpah (Ruth 1:14). She had been told of the true God of Israel by Naomi. When Naomi informed her daughters-in-law that she was returning to the land of the true God, initially Orpah followed her, turning away from her false gods and going with Naomi to the true God. However, she turned and returned to her country, her people and her false gods. Authentic rebirth had not found root in Orpah’s heart. However, in Thessalonica God had performed the miracle of regeneration. Think about that today as you go to worship, for it is still through preaching that men and women are regenerated. God will never abandon the work of His hands. What a blessed comfort for us to know that: He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Suggestions for prayer As you worship on this Lord’s Day, ask God to show you the idols in your life and then ask Him to turn your heart away from them. Ask Him for the necessary grace and desire to serve only Him. Thank Him for the miracle of rebirth. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 4 - God has chosen you

“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.” - 1 Thessalonians 1:4  Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:1-12 It doesn’t matter to which denomination or tradition you belong, the doctrine of election causes us difficulties and questions. Yet, it is undeniably a doctrinal truth which runs through all of Scripture, beginning already with God's call of Abraham and later His choice of Israel out of all nations. Moreover, the topic of election is nearly always introduced in Scripture for a practical purpose. It fosters assurance of salvation, holiness of life, humility and gratitude. But still no explanation of God's election is given other than God’s love. This is made clear in Deuteronomy 7, “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples.” It was out of love that God chose us. That is, He chose us simply because He loves us. He does not love us because we are lovable, but only because He is love and with that mystery, we must rest content. In our text, Paul asserts that the apostles know their brothers and sisters in Thessalonica to have been loved and chosen by God. However, if election is essentially a secret known to God alone, how could the missionaries possibly dare to claim that they knew it? Well, the apostles had seen the fruits of election among the congregation. They spoke of their work of evangelism and their holiness. These were both evidence of the activity of the Holy Spirit’s work among them. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will deepen and strengthen your faith by convicting you of being an elect child of God. Ask God to grant you what you need to make your calling and election sure. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 30 - Commended for their faith

“And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,” - Hebrews 11:39  Scripture reading: I Corinthians 10:1-13 As Christians, we are not too quick to praise men for their faith. After all, Ephesians 2:8-10 says it is a gift from God. However, I Corinthians 10 mentions that some things are recorded in Scripture to be examples to us. These examples might be to warn us of a complacent faith. For instance, are you living your Christian faith merely out of habit or out of a heartfelt desire to serve and glorify God? There are examples in Scripture to encourage us in our walk with God and we have been seeing these things from Hebrews 11. The Christian is called to contend for the faith by being faithful and fruitful. By grace, God will reward our good works, both in this life and in the life to come. The danger is to look for God’s commendation in this world alone. Some were commended for their faith, like the martyrs and it resulted in their death. True blessing and commendation from God cannot be measured by the material things and events around us. Our battle is not against flesh and blood and our reward for faithfulness, by the grace of God, is not made up of gold or silver. Our reward is the true blessing of God, as those who will definitely receive what our gracious God has promised. God is holy and sovereign and yet we are responsible to believe. When you deny yourself and follow Christ, you will be commended for your faith, not from man, but from your heavenly Father. Suggestions for prayer Ask for a heartfelt desire to serve and glorify God and that looks ahead to a heavenly reality. Ask for a persevering faith. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 29 - The faith of the martyrs

“…of whom the world was not worthy (NKJV).” - Hebrews 11:38a  Scripture reading: II Kings 2:1-18 All men are conceived and born in sin and worthy of condemnation. Without grace, there is no hope for the sinner. However, every once in a while, the Lord raises up a servant of such godliness that those who see him, see a unique servant of God. Elijah was one in the Old Testament of whom it could be said that this world was not worthy of him. Over four hundred and fifty years ago, there was another man whom this world was not worthy of. He was in prison, ready to be hung after the Spanish Inquisition condemned him for his Calvinistic beliefs. Shortly before his death, he sat in prison and wrote one of the greatest love letters ever written to his dear and distraught wife. It is long, but let me quote in part, “…my dearly beloved….Consider the honour that God has done you, in giving you a husband who was not only a minister of the Son of God, but so esteemed of God that he allowed him to have the crown of martyrs. It is an honour the like of which God has never even given to the angels.” Shortly after writing this letter, at the age of 45 years, Guido de Bres, the author of the Belgic Confession of Faith, was pushed off the platform mid-speech by the hangman and received the crown of the martyrs. This world was not worthy of him. He has received his reward in Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to bless those who face death for the gospel. Many will be worshipping in secret tomorrow because of persecution. Thank God for faith. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 28 - The faith of the martyrs

“They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword.” - Hebrews 11:37a  Scripture Reading: Acts 7:1-60 (shorter reading Acts 7:54-60) Hebrews 11:36-37 As we approach Reformation Day, we are mindful of those who have gone before us and have paid the ultimate price for their faith. The martyrs have given their lives. In Acts 7, we read the account of the first Christian martyr named Stephen. In Acts 7, we have one of the longest sermons found in the Scriptures and as sometimes happens when the truth is told, those who are not walking with the Lord become angry. He called his hearers stiff-necked and they did not like that. What was the result for Stephen, whose name means “crowned one”? They picked up stones and they stoned him to death. It is a very graphic death and if you are reading this to children, you will have to explain that for some, the cost of walking with Jesus will be their very lives. Stephen was privileged to testify of the work of Jesus Christ with his life. If, as the enemies of the resurrection claimed, that the disciples stole Jesus’ body, why would the apostles give their lives for a lie? They wouldn’t. Their lives testified to the fact that Jesus is risen and reigning. Stephen denied himself the riches of this world in order to inherit a crown of many jewels in the life to come. The faithful have always been persecuted and this will continue until that time when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for those who have gone before and given their lives as martyrs. Ask for strength to live with such fortitude/courage for the gospel. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 27 - Resurrection hope

“Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.” - Hebrews 11:35 Scripture reading: Mark 5:21-43 There are not many things more difficult than losing a child. In the Scriptures we see it happen a number of times. In Mark 5, it is the leader of the synagogue whose daughter is said to have died, though Jesus said that she slept. He went into where she lay and took her hand and told her to get up. Jesus restored her life. I said there are not many things more difficult than losing a child, but there is something far weightier. It is having a loved one turn his back on the Lord. Even if Jesus would raise a child from the dead, the child will die again. However, when Jesus spiritually resurrects believers, by the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts, then even though they may die, yet they will live forevermore. This is the better resurrection Hebrews 11:35 is speaking about. This is the resurrection made available because of Jesus’ resurrection. We can gain many things in this life, but it all pales in comparison to what will be received in the life to come. The old will be destroyed and all things will be made new. This is the result of the resurrection that the faithful wait for now. There is a living hope given to the child of God. How can we know this? By faith. In Mark 5:36, Jesus told the synagogue ruler at the news of his daughter’s death, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.” Let us also heed those words. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the “better resurrection.” Ask for the grace to patiently wait. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 22 - The faith of Moses

“By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.” - Hebrews 11:28 Scripture reading: Exodus 12:1-30 After nine plagues were unleashed upon the Egyptians, the tenth plague would be the worst. The angel of death would pass through each house and snuff out the life of the firstborn son. There would be a very real and serious consequence to oppressing those whom the Lord called His firstborn in Exodus 4:22. There was only one way to escape the great punishment. The faithful were to slaughter the Passover lamb and paint the door frame of their homes with the blood of the lamb. When the angel saw the blood, it would pass by that house. Here we have a picture of what Jesus Christ, that last and ultimate Lamb of God, would perform. God’s judgment against sin is also very real and serious. The consequence is to spend eternity in hell. There is only one way of escape, there is only one way for the angel of death to pass by and that is to have the blood of the Lamb of God sprinkled upon your hearts. Jesus' blood was shed upon the cross in order to forgive our sins. The paintbrush of the Holy Spirit applies that to our hearts by faith. We are called to receive with the hand of a beggar, not merely a passing by of death, but of a glorious inheritance as we reign forever with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is our Passover. Suggestions for Prayer Thank God for a glorious salvation. Ask for grace to find in Jesus all that you need to be made right before God. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 21 - The faith of Moses

“By faith…he endured as seeing him who is invisible.” - Hebrews 11:27  Scripture reading: Exodus 4:1-17 In Exodus 4, Moses makes three more protests to God. He is concerned the people won’t believe him (v.1); he next says he is not eloquent in speech (v.10); thirdly, he simply says “please send someone else” (v.13). Why would the Lord call Moses to such a task? From a human perspective he seems so unfit for the work. He is already 80 years old, he might have a speech impediment, he lacks confidence, he doesn’t take rejection very well (Exodus 6) and he doesn’t want to do it. In a way, this makes Moses the perfect candidate. There will certainly be no room for pride in Moses when he realizes that God can shoot straight with a crooked arrow. God has chosen the foolish things of this world to accomplish His purposes. It is not by might or power, but by the Word of the Lord that the kingdom expands and permeates the world around us. The “foolishness” of preaching is able to soften the heart of the hard-hearted. It is by the Word that the sorrowful are comforted, the wayward are called back, the searcher is shown the path. How many men have been elected to church office and thought, “Certainly Lord, there are far more qualified men.” But, the Lord calls us, sometimes to great and sometimes to difficult positions and places in this life. Will He also give us the grace for that? Yes, because He has promised to do so (II Corinthians 12:9). Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for strength to fulfill your calling(s) in life. Thank Him for His patience with you. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 20 - The faith of Moses

“By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.” - Hebrews 11:27  Scripture Reading: Exodus 3:1-22 After Moses killed the Egyptian, he fled to Midian and there he settled down. He found a wife, had two sons and became a shepherd for his father-in-law. How would Moses lead the people out of Egypt if he was a shepherd, far away? Just like God did with Abraham, He miraculously came to Moses. In Exodus 3, we see the theophany of the burning bush. Here Moses saw Him Who is invisible. The Lord had a great plan for Moses and for the people. He was going to bring them out of slavery in Egypt. However, it would be a difficult process. More than once, the Lord prepares Moses for Pharaoh to say, “No.” (Exodus 3:19; 4:21). Pharaoh’s heart will be hardened to the requests of Moses and Aaron to let the people go. Moses’ faith will be tested. He will cry out to God in Exodus 5:22-23 after Pharaoh makes things even more difficult for the Israelites. It would be a redemption that took time, just as it would be 1500 years later. Our Lord Jesus Christ had to endure many hardships to save His people. He had to be tested and tempted by the Evil One. He had to endure the shame, the cross and the grave, in order to be raised victorious on Easter morning. Moses is going to deliver the people from slavery to Pharaoh. Jesus is the ultimate Deliverer from sin, death, and hell. “Hallelujah, what a Saviour.” Suggestions for prayer Pray with thanksgiving through the steps of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation as found in the Apostle’s Creed. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 19 - The faith of Moses

“choosing…the people of God…” - Hebrews 11:25 Scripture reading: Exodus 2:11-15; Hebrews 11:24-28 Over the next few days we will talk about the Lord’s servant Moses. He would become the great leader and liberator of the Israelites. Yesterday, we saw that Moses’ parents hid him. He was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and grew up learning all of the wisdom of the Egyptians. He would have had the best of nearly everything. However, in Exodus 2, he looked upon his people and, Hebrews 11:25 says, he chose them. He saw an Egyptian attacking a Hebrew slave and he killed the Egyptian. Moses was wrong to kill the Egyptian. Moses would be the great defender of the people, but what he had to learn is to do this in the Lord’s timing. He needed to learn patience. Jesus spoke that the time was at hand for Him to be glorified. For us, we work and pray for things, but it is the Lord who controls the timing. We pray for the church to grow in number, but sometimes we see the opposite happen. It is all in the Lord’s timing. We might pray to be delivered from a difficult situation, or for a stronger faith, or to find a spouse, etc. All of these things happen in the Lord’s timing. As a result of Moses’ hasty action, he had to flee Egypt and go to Midian for 40 years. However, by then, Moses had chosen to be on the side of the people of God, because he was one of them. Look to the one greater than Moses, who chose the people of God. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His control of all things. Ask the Lord for patience to wait on His plan and timing. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 14 - Isaac resurrected

“He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” - Hebrews 11:19 Scripture reading: Genesis 22:1-19 (notice anything new the second time?) When Abraham loaded up his donkey and headed to sacrifice, Isaac was as good as dead. Isaac was going to be sacrificed to God, because God told Abraham to do exactly that. Once they got to the mountain, Isaac asked Abraham a very telling question in Genesis 22:7, “’The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’” We know the answer to the question; the offering was going to be Isaac. Abraham responded honestly, but in a unique way, “God will provide the lamb,” he said. They get to the spot of sacrifice and right when Abraham is going to kill Isaac, the angel stops him. Just then (vs. 13), Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns. Abraham took it instead and sacrificed it. In a precursor to Jesus Christ, God provides the sacrifice. It wasn’t a coincidence that the ram happened to be there, caught in the thicket. God directed this. By faith, Abraham followed directions just as God had told him to do. By grace, God provided a ram in the bushes as the sacrifice, just as he would eventually provide the Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom it was said by John the Baptist, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29). Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He provides a Saviour from sin. Ask God to give us the Spirit, that we might live by faith and take God at His Word. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 13 - Abraham and Isaac

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac,” - Hebrews 11:17  Scripture reading: Genesis 22:1-19 Year after year, Abraham and Sarah waited for a child to be born. After all, didn’t God tell Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand on the seashore and the stars in the sky? Sarah had given up. But one day, that all changed. Finally they had a son of their own, named Isaac. It was with that son that God was going to test Abraham. What would Abraham have thought as he headed toward the mountain? If Isaac dies, how is the promise going to be fulfilled? The rest of Hebrews 11:17 shows the spiritual struggle. God had said one thing, but now it seems that God is saying something very different. There is no such thing as an untested faith. Now, when it seemed that to carry through with what God said would undermine God’s own plan, will Abraham listen to God, or to his own logic? Abraham was tested and he was shown to be obedient. The Lord Jesus Christ was brought up on the temple and he was tempted by the Devil. He was obedient to the Lord. He obeyed God’s Word, even though Satan was twisting it. There are times in our lives when we will have to recognize that God is wise and we are not. We must continue to deny self and follow Christ. Let us pray, not my will, but Your will be done. Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord that trials strengthen our faith. Ask God to protect you from temptation and to fight against sin, for His glory. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 12 - God’s city

“Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” - Hebrews 11:16b  Scripture reading: Genesis 19:1-29 (graphic) alternate reading: Gen. 19:12-29 Most of this week so far, we have been developing the theme of a non-earthly city of God. We have seen that this city is heaven, or technically, the new heavens and earth. But, it is not here yet; therefore we must wait. In John 14, Jesus tells the disciples and us that He is going to heaven to prepare a place for us. It is His city. In our Scripture reading, we see a very different city, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot and his family are the only ones rescued before fire and brimstone came down from heaven and destroyed that city. Though Lot’s family made it out, one member didn’t make it very far. Lot’s wife looked back, contrary to what the angel had instructed, and she became a pillar of salt. Every child can picture this in his mind, a tall salt pile. For us today, we are not in danger of turning into a pillar of salt. However, there is a danger of looking at the wrong thing. Paul, in Philippians 3, speaks of straining ahead, running a race, seeking a prize of the heavenward call. When we take our eyes off Jesus Christ and put them on ourselves, the things of this world, etc. we become easily lost. As pilgrims on a journey, let us stay the course. God has promised to bring us safely there. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that God is not ashamed of us: He calls us His children. Ask the Lord to strengthen us so that we may keep our eyes on Jesus. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

 October 11 - Pilgrims on earth

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” - Hebrews 11:13  Scripture Reading: I Peter 1:1-12 In 1620, a group of travellers, known as the Pilgrims, landed on what is now called Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. They then lived a difficult first winter in a place which had not been their home. A pilgrim is a traveller. Hebrews 11 speaks of pilgrims, “aliens and strangers on earth.” On the one hand, when Abraham laid his head down to rest in his tent in Shechem, he was home. However, that land was possessed by the Canaanites. On the other hand, that land of promise was but a picture of a greater land flowing with milk and honey, as we saw yesterday. So many today are focused on Israel as a nation and the conversion of the Jews. However, that land that they possess is not the promised land. The promised land now is in the presence of the Lord and there we will join the church of all ages and places. By faith, many have gone before only seeing the land from a distance as we do, but we know this land is sure because it is secured by Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the promise of a future inheritance. Pray that the Lord will call in the church and that Jesus will come quickly. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 6 - Noah the righteous (part 1)

“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” - Hebrews 11:7 Scripture reading: Genesis 6:9-22 We don’t get very far in the Bible until we see that the world has become increasingly corrupt. It seems that sin and corruption spread as quickly as the human race filled the earth. In the midst of the wicked, there was one found to be righteous, named Noah. Though Noah, like all of the other heroes of faith was a sinner (cf. Genesis 9:21), yet, he believed the Lord. As a righteous man, Genesis 6:9 tells us, Noah listened to the Lord. He built an ark in order to preserve life on the earth. He was to take his wife, his three sons and their wives on the ark, along with two of each of the animals. The Lord gave Noah the exact specifications for this ark. It was a huge undertaking, especially in Noah’s days. But he did it. Noah heeded the warning of the Lord. We are all descendants of Noah because Noah believed the Lord. The world in which we live mocks the idea of any real danger in the future, in a similar way that Noah’s neighbours must have mocked him. The urgency of the gospel is that the storm clouds of the flood are on the horizon; the time is near. Will you be in the ark when the rain begins to fall? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to give you faith in what is not seen and to take God at His Word. Pray also for your unbelieving neighbours, that they might heed the call of the gospel. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 5 - A God-pleasing faith

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” - Hebrews 11:6  Scripture reading: Luke 6:43-49 The Heidelberg Catechism teaches, in Lord’s Day 24, the nature and reward of our good works. It begins with the fact that we are sinners. However, it continues by explaining that we do good which is rewarded. How can we do good? We can and must do good because we are renewed. In Luke 6, Jesus teaches that a good tree bears good fruit. In Galatians 5, Paul talks about the rotten fruits of flesh and then he continues on and explains the fruit of the Spirit. Those who are grafted into Christ live through Him. I knew a man who had an apple tree in his yard. Over the years, he had grafted four different kinds of apples onto that tree. Green, yellow and red apples testified to a very clear reality. That tree was not naturally that way. So too, it is with us. At the end of the day, we must conclude, but for the grace of God, what would we be? We are brought, supernaturally, to a position we are not in by nature. Praise be to God! When we read a verse like Hebrews 11:6, we are both comforted and encouraged in the Christian walk. As you live in grace, seek to bear the fruits of righteousness. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would make you fruitful and diligent in your walk with Him. Ask the Lord to make His grace shine through you so that others may be won over to Christ. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 4 - Enoch walked with God

“By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.” - Hebrews 11:5  Scripture reading: Genesis 5:21-24 Enoch goes down in history as one who never experienced an earthly death; 365 years of living and then he was taken. Why? Because he pleased God. Genesis 5 says that he walked with God. There is much written about Enoch in extra-biblical sources. But, if we stick just with the Bible, there is not much information. He walked with God. The Lord took him. The point is not that if we walk with God we will be translated out of this life. A takeaway, however, must be that the Lord rewards those who are obedient to him. In Enoch’s case, that reward came in life. The reward of righteous living is given by grace. It comes to one in a different way than another, in this life and the next. What does it mean to “walk with God?” It means to trust Him, in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:4), to live in and through Him; it means to love Him and serve Him. The goal of one’s life as he walks with the Lord, goes from self glory to God’s glory. May it be our prayer that at the end of our lives, though we were sinners, it may be said that we “walked with God.” Suggestions for Prayer Ask the Lord to strengthen your walk with Him. Repent of ways which have kept you from walking with God and resolve to keep Jesus as your central focus. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 3 - Abel still speaks?

“By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.” - Hebrews 11:4  Scripture reading: Genesis 4:1-16 In Genesis 4, Cain, the agriculturist, and Abel, the shepherd, presented offerings to the Lord. The Lord was pleased with Abel’s offering, but not with Cain’s offering. Why? Because, as God says in so many words in Gen. 4, it was from a righteous heart that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted; even Hebrews 11:4 speaks of Abel being commended as a righteous man. But, there is an interesting statement in our passage and it refers to the fact that Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. Abel is still waiting for vindication. Genesis 4:10 makes clear to Cain that his brother's blood is crying out from the ground. This is similar to what the voice of the martyrs are crying for before God’s throne in Revelation 6:9ff. Abel speaks, as do the martyrs, as they await the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Abel’s sacrifice is called better than Cain’s sacrifice. Why? Because it was offered by faith. God makes clear it is not merely the object offered to the Lord, but also the heart that matters. David, in Psalm 51, speaks of a broken and a contrite heart. Romans 12:1-2 speak of Christians being a living sacrifice. Trust in the Lord and offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving to Him. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that it is the humble of heart that most please Him. Ask God to help you to look to Jesus, as the ultimate sacrifice, and as we await His appearing. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

September 28 - Heart smart

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” - Proverbs 21:2 Scripture reading: Proverbs 21:2; Proverbs 3:5-6 Are you heart smart? Are you self-aware? Are you ever blind to the deeper motives of your heart, to how others experience you, to things about you and your ways that everyone sees but you? “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 21:2). Wise people assume this is naturally true of them. They recognize their need to be aware of this gut-level dynamic and work against it. In our fallenness, we tend to trust our own judgment over the judgment of God and others. We are convinced that we are right. We are convinced that our course of action is right. We are convinced that our motives are right. We will not allow others to throw us off course with their inconvenient questions, observations and arguments. This is pride. In fact, this is the pride of Adam and Eve in the garden who ate the fruit when the serpent promised, “you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:8b). Remember that “the LORD weighs the heart” (Proverbs 21:2b). We must rely on Him, in His word and through prayer, to evaluate our ways. We must also value the way God uses others to challenge our delusions of rightness in line with His Word. May God Himself give us the humility and security in Christ to invite Him to weigh our hearts. May we treasure the ways He uses godly people we trust to show us our self-deception and blind spots. Suggestions for prayer Ask God for the humility and security in Christ that you need to be open to correction. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 27 - Deep sea fishing

“The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” - Proverbs 20:5 Scripture readings: Proverbs 20:5; Psalm 139:1-24 Space has been called ‘the final frontier.’ Space, however, is not the only unexplored realm in God’s vast creation. The ocean depths are also largely unknown to us. They contain many mysterious creatures, waiting to be discovered! Proverbs 20:5 tells us that the human heart is like the ocean deep. The purposes of our hearts, the deepest loves, desires, fears and gut-level emotions that drive us, operate at a subconscious level. They remain unexamined, yet they drive us. Think of a time the intensity of what you felt or how you reacted to something, surprised you. Had someone asked about it, you could not have explained it. At that moment, you need “a man of understanding” who “will draw it out” (Proverbs 20:5b). You need someone in your life who will go deep-sea fishing in your soul. This person asks the right questions that help you clarify what is driving you on the heart level. This is one quality of a wise, effective counsellor. God can use you to do the same for others. Above all, the God of Psalm 139, who knows you inside and out and who knit you together in your mother’s womb, will show you the deep, driving purposes of your heart. That is why Psalm 139 ends with the prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24). Suggestions for Prayer Thank God that He knows and can show you what is deep in your heart. Pray the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. 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 26 - Gossip

“The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” - Proverbs 18:8 Scripture readings: Proverbs 18:8; Ephesians 4:15-16 Today’s proverb makes a sobering observation about sinful human beings. We have a taste for gossip. “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body” (Proverbs 18:8). When a whisperer offers us a scrumptious gossip-morsel on a platter, we eagerly receive and savour it. It hits the spot. It goes down into the inner parts of the body. This proverb prompts us to ask, “Why?” Why is it so hard to let the gossip-platter go by without partaking? Why are such morsels so delicious? The answer is found in the sinful heart. That is where this proverb aims to take us. Let the truth of this proverb drive us to prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23–24). Something in us enjoys hearing about the sins, scandals, skeletons, struggles and secrets of others. It makes us feel better about ourselves. It makes us feel superior to them. It feeds our self-righteousness. It makes us feel powerful to possess a sensitive bit of information that we could use to shame or hurt them. Maybe a juicy bit of gossip gratifies some perverse lust. Maybe, you feel important, like the star of a drama, when you can tell someone else. Then you become a whisperer yourself. Father, forgive us. Holy Spirit, sanctify us. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to forgive you for and purify you from your appetite for gossip. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

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