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Daily devotional

May 18 - The inward yet abiding grace of the Holy Spirit

“…Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour…” - Titus 3:5-6  Scripture reading: Titus 3:1-15 If you have ever checked into a filthy motel room, you know the meaning of disgusting. That experience, unpleasant as it is, in some ways points to the inward, yet abounding, grace of the Holy Spirit. He Who is one with the Father and Son, the true and eternal God, lives within us making our sinful flesh His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20). When the Holy Spirit gives us new birth, He also cleanses and transforms our life. Did you notice the description in verse 3 of how we once were? “…Foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” That description doesn't apply just to other people; it is a mirror reflecting the darkness of our heart apart from the regenerating and sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. Having given us new life, the Holy Spirit cleanses us far more than any maid who cleans a motel room. The cleansing that we have is from Christ, as the Holy Spirit applies the merits of Christ to each one whom the Father has chosen. After describing the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit, the apostle describes how we are to devote ourselves to doing good and avoid dissensions and quarrels (v. 8, 9, 14). Instead, we are to live grateful lives of praise for God's saving grace and sanctifying Spirit. May joyful gratitude be reflected in your life and mine – today and always! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for making our sinful and frail bodies His temple, in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to continue to sanctify us, so that we may more fully reflect His grace and cleansing power 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 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 10 - “But now…”

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” - Romans 3:21-22  Scripture reading: Romans 3:10-31 All the words in the Bible are crucial. But two of the most important words in the Bible are in Romans 3:21. Those two words? “But now.” In the passage leading up to those words, our depravity is examined and exposed in the piercing light of God’s law. We are forcefully reminded that we are guilty of breaking God’s law innumerable times and are, along with the whole world, accountable to Him. It is after the dark portrayal of our guilt and sin that those two words jump off the Biblical page, “But now.” We might expect that now we will come under judgment for our sin, now the proper wrath of God against sin will be pronounced against us. But instead, verse 21 points us to the righteousness of God given through saving faith in Christ alone. The passage goes on to speak about justification, about grace as a gift from God, about redemption through the shed blood of Christ Who covers – propitiates – our sin with His blood. We begin to realize that Christ bore the curse of our sin. In its place, He has imputed – credited – His record of righteous obedience. Although we are guilty sinners, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (23), those who have true saving faith in Christ are forgiven of their sins and granted eternal life. If you recognize your guilt and know God’s grace through saving faith in Christ alone, then live a life of deep and sincere gratitude – always! Suggestions for prayer Sincerely thank God that “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10). Thank Him that instead “for our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). 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

May 2 - Guilt, grace, and gratitude intertwined

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” -  Psalm 51:12  Scripture reading: Psalm 51:1-19 In David's prayer, we see a picture of ourselves. We see ourselves reflected in Psalm 51 even if we have never committed the act of adultery with our neighbour’s spouse or arranged a murder. Jesus clearly taught that if we have looked in lust, we have committed adultery in our heart. The same goes for unbridled anger without a just cause; it is murder in the heart (Matthew 5:22, 28). We have all broken not just the sixth and seventh commandments, but all God’s commandments. With David we must pray, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love…” And as we recognize our guilt, we also see God’s grace. David’s confession of guilt was intertwined with his knowledge of God’s grace, mercy and love. He prayed, “O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions.” He recognized that God’s grace is far greater than our sin! When we realize that God’s grace is greater than our sin, we cannot help but be filled with gratitude. As David concludes the Psalm, he focuses on the desire to tell others about God’s grace (13) and he praises God with a joyful heart (15). May the same be said about you and me! In the sorrow of our sins, may we see the magnitude of God’s grace and then live a life of gratitude, marked by a sincere effort to live in obedience to the very Word which we have so often broken. Suggestions for prayer After confessing your sin, prayerfully praise God that His grace is greater than your sin and ask Him to enable you to live a life of gratitude! 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, Uncategorised

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 24 - God further prepares the deliverer

“When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.” - Exodus 4:22  Scripture reading: Exodus 4:21-23 God’s upcoming encounter with Pharaoh would show to Pharaoh that God alone was sovereign and worthy of divine worship. On this Lord’s Day of worship, such is a fitting subject. Some might ask, “How could someone like Pharaoh be blamed for hardness, for who resists the will of the sovereign God?” (Romans 9:19). The concern is that God is just using us as puppets. Yet we remember the responsibility of Pharaoh. Because God is sovereign, Pharaoh has responsibility. With us all, Pharaoh has no excuse before God, who clearly reveals Himself. Our problem is not first of all the hardening that comes, but the cold hearts that are there from the start. The Bible reminds us that God, in His justice, hands people over to their own desires (Romans 1:24, 26). People reap what they sow. Unbelief and sin drive people farther from the Lord. Such foolishness is a slippery slope to hell, which only God’s grace can change. God mentions this hardening for Moses’ encouragement, preparing him to serve with joy and confidence. Despite wrongful opposition ahead, everything will work out. People may not see the right way, the gospel or the importance of Christian living; they are hard of heart. But that ought not keep us from being faithful even as our Saviour was, for God will have His way in Egypt, at the cross and in our final deliverance. Don’t let sin and unbelief discourage you. Praise God for His superior faithfulness in Christ. Suggestions for prayer On this Lord’s Day, thank the Lord for His sovereignty over those who oppose Him and thank Him for giving you hope to serve Him well despite such opposition from sin and unbelief. 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 16 - Enlightened by the burning bush to the calling of God

“Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” - Exodus 3:10 Scripture reading: Exodus 3:1-10 The burning bush not only speaks to the holiness and mercy of God, but also to God’s calling of Moses. The revelation of holiness and mercy, in fact, leads to the revelation of one’s calling. Revere My holiness and mercy as I call you into My service. Revelation readies us for obedience. That happens all the time in everyday life. Think about how many things we do better when we have someone’s backing or when we do so out of respect. God does not tell us to be ready and willing to serve Him without first telling us why. God does not make us guess as to who He is or how He cares for us. He tells it plainly. I am great, holy and powerful; in mercy you can count on Me. So, serve Me; serve Me well. To his shame, Moses was not yet ready to serve the Lord readily and willingly. Thankfully, Jesus never had that problem. “I have come to do Your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7). Jesus knew that when he would do God’s will perfectly, God would not let Him see decay (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27). For Jesus’ sake, we too can serve in God’s kingdom in a spirit that imitates our Saviour. A self-serving world is no motivator to Christian service. What overcomes such a self-serving example are eyes open to the marvels of God’s holiness and mercy to us in Jesus Christ, which spurs a selfless attitude of gratitude to the Lord. Suggestions for prayer Be in prayer thankfully for the marvels God has shown you in Jesus Christ. Pray that the Lord might use those marvels to spur you on to love and good deeds. 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 8 - God prepares deliverance through an unlikely rescuer

“When opened , she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him…” - Exodus 2:6 Scripture reading: Exodus 2:1-10 God’s deliverance includes an unlikely rescuer. Pharaoh’s daughter delivers baby Moses, the future deliverer. Pharaoh is cruel, but Pharaoh’s daughter shows pity. God often uses the unlikely to accomplish His ends. Some people know it; others do not. Often the ignorant are in lofty positions, like Pharaoh’s daughter who unexpectedly does not follow the cruelty of her father. God often uses the unexpected to declare His greatness and to stress His grace. Those who oppose Him the most, as often depicted, are but means that the Lord uses to accomplish His purposes. Pharaoh is foiled by his own daughter in God’s plans. God has used Caesar Augustus, Herod the Great, Pontius Pilate—the powerful and the influential, to fulfill His plans. They may counsel against God, but God laughs from heaven (Ps. 2:4). God can use many or a few to accomplish His purposes. He can shame the strong with the weak, the wise with the simple. He can make us strongest when we are weakest as we lean on Him. Christ becomes poor for our sake so that we can become rich. He humbles Himself on the road to glory. Christ’s cross of shame becomes the Christian’s glory unto salvation as God displays His power at Golgotha. This is why the gospel is so often foolishness to the Gentile and a stumbling block to the Jew. God uses the unexpected for His purposes. God uses us this way as well by His grace in Jesus Christ. Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord that He is able to use all things, even the most influential to His saving purposes and the good of His people in Christ. Pray that the Lord will help you see His hand at work in the days in which you live, so that you might praise Him all the more. 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 31 - No enemy can stand in the way of our salvation in Christ

“And these are the kings of the land whom Joshua and the people of Israel defeated on the west side of the Jordan. . . in all, thirty-one kings.” - Joshua 12:7, 24b Scripture reading: Joshua 12:7-24 Joshua 12:7-24 is a who’s who of ancient Canaan. It’s a list of thirty-one kings who challenged Israel, who tried to keep God from giving His people what He had promised them. One by one, Joshua defeated them, took possession of their land and gave it to Israel. That was a picture of Jesus’ victory over our enemies, which Paul records in Colossians 2: He disarmed the rulers and authorities, the demonic powers of hell and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in the cross. At present, says Hebrews 2:8, we do not yet see everything in subjection to Him. But the apostle John saw it in a vision in Revelation 11: then the seventh angel blew his trumpet and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give thanks to You, Lord God Almighty, Who is and Who was, for You have taken Your great power and begun to reign” (Revelation 11:16-17). Jesus encourages us to live by faith in this promise so that we share in His victory: The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with Me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with My Father on His throne (Revelation 3:21). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the historical record of the conquest of Canaan, knowing that through Joshua, God defeated Israel’s enemies, took their territory and gave it to Israel, because it prophesies the victory of the church, through Jesus Christ. 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 23 - There has been no day like it before or since

“There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for the LORD fought for Israel.” - Joshua 10:14 Scripture reading: Joshua 10:12-15 The destruction of the Amorites is a picture of the great day of judgement. Hail was one of the plagues against Egypt; it is a feature of God’s judgement prophesied in Isaiah 10, Ezekiel 13 and in the book of Revelation. When he commanded the sun to stand still and the moon to stop, Joshua foreshadows Jesus as Saviour and Judge. People insist that it’s not possible. The sun couldn’t stand still; it would have been catastrophic. Therefore they try to come up with explanations that avoid the straightforward meaning of what it says here. But it says that Joshua prayed and God suspended the normal order, the pattern of day and night. The Holy Spirit underlines it: there has been no day like it, before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the LORD fought for Israel. The LORD fought for Israel because Joshua was bringing His judgement on God’s enemies and giving His people their inheritance. One day, the whole world will unite, like these Amorite kings, to attack God’s people (Revelation 20:7-10). On that day, the greater Joshua will come in all His glory and fight for us. Then there will be another day like that one, when the Lord heeds the voice of a Man and will bring an end to the pattern of day and night, of sun and moon. Then Jesus will bring God’s final judgement on His enemies and we will inherit the new heaven and the new earth. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Spirit to help you to live by faith in the promise that the great day of your vindication is coming and pray that soon, we will see Jesus coming with the clouds of heaven. 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 15 - Deception rather than repentance

“Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?” They said to him, “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the LORD your God. For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan.” - Joshua 9:8b-10a Scripture reading: Joshua 9:1-15 A whole group of Canaanite kings gathered together to fight against Israel because they heard what happened to Jericho and to Ai. When the Gibeonites approached Joshua to ask him to enter into a covenant with them, they didn’t mention Jericho or Ai, but they had certainly heard about what happened to them. That’s what prompted them to make a covenant with Israel. They had undoubtedly heard about Rahab and how Israel treated her. When Rahab, along with everyone in that part of the world, heard what God had done in Egypt and on the other side of the Jordan, she repented and put her faith in Israel’s God. According to their promise, Israel spared her and her family when Jericho was destroyed. That was also known in Canaan. The Gibeonites seemed to realize that there was no hope in fighting Israel. They didn’t want to be destroyed, like Jericho and Ai, but they didn’t want to repent like Rahab, either. So they exploited Israel’s faithfulness and God’s mercy by tricking Joshua into making a covenant with them. We confess that our neighbours may be won for Christ by our godly walk of life and we should pray that they will be. But we shouldn’t be surprised – or discouraged - when sometimes, our neighbours want to share in the benefit of the life Christ has created among us without turning to Him in repentance and faith. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to use your godly walk of life to win your neighbours for Christ and to help you persevere in seeking to lead them to salvation in Him. 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 7 - Our God is a consuming fire

“And Joshua said, Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today. And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones.” - Joshua 7:25  Scripture reading: Joshua 7:16-26 When Achan finally confessed what he had done, he and his family were stoned to death and their bodies burned. Achan had identified himself with the city that was under God’s curse and so he suffered a cursed death. We want to know why his whole family had to die for Achan’s sin. Does that mean that they knew about the gold and silver and the clothes hidden under their tent? Why would God say that they had to die? And where did they go when they died – did they go to heaven? The Holy Spirit doesn’t really answer our questions. But He lays the story of Rahab and the story of Achan beside each other, and the message of God’s righteousness is clear. Rahab was a pagan, a prostitute, but when she put her faith in Israel’s God, she and her whole family were spared from the judgement that fell on Jericho. They came to share in the inheritance as members of the people of God. Achan and his family were God’s covenant children, heirs of the promise, but when they broke faith with God, they came under the same judgment that Jericho did. John writes, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:15,17). Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see and remember that “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life - is not from the Father, but is from the world”, and to help you to love Him with heart, soul and mind. 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 27 - Judgment and comfort

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.” - Malachi 4:1-2   Scripture reading: Malachi 4:1-6 We now come to the final chapter in Malachi. This section will continue to address what was already spoken in 2:17 and again in 3:13-15, that some looked at the seeming prosperity of the wicked and concluded that there is no benefit in serving God. They said that the arrogant seem to be blessed and escape judgment for their evil ways. Where is the God of justice? Is it a waste of time to serve the LORD and to sacrifice for Him?  Malachi shows that God remembers and knows the righteous and the wicked. There is no escaping His Justice and the LORD has prepared a coming day, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. There will be no memory of them as they suffer eternal wrath and judgment. There is no terror for those who fear the LORD, as God’s covenant people will be comforted and know joy like leaping calves in the stall. The Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings for you! Here is another reference to Jesus. As the sun takes away the darkness, so Jesus is the light of the world Who dispels the spiritual darkness of evil and sin. Jesus comes with healing, the One Who heals your soul from the disease of sin. Do not ignore this warning that Judgment is coming. Only Jesus can save you and heal you. Only Jesus is the Light that can remove the darkness of your sin. Are you resting in Him by faith? Suggestions for prayer On this day of worship, thank the LORD that Jesus comes as the Light of the world and the Healer of His people. Ask the LORD to help you to trust in Him so that you will know comfort in your life. 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 19 - Return to me

“From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, 'How shall we return?'” - Malachi 3:7  Scripture reading: 1 John 1:1-10 The LORD tells His people they had turned away from Him and His statutes. Even though the LORD gives a word of disapproval, yet there is always grace. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. This is an imperative, a command from the LORD. It means to make this a priority, to do this immediately, and turn their hearts to the LORD. This command comes with a promise, I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. The LORD is telling them that if they repent and turn from their sin and return in faith and trust, then He will also turn and no longer seek to judge them. This should make us realize that the LORD is pleased to deal with us in grace no matter what mistakes we have made. He is willing to restore us to a right relationship with Him in Christ His Son! What is their response to this command and offer? Is it immediate repentance and faith? But you say, 'How shall we return?' They are in denial and they don’t believe anything is wrong. Why does the LORD come to you and confront you about sin in your life? It is because he loves you, wants to save you, and help you so that you do not continue in sin. Don’t come to Him with denial if you have fallen away from the LORD. Rather, come to Him in repentance and faith because of His grace to you. He is a forgiving God. Suggestions for prayer Praise the LORD that Christ is with us and has cleansed our sin with His own precious blood. Ask the LORD to restore you if you have fallen away from Him. Pray that He will help you live for Christ. 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 11 - We are messengers!

“True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.” - Malachi 2:6-7  Scripture reading: Colossians 1:1-14 In the time before modern communication, when a king needed to communicate with someone in his kingdom or with a foreign dignitary, he would send his messenger with his message. The messenger was not free to create his own version of the king’s word. Even if he didn’t like the message, he still had to be absolutely accurate when declaring what the king wanted to say. When referring to Levi, the LORD declares that he feared Him and stood in awe of Him. As a result, Levi taught true instruction and no wrong was found on his lips. Our text says he walked with God, lived in peace, uprightness, and was a reliable source for instruction. He was a messenger of the LORD of hosts! This applies to us today as well, doesn’t it? The message of Jesus, the King of kings, is to be declared faithfully and accurately by His servants in all generations. We are also His messengers! We need to have a testimony like that of Levi. Do you fear the LORD and stand in awe of Him? Do you seek to walk with God, live in peace and uprightness before the LORD? Do you seek to declare true Biblical instruction to others? Sound teaching must flow out of a godly life. Only in Christ by His Spirit can we be a true witness to others with the saving message of the gospel. Seek to be a faithful messenger for Christ today. Seek to know the truth so that you can share the truth. Suggestions for prayer Thank the LORD that He saved us in Christ so that we can live godly lives, walk with Him and receive His instruction. Ask the LORD to help you to be His messenger to share His truth to others. 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

February 3 - How have you loved us?

“"I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have you loved us?"” - Malachi 1:2 Scripture reading: Hebrews 12:1-29 These people, unfortunately, question God’s love and don’t believe Him. Their question reveals a lack of a suitable response to the love the LORD has extended to them. Instead of accepting and rejoicing over His love, they question it. Also understand, these people were not openly rebellious against the LORD. They have returned to the land after the Babylonian captivity. Some of them may have worked with Nehemiah on rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. They were outwardly following the Law of Moses and offering sacrifices. If you had asked how they were doing spiritually, they would have said, “We are doing just fine, thanks.” But that’s not what the LORD says! He knew their hearts and desires. As they looked at their circumstances, things were not going as they expected, so they grew discouraged. They were still under the authority of the Persian king and his appointed governor. Their farms were not doing well because of drought (3:10-11). Many of them were probably thinking, if this is love why does it seem like the opposite! Like Israel, we will grow indifferent to God’s great love for us if we focus on our difficult circumstances rather than God’s plan and purpose for us. If we focus on our problems, they will consume us and cause us to lose joy in Christ and His love for us. Have you lost perspective? Are you questioning GOD’s love for you in Christ? Have you allowed something in your life to become greater than God and that consumes you? Suggestions for prayer Pray the LORD will enable you to rest in His great love for you. Ask the LORD to grant you a genuine faith that will stand up to all the trials and sorrows in life, a faith in Christ alone for salvation. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB.  ...

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....

Daily devotional

January 27 - The world’ smallest but largest trouble maker

“From the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not be so.” - James 3:10 Scripture reading: James 3:1-12 Already this year most of us have spoken thousands and thousands of words. What will it be by year’s end? But the LORD knows each word spoken and even the words of our silent thoughts and holds us accountable. Are there words that you wish you could take back? Of course! Our tongue often brings us into sin. We need wisdom in the use of our speech. The ability to speak is a gift, but also a power.  James gives us six pictures of the tongue: the horse’s bit; the ship’s rudder; fire; deadly poison; a fountain and a fig tree. The bit and rudder are a picture of the power of words to direct; the fire and poison are a picture of the power of words to destroy; and, the fountain and fig tree are a picture of the power of words to delight. David in Psalm 141:3 prayed “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”  The LORD hates a lying tongue (Proverbs 6:17). Words can break hearts and destroy reputations; slander is a horrible matter.  A Welsh proverb goes, “LORD, remind us often that a gossip’s mouth is the devil’s mailbag”. Be careful, little tongue, what you say! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the positive use of the tongue with wholesome words. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment.  ...

Daily devotional

January 26 - Great is thy faithfulness

“But this I call to mind…” - Lamentations 3:21-26            Scripture reading: Lamentations 3:1-27 Yesterday, we reflected with Solomon as he pondered the meaning of life, even to the point of believing there was nothing new under the sun. But we must not lose sight of the fact that for the one made a new creature in Christ, every new day is a day of new mercies. In a chorus of a very familiar hymn, believers sing “Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy Hand hath provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.” The hymn writer took his cue from Jeremiah. Jeremiah was given the task to announce God’s judgments against a disobedient Old Testament Church. He lamented the fact that his people had exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols (Jeremiah 2:11). The book of Lamentations is filled with his tears. He is filled with grief at Zion’s devastation and degradation. But in the middle of the third chapter, he pauses and calls to mind the memory of God’s devotion to His people.  And that brings hope out of hopelessness. He remains confident in God’s promises and compassions. That must be our focus day by day. Are you looking to the LORD for His daily new mercies? Will you remember that for each new day this year? Suggestions for prayer Do you have a hymn book nearby with "Great is Thy Faithfulness" in it?  If so, sing that hymn! Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment.  ...

Daily devotional

January 22 - Be an ambassador

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,...  be reconciled to God.” - 2 Corinthians 5:20                                                 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 5 Our nation has a particular set of principles and values which (at least historically) it holds near and dear. They are enshrined in the constitution and other historical documents. To let the rest of the world know, we appoint ambassadors, respected officials acting as the nation's representatives, to speak on behalf of the nation. It is extremely important work. The Bible speaks of the role of the believer as an ambassador. We serve the LORD, appointed as prophets, priests and kings. While believers recognize that the Christian’s primary citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), they also understand that they represent heaven here on earth. In his letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul presents the ministry as one that is rooted in reconciliation—the making of peace between God and man. Our reconciliation with God is only possible because Christ went to the cross and received the punishment due for our sin. Our reconciliation is based on the finished work of our Redeemer. In this world, believers represent another Kingdom (John 18:36) and it is both our responsibility and privilege to reflect the official position of heaven. The message of the King must go to the ends of the earth urging others to be reconciled to God. How do you see yourself as an ambassador? Suggestions for prayer Ask for the Holy Spirit’s favour to be faithful ambassadors for Christ. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

Daily devotional

January 21 - Oh give thanks to the Lord

“Oh give thanks to the LORD” - 1 Chronicles 16:8                    Scripture reading: 1 Chronicles 16:8-36 A contemporary catechism asks the following question: Why is prayer necessary for Christians? The answer: Because it is the chief part of the thankfulness which God requires of us and because God will give His grace and Holy Spirit to those only who with hearty sighing unceasingly beg them of Him and thank Him for them. Being thankful means more than simply living with a sense of gratitude. It is more than taking time to recognize and focus on the things we have, instead of the things we wish we had. The Bible takes the idea of thankfulness to a deeper level. The act of giving thanks causes us to recognize the One who provides our blessings (James 1:17). David knew that God was responsible for the safe delivery of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 15:26). As a result, he penned a song of gratitude that centred on God instead of simply expressing his delight in an important event. David sang, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!” (16:8). David’s song went on to rejoice in God’s greatness, highlighting God’s salvation, creative power, and mercy (vv.25-36). Gratitude to God is our natural response to God’s grace and provision. Suggestions for prayer Ask that we might recognize true thanksgiving, emphasizing the Giver first rather than the gifts. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

Daily devotional

January 20 - Praying thy kingdom come

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom…” - Psalm 145:13                        Scripture reading: Psalm 145 Jesus taught us to pray: “Thy Kingdom Come”. Praying and living out of our prayers is a gift of God’s grace—it is a high calling, a demanding responsibility. To be called to a life of prayerful service is not our deserving.  Who are we that the Lord should set before us His Kingdom glory in Jesus Christ? When we pray for the fullness of the Kingdom, when we in sincerity are asking the LORD to place our desires within the purposes of His kingdom, then our lives will have a particular focus with far-reaching implications. The kingdom testifies to God’s reign and rule in the lives of His people. Our heavenly Father is sovereign over the whole of life and all of history. We have a King and He is our LORD, Lord of lords and King of Kings. As subjects of our King we are called to serve our King and bring our homage. His rule is to be honoured, His Word is to be obeyed. As we look forward to the many activities that the Lord has set before us each day again, we can do so in the conviction that our lives are not lived in vain, for they are lived within the blessed calling of God’s Kingdom. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will be able to see the depth and width of the Kingdom. Pray Maranatha! Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

Daily devotional

January 19 - Waiting

“Wait for the LORD…” - Psalm 27:14                                                              Scripture reading: Psalm 27 By nature we are an impatient people. Waiting for a doctor’s appointment, waiting in a check-out line, waiting for a phone call that may not be coming, even waiting at a stop light can be frustrating for some. But God does put stop lights in our lives that we might learn to wait on Him. Abraham and Sarah had to wait many years before the realization of their promised son. The Old Testament church had to wait many centuries for the fulfillment of the Promised Son, our Redeemer. The New Testament church has waited for many centuries for the return of our Saviour King. In the circumstances of life, when wondering what is coming next, we must learn to wait. We often find ourselves in the middle of the story and we don't know what the next chapter holds. Some, reading this meditation, have experienced a broken heart and wonder how it might be healed. There are parents with prodigal children waiting for their child to return to the LORD. Maybe you feel at the end of your rope and think there is no more rope left. We need to practice our faith no matter where the LORD puts us. As we wait, we ask the LORD to teach us (vs. 11), to protect us (vs. 12) and help us to live in faith knowing that He is our light and salvation. Suggestions for prayer Ask for the grace to patiently wait on the LORD. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

Daily devotional

January 14 - Dealing with our desires

“Desire without knowledge is not good... What is desired in man is steadfast love…” - Proverbs 20:2a & 22a                                               Scripture reading: Proverbs 20:1-30 What is desire? It is to have an appetite or fondness for something outside of oneself. It is a longing or craving for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment. Someone once said “desire is like a river, as long as it flows within the banks of God’s will, all will be well. But if, it overflows those banks, it leads to all sorts of problems” How true!  Desire can lead to sin. James speaks of temptation as being enticed by one’s own desire flowing out of our sinful flesh.  One way to define the flesh is to drop the h and spell the remaining letters backwards. What do you have? SELF!  Misplaced desire is self-centeredness, selfishness tending to focus on my own needs while being thoughtless and inconsiderate of the needs or feelings of others. However, we are also to earnestly desire the higher gifts (I Corinthians 12:31), the greatest of which is love. Proper desire requires knowledge and is rooted in steadfast love (Proverbs 20:2 & 22). In the context of fretfulness (because of evildoers), the Psalmist encourages the believer to delight in the LORD, and He “will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).  But our greatest desire must always be the glory of God rooted in Christ.  Suggestions for prayer Pray that Christ may always be our hope and heart’s desire  Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

Daily devotional

January 13 - Look to Jesus

“Therefore since we are surrounded... let us also lay aside... let us run... looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith…” - Hebrews 12:1-2                                      Scripture reading: Hebrews 11:30-12:2 In the previous chapters, the Hebrew believers had been encouraged to see the superiority of Christ. The entire message of the Old Testament had been a preparation for the coming of Christ. Now at the conclusion of this letter/sermon these same believers are called to a living and lively faith. As 11:6 teaches, without faith it is impossible to please God.  Faith is as Martin Luther once wrote “…a living daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times”.  In faith, God’s people are to fix their eyes on Jesus as the object of faith and salvation.  This means that while the cloud of Old Testament witnesses may inspire us, it is Jesus, both in His person and work, Who is to both encourage and enable us as we look to our Fatherland. We must rest and rely on His perfect obedience as if it were our own. By the merits of Christ Jesus, we run the race seeking the heavenly Jerusalem.   Are you facing a particular temptation? Look to Jesus! Are you distraught! Look to Jesus! Is doubt, complacency, self-absorption your trouble? Look to Jesus! Suggestions for prayer Ask our heavenly Father for grace to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment. ...

Daily devotional

January 12 - Away from the body, at home with the Lord

“So we are always of good courage…” - 2 Corinthians 5:6  Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 5:1-21                        In the year unfolding before us there may be those whom we love taken from us. Perhaps even someone reading this devotional.  This morning (at the time of writing), I received a phone call informing me of the death of one of God’s saints. She at sixty years was relatively young. I was shocked. Why now LORD? What grief for her loved ones and her church community! Our why questions will not always receive answers in this world.  For all of us death will be life’s last experience. Our bodies are like tents flapping in the wind. And one day appointed by the LORD, that ‘tent’ will be taken down. The LORD is the giver and taker of life. Blessed be the Name of the LORD.   Death remains the final enemy. Death is ugly. Death brings sorrow and even intense pain to loved ones left behind. There is a longing for the fellowship and companionship that is no longer. Death’s bite is hard, often very hard. By grace, believers trust God’s promise. Death’s sting will not last into eternity. They live in the confidence that when we are absent from the body, we are with the LORD. In faith, the Christian testifies to our reconciliation with God. Christ has won the victory over death. Do you believe this? Suggestions for prayer Pray for the certainty of faith. Confess your faith in the resurrected living Christ. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

Daily devotional

January 11 - Do your work

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” - Ecclesiastes 9:10a  Scripture reading: Proverbs 23:23-27 Work is a blessing and we pray that we will be blessed with God-pleasing work in 2022. The Bible tells us that as God’s image-bearers we are to “have dominion over . . . every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). It urges us to work with our hands so that we can provide for ourselves and others (Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:11). Work, when performed with the right attitude, can be pleasurable and rewarding.  Proverbs 27:23-27 portrays the beautiful interplay of diligent work on our part and faithful nurture on God’s. Part of that diligence is to know your present situation well and respond accordingly. In an agrarian society, it was important to know the condition of your flocks and herds.  But giving heed to our own particular setting is no less important in whatever calling we have been placed.  The proverb calls for diligence, not fear. Since you cannot even see tomorrow, you must trust the God Who holds the future in His hands. Do your reasonable best in your daily labor, and trust the Lord for the rest. Remember, when God puts work into your life, He expects you to put life into your work. Suggestions for prayer “Another year is dawning! Dear Father let it be, in working or in waiting, another year with Thee.” Pray for strength to do our work diligently and gratefully. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

Daily devotional

January 6 - This will be a year of battle

“…wage the good warfare.” - 1 Timothy 1:18                        Scripture reading: 1 Timothy 1:1-20 Our calling in this year remains the same as in the days gone by. To be a people of faith and faithfulness involves battle.  Being a Christian is not smooth sailing. Already in this young year you have faced numerous temptations, whether you recognized them or not. We need to fight against sin - our sinful nature, the sinfulness of this world and even the devil himself. Are you fighting? What do you know about your sinful nature?  Do you recognize the snares of this world for what they are?  The world offers empty frivolity and hollow enticements which would have us become idol worshippers. Do you realize the enemy would always seek to accuse, to break down, to lead us astray? He is busy luring, ensnaring, goading into sin. Do you recognize the powers and principalities spoken of in Ephesians 6?  Paul, by the Holy Spirit, instructed Timothy and by extension every Christian to fight the battle against the enemies of Christ and the gospel and to do so with a good conscience. A good conscience serves as a rudder that steers the believer through the rocks and reefs of sin and error. Be careful not to make shipwreck of your faith. Plan your strategy.  Know your position in the battle. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you wage the good warfare. Pray for wisdom and courage. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment. ...

Daily devotional

January 5 - He calls me by name

“...and I know you by name” - Exodus 33:17                                    Scripture reading: Exodus 33:1-23 In the days prepared before us, we will be called to face a variety of circumstances of which some will seem beyond our ability to endure. In our Scripture lesson today, the LORD commands Moses to lead the people into the promised land. Moses found that task beyond his ability.  How does the LORD respond to Moses’ doubts?  The Lord reassures Moses that He knows him by name! The Lord promises His care for His servants and does so by name! Our names carry meaning; they also serve to shape our identity. While in a crowd we may be just another figure, seemingly insignificant, no Christian is anonymous to God. For the One who made heaven and earth, knowing a few billion people is not a problem. God loves you immensely (John 3:16), He thinks about you all the time (Psalm 139:17-18), and He calls His sheep by name (John 10:3).   Moses was a picture of a greater One to come. His Name is Jesus—the One who delivers us from our sins.  How well do you know His name? His is the Name above all names (Philippians 2:9). “How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear! It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.”  Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He knows us by name. Praise the Name of Jesus. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

Daily devotional

January 4 - Exalt the name of the Lord

“Oh magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.” - Psalm 34:3                     Scripture reading: Psalm 34:1-22 Life calls us to set priorities. How have you set yours? Psalm 34 helps us set our priorities aright. Always, our great calling remains to magnify the LORD and to exalt His name and to do that with and alongside fellow believers. Think of the magnifying glass—it brings everything into sharper focus. So too for us, when we set our priorities aright. Two days ago, we in freedom could be together in the Lord’s house of praise, prayer and proclamation to testify to the greatness of our God and the great things He has done, is doing, and will yet do.  David in magnifying the LORD bears witness to the happiness of those who trust in God. He writes out of conviction and experience after being delivered from his fears, saved out of his troubles.  And that continues to be the experience of the believer to this very day. God is near the broken-hearted and saves those experiencing a heavy spirit. He hears the believer’s cry for help.  Praise to God sets the tone for all that we are called to be and do. Will you make praise one of your priorities this year?   Suggestions for prayer Ask our heavenly Father to help set our priorities aright in such a way that praise would be a top priority.  Thank the LORD for our deliverance in Jesus Christ. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

Daily devotional

January 3 - Pay attention to God’s Word

“Come, let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not pay attention to any of his words.” - Jeremiah 18:18b  Scripture reading: Jeremiah 18:1-23 If we are to truly experience a blessed year of our LORD 2022, we must pay close attention to the Word of God. As Psalm 119:105 teaches, God’s Word is to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  In our Scripture lesson today, we read of a people who lived in dead formalism and who were determined to follow their own plans and act according to the stubbornness of their own evil hearts (vs.12). The people who were called to live in covenant fellowship with the LORD spurned His covenant Word. Jeremiah was called to bring a word of reproof and correction, but that Word of wise counsel was rejected. With their own words they would strike the Word-bearer sent by God (and in the future Christ). They had murderous intentions and later Jeremiah would experience being thrown alive into a deep pit on account of God’s Word.  What will it be for us this year? Will we heed the whole counsel of God? Or, will we pick and choose according to our own liking? Each day, we who are a willful people by nature must turn to God’s Word to direct us according to His will. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for a pliable heart. Ask for a heart that is united to fear God’s Name (Psalm 86:11b) Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

Daily devotional

December 29 - Wise men

“…when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him.” -  Matthew 2:11  Scripture reading: Matthew 2:8-23 This group of wise men, or Magi, would not have been ordinary men. They had the resources to make a significant journey and to bring treasures as gifts. Their presence had caused quite a stir in Jerusalem. They would have been some of the most educated men of their time. By earthly standards, these were prominent men. Yet we see them “rejoicing with exceeding joy” when they are led again by the star, then falling down and worshipping a poor child! J. C. Ryle says about this scene, “We read of no greater faith than this in the whole volume of the Bible.” While we may not be able to judge whether that statement is strictly true, there is something to Ryle’s sentiment. This was a poor family, in a small, obscure village, in what was undoubtedly an ordinary house. Yet these mighty men fall down and worship! The Lord had indeed given them true wisdom and great faith! It is not natural or normal for accomplished wise men to bow easily to anyone, much less in such a place. It is not natural for anyone, apart from the Holy Spirit's work, to seek or bow before the Lord Jesus. These men, however, had been given eyes to see Who was before them. Our own pilgrimages have the same goal: to know Him, enjoy Him and worship Him forever. Will you join these wise men in the eternal worship of the King of kings? Come, let us adore Him! Suggestion for prayer Pray for the true wisdom that seeks the King of kings and leads to His worship! Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel. ...

Daily devotional

December 28 - A troubled city 

“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” - Matthew 2:3  Scripture reading: Matthew 2:1-7 We should not be too surprised that Herod was troubled to hear about the birth of the King. After all, which king would want to hear this news? Even more, Herod was an Idumean, which is the Greek for “Edomite.” These were the sons of Esau, who had an ancient feud with Israel. More surprising, however, is to hear that Jerusalem was troubled along with Herod! Why would this be? Should they not be excited that the Messiah was born? Perhaps they were tired of the various zealot rebellions that had happened in those times. Maybe they simply did not want to “rock the boat.” Or it is possible that many of them were happy with the benefits of the Roman empire. After all, Rome allowed a lot of trade and prosperity. It had brought a form of slavery under taxation, but also a long period of peace under firm rule. Whatever the reasons were, Jerusalem would rather keep things the way they were. Is this not true of many today when they are confronted with the truth about Christ? The call to bend the knee to the King of kings is profoundly life-changing. It involves getting off of the throne of our own lives and submitting to the will of God. Are you perhaps also troubled by the idea of surrendering some areas of your life, mind or possessions to the Lord? Do not forget that the call to trust in Christ comes at a cost, even at times the cost of earthly security! (Luke 12:53). Suggestion for Prayer: Pray that you would not be troubled when the Lord calls you to be ruled by His Word and Spirit.  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 27 - Anna’s evangelism

“…she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” -  Luke 2:38  Scripture reading: Luke 2:36-38 The witnesses to the birth of Christ are a complete set of representatives. They represent old and young, male and female, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor. Here the focus is on Anna, a prophetess. Prophetesses were relatively rare in the time of the scriptures. They seem to have been most prominent in spiritually dark times. When men failed to lead and speak God’s Word, the Lord used dedicated and godly women in more visible ways. For about 400 years before the coming of Christ, we do not hear of a single true prophet. Here, at the end of that age, we see a dedicated prophetess. Anna was a widow who had lost her husband at a young age. Since then, for many decades, she had lived at the temple, fasting and praying, night and day. Some interpret the language to indicate that she would have been well over 100 years old, though the 84 years could also refer to her age.  She was another symbol of the very long time that believers waited for the Saviour. It is a reminder that some will have to wait a lifetime for prayers to be answered. Now, however, she is a picture of thanksgiving and joyful evangelism! When we truly grasp the joy of Christ's coming, we will begin to speak of Him to others. The Lord Jesus promises that "...whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32). Suggestion for prayer Pray that more believers would speak about the glory of Christ to their brothers and sisters in the church. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 26 - Simeon’s joy

“…my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” - Luke 2:30-32  Scripture reading: Luke 2:22-35 The birth of Christ is witnessed by an interesting set of characters. First, there were the shepherds. But now, as the firstborn Son was brought to the temple, we are introduced to another. This time it is a man named Simeon. We do not know much about him. He seems to have been a witness set apart for this specific moment. The language of verses 26 and 29 indicates that he was likely a very old man. Try to imagine this elderly believer, who lived in Jerusalem, coming “by the Spirit into the temple” (Luke 2:27). He knew, from the Holy Spirit, that he would one day meet the Messiah. His age reminds us that believing Israelites had waited a long, long time for the Messiah to come. At just the right time, he is there to greet this poor little family in the Father’s house. He takes the Child into his arms and blesses God. Simeon’s main testimony is great joy in seeing the Saviour! But why is this happening? Simeon’s testimony would affect Joseph and Mary, amazing them (Luke 2:23). It must have been an encouragement for this family to be greeted with such warmth and joy! This was also an appropriate reception to His Father’s house. For the first time, a genuinely righteous Child of God was entering the temple. Most importantly, despite His poverty and the strange circumstances of His birth, the beloved Son entered with the glory being given to God. Suggestion for prayer Pray for an eager expectation of the second coming of Christ, as Simeon had at the first coming!  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 21 - A miracle child

“Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John… he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.” -  Luke 1:13,16  Scripture reading: Luke 1:1-25 The Lord chose, on several occasions, to mark His work in history with unusual birth stories. Some examples include the births of Isaac, Samuel, Samson and John the Baptist. These births were like signposts, or markers, reminding that the Lord alone could provide deliverance for His people. These occasions were also surrounded by signs such as announcements by angels. Strange, miraculous things happened! Elizabeth was “well advanced in years” and yet was expecting a baby. Zacharias was visited by an angel and was unable to speak for months. The baby boy was given an unusual name and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He would live an extraordinary life in the wilderness, even as a youth. All of these things were proof that the Lord was working out his plan in history. John the Baptist was sent to get the attention of God’s people. They needed a wake-up call, a call to repentance. They needed to be prepared to meet the Lord Jesus. Though we live in different times, is it not true that many need the same call today? A call to be turned, away from themselves, away from worldliness and away from superficial religion? Are you prepared to meet the Lord when He returns? Are your friends and your family ready? One day, all of us will have to meet Him face-to-face. Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and His impending arrival ought to fill us with reverence! Suggestion for prayer Pray for those that do not see their need to be turned to the Lord God, that the preaching of the gospel would lead them to true repentance.  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 20 - Called out of Egypt

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.” - Hosea 11:1  Scripture reading: Hosea 11:1-9 It is interesting to think about this text and how Old Testament believers would read it. They would naturally look backward in time. They would see this as a hopeful picture of how God had rescued their fledgling nation out of slavery in Egypt. The terms are endearing and beautiful. Sadly, however, the context is appalling. In the context, Hosea makes comparisons that show how shamefully Israel’s rebellion contrasts with the Lord’s love. He speaks of great wickedness in the verse before and of sacrifices to the Baals in the verse after. This was a reminder to sinful and rebellious people of God’s covenant love to them. Reading this in context helps us understand the significance of what Matthew 2:15 means as the Holy Spirit highlights this verse. Matthew understood that this text mainly pointed forward to the Son of God. As His family fled the threats of Herod, the Lord Jesus Christ was forced into exile in Egypt. He was suffering the consequences of sin as his family was driven into a foreign land. But He was driven there for the purpose of being called back out. “…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ‘Out of Egypt I called My Son’” (Matthew 2:15). Even as a little child, the Lord Jesus was already taking the place of sinners. He would take the route of His people so that He could redeem His people. And He did so, always, as the beloved Son of the Father. Suggestion for prayer Pray for covenant children who are in danger of going into slavery to sin, that they would see their need for the Son.  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 19 - A ruler from Bethlehem

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” - Micah 5:2  Scripture reading: Micah 5  Bethlehem was just a tiny, obscure village. Here it was even referred to as “little among the thousands of Judah.” Almost any other town would be bigger and seem better, apart from one fact: it was the birthplace of David, the great king of Israel.  David started as a mere shepherd boy. He was a little brother, from a little village and yet, it was David who put Bethlehem on the map. He drove back his nation's enemies and he united the tribes under one ruler. There was a time of peace and plenty. A powerful family line of kings would rule after David for many generations. People would remember Bethlehem, mainly because David was a man after God’s own heart who was raised up to be a great leader (1 Samuel 13:14). All of David’s accomplishments, however, were just preparation for the real purpose of Bethlehem. History set the stage for the One Ruler, the King of Kings, to be born there. He is the eternal Son of God, Who has always existed, from everlasting. And yet, He would choose this tiny place as a testimony to the world. He could have chosen to be born in Jerusalem, or even Rome, but instead, He arranged history so that His earthly life would begin in an otherwise obscure place. “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise… and the weak things to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:27).  Suggestion for prayer Pray that the humility of Christ would be impressed on many in these times, and that they would truly come to Christ. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 18 - The root and the branch

Isaiah 11:1–2 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him. Scripture reading: Isaiah 11:1-16  When we talk about a “family tree,” we use the same symbol that Isaiah spoke of in chapter 11. Isaiah pictures David’s father, Jesse, as the trunk or the stem of this family tree. From his son, David, onward, this would have been the family tree of the kings. Generation after generation, his sons had ruled over Judah. What is profound, however, is the context of this verse. At the end of chapter 10, the LORD is pictured as cutting down many forests. Isaiah 10:33 says, “Those of high stature will be hewn down, And the haughty will be humbled.” The hope of Isaiah 11:1 comes on the heels of a threat. The threat is that the nations, and even their kings, will be cut down to size. In time, sadly, this would happen to the house of Jesse. They would lose their high position and they would become prisoners and slaves in exile. What had once been a mighty family tree would be a mere stump. The glory of the kings of Judah would be cut down! Imagine if your family was forcibly taken to a foreign land and imprisoned? Would you have hope for the future? Isaiah saw hope, that from that stump a new shoot would begin to grow. God allowed the descendants of Jesse to survive, despite their sin and its consequences. Far in the future, even though He was born into a poor family under the oppression of Rome, Jesus Christ would grow out of that "stump" to become our Rod and Branch!  Suggestion for prayer Pray that those you know who seem to have lost all hope, that they would see the hope that is in the Rod and the Branch.  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 13 - Israel needs a King

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” - Judges 17:6  Scripture reading: Judges 17:1-13 It is not natural for people to admit that they need the King of kings to rule over them. Our culture has taught us that every person knows what is best for themselves. It is thought that as long as people can freely choose their path, all will be well with them. A similar worldview prevailed in the time of the Judges. The Israelites quickly forgot the leadership of Moses and the law of God. They began to assume that they knew best what was right. The result was one of the darkest periods in Israel's history. Idolatry, covetousness, perversity and violence multiplied. So the refrain of Judges was, “...there was no king in Israel.” The book recounts some of the worst times in the Bible. This period was like a dark backdrop being painted in preparation for the anointing of the kings. In time, David and then Solomon would be appointed and they would unite the nation and establish the house of God at its center. Under their rule, there would be greater peace, safety and justice. Their kingdom, however, was a mere shadow of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. When the wise men came in Matthew 2, they were directed to Bethlehem. It was out of Bethlehem that would “...come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel” (Matthew 2:6). The need for this King is more profound than the need for good politicians or godly leaders. You need Him to rule over you: your thoughts, words, and deeds! Suggestion for prayer Pray that many will see their need for the Lord Jesus to rule over them by His Word and Spirit. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 12 - The star of Jacob

“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Sceptre shall rise out of Israel.” - Numbers 24:17  Scripture reading: Numbers 24:12-19 Balaam’s role in the Bible is memorable and filled with irony. Many will mainly remember the talking donkey who saves Balaam’s life. But the talking donkey was only a tiny preview of greater irony that was to come. Balaam was known as a diviner, wizard or fortune-teller of some kind. He claimed to be a spokesman for God, but his ways were perverse (Numbers 22:32). He “loved the wages of unrighteousness” and devised a plan to lure the children of Israel into wickedness (2 Peter 2:15, Revelation 2:14). Balaam, as a “diviner for hire,” could hardly be expected to be reliable. Yet, though he was an unlikely speaker, God used Balaam to pronounce only beautiful blessings on Israel. One of these prophecies was that far in the future, “…a Star would come out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel.” A star was the sign of the birth of a great King (Matthew 2:2), and the sceptre was the rod that was a symbol of His power. Balaam was foreseeing the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and even preaching the hope of His coming kingdom! There is in this event a double hope in the end, first that the Lord can use enemies to bless His people abundantly. Second, no matter how evil some in this world are, they cannot deny the coming of Christ. He has come and He now rules over all things, even all of the nations! (1 Peter 3:22).  Suggestion for prayer Pray for wisdom to see that God even uses evil and influential people to bless His children.  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 11 - Standing in the breach 

“He said that He would destroy them, had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach, to turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them.” - Psalm 106:23  Scripture reading: Psalm 106:1-48 Adam and Eve were banished from the garden. Cain was driven further to the east. At Babel, all of humanity was scattered across the face of the earth. We find a pattern in the Old Testament of growing distant from God. As the exodus progressed, this sad pattern developed again. Though God’s people had followed Him safely across the Red Sea, they soon began to despise His ways. Psalm 106 reviews this history of rebellion and punishments. God had made it clear that His people deserved to be destroyed. There was a breach between God and His people. The word means “gap,” and it points to a dreadful relational breakdown, a situation where two parties had a chasm or abyss of brokenness between them.  Israel had “cheated” on God with the golden calf. They had fallen in love with an idol and rejected Him. So, He threatened to destroy them utterly and they would have deserved that end (Exodus 32:10). But there is hope in this scene! Moses himself had not been part of this rebellion or idolatry. He was still in fellowship with God and he was allowed to stand in the breach. When Moses pleaded with God for them, he pointed to God’s covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 32:13). Moses became their mediator. His role was preparing God’s people to see how all of us need a Mediator. Though we have not been faithful to Him, He continues to make intercession for us! Suggestion for prayer Pray for those in denial of the serious breach between themselves and God. Pray for forgiveness and repentance for “…covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 10 - Spiritual drink

“...all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” - 1 Corinthians 10:3–4  Scripture reading: Exodus 17:1-7 If you have been to a desert, you know that you can get very thirsty in a short time. Now imagine a nation of hundreds of thousands, even millions of people, living in the Sinai desert for decades. The only way this was possible was that the Lord regularly provided them with water. At Marah, the Lord guided Moses to cast a tree into the water to make it drinkable. At Horeb at the beginning of their long journey and Meribah near the end, Moses struck the rock with his rod and water came out. From this passage in 1 Corinthians 10, we learn that those two scenes were bookends to an ongoing reality. As Israel traveled with the pillar of cloud and fire in front of them, the “spiritual Rock” followed behind them. This is a mysterious truth. Through the Saviour and His work, they were always provided with and always within reach of life-giving water. None of the Israelites needed to be lost in the wilderness, none needed to starve and none needed to die of thirst. Every place they camped, there was water. That scene, however, was not just about literal water. As believing Israelites went through those trials in faith, they were drinking of the living water. The Lord was supplying them with every spiritual need in Christ. What a picture of comfort this is! That the Saviour goes both before and behind His people, filling their every need! Jesus promised His people, “...whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst” (John 4:14). Suggestion for prayer Pray with thanksgiving for Christ our Rock! Pray that contentedness would take the place of complaining and that you would rejoice in the gift of living water Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 5 - The comfort of rest

“...he called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed.”” - Genesis 5:29  Scripture reading: Genesis 8:1-22 Although Genesis 5 is only a few pages into the Bible, we see what a mess the world had already become! Violence and vengeance had multiplied. Minds and hearts were filled with wickedness. It was hard work to survive. In the middle of this cursed world, however, some believers called on the name of the LORD (Gen. 4:26).  There was a line of fathers and sons who feared God. One was Enoch, who walked with God. We can see that Enoch’s grandson Lamech also trusted the LORD, because he prophetically named his son Noah. Noah means “rest.” In the middle of a world of sin and fearsome violence, Lamech hoped that God would use Noah to bring rest. Noah was a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). He would build the ark for the flood that would wash the world. His household would be preserved (Hebrews 11:7). When they stepped off of the ark after the flood, they would be safe from the wicked hordes that used to roam the earth.  The reality, however, was that even a gigantic flood was not enough to fix the world’s problem with sin. Noah, and his sons, would still be sinners. Even building a massive ark could not save them from themselves. Lamech’s ultimate hope would be fulfilled in his descendant, Jesus Christ. Jesus’ promise was, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Those that believe in Jesus Christ have entered His rest! (Hebrews 4:3).  Suggestion for prayer Pray for Christians who struggle in a world of temptations and threats, that they would find rest in Christ and that households would be set apart. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 4 - The seed promise

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” - Genesis 3:15  Scripture reading: Genesis 3:1-20 Genesis 3 recounts the first-ever missionary journey. Adam and Eve were desperately needy, aware of their nakedness and guilt. Though they are polluted by sin and worthy of death, God came to seek them out. There is great hope in this visit. Do we consider enough, how much His seeking and speaking show mercy? The words that God says are difficult and the curses He pronounces are sobering. But there is also much hope here! There is the promise that Seed will be born, a Child will come, and He will crush the head of Satan. The cause of their sin, and all their problems, will one day be conquered by a Saviour. Sometimes this verse is called the “proto-evangelion,” which means it is like a prototype of the gospel. It is a simple hope: a Descendant will come to conquer evil. Beyond this good news, at the end of the visit, God made Adam and Eve tunics of skin and clothed them. Though Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, they left with gospel hope in their hearts and a covering for their shame. Today we know that these hopes have been fulfilled in Christ. We have the entire message of the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:55-56). He covers sins! (Romans 4:7). Let us rejoice that the Saviour has come and look forward to His return when He will have the final victory! Suggestion for prayer Pray for missions and that the church would be faithful in proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth. Pray that you would be ready to give a “...reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 3 - All the scriptures

“...beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” - Luke 24:27 Scripture reading: Luke 24:13-34 Many of us have probably heard a Bible teaching that suddenly “clicked.” There was an insight into a passage that we had not thought of before. Suddenly we saw the brilliance of the Bible in a new way. Imagine if you had been on the road to Emmaus, as the Lord Jesus Himself expounded the Old Testament! Those disciples would have learned how passage after passage was actually about Jesus Christ. This is something we need to remember about the Old Testament. It is all, ultimately, pointing to Jesus Christ. All of the history and the writings served to promise and prepare God’s people for His coming. There was the promise of a coming Seed to Adam, the rest from violence brought by the flood and the promise of God’s patience to Noah, the calling of Abraham out of the east and Joseph’s role in saving his family from famine. We can think of Moses leading God’s people out of slavery and mediating for them at Sinai, or David’s role in driving away enemies and bringing a great time of peace for Israel. Throughout all of His people’s history, God was teaching them that they needed the Saviour. Now, when we look back on these stories, we see in them hints and shadows of the need for Christ. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit would enlighten many to see that, “...all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Suggestion for prayer Pray that many would have eyes to see that all of the scriptures point us to Christ. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 2 - The word who created

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” - John 1:1-3  Scripture reading: John 1:1-14 In the creation account of Genesis 1, God simply speaks. The repeated refrain is, “And God said, let there be...” By the power of His Word, He created, divided, formed and filled. When we make things, we shape projects from existing material. We have to start with something like wood, paper or metal. God, however, made everything from nothing (Hebrews 11:3).  In John 1, we learn that God did this through His Son, also called the “Word.” The original term for Word is “Logos.” The Logos is the perfect expression of God; it is the Logos who reveals God. He is with God and is God. God and His Logos are inseparable; they are One. Yet, profoundly, we see the Logos mediating between God and creation in the beginning. He is intimately involved in creation from the start. It is profound to think that this same Logos “...became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). What a beautiful mystery, that He would choose to visit the creation which He had spoken into existence! He is the Word Who is full of grace and truth (1:14), and Who has declared the Father (1:18). He demonstrated the power of His Word over the wind and waves (Mark 4:39) and even over sin and suffering (Luke 5:23). There is great hope in these opening words of John’s gospel and great hope in that God still reveals Himself to us through His Word! Suggestion for prayer Pray that the busyness and events of this month would not distract us from the Word of God, but would be a time of drawing nearer to Him in truth. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

November 27 - Judgement!

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”” - Revelation 6:9-10  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 9-10 These chapters don’t make for easy reading. We might feel we need to apologize for God, but it is better to understand than to be embarrassed by it. These events fall out according to His Word. Why did God ordain such a severe judgement? It is important to note that those who are judged are judged justly. They were Baal worshippers like Ahab, his wife and sons. They did evil in the eyes of the Lord and some were prophets of Baal who sought to turn God’s people away from the Lord. We also note that this slaughter is the outflow of God’s love for His own. He avenges the blood of His children. Note 2 Kings 9:21 where Jehu meets Joram at the property of Naboth, the righteous man killed by Ahab. Judgement followed His patience. It had been years since judgement was announced against Ahab’s family. There was ample opportunity for them to repent. They squandered God’s mercy and ripened themselves for God’s wrath. Jehu was God’s agent of judgement, but even he did not walk in the law of the Lord with all his heart. Christ, the King, is greater than Jehu. He served the Lord with all His heart and carried out the judgement of God with His shed blood. Not judgement against His enemies, but judgement for His enemies. That is the first part of Christ’s ministry. After years of patience He will tread the winepress of God’s wrath. Be sure that you have sworn allegiance to Him as your Sovereign and Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you a sense of the seriousness of His judgement. Thank Him for the willingness of Christ to be condemned in our place.  Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 26 - A weeping prophet

“And when drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on his day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”” - Luke 19:41-42  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 8:7-15 In 2 Kings 1, the Israelite king inquires of a pagan god about his chances of recovery; here a pagan king inquires of the man of God if he will recover from his sickness. How shameful when the world is more godly than the Church. And it often is. Patients who are unbelievers treat hospital staff with kindness and the believer in the same situation is demanding, impatient and critical. Shameful. Hazael asks Elisha whether his king, Ben-hadad, is going to recover. He is told that Ben-hadad is going to recover from his sickness, but that he is certainly going to die. This enigmatic statement means that in the normal course of events the sickness was not fatal. However, Hazael’s assassination attempt was going to be fatal. He would become king and terrorize Israel. Elisha knew that the judgement was deserved. That’s why he announces it. But notice that he also weeps because of the destruction that is going to come. Elisha, the prophet of the Lord, foreshadows Christ in both ways. We have domesticated the Lord Jesus and made Him tame. But remember, He is the One Who will say to many on that day, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ But Christ also weeps over the sentence of judgement. He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but delights in mercy. Rather than destroying sinners, He would rather be destroyed, taking the sins of His people to Himself and to the cross. Doesn’t this attract you to the Saviour? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the loving compassion of Christ for sinners who deserve the condemnation that Christ took upon Himself. Ask the Lord that we would show compassion on our lost neighbours and have opportunities to point them to the Saviour. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 25 - The restorer of fortunes

“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongues with songs of joy.” - Psalm 126:1-2  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 8:1-6 How perplexing the Lord’s ways are! Remember this woman who had established a B&B for Elisha in chapter 4? She’s back and so are the meandering ways of the Lord. She had received advance notice of an impending famine and was told to sojourn in the land of the enemies, in Philistia. She obeyed. When she returned after her seven year exile, she came back to nothing. Her reward for obedience is further hardship. She’s not alone; Christ Himself and countless Christians the world over know this pain. She appeals to the king and he restores her fortunes. And, delightfully, he does so because of the ‘chance’ intervention of Gehazi. Evidently the Lord had restored his fortunes too. That’s our experience too as Christians. We have been exiled from God’s presence because of our sin. But God restores the fortunes of the banished ones and brings His exiled ones home and gives them the inheritance long promised. Remember the prodigal son? This restoration grace is founded on the person and work of Christ. Think of His death as His exile, His banishment from His Father’s presence for sins not His own. The grave is His sojourn. His resurrection is the ending of the famine, life from the dead. And His ascension is His homecoming, receiving the enjoyment of His inheritance as the Son of God. This is what gives us hope. Hope for the lost and hope for the individual Christian whose life is a mess. God is in the business of restoring fortunes. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you might rejoice in the Lord’s restoring grace with laughter and song. Pray that the Lord will restore the fortunes of needy Christians and of His Church. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 24 - Deliverance delivered, declared, doubted, and denied

“. . . you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. But just as all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the evil things . . .” - Joshua 23:14 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 7 In the midst of devastation caused by human sin and the refusal to repent, the Lord graciously promises deliverance. The Syrian siege would cease. That was God’s promise, and 2 Kings 7 chronicles its fulfilment. Notice first that the Lord delivers on His promise. The Syrians heard a sound of an attacking army and fled. God’s ways are always marvellous. Then the deliverance is declared by four unlikely candidates. The lepers were hoarding when they should have been sharing. Here is a word for us. We must share with others the best news we have. The only qualification is that we have enjoyed it ourselves. When the king hears the news, his first inclination is to doubt it. The good news seemed too good to be true. Thankfully, his doubt was dispelled, and they went out and plundered. To the captain appointed for crowd control the deliverance was denied because he dismissed the Word of the Lord (vv. 2, 18-19). He didn’t trust, so he didn’t taste. All the promises of the gospel are found in one place, the Bible. They are accessed in one place: the Lord Christ, the Word of God. 2 Kings 7 is a preview of the gospel. You see. Will you enjoy? You will if you confess the devastation of sin and trust Christ to make things right. Faith in Christ brings blessings, eating and drinking in the kingdom of heaven and enjoyment of treasures that far surpass the silver and gold and clothing the lepers enjoyed from the Syrian camp. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would show you His faithfulness to His promises in the Lord Jesus Christ and that He would give us the faith to embrace them so that we might enjoy His blessings. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 19 - No axedent

“The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!” - Psalm 93:3-4 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 6:1-7 It is important to the story that the sons of the prophets were compelled to become lumberjacks because their ‘seminary’ had become too small. God’s kingdom was advancing, and our enemy attacks to thwart its progress. But as our Lord Jesus reminds us in Matthew 16, “The gates of Hades will not prevail against the Church.” God is determined to see His kingdom advance. So, He makes the axe head float. He is also the God who frees us from debt. To replace the borrowed axe head was beyond the ability of the wielder. God, Who had redeemed His people from slavery in the exodus, was not eager to see them enslaved again. So, He made the axe head float. Finally, notice how the greatness of God is seen in the small details of life. It looked at first that Elisha was going to send the men away while he remained. But, ‘luckily’ one of them pressed Elisha to go with them. God knew in advance that Elisha was needed and ensured that Elisha went. All this highlights for us that there are no ‘axedents’ in our lives. God’s gracious and glorious purposes, whether for His kingdom’s advance or His people’s good, will succeed. You see this displayed in the life and ministry of our Saviour. He will stop at nothing for His glory and our good. That is the kind of God you could give yourself to, don’t you think? And that’s the kind of God you could swing an axe for. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would open our eyes to see His sovereign power and His wonderful care for His people. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 18 - Judan-like, anti-grace gehazis

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ . . .” - Philippians 3:8 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 5:19b-27 At the end of the story, things change. Clouds roll in. Instead of grace there is greed. Instead of truth there are lies. Instead of, ”As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none,” we hear, “As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” And that dreaded leprosy is back. Instead of a leprous man coming into Elisha's presence clean, a clean man leaves Elisha's presence leprous. What had happened? Greed. Like Judas, Gehazi was on the front line of gospel ministry. Like Judas, he lusted for money. And what Gehazi lusted in his heart, he now held in his hand. Watch out for the progression of sin. Sin itself is greedy; always wanting more. And how did it advantage Gehazi? He has wealth now, but he also has leprosy. Gehazi resented God’s grace. He didn’t like this Syrian getting off so cheaply. Had he been captured by the free grace of God, he would not only have rejoiced in Naaman’s blessing, he would never have pursued wealth. His fascination with wealth highlights a dissatisfaction and disinterest in the grace of God. It always does. Left to ourselves we would all be Judas-like, anti-grace Gehazis. But Christ offers Himself to us. He is willing to take responsibility for our greed, lies and covetousness and our punishment too. That is what the cross is all about. So cherish Him, and if we have Him, is anything else even remotely comparable or desirable? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord that He would reveal the glory and wonder of the Lord Jesus so that we might be convinced of the surpassing worth of having Him. Pray that God would protect us from greed and covetousness. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 17 - Without money and without price

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” - Isaiah 55:1  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 5:15-27 Pagan religion taught that gods could be manipulated by humans. That’s almost certainly why Naaman brought so much wealth. Humans project that on to their non-existent deities. Even Christians tend to think that God must be moved by our contributions before he will do us good. God resists any attempt to change his grace into a commodity we can purchase. Grace, to be grace, must be free. That’s why Elisha doesn’t make any reference to Naaman’s wealth when he sends his messenger to tell Naaman to go and wash. That’s why Elisha refuses a gift that was aroused by gratitude for God’s grace (v. 16). (Certainly, the school of the prophets could have used the funds!) And that is why Elisha is so disturbed by Gehazi extracting a gift by deceit (v. 26). It wasn’t just the deceit and greed, but the distortion of God’s grace. Gehazi is cursed with Naaman’s leprosy because he put a price on God’s mercy. Reformed Christians will often respond to the freeness of God’s grace by saying, “But we must show thankfulness.” For some this is an attempt to smuggle in by the back door what we wouldn’t dare to bring in through the front door. That is, it is introducing works into our salvation. It can be an attempt to condition or qualify the freeness of God’s grace. Notice Elisha refused to receive Naaman’s thankfulness lest God’s grace be distorted. There is a cost to our salvation. But it isn’t one that we must pay. Christ has paid it all. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that it is by grace that we have been saved through faith and that even this faith is a gift of God. Pray that He would keep us from distorting His grace both to ourselves and to others. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 16 - Born again

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”” - Matthew 18:1-3  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 5:14-19 Here is a work of God. Elisha wasn’t even present so he can’t take credit. The Jordan was the scene of God’s power in the past. Even the king of Israel recognized only God could cure a man of leprosy (v. 7). But there is more going on than physical cleansing. Leprosy is a picture of our spiritual malady and this cleansing can be seen as Naaman’s conversion. He has become like a little child in the same river in which our Lord was baptized. Naaman’s internal transformation affected his life. He is humble, calling himself Elisha’s servant (v. 15). He is grateful, wishing to give his wealth, not as a payment, but as a present (v. 15). He confesses there is no God but God (v. 15). He pledges to worship only this God (v. 17) and shows spiritual sensitivity, wishing to honour the Lord while he continues to serve in the royal court. Naaman has been changed by the grace of God. He is the Old Testament equivalent of the Thessalonians who received the word and turned from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Naaman’s story has three distinct sections sectioned by the word “Go,” in v. 5, 10, and 19. It is really the odyssey of someone becoming a believer. He hears the gospel: there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins. He believes the gospel: and sinners plunged beneath that flood. He goes in peace: lose all their guilty stains. Has Jesus said to you, “Go in peace”? Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He continues to save sinners sovereignly, and ask Him to show Himself mighty in the conversion of your family, neighbours and friends, and even to use you as an instrument of blessing. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 11 - Let’s stew over this

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” - 1 Corinthians 15:58 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 4:38-41                                                                                                                                                                      We don’t often think of our food supply. If we burn the dinner, we call Domino’s pizza. Imagine if you are in a famine and you prepare a pot of stew, and, hoping to make it stretch, you ruin it by adding some deadly ingredients. That was what Elisha’s servant did. It is helpful to note that even God’s people feel the effects of God’s judgment. The famine did not bypass them. That will give us some ballast when we face difficulties in life. The death in the pot reminds us of the devastation of sin unleashed by the fruit in the garden. There were no fatal plants in the Garden before the Fall. The point is that these men of God live in the context of the curse. Thankfully, redemption comes in the story. Elisha throws some flour in the pot and it becomes safe. The curse is reversed. We ought to think of the person and work of Christ, the greater than Elisha. It is not accidental that His crown on the cross is one of thorns. He participates in the curse so that we are redeemed from death. But He also redeems our efforts to serve Him. He takes our frustrated attempts to serve and makes them useful and edifying and profitable for His glory and the good of others. How is that for an encouragement for you mothers, fathers, elders, ministers, husbands, wives, singles, employees and students? Your labour, in the work of the Lord, is not in vain. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the sacrificial death of the Son of God that redeems us from our sins and enables us to serve Him amidst the frustrations of this world. Pray that He would encourage disheartened saints to keep striving to serve Him. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 10 - The beautiful, the bitter and beyond

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”” - John 11:25-26 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 4:18-37 God gives us both the beautiful and the bitter of this life to point us to the life beyond. The Lord tests this woman’s faith to give her a still more glorious revelation of His grace and glory. The woman leaves her dead son and, in faith (Hebrews 11:35), goes to the man of God. Elisha returns and prays for the boy’s restoration. Elisha prays because this is the work of God. The holy man of God lays on the boy and becomes unclean in order to bring life to him. Elisha pictures the miracle of God’s glory and the gospel of God’s grace. But he does so faintly. After all, the boy dies again. What we need is not the man of God, but the God-man to give new life to the dead. God has done this and displayed His glory in the gospel of our Lord Christ. Christ identifies with us in our humanity and our sin to bring us life from the dead by His own death. In resurrection glory, He ensures our own resurrection at the last day. This life is a mixture of gladness and sadness and both point us to the beyond. The beautiful reminds us of the generosity of God’s grace to sinners and the indescribable inheritance He has prepared for those who love Him. The bitter makes us feel the pain of the curse so that we don’t become too attached to this world, but, instead, wait with expectancy for the renewal of all things when Christ returns in glory. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we may have our eyes fixed on the inheritance that God keeps in heaven for us so that we may rejoice even while we are grieved by various trials. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 9 - The sadness of life

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled . . . Jesus wept . . . Then Jesus, deeply moved again . . .” - John 11:33-38 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 4:17-28 We are given a concise biography. The boy grows, and goes out with his father. Gladness! Then the boy becomes ill, is carried homesick, sits on his mother’s lap until noon, and dies. Sadness! The fact that this pain came as a result of God’s gift makes it sharper. Notice her words in v. 28. What kind of God is He? She feels deceived. Wouldn’t it have been easier if God hadn’t given her a son in the first place? Some of you have even experienced this scenario so often that every time you receive a gift you wait for the inevitable grief to come. What do we say to this? Shunning easy answers that require us to deny that we have real sorrow, that we taste bitterness, we can say a couple of things. The bitterness of our life is because of the fall. The refrain of Genesis 5 is echoed in v. 20: ‘and then he died.’ This is more grievous because it is the death of a young boy. But the point remains the same. It is because of the curse of sin. Remember Jesus at Lazarus’ grave? Sin has wreaked havoc on God’s good creation. And we lament. But we need to say more. Remember, she is being rewarded. The Lord is good in all His ways. He is too wise to be mistaken and too good to be unkind. Satan is the one who paints God as parsimonious and nasty. Faith sees God as gracious and kind even in the trials of life. Suggestions for prayer Pray for your brothers and sisters who are going through deep trials that God would show them His tender compassion and that they would see His goodness. Pray for the persecuted Church whose persecution comes precisely because of the gift of God’s grace to them. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 8 - The gladness of life

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward . . .” - Matthew 10:40-41 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 4:8-17 Elisha often stopped by the home of a well-to-do woman and her husband for a meal. That home became Elisha’s B&B whenever he was in that region. What an encouragement this evidence of her godliness was to Elisha. A prophet was not always well received. Remember the Bethel boys. Do you receive your pastors with kindness and generosity? Jesus promises a reward for us if we do (Matthew 10:41). Elisha offers this woman a reward for her kindness in receiving him. He asks, “What is to be done for you?” Unlike the widow in v. 2 who was asked the same question, this woman needed nothing. Her answer in v. 13 conveys contentment. After consulting with Gehazi, Elisha promises her a son. She is somewhat incredulous. “Do not lie to your servant, O man of God!” What Elisha promised came true. Why would God do this for her? Three reasons:  To reward her for her kindness to His servant.  Because he is generous. There is an obvious link to the story in Genesis 18:10 where the barren Sarah receives the promise of a son. This woman’s son wasn’t an Isaac through whom the promise would continue. So why does God give this gift? Because He is generous (1 Timothy 6:17b). That is helpful to remember, isn’t it? We are given many things simply for our enjoyment so that we might glorify God as the generous source.  To reveal Himself even more gloriously. But we’ll take a look at that in a couple of days. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for your Pastor and ask Him to enable you to receive him with kindness. Thank God that He gives us everything to enjoy and pray that we might enjoy the Giver through His gifts. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 3 - The Lord’s assessment

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” - Matthew 22:37 Scripture reading: Matthew 22:34-40; 2 Kings 3:1-3 As Elijah had to deal with Ahab, Elisha had to deal with Jehoram. Jehoram means, “The Lord is exalted.” However, his life contradicted his name. He is better than Ahab, spiritually speaking, but he is still not where a king of Israel ought to be. He is not a faithful worshipper of, nor a firm believer in, the Lord. He removed the pillar of Baal, but didn’t fully turn his back on Baal. Elisha tells him to consult the prophets of Baal (3:13), suggesting Jehoram still had some familiarity with them. Later, Jehu, upon succeeding Jehoram, had to kill the Baal prophets that remained (10:18). Moreover, although Jehoram did not promote Baal like his parents, he still clung to the sin of Jeroboam. He was an improvement, but God’s assessment is that he was bad. “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” That is the assessment we should concern ourselves with. The Lord is our standard, not the next guy or the last guy. God doesn’t grade on a curve. True, some sins are worse than others. But any sin warrants the wrath and curse of God. It is important to understand this because the sinful heart is always seeking new tactics to allow us to engage in sin. True worship that is acceptable to God is a hatred of all sin and a commitment to obey Him in all circumstances. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help us see His intolerance of sin and to give us a desire to hear His “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Thank Him that Christ has died for all our unfaithfulness in His faithful obedience to His Father. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 2 – Covenant bears

“For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” – Acts 2:39  Scripture reading: Acts 2:36-41; 2 Kings 2:23-25 It is a sad, but not unexpected event. Bethel had a long and hallowed tradition as a place of worship. But things weren’t like they used to be in Bethel. It had become notorious for sin and idolatry. This sin affected young and old alike. Remember, the man who rebuilt Jericho at the cost of his sons was from Bethel. In Bethel, children were sacrificed on the altar of their parents’ godlessness. That’s what’s happening in this story. The parents hate God and their children mock the Lord and His anointed servant Elisha. The Lord responds as promised. He told them He would let loose wild beasts against them that would bereave them of their children (Leviticus 26:22). And so He did. This story should make us tremble at the display of God’s wrath in response to the scandalous nature of sin. But we should remember that this story follows the previous one in which God displays grace to the cursed. Bethel sounds the note of the ferocity of God’s judgement. But thankfully, that is not the only note sounded. Later, in Jerusalem, God shows mercy to sinners who rejected the Lord and His anointed servant in clamouring for the death of Jesus. Though they called for Christ’s blood to be on them and their children (Matthew 27:25), the Spirit-filled ambassador of the ascended Christ retaliates with promised grace for them and their children. What a glorious reminder that grace reverses the curses and that Jesus comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to remind us as parents of the solemn repercussions our spiritual carelessness might have on our children. Thank the Lord that His grace reverses the curse. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. ...

Daily devotional

November 1 - Introduction to Elisha

The word of God is living and active. It is not only something we study, it studies us. As the Bible reveals truths about itself, it also, simultaneously, reveals truths about us. That's what you will discover as we work our way through the sacred account of one of the Old Testament prophets, Elisha. These studies will uncover human depravity and highlight the astonishing grace of God to His people in His Son, Jesus Christ, the greatest of all prophets and the final Word of God. These studies had their beginning in sermons preached at Trinity and can be heard at sermonaudio.com. The Gospel according to Jericho “Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water…” – 2 Kings 2:21 Scripture reading: Revelation 22:1-5; 2 Kings 2:15-22 Obviously, this passage is not about environmental science. It declares the mighty works of the God of our salvation through His servant Elisha, displaying His wonderful kindness in healing Jericho’s water. But I want to maximize His kindness by pointing out that the city was under a curse. Even if we didn’t know that from Joshua 6:26, the present situation of water causing miscarriage (‘the land is unfruitful’ v. 19) is proof that her inhabitants were living in disobedience and under God’s disfavour (Exodus 23:26). To this undeserving city, God brings healing. Why would He? Do you ever wonder what God was thinking when He pursued our redemption? Who would ever have imagined that God’s scheme would involve God Himself taking the curse in order that sinners might receive blessing (Galatians 3:13)? Not through a little salt in a bowl, but through the cross of the Lord Jesus, the thought of which caused the salt of His body to be expelled in profuse sweating. Jericho is good news for people like us. We are ‘sinners, poor and wretched, weak and wounded, sick and sore, bruised and broken by the fall.’ The Gospel according to Jericho. Another city in the Bible shouts out good news (Revelation 22:1-3). The water flows from the throne of God and waters the tree of life, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed. The Gospel according to Old Jericho and New Jerusalem because it is the Gospel of Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Pour out your heart to the Lord regarding your struggles, weaknesses and sins and ask Him for healing through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Rejoice in the Saviour Who bore our curse so that we would receive His blessing. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. ...

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