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Daily devotional

May 11 - Grace far greater than our sin

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” - Luke 5:31-32 

Scripture reading: Psalm 32:1-11; Luke 5:27-32

The devil specializes in guilt. He loves to bring up your past; he loves to point to your sins, your transgressions and iniquity. But rather than being overwhelmed by his accusations, you can find great comfort in knowing that Jesus came into the world to call sinners to repentance.

It was Thomas Watson who pointed out, “Till sin be bitter; Christ will not be sweet.” It is when we recognize our sin, confess it to the LORD and trust in Christ alone to save us, that we discover the greatness of God's grace. We must come to the point that David describes in Psalm 32: “I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v. 5).

Another ploy of the evil one is to tempt us to think that our works of righteousness make us acceptable to God. That ploy worked well on the Pharisees, and there are many today who are trusting in their works instead of in Christ, just as there are many who think their guilt is too great for God's grace to cover.

But as we see our guilt and confess it, may you and I also rejoice in the grace of our God, trusting the promise of His Word that “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

Suggestions for prayer

If you have never truly confessed your sins, prayerfully do so with the assurance that Christ came not for the healthy, but those sick – even dead – in their sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-3). Trust Him and thank Him that His grace is far greater than your sin!

Pastor Ted Gray is a retired minister in the United Reformed Church of North America. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.

Daily devotional

May 6 - Our sinful nature enticed by the law

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

Daily devotional

May 5 - Guilt and our sins of omission

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

Daily devotional

May 4 - Sinners and sin

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

Daily devotional

 May 3 - The problem is within

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

Daily devotional

April 28 - The ploys of false-god Pharaoh

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

Daily devotional

April 27 - The initial resistance of false-god pharaoh

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

Daily devotional

April 26 - God further prepares the deliverer

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

Daily devotional

April 25 - God further prepares the deliverer

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

Daily devotional

April 20 - No reason for reluctance

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

Daily devotional

April 19 - No reason for reluctance

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

Daily devotional

April 18 - No reason for reluctance

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

Daily devotional

April 17 - The God of the living

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

April 11 - God prepares a deliverer: Lessons from Egypt

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

Daily devotional

April 10 - God prepares a deliverer: Lessons from Egypt

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

Daily devotional

April 9 - God prepares the deliverer: Lessons in Egypt

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

Daily devotional

April 4 - God prepares deliverance through a special infancy

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

Daily devotional

April 3 - God’s promises prevail over evil

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

Daily devotional

April 2 - Signs of hope for succeeding generations

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

Daily devotional

April 1 - Introduction to the book of Exodus

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

March 26 - Preserving in obedience by faith in the promises

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

Daily devotional

March 25 - Preserving in obedience by faith in the promises

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

March 19 - People loved the darkness rather than the light

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

Daily devotional

March 18 - Every knee shall bow

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

Daily devotional

March 17 - Love your enemies and do good

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

Daily devotional

March 16 - When pride comes, then comes disgrace

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

Daily devotional

March 11 - God lures his enemies to their destruction

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

March 9 - Repentance leads to reconciliation

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

Daily devotional

March 8 - History that prophesies

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

Daily devotional

March 3 - Repentance is a condition of fellowship with God

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

Daily devotional

March 2 - What fellowship has light with darkness? 

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

Daily devotional

March 1 - Introduction to the book of Joshua 

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

Daily devotional

February 28 - The final words

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

Daily devotional

February 23 - The Lord’s challenge

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

Daily devotional

February 22 - Bring in the full tithes

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

Daily devotional

February 21 - Robbing yourself? 

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

Daily devotional

February 20 - Will a man rob God?

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

Daily devotional

February 15 - My messenger

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

Daily devotional

 February 14 - Guard yourself

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

Daily devotional

February 13 - Faithful and committed

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

Daily devotional

February 12 - The LORD is faithful to his covenant

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

Daily devotional

February 7 - A proper attitude toward God 

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

Daily devotional

February 6 - Come with true worship

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

Daily devotional

February 5 - Our father and master

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

Daily devotional

February 4 - God’s love declared

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

Daily devotional

January 30 - New creatures

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

Daily devotional

January 29 - A new song

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

Daily devotional

January 28 - Living the new life

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

Daily devotional

January 27 - The world’ smallest but largest trouble maker

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

Daily devotional

January 23 - The danger of backsliding

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

Daily devotional

January 22 - Be an ambassador

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

Daily devotional

January 21 - Oh give thanks to the Lord

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

Daily devotional

January 20 - Praying thy kingdom come

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

Daily devotional

January 15 - The joy of the Lord is our strength

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

Daily devotional

January 14 - Dealing with our desires

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

Daily devotional

January 13 - Look to Jesus

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

January 7 - Faith is a good fight

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

Daily devotional

January 6 - This will be a year of battle

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

Daily devotional

January 5 - He calls me by name

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

Daily devotional

January 4 - Exalt the name of the Lord

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

Daily devotional

December 30 - No reputation

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

Daily devotional

December 29 - Wise men

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

Daily devotional

December 28 - A troubled city 

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

Daily devotional

December 27 - Anna’s evangelism

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

Daily devotional

December 22 - His name is Jesus

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

Daily devotional

December 21 - A miracle child

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

Daily devotional

December 20 - Called out of Egypt

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

Daily devotional

December 19 - A ruler from Bethlehem

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

Daily devotional

December 14 - A house, father, and son

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

Daily devotional

December 13 - Israel needs a King

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

Daily devotional

December 12 - The star of Jacob

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

Daily devotional

December 11 - Standing in the breach 

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

Daily devotional

December 6 - God will provide

“Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”” - Genesis 22:8  Scripture reading: Genesis 22:1-24 Abraham and Sarah had waited decades for a son. Though they had been led by the Lord and blessed with possessions, the future seemed bleak without an heir. Yet Abraham believed in the Lord’s covenant promises (Genesis 15:6), and in due time they were blessed with the birth of Isaac. He filled their home with joy, but then that difficult day of Abraham’s testing came. God said to him, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2). Obediently, Abraham set out, even leaving early in the morning! It seems unthinkable for us; how could a father sacrifice his son? But Abraham went with faith in his heart. He trusted God’s promises that Isaac would be his heir. Hebrews 11:19 tells us that Abraham had concluded: “...that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.” Abraham walked up that mountain because he had faith, faith that God would preserve his son, confidence in the Resurrection and the Life. He had faith that God would provide a substitute. By his obedience, Abraham proved that he had the same faith that we are called to: faith that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God and the Lamb of God. Many people have a deep sense of guilt; they think they need to sacrifice to cover their sins. Christ, however, has been provided as the perfect substitute for sinners! Suggestion for prayer Pray for forgiveness for sins of unbelief and for strong faith as you face trials or tests. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 5 - The comfort of rest

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

Daily devotional

December 4 - The seed promise

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

Daily devotional

December 3 - All the scriptures

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

Daily devotional

November 28 - The assembly assembled

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly1 of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” - Hebrews 12:22-24  Scripture reading: Revelation 7:9-17 What a day of rejoicing that will be! The saints of God from all times and places gathered in one multitude in the presence of God and the Lamb, lifting up their hearts and voices in loud cries that adore the God of our salvation. What a day of rejoicing that will be! Our weekly worship is a foretaste of that and we should experience it as heaven on earth. It is a microcosm of heavenly worship. We gather with the saints in the presence of God to declare His glory. Of course, the saints are not yet the saints made perfect. Of course, our worship is still tainted by sin. Of course, our vision of God in all His Triune glory is still not as sharp as it will be. After all, we now see by faith; then, by sight. Of course, we come to corporate worship from lives that are marred by living in this sin-cursed world. What we experience each Lord’s Day is not exactly what we will experience. However, it is the closest experience we have to what the saints will one day experience when Christ returns in all His glory. That should make us cherish the weekly assembly of the saints. That our experience now differs from what we shall experience then, should make us long for the coming again of our Saviour when He will finally usher us into the presence of God and say, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the joy of corporate worship. Remember in prayer the saints scattered throughout the world who will one day be gathered together with us before the throne of God. Pray that the Lord Jesus may come quickly so that we may worship God in perfection. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 27 - Judgement!

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

Daily devotional

November 26 - A weeping prophet

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

Daily devotional

November 25 - The restorer of fortunes

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

Daily devotional

November 20 - Seeing with our ears

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” - Psalm 119:18  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 6:8-19 To the king of Syria’s thinking, the only person standing between him and victory over Israel was Elisha. Remove him and victory was his. This particular episode is a single battle in the great war between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, and this is the same strategy Satan would later use against Christ. Take Christ down and victory was his. That’s why all the forces and strategies of Satan are unleashed against our Lord. Unsuccessful in that, Satan continues to fight against the believers, the soldiers of Christ. We might not see him, but he is the one behind all the trials and temptations of our lives. It isn’t only the invisible Satan we must see. Like Elisha’s servant, we need the Lord to open our eyes to see the power and victory of God. As the servant saw the mountains full of horses and chariots, we need to see that “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). We need to see the unseen victor Who shall one day be the undisputed Lord of lords. We need to see the unseen enemy and the unseen victor. How do we see the unseen? It’s not the optometrist we need, but the audiologist. We see through our ears. We learn of the schemes of our enemy and the victory of our God in Christ as we listen to the reading and preaching of the Word of God with ears that have been opened by the Spirit of God. Suggestions for prayer Remember to lift up your Pastor as tomorrow he enters the pulpit to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. Pray that you will hear and be encouraged by the recounting of the wonderful works of God. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 19 - No axedent

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

Daily devotional

November 18 - Judan-like, anti-grace gehazis

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

Daily devotional

November 17 - Without money and without price

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

Daily devotional

November 12 - Give us this day our daily bread

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” - John 6:35 Scripture reading: John 6:1-14; 2 Kings 4:42-44 What a tremendous encouragement it must have been to the prophets to see this man from Baal Shalishah come with 20 loaves of barley bread and some heads of new grain, not just because they were hungry, but because there still was a believer who honoured the Lord with his first fruits. The fellow came from Baal-Shalishah, evidently a place where Baal was treasured. You wouldn’t expect that, would you? What a wonderful reminder that God always has His people, even in unlikely places. But if the man was generous, God was even more so. The man’s gift was inadequate, but God used it much like Jesus used the young boy’s inadequate supply of bread and fish to feed the multitude. Despite his protests, the servant gives it to the men to eat; they ate and had some left. God doesn’t just give enough grace to scrape by. He has provided the Bread of Life, and whoever comes to Christ shall not hunger. Indeed, from His fullness we receive grace upon grace (John 1:16). For sin there is abundant cleansing; for weakness, abundant strength; for discouragement, abundant hope. There is no limit to the grace of God in Jesus Christ. What do you need grace for today? A guilty conscience? Temptation? Weakness? There is grace available — loads of it. Ask Him for it. After the feeding in John’s gospel, the people exclaimed: “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” (John 6:14). Indeed. And as the hymn says, “More than all in Him I find.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that the God of all grace would give us the humility to ask Him for the grace we need. And pray that the world might know that a Prophet has come to offer Himself for hungry souls. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 11 - Let’s stew over this

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

Daily devotional

November 10 - The beautiful, the bitter and beyond

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

Daily devotional

November 9 - The sadness of life

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

Daily devotional

November 4 - The revelation of trials

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” - Romans 15:4 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 3:4-12 Mesha of Moab became sheepish about paying Israel tribute. So, he rebelled. Jehoram musters Israel and invites Jehoshaphat to join him. Evidently, the king of Edom was compelled to join. The three kings hope to attack through the Desert of Edom. After seven days, they run out of water, a very bad thing to have happen in the desert. Notice the response of Jehoshaphat and Jehoram, particularly as they are contrasted with each other. The same situation confronts both. Jehoram responds in despair and fear, accusing the Lord (v. 10). Jehoshaphat has faith. He turns to the Lord and wants to hear His word (v. 11). Difficult circumstances don’t cause our heart to act in a sinful way; distress reveals our heart. The "real you" shows up when things aren’t going well. It is no wonder that Jehoram despairs. He has a guilty conscience. Though he mentions the Lord’s name, he doesn’t know Him. It is possible to think that you are on good terms with God until a trial in your life comes. Then you begin to think harshly of God and accuse Him. Your ‘faith’ is shown for what it really is, a sham, as you cower in fear. Jehoshaphat’s faith turns him to the Lord. He wants to hear from his God. This is the experience of the child of God. The Lord comforts His people in their distress and ministers to them through His word. Has the word of God ever brought you solace and comfort in a time of trial? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for trials that enable you to see the sins that you harbor so that you might seek the grace that both forgives and transforms. Thank Him for His Son Who always trusted the Lord. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 3 - The Lord’s assessment

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

Daily devotional

November 2 – Covenant bears

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

Daily devotional

November 1 - Introduction to Elisha

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

Daily devotional

October 27 – Being patient with our brothers and sisters

...the judge is standing at the door – James 5:9 Scripture reading: James 5:9-10 Living in this world with all its brokenness and pleasures, we, as Christians, can often think differently in how we are to conduct our lives day to day. We may see other Christians possessing goods and doing things we deem unwise, and wonder if they are really living for the Lord and His Kingdom? We cannot say they are sinning, yet question their loyalty to the Lord. In doing so we can easily grumble and judge our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We may think they are not doing enough for the church and for the Kingdom of God or that they have it easy while I am suffering in my service to the Lord. But if there is no sin we can see, we must leave it with the Lord, who as the Judge standing at the door, is also watching us. Being at the door means He is close at hand and will take care of it in His time. This is what the prophets of the Old Testament had to do regularly. They preached the Word of the Lord and then had to wait on the Lord. They had to be patient, trusting that God would bring about His purposes through His Word. We must be patient as we deal with each other as God’s children. Speaking God’s Word to each other in love without grumbling or judging does not mean we give up on discipline in the church. Rather, it is done with patience, not grumbling or judging, but of love. Suggestions for prayer That we would have patience with each other, trusting that the Lord is at the door. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 26 – Be patient until the Lord’s return

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord – James 5:7 Scripture reading: James 5:7-8 God’s children at times suffer at the hands of people, even people who call themselves Christians, who flatter themselves while condemning and even murdering the righteous. This is why James tells us we need to be patient. Our reward will come, and our Lord will punish in His time. James asks us to think of the farmer who needs to wait for the fruit of the harvest. He works hard for the harvest but must also wait for the hand of the Lord to bring the rain so that the plants will germinate and then grow up so that he can harvest a crop. We, like farmers, are to keep our minds on the harvest time, when Jesus comes back, living for His honor and kingdom, doing His will. This is hard at times because we watch others live for the pleasures of this world and they often seem to be having a wonderful time while we sacrifice. On top of this, those around us can ridicule us for not living for the things of this world. We need to have patience, trusting that as we live for our King, we will one day see Him in His glory, welcoming us into heavenly wonder and the new earth where all the troubles of this world will be gone. At that time, we will see those who lived for the pleasures of this world run in terror from the Lord while we will run to Him as our loving Saviour and Lord. Suggestions for prayer Ask for patience to live for our Lord, remembering what He did for us and what He has in store for us as His beloved brothers and sisters. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 25 – Seeing the emptiness of worldly treasures

You have fattened your hearts in the day of slaughter – James 5:5 Scripture reading: James 5:1-6 James is writing to Christians in this passage with the understanding that within the family of God, some think more of the riches of this world than the riches we have in Christ. James is warning us that if our hearts and minds value the riches and luxuries of this world above what we have in Christ, we, with them, will be burned up in the fires of hell. If we value the riches of this world too much, we will not only turn our hearts from God but will also allow others to be hurt or starve so we can have our riches and luxuries. James warns us that there is a Judgement Day coming. He compares those who live in luxury and self-indulgence as pigs being fattened up for the day of slaughter: Judgement Day. If we are fattening ourselves up on the luxuries and pleasures of this world, the joy of salvation will not look lovely to us. We are called to set apart Christ in our hearts, living in the joy of our salvation, and always being ready to talk of the hope we have in Christ with great patience, showing care for our neighbours. May we not let the luxuries and riches of this world control our hearts so that we turn away from the treasure we have as Christians. If we do, James says we will be capable of murdering innocent people in order that we can have our luxuries and pleasures. Suggestions for prayer That the joy of salvation would so enrich our hearts and minds that the lustre and beauty of worldly wealth and luxuries will not draw our hearts away from God and His ways. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

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