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Daily devotional

August 15 - The cook behind the meal

“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” - 1 John 3:8a 

Scripture reading: 1 John 3:4-10

‘You are what you eat’ is a quote many of us know. And in certain ways it is definitely true. Those reared on limited food group meals suffer the result of that later in life. This is why governments spend much money on promoting a variety of foods from different groups. Mums are encouraged to be adventurous in their cooking. Moreover, this quote is also true spiritually. We have touched on this.

But let’s now go beyond the food itself. Let’s take ourselves a step back before the eating of what is a truly unfulfilling meal. Let’s walk into the kitchen. We want to see who it is that could dare to feed us this way. What’s the name of the chef ignoring the rules for a healthy spiritual diet? No need to guess any further, is there? The devil has surreptitiously taken over the stove. We find him cackling to himself as he busily prepares the ingredients of worthlessness, hate and selfishness.

No wonder no one’s getting healthy – it’s junk food at its very worst! What we need right now is another kitchen with another chef, where the food is up-building, positive and strengthening. There our taste buds are finely tuned and our bodies renewed. We need to feed upon God’s Word. We need what’s inside Christ to be inside us.

Suggestions for prayer

Plead the help of God’s Spirit to keep us reading His Word. Moreover, let that Word stir us to challenge our fellow believers as well.

Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.

Daily devotional

August 10 - And keep on growing

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

Daily devotional

August 9 - The first word

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

Daily devotional

August 8 - Living under the light

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

Daily devotional

August 7 - Beyond myself

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

Daily devotional

August 2 - My little children

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

Daily devotional

August 1 - Introduction to John

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

Daily devotional

July 31 - Time and purpose

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

Daily devotional

July 30 - Food

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

Daily devotional

July 25 - Friendship

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” - Proverbs 18:24 Scripture reading: Proverbs 18:20-24 Good friends are much desired and greatly appreciated. Our proverb today wisely points out that to have friends we must be friendly. A friendly person is a loving person. Proverbs 17:17 tells us clearly, “A friend loves at all times.” Paul refers to his friends as the “beloved” (Philemon 1). Love leads to many actions and high on the list is giving. “God so loved… that He gave” (John 3:16). Friends give thought, time, encouragement, assistance and service to the beloved. Job tells us, “To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend” (Job 6:14). Friends care for one another and will give freely to meet needs in any way they can. Love in action creates the bond of friendship. The surest bond of friendship is the one that unites the family of God. The best friends are one in faith toward Jesus Christ. No one sticks closer as a friend than Jesus Christ Himself. All the time He was with us, He showed Himself friendly by ministering to human needs. Again and again He fed the hungry, healed the sick and brokenhearted, gave sight to the blind, rescued the fearful, pardoned sins, and gave life to the dead. He continues serving us today by sending us His Spirit and pleading our petitions before the face of God. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.” At the cross He gave His life for our sins. I recommend Jesus as a friend to you all. Suggestions for prayer Learn to take “everything to God in prayer.” Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

July 24 - Faithfulness

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

Daily devotional

July 23 - A brother offended

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

Daily devotional

July 22 - A merry heart

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

Daily devotional

July 17 - All things for the Lord

“The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.” - Proverbs 16:4  Scripture reading: Proverbs 16:1-9 God made all things for His own purposes, for His glory. Romans 11:36 instructs us, “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” The prayer of the Psalmist in Psalm 104:31 is, “May the glory of the LORD endure forever; May the LORD rejoice in His works.” We should see God’s glory revealed in all things. Psalm 19 assures us, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” Look to the sun, moon and stars and behold the glory of God. The seraphim in Isaiah’s vision cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3). We see that glory as we behold the mountains, the oceans, the forests and the lily of the field. The Christian reads of Jesus Christ, His death, resurrection and ascension into glory. His response is to declare, “Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honour and glory and blessing!" The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Scripture directs him, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Today, the Lord’s Day, Scripture calls us to, “Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Give to the LORD glory and strength. Give to the LORD the glory due His name... worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!” (1 Chronicles 16:28,29). Suggestions for prayer Ask God to open eyes to see more of His glory in all things. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

July 16 - A way that seems right

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

Daily devotional

July 15 - Hopes

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

Daily devotional

July 14 - Idleness and diligence

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

Daily devotional

July 9 - Many words

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” - Proverbs 10:19  Scripture reading: Proverbs 10:13-21 The proverb assures us that when many words are spoken, you will hear sinful words among them. The reason is that our words come from our hearts (Luke 6:45) and our hearts are “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). This is no small matter. The solution begins with God giving us a new heart as we come in repentance and faith to Jesus. But be careful! The proverb tells us it is wise to restrain our lips. In Psalm 141:3 the Psalmist prays, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” We simply must think before we speak. How will those who hear us be touched by what we say? We must ask ourselves first if what we say will be true, kind and necessary. If we can’t be sure, it is wise to refrain from speaking. If we profess to be followers of Jesus, we need to remember that no one ever spoke like Him. He always spoke the truth with love and compassion for those who heard. How can we do less? Keep in mind these proverbs. Proverbs 10:20 “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver.” Proverbs 12:25 “A good word makes (the heart) glad.” Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath.” Your kind and careful use of words will bring blessing to others and to yourself as well. It is well worth the effort. Suggestions for prayer “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer” Psalm 19:14. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

July 8 - Covering sins

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

Daily devotional

 July 7 - Escaping the snare

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

Daily devotional

July 6 - Keeping the heart

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

Daily devotional

July 1 - Introduction to Proverbs

During my years of active ministry, I always enjoyed preaching from the book of Proverbs. When I was asked to write the devotions for July 2022, it was the one book in the Bible to which my mind and heart was turned. The question I then faced was, “How will I approach this project?” My answer was to read carefully through Proverbs and as I did so I jotted down the proverbs that caught my interest and spoke to my heart. I came up with one short for this devotional, so kept going and picked a final text from the following book: Ecclesiastes. This means there is no particular theme running through these devotions except to say they are all pieces of wisdom gleaned from the word of God. You will find a wide variety of subjects on the following pages. You will find wisdom on such subjects as humility, correction, words, winning souls and wine, to mention only a few. They all touched my heart as I worked my way through them. May they all touch your hearts as you go through them during the month.  The beginning and fullness of wisdom “… you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God…” - 1 Corinthians 1:30  Scripture reading: Proverbs 1:1-7 Proverbs 1:7 recalls what Job 28:28 and Psalm 111:10 teach; namely, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This fear of God is that affectionate reverence by which we humbly and carefully submit to our heavenly Father’s will. To be wise, we must begin by fearing God. God, the infinite, almighty Creator, has made us for Himself and we must live in submission to Him, being fearful of offending Him. This is where all wisdom begins. To seek wisdom any other way is foolishness, as Romans 1:21 declares. This explains the moral confusion of our modern, secular society that rejects God. We start by fearing God. From there we go to Christ because in Him “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). If we come to Him with faith, He becomes “wisdom from God” for us. We are set to learn from Him. Christ speaks to us and makes His wisdom known to us in the Bible. The gospels reveal much of His wisdom. But the whole Bible reveals much more. Recall how he addressed the two men walking with Him on the road to Emmaus, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” He also reveals His wisdom in the book of Proverbs. May we learn much from it as we give it our attention. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to open minds to the wisdom of Scripture. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 30 - Renewing your strength

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

Daily devotional

June 29 - Wait on the Lord

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

Daily devotional

June 28 - Antidote for fainting

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

Daily devotional

June 23 - Foolishness of idolatry

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

Daily devotional

June 22 - Comparing the nations to God

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

Daily devotional

June 21 - Divine wisdom

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

Daily devotional

June 20 - Divine Measurement

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

Daily devotional, Uncategorised

June 15 - He gathers the Lambs

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

Daily devotional

June 14 - The Lord is my shepherd

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

Daily devotional

June 13 - Behold your God

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

Daily devotional

June 12 - His enduring word

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

Daily devotional

June 7 - Speak comfort to Jerusalem

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

Daily devotional

June 6 - Her warfare is ended

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

Daily devotional

June 5 - The Spirit as wind and fire

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

Daily devotional

June 4 - A sobering message

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

Daily devotional

May 30 - Growing in grace, knowledge, and gratitude

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

Daily devotional

May 29 - Gratitude for God’s grace and peace

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

Daily devotional

May 28 - Praise from a grateful heart

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

Daily devotional

May 27 - Living as grateful adopted children

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

Daily devotional

May 22 - The law and our expression of gratitude

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

Daily devotional

May 21 - Living a life of gratitude

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

May 19 - The immeasurable grace of our triune God

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

Daily devotional

May 14 - Grace for the chief of sinners

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

Daily devotional

May 13 - God’s grace sufficient to remove our shame

“For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.”” -1 Peter 2:6 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:4-12 Of all people, we who are Christian should be the most joyful! We know what it means to have a sentence of condemnation changed to a full and complete pardon. We who have saving faith in Christ are cleansed and have no fear of the judgment to come for “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Consider Peter’s first letter as he quoted from Isaiah 28:16, where the Lord promises that “whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame” (1 Peter 2:6). How encouraging do you think that was for Peter? He had done many things that he was ashamed of, including his denial of Jesus, repeated three times over with curses before the rooster crowed. When the rooster crowed and Peter caught the gaze of Jesus, he went outside and wept bitterly. By contrast, what joy he had when he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write about the promise of God that “whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.” No wonder Peter had written, in 1 Peter 1:8, about inexpressible and glorious joy! And the same response of sorrow for sin and joy for salvation should well up in our hearts. I have done many things that I am deeply ashamed of. And I am sure you have too. But Christ bore the curse of those shameful actions and in their place He imputes – credits – His perfect record of righteousness. What joyful, thankful people we should be! Suggestions for prayer Thank God with deep gratitude that as He forgives our sin, He removes our shame. Ask Him to sanctify us so that we reflect the joy of salvation to others. Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 12 - Grace given us before the beginning of time

“Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…” - 2 Timothy 1:9 Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-14 After describing how we are saved and called to a holy life, not because of anything we have done, the apostle makes an amazing statement. He describes how God saved us, “because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…” (v. 9). How do we respond to such an awesome statement? How do we respond to the truth that before the Lord formed us in the womb, He knew us (Jeremiah 1:5; Galatians 1:15) since “He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:5)? Verse 8 tells us to respond to the eternal love of God by not being ashamed to testify about our Lord. We truly have treasure in jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). What greater treasure is there than knowing the eternal love of God through saving faith in Christ? How eagerly we should testify! We also have full assurance and confidence in our salvation, exclaiming with Paul, “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me” (v. 12). The salvation that has been entrusted to us is only found through saving faith in Christ, Who is described as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8 NKJV). May your faith and mine always be focused on Christ Jesus and the eternal love of our triune God! Suggestions for prayer Pray that in the brief span of your life you may express true gratitude to God for His eternal love, which will be perfectly experienced in the life to come – forever!  Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 11 - Grace far greater than our sin

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” - Luke 5:31-32  Scripture reading: Psalm 32:1-11; Luke 5:27-32 The devil specializes in guilt. He loves to bring up your past; he loves to point to your sins, your transgressions and iniquity. But rather than being overwhelmed by his accusations, you can find great comfort in knowing that Jesus came into the world to call sinners to repentance. It was Thomas Watson who pointed out, “Till sin be bitter; Christ will not be sweet.” It is when we recognize our sin, confess it to the LORD and trust in Christ alone to save us, that we discover the greatness of God's grace. We must come to the point that David describes in Psalm 32: “I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v. 5). Another ploy of the evil one is to tempt us to think that our works of righteousness make us acceptable to God. That ploy worked well on the Pharisees, and there are many today who are trusting in their works instead of in Christ, just as there are many who think their guilt is too great for God's grace to cover. But as we see our guilt and confess it, may you and I also rejoice in the grace of our God, trusting the promise of His Word that “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18). Suggestions for prayer If you have never truly confessed your sins, prayerfully do so with the assurance that Christ came not for the healthy, but those sick – even dead – in their sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-3). Trust Him and thank Him that His grace is far greater than your sin! Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 6 - Our sinful nature enticed by the law

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

Daily devotional

May 5 - Guilt and our sins of omission

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” - James 4:17  Scripture reading: Matthew 25:14-30 James 4:17 is such a convicting verse; it reminds us that sin is a double-edged sword. One edge that cuts deeply is the sin of commission; and the other cutting edge, which convicts all of us, is the sin of omission. In the parable of the talents, we read about a man with one talent who was consigned to hell. What did he do to incur eternal sorrow in the reality of hell? Did he murder someone? Or commit adultery? Or steal a great sum of money? None of those sins of commission are mentioned. Instead, it was the sin of omission springing from a lack of saving faith that led to his eternal condemnation. He took the talent that the Lord had given him and buried it in a field. The Lord chastised him by saying that he should have at least put the money in a bank to earn interest on it. He was condemned and sentenced to eternal judgment for his sin of omission. But what about you and what about me? How many sins of omission are in your life? I know there are more than I could ever count in my life. But by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone, all those sins of omission are forgiven, as well as the sins of commission. If you have experienced that forgiveness, then use your talents to praise your Redeemer, for His glory and for your good! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His Son, “Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14), remembering that we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 4 - Sinners and sin

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” - John 15:5  Scripture reading: John 15:1-11 The question is sometimes asked, “Are we sinners because we sin?” or “Do we sin because we are sinners?” The answer to those questions reveals our concept of original sin and our concept of our sinful nature. It is because of our sinful nature that we commit sins. For instance, we might look at someone who sins in an obvious way, perhaps they are guilty of stealing, and we say, “They stole merchandise, so they are sinners.” But the Biblical view has the opposite progression. God looks at us and sees that since we are sinful from the moment of conception (Psalms 51:5), we commit sins. It is because we are sinners that we are prone to swear, steal, cheat and commit adultery, along with all the other transgressions of God’s law. In the analogy of John Donne, our sinful nature is like the trunk of a tree. Just as branches grow from the trunk of a tree, so we sin because sin inevitably grows out of our sinful nature. Consequently, our guilt includes not only the many sins we commit – and the sins of omission – but our sinful nature also declares us guilty from the moment of conception. Yet, as we confess both our sins and our sinful nature, there is comfort through saving faith in Christ. Although our guilt is great, God’s grace is greater! He has grafted His people into the Tree of Life, and by saving faith, we who abide in Christ produce spiritual fruit (v. 5), for His glory and our good! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the atoning work of Christ which cleanses both our sinful nature and our sins. And pray that by abiding in Him we will produce much fruit for His glory!  Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

 May 3 - The problem is within

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” - Matthew 15:19  Scripture reading: Matthew 15:1-20 The Pharisees mastered the art of looking good on the outside. Jesus described them as a clean cup on the outside, but insidiously evil inside (Matthew 23:25-28). But unfortunately, apart from saving faith in Christ alone, we are no better than the Pharisees. The true condition of the human heart is described in Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?” And Jesus pointed out that it is from the heart that a multitude of sins flow (Matthew 15:16-20). Decay from the inside out is always the most dangerous and destructive. You can spray your garden plants on the outside to prevent pests from destroying them, but when decay comes from within there is nothing you can do. But God is able to change what is within. In fact, Ezekiel 36:26 gives this promise from the Lord: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.” While God alone, in Sovereign grace, can give us a new heart – a heart of flesh upon which He writes His law – we must guard our heart (Proverbs 4:23), which includes faithfulness both in worship and in personal devotions, as well as guarding the actions springing from our heart, since our heart and actions go hand in hand. As you recognize the condition of your heart, look in saving faith to the only One Who can cleanse and sanctify us by His Spirit, our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the forgiveness of innumerable sins that spring from your heart, but also pray for sanctification, that God would enable all of us to grow in grace, knowledge, obedience, love and service. Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 28 - The ploys of false-god Pharaoh

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

Daily devotional

April 27 - The initial resistance of false-god pharaoh

“But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice and let Israel go?”” - Exodus 5:2 Scripture reading: Exodus 5:1-21 Pharaoh’s initial response to God’s Word is no different from many who respond to the gospel—arrogance and ignorance; “Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice?” Arrogance stems from ignorance of God—a problem that the Lord will solve (Exodus 7:17; 8:10, 22). The spirit of spiritual arrogance and ignorance brings disappointment, discouragement and even dissension within the camp of God’s people, including Moses and Aaron. However, this arrogance and ignorance were predicted. It wasn’t going to be easy for Moses and God’s people, but God way would prevail. God was still with Moses and the people despite the arrogance. It didn’t look like it, but looks can be deceiving. That is the comfort that we can draw when we encounter unbelief. Anti-Christian attitudes are to be expected. However, God will still work it all out. Such arrogance and ignorance persist: “Who is the LORD that I should listen to Him?” When we sin as Christians, such arrogance arises. It calls for pleas for pardon to God. Godlessness offends, but should not surprise, given man’s heart, nor should it cause despair. By God’s grace, we come to know Who the true God-incarnate is and Whose kingdom lasts forever. It is Christ—not Pharaoh. Don’t despair. Be still and faithful! Continue to be God’s ambassador to the ends of the earth. Reflect your Saviour—God-incarnate, Jesus Christ, Who knew no arrogance, nor ignorance, so that you can shine to the world as His godly reflection. Suggestions for prayer Seek pardon from arrogance and spiritual ignorance. Pray to be a godly ambassador of Christ in word and deed. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 26 - God further prepares the deliverer

“And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.” - Exodus 4:31  Scripture reading: Exodus 4:27-31 Moses’ meeting with Aaron brings a different encouragement than at his departure from Midian. At Midian he was encouraged in the midst of the unbelief of Pharaoh. Through his meeting with Aaron and working with Aaron, he would be encouraged in the midst of faith. Aaron comes as God promised. Both Aaron and Moses go to the elders and people. A pattern develops: word-deed-faith-word-deed. The people hear (word), see the signs (deed), believe (faith), hear (word) and worship (deed). God told Moses that the elders would believe (3:18). This faith, just like true faith today, leads to the worship of God because the word of redemption that is believed moves people to worship. These people, who had been in bondage so long, now come to know the good news of deliverance by the Lord. How could they not but worship God? What was true back then is still true today! Notice how faith encourages! What a joy to be in the midst of faith! What a joy for a family! What a joy for parents, widows and widowers! What a joy for the persecuted in the Lord! What a joy for the weary and heavy-laden! What a tool of encouragement faith can be! The communion of the saints encourages the faithful as the faithful encourage. Be encouraged by God’s covenant faithfulness, rather than discouraged by man’s faithfulness. Be encouraged by the faithfulness of other Christians too. By God and the Christian faithful, we will be moved to be encouragers ourselves. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His encouraging gospel that moves you to worship, and also for the blessing that He gives you in the communion of the saints, the church of Jesus Christ. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 25 - God further prepares the deliverer

“Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!”” - Exodus 4:25 Scripture reading: Exodus 4:24-26 This story has its puzzles. It is safe to say, however, that Moses underestimated the need to provide the sign of the covenant to his child. Importance is to be tied to the covenant of grace, to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God was remembering His firstborn, His covenant promises to Abraham through whose seed all the nations of the earth were to be blessed, ultimately in Christ. For Christ’s sake, Moses was to view his children covenantally, even as God Himself did. The Lord burned at Moses’ whining before; he was patient then, but not now. Moses considered the covenant lightly. It almost cost him his life. For the sake of our children, the Lord, and our own sake, we ought not to minimize God’s covenant, not in sacramental usage, nor when we remember Whose shed blood fulfilled the covenant of grace. Zipporah cries out, “You are a bridegroom of blood to me.” Spilled blood restores Moses so that he can proceed in his calling. In our relationship to God, blood had to be spilled to spare us. Only then can we be in covenant with God. Realizing that blood no longer needs to be spilled should make us realize how precious Christ’s shed blood is for us. Ultimately it was the blood of Christ that would spare Moses so he could serve the Lord. We must confess that it is only the blood of Christ, the bridegroom, that will spare us for that purpose as well. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to the Lord for the marvels of His covenant mercies to us in Christ. Pray that the covenant relationship that God has established with believers in Christ and their children will be better understood and better appreciated. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 20 - No reason for reluctance

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

Daily devotional

April 19 - No reason for reluctance

“God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And He said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”” - Exodus 3:14  Scripture reading: Exodus 3:13-22 Moses has five reasons to stiff-arm God’s calling to serve Him. Here is another: Excuse #2 What if the people ask about Your power to help them? What if they ask about Your name? This is not a question of who, but what. This is not a question of whether they have ever run across this God before. The excuse is the fact that the people may not think that the name of this God is going to be good enough to save them, so Moses is asking, “What should I say then? I don’t like the idea that they will say to me that this God couldn’t possibly do them any good.” To bolster Moses’ confidence, God replies, “Just tell them that I AM Who I AM is sending you to them—the Name above every name. Then they will listen to you.” That’s the kind of God that we have when we are in Christ, the exact same God in Jesus Christ, Who says I will be with you always. Never will I leave you nor forsake you. I transcend your times and I know your times. No time is too difficult for Me to be in the midst, no time is able to constrict My authority over those times with My Word and My promises. I AM has sent you. Before Abraham was, I AM. I AM the light of the world. I AM the resurrection and the life. I AM the Good Shepherd. I AM is sending you. Now go into all the world and serve Me well. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His steadfast love and dependability. Pray that you might dwell on that steadfast love and dependability in Christ as you are called to serve Him well in the days that lie ahead for you. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 18 - No reason for reluctance

“But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you….”” - Exodus 3:11-12a  Scripture reading: Exodus 3:11-12 This is the classic tale of the reluctance of Moses. If you struggle with unwillingness, you are not alone; so did Moses. Yet God drains us of any excuses that would keep us from serving Him. Moses had no reason to say no to God. Neither do we. Consider these excuses, though: Excuse #1 Who am I? Such a statement may seem strangely absent from our modern syntax. Confidence bordering on arrogance abounds today. Maybe Moses is just being humble: “Who am I to face Pharaoh?” This is not humility; it is timidity. Moses fails to rely on the power of God. God replies to him, “You are not going alone; you have Me!” God even gives Moses a sign that points to the future—a day will come when you will all worship Me here. “I will be with you; and great days of worship are ahead. Now go!” Who am I? Who am I to teach my children in the ways of God? To volunteer? To help someone? Who is the church to go into all the world and proclaim the gospel, baptize and teach others? Who are we to do what the Lord has placed in front of us? It’s not about us. It’s about Who is with us and what the future holds—when we will be worshiping with God’s people in resurrected glory one day. If God is calling us, His calling comes with promises of hope. So, go! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the many promises that He has kept and that He will fulfill in your life. Pray that you will take those promises to heart as you consider where He would have you serve Him with strength and courage. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 17 - The God of the living

“But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now He is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to Him.” - Luke 20:37-38 Scripture reading: Exodus 3:1-10; Luke 20:27-40 The burning bush speaks also to the fiery trials God’s people must face—Moses being a case in point. Both Moses and God’s people in general know what it was like to be strangers in a land not their own. Trials from the Lord may be fiery, but they do not consume God’s people. We know that is so because God reminds Moses of who God is, the God of resurrection promise (verse 6; Luke 20:37-38), the God of the living, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God’s inseparable covenant love endures, even in the midst of death. God does not say that He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He says that He is. In time God comes down to deliver Israel, foreshadowing Christ’s coming down from heaven to undergo the greatest of fiery trials for His people. Yet even in this trial, His Father would not let His Holy One see decay (Psalm 16:10; Acts. 2:27). Christians are not exempt from fiery trials. Yet the fire doesn’t consume when we know the God of resurrection promise. God sees, hears and knows, about our fiery trials. Even as Christ came down to deliver us from the bondage of sin, so also will He come down again and keep His promise to take us to be where He is in resurrection glory. God has not brought the trials to consume us, but to prepare us for His purposes, His deliverance, His service, and for eternity. Suggestions for prayer On this day when we especially celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, pray that the Lord might renew you by His Spirit to the comforts and joys that Christ’s resurrection bring. Pray that you might be given the spiritual strength to live gratefully and obediently in the power of Christ’s resurrection today and always. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

April 11 - God prepares a deliverer: Lessons from Egypt

“When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian.” - Exodus 2:15  Scripture reading: Exodus 2:11-25 Another lesson of Egypt is that what man means for evil, God will use for good. In our passage, we see other ties back to Genesis. Moses’ situation resembles that of Joseph. Joseph goes out to his actual brothers (Genesis 37) and is rejected by them. Moses goes out to his “brothers,” and he is rejected by them. Joseph is exiled to Egypt by Midian traders (Genesis 37:25-36), while Moses is “exiled” to Midian by the hand of the Egyptians. Yet both Joseph and Moses experience final victory in Egypt. Here again, we see the tie to the past of Genesis as a foretaste of the victory that God will bring about in due time. What is meant for evil God will turn to good. Such is true for Joseph, for Moses, for Christ and for all those who are in Christ. We have to cling to such hope in evil times. God will work it all out. He always does. He always has and we see it no better than at the cross of Jesus Christ. That’s why there is always gospel hope. That is why there is always good news for those who follow Christ. Part of what makes the gospel such good news is not only that we are reconciled and redeemed by Christ, but that the transformation that He has accomplished for us as Christians is of such a nature that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Suggestions for prayer Recall times when God has worked evil in your life for good and give thanks to the Lord for such times. Pray to the Lord for the consoling vision to see how God will work out all things in your life for His glory and your good, so that hope may reign even more in your life. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 10 - God prepares a deliverer: Lessons from Egypt

“Who made you a prince and a judge over us?” - Exodus 2:14 Scripture reading: Exodus 2:11-25 Another lesson for Moses was to suffer as a deliverer. Moses will get used to rebukes and opposition when he becomes the leader and deliverer of God’s people. Even if Moses went ahead of himself in killing the Egyptian as he did, he was right to intervene to bring peace and order among those who were part of God’s covenant people. But as with this rebuke of Moses, the people of Israel in the future will be quick to speak, slow to listen and quick to become angry with Moses, like a rebellious mob. Such a rebellious, mob-like attitude is what brought Christ to the cross and it is an attitude that prevails today among those who have not come to know the peace of God in their lives. Such a life knows nothing but chaos. Moses came to his own people and they did not receive him—that was not to their advantage. Christ also came to His own and they did not receive Him. Christ comes to people who have grown up in the church and they do not receive Him. No matter who we are, if we don’t receive Christ, our life will be as chaotic as a mob scene. But to those who do receive Christ, who believed on His name, He gave the right to become children of God, born of God (John 1:12). Those who receive Him will know the peace of God and peace with God. Many are missing such peace. Suggestions for prayer On this day of worship—which may be a day where you hear the shouts of hosanna: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” thank God for the coming of His Son and the peace He has brought to your life. Pray that many more may come to a lasting peace with God. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 9 - God prepares the deliverer: Lessons in Egypt

“He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” -  Exodus 2:12  Scripture reading: Exodus 2:11-25 In our passage, God is preparing Moses to be the deliverer of His people by what Moses does, whether good or bad. As we are called to be like Christ in our lives, we can be grateful that we can learn from our failings and rely on God all the more. Moses learns many lessons in Egypt. One of them is that the ends do not justify the means. Moses has a compassion for the people to whom he actually belongs. Such compassion is commendable—we can learn from that. Moses wants to fill a need, but he tried to fill it outside of God’s will and timing. Moses is deceptive like Jacob. Such deception does not honour the Lord. Moses is taking the deliverance of God’s people into His own hands, rather than waiting for God’s timing that arrives in verse 23. Taking matters into our own hands is not to be the character of God’s people who were called to use godly means for godly ends. Such was not Christ’s way for His people and such is not to be the way for us. If good things happen to those who wait, certainly this is the case for all of God’s people called to a godly patience today. Don’t go ahead of God and take matters sinfully into your own hands for God will work all to your good when you are in Christ through faith. Suggestions for prayer Pray for pardon if you are not valuing God’s timing in your life. Pray that the Lord might help you to wait patiently and obediently for God to supply your needs in due time. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 4 - God prepares deliverance through a special infancy

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

Daily devotional

April 3 - God’s promises prevail over evil

“But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.” - Exodus 1:17  Scripture reading: Exodus 1:8-22 Today is the day of worship for Christians. Worship is meant for the covenant God alone, but sinful humanity wants to substitute God for something else. Some make that object of worship the “princes” of this world—royalty, or other politicians. Often, such “princes” would oblige or even coerce the masses to such a state of worship. However, passages like ours remind us that we ought not to put such confidence in mere human potentates, simply because they are no match for the sole-worthy, covenant God. Ignorant and arrogant Pharaoh is being used by Satan as his instrument to try to kill off the covenant promise of God to bring a Redeemer. Pharaoh may not know Joseph, but he does know that he wants to keep what he considers his supremacy whatever cost. While the most powerful of kings seem to be able to do what they want, they are still subservient to the plans of God—Pharaoh’s plans are in fact foiled at every turn. He thinks he is great, but God is greater still and the only One worthy of worship. The midwives realize this and so must we. Whenever the kings of the earth take counsel against the Lord, it is all in vain. God has them in derision (Psalm 2:4). This vanity was so at the cross of Christ and continues to be so today. God alone is worthy of our worship for His plans alone prevail in Christ. May He, therefore, receive our worship today. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His sovereignty over the powers that be, and petition the Lord that He might fill your heart with the joy of worshiping Him well today on this Lord’s Day. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 2 - Signs of hope for succeeding generations

“But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.” - Exodus 1:7  Scripture reading: Exodus 1:1-14 Yesterday, we saw that time does not prevail over God’s promises in Christ; God’s promises prevail over our times. Faith and obedience are always contemporary callings from God’s Word. Today we see that God provides signs of hope so that we can trust His promises—even in adversity. One such sign for Israel was the blessing of children—a reminder of God’s covenant promises to bless all the nations of the world through His victory over evil. With every child born came hope for such a future, even in adversity. Pharaoh, who did not know covenant history, imposed slave labor upon the people of God out of fear and jealousy. Nevertheless, children continued to be born to God’s covenant people despite the despotic calling to the midwives to kill the baby boys (Exodus 1:16). Hope for the future flourished through covenant births. Oppression struck God’s people, but the signs of hope continued. For the sake of Christ, the promised deliverer, God blessed with children. For the sake of Christ, God still blesses with children. Births to covenant parents have always been viewed in Scripture as a reason for thanksgiving and hope. They point us to God’s covenant mercies in Christ. With births, Israel learned that despite evil’s power, the seed of the woman would crush evil’s head. God’s promise to bring a deliverer was going to come through the covenant line. Thanks to God’s promises of ultimate victory, hope need not die for the people of God. Good news! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the joy and blessing of covenant children and be in prayer for those children, that by God’s continued grace they might be used mightily for the sake of Christ as they grow and mature. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

April 1 - Introduction to the book of Exodus

This month we reflect on Exodus 1 to Exodus 6:13. These introductory chapters of Exodus can fill our days well with lessons on the relevant truths of God’s covenant promises, God’s prominence, God’s prevalence, God’s power, God’s mercy and God’s justice. The term “Exodus” literally means “the way out.” “Departure” describes “Exodus” well; Exodus reveals the departure of God’s people out of Egypt. People often conclude that the Old Testament Scriptures have little relevance for the New Testament church. However, all Scripture speaks to God’s covenant dealings with His people. Believers in Christ today, as God’s covenant people, can find relevance in all the Scriptures as they point to Christ and the calling to respond in penitence, faith and gratitude to God in Jesus Christ. Exodus is not just a remembrance of past events that carries no significance for the present. Exodus is very contemporary; it is a history lesson for upcoming generations, testifying to the God Whose covenant promises are “Yes” and “Amen” in Jesus Christ. This is a month where we take special time to reflect on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Exodus helps us remember those pillars of the Christian faith. Moses points to the Great Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus Christ, Who becomes the ultimate Passover Lamb so that God can truly be the covenant God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—the God of the living. May you be edified by this devotional on Exodus—unto the praise of the covenant God of the living.  God's promises prevail throughout the generations “Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly…” - Exodus 1:6-7a  Scripture reading: Exodus 1:1-7 Exodus starts with the word “and,” which doesn’t show up in the English translation, but that little word expresses that the covenant plans of God are continuing to unfold. Exodus continues the covenant history of Genesis, deriving covenant-family history from Genesis. Exodus is a history lesson for upcoming generations. What is gleaned from the history of redemption is addressed to the present and the future. History lessons are for the young and for others who can learn about the past of which they are not aware. The first to read about this covenant history would have been those about to enter the promised land. Succeeding generations would also read this book, including our own—which reminds us that Scripture is not merely old or for the old. It speaks to those in the present, called to listen to and learn from the history of God’s covenant plans, ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ. In this family history, we read that new generations arose to take over for the old. As they did, it was their calling to carry on in covenant with God. The God of new generations was not a new God. It was the same God as the God of their spiritual forefathers. The generations had changed, but God’s promises had not. This history was not just to show that someone had a large family, it was to show that time does not prevail over God’s promises; God’s promises prevail over our times—ultimately in Christ. Good news! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His stable Word in unstable times and pray that many might come to appreciate that stability. Rev. John Vermeer is the pastor of Doon United Reformed Church in Doon, Iowa....

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

March 26 - Preserving in obedience by faith in the promises

“It was God’s will to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses.” - Joshua 11:20  Scripture reading: Joshua 11:16-20 After what the LORD did to Jericho and Ai, and to the coalition of five Amorite kings, it really made no sense for the Canaanites to keep trying to fight Israel. But, apart from the Gibeonites, they all did. The Holy Spirit explains in verse 20, It was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy, but be destroyed. It reminds us of how Pharaoh refused to let Israel go, even when the plagues were destroying Egypt. God said, “I will harden his heart.” God is sovereign and He has the right to do whatever He pleases in this world. But that’s not all there is to say. The LORD had told Abraham in Genesis 15 that He would give the land to Abraham’s descendants when the iniquity of the Amorites was complete. That time had obviously come: the sin of the inhabitants of Canaan was complete. God doesn’t treat people like puppets. People make choices and God holds them responsible for that choice. It was not wise for the Canaanites to keep fighting Israel when it had become perfectly obvious that they could never win. God let them suffer the consequence of their foolish decision. In fact, God uses the foolish choices of His enemies to bring them to their destruction and to accomplish the salvation of His people. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His sovereign direction of all things, leading to the judgement of His enemies and the salvation of His people, and thank Him for the grace He has shown you in bringing you to Himself in repentance and faith. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 25 - Preserving in obedience by faith in the promises

“Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.” - Joshua 11:18 Scripture reading: Joshua 11:16-20 God didn’t let Israel just walk in and take the land of Canaan. According to verse 18, Joshua made war a long time. Why did Israel have to fight at all? God didn’t need their help. He could have just swept all of those Canaanites out of the way and given Israel the land. Why did God make them fight? We might ask the same question about why God doesn’t just snap His fingers and bring every elect person to faith or why He tells us to go and make disciples. Our business is to believe and, by faith, obey. God said to Israel, I’m going to give you the land in the way of faith and obedience. That’s how we receive the things that He’s prepared for us. And we always have to be asking ourselves, Are we living by faith in the promises? Are we doing what God has commanded us to do? When we set our hearts on what we see, we will live for what we can have here and now, and we will fall away. But when we set our hearts on having what God has promised us, we have our hearts set on doing what God has commanded us to do, and we will persevere. The Holy Spirit is saying, This is how you endure, how you conquer, how you receive all of the wonderful things God has prepared for you: by setting your hearts on what He’s promised and on doing what He has commanded you to do. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to help you set your heart on having what God has promised you and to be committed to living the life God commands you to live. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON...

Daily devotional

March 24 - Until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet

“And when they brought those kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.”” - Joshua 10:24  Scripture reading: Joshua 10:16-28 One by one, each of the defeated kings was called out to appear before Joshua. They had hidden in the cave, but when God comes to judge, there’s nowhere to hide. We confess that on the great day of judgement, “…all people, men, women and children, who ever lived, from the beginning of the world to the end will appear in person before Jesus Christ.” Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings” (Joshua 10:24). When archaeologists opened the tomb of Tutankhamun, they found a picture of his throne, with a footstool that had the images of Egypt’s nine traditional enemies engraved on it. Every time Tutankhoman sat on his throne, his feet would be on the necks of his enemies. The meaning is pretty obvious: he was proclaiming total domination over his enemies. It seems a little barbaric to us, but this is the great promise of Psalm 110: The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool.” Paul says in I Corinthians 15, This is where human history is going: Christ is reigning until He makes all His enemies His footstool. And notice that Joshua didn’t put his foot on the necks of these kings; He told the commanders of the army to do that. The LORD defeated these kings, but the people shared in the LORD’s victory because, by faith, they fought against His enemies. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord will help you to believe that Christ is reigning over all things right now and that He is leading world history to the day when He makes all His enemies a footstool. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 19 - People loved the darkness rather than the light

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

Daily devotional

March 18 - Every knee shall bow

“But Joshua made them that day cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, to this day, in the place that he should choose.” - Joshua 9:27  Scripture reading: Joshua 9:22-27 Look at what God did for these lying Gibeonites. The people of Israel wanted to wipe them out, but Joshua delivered the Gibeonites out of the hand of the people of Israel. In His sovereign goodness, God let these deceivers live and stay in their cities. In that respect, we might be inclined to say that their lie paid off. But Joshua made them day cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, to this day, in the place that He should choose. Don’t just skip over that. The Gibeonites were allowed to live, even though they didn’t repent and believe in Israel’s God. But throughout their generations, they cut wood and drew water that was used in the worship of the LORD. Paul says in Philippians 2 that when Jesus comes again, every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. This is a picture and a promise of what will happen on that day. Not every knee will bow in worship; not every tongue will confess His Name with joy. The world will still hate Him. Just like it says in Revelation 16, in spite of experiencing the wrath of God, the world refuses to repent. But willingly or not, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is LORD to the glory of God the Father. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to haste the day when we will see the whole world kneel before Jesus and hear every tongue confess that He is Lord and to give you faith to live in expectation of that day. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 17 - Love your enemies and do good

“… the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them.”” - Joshua 9:19  Scripture reading: Joshua 9:16-21 In light of this passage, we can make a point about how we need to do what we promise. That’s an encouragement we definitely need to hear. But we can also understand why the people felt like they had plenty of reasons to break their word and wipe out the deceptive Gibeonites. But they had sworn their oath in the Name of the LORD. That was the great issue: the glory of the Name of the LORD. God glorifies His Name in the salvation of His people. He makes us live a new kind of life in the midst of the world. He redeems slaves through the blood of His Son and He puts His Spirit in those slaves, writing His law on our hearts, to show that we are sons of God that we might display the heart and the character of God. We carry God’s Name in the world. The morality and the lifestyle of God’s people are the salt of the earth. It is the light that God sets in the darkness. The congregation wanted to attack Gibeon and wipe them out because they had been cheated; they had been deceived and they wanted to make the Gibeonites pay. That’s natural. We want revenge too when someone cheats us or deceives us. But standing up for your own rights and taking revenge is not the culture of the kingdom. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the grace and humility to do good to those who hate you, to pray for those who abuse you, to turn the other cheek to those who strike you and to love your enemies. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 16 - When pride comes, then comes disgrace

“So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD.” - Joshua 9:14  Scripture reading: Joshua 9:3-15 The men of Israel who first met the Gibeonites and brought them to Joshua seemed to be suspicious of these people. The Gibeonites, however, appeared to be humble, claiming they wanted to make a covenant because they had heard about what the LORD had done. They showed them their dry bread, their burst wineskins and their worn-out clothes and sandals. But the men who spoke with them didn’t ask counsel from the LORD. That’s a criticism. The Holy Spirit wants to make sure that we recognize the failure of Joshua and the leaders of Israel. We don’t know why Joshua didn’t ask the LORD for counsel, but it sure looks like pride The Holy Spirit is saying to us, Joshua was great, but he isn’t the Joshua that Israel really needs. He didn’t have the wisdom, or the humility, to rely entirely on the help of the LORD. Our Joshua was a wise and humble Saviour. The gospels tell us how frequently and passionately He sought the Father’s help in prayer and submitted Himself to His Father’s will. Notice that the LORD didn’t send any angels to warn Joshua about the mistake he was about to make. He did that for Joseph (Matthew 1:20). But sometimes, when we’re about to make a mistake, the LORD lets us do it. It is as if to say, You know what I told you. You have a choice to make, but you will be held accountable for the choice you make. Suggestions for prayer:  Thank the Lord for the faithful and obedient Saviour He provided for you in Jesus Christ. Ask God to give you the humility to simply obey His Word and to follow the Spirit’s direction. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 11 - God lures his enemies to their destruction

“And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city, and that the smoke of the city went up, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. And the others came out from the city against them, so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side. And Israel struck them down, until there was left none that survived or escaped.” - Joshua 8:21-22 Scripture reading: Joshua 8:10-29 It’s confusing for us to follow the action of Israel’s battle with Ai, but God commanded Israel to use a strategy that involved deceit. Joshua and the soldiers in front of the city had to pretend to run away when the soldiers of Ai came out after them and 5,000 soldiers, lying in ambush, ran into the city and captured it. Our holy and truthful God told Joshua to deceive Ai. That’s our God: He lets our enemies rush to their own destruction; in fact, He lures them into doing that. When our enemies think they’re going to finish us off, God has them right where He wants them. Goliath was offended when David was sent out against him, all alone, with only his staff and a sling. And David brought him down. Satan and Jesus’ enemies thought they would destroy Jesus by getting Him crucified. But they destroyed themselves. In Revelation 20, Jesus showed John how Satan will be released and will deceive the nations to gather them for battle against the church. With their number like the sand of the sea, they surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them. That’s the way God works. Right now, our enemies are growing strong, on every side. But that doesn’t mean the end for us. Because God will use their pride, their presumption, their thirst for our blood, to lead them to their own destruction. And their destruction is our salvation. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to use this story, and others like it, to encourage you as you see the enemies of the church and the gospel growing in strength, and to help you stand firm in faith in spite of the way things seem to be going. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 10 - We receive our inheritance in the way of humble faith 

“Joshua chose 30,000 mighty men of valor and sent them out by night. And he commanded them, Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it.” - Joshua 8:3b-4 Scripture reading: Joshua 8:3-9 Strictly speaking, the LORD didn’t need a strategy, or Israel’s fighting men, to defeat Ai. The purpose of the strategy was not first of all to win the battle, but to show Israel what He is like and to teach them how to receive their promised inheritance. The way Joshua and Israel approached Ai the first time showed that they had forgotten those things. They lost the battle against Ai because God wasn’t with them, and God wasn’t with them because they hadn’t asked Him to go with them. They thought that they could defeat Ai without His help. But the way God’s people defeat their enemies and receive the inheritance God has promised is by living from day to day, in complete reliance on the Lord and in close communion with Him. Without God, you can’t defeat the weakest enemy and you won’t know the way you have to go. The way of salvation is the way of faith, the way of prayer, of dependence on God and of careful obedience to His will. Unlike Joshua, that’s what Jesus did: He prayed regularly and fervently because He needed to. You might think that if anyone could make it on His own, it would have been Jesus, the Son of God. But His confession was, “I have come to do Your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7). That’s the kind of Saviour we need – a Saviour Who knows what God is like and leads us in the way that will bring us to live in fellowship with Him. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the faithful leadership and instruction of the Lord Jesus and pray that the Spirit would help you to live by humble faith in God. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 9 - Repentance leads to reconciliation

“And the LORD said to Joshua, Do not fear and do not be dismayed.” - Joshua 8:1a Scripture reading: Joshua 8:1-2 We have a chapter division separating what it says at the end of chapter 7 and what the LORD says at the beginning of chapter 8, but the one comes right after the other. It goes like this: Then the LORD turned from His burning anger. Therefore, to this day, the name of that place is called the valley of Achor. And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear, and do not be dismayed” (Joshua 8:1). That’s God. When He proclaimed His Name to Moses, the LORD said, I am merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but I will by no means clear the guilty. When Israel broke faith with regard to the devoted things, the LORD said, I will be with you no more unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. When Israel punished Achan, that was an act of national repentance. And as soon as Israel had repented of her sin, God said to Joshua, Do not fear and do not be dismayed. That’s God: when the guilty repent, He does what we find so hard, almost impossible to do: He forgives our sin, and the relationship is restored. We are reconciled to Him. That’s what God has shown us in Jesus Christ. If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O LORD, who could stand? But with You, there is forgiveness, that You may be feared. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His mercy and His readiness to forgive you and receive you for the sake of Jesus Christ, as often as you accept the promise of the gospel. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 8 - History that prophesies

“And the LORD said to Joshua, Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land.” - Joshua 8:1 Scripture reading: Joshua 8:1-2 When God gave us His Word, the Holy Spirit used many of the kinds of literature that you find in human writing. There’s poetry and wisdom literature; there’s apocalypse, where God reveals the future to us with strange images; there are biographies and letters and there’s history. Those are all human literary forms. But the Bible is God’s inspired Word that proclaims the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ and so these human literary forms have a special character. We would characterize the book of Joshua as history, but the Old Testament church called it prophecy because it doesn’t just tell us facts about things that God and His people did as Israel entered the Promised Land. Old Testament history prophesies: it proclaims and foreshadows God’s work of salvation in Jesus Christ. So as we read what is recorded in Joshua 8, we shouldn’t think that this is here just so that everything turned out alright, because Israel eventually managed to defeat Ai, and they really made them pay for what happened the first time. The story of Israel’s victory at Ai tells us Who God is and how we can expect Him to deal with us. It shows us how we can claim the inheritance of eternal life that He has promised us in Jesus Christ. Our times, our circumstances and our calling are in many ways different from Israel’s. But God is the same. The way of salvation is the same for us as it was for them – by grace and through faith. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what Old Testament history is teaching us about the character and ways of God, how it foreshadows the coming and the saving ministry of Christ, so that you may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 3 - Repentance is a condition of fellowship with God

“I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.” - Joshua 7:12b Scripture reading: Joshua 7:2-13  Joshua didn’t know what had happened, but when God didn’t go with Israel’s soldiers when they went to fight against Ai, he tore his clothes and put dust on his head and fell on his face before the ark of the Lord, together with the elders. It never occurred to him that it might be Israel’s fault. He pointed the finger at God, Why have You brought these people over the Jordan, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? The LORD was having none of that. He told Joshua, Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? There’s a special stress there on you: Joshua, you of all people should know better than this! Do you really think that I would break My Word? This didn’t happen because I broke My promise. Israel has sinned; they have transgressed My covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. That’s why they can’t stand before their enemies: because they have become devoted to destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you. Israel had committed adultery and there was only one way to restore the relationship and receive their inheritance in the promised land: repentance, and just judgement. We cannot live in fellowship with God unless we are cleansed of our unfaithfulness. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He calls you to repentance and provides atonement for your sin and an open door to life with God, through the death of Jesus Christ. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 2 - What fellowship has light with darkness? 

“… Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel.” - Joshua 7:1b  Scripture reading: Joshua 7:1 The Spirit identifies Achan in terms of his genealogy to underline the fact that he is a covenant child of God. But when he took some of the devoted things from Jericho, he identified himself with the city that was under God’s judgement. Achan was one of God’s holy people. He had the covenant promises; he had witnessed God’s great acts of salvation and he had an inheritance in Canaan. But what he had as a child of God wasn’t enough for him. He wanted what the world offered. That’s spiritual adultery. It’s when we’re surrounded by the evidence of God’s mercy and love, when we’ve tasted His goodness and we can see His judgement falling on the world, but we still want what the world has. Paul says in II Corinthians 6, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” We usually think that he’s forbidding us to marry unbelievers, and he is. But he’s not only warning young people not to look for a boyfriend or a girlfriend in the world. He’s warning all of us not to identify with the world, to love the world, to want its life, even though as His children, we have everything in Christ and we can see that God is pouring out His wrath on the people and the culture around us. We can only stand firm against the temptation to love the world in the way of faith, being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we don’t see. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to be satisfied with God’s promises, to set your mind on the things that are above, not on things that are on earth and to put to death what is earthly in you. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 1 - Introduction to the book of Joshua 

How do we approach the book of Joshua, the story of the conquest of the promised land, the story of this great leader of Israel? The book is named after him and his name is on every page. He’s meant to be central in the story. His parents had called him Hoshea. Hoshea means salvation. But when Moses sent him to spy out the land of Canaan at Kadesh-Barnea along with eleven other men, he changed his name to Joshua. Joshua means salvation is from the LORD. That’s a promise; in fact, that’s the gospel. And when the Lord sent His own Son into the world, He told Joseph and Mary to give Him that name, too. We think of Joshua as a history book. But when the people of the old covenant described their Bible, there was no section called history books. For them, it was simply, the Law, or the Law and the Prophets, or maybe the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms, or the Writings. And they put Joshua into the section called the Prophets. That’s how we have to understand the message of Joshua: salvation prophecy. Biblically speaking, prophecy means in the first place, telling the wonderful works of God in saving His people. God’s actions in the past shed light on the future and show how God is going to save His people in Jesus Christ. So this book is the gospel of the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through Joshua, and the gospel of the greater Joshua, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has defeated our enemies and causes us to receive the greater inheritance of a new heaven and a new earth. In July 2019, Rev. Wynia presented meditations based on chapters 1-6 of Joshua; in this devotional, he takes us through chapters 7-12. Breaking faith with the Lord “But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things.” - Joshua 7:1a Scripture reading: Joshua 7:1 The first word of our text comes as a shock. Until this moment, everything that we’ve heard has been positive. Everything was going exactly the way it was supposed to. The LORD told Joshua and Israel exactly what they had to do and they did it, just as the LORD commanded them to. They trusted in His promises and they obeyed His commands. The Jordan River opened up for them; the walls of Jericho fell down. The last thing we read in chapter 6 was, “The LORD was with Joshua and his fame was in all the land.” And then all of a sudden, But. But the people of Israel broke faith with regard to the devoted things. The Spirit is making a point here about Achan’s sin. He’s saying, This isn’t just about stealing or disobeying. Sometimes that’s what we tend to do with our sin. We make it small, you might say that we broke a rule or we did something wrong. We don’t want to look into our hearts, and ask, Why did I do that? And what have I said to God by doing what I did? We need to admit to ourselves and confess to God that whatever our sin may be, stealing, lying, or putting our trust in money, we haven’t just broken some rules. We’ve broken faith with God. The only way to be restored is to confess our sin and seek His forgiveness in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to your sin, to help you see it for what it is, and to trust the promise that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

February 28 - The final words

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction."” - Malachi 4:4-6  Scripture reading: Romans 8:1-17 We now come to the end of this book. There will be about 400 years of silence between Malachi and the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. The book of Malachi shows us a covenant-keeping God Who still loves and pursues His people even though they have not remained faithful to Him. It’s not surprising that the final command in the book is to remember the covenant law of Moses. The word “remember” has the idea of bringing something to mind and acting accordingly. So when God commands His people to remember, He is calling them to be covenant-keeping people who put into practice His revealed will. The LORD says He will send Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. This is another reference to John the Baptist. In this case, the great and awesome day refers to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. He finally comes to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).  Although the text mentions the turning of the hearts of the father to the children, the main idea here is that John’s role is to turn all hearts, fathers and children, to the LORD their God. John had a ministry of repentance and the same word (turn) is used here. The last words of the Old Testament speak of the judgment of God upon those who do not turn to the LORD in repentance and faith. These are sober final words. Make sure Christ is your Saviour today. Suggestions for prayer Praise the LORD that everything He promises to us in His Word has real substance and will come to pass. Thank the LORD that Christ comes to save His people from their sins so that we will not face the judgment to come. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 23 - The Lord’s challenge

“Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” - Malachi 3:10  Scripture reading: Philippians 4:1-23 As we continue in this passage, the LORD now challenges His people to test Him and then promises to pour out His blessing on those who fully tithe. This is the only place where testing the LORD is a positive thing to do. Recognize also that this test is not just about your money, but it is really about how much you are willing to trust the LORD. Testing Him is about proving Him to be true to His Word even when circumstances seem to say otherwise. God allows Himself to be put on trial. He didn’t have to make this promise. He could have simply told us to give our tithes because He demands it and that’s it. But His desire is for us to trust Him fully. Is God true? Is He faithful? Will He keep His promises? Will He provide? One of the best ways to find out is to fully tithe. His blessings may not come in the way we expect, nevertheless, He will fulfill His Word when we fully trust Him. It is said, when windows of heaven are open over your home, there is His blessing. When they open over your business, there is His blessing. When they are open over your mind, there is His blessing. When they are open over your body and soul, there is His blessing. The LORD never breaks His promises! Christ is worthy of your trust when you place your confidence in Him by faith. Do you accept the LORD’s challenge? Suggestions for prayer Pray the LORD will give you true faith and trust in Christ. Ask the LORD to help you take the LORD at His Word, to trust His promises, and to accept His challenge to fully tithe. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 22 - Bring in the full tithes

“Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.” - Malachi 3:10  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5:1-14 Notice in this verse, that the LORD tells His people to bring the full tithes into the storehouse. The verb bring is a causative command. The LORD is telling them to make this happen and that they are required to give. They were also commanded to give the full tithe and not just a partial offering so that there would be full provision in God’s house for His work. They were giving something, but just weren’t giving all that the LORD required. They weren’t obeying completely. They were like those who soothe their conscience by dropping a few dollars in the offering plate every once in a while. Partial obedience isn’t really obedience; it’s just doing what is convenient for you. If I was audited on my income taxes, what would happen if I told the CRA/IRS, “I pay most of my taxes. You should be happy I gave you something.” Do you think they would accept this reasoning? Does the LORD accept this type of reasoning? The reality is that for many Christians, giving ten percent would be a huge increase because they don’t really give to the LORD as they must. Tithing should not be that difficult for us. You need to budget and be disciplined, but it ought to be routine. Remember, we give the full tithe so that the full work of the ministry is accomplished. Are you giving a full or partial tithe to the LORD? Are you being faithful to Christ in this regard? Partial obedience isn’t really obedience. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the LORD will help you to be faithful and give your full tithe to Him to support His work. Ask the LORD to prosper Christ’s church through the practical giving of His people. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 21 - Robbing yourself? 

“You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.” - Malachi 3:9  Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-17 The LORD continues to speak to His covenant people and tells them what will happen because they do not give proper tithes and contributions. These are very strong words when the LORD says, you are cursed with a curse. To rob God by not giving a proper tithe means you are really hurting yourself more than anyone else. When the people refused to trust God by giving, He allowed the devourer to come and diminish their crops (3:11). This may refer to locusts or other insects, hail or drought. The LORD wants His people to trust Him and not just with the material things of this world. If we don’t trust God to care for us, whatever we do trust in will prove futile. A long time ago I spoke with an investment planner and he was amazed that I would donate and give to the church. Why waste money and give so much with so little return? You could put that money in a retirement fund and it will be a great investment for you, he told me. I am already investing it actually, I said to him. This is an investment for eternity. The church of Christ and His work is the most important thing that I have the privilege to support. Are you investing in eternity? Are you giving the LORD what you should in your tithes? His work is the most important thing you have the privilege to support. Don’t rob yourself by robbing God. Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to help you trust Him by giving to Him your proper tithe and contributions. Pray that you will know the grace and blessings of Christ as you invest in eternity by practically supporting His church. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 20 - Will a man rob God?

“Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, 'How have we robbed you?' In your tithes and contributions.” - Malachi 3:8  Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 9:1-15 Today is a day of worship. As you come to church think about this question given here, will a man rob God? The verb for “rob” means to defraud and steal. “Robbing God” means keeping back from God what rightfully belongs to Him, namely our tithes and contributions. A tithe is ten percent of one’s grain, fruit, animals, or money (Leviticus 27:30-34). Tithing is also an act of worship as seen in Abraham giving tithes to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7). Where is giving on your list of priorities? I heard a story of a missionary in Africa who received a knock on the door of his hut one afternoon. Answering, the missionary found a boy holding a large fish in his hands. The boy said, "Reverend, you taught us what tithing is, so here, I've brought you my tithe." As the missionary gratefully took the fish, he questioned the boy. "If this is your tithe, where are the other nine fish?" At this, the boy beamed and said, "Oh, they're still back in the river. I'm going back to catch them now." This boy desired to bring the first fish for the LORD, then had the others for himself.  When you make up your budget, do you give to God first or to yourself? What is first on your list? What is your attitude towards giving to Christ? Are your priorities and motives for earning, spending, saving and giving in line with what God desires for you and with His Word? Will a man rob God? Suggestions for prayer Be thankful to spend this day in worship to our covenant God. Ask the LORD to give you a generous heart. Pray the LORD will help you to give your tithes and contributions as He has blessed you. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 15 - My messenger

“Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.” - Malachi 3:1  Scripture reading: Malachi 3:1-17 The LORD, in grace, sends His messenger to prepare the way for His coming into the world. I read that the imagery of preparing the way before the LORD came from the custom of clearing the road and preparing a town for the visit of the king. Before the king would travel, he sent out his messengers who proclaimed his coming. They didn’t have road crews to maintain the roads like we have today. So when the townspeople heard the king was coming, they would go and repair the road, fill in the ruts and potholes and clear away any rocks and debris. Once everything was prepared and his coming announced, then the king would come. The first messenger here points to John the Baptist, the forerunner whose ministry God used to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. The second messenger of the covenant, is Christ, the One in Whom you delight. He has come into His Temple. The LORD declares His coming and warns the people to take notice and to be prepared. He graciously sends His messenger to declare, “The KING is coming! Be ready!  Come to Him in repentance and faith for He alone is your salvation! He is coming to His Temple to make Himself a sin offering for us and to restore us to our God. He comes to fix the potholes of sin. He clears out the rocks of self-centeredness and pride. Are you rejoicing at the news the King has come and He seeks to save His people? Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to help you deal with any type of vice and sin in your heart. Pray that the LORD would grant you a strong desire to know His Word and that you would look to Christ as your Saviour. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

 February 14 - Guard yourself

“Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.” - Malachi 2:15  Scripture reading: Isaiah 40:1-31 The LORD commands His people to “guard yourselves in your spirit” so that they will be faithful in their marriages. The word “guard” comes as a picture of a sheepfold. When a shepherd was out in the wilderness with his flock, he would gather thorn bushes to build a safe place for his flock for the night. The thorns would protect the sheep from predators and harm. Hence, we are to guard and protect ourselves in our marriages, like the shepherd guards the sheep, so that the predators of carnality, adultery, and sin do not break in to harm and destroy it. How do you guard your spirit? We must protect our minds against the constant bombardment we have from our culture that is contrary to the Word of God. The Psalmist declared, How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word (Psalm 119:9). The only way to effectively guard our spirits is to be constantly immersed in God’s Word. That is going to take more than a 30-minute sermon twice a week. Think about how often we are exposed to secular media that is contrary to God’s Word. We are constantly being fed with ungodliness through advertisements, music, TV shows and movies. What we believe and follow certainly affects our relationships and marriages. The LORD calls us to be faithful. As the Proverb says, Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life(Proverbs 4:23). Are you seeking to guard yourself through Christ? Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to help you to be faithful and to use your time for spiritual life and growth in God’s Word through Christ. Pray the LORD will protect your heart from the corruption of the world. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 13 - Faithful and committed

“Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god.” - Malachi 2:11  Scripture reading: Ephesians 5:1-32 Malachi uses the example of marriage to illustrate how the people had been faithless to the covenant and to God. When it came to their marriages, the men of Israel were taking foreign wives and marrying the “daughters of a foreign god.” In other words, they were marrying women who remained faithful to other gods. Like Solomon, foreign wives had turned their hearts away from the LORD. Because of this, the people corrupted their worship of the LORD with the worship of idols and other deities. Hence, the LORD charges the people with profaning the sanctuary despite their expression of love for it. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5 that the relationship between a husband and wife is a picture of Christ and the church. He tells us, Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). How great is the love that Christ has for us that he would give Himself up for us! When people violate the marriage covenant, they are also corrupting the picture of this important covenant relationship Christ has with His people. Malachi is a relevant book for us today. We’ve become a self-centred, individualistic society in which people regularly fail to keep their commitments. And what is happening with marriages in our culture? Unfortunately, they are failing as they are no longer seen as sacred covenantal unions between a man and a woman. In the covenant of marriage, we also show our commitment to be faithful to Christ as the One we ultimately love. Suggestions for prayer Pray the LORD will give you sincerity of heart as you worship today. Pray the LORD will help His people have committed, loving relationships in the covenant of marriage. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 12 - The LORD is faithful to his covenant

“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?” - Malachi 2:10  Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 7:1-26 Here the people are questioning and they recognize God as their Father, yet they have been faithless and profaned God’s covenant. They received the covenant with the LORD because of grace. This is reaffirmed by the two questions that Malachi asks in vs 10. Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Malachi is not using these questions to teach the universal fatherhood of God. He is making clear that God is the Father and the Creator of His covenant people. And despite their continued rebellion, faithlessness and profaning the covenant, God kept this covenant with them. The fact Israel had returned to the land and worshipped at the rebuilt Temple was certainly evidence that God is faithful to His covenant with them. T. Barnum made a fortune based on his philosophy, “There is a sucker born every minute.” Con artists have always thrived on schemes to bilk unsuspecting people out of their money. Our enemy, Satan, has a con game and he seeks to deceive you. He tells you, God is not good, He is not faithful, and He will let you down if you trust in Him. Is this true? Jesus is not faithful and Satan is so? If you believe this then I have some great swampland in Florida I would like to sell you!! Your heavenly Father is faithful to His covenant and His people. He shows His faithfulness in how He sent His Son to save His people from their sin. Trust in Him and you will not be disappointed. Suggestions for prayer Praise the LORD for His covenant faithfulness and love for us, a love that sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to die for us. Pray that we would respond in faithfulness and love for Him. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB.  ...

Daily devotional

February 7 - A proper attitude toward God 

“But you say, 'How have we despised your name?' By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, 'How have we polluted you?' By saying that the LORD's table may be despised.” - Malachi 1:6b-7  Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-22 When the LORD confronted the priests through Malachi, they didn’t get it: “How have we despised Your name?” “How have we polluted You?”  They looked at all their activities: they were busy offering sacrifices and leading the people in worship. They were doing everything they were required to do. However, in all their activities they did not have a God-ward focus. They were not offering their sacrifices to please the LORD. They were not focused on magnifying His Name. Their attitude reflected their arrogance and lack of reverence for Him. They were going through the motions of worship, but their hearts were not seeking to exalt and glorify God as He deserves. There is a story about a missionary who received a shipment of used clothing and other items from some dear older saint. Included in the box was a jar full of used tea bags that the lady had faithfully dried out and sent for the missionary’s use. Used tea bags! Why not send a case of new ones? If you hear about a missionary who needs a new computer, don’t give your old, outdated one. Buy a new one! If it’s for the LORD, shouldn’t we give our best? Ask yourself these questions: Am I valuing what God values? Do my priorities, the way I spend my time, money and efforts, reflect the things that matter most? Am I seeking to honour Christ above all else in my life? May we seek to magnify the Name of the LORD in all we say and do. Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to give you a heart that desires to obey Christ rather than to surrender to human passion and sin. Pray that, by grace through faith, you will also live for Christ and grow in sanctification and holiness. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 6 - Come with true worship

“But you say, 'How have we despised your name?' By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, 'How have we polluted you?' By saying that the LORD's table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil?” - Malachi 1:6b-8a   Scripture reading: Psalm 26:1-12 This charge is serious since priests were supposed to be holy, faithful and offer right sacrifices. Rather than coming to the LORD in His appointed manner, what are they doing? Arguing with Him. How have we despised your name? How have we polluted you? They are saying, we are coming with animal sacrifices, this is what you want isn’t it? What’s the problem? The problem was that they assumed they could offer any animal, blind, lame or sick. If it is being sacrificed anyway, it is a great way to get rid of unwanted animals! Better to offer blemished animals than none at all, isn’t it? They were trying to make worship more convenient and affordable for the people. The LORD tells them their offerings are polluted and that they despised His name. To offer blemished sacrifices was evil and an affront to His holiness. Remember all of the offerings pictured the perfect spotless sacrifice of Christ! Don’t be like these priests, to argue with God rather than submit to Him when things don’t go your way. Don’t think, better to give God something rather than nothing at all when it comes to your devotion, worship and giving. Don’t come to God with a polluted heart, holding on to sin while only giving lip service to Him. On this Lord’s Day, come to Him in sincerity of heart, with true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, your only pure and holy sacrifice for sin. Come with true worship today as you meet with the LORD. Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to grant you sincerity of heart in true faith to Christ. Pray that you will see Christ as the perfect sacrifice for your sin and that He will give you grace so that you will give Him true worship. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 5 - Our father and master

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name.” - Malachi 1:6  Scripture reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 The LORD is a father to Israel. Should the nation which was considered a “firstborn son” of the LORD be less obedient and so careless? This is why God’s question was so sharply declared, If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? These questions show the important relationship we have with the LORD. We are His children and He is our Father, the One Who loves us and provides for us in every way. Is it right then to take His Word lightly and to only listen and obey when it suits us? There is a phenomenon that happens called a sinkhole. A sinkhole occurs when the ground underneath the surface gives way and everything collapses creating a huge hole. Sinkholes can swallow people, cars, even entire buildings. Suddenly everything simply caves in and disappears. Why am I telling you this? The sinkhole happens in a place where there is a weak foundation. You think the ground on which you are standing is solid, but suddenly it is not and everything is gone. Without Christ, we have no real foundation for our beliefs and faith. We may think everything is solid, but then it is not, as if a sinkhole appears and everything is gone. The LORD is our Father and Master through Christ. Your relationship with Him is so vital and important. Do not have sinkhole religion without foundation, but have true faith in Christ as Saviour and Lord. Suggestions for prayer Pray that Jesus will be the foundation of your faith and not some kind of sinkhole religion. Ask the LORD to help you honour, obey and fear Him as your Father and Master. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB.  ...

Daily devotional

February 4 - God’s love declared

“"Is not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert."” - Malachi 1:2-3  Scripture reading: 1 John 3:1-24 In referencing Jacob and Esau, the LORD is speaking about the nations that descended from these brothers, Israel and Edom. In His sovereign plan, God determined that the people descending from Jacob, the Jews, would be His chosen people. He loved them in a special way that He did not love other nations including Edom. The LORD is saying I have a relationship with you, Jacob, because I chose you and I do not have a relationship with you, Esau, because I have rejected you. If you are a Christian, recognize you are chosen, greatly loved, and have a relationship with Christ. You are not just a follower of religion. A follower of religion can change his mind to follow some other religion. At no time would I say to my wife, we have been married for almost 26 years, but you just don’t interest me anymore, so let’s go our separate ways. If I was just interested in being married, I could easily leave her for another. But rather, I love this woman and there are no others I could ever love more than her. I love her more each day because we have a relationship together. I would be miserable if we went our separate ways. The LORD loves you and chose you to have this wonderful relationship with Christ to save you. Now I ask you, what is your attitude towards Him? Are you a follower of religion or Christ? Depending on how you answer that question tells you where your heart is today. Suggestions for prayer Pray the LORD helps you to look to Jesus with the eyes of faith even if your present circumstances make it difficult. Ask the LORD to grant you a deep love for Christ knowing that by faith you belong to Him and nothing can separate you from Him. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

January 30 - New creatures

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come.” - 2 Corinthians 5:17             Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 5:1-21 Yesterday we considered together the blessed truth of our home in heaven above. That home is made possible only through the ministry of reconciliation. In order to enter that home, we need to be reconciled to God. Our sins have driven us apart. Only Christ can bring us back together again. The good news of Jesus Christ is that God, through Him, makes us new creatures. Being united to Christ through faith is to enjoy the benefits of the new birth and a life that is made new in Christ. The words in Christ profoundly speak of the believer’s redemption. In Christ, believers are secure from the wrath of God against sin. In Christ, believers are accepted by God. In Christ, believers enjoy the assurance of the life to come. In Christ, believers participate in the divine nature of Christ (cf. 2 Peter 1:4). Christians are changed people. To be sure, too much of the old remains, but those who are genuine believers know something of a life that has a new direction. While there have been many times where we have fallen back, the joy of the believer is knowing that we can go forward, in Christ, in this world as we prepare for the next. Praise God for such a life! Suggestions for prayer Thank our heavenly Father that believers are made new in Christ! Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment.  ...

Daily devotional

January 29 - A new song

“And they sang a new song, saying, Worthy…” - Revelation 5:9-10                                           Scripture reading: Revelation 5:1-14 The book of Revelation was written during a time of intense persecution as a word of encouragement and preparation. It remains a timely message to all those who are looking forward to Christ’s return. It assures us that Christ, Who gathers, defends and preserves His Church, is well aware of the circumstances of His people. And while we may not fully grasp every detail of this prophetic book, the main message is clear: Stand fast for Christ is the Victor! Our Scripture lesson finds the Apostle John receiving a heavenly vision. There is a scroll with seven seals. John weeps because no one had been found worthy to open the scroll. John is then reminded of one Who can open the scroll and its seven seals—the Lamb of God. He is the Worthy One because He is the One who unlocks the mystery and purposes of the Triune God’s sovereign plan. Jesus takes the scroll. This testifies to His authority to fulfill God’s will, and the response is a chorus of praise. This is a song that flows from a heart that has experienced God’s redemption, His glorious work of deliverance and rescue from the tyranny of the devil.  It is a song celebrating God’s finished work. It is new because the full scope of Jesus’ work is finally visible. Praise God. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His ripening purposes. Sing a song of praise. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment.  ...

Daily devotional

January 28 - Living the new life

“Give no opportunity to the devil” - Ephesians 4:27                                   Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:17-32; 5:1-5 Ephesians 4 marks a transition in Paul’s epistle from the foundation of grace to the fruits of grace—from saving grace to serving grace. In our Scripture lesson, we are given much instruction as to the character of a believer’s life, and also a warning to watch out for the devil. The devil is an opportunist. He is our accuser (Revelation 12:10) and adversary (I Peter 5:8). He wants to bring about discord amongst believers. Unity amongst believers is to be highly prized. The devil especially prizes its disruption. We may be tempted to think that the roaring lion in his arsenal of tricks employs scandal and open sin as his prime method. But more often than not, the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) employs subtle means to break down the life of the Christian. Paul outlines six concrete ways Christians “put off” their old lives and “put on” life in Christ.  The study note in the ESV Reformation Study Bible puts it this way: Turning “from lying to telling the truth (4:25, 26); from uncontrolled anger to self-control (4:26, 27); from stealing to useful  labour (4:28); from harmful to helpful speech (4:29, 30); from bitterness to love (4:31-5:2); and from unrestrained sexual desires to a thankful acknowledgement of God’s good gifts (5:3-5).” How well do you understand living the new life? Suggestions for prayer Pray for strengthening grace. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

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