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Daily devotional

June 29 - Wait on the Lord

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

Pastor Maurice Luimes serves as the pastor of the Immanuel Reformed Church (recently relocated to Bolton, ON). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.

Daily devotional

June 24 - Consider the heavens

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

Daily devotional

June 23 - Foolishness of idolatry

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

Daily devotional

June 22 - Comparing the nations to God

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

Daily devotional

June 21 - Divine wisdom

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

Daily devotional

June 16 - Our gentle shepherd

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

Daily devotional, Uncategorised

June 15 - He gathers the Lambs

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

Daily devotional

June 14 - The Lord is my shepherd

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

Daily devotional

June 13 - Behold your God

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

Daily devotional, Uncategorised

June 8 - Does God overdo it?

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

Daily devotional

June 7 - Speak comfort to Jerusalem

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

Daily devotional

June 6 - Her warfare is ended

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

Daily devotional

June 5 - The Spirit as wind and fire

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

Daily devotional

May 31 - Living to the praise of his glorious grace!

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

Daily devotional

May 30 - Growing in grace, knowledge, and gratitude

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

Daily devotional

May 29 - Gratitude for God’s grace and peace

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

Daily devotional

May 28 - Praise from a grateful heart

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

Daily devotional

May 23 - Gratitude for cleansing

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

Daily devotional

May 22 - The law and our expression of gratitude

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

Daily devotional

May 21 - Living a life of gratitude

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

May 15 - God’s grace in the sacraments

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

Daily devotional

May 14 - Grace for the chief of sinners

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

Daily devotional

May 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 7 - Guilt and our conscience

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

Daily devotional

May 6 - Our sinful nature enticed by the law

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

Daily devotional

May 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

April 29 - The ploy of false-god pharaoh

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

Daily devotional

April 28 - The ploys of false-god Pharaoh

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

Daily devotional

April 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 21 - No reason for reluctance

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

Daily devotional

April 20 - No reason for reluctance

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

April 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 5 - God prepares deliverance through a special infancy

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

Daily devotional

April 4 - God prepares deliverance through a special infancy

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

Daily devotional

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

March 28 - Victory through Joshua

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

March 19 - People loved the darkness rather than the light

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

March 11 - God lures his enemies to their destruction

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

March 9 - Repentance leads to reconciliation

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

Daily devotional

March 4 - God’s wrath on a covenant child

“He who is taken with the devoted things shall be burned with fire, he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has done an outrageous thing in Israel.” - Joshua 7:15 Scripture reading: Joshua 7:10-15 Joshua had asked the LORD, “What will You do for Your great Name?” (Joshua 7:9). That was a good question, because that is the heart of the matter when it comes to our salvation. God saves sinful people for the glory of His Name. But Joshua asked the right question for the wrong reason, you might say. We can be extremely thankful that God has chosen to glorify Himself by showing grace to sinful people like us, by saving unsaveable people. But we should never let ourselves imagine that being a church member somehow makes us immune from God’s judgement. God glorifies His Name by showing grace to repentant and believing sinners, not by tolerating spiritual adultery. James says, Friendship with the world is enmity with God. Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. We make a mockery of His Name if we become unfaithful and live in friendship with the world. Then we cannot expect God’s blessing, but His curse. The world is our enemy and we cannot stand before our enemy. We cannot defend ourselves from the world, much less overcome the world, as long as we live in friendship with the world. To love the world is to do an outrageous thing and transgress the covenant of the Lord. It makes us the enemies of God and we will fall, along with the world, under His wrath. Then God will defend the glory of His Name by justly judging us. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God will keep you and all His people from wishing to be friends of the world, and that He will help you to seek the glory of His Name by your complete devotion to Him. Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON....

Daily devotional

March 3 - Repentance is a condition of fellowship with God

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

Daily devotional

March 2 - What fellowship has light with darkness? 

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

Daily devotional

March 1 - Introduction to the book of Joshua 

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

Daily devotional

February 24 - The Lord’s rebuke

“I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts.” - Malachi 3:11-12  Scripture reading: Proverbs 11:1-31 This rebuke is one that we are very happy to accept! When we bring the full tithe to the LORD, His promise of blessing includes rebuking the devourer for us. The reality was that Israel’s crops and vines were being devoured because of their lack of trust, true devotion and covenant faithfulness to the LORD. They were putting forth a lot of effort with little favourable results. Farmers know that a lot of money, time and resources go into planting a field with the expectation of a good harvest in the fall. It's very disappointing when the corn or beans don't grow well, the harvest is poor and the investment of all that labour and money yields little. No one likes to work only to have their paycheque disappear with too many bills and expenses! No one likes working for little! The LORD says without Me your labour will not know true blessing. Now, we must be careful not to fall into the prosperity gospel mindset, thinking if I give my full tithe to the LORD, He will, in turn, give material wealth and happiness as a result. The LORD does not promise health and wealth because we give money or some other resources to the church. Rather, His promises start with spiritual life and blessings in Christ. He provides our needs and enables us to be content with what we have. Christ gives true life and salvation and nothing can take that away. Trust Him today and receive real heavenly prosperity. Suggestions for prayer Thank the LORD He is faithful so that we can truly depend upon Him. Praise the LORD that He promises to supply our needs and helps us to trust Him so that we experience life and blessing in Christ. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 23 - The Lord’s challenge

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

Daily devotional

February 22 - Bring in the full tithes

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

Daily devotional

February 21 - Robbing yourself? 

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

Daily devotional

February 16 - He comes to purify

“But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.” - Malachi 3:2-4  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:1-9 In Christ, we no longer stand guilty before a holy God. Nevertheless, we still need sanctification. He purifies us. He is like a refiner’s fire and a fuller’s soap. It is said, silversmiths took ore and refined it to get the purest silver they possibly could. God himself wants to refine His children so that they become pure. The greatest and most important part of the refining process was the heating of the metal. The silversmith would hold a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. In refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest to burn away all the impurities. He had to sit in front of the fire, holding the silver and had to keep his eyes on it the entire time it was there. For if the silver was left in the flames even a moment too long, it would be destroyed. The silver is fully refined when the silversmith could see his face reflected in it. Remember, your covenant God desires to refine you and remove all impurities. He is working to sanctify you. Sometimes, this takes the fires of affliction and pain. Whatever the situation in your life, He will sit and watch you in the fire ever so patiently. He carefully pulls us out of the fire at just the right time as He works His purposes in us. All so that He sees Christ reflected in us. Suggestions for prayer Praise the LORD that He has given us Jesus, the One Who purifies us. Ask the LORD to sanctify you so that you reflect Christ more and more as you look to Him by faith. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 15 - My messenger

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

Daily devotional

 February 14 - Guard yourself

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

Daily devotional

February 13 - Faithful and committed

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

Daily devotional

February 8 - Are you listening?

“And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the LORD of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart.” - Malachi 2:1-2  Scripture reading: Malachi 2:1-14 Notice that because they didn’t honour the LORD, they didn’t bother to listen to Him. The term “listen” means to hear intelligently and to respond with obedience. To “take it to heart” refers to an active decision of the will. He also warns them that if they do not take it to heart to honour His Name, He would curse them. In fact, He had already cursed them. Not a good position to be in! It was time to pay attention and listen up. But they didn’t seem to care. The first step down the slippery slope of superficial religion is to dishonour the LORD and His holiness. A.W. Tozer said, “What you think about God is the most important thing about you.” And yet, because of God’s love and grace, He offers them a chance to return. Look at the very first word of verse 2, “If.” God is giving them a condition and if they persist in their wicked ways, then He will punish them. On the other hand, if they turn to God and set their hearts to honour and obey Him, then He will give them His blessings. Should we not also take it to heart to make sure we are giving honour to the name of Christ? If you are seeking to be obedient to the LORD by grace through Christ, then thankfully enjoy His blessings. However, what happens if you ignore Him and don’t bother to listen to His Word? Don’t be in a place where He sends His curse upon you.   Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to help you pay attention to His Word and that you will be able to more and more die unto sin and live unto righteousness through Christ Who makes you holy. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 7 - A proper attitude toward God 

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

Daily devotional

February 6 - Come with true worship

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

Daily devotional

February 5 - Our father and master

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

Daily devotional

January 31 - All things made new

“Behold, I am making all things new.” - Revelation 21:5b                         Scripture reading: Revelation 21:1-27 New and not new; nothing new under the sun and yet God will make everything new under the SON.  Another month is about to dawn. We are again one day closer to eternity. Are you ready? Believers, in spite of their sin, struggle and pain, live in the strong confidence that God, in grace, gives new life to all who trust in Christ’s finished work of salvation. Do you share in that trust? The book of Revelation closes with a picture of eternity. All tears wiped away, death will be no more—no pain or sorrow—for all the former things have passed away. And what is more, true believers shall fully be with our Triune God—body and soul. As Christ dwelt (tabernacled) for a time on earth, we shall enjoy the eternal blessing of the dwelling place of God that is with man. This is not simply a reunion, but an eternity of fellowship and friendship with God and His people—covenantal fullness! How marvellous! What wonder to behold! Eye-popping glory! Heart thumping wonder! A new Jerusalem (the temple in heaven above) whose description is beyond describing. A new creation, the new heavens and the new earth (Isaiah 65:17) prepared for a prepared people. Suggestions for prayer Give praise and thanksgiving for a life to be lived in anticipation of the glory of the life to come. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment.    ...

Daily devotional

January 30 - New creatures

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

Daily devotional

January 29 - A new song

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

Daily devotional

January 28 - Living the new life

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

Daily devotional

January 24 - Ask for the ancient paths 

“Thus says the LORD: Stand by the roads and look, and ask for the ancient paths…” - Jeremiah 6:16  Scripture reading: Jeremiah 6:1-30 Before the age of GPS (Global Positioning System), when people traveled, they often found their way by familiar markers along the way. Head north until you get to Vandersmithsma’s dairy farm and then turn right; drive on till you cross the bridge over the little creek and it will be the second place on the left. You’ll notice the green mailbox at the end of the driveway.  The travel of life requires familiar markers, landmarks. There may be times where we are not sure where we are—was it left or, was it right. And then the landmark reminds us. It helps us get our bearings and ensures we are heading in the right direction. Jeremiah preached in an age where the Old Testament church no longer held to the landmarks given by the LORD. They refused to look to the ancient paths. We live in a similar age where God’s given landmarks are rejected.     When you come to the crossroads, as you will many times this year, where will you turn? Will you ask for direction? Will you seek the ancient path prepared by the blood of Jesus Christ? Jesus is God’s Positional Sacrifice, Who is the way. The markers found in God’s Word and the Sacraments all point us to Christ. Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD for the grace to seek the ancient paths.  Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

Daily devotional

January 23 - The danger of backsliding

“Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy (backsliding-NKJV) will reprove you…” - Jeremiah 2:19              Scripture reading: Jeremiah 2:1-19 Backsliding is a grave danger. It never comes overnight. It is little by little. The devil is content to use small measures so long as we move in the wrong direction. Before you know it, you are in a bad place. Time and again, people of the Old Testament Church turned their backs on the LORD. They wanted to be so much like the culture all around them. They lived with a false confidence.  They thought that because the temple stood in their midst they would be saved from threatening enemies. They listened to false prophets. Their ears were tickled. They “went after worthlessness, and became worthless” (verse 5). The LORD uses His servant, Jeremiah, to contend with His people, to call them back over and over again. He lamented for His people and urged their repentance. The call fell on deaf ears. The Lord’s Day we are given is filled with many blessings. In freedom, we are unhindered from attending public worship services to be served by God’s Word. But if we are backslidden and refuse to heed God’s Word to us, we lose the blessing. Sitting in the church pew is of itself no guarantee of salvation. Faith needs to be living and lively. Be on your guard. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would not be complacent. If you find yourself lukewarm, pray for rescue. 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 16 - Don’t forget to remember

“Take care lest you forget… You shall remember…” - Deuteronomy 8:11, 18                         Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 8:1-20 Our Scripture lesson instructs the Israelites just before they entered the promised land. In the strongest terms, Moses, on behalf of the LORD, warns the people not to become complacent. Complacency is a danger in any age. Some time ago, I read an account of one who went for a leisurely swim. The water was very accommodating and he covered a long distance with ease. He decided to swim out of the bay and into open water. But when he tried to return he couldn’t make any progress. He had been deceived by the current. The ease of swimming had not been due to his strength, but to the movement of the water.  God had blessed the Israelites abundantly, but over and over again they became self-assured. They came to believe that it was by their own strength that they enjoyed the success they received. Already then the “spirit of the selfies” was alive and deadly. It is our sinful nature to go with the flow. It may be following trends in society at large or even wrong-headed trends in the church. It is only dead fish that flow with the current. By nature, we tend to forget that we are not self-reliant. Self-assurance is always deadly. Constantly we must remember that our help comes from the LORD. Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD for protection from deceptive currents. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment.  ...

Daily devotional

January 15 - The joy of the Lord is our strength

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” - Philippians 4:4                          Scripture reading: Philippians 4:1-23 Do you know Christian joy?  Do God’s promises give you strength in the midst of life’s challenges? Are you discouraged?  Is your life seemingly adrift?  Focusing on the joy of the Lord will help. Be encouraged by these words from Octavious Winslow: The religion of Christ is the religion of joy. Christ came to take away our sins, to roll off our curse, to unbind our chains, to open our prison house, to cancel our debt; in a word, to give us the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.  Is this not joy? Where can we find a joy so real, so deep, so pure, so lasting? There is every element of joy—deep, ecstatic, satisfying, sanctifying joy—in the gospel of Christ. The believer in Jesus is essentially a happy man. The child of God is, from necessity, a joyful man. His sins are forgiven, his soul is justified, his person is adopted, his trials are blessings, his conflicts are victories, his death is immortality, his future is a heaven inconceivable, unthought of, untold, and endless blessedness. With such a God, such a Saviour, and such a hope, is he not, ought he not to be a joyful man? Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to help us focus on the joy of our salvation. 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 8 - A good soldier of Jesus Christ

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier…” - 2Timothy 2:3-4a                            Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 2:1-26 Yesterday we were reminded that the life of faith involves a fight. There are skirmishes and battle wounds.   That fight is a fight for the truth. Even in the church at large, there are many who deny the truth. By nature, we do not focus on the faith delivered once for all. But if we are to be a Christian, we need to learn what true faith is, and believe it, and live it. Don’t get entangled by unnecessary snares. We need to learn what it is to starve our doubts and feed our faith, never forgetting this vile world is not a friend to grace.  But also remember it is a good fight. It is a fight of victory. Remember Who has fought for us and won the victory. In the strength of our Saviour, we answer the call to stand up and live for the Truth. It is the fight that lays hold on eternal life. Eternal life is the prize of the high calling of God. Christ’s followers know that one day the battle will be done. They know that they shall enjoy every fruit of every promise. Will you fight? Suggestions for prayer: “Since I must fight if I would reign, increase my courage, Lord; I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy Word.” – Psalter Hymnal #465:4 Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

Daily devotional

January 7 - Faith is a good fight

“Fight the good fight of faith” - 1 Timothy 6:12a                    Scripture reading: 1 Timothy 6:1-21 Our Scripture meditation today reminds us of three vital truths.  There is a fight; it is a fight of faith and it is a good fight. If there were no enemies to faith, there would be no fight to it. We need to know the enemy and in God’s grace confront the enemy. Timothy as a young pastor needed encouragement to keep focused on the raging battle. The good fight of faith is the spiritual conflict with Satan’s kingdom of darkness in which believers are necessarily involved. As Paul began his letter to his understudy, Timothy, so he concludes it. The gospel is opposed from all sides. The world has declared war against Christ and His Kingdom. All around us the Word of God is ridiculed and spurned. Even within the church at large, the trustworthiness of the Scriptures is questioned and sadly denied.  We have no option but to take up our post. The Greek word for “fight” gives us the English word “agonize”. It was used in both military and athletic endeavors to describe the concentration, discipline and extreme effort needed to win. Paul urged Timothy to fight, that is, to agonize for Christ’s cause.  Are you a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb? Do you fear to own His cause, or blush to speak His Name? Suggestions for Prayer Ask for ongoing grace to be found faithful in the fight.   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

December 31 - Alpha and Omega

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” - Revelation 22:12-13  Scripture reading: Matthew 2:8-23 The history of the Lord Jesus Christ has not ended. Even today, we are still a part of the story and we will be part of the end, one way or another. The Bible ends with reminders that He will return and that it will be sooner than is expected. For many, it has been too easy to think that tomorrow will be like today and the next year smoother than the last. The Lord, however, often reminds us to be ready for His return. When He comes again, it will not be as a Child laid in a manger. He will come as the Judge and the conquering King. He will come as the all-powerful Son of God. Many people were not ready for His first coming. By and large, as time passed, they rejected Him. Only a few faithful women and one disciple were at His cross. Very few, at first, came to the tomb. When it is your time, or His time to return, will you be ready? Will you meet Him with joy? As you enter another year, know that you are reconciled to God through His blood! Be sure that you have kissed the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in the way! (Psalm 2:12). It will not be long, when rather than seeing Him dimly, it shall be face to face. May you be one of those that looks forward to His coming with joy, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" Suggestion for prayer Pray that the church of Jesus Christ would be ready to meet her bridegroom! Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 30 - No reputation

“Christ Jesus… made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” - Philippians 2:7-8  Scripture reading: Philippians 2:1-11 We cannot forget the purpose of the incarnation of Christ. Taking on flesh was a means to an end; it was a step to a much greater commitment. He was born so that He might die in place of sinners. Now is a good time to be reminded of this and to remind others as well. If this time becomes a time of focusing merely on His birth, there will be little profit in it. The life of the Lord Jesus Christ was one of humble obedience, even from his youth (Luke 2:40, 52). He refused to sin; He refused to take shortcuts when tempted (Luke 4:8). He kept the law of God perfectly. On the cross, He Who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). This was a lifetime, and death, of intense humiliation and yet perfect obedience and glory. In a world that has twisted the history of the Saviour and even forgotten the real reason for His coming, let us never forget the rest of the story. This is a time when good news is needed and when the fields are white for the harvest. Jesus Christ came to save sinners and His incarnation is the start of a sobering and joyful story. When people speak about the birth of Christ, let us not be afraid to “spoil the party” by also telling of His death and resurrection and the need for that death. This will be the greatest gift you can give, the gift of the good news! Suggestion for prayer Pray for a growing understanding of the humble obedience of the Son of God and how it was necessary for the forgiveness of our sins.  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

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 23 - A sad journey

“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea… to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.” - Luke 2:4-5  Scripture reading: Luke 2:1-5 The birth story of Jesus Christ begins under tyranny. Caesar Augustus, who was even thought of as a god, was busy ensuring that his empire would be taxed efficiently. This meant that lives were upended, all so that the Romans could have the information necessary to dominate their subjects. People like Joseph, who worked as a tradesman, were not wealthy. A command to travel like this meant hardship and loss. To make matters worse, his fiancé was expecting. This did not look good to the community and it was not an ideal time for a journey. Pregnancy was very hazardous in those times. Everything about the scene is sad and difficult. When they came to their destination, things did not get better. There was no comfortable place to stay; there was no room for them in a dwelling or inn. They ended up in a stable, a barn, or perhaps the courtyard of a home where animals were kept. Sadly, much of what is thought of as “Christmas” romanticizes this scene. This is not good! There was little or nothing cozy or ideal about this situation. These would have been miserable and degrading circumstances. The Lord had chosen to “make Himself of no reputation” and “take the form of a bondservant” (Philippians 2:7). This scene is about the Lord Jesus beginning to take the place of sinners. The reason for this situation is that “…He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Suggestion for prayer Pray for a realistic view of the incarnation and that many would see the true reason for the humility of Christ. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 22 - His name is Jesus

“She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:21  Scripture reading: Matthew 1:18-24 Joseph had a unique role in the history of salvation. It was his calling to be stepfather to the Son of God! He would have a difficult life, being forced to move multiple times. The angel's visit must have been precious to him, as he may have done things far differently had he not received it. One of his most important assignments was the naming of Jesus. In ancient times, names were not chosen for their appealing sound. Most new parents did not discuss whether first names "fit" well with middle names or last names. They chose names that were significant to families and that a child was expected to live up to. In this case, the name was ultimately chosen by God for His Son. Jesus is a short form for “Jehovah-saves.” Jehovah, or Yahweh, is the covenant name of the Lord. It means that He is the truly existing God Who also visits His people. Jesus is also the Greek version of the Old Testament name Joshua. Joshua was called to lead the army of Israel into battle, with impossible odds against them. Time and time again, they learned that the battle belonged to the Lord. Jesus would become a far greater saviour than Joshua, however. He would not merely save from enemies, but from sin itself. He was not simply a symbol of Jehovah’s help. He was and is Jehovah Who saves. Joseph was given one of the most important tasks in all of history: declaring the name of Jesus! Suggestion for prayer Pray for a greater understanding of the true significance of the name Jesus in a world that uses His name so lightly! 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 15 - The Redeemer

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth, and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” - Job 19:25-26  Scripture reading: Job 19:1-29 The suffering of Job was emotional, physical and spiritual. He lost his family, possessions and health. By chapter 19, however, Job was in the process of losing even more. His relationship with his friends was strained. Rather than comforting him, they began to attack his reputation. In this intense suffering, Job came to a strong, prophetic confession of faith in his Redeemer. He had faith that his Redeemer was alive, even already at that time. He also trusted that this Redeemer would one day come to stand on the earth. His Redeemer would be his champion and vindicator, the One Who would conquer death on Job’s behalf.  We don’t know precisely when Job lived, but it was more than 1500 years before Christ, perhaps more than 2000. Certainly, this account is very, very ancient. And yet this man, in the midst of his intense suffering, had a very clear view of the Son of God. Job’s hope was fulfilled in the incarnation and the resurrection of Christ. Yet, he even looks further forward, hoping for the time when Job himself would be resurrected and see his Saviour with his own eyes! This enduring faith has lived in the hearts of God’s children for thousands of years. Still to this day, believers who suffer greatly often display great faith. One day, that faith will be replaced by sight “...we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Suggestion for prayer Pray that your hope in the Redeemer and His resurrection would grow in the face of trials. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 14 - A house, father, and son

“He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.” - 2 Samuel 7:13–14  Scripture reading: Psalm 122 A good king, president or prime minister can undoubtedly make a difference. Try to imagine the changes in Israel a few years after David became king! Enemy nations had been driven back. Strong borders were established. Tensions between tribes were subdued. A new capital city, Jerusalem, had been established. There was, however, one thing that David was not allowed to accomplish. David had hoped that he could build the temple, a house for God in Jerusalem. But God told him that rather than David building Him a house, God would build David’s house (2 Samuel 7:11). It would be his son, Solomon, that would build the temple. Also, David’s sons, if they kept God’s commandments, would rule Israel forever! God even promised that He would be like a Father to the son of David! Sadly, however, David’s descendants did not end up keeping God’s law. They began to rule wickedly and even to encourage idolatry. They failed to keep their side of the covenant. Finally, even the kings ended up in exile as slaves, far from the promised land. That story, however, ends with a glimmer of hope. Jehoiachin, the last king of Judah, was spared and allowed to eat at the emperor's table (2 Kings 25:29). Though they were far from home, God preserved the line of the kings of Judah so that Jesus Christ could be born as the true Son of David (Matthew 1:16). Though the merely human sons of David were incapable of maintaining a kingdom, the Son rules all nations forever! Suggestion for prayer Pray “...for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:2). 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....

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