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Daily devotional

November 27 - The first step

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling…” - Jude 24a

Scripture reading: Psalm 121:1-8; Jude 24-25

With these final verses of his letter, Jude begins to sing a doxology. But this doxology could not have been sung with conviction by the false teachers he had warned the church about in his letter. They would not have sung about the Lord keeping them from stumbling because what they wanted was to stumble into the mud of their sins and then wallow in it some more. They wanted the gospel to let them stay defiled.

But we have been called “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Verse 3). Jude has reminded us how many have stumbled before us and the danger is just as much in front of our feet today. We are just one step away from stumbling back into our sins; none of us should have the pride to think that we can keep ourselves from stumbling. That pride is often the first step of our fall!

Even if we do stumble, if we struggle with doubt, or if our ungodly passions still plague us, the Lord does not wait for us to pick ourselves up, clean ourselves off and prove that we are worthy of His mercy. He gave us the proof of His love in Jesus, so we will never stumble too far that His mercy cannot save.

Suggestions for prayer

Wherever you are fighting the desires of your flesh, plead with the Lord to keep you from stumbling. Ask that the Word that is preached to you today will encourage your faith to rest in the Lord’s care for His people

Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley 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 - A turning point

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit…” - Jude 20 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:4-12; Jude 17-23 Since verse 5 in Jude’s letter, we’ve seen destruction, judgment, eternal fire, rebellion and even underground reefs that shipwreck the church’s love feasts. There are so many ways that the church is threatened with breaking apart, all because false teachers are trying to creep unnoticed into the church and use the good news about grace in Jesus Christ as their excuse to continue living in their sins. Grace becomes their license for ungodliness and the church suffers because of it. But verse 20 is a turning point in this letter. It reminds us that we are “beloved.” The Father loves His people so much that He gave them His Son, in Whom we must believe to be saved. This love does not leave us in the misery of our sins, but sets us free to love the Lord in gratitude. The church is those whom the Spirit is gathering to enjoy that freedom to love, sharing in the faith that rests in Christ. In that faith we are now called to build ourselves up and to pray in the Holy Spirit. What does that look like? It is to be so amazed by the grace of God that it gives us the greatest joy to encourage each other to know that grace, too. It is to be so assured of God’s promises of joy and fellowship that sin no longer holds its appeal and selfishness gives way to service. Suggestions for prayer Rejoice in the love of God that gave us His Son as our Redeemer. Pray that the Spirit would help you view your life as a gift from the Lord to be used for His service. Ask Him to help other believers who are struggling to be faithful. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley 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 - Division must occur

“It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.” - Jude 19 Scripture reading: John 14:25-31; John 17:20-26; Jude 17-23 It is lamentable that the church is not as unified as it ought to be, but what compromises would have to be made to satisfy everyone who claims to be a Christian so that they can belong to a single, global church? Considering the corrupting influence of sin and the persistence of the devil to use false teachers to lead people astray, is it really surprising to see the church splintered into so many denominations? Some say that doctrine divides and that’s why Christians can’t get along. In one sense, that’s true: false doctrine leads the church away from the Bible and true doctrine keeps the church from compromising with the world. False doctrine and true doctrine cannot live peacefully together. Division must occur if the church is to keep its life and witness pure. That’s why, whenever division occurs, we must ask, “What kind of worldliness caused this disunity?” The Holy Spirit does not cause disunity. The Holy Spirit brings peace, just as Jesus promised. Even though contending for the faith might seem to be combative, the fruit of that struggle is a church unified as its rests together in Christ. That is a peace worth all of the watchfulness, discipline and prayer we can muster. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for faithfully giving His Spirit to the church even though there have been many divisions. Pray that the Lord would heal those divisions and encourage a spirit of unity and faithfulness to His Word. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley 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 - Did God really say?

“They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”” - Jude 18 Scripture reading: 2 Peter 3:1-9; Jude 17-23 Wherever the gospel is faithfully preached and the church begins to grow, scoffers quickly follow. Scoffers try to undermine the effectiveness of the gospel by mocking those who strive for holiness: “Can Christians really expect to have success in their struggles against sin? You know how weak you are, and you know the wickedness that’s still in your heart!” The devil sends out his messengers to try to cause doubt so that we are discouraged from even trying to persevere in holiness. But when the Apostle Peter warned us about scoffers, he also reminded us of the perfections of our Lord. Even though our battle against sin in ourselves and in the church might seem to have no end in sight, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” No matter how long and arduous the struggle is, there is an end to it that has been predetermined by our Father Who loves His people. The best answer to those who scoff is not to join them in their ungodly passions, but to live with our eyes fixed on the long-suffering of the Lord. Yes, we are too weak to stand on our own against ungodliness, but God’s promises are the surety of our salvation and we will see Christ’s victory in us. Suggestions for prayer Open your heart to the Lord when you have doubts about His promises, and ask Him to show you again the power of His love in Jesus Christ. Pray that you will not grow weary of doing good and that you can be an encouragement to struggling brothers and sisters. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley 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 - The old, old story

“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” - Jude 17 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:19-22; Hebrews 13:7-9; Jude 17-23 Whenever the church goes astray, it’s because she first made the decision to forget. When the old, old story of Jesus and His love becomes boring or outdated, Christians might remember that Jesus died on the cross for sinners, but they don’t think the gospel has much power. So they begin to look for something more appealing like influence or entertainment. The preaching turns Jesus into a therapist, Catechism classes become dry doctrinal lectures and Bible study (if the Bible is opened at all) is about finding advice for our marriages or political issues. A church that no longer remembers the gospel is easy pickings for false teachers to lead them into ungodliness. But the church, beloved by Christ, needs to remember the foundation upon which she stands. The Holy Spirit did not give the apostles empty, powerless words to write down in a book and then preserve those words for thousands of years, just to be forgotten today. Through the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit has put in our hands a Word that can renew the most lifeless church and transform the most distraught sinner. Even when it is difficult to contend for the faith in your own congregation, remember the power of the Word. Suggestions for Prayer Pray that your heart would be established by grace, rather than be tossed around by strange doctrines. Thank the Lord for His unchanging Word that He has preserved so that you can stand firmly in His promises today. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley 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 - Waterless clouds

"Waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted…” - Jude 12b Scripture reading: Matthew 6:19-21; Ephesians 3:14-21; Jude 1:12-13 Watching the clouds slowly drift across the sky on a lazy afternoon is relaxing, but not if you’re a farmer with wilting crops that desperately need some rain. Walking through an orchard on a sunny day in autumn might be beautiful, but not if the trees are fruitless and you have nothing to store for your family to eat over the harsh winter. You would be better off cutting down the trees and chopping them into firewood; at least you’d be warm. Waterless clouds and fruitless trees might look appealing, but they are worthless in providing what you need, just like an idol. A lot of effort is put into idol-making. Whether they’re crafted out of wood or gold, or if they’re the lies we repeat to ourselves until we believe them, time and resources are poured into making our idols appear effective. But, in the end, idols promise so much and deliver so little. Making an idol of our “sensuality” (verse 4) and twisting the gospel to make room for our idol will leave us unfulfilled. But in Christ, we have so much more than empty promises. Why return to our sins when we can “know the love of Christ which passes knowledge,” and pray to “Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”? To Him be glory in the church! Suggestions for prayer Pray that our Father would grant you to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, asking that you would know the love of Jesus far more than loving yourself. Ask Him to make your life fruitful in laying up treasures in heaven instead of treasures on earth. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley 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 - Hidden reefs

“These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves…” - Jude 12a Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-22; Jude 1:12-13 A hidden reef is one of the greatest dangers for ships because if a ship runs aground, the waves will mercilessly slam into it until the ship breaks apart. But what does that have to do with our “love feasts”? Using the Greek word agape, “love feasts” was a nickname Christians used in the early church to describe the fellowship they had with each other during and surrounding the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Jude is warning about ungodly influences creeping into the church and destroying that fellowship, like hidden reefs can destroy a ship. Thinking that grace means we can live as we want, presuming that God doesn’t really care about our sinful choices, and boasting that we can control temptation on our own – those are all shipwrecks waiting to happen. That’s why “the Christian church is duty-bound to exclude such people by the official use of the keys of the kingdom until they reform their lives” (Lord’s Day 30). Whether or not you are having the Lord’s Supper today, treasure the fellowship you have in Christ’s church. Pray for your elders to be faithful in protecting the church. Because if we are not vigilant, we will run aground and break apart. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for the fellowship we have together in Christ and for faithful elders and pastors who stand as watchmen over the church. Pray for a selfless heart that will gladly receive the guidance of the under-shepherds Christ has appointed in your congregation. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley 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 - Offended by offensiveness

“Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion.” - Jude 11 Scripture reading: Matthew 23:23-36; Jude 5-11 Israel refused to enter the Promised Land and their generation perished in the wilderness. The devil and his followers refused to honour the Lord and they were cast out of heaven. Sodom and Gomorrah assumed they would get away with their immorality and were consumed by fire. Cain murdered his brother and became a wanderer. Following Balaam’s advice, Israel joined themselves to the pagan women of Midian and a plague consumed 24,000 Israelites. Korah and his family were jealous of Moses and the earth swallowed them up. If today’s false teachers are distorting the gospel and threatening the church, should we expect God to deal with them any differently? Or are we so “nice” that we deprive our brothers and sisters of loving admonishments? Are we too hesitant to take a stand for the truth, and thus leave others to be led astray? Are we afraid to risk being offensive even though the Bible tells us that Jesus is a “a stumbling stone and a rock of offence”? (Romans 9:33). Contending for the faith can only happen if we truly believe that Jesus is the only Saviour and that every blessing comes only through Him. If we know the extent of His love for us, let us be eager to encourage others to cling to Jesus alone and not be swayed by a false gospel. Suggestions for prayer Pray to be Christ-like in your patience for sinners and in your steadfastness against false teachers. Ask God for an even greater love for Jesus so that you can love your neighbours with His gospel. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley 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 - Risky reasoning

“But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.” - Jude 10 Scripture reading: Hebrews 3:1-19; Jude 5-11 It’s easier to throw stones at the ungodliness and foolishness of others than it is to confess our own need for repentance. Jude is not speaking about these false teachers and their blasphemy in order to puff up our own pride and ego, but to warn us so that we don’t fall into the same wickedness. Contending for the faith also means watching over our own hearts. When we keep our Bibles closed and live by our own assumptions, we risk thinking that we have the right to decide how much the Holy Spirit is allowed to work in us. We risk making God’s law a superficial influence on our conduct. We risk thinking that we are righteous in our actions when our hearts are growing cold. This is blasphemy and it is destructive. We do not have more freedom and more joy by thinking that grace allows us to sin. Instead, we disgrace God’s Name by our actions, set unholy examples for our fellow Christians, break the unity of the church and we destroy our witness to a world enslaved in its sin. Christ saves us to free us from sin, not to give us an excuse to stay in our sin. Suggestions for prayer Confess your struggles with rebellion against God’s will. Pray for the Spirit to give you a zeal for sanctification. Ask the Lord to make holiness become more beautiful to you and sin become less enticing. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley 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 - The menu for slavery

“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that the Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” - Jude 5:  Scripture reading: Psalm 95; Jude 3-7 The people of Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. They saw the glory of the Lord on Mount Sinai. They fought against their enemies and won by the strength of the Lord. For six days of the week, they woke up to find all the food they needed on the ground outside their tents. They had seen so many of God’s works, but they complained that it still wasn’t enough. They wanted to return to Egypt to enjoy the “cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic” (Numbers 11:5). It wasn’t just the menu that turned their hearts back to Egypt. They believed that following God should give them more earthly pleasures than they had found in the wilderness. Even the Promised Land wasn’t enough for them, so they rejected the Lord. They would rather return to the slavery of Pharaoh than continue trusting God. Jude is warning the church that salvation is not found in the momentary gratification of this life’s pleasures. That’s why we have to guard ourselves against the temptation to seek our ultimate comfort in the experiences of this life. Expecting God to provide those experiences is asking Him to return us to the slavery of sin when we should be seeking our life in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray for members of your church who are being drawn to the slavery of sin’s pleasures. Ask the Lord to bless your church with wise men and women who will remind you of the stories of God’s faithfulness and help to steer you to live for the Lord. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley 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 - Creeping in unnoticed

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” - Jude 4 Scripture reading: Romans 6:1-14; Acts 20:28-31; Jude 3-4 Many of us have fears of things that creep into our homes unnoticed – spiders, ants, even snakes. But Jude is warning Christians to be just as concerned about certain people who creep in unnoticed into the house of God, the church. Their creeping is not accidental, as if they stumbled into their schemes to undermine the gospel, but they have set their hearts on abusing the grace of God. Though they speak openly about Jesus, Jude says they “long ago were designated for this condemnation.” These are enemies of the church even while appearing to be allies for the gospel. They will happily speak about Jesus dying for our sins and the freedom we have because we’ve been spared from the wrath of God. But be on guard for the fruits of their message! These certain people are turning grace into their excuse for “sensuality.” They teach a false gospel that being free from sin means being free to live however we please, enjoying all kinds of immorality without consequence. This makes our desires our master, and we live to please ourselves rather than live to please our Lord. What a dangerous threat this false gospel is to the church! Never forget that the gospel means that Jesus has spared believers from judgment for our sins, and He gives the Holy Spirit to lead believers to walk with God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that your elders would be alert to the wolves that threaten the flock. Repent of the presumptuous sins that demand more of your attention than the lordship of Christ. Rejoice that Jesus calls us to enjoy the holiness of God. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley 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 - Contend for the faith

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” - Jude 3 Scripture reading: 1 Tim. 6:11-21; 2 Tim. 4:1-8; Jude 3-4 Nothing brings a preacher more joy than to see sinners respond to the gospel by putting their faith in Christ. That’s why Jude’s first desire was to write about “our common salvation.” But like every faithful preacher, Jude knows that the joy of proclaiming Christ must be partnered with warnings and admonishments to protect believers from going astray. We need those warnings because it’s easier to go astray than it is to remain faithful. It’s easier to think that being saved means we don’t have to struggle against sin. We even excuse our careless attitudes by thinking, “God will save us anyway, right?” But that shows how little value we put on our faith. We don’t think that it’s worth the struggle to keep our focus on Jesus. We don’t think it’s worth contending for the faith to keep ourselves holy, so that we can serve the Lord. Contending for the faith is hard work – but it’s worth it. The faith is what the Holy Spirit gives to every generation of the church so that sinners can be reconciled to God. It doesn’t change with the times. It’s not trying to stay relevant or be politically correct but clings to Jesus, as uncomfortable and as unpopular as that may be. When we are tempted to compromise our faith by taking the easier and more worldly path through life, is it really worth it? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you take the lordship of Jesus for granted. Repent of any spiritual carelessness. Pray that God will give you the zeal to contend for the faith in every part of your life. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley 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 - Mercy, peace and love

“May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” - Jude 2:  Scripture reading: Psalm 23; 1 Peter 1:1-9; Jude 1-2 When we hear God greet us at the beginning of every worship service, we expect to hear a blessing that includes some combination of the words: grace, mercy, peace and love. But if one Sunday morning God refused to allow the minister to speak those words to us, how different that worship service would be! In the same way, Jude’s greeting to believers is not at all casual or routine – we need it! Jude is writing to those who are being called to “contend for the faith” (verse 3), a task that would be impossible without God’s blessing. God’s mercy means that He will strengthen the church while overcoming our pride, our foolishness and our mistakes. God’s peace gives us courage to continue to stand for truth and godly living even when the church’s voice appears to be withering. God’s love assures us that He will not abandon the church to our struggle against worldliness. Jude describes these blessings as being “multiplied” to us, so he expects God to continue to pour out His mercy, peace and love. Jude also expects that we are going to continue needing these blessings. When you hear God’s greeting this coming Sunday, remember that he is multiplying those blessings once again for you. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for how God has faithfully given His mercy, peace, and love to every generation of the church. Ask Him to multiply these blessings in your life, giving you greater courage to live faithfully as a Christian. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley 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 - True contentment in Christ

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am in to be content…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” - Philippians 4:11-12  Scripture reading: Philippians 4:10-20 and 1Timothy 6:6-10 For the Christian, having a true sense of contentment is a vital thing. We live in a world where satisfaction and fulfilment are never a certainty. Mankind always seems restless, and without peace. Man always seems to have a desire to be fulfilled, a need to be met, or an itch to be scratched! The sinful heart is never satisfied! And yet, Paul says, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content…” (v.11b). In the school of faith, in serving Christ, and in resting in God’s providential care, Paul has “learned” how to be content as a Christian! And how? Well, as he says in v.13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Yes, in Christ, by His strength, Paul can be content. He can weather the storms of poverty and be thankful. He can resist pride when he is full and has much! Christ enables him to have a proper perspective on life. Therefore, the circumstances and situations of Paul’s life do not dictate his desires or emotions. True contentment - is it something we have or are we restless and without peace? As Christians, we are to look to Christ daily and be reminded of the sufficiency we have in Him and take comfort in that. For God will take care of all our needs in Christ, above and beyond what we can imagine! Yes, let us find our daily strength in Him! Suggestions for prayer: Let us daily be reminded where our contentment is found! For it is not in our savings, work, health, or family, but in Christ Jesus, our Lord! In Him, we have all we need for today, tomorrow and forever! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 great blessing of prayer

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:6-7  Scripture reading: Philippians 4:4-9 and Matthew 6:25-34 We live in a world of anxiety and stress! We experience it at work, at home, and even in church. Our many challenges with Covid-19 over the last few years are proof of that. Paul tries to help his friends keep their perspective on life. For if we are to “rejoice” (v.4) and live a life of “gentleness” and grace in these last days, knowing that our Lord will return (v.5), then we need to have “peace” of mind. And that peace only comes from God. That peace is accessed through prayer! Do we pray regularly? Paul says in Colossians 4:2 that we are to “continue earnestly in prayer” and in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that we are to “pray without ceasing.” But sadly, for many, prayer is something they turn to as a last resort. And yet, Paul gives us a wonderful pattern for our prayers and the petitions we offer to God. First, don’t let anxiety consume you, rather, “in everything”, come to God in prayer. We should spend more time looking upward rather than worrying about what’s going on around us. And second, pray with “thanksgiving” in your heart as you make your requests known to God. Prayer should not be something we do grudgingly, but thankfully. For when we come to God in this way, He will send us His “peace”, and that peace will “guard” our hearts and minds, so that regardless of our situation, we may know that everything is in His hands! Suggestions for prayer Pray and don’t give up! Don’t let the worry and trouble of the day hinder your walk with God. Come to the Father in Jesus’ Name with confidence and a heart of gratitude. Be assured that He will send you peace in the storms of life! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 - Our citizenship is in heaven

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body…” - Philippians 3:20-21  Scripture reading: Philippians 3:17-4:1 and John 14:1-6 Now, as we saw in vv.12-16, striving towards the heavenly goal and the prize of life with Christ is an ongoing process. In this life, there is no such thing as perfection or instant sanctification. The process of God’s working in us by His Word and Spirit is life-long. Therefore, as Christians, our lives are to give evidence to this mighty work. It’s to be seen in godly living, in dying to the ways of the flesh and the sinful pleasures of the world. As Paul makes clear in vv.18-19, there are many so-called Christians who live carnally minded lives. They are governed by their desires and they seek to fulfil their pleasures. But as Paul so clearly states, that cannot be for those who have their “citizenship in heaven”! For though we live, work and worship on earth, heaven is our true home! How often does our heavenly citizenship come to mind? Does the Spirit use it to quell our desire and to fight against temptation? If we belong to Christ, then we should strive to live the Christ-like life. For as Paul says, Christ will return and when He does, we will be transformed, and our earthly bodies will be made glorious like His body! Do you desire this? Does your life reflect it? It should, for you are a citizen of heaven, bought with the blood of Christ, and not like those without hope in the world! Suggestions for prayer Remind yourself of your heavenly citizenship and let it be for your encouragement in how you live your life! For your life is in Christ and one day your Lord will return for you, and so take care of how you live your life! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 - Pressing on toward the goal

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” - Philippians 3:12  Scripture reading: Philippians 3:12-16 and Hebrews 12:1-2 In vv.7-11 the apostle Paul spoke of the rich blessings that he now has in Jesus Christ. But as vv.12-16 show us, he has not attained the ultimate goal. As he says in v.14, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Thus, Paul’s race, his running of the course of the life of faith, only ends once he is in Glory with his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! As he rightly notes in v.12, we shall never reach “perfection” in this life. In other words, the process of sanctification is lifelong and the goal unattainable in this life. But for the followers of Christ, they press onward, toward that heavenly goal, letting everything else drop to the wayside including any earthly loves, selfish goals, fears or regrets. For Christ has “laid hold of me”, says Paul, and therefore the only direction the Christian can go is to Him! For the course in which Paul runs, is the same one in which we as believers must all run. We have salvation and belong to Christ, but the fullness is yet to come. Like an Olympic runner, we run with all our heart, soul, strength and mind to reach the heavenly prize, the fullness of life in Christ! This is the upward call of God to us, and we cannot take it lightly or ignore it. And so, let us run with perseverance in the race before us! Suggestions for prayer Look to Jesus and fix the eyes of your faith on Him. Do not lose heart or grow weary in this spiritual race, but find your strength in Him and rejoice in the glorious prize that awaits all His redeemed at the end, the fullness of eternal life! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 - Work out your own salvation

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” - Philippians 2:12b-13 Scripture reading: Philippians 2:12-16 and 2 Peter 1:3-10 When we hear Paul’s words, we might think he’s telling us that we must find our own way when it comes to our salvation, “Work it out for yourself.” But that of course cannot be what he means. As we’ve seen time and again, our salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone and is not based on any merit of ours. No, what Paul is teaching us is that the Christian life is to be an active life and in no way stagnant. As a Christian, you are to “exercise” your salvation, that is, to put it into daily practice. We do that through the reading of God’s Word, prayer, worship, living a godly life, dying to the ways of our sinful nature and so on. This we are to do, “with fear and trembling”. This means we must be mindful of our great need for God’s grace in living such a life. For we cannot do this alone, but only in reliance upon Christ and the strength He gives to us through His Holy Spirit! And further, look at the comfort we have in this, for it is God who “works” in us. He is the One Who enables us to live this kind of life. And how wonderful to think that as we are called to “work out” our own salvation, God is “working in” us so that we can obey Him and live for His glory! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would enable you to live out your salvation and live a life that is vibrant and fruitful for His praise and that will be a blessing to the church and her life. Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 majestic glory of Christ

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow…and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” - Philippians 2:9-11  Scripture reading: Philippians 2:5-11 and John 17:1-26 What we have in our text is a striking contrast to what we see in vv.6-8. For Jesus, the humble servant of God, Who gave Himself up to death on a cross is now exalted to the highest heights of glory! For this exaltation is a reward from His Father for His perfect saving work! (John 17:1-5). This is a glory He enjoys now, but it also has a future goal, for, in time, all the created order will be subject to His glorious majesty! (Philippians 2:9-11) And yet, why does Paul speak of the glory of Christ right after his charge to live the humble servant life? We might sum it up this way: (1) It convicts us that this humble servant's life is the only life we can live before God! For this is the way Jesus went. This is the way that is pleasing to God, and this is the only way that ends in glory. (2) It reminds us also of the love of Jesus for His elect, that He suffered and died to “bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18) so that we might be with Him forever. And (3) it assures us that even though we face many trials and adversities, the glorious end of our faith is in eternal glory with our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we are called to the humble servant life on earth, but we look for our eternal reward to come with Christ from heaven! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for the eternal riches you have in Christ! Ask Him to strengthen you to live that humble, giving, selfless life for the sake of the church and as part of your witness to the world. Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 amazing sacrifice of Christ

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” - Philippians 2:8  Scripture reading: Philippians 2:5-8 and Galatians 3:10-14 The apostle wants to make clear to his audience that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, took upon Himself a real human nature. Some have said that as true God, Jesus couldn’t take on sinful human flesh, therefore He had flesh that only seemed to be human but was of some heavenly substance. But Paul says, “No! Jesus is true God and true Man!” Only in this way could Jesus be our divine Substitute. Thus, as the incarnate Son of God, Paul tells us that Jesus gave Himself to the ninth degree - even death on a cross! Crucifixion was the worst form of punishment in Roman society. For the Jews, to be hung on a tree was a sign of being accursed of God (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). That Jesus endured this shows us the extent of His saving work on our behalf, of His willingness to become a curse for us to remove our curse before God! (Galatians 3:13) For through His perfect obedience and sacrificial work, He has earned our salvation and is now able to impute His righteousness to our account when we confess our sins and trust in Him as our Saviour and Lord (2 Corinthians 5:21). Yes, how amazing is the work of Christ on our behalf! What joy and thankfulness should fill our hearts as a result! We should desire to live in such a way that others see Christ in us, and that the Lord might draw them to Himself! Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord for His gracious, saving work! Let us not take the suffering of our Saviour for granted, but be ever thankful. May that be seen in our lives, in our worship, and in our witness to the lost of our world! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 - Having the mind of Christ

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” - Philippians 2:5-7  Scripture reading: Philippians 2:5-8 and Mark 10:35-45 As we noted in yesterday’s devotion, this humble, servant attitude Paul is seeking to instill in the hearts of his friends is the very attitude that marked the life of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. For as Jesus says in Mark 10:45, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” And that sacrificial character of His work stands out so clearly in Paul’s words. For Jesus, as the eternal Son of God, is true God, just as the Father and the Holy Spirit are. But in His role as our Mediator and divine Substitute, Jesus has taken on our flesh and blood and come into our world. That He did not consider it “robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation”, reveals this so powerfully! For here we see the absolute willingness of the Son of God to humble Himself, to lay aside His heavenly status and glory to stoop to our weakness and take the form of a “bondservant” in the “likeness of men.” Yes, Jesus had a real humanity. Jesus lived a real life on earth and was subject to the demands of God’s Law. He was like us in every way, except for sin (Hebrews 4:15), so that He might fulfill all righteousness, and do for us what we could never do for ourselves, namely, pay the debt of our sin and set us free! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for the glorious gift of His only Son, Jesus Christ, as our Saviour and Lord! May the selfless example of Christ be the pattern for how we live toward each other in the church, in our homes and as a witness to the world! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 - Standing fast in the faith, without fear!

“And not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.” - Philippians 1:28  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:27-30 and 1 Peter 4:12-19 As we saw yesterday, standing fast for the gospel as Christians, calls for like-mindedness, mutual dependence and active reliance upon God. For, as we know, contending for the gospel can be a fearful thing, especially, in a hostile world. Accordingly, Paul encourages his friends to not be “terrified” by their adversaries. This would be necessary, for not only would there be false teaching to be wary of (as noted in chapter 3), but there would be hostility from the Jews about the teaching that Jesus is the Messiah, and as well from the Roman state which claimed that Caesar alone was “Lord”, the very title used for our “Lord”, Jesus Christ! Yet, fear was not to characterize God’s people. Rather, increased persecution and opposition to the Truth was an affirmation of their standing with God and that their “salvation” was “from God”! For whether they lived or died, they belonged to Him! (v.21). And furthermore this persecution was a reminder that all those who oppose Jesus Christ and His gospel will suffer His wrath on the Day of Judgement! As Paul says, this is a “proof of perdition” to our adversaries, a sure sign of their coming destruction. As this was a comforting truth for the Church of Paul’s day, so it is for us! For though we suffer as Christians, we know that we belong to our Lord and that nothing can separate us from Him! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give you strength to bear up under today’s increased persecution. Continue to trust in the Lord knowing that our vindication is sure and God’s coming judgment on the wicked will be complete! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day ...

Daily devotional

October 12 - The challenging of standing fast

“That you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” - Philippians 1:27b  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:27-30 and Ephesians 6:10-13 Opposition to the Christian faith is always a challenge and the saints in Philippi knew it well. Therefore, Paul wants to encourage them to be strong and not lose heart. He does so by focusing on two things. First, “that you stand fast in one spirit”, that is, hold your ground by being of like-mind, purpose and disposition. For when Christians rely on God’s Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit, they can endure life’s trials and challenges. But then Paul adds to that, "with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”. This has the idea of standing side-by-side. It's a term used for those who fight in battle or engage in an athletic contest because the closer they stand, the more formidable they are to the opponent. Division often leads to defeat! For this reason, they do this, "with one mind"; that is, as one man. If you are on a team you must work together; you can’t be going your own way. You need to be unified if you’re going to weather the attacks. This is vital, for as Paul says, the "faith of the gospel" is at stake! In other words, this is a battle not only for the faith created by the gospel but for Christianity itself! Are we ready and willing to stand firm? Christ commands us to do so. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the church and her ability to stand. Pray that the church would stand strong against heresy, worldliness, and secularism and that she might even more consistently proclaim the gospel of Christ to a fallen world. Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 - Conduct befitting the gospel

“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs.” - Philippians 1:27a  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:27-30 and Colossians 1:9-14 Paul longs to return to his friends in Philippi, for as he says in v.25, he desires to supervise their “progress and joy of faith”. But when will that be? Only the Lord knows. Paul must rest his plans in God’s sovereign hands. And so, he encourages them, "Only, let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ." The word “conduct” literally means, "to conduct oneself worthily as a citizen of the city-state." It was regarding how people were to live as citizens of the state. In Roman times the “city-state” demanded your complete loyalty, and you, as a faithful citizen, would give it willingly. When Paul uses the word “conduct” he’s not telling these Christians to conduct themselves faithfully to the Roman state, rather, he’s thinking of their heavenly citizenship, of how they’re to live faithfully as citizens of heaven in a pagan culture. He is compelling them to live their lives, worthy of the gospel, by being living testimonies for Jesus Christ, by letting their light shine among their neighbours, and by not compromising their beliefs or worship. Paul urges them to stand firm lest they compromise their faith before the world. How is it with you? Does pressure from others affect how you live your life or express your faith? Remember, in Christ you are a child of God and a citizen of heaven. Therefore, your entire life, in thought, word and deed are to reflect that. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to give you the strength you need to live a godly, consistent life. Do not fear the world nor be afraid to live out your faith or to worship God. Yes, you live on earth, but your citizenship is in heaven. Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 - Our progress and joy of faith

“I shall remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy of faith…” - Philippians 1:25  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:19-26 and 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 Even though Paul was unsure how specific events were going to unfold for him in regards to Caesar (vs.19-23), his great desire was that he would continue in this earthly life to carry on his ministry, especially, so that he could return to his friends and oversee their growth in the Christian faith. How blessed we are to have those over us - whether at home with our parents, or in the church with the office-bearers - those that “continue” with us, instruct us and help us along the way in our Christian walk! We should be extremely thankful that God cares for us so much that He places over us those who “continue” with us for our “progress and joy of faith…” Today in Canada, a National Day of Thanksgiving is being celebrated. Many will gather with family and friends and will reminisce and relax. Many Christians will gather for worship giving thanks to God for His mighty deeds and the grace lavished to them in Jesus Christ. And rightly so! For look at how the Lord has blessed us, look how He has provided, even though 2022 has had its many trials and struggles. God has been at work for our “progress” in the faith and for our “joy” as believers who cling to our faithful God and Father. Let us give thanks for the rich spiritual blessings bestowed on us in Jesus Christ! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for His many gifts! Ask the Lord to continue His good work in you, that you may grow spiritually as a Christian and that your joy in Christ may abound more and more! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 - Paul prays for an abounding love

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more…” - Philippians 1:9a  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:9-11 and 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 The Philippians had a real love for the apostle Paul. This was seen in their selfless giving to his ministry, even when others could not or would not support him (4:14-16). As we know true, biblical love is a “fruit of the Spirit”. It is something that is to mark our lives and to be lived out daily. And so, for Paul, it was his earnest desire that their love would not be idle, or only expressed occasionally, or to only a particular people, but that their love would “abound still more and more…” In other words, Paul desired that their “love” would overflow, that it would be ever-increasing, flowing into many lives and situations like a flowing river, rather than looking like a stagnant pool! The “love” Paul envisions is selfless and giving, a sacrificial love, the kind expressed by the Lord Jesus Christ, as seen in Philippians 2:5-8, where He took the form of a servant, and gave Himself, even to death on a cross for our sins! It is that kind of love that Paul desires these Christians to abound in! But that’s not always easy to do. We’re not always lovable. Sometimes we hurt each other, or we disagree on matters, or we suffer persecution. But this is why Paul prays for them, and why we must pray for each other. For only in that way will we be gracious and forgiving of one another and able to serve the Lord together! Suggestions for prayer Let us be thankful for each other. And because we care for one another, let us pray for this kind of abounding, sacrificial love to be seen in our lives for the blessing of the church, for our witness and the glory of God! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 - God faithfully completes his good work

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” - Philippians 1:6  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:3-6 and 2 Timothy 1:8-12 Paul took great joy in the spiritual children the Lord had given him. He prayed for them often and always thanked God for them (vv.3-4). He especially appreciated their participation in the spread of the gospel(v.5). And he was greatly assured of the fact that the work God began in them He would finish! For if God has given you a new birth by the Holy Spirit, if He has created faith in your heart, if He has been sanctifying you and conforming you to His image, then those things shall NEVER be left undone! Rather, He has declared something different, something marvellous to our ears and for the comfort of our souls, namely, “I will complete that good work in you until the day of Christ.” Notice here the future tense of the verb: I will complete! That’s God’s sure pledge to you, His unwavering promise! In fact, His work will only come to an end on a certain day. That is, “the day of Jesus Christ”, the day of His glorious return! Yes, until that very day we shall be preserved in our salvation! And so, to that glorious Day may you fix your faith and rest your hope. For the fullness of redemption that comes in Jesus will be ours in the resurrection of our bodies and in the blessing of life everlasting. For God WILL bring to completion the good work He has begun! Suggestions for prayer Let us offer a prayer of thanks to God for His gracious working in our lives. For apart from our deserving, He has saved us in Christ, and through His Word and Spirit, He is sanctifying us and will bring to completion that good work! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 - Paul’s greeting to the church

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” - Philippians 1:2  Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10 and Philippians 4:6-7 When Paul says, “Grace to you and peace”, he’s not expressing some wish that God might be gracious to His people and bestow His blessing on them. No! This is a sure declaration by Christ’s authorised servant, sending them grace and peace. This is a gracious bestowal of God upon His covenant people. For if God doesn’t send us His grace, and if that grace doesn’t produce peace in our hearts, how can we then live as faithful servants? How can we live holy lives as His saints? (v.1). But what is this “grace” and “peace”? Well, “grace” is the unmerited favour of God to sinners for salvation in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). But this grace is also experienced in our sanctification, where we die to the old life and grow in the new life. Through grace, we are saved and sanctified! Thus, from God’s saving grace comes our “peace”! Peace is the fruit of grace. This is seen so marvellously in our being reconciled to God. We are no longer His enemies, but now children and heirs! (Romans 8:17). Such gifts Paul says come to us from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. Yes, how blessed we are and how encouraged we should be in living for God as we ponder His rich gifts! For as we continue to trust in Him, He will send us “grace” for daily living and fill us with His “peace” which will guard our hearts and minds. Suggestions for prayer Let us pray daily for God’s sustaining grace in our lives, trusting that He will impart to us all that we need. Let us rest in the finished work of Christ that gives true spiritual peace to our restless and needy souls. Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional 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 - Paul’s specific audience - saints!

“To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi…” - Philippians 1:1b  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:1-3 and 1 Peter 2:9-10 We might think this opening address is just a formality. But is it? Notice what Paul says, “to all the saints…” Now, “saints”, is a designation for Christians and it was first used that way in Acts 9:13 during Saul’s persecution of the church. To be a “saint” doesn’t mean the Roman Catholic Church has granted you sainthood, rather, it means that you are “set apart” or “consecrated” to God. We see this language used by the Priests, Levites, and by Israel in the Old Testament. God set them apart for His service and glory! And so, it is for the church of today! We too are “set apart” to God and are members of His covenant. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are made “holy” in God’s sight. You see, holiness is not the result of our morality or good works. No, it’s only by the grace and mercy of God! As the apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 2, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people…who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” What grace and mercy God has bestowed on us! For in Christ, we are holy and now able to live as thankful servants! May our worship today reflect the joy and gratitude of our hearts as we meet with our holy God! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to enable you to live a holy and godly life, so that your walk and talk as a Christian would be consistent. Pray that the Lord would bless your worship as you come to God’s House today and that He would be glorified. Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

September 28 - Justice and mercy

“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” - 2 Corinthians 5:21 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 The Lord relented from the disaster He had planned for Nineveh. It is not that He ignored justice. God cannot violate His justice. There would still be a day when justice would be served. But at the same time when justice was served, mercy would be given. Justice and mercy meet at the cross. Justice was served by God’s own Son. He paid the full punishment. Instead of punishing sinful, selfish humans, the Father put his righteous anger on his Son, and His Son was willing and able to pay for our sins. He became sin on our behalf, so that we might become “the righteousness of God.” As commentator Jacques Ellul describes, “The just and perfectly holy God condemns, and can do no other, but when a man repents…God suffers for having condemned him. He takes upon himself the evil which was the wages of man’s sin.” The Ninevites were wicked. But we are not better than them. Jonah had to learn that. The same grace that saved the Ninevites is the same grace that saved Jonah and saves us when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you put your trust in Him? Put your faith and hope in Christ! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His offer of salvation through Christ. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 - The questioning of the Lord (Part 2)

“And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” - Jonah 4:11  Scripture reading: Romans 3:23-26 What makes Jonah so angry is that God is not just showing mercy to any old city, but that He is gracious to Israel’s enemies. It is recorded in history that Assyria treated Israel horribly. No empire was as cruel and evil toward Israel as Assyria was. “God,” Jonah is saying, “You are not just sparing any empire. You are sparing an evil empire bent on destroying your people.” God is a God of justice who hates evil. So how can He let these evil and violent people off the hook just because they repent? Does God then not care about evil? We have the privilege of seeing history from this side of the cross. God’s justice indeed demands that every single sin is paid for. As we read in Romans 3, in his divine forbearance, God passed over former sins, to show his righteousness so that “he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (v.26). All sins do get punished. No sin will be overlooked by God, whether big or small. But either the sins have been paid for by the Lord Jesus on the cross, or they will be paid for by ourselves in hell. God does not violate his justice. But on that day of Judgment, mercy will be given to those who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus. Praise God! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He is both perfectly just and merciful and that He has provided a way of salvation through His Son. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 gift of the prophet

“When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”” - Jonah 4:8 Scripture reading: Jonah 4:5-9 The Lord is not done with Jonah yet. The Lord is still appointing, providing and directing. Now He appoints a worm to eat the vine so that it dies. He also appoints a scorching east wind. This was most likely a sirocco wind, which is more common in the Middle East, typically coming from the desert and reaching speeds of up to 100 km an hour. The combination of sun and wind causes Jonah to physically overheat. He also overheats with anger. He exclaims that he would rather die than keep on living. Jonah’s emotions run deep. His blood is boiling. Anger has been defined as a person’s negative whole-body reaction that arises when he/she has made a moral judgement against a perceived wrong. This, in Jonah’s eyes, is morally wrong. It’s not right. He is very angry. The Lord is working here. The worm, the shrivelling of the plant, the scorching east wind…The Lord is going to use it all as a real-life illustration for Jonah. As we’ll discuss more later on, the Lord will use this moment to counsel His angry prophet by asking him a series of questions. The Lord often teaches us lessons about himself or the condition of our own hearts. These lessons regularly come in ‘living illustration’ ways that we would not have chosen ourselves. He does this in his wisdom and love, to help us grow and draw near. Suggestions for prayer Is the Lord giving you a “living illustration” in your life to reveal your sin? If so, ask the Lord to give you the eyes of faith to see it. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 gift of the vine

“Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort.” - Jonah 4:6  Scripture reading: John 4:4-6 In this next section of the book, we read that Jonah goes out, sits down at a place east of the city, makes himself a shelter, sits in its shade and waits to see what will happen to the city. Then the Lord does something very kind for Jonah. He appoints a vine and makes it grow up over Jonah so that it provides shade for him. The word ‘appoints’ is used throughout this book, repeatedly demonstrating how the Lord uses His creation to accomplish His purposes. The Lord God appointing this plant is a miracle. The plant shoots up overnight, likely a big-leafed fleshy-type plant, such as a castor oil plant, a shrub that grows to 12 feet high. Jonah was delighted and very happy with the vine. It was giving him comfort and shade from the hot sun. But did Jonah do anything for the provision of this plant? Did he work for it or earn it? Did the Lord say: “Okay, Jonah, great job and good work out there in Nineveh. Here’s a little prize for all your effort”? No, not at all. Jonah is very flawed. He is arrogant, pouty, and impatient. This vine was a gift. It was grace. It was an unmerited favour. And through this vine, the Lord is preaching grace to an ungracious Jonah. The vine was a demonstration of God’s love, patience and compassion on Jonah, despite his arrogance and sin. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for his kindness to us despite our arrogance and sin. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 - A lesson on repentance

“But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”” - 2 Timothy 2: 19  Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 2:15-19 When explaining what repentance is, we can summarize it as turning, turning around. It means getting off the wrong road and turning on the right road. There are four things that make repentance true and genuine. Repentance involves 1) conviction of sin, 2) sorrow for sin, 3) change in behaviour, and 4) hope in God. Being convicted of your sin means that you realize that what you’ve been doing is not right and that it is evil in the sight of God. To be sorrowful means that you feel badly for having sinned. In ancient times, this sorrow was expressed through fasting and wearing sackcloth (very itchy and scratchy dark-coloured material made from goat or camel hair, used to make grain sacks). The king of Nineveh ordered a fast and wearing sackcloth for all the citizens to show their sorrow for sin. Thirdly, the change in behaviour means a change of course in your ways. For the Ninevites, it meant turning from their evil and violent ways and calling out mightily to God (Jonah 3:8). Lastly, repentance also involves hope in God. The Ninevite king said, “Who knows? God may turn and relent from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish” (Jonah 3:9). Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that we do know that God is willing to turn and relent from his fierce anger, as He has demonstrated this to us at the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ! Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 - The power of God’s word

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” - Isaiah 55:11  Scripture reading: Isaiah 55:6-11, Jonah 3:4-5  You may sometimes have the feeling that the preaching of God’s Word is not powerful or effective. Sometimes, it seems like there is no response in the hearers, either good or bad. When God sends Jonah to Nineveh, he is giving the Ninevites grace by sending them a warning. It’s not a very long or detailed message. Jonah doesn’t hand out theology textbooks or set up a four-week Bible study. The message is simple and clear – it is a message of judgment. And yet, this Word from the Lord is enough to cause a fire of repentance throughout the city. That’s the thing with God’s Word: something always happens. When God speaks, something always happens. To our human eyes, it may not be obvious immediately. But it is a guarantee: God’s Word always succeeds in its purposes. As it’s been said, the same sun that melts wax also hardens clay. God’s Word will either soften hearts or harden hearts – but it will not be ineffectual. In the case of the Ninevites, the result of hearing God’s Word is immediate -- they repent. They believed God, called for a fast and from the greatest to the least of them put on sackcloth (Jonah 3:5). This is a gift and grace of repentance. The Lord is doing this work. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that his Word always accomplishes its purposes. Ask Him to help you see the power of his Word in action. Pray that his Word may lead to a response of faith for the hearers. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 - A new beginning

“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time.” - Jonah 3:1  Scripture reading: Jonah 2:10-3:1-3 After the three days and the three nights in the belly of the fish, the Lord spoke to the fish, and Jonah was burped up on the beach. Jonah is alive! The Lord has been gracious to him: the Lord protected his defiant servant from the storm at sea; He preserved his runaway prophet from drowning; He kept his disobedient messenger safe within the dangerous stomach of the fish. The Lord has preserved Jonah’s life over and over. The Lord saves Jonah for the sake of Jonah’s calling and gives him a new beginning. Notice how Jonah 3:1 is almost an exact repetition of the first words of the book, Jonah 1:1. The story is starting over. How patiently the Lord deals with Jonah, giving him a second chance, an opportunity to begin again. This second re-commissioning is an act of divine mercy and grace by our sovereign God. Jonah 3:1 and these three words – “the second time” – are a picture of the gospel and the story of redemption. With God, it is never a “you-mess-up- so-badly-you-will-never-get-a-second-chance.” The Lord still has work for Jonah to do: He has a mission for Jonah and a plan for Nineveh. Our God is the God of new beginnings and fresh starts, when we come to Him in repentance. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He doesn’t give up on us even though we deserve it. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 - The Lord’s deliverance

“For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas” - Jonah 2:3  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:17-2:10 Jonah 2:1-9 is the prayer Jonah composed while in the belly of the fish. Suddenly it feels like we are in the book of Psalms. As a prophet from Israel, Jonah knew the Psalms very well. These Psalms he had memorized and sung as a child would come to mind to give comfort and encouragement. Jonah gives a reason for his thankfulness: he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord answered his prayer (v. 2). He then finds comfort in God’s sovereignty: Jonah knows that it is God who has put him in the ocean. He says: "You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me…all your waves and breakers swept over me." Jonah believes in the sovereignty of his God. The billows and breakers that almost took my life and were terrifying to me, were not apart from God’s sovereign control. As painful as it was, this discipline is a gift of love from God to Jonah. Rev. 3:19 states: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” Jonah then longs for the temple, for the presence of the Lord. Although earlier he had run from the presence of the Lord, now Jonah longs to be in the presence of the Lord (v. 7). He is experiencing the healing power of repentance. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would be strengthened by believing in God’s sovereignty and control over your life. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 do you mean, you sleeper?

“What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us that we may not perish.” - Jonah 1:6 Scripture reading: Jonah 1:4-7 But where is Jonah in all of this? He's fast asleep. He found some corner at the bottom of the boat where no one could disturb him and fell fast asleep. The frenzy and fear of the sailors contrast with Jonah's slumbering state. God has sent the storm to arrest Jonah, and the storm is God's tool to bring Jonah to his senses. The pagan mariners do not know all this — they think they will go down with the storm. Eventually, the ship's captain finds the sleeping prophet and wakes him up: "What do you mean, you sleeper?" In other words: Are you for real? How can you sleep during a storm like this? The captain continues: “Arise, call on your God, perhaps your God will take notice of us, and we will not perish.” The captain knew they had not "tapped" or “dialled” the right god yet with their prayers, so it was essential that they “tap” and “dial” every possibility. If they "dial" the proper deity, sooner or later, he might have mercy on them and stop the storm. Perhaps Jonah's God was the one behind the storm. The religions of these sailors are false, and therefore their prayers do nothing. Notice, though, that they are more committed to their gods than Jonah is to his God! At least they were praying! Jonah doesn’t pray to his God. Suggestions for prayer Pray for people in your life who may be putting their trust in idols and false gods. Pray that they may turn in faith to the Living God. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 - The finger of God

“But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea so that the ship threatened to break up.” - Jonah 1:4  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:4-6 The Lord responds to Jonah's defiance. Although Jonah had sought to run away from the omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (all-present) and omnipotent (all-powerful) God, the Lord will conduct all the elements of the cosmos against this prophet. Jonah can run, but he can't hide. The use of the word "hurled" here in verse 4 in the original Hebrew is striking. The image is of God hurling a great wind on the sea like a man hurling a javelin with great force. Like a javelin thrower, the Lord hurls the storm on the sea. The storm is so severe that it threatens to break the ship, or as the Hebrew imagery implies, the boat “herself threatened to break apart.” The ship itself became a “nervous wreck.” These waves are so high, the wind is so mighty, and the storm's scream is so loud that the boat itself becomes a nervous wreck and is about to fall apart. No one - the sea, the ship, the sailors, or the runaway prophet can escape the presence of God. There are times when you flee from the presence of God. Can you look back on your life and recall what “storms” God has “hurled” your way so that you would repent and turn back to Him? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for how He pursues His people in His covenantal love. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 - Jesus, the prophet better than Jonah

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” - Romans 5:10 Scripture reading: Jonah 1:3 Jonah is the prophet living in relative comfort and security in Israel. The Lord commands him to leave his comfortable and secure place and do a difficult thing. He must go to Nineveh, the mortal enemies of his people, and preach a word of warning. Jonah resisted: “No, I won’t go.” Jonah, the prophet, ran away from the message because he did not want his enemies to repent. But this is the gospel: that a better Jonah would come in the fullness of time, the better and perfect prophet – Jesus Christ. And where was Jesus before He came to earth? He was in heaven. This, too, was a very comfortable and secure place. He is with His Father in all the glory of heaven. But the Father sends His Son to leave the comfort and the glory of heaven to come to this earth's pollution, perversion, and pain. On earth, He will be utterly rejected, leading a life that will lead to torture, crucifixion, and death. He will become an atoning sacrifice for people who are facing eternal judgement. To this mission, Jesus said: “Yes, I will go.” Jesus, the perfect prophet, perfectly obeyed the will of God. Jesus willingly absorbed judgement upon himself because He wanted His enemies to repent, be saved, and escape this terrible judgement. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord today that a better prophet than Jonah has come. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 - Running from God

“But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” - Jonah 1:3  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:3-6 We might scoff at Jonah for thinking he can run away from the Lord, but we are no better than Jonah. You don’t need to be below deck on a ship, on the sea to be running away from the Lord. Running from God is something we do all the time! God gives us a direct, can’t-be-confused, clear as crystal command, and we run in the diametrically opposite direction! We find all kinds of invisible ways, refined ways, and private ways when we flee from the presence of God. We are all runaway prophets because of our sin. As one pastor has astutely said: “It’s not the parts of Scripture that we find difficult to understand that are the really difficult parts of Scripture. It’s the parts of Scripture that none of us could conceivably misunderstand that are the really difficult parts.” God commands us to not commit adultery and to pursue purity, but we flirt with this sin when we allow ourselves to see images we should not see. God commands us to not bear false testimony against our neighbour, but we gossip about others thinking we have the liberty to do so. God commands us to honour those in authority over us, but we openly grumble about these authorities and find ways to disobey them. What are some other parts of Scripture that are clear to understand from which we run away? Suggestions for prayer Ask that the Lord might work powerfully with His Spirit so that we will be eager and able to obey His clear commandments. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 - A special calling

“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah, son of Amittai.” - Jonah 1:1 Scripture Reading: Jonah 1:1-3 God’s word – His command, His will – came to Jonah. This underscores the incredible privileges that Jonah had. He was “the mouthpiece of God” (see Amos 3:7) and therefore was privileged beyond ordinary believers. Prophets had a nearness to God’s will and a special relationship with the Lord as they were the Lord’s instruments to make His will known to the people. With these privileges came enormous responsibility. The prophet had to get it right. He had to speak it just as God spoke it – whether he liked what God had to say or not, whether the recipients would like it or not. In the Old Testament, the revelation of God was reserved just for prophets. But because of the coming of Christ, we have the Holy Spirit who reveals God’s word to us. We all have access to God’s will equally. We have the entire Bible. What the Old Testament saints saw in types and shadows, we see in full reality and light! Our privileges, likewise, come with great responsibility. Lord’s Day 12 of the Heidelberg Catechism states that we, as Christians, are called to confess Christ’s name. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give you the opportunity to reveal God’s word to someone today and that you would have courage and love as you seek to fulfill the prophetic role the Lord gives to you. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 - A book of warning

“And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”” - Jonah 4:4  Scripture reading: Jonah 4:1-4 The book of Jonah is a book of encouragement and comfort, but it is also a book of warning. The story of Jonah was a warning to the whole nation of Israel during the time in which it was written, and it continues to be a warning to us today. In a sense, Jonah the prophet is representative of the nation of Israel, the covenant people of God. Although Jonah is an Israelite, a member of God’s covenant people, and a recipient of God’s compassion and patience, we notice repeatedly how flawed he is as a person. He is a sinner, and he sins badly throughout this story. Jonah is not the hero of this story. As Jonah is a representative of the covenant people of God, we witness the worst tendencies that tend to form inside God’s covenant people. The events of Jonah’s life are representative of what happened and what happens to God’s people. Those sins can be pride, hard-heartedness, judgmentalism, tribalism, small-mindedness, and the inability to change and grow and be amazed by God’s amazing grace. We need to see ourselves in Jonah, and like him, we must learn the wonder of God’s patience toward us and others and the beauty of the grace of repentance. Suggestions for prayer Pray that through the story of Jonah the Lord would reveal to you your own sin. Are you proud, judgemental, small-minded, and lacking amazement of God’s grace? Pray that the Lord would work repentance in your heart. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 Jonah

We will be looking at Jonah, the likely author of this book, who is a minor prophet, living in the eighth century B.C. during the reign of Jeroboam II who ruled the northern kingdom from 782 to 753 BC (see II Kings 14:23-28). During this era of Israel’s history, the nation was doing well materially, enjoying peace and prosperity, but was not doing well spiritually. The tragic thing about this epoch in Israel’s history is that although the Lord had been good to Israel and had lavished a super-abundance of blessing upon the nation, their expression of gratitude was missing. They had forgotten the Lord’s grace. 2 Kings 14 states that Jeroboam II did evil in the sight of the Lord. The warning of Deuteronomy 6:10-14 hadn’t been remembered and heeded. When they would reach the promised land, get settled, and eventually become prosperous, they would be prone to forget all the blessings and gifts from the Lord. This forgetfulness would show itself in disobedience to the Lord. The book of Jonah is a word of warning to God’s covenant people about the danger of taking God’s grace and favour for granted and failing to live in obedience and thankfulness to Him. Despite this, the Lord still blessed the nation, demonstrating his mercy in this period of prosperity and peace. He was giving Israel time to repent, to turn from their wickedness and turn back to the Lord. Surprisingly Jonah doesn’t hide his failures in this story but puts his sins on full display for all to see. After living through all these events, Jonah became transformed by God’s grace. Eventually, he understood God's superabundant, extravagant, and indelible grace more fully, personally, experientially, and wonderfully and wanted the world to know and love this Gracious God The runaway prophet “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”” - Jonah 1:1-2 “And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”” - Jonah 4:11  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:1-2, 4:11 Who is the story of Jonah about? Who is the leading actor in the book of Jonah? Who sets the stage, dominates the scenes and directs the events? Our first impulse might be to say “Jonah,” for indeed, the title of the book is attributed to his name. The events of this story are focused on the life and times of this prophet from Israel. If you ask a roomful of children about the main character in Jonah, they might exclaim, “the fish!” Undoubtedly, the fish makes the story memorable, and it’s a “whale of a tale”, but the fish is a mere puppet in the hands of the puppeteer. What is the Lord doing in the book of Jonah? What is God saying? The first opening lines direct us to that question, as God has the first word (1-2) and the last word in this book (4:11). God is the one who is in sovereign control, and He is moving and orchestrating all these events. The first phrase in the book of Jonah “the word of the Lord came” is a common phrase used in the Old Testament to indicate that God is saying something important to his people. God has an important message for us in the book of Jonah. It teaches us about the sovereignty of God, His incredible love and the heart of God for lost people. Are we ready to hear and apply what the Lord says to us through Jonah? Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would receive the Word of the Lord in faith and belief. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional 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 - Still sacred

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” - 1 John 5:21  Scripture reading: Jude 17-25 What a strange ending to a letter? After the stirring climax of the previous verses, shouldn’t there have been a doxology of praise from John like we appreciate in Handel’s “Messiah,” and with which many of the other New Testament letters end? But, this? Yes, this! For what is happening here is a logical progression from the previous verses, tying it all up. The Son of God will keep His own, but that doesn’t take away from the responsibility we have. There was a very real danger. That’s been clear as we’ve gone through 1st John. But as to what is exactly meant by “idols” we don’t know. It seems the apostle had a particular danger in mind, perhaps it was the pagan idolatries that flooded Ephesus. But it could also be false pictures in their minds planted by false teachers. That’s a stumbling block which would continue to plague the early church. But the Lord speaks. “Little children” John writes, and he hasn’t used this expression for nearly two chapters. However, in ending his letter, he does it with the Lord’s tenderness and affection. Just as a mother tells her child to be careful, the Lord tells His children to watch for danger. He doesn’t want us to be hurt. How much isn’t this message for us also? What are those idols keeping you from truly worshipping and serving? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His promise to keep and bless us; ask Him to defeat what blocks us from His blessing. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

August 26 -They just took off!

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” - 1 John 2:19  Scripture reading: 1 John 2:18-27 In any kind of team sport, there needs to be a combined commitment. Imagine turning up to play for a sports team – and you’re the only one there! How much don’t you feel this just to be even one player short? We feel let down. Can you feel that same sadness with the first five words in our text above: “They went out from us…”? Because we treasure what we are in Christ, we’re deeply disappointed when folk just walk out. Don’t you then wonder: Was it something I said or did? When this happened in the early church John was quick to reassure. In this situation it wasn’t about us. You see, “They were not of us.” This teaches us a vital fact about the nature of the Church, for not all who worship the Lord with us on Sunday are necessarily part of the invisible church – those who truly believe. And then it’s just as well they are gone. They would not have been a positive, spiritual part of the congregation. However, we remain. God is faithful. He preserves us in His grace. As Hebrews 3:14 declares: “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” When numbers seem low, be all the more thankful for those who are there. Suggestions for prayer Ask for God’s comfort with the loss of those who’ve left the fellowship. Thank Him for genuine believers staying. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

August 25 - Has the time come?

“…and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” - 1 John 2:18b  Scripture reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Have you ever been in a town or city centre and heard a street preacher? “The end is nigh!” he calls out, “Repent and believe, before it’s too late!” Dressed conservatively and using King James English, positioned on busy street corners or open park spaces, they can often become the butt of jokes and public derision. In one way, though, he is quite right. Despite their off-putting manner, their theology which can be quite unreformed, their warning is yet relevant. The end is actually very, very nigh! In fact, the end is closer than it has ever been before in human history. How much don’t the signs show this to be so? If it was so in John’s time with the presence of many antichrists, it is even more so now. You see, antichrists teach against Christ. They deny His work of atonement. While we might think this should be easy to notice, it is actually coming in the most subtle shift away from focussing on what God has done in His Son to what you can be in God. Is the “alone” in “Christ alone” dissipating? What the reformers saw in the false teaching of the church in their time hasn’t taken a holiday today. But have you? Do you know what time it is? Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for a spirit of discernment to test the spirits of the age. Thank God that His Word and His Spirit are always true. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

August 24 - Where did the time go?

“Children, it is the last hour…” - 1 John 2:18a  Scripture reading: 2 Peter 3:10-15 Isn’t it true that one thing we always seem to be running out of is time? There is the last rush to catch the school bus, a homework assignment that should have been handed in yesterday and the job at work which needs overtime to get it done on schedule. Where did the time go? As the saying goes: ‘Time lost won’t be found again!” As we reflect on our text, this is so true. The early church very much lived with the urgency of so little time being left before the Lord’s return. Time was of the essence and they knew there wasn’t much of it left. How many times in the New Testament letters weren’t they exhorted to make their time count? Perhaps we know better now. After all, Christ hasn’t come back for two thousand years. Yet, can we, of all the ages of believers, afford to be lax? Isn’t the time we’re in right now so much closer to Christ’s second coming? Seriously! If it’s already been two thousand years, is there much longer to go? Let’s also see this personally. We might live, Lord willing, for eighty years, or perhaps longer. But that’s not long. The years quickly fly and don’t they get much harder the older you are? Time is running out. How are you getting ready to meet your Maker? Suggestion for prayer Praise God that He’s working out His plan for our future and plead that we claim every moment for Him. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

August 23 - He seemed so genuine!

“There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.” - 1 John 5:16b  Scripture reading: Acts 5:1-11 This is a situation that’s hard to write about. To be told that there are those in the church who don’t belong; indeed, they shouldn’t even be prayed for. Plus, when God has nothing to say to a person, they have no hope! Calvin described this as nothing less than apostasy, where men completely cut themselves off from God. These ones were not part of us. Perhaps they were attracted by certain ideals – such as the self-attainment of Docetism. But they came in for the wrong reason; it wasn’t the gift of faith they had. For the early Christians this was difficult to understand. These people had seemed so genuine. They had been so full of vigour – especially in supporting that extra-holiness found in Docetism. Some had even been teachers. Yet they walked right away and so they showed they weren’t part of the fellowship, for in rejecting the Son, they turned their backs on life itself. Ananias and Sapphira showed this vividly. And it wasn’t because only a portion of the land sold went to the Lord, but that they pretended to be something they weren’t. They lived the lie – and so they were of the Father of Lies. Sadly, they were never of us. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the truth is what matters most, and not our friendships. Thank God that despite those leaving He is always with us. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

August 18 - Still shining?

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” - 1 John 4:11  Scripture reading: 1 John 4:7-12 We have touched upon what love is. We have seen that it begins first in seeing ourselves as sinners. We confess to our utter unworthiness. Before God, we have seen ourselves as the most wretched of all people. We have acknowledged that we should be punished by God. In His justice, He would be quite right to clearly convict us. Yet we’re saved! By faith we are freely justified through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. He sacrificed Himself for us. Nevertheless, being claimed by God also means some serious changes need to take place. The Good News cannot be held back, but must be categorically demonstrated in all its saving power. It must live up to its name. We love those next to us. Having been rescued from this world’s self-love, we seek to give as we’ve been given. You see, you don’t have the Gospel unless it’s being shown. Like the Lord’s picture of light in Matthew 5:15-16, we cannot hide it. Instead, it must be put on a stand so that all in the house may see. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to keep working on what needs to be changed in you. Thank God for what He has done in you and through you. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

August 17 - May the real force be with you!

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” - 1 John 3:18  Scripture reading: 1 John 3:11-20 We are never on our own. This may seem an obvious enough statement. Of course, we’re never on our own! Even retreating to an uninhabited island means we have to be connected to someone. The apostle John recognizes this. He, however, doesn’t see relationships as something to put up with; rather he has a positive message for it. He says they are opportunities for love: Real love. Not something we might feel or say is good, but something deeper and meaningful. He ties it in with a foundation – “in truth” he describes it. What could that be but the truth of the Gospel? What Jesus Christ did in His sacrificial death is the only proper motivation. It’s only on that basis that there are “deeds”. Take a minister, for example, preaching a sermon on the eighth commandment. He preaches it with a fiery conviction. Yet, that same afternoon he casually takes an apple from his neighbour’s tree. All those pious words counted for nothing. Unless the motivation which generates our words also works a redeeming grace in our lives, we are spiritually useless. It’s this redeeming grace which makes all the difference in our relationships. It means what we say, is what we are. For our brother or sister, or neighbour, that’s what really counts. Then the Holy Spirit – the Real Force for good – is with us and in us. Suggestions for prayer Seek repentance for your acts of hypocrisy. Pray for genuine love to break through all our relationships. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

August 16 - No limit!

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” - 1 John 2:2  Scripture reading: 1 John 5:1-5 The heresy of Docetism had many of the early Christians misled. Instead of that rich, nutritious feeding upon God’s Word, they had become caught up in seeking fulfilment through their own achievements. The wonderful, liberating news about the Son of God becoming man had been deliberately ignored. John responds by lifting those believers’ eyes above themselves. Instead of looking down to what is so earthly, so self-seeking, he urges them to look up: “He” – Jesus Christ, Son of God – “is the propitiation for our sins…” In the Old Testament, it’s recorded how often the Israelites rebelled against God. Many times they complained, saying to Moses that they’d been brought out of Egypt only to die in the desert. The Lord wasn’t impressed. On one of the occasions, he severely punished them by sending venomous snakes amongst them. They bit the people and many died. The people, in repentance, sought their covenant God’s relief. And the Lord did provide it through a bronze snake placed upon a pole, becoming God’s power for healing for all who looked to it. A true healing is also there for John’s readers who have slipped away, enticed by Satan. It is a healing so immense that not only will it be enough for them, but also for the sins of the whole world. If only they would look up! Suggestions for prayer Plead for God’s Spirit to keep you looking up and plead for others to also be humbled so that they may join with us. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

August 15 - The cook behind the meal

“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” - 1 John 3:8a  Scripture reading: 1 John 3:4-10 ‘You are what you eat’ is a quote many of us know. And in certain ways it is definitely true. Those reared on limited food group meals suffer the result of that later in life. This is why governments spend much money on promoting a variety of foods from different groups. Mums are encouraged to be adventurous in their cooking. Moreover, this quote is also true spiritually. We have touched on this. But let’s now go beyond the food itself. Let’s take ourselves a step back before the eating of what is a truly unfulfilling meal. Let’s walk into the kitchen. We want to see who it is that could dare to feed us this way. What’s the name of the chef ignoring the rules for a healthy spiritual diet? No need to guess any further, is there? The devil has surreptitiously taken over the stove. We find him cackling to himself as he busily prepares the ingredients of worthlessness, hate and selfishness. No wonder no one’s getting healthy – it’s junk food at its very worst! What we need right now is another kitchen with another chef, where the food is up-building, positive and strengthening. There our taste buds are finely tuned and our bodies renewed. We need to feed upon God’s Word. We need what’s inside Christ to be inside us. Suggestions for prayer Plead the help of God’s Spirit to keep us reading His Word. Moreover, let that Word stir us to challenge our fellow believers as well. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

August 10 - And keep on growing

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

Daily devotional

August 9 - The first word

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

Daily devotional

August 8 - Living under the light

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

Daily devotional

August 7 - Beyond myself

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

Daily devotional

August 2 - My little children

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

Daily devotional

August 1 - Introduction to John

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

Daily devotional

July 31 - Time and purpose

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

Daily devotional

July 30 - Food

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

Daily devotional

July 25 - Friendship

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

Daily devotional

July 24 - Faithfulness

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

Daily devotional

July 23 - A brother offended

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

Daily devotional

July 22 - A merry heart

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

Daily devotional

July 17 - All things for the Lord

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

Daily devotional

July 16 - A way that seems right

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

Daily devotional

July 15 - Hopes

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

Daily devotional

July 14 - Idleness and diligence

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

Daily devotional

July 9 - Many words

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

Daily devotional

July 8 - Covering sins

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

Daily devotional

 July 7 - Escaping the snare

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

Daily devotional

July 6 - Keeping the heart

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

Daily devotional

July 1 - Introduction to Proverbs

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

Daily devotional

June 30 - Renewing your strength

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

Daily devotional

June 29 - Wait on the Lord

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

Daily devotional

June 28 - Antidote for fainting

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

Daily devotional

June 23 - Foolishness of idolatry

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

Daily devotional

June 22 - Comparing the nations to God

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

Daily devotional

June 21 - Divine wisdom

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

Daily devotional

June 20 - Divine Measurement

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

Daily devotional, Uncategorised

June 15 - He gathers the Lambs

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

Daily devotional

June 14 - The Lord is my shepherd

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

Daily devotional

June 13 - Behold your God

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

Daily devotional

June 12 - His enduring word

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

Daily devotional

June 7 - Speak comfort to Jerusalem

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

Daily devotional

June 6 - Her warfare is ended

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

Daily devotional

June 5 - The Spirit as wind and fire

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

Daily devotional

June 4 - A sobering message

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

Daily devotional

May 30 - Growing in grace, knowledge, and gratitude

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

Daily devotional

May 29 - Gratitude for God’s grace and peace

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

Daily devotional

May 28 - Praise from a grateful heart

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

Daily devotional

May 27 - Living as grateful adopted children

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

Daily devotional

May 22 - The law and our expression of gratitude

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

Daily devotional

May 21 - Living a life of gratitude

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

May 19 - The immeasurable grace of our triune God

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

Daily devotional

May 14 - Grace for the chief of sinners

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

May 12 - Grace given us before the beginning of time

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

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