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Daily devotional

March 2 - The eternal plan

“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.’” - Psalm 40:7 

Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:1-10

In Hebrews 10:5-7, we are eavesdropping on a conversation between the Father and the Son. We overhear the eternal Son telling the Father that Old Testament sacrifices were not fit for His ultimate purpose. In terms of taking away sins they were not desired, and God took no pleasure in them. Not that God didn’t want a sacrifice but the sacrifice He wanted was the sacrifice of His Son. That is why the Father prepared a body for Him. Christ was going to be the final and only effective sacrifice for sins.

Then the Son tells the Father that He has come to do God’s will, that is, He has come to reconcile sinners to God. The Son knew that meant suffering, rejection and crucifixion for Him. Yet, He was committed to doing His Father’s will.

There is one more thing the Son tells the Father. Jesus’s coming has been written in the scroll of the book. Some think that refers to the pages of the Old Testament. It is better thought of as the eternal plan agreed upon in the council amongst the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Christ was appointed to be the unblemished Lamb Who would take away sin. Christ accepted that appointment freely. He came down from heaven, not to do His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him (John 6:38). When He does come into the world, He reminds His Father of that: I am only doing what We agreed I would do for the salvation of sinners.

Suggestions for prayer

Thank God that He desired the salvation of His own. Thank the Lord Jesus for His willingness to do the Father’s will even when it meant His own sacrificial death. Pray for all of Christ’s servants as they declare the mystery of Christ tomorrow.

Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

February 24 - The grace of God in purification

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

Daily devotional

February 25 - The grace of God’s reviving work

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

Daily devotional

February 23 - God’s grace of a righteous ruler

“He trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him.” - 2 Kings 18:5  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 18:1-8 When we look at the local, national and international political scene, things can look grim. As I am writing this devotional (on October 27, 2023) Israel and her enemies are ramping up to what seems like another bloody war. We long for righteousness to be seen in our communities and around the world. We know that complete righteousness only comes in glory, but it is right to look for the best situation we can in the fallen world. That’s what it seemed like in Judah during the reign of king Hezekiah. Why? He trusted the LORD and obeyed Him. “Trust and obey for there’s no other way…” And in our text we see many proofs that Hezekiah put the LORD and His Word first. Hezekiah steadfastly obeyed God’s commandments, ripped out all the vestiges of idolatry, and even destroyed that once useful bronze serpent of Moses’s day – which had become a relic to be worshiped. We would rejoice today to have a president like King Hezekiah who would put the LORD and His Word front and centre in steadfast obedience. We must demand our elders and pastors emulate the worldview of Hezekiah in all that happens in our churches. We are especially thankful for our King, Jesus Christ, Who was the perfect law-keeper and our righteous King! Rejoice today that we have the promise of everlasting righteousness in that world to come. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for kings like Hezekiah, preview of the Perfect King Jesus! Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

February 17 - The grace of giving all to God 

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

Daily devotional

February 16 - The grace of dark providence 

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

Daily devotional

 February 15 - The grace of a surprising deliverance

“But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Would you plead for Baal? Would you save him? Let the one who would plead for him be put to death by morning! If he is a god, let him plead for himself, because his altar has been torn down!”” - Judges 6:31 Scripture reading: Judges 6:11-35 This is a text full of surprises. To understand why, let’s see what’s going on. Joash is Gideon’s father but was an avowed idolater. This reminds us of Terah, father of Abram. God commanded Gideon to tear down his dad’s Baal altar and sacrifice one of dad’s young bulls to the True and Living God. Once Gideon did this the town leaders wanted Gideon dead. Keep in mind that Joash was THE leader of that clan! But when the other town leaders come for Gideon’s head, Joash stands up for his son and for the God of heaven and earth! Was Joash converted? We’re not sure, but it sounds that way. In any case God used this former idolater to save Gideon from certain death. Gideon would go on to be a powerful Judge over Israel, used by the Lord to save the covenant people, but only after being saved himself. God surprised Gideon by using his dad. How has God surprised you? We should be surprised that God has given us any grace at all. Receiving saving grace through Jesus Christ should stun us. But then we think of all the other ways God surprises us. He has promised that, along with Jesus Christ, He would also “…freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32). We are surely richly cared for by our God and today will be no different. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to show you today some of the surprising ways He cares for you. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 10 - A “wall” of grace

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

Daily devotional

February 9 - Grace as relief from struggles

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

Daily devotional

 February 8 - Grace in time of sinful competition

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

Daily devotional

February 7 - Grace in life’s messes

“May God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you be an assembly of peoples;” - Genesis 28:3 Scripture reading: Genesis 28:1-9 Jacob was crafty. By that we do not mean that he knew how to use Mod Podge or craft a quilt. Jacob deceived his father Isaac and stole a blessing from Esau. But God was working behind these actions of Jacob. Here is the mystery of why God allows the shenanigans we read about in the Bible. Yet, He also puts up with many nasty things from us. After Jacob ‘secured’ the blessing, Issac sent him to find a wife. Where? Where Isaac went to find Rebekah–Haran. God intends to bless Jacob and make an assembly of peoples out of him. Abraham needed Sarah. For Isaac it was Rebekah. But for Jacob it will be Rachel plus. Maybe it would be better to say Leah plus, for Judah will be born to Leah. The back and forth of the birthing history between Leah and Rachel is legendary. Through those turbulent waters comes the nation. Jacob had earlier made Isaac quiver with anger by deceiving him (Genesis 27:33), but then got a full quiver from his two wives, the twelve tribes in seed form. Finally, he reverts to causing man to quiver when he acts unwisely toward his uncle Laban. We must see God’s hand in all of this to bring about His plan of grace. So too with us. Is your life a mess? Trust God and follow Him. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to show you more grace when you make a mess out of your life. Rev. Harold Miller graduated from Mid-America Reformed Seminary in 2001 and has served churches in Wellsburg, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri before arriving at Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2020. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

February 2 - A colourful sign of given grace 

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

Daily devotional

February 1 - Introduction to grace 

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

Daily devotional

January 31 - Iniquity forgiven

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

Daily devotional

January 30 - Powerless enemy

“Your cords hang loose; they cannot hold the mast firm in its place or keep the sail spread out. Then prey and spoil in abundance will be divided; even the lame will take the prey.” - Isaiah 33:23  Scripture reading: Romans 8:31-39 Isaiah returns with a final description of the Assyrians. It is a final rebuke against the pride of man. Like sailors vainly attempting to re-position the mast of a ship against forceful winds, so the Assyrians will attempt to withstand the judgments of God in vain. By contrast, God's people will divide abundant “spoil.” Whatever treasures would be aboard that “ship” would be plundered, and plundered easily. The Assyrians will be left so helpless and destitute that even the lame will be able to limp in, take their treasures and safely limp away. In another analogy with a similar meaning, Jesus speaks of “binding the strong man”; that is, in His earthly ministry He was taking spoil from the kingdom of Satan. All His teaching and healing was proving the powerlessness of the enemy. God's people were being healed and delivered! The message to us once again is: do not be afraid. Because of Christ and His blood shed for you, God is for you and not against you. No enemy is more powerful than God's love for you in Christ, because Christ is the One Who died and Who was raised, and is at God's right hand interceding for you! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His great love in Jesus Christ. Praise God for His wisdom and power in defeating the powers through the weakness of the cross of Christ. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 25 - Making all things new

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

Daily devotional

January 24 - As far as the eye can see

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

Daily devotional

January 23 - The King in his beauty

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

Daily devotional

January 22 - Impenetrable defense

“He will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.” - Isaiah 33:16  Scripture reading: Revelation 7:9-17 Because this Man, Jesus Christ, is righteous, He has a secure place with the Lord. Such a place “on the heights” and a “place of defense” evokes the image of a fortified tower high above the reach of enemies, or a naturally rocky crag atop cliffs that cannot be scaled. With such an impenetrable fortress, “What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11). The strategic risk of dwelling in such a fortress, especially one up high, is being able to gather food and drink. If a people has protected itself within a strong city wall, an army laying siege will attempt to cut off the food and water supply. God will provide here as well. Food and water will be constantly available. God will never fail, nor will this Man diminish. There is eternal security here. This is the hope we have as Christians: eternal security by faith in Jesus Christ, where no enemies will threaten. We will lack nothing for our daily needs or supplies. These are rich gifts of grace in Christ! As it says in Revelation 7:16: “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their Shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” So we must always trust God to provide for all our needs and be content with what He provides. Suggestions for prayer Pray these petitions of the Lord's Prayer: for your daily bread, deliverance from the evil one. Praise the Lord that His is the Kingdom and the power and the glory. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 17 - God is a consuming fire

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

Daily devotional

January 16 - Conceiving chaff

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

Daily devotional

January 15 – The Lord will arise

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

Daily devotional

January 14 - The Lord lifted up

“Now I will lift Myself up; now I will be exalted.” - Isaiah 33:10b  Scripture reading: Acts 17:22-34 The kingdom of man has exalted itself and spread itself over the world since the Fall. God bides His time; these “times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). He tells Judah that He is ready to act, to encourage and comfort them. God's actions are not haphazard, but determined and then carried out according to His holy will. God's people see that all other helpers are no help at all, but we must wait patiently for the Lord to deliver. God is no greater exalted than through Jesus Christ. Isaiah will later proclaim the exaltation of the Servant of the Lord in 52:13. Jesus Christ is exalted because of His “wisdom”, but also because “He was despised and rejected by men; a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief...” (v. 3a). Would you bow humbly to Jesus Christ, exalted at God's right hand? Would you repent of your pride and confess your need for His mercy? When the kingdom of man gets proud with God, He declares, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations...” (Psalm 46:10a). Let us not be proud and foolish like the nations, but with humble faith bow to Christ. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for delivering you from the foolishness of unbelief and giving you saving faith in Jesus Christ. Exalt the Lord of glory for His glorious works. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

 January 9 - Treasuring the fear of the Lord

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

Daily devotional

January 8 - The stability of your times

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

Daily devotional

January 7 - Christ’s justice and righteousness for Zion

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

Daily devotional

January 6 - The eminent and imminent Lord

“The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He will fill Zion with justice and righteousness…” - Isaiah 33:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 115 It is the Lord Himself who reveals His majesty—a wonder that we cannot comprehend. Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in the heavens; He does all that pleases Him.” The same exaltation is proclaimed with respect to Jesus Christ in Hebrews 1:3: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the Word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high...” Unbelievers vainly imagine that God is not present. They foolishly say, “Where is their God?” (Psalm 115:2b). Perhaps the Assyrians vainly imagined that God was far away, distant and aloof with respect to His creation and His people. Their destruction at God's judgment will give evidence of His greatness. But His exalted majesty does not depend on that judgment. The Lord is exalted (eminent), for He dwells on high! Yet, our God is also very near (imminent). He fills Zion. His presence with His people is personal and powerful, and no more so than when Jesus Christ “dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ “made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). In Jesus Christ, our Saviour, the Lord is most exalted and most present with us in justice and righteousness. Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord who is exalted on high and thank the Lord for sending Jesus Christ to “dwell among us” for our salvation and comfort. Rev. Todd De Rooy currently serves in Redeemer URC, in Orange City, Iowa. He has served there since being ordained in 2008. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

January 1 - Introduction to the fear of the Lord 

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

Daily devotional

December 31 - Behold, the lamb of God!

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

Daily devotional

December 30 - John the Baptizer bears witness to the light

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

Daily devotional

December 29 - Christ: The genuine light

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” - John 1:4-5  Scripture reading: John 1:1-12 The Apostle John contrasts the Saviour with the darkness of the fallen world and Satan’s dark kingdom. Speaking of Christ, John calls Him “the Light.” Light is a fitting metaphor or name to use to refer to God because God is light and in Him there is no darkness. The Psalmist sang: “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” God dwells in an unapproachable light. But the Son of God, the Word, is the Light in a unique sense. In Christ, the glory of God shines forth. He reveals something of the glory of God to humanity. Light is a picture of truth and purity. Satan’s dark kingdom is characterized by ignorance and filthiness. The Son of God is the Light in two senses. First, the Son of God plays an important role in the general illumination of humanity. This is what the Apostle John is talking about in John 1:9 when he writes that the Light “enlightens everyone.” The Son of God uses the beauty of the sky to declare and reveal the deity, glory, and power of God. The result is that even wicked men know that God exists. In a second sense, the Word is the Light because He reveals truth and purity to His people. By His Spirit He illuminates the minds of elect sinners so that they can perceive spiritual realities. Christ reveals the truth about how sinners can be transferred into the kingdom of light. His royal law illuminates the path on which we should walk. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would have a sense of the glory of God when you go outside and look at God’s beautiful world. Pray that you would walk in the light since you are not a child of darkness. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 24 - Elderly Anna’s urban witness

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

Daily devotional

December 23 - God’s Christmas gift

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

Daily devotional

December 22 - Mary ponders the incarnation

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

Daily devotional, Uncategorised

December 21 - Jesus’ birth announced to the shepherds

“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” - Luke 2:12  Scripture reading: Luke 2:8-14 The first people to receive a birth announcement about the messianic king are shepherds on the outskirts of Bethlehem. They alone received an announcement for two reasons. First, God is reminding us that David, the ancestor of Jesus, was a shepherd in Bethlehem. Second, the shepherds had a low status in society, and God is reminding us that He often chooses to save the weak and the lowly. With a bright flash, an angel appears to the shepherds. Perhaps this was Gabriel. But this was also a theophany, an appearance of the glory of God. We are told that “the glory of the Lord shone around” the shepherds. This glory is a visible token of the presence of God. The shepherds, who are sinners, are frightened by this dazzling splendour. The angel tells the shepherds: “Fear not” (vs. 10). He came with joyful news. The Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord, has been born in town. Once the angel makes his announcement, an entire angel army descends: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God” (vs. 13). A myriad of angels stretch across the night sky. R. Kent Hughes wrote: “I like to imagine that they radiated golds, pinks, electric blue, hyacinth, and ultraviolet—maybe some were even sparkling.” Such is the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ that His birth was announced in person by mighty angels. Then the angels left. The glory faded. The constellations reappeared. And the shepherds ran to find the baby. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would believe that God sends angels to protect us from our enemies. Pray that you would have the necessary spiritual insight so that you would acknowledge the threat that Satan and his demons pose to you. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 16 - The sign of Immanuel’s virgin mother

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

Daily devotional

December 15 - Mary’s cheerful self-surrender

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

Daily devotional

December 14 - God raising up a horn of salvation

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

Daily devotional

December 13 - A childless couple produces the forerunner

“But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.”” - Luke 1:13  Scripture reading: Luke 1:5-25 It was a tragic situation: Zechariah and Elizabeth were childless. Years ago, a woman wrote in a Reformed magazine: “I am a barren woman. A barren woman nearly past the age where I must forever give up the hope of bringing forth God’s covenant seed and the joy of ever holding in my arms my very own baby. Barren—a word full of emptiness. Empty arms, empty home, empty heart. Barren—a lonely word, full of longing for what can never be.” The gospel of Luke begins with the message that God has remembered His people. The end-time Elijah will be born. John the Baptist will be a zealous prophet, who in the spirit of Elijah, will call Israel to repentance. The Holy Spirit inspired Dr. Luke to record the personal story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. They were a righteous couple who prayed for a child. God intervenes to answer their prayers—years after the last prayer for a baby was uttered. The couple has grown old. The Angel Gabriel shocks and surprises Zechariah in the temple. The priest is laying incense on the hot coals in the Holy Place. He recoils in fear from the glorious angel. Gabriel announces that the aged couple will have a son. They must name him “John.” Even though he is an aged priest, Zechariah does not believe the message. But he will. And when his tongue is loosed, he will bless God. He will celebrate that his child “will go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke 1:76b). Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would live a daily repentant life, because the king has come. Pray for any childless couples who wish to have children. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 8 - The gentle Redeemer of elect Jew and Gentile

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

Daily devotional

December 7 - Isaiah’s prophecy of the lame leaping

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

Daily devotional

December 6 - The nations rallying to the root of Jesse

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

Daily devotional

December 5 - The wonderful counselor

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” - Isaiah 9:6  Scripture reading: Isaiah 9:1-7 All these titles of the future Messiah have connotations of deity. In the book of Judges, we find Samson’s father, Manoah, asking the Angel of Jehovah what His name is. The Angel of the LORD responds that his name “is wonderful” (Judges 13:18). That Jesus is the ‘Counsellor’ implies that He has no need for a cabinet to give advice because He is the Wisdom of God. The title “Mighty God” contains the widely used name for God which is “Elohim”, a name that points to His mighty power. Christ uses His power to fight for His people. It is remarkable that the second person of the holy Trinity is called the “Everlasting Father”. This title communicates that He is the divine creator of all creatures. Even the final title, “Prince of Peace,” has connotations of deity. The word “prince” is the same word used back in Joshua 5:14 when Joshua meets a man standing with a drawn sword by Jericho. Joshua asks: “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” (Joshua 5:13b). The person responds: “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD” (Joshua 5:14a). Joshua then worshipped the commander. The word for “commander” is the same as the word for “prince” in Isaiah 9:6. So all these titles point to the deity and majesty of the coming Saviour. A very human child would be born. But this child would have such high titles because He would be God in human flesh. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would meditate on the various titles of Christ during the Christmas season to appreciate the greatness of Christ and the variety of His works. Ask for grace to worship Jesus, just like Joshua fell on the ground before the pre-incarnate Son of God. Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 30 - He who calls you is faithful

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

Daily devotional

November 29 - Avoiding appearance of evil

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

Daily devotional

November 28 - Test the spirits

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

Daily devotional

November 27 - On despising prophecy

“Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good” - 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 Scripture reading: Psalm 27:1-14 The Holy Spirit had blessed the early New Testament church with certain “special gifts” or “charismata”. Among these gifts were: the ability to perform miracles of healing, speaking in tongues and prophesying. The church, in its infancy, had no complete Bible, nor did it have libraries stocked with volumes of Christian literature and reference material. They were surrounded by hostility to the gospel and in that condition, because of their lack of resources, the Holy Spirit endowed the church with these “special” gifts until the time would come when they were no longer needed. Among those gifts was that of “prophesying”. The type of prophesying Paul refers to here in text was not so much that of foretelling the future as the Old Testament prophets had done, but Paul is speaking of the special gifts given to some to explain and apply the word of God to the congregation. It was a gift given to some, for the edification and instruction of the entire congregation. Although this gift of prophecy was one of the greatest gifts to the church, ranking even greater than “tongue speaking”, yet it seems that such instruction was held in low esteem by certain members. It has always been so, even yet today. Whenever and wherever God plants wheat, Satan sows his tares. How is it now with us today? Preaching is the God ordained means of creating and strengthening faith, yet, often so many pews are left vacant, especially during the second service. How about you? Do you long for the expounding of the Word every week again? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to create in your heart a hunger and thirsting for the Word of God. Thank Him for faithful preaching and preachers the world over. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 22 - Like a thief in the night

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

Daily devotional

November 21 - Encouraging one another 

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

Daily devotional

November 20 - Our daily labour

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

Daily devotional

November 19 - Concerning love to the brothers

“Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.” - 1 Thessalonians 4:9  Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 Today is Sunday. Today we go to church to experience the communion of the saints. In verse 8, Paul has just taught the Thessalonians that the Holy Spirit had been given to the church in Thessalonica. He now adds that the indwelling Spirit has already taught them to love one another. We would think it unnecessary to repeat himself. Paul was a skilled, competent teacher, but he was also a compassionate pastor. He loved the people of God as a mother loves her child. Here we see that Paul was probably one of the most effective and tactful missionaries of all times. He wants to avoid giving any offence which might hinder the advance of the gospel and he wants to give credit where credit is due. The Lord had instructed the Thessalonian congregation. Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit there is no true biblical love for one another, but authentic brotherly love was evident in the congregation. By telling them that he sees evidence of that, he skilfully opens the door to further instruct them in some other deficiencies. He wants them to know that although he thanks God for the blessing upon His work among them, at the same time he wants them to know that the love among the brothers needs to grow. That is still true for us today. With the Holy Spirit in our born-again hearts, brotherly love reaches out to our brothers and sisters sitting in the pew with us and beyond. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the work of the Holy Spirit in the church and your heart and then ask God to instill in you genuine love for the brothers and sisters of your congregation. Ask him to provide opportunities for you to give expression to that love. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 14 - Abounding in love

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

November 12 - Being moved by afflictions

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

Daily devotional

November 11 - For you are our glory and joy

“For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” - 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20  Scripture reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:17–20 The Apostle Paul rejoices in the fruit borne by his work among the Thessalonians. The Lord blessed Paul’s preaching by His accompanying power of the Holy Spirit and dead hearts were made alive in Christ. The Lord had broken the power of Satan that had held the hearts of men and women in Thessalonica captive. God had used Paul’s preaching to open the eyes and ears of men and women who had been dead in sin and trespass. He had revealed Christ to them and they had joyfully responded in faith and repentance to the preaching and in that, Paul rejoiced. Paul preached and the Holy Spirit was active. Men and women were translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, the kingdom of Christ in Whom they now had redemption and forgiveness of sin (Colossians 1:13,14). Paul’s response was to give God all the glory and he thanks God for the new creations in the Thessalonian congregation. Paul repeatedly makes it clear that men and women are to glory only in the cross and he is not contradicting himself here. He is not giving himself the glory for the conversion of the Thessalonians, but what he says is that his joy in this world and his glory in the future are tied up with the Thessalonians, whom Christ had transformed through the ministry of his preaching. How has the preaching affected you? Would Paul rejoice over your faith? It's an important question. It’s a matter of life and death. Suggestions for prayer If you are not yet intimately aware of Christ as your Saviour and Lord, go to Him yet today. Ask Him to open your heart to the preaching of the gospel. If you know Christ, thank God for that miracle of rebirth He has granted you. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 6 - We had already suffered

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

Daily devotional

November 5 - Turning away from idols

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

Daily devotional

November 4 - God has chosen you

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

Daily devotional

November 3 - We give thanks to God for you

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers.” - 1 Thessalonians 1:2  Scripture reading: Psalm 65:1-14 Although there were various things and various teachings within the congregation that needed to be addressed and corrected by the apostles, Paul opens his letter to them with thanksgiving. He had many reasons to give thanks. You see, Paul thanks God for the spiritual condition of the members of the church at Thessalonica. His preaching has borne fruit. He gives himself no credit for that, but gives all the credit and glory to God. Paul was well aware that the Lord gives rebirth, conversion and faith, according to His own good pleasure and he knew that preachers (himself included), could bring the preached Word no further than to the human ear. Paul was well aware that in order for the word to take root and bear fruit the Lord has to apply it to the heart of those He has called to receive it. Paul had planted and watered and the Lord had given increase. For that blessing of rebirth, he thanks God. For the blessing of rebirth in the hearts of the members of the church in Thessalonica, Paul gives thanks. We notice that Paul brought individuals of the congregation to mind, one by one. He says he gives thanks to God always, for all of you. He thanks God that there was evidence in Thessalonica that the congregation translated faith into action. They worked in love and persevered through hope. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He has and continues to provide the means of grace for you and your family. Pray that your heart may be open and responsive to that word every time it comes to you. Pray that the church may give thanks to God for you. Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 29 - The faith of the martyrs

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

Daily devotional

October 28 - The faith of the martyrs

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

Daily devotional

October 27 - Resurrection hope

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

Daily devotional

October 26 - By faith the weak become strong

“…were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” - Hebrews 11:34b Scripture reading: Judges 16:23-31; Hebrews 11:32-34 In Hebrews 11:32-34, we could tie in many narratives of God’s powerful dealings with His people through the faith of His servants. The one we read about from Judges 16 is yet another sinner saved by grace. Samson, the powerful destroyer of the Philistines, was tricked by his crafty wife, Delilah. His hair was cut, he was captured, blinded and bound in chains for life. His supernatural strength was removed. He was just an ordinary man. At a party with all the big-wigs of the city, they brought the disgraced Samson out to mock him. Samson found the two load-bearing pillars of the house and pushed them and he killed more in his death than he did in his life. How was he able to do this? Because, by faith he prayed to God, it says in Judges 16, and the Lord granted his prayer for strength. Why did God grant that request? The request for strength from the weak Samson was not unto Samson’s glory or honour. After all, if the Lord answered his prayer, which he did, Samson would be dead. It was unto the glory of God and the destruction of the enemies of the church that the Lord granted this strength. This is how the Lord works. He did so with Samson and, as Hebrews 11:32 says, “Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets." When we recognize how weak we are, then we can also recognize how strong the Lord is. Glory to God alone. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for strength when you are weak. Pray for humility to receive whatever the Lord may give. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 21 - The faith of Moses

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

Daily devotional

October 20 - The faith of Moses

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

Daily devotional

October 19 - The faith of Moses

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

Daily devotional

October 18 - Disobeying pharaoh by faith

“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict.” - Hebrews 11:23  Scripture reading: Exodus 2:1-10 Pharaoh saw that the Israelites were growing numerous in the land. He was afraid that if foreign invaders came, the Israelites would side with them. So, Pharaoh, much like Herod 1500 years later, made an edict to kill the baby boys. When Moses was born, his mother saw that he was a “fine child” (Exodus 2:2) and hid him. Is this what Hebrews 11:23 means by, “no ordinary child”? It could mean that, or God could have revealed Himself to Moses’ parents. Nevertheless, they decided to disobey Pharaoh. Moses’ parents (Amram and Jochebed) risked their lives to save their son. It is good that they did, because it is that son, who 80 years later would stand before a new Pharaoh and say on behalf of God, “Let my people go.” The days may be coming and have been here in the past, that to obey God might mean to disobey a wicked leader. There are questions about the fifth commandment here, but God’s Word is clear that we must obey God rather than man. Jesus was pressured by the religious elite to be quiet. He was preaching the gospel of the kingdom. He was attesting to Himself as the God-Man. They killed Him for it, but like the situation with Moses before, it is not the wisdom of man, but the power of God that delivers His people. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ. Ask God for strength to stand upon His Word even if the world/government pressures you to do otherwise. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 13 - Abraham and Isaac

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

Daily devotional

October 12 - God’s city

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

Daily devotional

 October 11 - Pilgrims on earth

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

Daily devotional

October 10 - Stars and sand

“…descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” - Hebrews 11:12b Scripture reading: Genesis 18:1-15 and Gen. 21:1-7 In our Scripture reading from Genesis 18, we see Sarah, Abraham’s wife, laugh at the news that she would have a child. She was already an old woman. But, as the Lord says to Abraham in Genesis 18:13, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” The answer is "No." Isaac was born in Genesis 21, when Abraham was 100 years old. Many more will come. In fact, millions upon millions will come from him. An impactful way to say or explain this, is to go to the beach and grab a handful of sand. Begin to count how many grains of sand there are in your hand. Then look at the beach and think of all the beaches in the world. Once again, when we see Hebrews 11 use the phrase, “by faith”, we must recognize this as a faith that is tested by the Lord. Will Abraham really be the father of a great nation? Will Jesus really be able to purchase a people for Himself with His own precious blood? Will we, though sinful, be able to persevere unto the last day? The answer to all kinds of questions like this is, "No, but for the grace of God." God will always accomplish His will and if that will is to give Abraham descendants as numerous as stars and sand, then it will be so. With man this is impossible, but not with God. We are weak and He is strong. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that you are a spiritual descendent of Abraham. Ask the Lord to strengthen your faith, especially in times when you are weak. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 5 - A God-pleasing faith

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

Daily devotional

October 4 - Enoch walked with God

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

Daily devotional

October 3 - Abel still speaks?

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

Daily devotional

October 2 - Creation out of nothing!

“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” - Hebrews 11:3 Scripture reading: Genesis 1-2:3 As we continue to look at Hebrews 11, we are reminded that it is by faith we believe that God created the world out of nothing. We believe this because the Scriptures say this. The only thing that was in the beginning, was God. In a day and age where something as seemingly clear as creation has come under attack from within the church, Hebrews 11:3 is an important verse. By faith we believe this. Some argue, "But the evidence for evolution, for pre-Adamites, for the big bang ..." Wrong, the universe was formed at God’s command. What this means is that God spoke and things came into being which were not previously there. Only God can do this. How important is Hebrews 11:3 today, not only to refute evolutionists, but to strengthen our faith. God is mighty and the same God Who made all things out of nothing, the same God Who raised Jesus from the dead, is also the same God Who brings dead sinners to life. Can God do this? He has done this in you, if you believe. He brought into being what was not there, namely, faith. May the creation of the world and our trust in the Lord move us to thank and praise Him. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the world which He has created. Pray for strength to not give in to the vain philosophies of this world in dealing with origins. Thank the Lord for a new heart. Rev. Steve Swets was born and raised in NW Indiana. He graduated from Mid America Reformed Seminary in 2007, and he is currently the minister at Redeemer United Reformed Church in St. John, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

September 27 - Deep sea fishing

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

Daily devotional

September 26 - Gossip

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

Daily devotional

September 25 - The fear of the Lord, the fear of man (part 2)

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe... The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.” - Proverbs 29:25; 14:27 Scripture readings: Proverbs 29:25; 14:27; Mark 4:35-41 Violent waves crashed over the boat, swamping it. Meanwhile, Jesus was asleep. The disciples screamed, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38b). Jesus said, “Peace! Be still!” The storm stopped. Yet they were more afraid, not less. “They were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’” (Mark 4:41). The fear of the LORD replaced their fear of the storm. The fear of the LORD overcomes the fear of man. “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death” (Proverbs 14:27). The fear of the LORD is deep, trembling reverence. You do not make light of this God! The fear of the LORD is awe, trust and love. He is Almighty God. He is also our Faithful Father in Christ. “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe” (Proverbs 29:25). Oh how I fear Thee, living God, with deepest, tenderest fears; And worship Thee with trembling hope and penitential tears. Yet I may love Thee too, O Lord, Almighty as Thou art; For Thou hast stooped to ask of me the love of my poor heart. No earthly father loves like Thee, no mother, half so mild, Bears and forbears as Thou hast done with me, Thy sinful child. * *My God, How Wonderful Thou Art, 2-4. Frederick W. Faber. Suggestions for prayer Read or sing the words of “My God, How Wonderful Thou Art” as your prayer today.  Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 24 - The fear of the Lord, the fear of man (part 1)

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe... The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.” - Proverbs 29:25; 14:27 Scripture readings: Proverbs 29:25; 14:27 Dr. Ed Welch has written a book called “When People Are Big and God is Small.” What a great description of “the fear of man!” When you look at others through binoculars, they look enormous. You magnify them to appear bigger than they are. We do this when we magnify the power of certain people over God to give us the love and approval we crave. We will sin against God rather than risk their disapproval. We become people-pleasers, controlled by others. We also do this when we believe that people who dislike, oppose or hurt us have more power than God over us. They and their power loom large in our hearts, crippling us with anxiety. We are willing to sin to appease them. “The fear of man lays a snare” (Proverbs 29:25a). When you look through the wrong end of binoculars, everything looks smaller and further away. When gripped by the fear of man, we look at God through the wrong end of binoculars. He seems small and far away. Others are big and God is small in our hearts. As you worship today, ask God to flip your binoculars and redirect them upward. As we magnify Him, He delivers us from the fear of man. “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (Psalm 34:3). “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death” (Proverbs 14:27). Suggestions for prayer Ask God to meet you in worship today to deliver you from the fear of man. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 19 - Watch your mouth (part 1)

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” - Proverbs 12:18 Scripture readings: Proverbs 12:18; Ephesians 4:29 There’s an old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That’s not what Scripture tells us. “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts” (Proverbs 12:18a). We have all done it when we are angry. We use our tongues like a weapon, hacking and slashing. Or we direct our words, like a scalpel, with cold, calculated precision, to cut where it hurts most. This is true of our cyber-tongues on social media as well. Once the words are out, you can’t take them back. James reminds us, “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (James 3:8-9). However, we can humble ourselves before God and others and confess our reckless words. The blood of Jesus washes away our guilt and God forgives us. His Spirit within can tame our tongues. “The tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18b). Maybe you have experienced the joy of saying something that encouraged or comforted another person. Maybe someone else’s words have restored you. Above all, Jesus speaks to us in the gospel with life-giving, healing power. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His life-giving speech. Ask Him to sanctify your mouth. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 18 - Thoughts on wealth and poverty

“A rich man’s wealth is his strong city; the poverty of the poor is their ruin.” - Proverbs 10:15 Scripture readings: Proverbs 10:15; 1 Timothy 6:17-19 Proverbs 10:15 is descriptive, not prescriptive. It is an observation about what it is like to be rich and poor in our world. Wisdom begins with awareness, leading to reflection, leading to wise action. “A rich man’s wealth is his strong city” (Proverbs 10:15a). When you are a middle or upper-class person, your money buys a lot. It buys you the best education. It buys you better healthcare. It buys you a home in a more secure neighbourhood. It buys you a better lawyer when you need one. It buys church buildings, programs and theological training. It buys provision for old age. When we have money, we don’t think about how much it does for us. When we inhabit middle or upper-class communities, we also don’t think about how “the poverty of the poor is their ruin” (Proverbs 10:15b). This proverb invites us to do so. It invites us to step into the lives and world of the poor, invite God to shatter our simplistic assumptions about them and consider what it looks like to embody the gospel among them. This proverb also alerts us that we probably trust in our money over God more than we realize. “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Timothy 3:17). Let us acknowledge God as the Source of our wealth. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His material blessings. Ask Him to open your eyes and heart to the plight of the poor. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 17 - Wisdom, folly, and sin

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” - Proverbs 28:13 Scripture readings: Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:5-10 It is not just wrong to cover up your sin. It is also foolish. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper” (Proverbs 28:13). The word ‘prosper’ also means ‘succeed’. It does not work to cover up sins but makes it worse. Suppressing guilt injures you, body and soul. “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4). You cannot hide your sin from God. “Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man!” (Proverbs 15:11). You need not hide your sin from God. “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). Praise the Lord! It is not just right to confess your sin. It is also wise. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). David testified, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). As you prepare your heart to worship with God’s people today, confess your sins to the Lord and know that your sins are forgiven. Ask the Holy Spirit to write the gospel on your heart. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the gospel of forgiveness in Christ. Ask for humility, conviction and courage to confess your sins. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 16 - Check your heart (part 2)

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offences.” - Proverbs 10:12 Scripture readings: Proverbs 10:12; Proverbs 19:11 “Love covers all offences” (Proverbs 10:12b) does not justify sinful cover-ups. It is sinful to be a judgmental faultfinder who wants to pick fights. It is just as sinful to ignore or cover up the sins of others, based on misguided love and loyalty (see Proverbs 28:13). “Love covers all offences” tells us that the posture of love is patient and gracious, not nit-picky or quick to take offence. “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offence” (Proverbs 19:11). If we make an issue of everything about others that we find irritating, flawed, or mildly offensive, we will be impossible to live with. If others relate to us this way, we will always walk on eggshells. You ask someone a question and the answer comes back slightly snarky. You realize this person is stressed out or having a bad day, so you overlook her response and ask how she is doing instead. In addition, love doesn’t bring up past offences when they’ve been addressed, forgiven and buried (see Proverbs 17:9). This is what “Love covers all offences” means. But love goes further. The word ‘covers’ is also found in Psalm 32:1. “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” God loves us so much that He covers our sin when we confess it. It cost Him the precious blood of His Son to do so. When we love others, we desire the same for them. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for covering your offences. Ask Him to help you overlook and forgive the offences of others. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 11 - What is a proverb?

“Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles.” - Proverbs 1:5-6 Scripture reading: Proverbs 1:1-7 A proverb is a catchy saying that captures some truth about life. All cultures use proverbs to hand down wisdom from generation to generation. Consider some pithy sayings in our own culture. “Make hay while the sun shines.” “Haste makes waste.” “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” “A stitch in time saves nine.” “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” “Play with fire, and you’ll get burned.” “Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.” Discuss these and others you know. Proverbs is a collection of inspired proverbs, given to us by God. Handle individual proverbs with care. Misapplied, they are useless at best, harmful at worst. “Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools... Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools” (Proverbs 26:7,9). Take Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Treated as an absolute promise rather than a generalization, it can torment the souls of faithful parents when a child goes astray. Also, many proverbs are descriptive rather than prescriptive. For example: “‘Bad, bad,’ says the buyer, but when he goes away, then he boasts” (Proverbs 20:14). This is not a recommendation for how to do business with others! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for giving us a treasury of proverbs. Ask Him to help you understand and apply them. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 10 - With all your heart, in all your ways

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” - Proverbs 3:5-6 Scripture reading: Proverbs 3:5-6 People listen to and follow someone they trust. Ninety years ago, many trusted Hitler to lead them down the path to prosperity. They listened to his lies and followed him. Hitler led Germany to ruin. Wisdom begins with trusting Someone trustworthy. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5a). You can trust Him to guide you down life-giving paths because He is wise and He loves His children. We must not trust ourselves. “Do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5b). Too often, we trust our own instincts and perspectives without consulting God and others. We assume that we know best. This is arrogant and foolish. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15). Our thinking is finite and fallen. Sin within deceives us and blinds us to our true motives. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit” (Proverbs 16:2). We must consult the LORD as we navigate our paths. We must trust and listen to His voice in His Word. When we do, “He will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:6b). Today we gather with God’s people in His presence. May the Spirit enable you to trust in the LORD and listen to His voice. He will make your paths straight. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you trust Him as you meet Him in worship today. Ask Him to make straight your paths. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 9 - Two women, two days

“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars... The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing.” - Proverbs 9:1,13 Scripture reading: Proverbs 9:1-18 Proverbs 1-9 are the Grand Introduction to Proverbs. The original audience of Proverbs is “my son”. He is today’s equivalent of a young man who just finished high school. At the end of this Grand Introduction, two women compete for his attention: Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly. They both invite him for dinner. Many voices bombard young people today, calling them to follow something or someone that will give them life. All those voices, however, divide into two: the voice of Lady Wisdom and the voice of Lady Folly. How vital that the ‘simple’, the young and inexperienced, discern between them. How vital that they end up feasting and flourishing in the house of Lady Wisdom rather than moldering in the morgue at Lady Folly’s. Lady Wisdom is a woman of substance with the choicest food on her menu (9:1-2). Lady Folly is an attractive airhead who seduces with forbidden fruit (9:13,17). However, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). Many proverbs are two-liners that contrast the ways of Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly. For example, “A soft answer turns away wrath” (15:1a). That is the way of Lady Wisdom. “But a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1b). That is the way of Lady Folly. We find life in Lady Wisdom’s house when we listen to the voice of Jesus in His Word. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for enabling you to hear and respond to Lady Wisdom (Jesus). Ask Him to do the same for others. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 8 - The beginning of wisdom

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” - Proverbs 9:10 Scripture reading: Proverbs 9:1-10 We have spent a week celebrating wisdom as an attribute of God, displayed in creation. God is the Source of all wisdom. We must look to Him as the Source of wisdom if we desire to be wise. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10). We must fear the LORD to become wise. We must tremble and stand in awe of Him Who reveals such wisdom. We must adore and admire Him for such wisdom displayed in creation and redemption. We must deeply and personally trust Him as our All-Wise, Three-Personal God Who knows and does what is best for creation and us. Some proverbs in Proverbs are from Gentile sources. Those who don’t “fear the LORD,” can know and apply wise truths. For example, many cultures and religions proclaim some variation of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Golden Rule is like a 2x6 that both Christianity and non-Christian belief systems build into their frameworks of belief, their spiritual houses. Only Christianity, however, builds this 2x6 into the right house. This is the house built on the foundation of Christ and the gospel. This is the Father’s house, in which the Spirit dwells. Only in this house, with our Three-Personal God at the centre of our worship and fellowship, can we truly grasp the self-giving, Christlike love at the heart of the Golden Rule. Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to help you fear and trust Him alone as your Source of Wisdom. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 3 - Introducing Lady Wisdom

“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.” - Proverbs 8:22 Scripture readings: Proverbs 8:22-31; John 1:1-3 In the beginning, God enlisted a construction partner. She was Lady Wisdom. God had already drawn up the blueprints for the cosmos. Lady Wisdom eagerly took her place at His side, turning His blueprints into breath-taking reality, with great wisdom and skill. She executed His grand plan for a world with ocean depths, flowing springs, rugged mountains, majestic skies and human beings. God delighted in her marvellous skill and she rejoiced in Him. Together, they rejoiced in their finished masterpiece. Lady Wisdom is a personification of wisdom. John, however, alerts us that Wisdom is a Person – the Second Person of the Trinity who entered the world as Jesus Christ. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3). Jesus is also turning God’s blueprint for our redemption into reality. He is the Lamb of Revelation 5 who was worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals to move God’s plan of salvation forward. In the beginning, Father and Son rested and rejoiced in their finished masterpiece on the seventh day. One day, Father and Son will rejoice together over their completed masterpiece – God’s redeemed children and creation. This Lord’s Day, our Triune God calls us to gather to rest and rejoice in Him and in Christ’s finished work for us on the cross. Suggestions for prayer Thank King Jesus for moving God’s wise plan for redemption forward in our fallen world. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 2 - “What in the world…?” (part 2)

“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” - Psalm 104:24:  Scripture reading: Psalm 104:24-35 God, in His wisdom, ordered the universe, down to its intricate details, so that life can thrive on earth. This God, “who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them... still upholds and rules them by his eternal counsel and providence” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 26). Science confirms what the Word proclaims. As of 2001, scientific studies had identified 150 precise conditions that must be in place and work together perfectly for life to exist on earth. Let’s consider several of those conditions. If earth were slightly larger, increased gravity would make life impossible. If earth were slightly smaller, decreased gravity would make life impossible. Extreme temperature swings would result if earth took longer than twenty-four hours to rotate. Extreme winds would result if earth took fewer than twenty-four hours to rotate. God commissioned Jupiter to be earth’s gigantic, magnetic bodyguard, sucking all kinds of space debris into itself that might otherwise hit planet earth. Our moon is just the right size to stabilize earth’s axis and ensure that the tides are just right to sustain life*. To declare this a mindless, cosmic accident makes as much sense as saying a tornado created a Boeing 747 when it whipped through a junkyard. Let us marvel at God’s wise design and rejoice that in Christ “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16). *Eric Metaxas. Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, And How They Can Change Your Life. “Chapter 4: Is Life A Miracle?”. New York: Dutton, © 2014, pgs.40-41. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for specific ways that He upholds creation and provides for you day by day. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy, and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 1 - Introduction to God’s wisdom

Wisdom is one of our Triune God’s many glorious and beautiful attributes. He is the Source of all wisdom revealed and discovered in both creation and Scripture. Our reading of both should drive us to doxology: “O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (Psalm 104:24). “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). Since God is the Source of wisdom, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10a). To become wise, we must know God’s wise design for creation and humanity, then live in line with it. This applies to the Law of Gravity and God’s blueprint for human sexuality, among other things. In Proverbs, God has given us a wisdom treasury in the form of catchy sayings that capture down-to-earth truths that help us live well. Many of these proverbs contrast the way of Lady Wisdom and the way of Lady Folly in concrete situations. We will cherry pick a few of these proverbs and chew on them to extract God’s loving, life-giving instruction from them. Along the way, I will often point you to the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24 as the Lord invites us to examine our hearts in response to these proverbs. Above all, wisdom embraces Christ as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. He is Lady Wisdom in the flesh. He is our Gateway to the good and wise life laid out in Proverbs. “What in the world…?” (part 1) “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” - Psalm 104:24: Scripture reading: Psalm 104:24-30 God is wise. He is also the Source of wisdom. From the macro to the micro, every corner of His creation reflects His wisdom. We marvel at creation’s magnificent and intricate design. All the pieces fit together. They work together to support life. One Sunday evening, Psalm 104:24 was our call to worship. I asked the gathered congregation, “What in the world makes you say, ‘Wow, God! You are so wise!’?” Someone pointed out the tilt of earth’s axis, which allows for the rotation of the seasons. Another noted the peculiar behaviour of water in its solid state. Typically, matter is least dense as vapour, more dense as liquid and most dense as a solid. Ice, however, is less dense than water, ensuring that it floats. Thank God it does! One child exclaimed, “I’m glad we don’t live next to Betelgeuse.” Beetle juice? I had no idea what he was talking about. But he certainly did. “If the sun was the size of an orange, the star Betelgeuse would be the size of a football field. We’d be scorched if we lived next to it!” Indeed, we would. In these and other ways, worshipers exclaimed, “Wow, God! You are so wise!” It was our corporate prayer of praise in response to Psalm 104:24. How would you answer that question? May our contemplation of God’s wisdom in creation evoke our praise. May it also inspire confidence that we can trust God’s wise design for human thriving in creation and redemption. Suggestions for prayer What in the world makes you say, ‘Wow, God! You are so wise!’? Let your responses be your prayer of praise. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy, and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

August 31 - Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!

“And the Spirit and the bride say ‘Come!’” - Revelation 22:17 Scripture reading: Revelation 22:12-21; Philippians 3:7-14; Romans 13:11-14 One of the strongest memories of my childhood is waiting. Waiting every morning for the school bus, waiting for friends to come over, waiting for my grandparents at Christmas, sitting by the front window to see when they would arrive and how many presents they would bring! But nothing compares to the eagerness with which the children of God should await the coming of their King. After all the visions of Revelation, after all the depictions of battle and victory, sacrifice and success, the church has one great, Spirit inspired response. “Come!” How should we respond to God’s Revelation? In the midst of the battle, aware of the King and His foe, hearing that He is coming soon, the Bible tells us our response. “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” The race is nearly over. Our redemption is nearer than when we first believed. As we worship, may we do so with a cry for His coming. As we fight sin, may we do so with a cry for His coming. As we bear witness to the lost, may we do so with a cry for His coming. The Lord lifts up the head of His bride and directs her attention away from the cares of this world towards Himself. The church cannot help but long for her groom’s appearing as she catches a glimpse of Him in these final chapters. Let us never be so focused upon earth that we forget what we are waiting for. Suggestions for prayer O Lord, come! Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

August 26 - The enemies of Christ: the enemies of the church

“Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God…” - Revelation 13:6 Scripture reading: Revelation 13:1-18; Matthew 24:1-14, Romans 12:1-2 Revelation 13 describes the dragon’s attack on the church. Earthly empires will attack God and His people using worldly power (pictured in the first beast). A powerful second ‘beast’ of propaganda (later in Revelation called ‘the false prophet’) will use deceit and ‘wonders’ to deceive the world into worshipping the first beast. Through persecution, power, pressure, and propaganda the world will be led further from God, and the power of these beasts will be such that only those with the seal of God will resist the lie. Revelation 13 is a terrifying chapter. God is showing us that in the end times there will be many reasons to compromise our faith. Apart from compromise, we won’t be able to buy or sell. Apart from compromise, we could face prison or even death. With the persuasion of the false prophet, compromise will seem reasonable. Who can make war with him? But there is One who can make war with him, and who has already crushed his head. All those who stand in Him will also find victory over the beasts. The 144,000 redeemed of Revelation 7 will appear again in Revelation 14, and despite the battle, not one will be lost. Today, we face manifestations of these foes. We may face pressure that makes us feel like compromise is the only way, the only reasonable option. But the enemy is defeated. The Lion of Judah is victorious. Glory awaits. Suggestions for prayer Lord help me to bow only to You and stand against sin. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

August 25 - The place of victory

“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony…” - Revelation 12:11 Scripture reading: Revelation 12:7-17; Romans 6 1-14 In the “Great” war we are called to fight, the outcome is never in question. The devil is defeated, and he is defeated through three key elements. First, believers overcome by the blood of the Lamb. It is the life, death, and resurrection of Christ that crushes the head of the serpent. Under His blood the accusations of the devil lose their power; we bear our sin no more. This grace empowers us to live for God’s glory and resist temptation. Second, they overcome by the word of their testimony. The gospel, as testified through the church, turns men “from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). When the church boldly and without apology proclaims the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, (Romans 1:16) Satan himself is overcome by God’s Word and Spirit. Third, they overcome because they do not love their lives to the death. To gain Christ, they are willing to lose all. The devil is defeated as the church rejects his kingdom of darkness and embraces the kingdom of God’s glorious light. Today, we fight the same enemy, and use the same tactics: we must find forgiveness in the blood of Jesus, see Satan’s power broken through the Gospel of Christ, and follow Christ even to the death. The battle is won, we need not fear the outcome. Armed with this assurance we can bravely press on to victory! Suggestions for prayer Lord help me to fight with Christ as my strength, and may we know the battle is won. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

August 24 - The great war

“And war broke out in heaven…” - Revelation 12:7 Scripture reading: Revelation 12:1-6; Ephesians 6:10-20 After the assassination of the Archduke of Austria in 1914, what came to be known as the “Great War'', began. Over 100 countries would be involved, and it would take over 4 years and 15 million deaths before peace would be achieved. Though this was called the “Great War”, Revelation 12 shows us a war of greater scope by far. The church is pictured as a woman ‘clothed with the sun.’ She is resplendent in beauty. This is how God views His people and this is how those in Christ appear to their God despite being battle scarred and weary. If you stand in Christ today, this is how your Saviour sees you. He sees not the sin that you are so keenly aware of; He sees the iridescent righteousness of Christ with which you are clothed. The woman is at war with the dragon. It is Satan, the tempter, accuser, deceiver. Behind all attacks against God’s people in time stands the same foe. These attacks, physical or spiritual, all aim to destroy the people of God. We fight today in the “Great” war. It must lead us to prayer and vigilance. It must lead us to refuge in Christ, and courage to stand for Christ. Are you aware of the enemy? Are you engaged in the battle? Are you sure of the victory? Suggestions for prayer Lord give me strength to fight, grace to endure, and faith to know the battle is won. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

August 23 - Faithful until death, rewarded in resurrection

“The beast…will make war…and kill them…But after three and a half days…” - Revelation 11: 7, 11 Scripture reading: Revelation 11:7-19; Mathew 24:9-14 When one of our members faced a difficult diagnosis a fellow Christian said to them, “Don’t worry, you’re immortal till your work is done.” The quote was first given by George Whitefield, a preacher of the great awakening in the 1700s. It reminds us both of the power of God in believers enabling them to serve in His kingdom and the sovereignty of God to determine when He alone shall end the earthly journey of those believers. In Revelation 11 we learn that near the end of time the work of the church as a public, visible witness will end. The church will never die, but she will externally diminish. Under persecution she will go underground. God will continue to build His church, but her visible presence will appear small and insignificant and the world will rejoice. God wants us to witness in power while being ready to suffer for Jesus. He wants us to know that when it seems the world has won, the Saviour is around the corner, and glory is soon to come. It was the future martyr, Jim Elliot, who said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” The church is the witness of Christ, and she shall carry out her work both in power and in humiliation, in joy and in suffering. God will sustain her just as He wills, until her work is done and she enters His glory. Suggestions for prayer Lord may we be faithful in suffering, immortal until our work is done. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

August 18 - The good shepherd

“The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them…” - Revelation 7:17  Scripture reading: Revelation 7:13-17; Psalm 23:1-6 Every year loved ones, either in our church, family, or friend circle, finish their earthly race. In Revelation 7 God gives us a special picture of heaven. He lets us know what we can expect when we are called home and the comfort we can have when this happens to Christians we love. Those who go to Christ in glory are forever in the presence of God. From the day of death to eternity, the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them (v17). When Jesus is surrounded by angelic hosts and vast multitudes praise Him in glory, He continues to shepherd and personally care for each of His children. He leads them to fountains of living water. God wipes away every tear from their eyes. Will we weep from godly sorrow over our past sins, or grief in being parted from loved ones? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but the Bible does tell us one thing. The tears won’t last long. God Himself will brush them away. We will be close enough to our Saviour that He will be able to reach out and wipe tears from our cheeks. God is good, and those who go to Him in glory experience a depth of His love and care we can never experience on earth. Don’t fear the final foe of death; just over the hill stands a glory that God guarantees for all who stand by faith in Him. Suggestions for prayer Lord, thank you for the comfort of Yourself in glory. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

August 17 - The centrality of worship

“Be to our God, forever and ever, Amen.” - Revelation 7:12  Scripture reading: Revelation 7:9-17 I had a Christian friend who often reminded us to be ‘re-centered.’ They were referring to the tendency that we forget what life is all about; the tendency to get a little too caught up in the things of this world, a little too distracted by the toys or the cares that present themselves on a daily basis. Amid distraction we need re-centering, and that comes through one practice - fixing our eyes on glory, fixing our eyes on Christ. In today’s vision of glory, several things come to the fore. First, all nations in great multitudes, will one day come before the throne of God in Spirit-filled devotion and praise. The greatest worship service you have ever experienced is waiting just around the corner, and it will not be stopped. It will have the most joyful songs, the most devoted focus, and the most glorious message. It will be a service with people from all nations who have one simple thing in common. All have washed their robes white in the blood of Christ, and now they come to praise Him. The book of Revelation repeatedly ‘re-centers’ us on worship. Is it still central in your life? In your day? Is Sunday worship the highlight of your week? In a life with many distractions, we all need re-centering. May our times of praise with the people of God anchor us on the beauty of Christ, and the blessings of serving Him! Suggestions for prayer Father, please help me not to lose a focus on Your glory in my daily living. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

August 16 - The 144,000

“Do not harm the earth…till we have sealed the servants of God…” - Revelation 7:3  Scripture reading: Revelation 7:1-8; Luke 21:10-19 The 144,000: Super Christians or ordinary Joes? As a child they were super Christians. Courageous, bold, and having the power of God they would go through a world filled with judgments and disasters, but not a raindrop would fall upon their heads, and not an ankle would twist as the earth heaved. The 144,000 were the superheroes of the Christian world. My early imaginings weren’t entirely wrong. The 144,000 are the special forces, and they do have God’s divine power. But they are not ‘super’ Christians, they are ‘simply’ Christians. The 144 is a picture of 12 times 12, reflecting the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles and the fullness that comes through God’s work among them. They’re simply Christians, either from before or after Christ. To these simple believers, God gives extraordinary care. It is not protection from every hardship, but it is a reminder that no matter what the world brings, “Not a hair of your head shall be lost.” Sometimes when Christians see the increase of evil they can become fearful and live out of fear instead of faith. But if we have eyes to see it, there is a seal upon the foreheads of those who believe. That seal in Christ guarantees God’s special care. God’s power and love rests upon you, His protection encircles you. Who are the 144,000? They are ordinary Christians living under extraordinary grace who live for God in remarkable but simple ways. Suggestions for prayer Thank you Lord for the protection and calling you give to each ‘simple’ believer. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

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