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Daily devotional

June 22 - The peace of knowing who we are 

“And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” - Luke 23:41 

Scripture reading: Nehemiah 9:33-38

This long confession of sin by the Israelites in Nehemiah 9 has so much to teach us about a relationship with God and trusting God in this life. When we know our good God and know our own ugly sin, can we still trust God, even when He allows trouble and hardship for us? The Israelites knew the horrors of war; many lost grandparents, aunts and uncles and grew up with deep wounds due to the exile into Babylon.

When we face such things the temptation is to be bitter and to grumble. But notice their confession in verse 33: “Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully, and we have acted wickedly.” There is neither entitlement nor anger against God, but trust. God was mercifully working in this.

What we need is for the Lord to help us be at peace in our situations and to trust His mercy going forward. What do we do when we feel we have been wronged, when we feel we are not getting a fair deal, when we suspect God does not care about us and our situation? Remember who we are and who our God is. Don’t judge God by our perceptions and feelings. Rather, trust God. He is holy. This means God is not sloppy in the ways He cares for His children; God does not put His children through trials for no reason. God is good and wise, and we are like restless children. When we are still and know He is our God, we can have peace.

Suggestions for prayer

Pray for peace in your own heart. Take time also to pray for people around you who have faced serious hardships, that they may continue to trust God.

Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.

Daily devotional

June 17 - To glorify God 

“And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her.” - Psalm 87:5–6 Scripture reading: Nehemiah 6:17-7:73 The walls were not for show. Gatekeepers were charged to keep corruption and compromise out. In our lives, too, we need to stand firm against corruption and compromise. But that is not the end. The goal is that sinners may worship God. But how does one know they really can dwell in the city where God makes His name to dwell and where they worship God at the temple? I have known people who are happy to come on a Saturday and help with church cleaning or to serve at a soup kitchen, but they feel they can’t come into the sanctuary on a Sunday and worship with God’s people. To encourage the people that this is indeed their city too, Nehemiah pulls out the records of genealogy that had been recorded years before (compare with Ezra 2). As family names are read, the people are reminded this is about more than a wall; they have been brought back from exile so that they may worship God. The list of names reminds the people that this is part of the inheritance promised to them, and they have a calling to live as those who belong to the city of Jerusalem and the work of God. What happens when you think of what God has done in your life? What people and events came together so that you came to know the Lord? Let this encourage you that God is indeed at work in your life and calling you to live a life that worships Him. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to fill your heart with thankful praise. Pray that as we turn from sin, we give more and more glory to God. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 16 - A refuge of worship 

“So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. And when all our enemies heard of it, all the nations around us were afraid and fell greatly in their own esteem, for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.” - Nehemiah 6:15–16  Scripture reading: Psalm 48:1-14 The wall was up! It took just over seven weeks. Long weeks enduring opposition and strife of all sorts, but they persevered and suddenly the walls were raised. Remember Sanballat saying they would never do it? Remember Tobiah saying that when a fox climbs on the wall it will crumble? Reflect and see: this is the work of God done with the help of God. We think of the church today, too; how many despise the church and mock the church. Maybe people say you are a fool for going to church, or they say your church is a joke because people sing off-key, or you don’t have nice programs, and certain people are not very polished. Take comfort. Since the beginning, God’s work has been ridiculed and persecuted. But this is God’s work. Do you see the goodness? Today you might be tempted to dwell on the trouble that the church faces. I encourage you to think about this as the beautiful work of God and a place where God meets with His people. In the New Testament the church is called the bride of Christ. She is despised by the world, but to God she is cherished and beautiful. Not because she is so amazing in herself, but because God bought her with Jesus’ blood. See this and joyfully serve the Lord, and in the end the enemies will see, and they will fear and one day bow before Christ. (Heads up: Tomorrow’s Scripture reading is a long one. If you are typically rushed on a Monday, take some time to read chapter 7 today). Suggestions for prayer Consider where God has been at work in your life and in the church, and praise God. Ask the Lord to open your eyes to the good things He has done. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 15 - What if God’s servant lies? 

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” - 1 John 4:1  Scripture reading: Nehemiah 6:10-14, Psalm 31 If the only thing Nehemiah fears is the Lord, then why not pay a prophet to lead Nehemiah astray? This was the new strategy to bring Nehemiah to ruin. If he would go into the temple, he would sin against God, he would lose the support of the people, and he would no longer be able to lead. And what a good strategy. Nehemiah did not know Shemaiah was paid to mislead him. These verses remind us to know the law of God and to test all other words against it. On the surface the advice seems good and wise. One might say that it is better to go into the temple than to die. But Nehemiah knew that what Shemaiah told him was against God’s Word. I have heard ministers and elders give terrible advice. Essentially, they told certain young people that holiness does not matter, and that they may sin that grace may abound. Bible teachers in schools and colleges have advised their students to ignore the Word of God and go by what the world says instead. This advice, if followed, would lead people to eternal condemnation in hell. This is serious stuff. This is why Nehemiah prays, placing his opponents and the false prophets into the hands of God. Again, we are reminded to look to the Lord and lean on the Lord, trusting our troubles to Him. The refuge we need is in the Lord. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the goodness of His Word. Pray for preachers and teachers of God’s Word, that they will never compromise in their calling. Pray for wisdom and discernment to tell the difference between true and false prophets. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 14 - Conspiracy! 

“Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” - Psalm 144:1 Scripture reading: Nehemiah 6:1-9 Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Doing the work of the Lord and fighting sin is good, sweet and satisfying. Yet, it is not without trouble and opposition. The book of Nehemiah makes this plain. Nehemiah was following God’s lead every step of the way, and yet it seems that every step of the way there was opposition and trouble of one sort or another. Here comes the three malicious opponents to the work. They flatter Nehemiah by inviting him to an important meeting. But Nehemiah knows they want to harm him, so he deflects the enticement. Then they shift strategies and claim Nehemiah is building the wall in defiance to Persia and wants to make himself king. This is all a lie. Have you ever been accused of having wicked motives for doing something good? The intent of the accusation was to make Nehemiah afraid to do what is right. They will make him fear he is doing something wrong, and fear facing the wrath of King Artaxerxes. It is in these times we need to know that we answer first to God. Fear the Lord, not people nor mobs! Looking to the Lord, Nehemiah is able to call the bluff and press on with the work. And how does he do that? Again, by coming to God in prayer. We are so weak, we are vulnerable and we often fear the worst. But our God is a rock, and in Him we are strengthened. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the victory He has already won for us through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Pray for strength as you battle the three enemies of the world, our own flesh, and the devil. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 9 - Halfway there (living on a prayer) 

“And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.” - Nehemiah 4:9 Scripture reading: Nehemiah 4:6-14 Whoever said good fences make good neighbours was not thinking about Nehemiah. The wall was raised. They were halfway there. Israel now had angry neighbours in every direction, threatening to attack Jerusalem, and no allies. Artaxerxes might defend them, but it would take months for an army to get there. The people of God needed (again) to pray. Never undervalue prayer. We feel weak or overwhelmed, helpless and alone, but John 4:4 reminds us, “He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world.” Call out to God for mercy, for support. The Israelites were overwhelmed. The work was stalled because the workers had to become soldiers standing guard. They weren’t trained for war. Why does God's work have to be so hard? Verse 14 says they were reminded to not fear, but to remember the Lord Who is great and awesome. Do we think about how great our God is? (Sunday helps us to do that.) When we worry about what the world might do, or feel weak against the temptations of the flesh and fear we cannot withstand whatever trial might come, can we remember how much greater and more awesome our God is? We have a long way to go, and there are real enemies around us. Continue in prayer, trusting in the Lord. 1 Peter 5:10 comforts us saying, “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help you to remember that He is great, and He is with us in grace. Pray that in the times of trial and temptation, we may fight, knowing the Lord Almighty is our God. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional, Uncategorised

June 8 - A fool’s errand?

“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” - Hebrews 12:2–3  Scripture reading: Nehemiah 4:1-5 Do you have unfinished projects that you started long ago? On my shelf I have paint, wood and supplies for a project I have not gotten around to doing. Beginning a task is easy, but persevering in a task is not. This is especially true when everyone tells you that what you are doing is foolish. Sanballat and Tobiah, in the presence of the army of Samaria (today they would be backed by the media and masses), made all sorts of accusations, intending to make the Israelites feel that this wall-building is a bad idea and sure to fail. The mockery was destroying the courage in their hearts. But the believer goes by faith, not by sight. Take these troubles by prayer to God, Who sees His people striving at the work, and sees the enemies trying to tear it down. God made a promise to Abraham that He would bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him. The Israelites could rightly ask God to repay their enemies for the wrong they are doing. This reminds us: what matters is not what the world says, but what God says. The mockers will answer to God and so must we. What is done with faith in Jesus Christ will be given the reward Christ has earned, and the enemies will be given the reward every sinner deserves. We must persevere in the Christian life. Think of Noah – the world called him a fool, and he persevered, finishing his project of building the ark. He had no regrets. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord Jesus for enduring mockery so that we can be accepted. Ask God to help us live this life knowing we must give account to God for how we live. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 7 - The body of Christ 

“Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the Sheep Gate. They consecrated it and set its doors. They consecrated it as far as the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Tower of Hananel.” - Nehemiah 3:1  Scripture reading: Nehemiah 3:1-32 Psalm 133 says it is good and pleasant when brothers dwell in unity. Here brothers (and sisters – vs 12) work in beautiful unity. A priest is the first to put blisters on his hands. Men of Jericho (this is not their town) come to help, as well as rulers, perfumers, gold smiths, some with their families, some with people of their trade. These are not professionals, but God writes their names down. This work is noted; it is done for the glory of God We don’t read about grumbling. No one says, “Why do they get to do the sheep gate, and we have to do the dung gate?” This is work God has given them. They do it with God’s help. God has worked in their hearts and strengthened them for the task. For us, work needed in the church and in our own hearts and lives is not a one-man job. God has given us community. God intends for us to grow with other believers. 1 Peter 2 starts with a call for us to turn away from all sorts of sin (think of the disgrace of walls in ruin), and then it says we come to Christ, the living stone. We are (as verse 5 says) “being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” When we commit to Christ and walk with other believers, we make a statement for ourselves, to God, and for the world to see; that God is at work among us. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for those who labour alongside you in the fight against sin and in the task of serving the Lord. Ask the Lord to help you cheerfully use your gifts to serve Him. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 6 - Through the thresher 

“Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem.” - Psalm 51:18  Scripture reading: Psalm 122:1-9 What is so important about the walls? In the book of Ezra, we see the temple being rebuilt, wasn’t that enough? When our family lived in Iowa, we put a fence around our garden to stop the rabbits from eating the beans and lettuce. Living in Northern BC, we talk about putting a fence around our apple trees to keep the bears from eating the apples and wrecking the trees. The fence protects something important. Nehemiah was set on repairing the walls because walls mean perseverance, walls mean a secure future and protection. When you bring gifts to the temple, walls mean you don’t have to worry about thieves breaking in. Walls can ensure that the worship of God and the learning of God is not trampled by the enemies of the kingdom of God. When the walls are strong, it often means things inside the walls are well too. Are there things like this that we need in our lives? Things that some might say are not absolutely necessary to have a relationship with God, but without them, our relationship with God is fragile. Think about (or discuss): What do you need to keep walking with faith in Jesus Christ? What holds you accountable to God’s Word? What do you have that draws a line for that which opposes the faith saying, it can’t enter here? What protects your worship of God and ensures your children will be handed the same faith that you firmly cling to? Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for the protections He has given us and His church. Ask God to help you see what is needed in your life so that your faith perseveres against the assaults that are sure to come.  Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

June 2 - Start with prayer 

“Let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.” - Nehemiah 1:6 Scripture reading: Nehemiah 1:4-11 Perhaps your life, marriage, family, or your business is in shambles. When everything is a disgrace, where do you start? Start with and persist in prayer. Nehemiah got the distressing news of Jerusalem. Why did he fast and pray? Because he knew the LORD would hear his prayers, and was and is able to do more than we can imagine. Nehemiah calls God great and awesome and covenant-keeping. What a reminder for us! God works wonders, not because the person who prays is worthy, but because He is able and He cares. God has promised to hear the prayers that His children bring in humble faith. Nehemiah’s confession is a striking example for us. You are (I hope) going to church today; don’t come to God pretending you have no sin and are worthy of God’s blessing. No, we must own our sins, all of them: individual sins, corporate sins, and sins of neglect. The years that Judah heaped up punishment from God was before Nehemiah’s time, but Nehemiah did not make excuses; he owned the wrong, confessed the guilt, and asked God to do what He promised: hear the prayers and redeem His people. Nehemiah came with confidence because He had the covenant promises. Believers today have the covenant and the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. So where do we start when all is a mess? Seek the Lord in faith and prayer. In this book we will see how God answers Nehemiah’s many prayers. Will you persist in humble prayer, seeking the Lord to help you serve Him today? Suggestions for prayer Praise God that His greatness and kindness toward us does not depend on our worthiness. Confess your sin, and ask for the Lord’s blessing where it is needed most. Rev. Simon Lievaart currently serves Bethel United Reformed Church of Smithers BC. Prior to this, he served the United Reformed Church in Doon, IA. Rev. Lievaart grew up in southern Alberta, attended Redeemer University College and Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 31 - Let us be stable and studious 

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” - 2 Peter 3:17-18  Scripture reading: Isaiah 46:8-13 To become mature and stable believers we must “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” We began these devotionals by recognizing ‘the Importance of Correct Knowledge.’ And we said then that because Peter was soon to die, he wanted believers to have his letters, written down in black and white, that they could keep reading as an aid to faith and godly living. Because there will always be false teachers, we need to go back, again and again, to the reliable and trustworthy Word of God. That is why we have repeatedly talked in these devotionals about the importance of preaching and Bible study, participating and reading Christian books. But notice also that Peter speaks of knowing a person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His grace. So, while knowledge must be about facts and doctrine, like the certainty of the return of Jesus, it must also be personal and emotional, and about relationship and obedience. Do you have this type of knowledge? Are you growing in the knowledge of the grace of Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? If you are, then you will burst out in praise, just like Peter did at the end of his letter: “To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.” You will be so thankful for salvation and the prospect of eternal life with Him, that you will love to praise Him and love Him whom you praise! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for 2 Peter. Pray that His Spirit would deepen your knowledge of salvation, such that you long for the return of Christ, and strive, daily, to grow in knowledge and to live for Him. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 30 - Of pots and kettles 

“Just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” - 2 Peter 3:15b-16 Scripture reading: Ephesians 3:1-10 When it seems to us that person A is as guilty of what they accuse person B of, we call it ‘the pot calling the kettle black.’ There are things in 2 Peter that are ‘hard to understand.’ Nevertheless, it is comforting to hear what Peter says about Paul’s writings, because there are some parts of Paul’s letters that are tricky to understand and interpret. Perhaps one of the more obvious examples of this is Romans 11 and the place of Israel in God’s plan of salvation. Paul says that there is a partial hardening of Israel “until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in.” But they will be once again grafted into Christ, “and in this way all Israel will be saved.” There have probably been more words written about what this means and how and when it will happen than of any other part in the Bible. An important principle of Bible interpretation is that we must let the plain interpret the less plain. And in this way, Peter helps us understand Paul, because he explains that Christ will not return until every last Gentile or Jew, whom God has chosen in Christ, comes to faith in Christ. And so, it does not matter if we can’t quite work out all the details of exactly how this works out and when, so long as we believe that all the elect will come to faith in Christ before He returns. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His Word, and pray for humility and insight when it comes to hard-to-understand passages. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 29 - A call to evangelism 

“And count the patience of our Lord as salvation.” - 2 Peter 3:15a   Scripture reading: Matthew 28:16-20 In relation to the return of Christ, we have already seen that He will not return until the full number of His elect have come to faith in Christ. What this means is that if God had decided to just be done with it and send Christ back in 1925, none of us would have been born and none of us would have gotten to enjoy eternal life! But salvation is not just about our coming to faith, it also includes sanctification, as we saw earlier. The patience of God gives us time to grow in godliness, to become more and more like Jesus (Romans 8:29), to experience more of His equipping grace and power. But this reality has implications also for evangelism. As was just said, Christ will not return until the last of those whom God has chosen to salvation come to faith and He has accomplished all that He has planned and purposed for them. Well, Christ has not come back yet, which means …? That there are more out there who must still come to faith. And how do sinners come to faith? Romans 10:17 tells us: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” This is a task that belongs to all of us. What a wonderful and powerful encouragement to share the gospel with others – maybe they are one whom the Lord will bring to salvation through your sharing of the gospel! Suggestions for prayer Pray for courage and eagerness to tell others the good news of salvation in Christ, that comes through repentance and faith. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 24 - This verse is not about the days of creation!

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” - 2 Peter 3:8  Scripture reading: Psalm 90:1-17 If you have participated in a debate about the days of creation, you will surely have heard this verse raised as ‘proof’ that the days of creation need not be taken as ordinary or literal 24-hour days. Well, Genesis 1 makes it abundantly clear that the days are ordinary days, with the reference to evening and morning, and first, second and third days, etc. The connection made in the Fourth Commandment between our seven-day week and the seven days of creation week would be nonsense if the days of creation were not ordinary days. Peter’s point here is to remind us that God’s relationship to time is different than ours. He is quoting Psalm 90, which contrasts the eternal God with time-bound mankind. What we need, therefore, is a more mature relationship to time. Unlike the little child who thinks Grandpa and Grandma are never coming if they are three minutes late, we need to be like mature adults who know that three minutes is nothing. And as this relates to the promise of Jesus to return ‘quickly’ or ‘soon,’ we must have this mature attitude. Some may think that 2000 years is forever! But for God, it is like a nanosecond! He is not sitting in heaven counting the days and years, as they roll by, waiting. He is not under time. He exists in eternity. But Christ will come! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for all those who taught you to believe the Bible’s account of creation. Praise God for His eternal majesty and glory and goodness and grace. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 23 - Judgment day 

“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly … But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” - 2 Peter 3:7-10  Scripture reading: Matthew 25:1-13; 31-46 People today have the idea that Jesus was all about love and acceptance. However, a plain reading of the Gospels reveals that the topic He spoke about most, was the coming Day of Judgment and the need to repent and believe. Acts 17:31 says, God “has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.” 2 Corinthians 5:10 says “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” On the day of His return, we will all stand before the judgment throne of Christ. Matthew 25 describes Judgment Day as a great separation – the sheep are placed on His right and the goats on His left. The sheep are then welcomed into the eternal kingdom, while the goats are banished to eternal punishment. The parable of the foolish virgins represents all who profess faith in Christ. The oil represents the Holy Spirit, and half of the virgins did not possess Him. There will be some/many on Judgment Day who were self-deluded, but to whom Jesus will say, “I never knew you.” This is a sobering warning. Have you truly repented of your sins and believed in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins? And does this reveal itself in that you are living for Jesus? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for showing you His grace in Christ. Pray that He would convert any in your congregation who do not yet truly know Him as Saviour and Lord. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 22 - For scoffers will come 

“… knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.” - 2 Peter 3:3-6  Scripture reading: Genesis 1:1-8; 7:17-24 Usually, our confidence that a promise will be kept has a lot to do with the one who made the promise. For example, if it was our parents, confidence is probably strong. But would we be confident if it were a politician or a used-car salesman? And no offence intended to any politicians or used-car salesmen who may be reading this. The promise that 2 Peter is interested in, is the Bible’s promise that the Lord Jesus will return to earth, bodily (Acts 1:11). What is a problem for many is that in Revelation 22, the Lord Jesus said that He would return “soon” or “quickly.” This part of the promise had led false teachers to scoff at this promise. As they reasoned it, 30 long years had passed since that promise. So, Jesus was clearly not coming back. His return was just a myth. Here we are, over 2000 years later! And none of us would describe 2000 years as soon. So, what Peter does is to argue from the lesser to the greater. He reminds his readers of the global flood of Noah’s day. It was a judgment that came 120 years (Genesis 6:3) after it was promised. Noah preached the coming judgment during that time, but the people scoffed at his warning. But it came. And because it is the same God who made both promises, we may be certain that Jesus Christ will come again, as He promised. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for all those who have taught you that Christ will return. Pray that the Lord would use your witness to help others to be ready for His return. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 21 - Peter’s much-needed reminder 

“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles,” - 2 Peter 3:1-2  Scripture reading: Isaiah 24; Revelation 22:7 I am sure we have all forgotten a long-planned event. Often, it is just the busyness of life that can lead us to forget even things we look forward to. And so, to prevent forgetting, we might put a calendar reminder on our phone. When the reminder pops up, a few days before the planned event, we remember. Well, the Lord Jesus commanded us to “be ready” for His return (Matthew 24:44). And although we may eagerly look forward to that day, because the days roll by, we can easily forget to “be ready.” A simple way to test this is with the following question: If you knew that Jesus was coming back next week, would you suddenly have an urgent list of things to stop doing, start doing, and/or relationships to repair? I am sure we all would. Knowing this, Peter provides his readers with a reminder. His reminder is the predictions and commandments of Scripture. For example, Isaiah 24 is known as ‘the little Book of Revelation.’ The Lord Jesus also gave us parables that were about His return – the foolish virgins and the talents (Matthew 25), and the wedding feast (Matthew 22). The Apostles too, were clear about Judgment Day (Acts 17:31 and 2 Corinthians 5:10). Paul even explained how the return of the Lord Jesus would unfold (1 Thessalonians 4). Even our worship is preparation or ‘practice’ for our life with Him in eternity! May He use it to help us ‘be ready.’ Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for being able to participate in public worship. Ask Him to use it to help us to be ready for His return. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 16 - Glimpses of grace! 

“if He did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others … and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked … then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,” - 2 Peter 2:5-10 Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10 Throughout the three portraits of the wicked condemned, there are glimpses of grace. For while millions or a billion drowned, eight were preserved alive on the ark. And although tens of thousands likely died in Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his two daughters were rescued and preserved. It’s not many; it’s just eleven. But in Matthew 7:13-14, we read these words of the Lord Jesus: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Notice also that Noah is described as a “herald of righteousness” and Lot as having a “righteous soul.” Do you know what Noah did after he had come out of the ark? He got drunk and naked, which led one of his sons to sin. And do you remember Lot’s offer to the men who wanted to engage in sodomy with his angelic guests? He offered them his virgin daughters, telling the men they could do with them as they pleased!!! Do you see the grace on view here? Neither Noah nor Lot were righteous in and of themselves. They were undeserving sinners, like you and me. By faith, they believed in God’s promise to send the Messiah, and were credited with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). They also called on people to repent and believe. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that we are saved by grace alone. Thank Him for His abundant mercy and patience with sinners, for He has dealt with our sins on Calvary’s cross. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 15 - The wicked condemned - Portrait three 

“if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes He condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;” - 2 Peter 2:6 Scripture reading: Genesis 19:1-26 The third portrait of the condemned wicked that Peter reveals is of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. The account in Genesis 19 makes for an uncomfortable read. Two whole cities, plus the surrounding villages, with the men, women and children inside, utterly destroyed by “sulphur and fire from the Lord.” The particular sin that is identified in Genesis 19 is the sin of homosexuality. And in Ezekiel 16:49-50, we read of Sodom and Gomorrah that they “had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me.” And that brings Peter’s warning of judgment really close to home, doesn’t it? For this is an exact description of the Western world today: Pride, excess of food, prosperous ease, does not aid the poor and needy, haughty, and full of the abomination that is homosexuality. Peter’s point, again, is that God is not blind to wickedness. He has judged it in history in the past, and He will continue to judge it until Christ returns. Sin brings consequences. It is the plain message of Romans 1. But beyond this life is eternal hell. And wickedness will certainly be judged there. If we wonder what hell will be like, we are told in verse 6 that it will be like the fire and sulphur that burned Sodom and Gomorrah, but it will never end; it is eternal fire. God does judge wickedness. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ. Confess sin in any areas identified in this devotion. Ask Him to cause the truth of judgment and hell to be faithfully proclaimed. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 14 - The wicked condemned - Portrait two

“if He did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;” - 2 Peter 2:5  Scripture reading: Genesis 6:5-22; 7:10-24 The second portrait of the condemned wicked that Peter reveals is of the wicked world in Noah’s day. The widespread wickedness of that time led to the global flood. Conservative population models suggest that there were likely to have been between 200 million and 1 billion people on the earth in those days. But God did not spare those millions or billion people, instead judging them for their unbelief and wickedness. Those who thought they could ignore God and carry on eating and drinking and committing violence and immorality, without fear of punishment, all perished in a watery grave. Early last year, our manse was flooded when 240mm of rain fell in a day, which was a new record. But as the waters rose, we knew that eventually the rain would stop, because of God’s promise (Genesis 9:15), which it did. But I could not help but think about the flood of Noah’s day, and the terror that came upon the people when the rain did not stop. Peter’s point is that if God did not hold back judgment on millions or a billion, then neither will He hold back judgment on false teachers and those who follow them. So, let us praise God for His promise to never destroy the world as He did then. But every ‘natural disaster’ is another foretaste of Hell, and a warning from God for sinners to repent before the Great Day of Judgment comes. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for opening our eyes to the reality of judgment and bringing us to faith in Christ. Pray that he would use our sharing of the Gospel to awaken others to this reality also. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 13 - The wicked condemned - Portrait one 

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;” - 2 Peter 2:4  Scripture reading: Genesis 6:1-4 Peter’s concluding word about false teachers in verse 3 was that their condemnation and destruction was certain. To demonstrate and illustrate this certainty, as well as to expose the foolishness of their rejection of judgment as unbiblical, Peter pulls back the curtain on three portraits of judgment that are found in the Bible. The first one is the judgment of wicked angels. This could refer to all the fallen angels (Revelation 12:9 & 20:10). Another possibility is a particular group of evil angels who left their heavenly abode and somehow engaged in sexual relations with human women (Genesis 6:1-5 and Jude 6). For this grossly immoral wickedness, they were “committed to chains of gloomy darkness.” I believe that it is this group of evil angels that is in view here. But many good Christians prefer the first interpretation. The key point is that God did not spare even evil angels who rebelled against Him or wickedly intruded into human life. They are already under judgment and an even worse judgment is to come. And just as God’s judgment came to them, so it will come on false teachers and those who follow them. This is a most sobering warning. These angels once stood in the presence of God. So, let none of us fall into pride or arrogance, as though sin and false teaching could never get the better of us. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for humility and discernment. Pray that the Lord bring reformation where it is needed in the church. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 8 - A much-needed reminder

“Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” - 2 Peter 1:12-15 Scripture reading: Psalm 19:7-14 When parents go out and leave the children at home, there is usually a pre-departure reminder: Don’t do these things and be sure to do these things. Parents do this because children so easily forget what they are supposed to do. There are many pre-departure reminders in Scripture. Moses and Joshua, before they died, reminded the people of Israel about what the Lord expected of them. Even the Lord Jesus gave His disciples a pre-departure reminder (John 13-17; Matthew 28:19-20). The Apostle Paul did the same with the Ephesian elders (Acts 20). Our passage is Peter’s pre-departure reminder. We see in verses 13-14 that the Lord had revealed to Peter that he was soon to die. So, he was determined to write his reminder down so that the Lord’s people could read it and re-read it. He wanted believers to be “established in the truth.” Each one of us probably knows someone who once professed faith who has turned away from the Lord. So, we need a regular diet of preached and read truth that we may not fall away (verse 10). The written Word of God is also what the Spirit uses to “stir you up” to the Christian growth we have talked about in recent days. Let us be thankful then for easy access to the written word of God and let us make good use of that access. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for easy access to the Word of truth. Pray for Bible translators and publishers and distributors. Ask the Lord to impress His will upon your heart as you read His Word. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 7 - “Make your calling and election sure” 

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” - 2 Peter 1:10-11 Scripture reading: Philippians 2:1-13 One of the most precious, but also most difficult doctrines is the doctrine of election. I say difficult only because it is beyond our full comprehension. But it is what the Bible plainly teaches (Ephesians 1:4 and Romans 9); it reveals God’s sovereign loving glory, and it is the only trustworthy foundation for the assurance of salvation. It has led many believers, though, to wonder how they can know for sure if they are one of the elect? Well, Peter explains that practicing the qualities that we have been looking at is how we can confirm our calling and election. That word confirm is most important. Peter addressed his first letter to “elect exiles.” He called them “chosen and precious.” In this second letter, he addressed “those who have obtained faith.” So, what he says here is about how we confirm our calling and election. If you have made an online purchase, you probably received a confirmation email. That email is not the purchase. That email does not secure the purchase. It is just extra confirmation of the purchase that has been made. It gives you a deeper assurance or certainty about your purchase. Similarly, God elects and calls. The basis for your election and calling is His sovereign and unchangeable love for the Son and for you (John 17 and Ephesians 1:4). That cannot change. But there is a way of living that confirms your calling and election. These verses describe it! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His electing love. Praise Him for His grace to you in Christ. Ask Him to deepen your assurance of your calling and election, and for His help to “practice these qualities.” Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 6 - What is at stake

“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” - 2 Peter 1:8-9  Scripture reading: John 15:1-11 If you have a fruit tree, you will want to see plenty of fruit. And if it produces little or no fruit, it will be pulled out and replaced with another tree. Well, the same is true with spiritual ‘fruit.’ We know from Galatians 5 that the Holy Spirit produces fruit in the believer. Indeed, in John 15, Jesus told us that if a person abides in Him and He in them, they will bear much fruit. We know from Ephesians 4:11-12 also that Christ gave office-bearers to the church that believers might become mature in faith. It follows from all this, then, that there should be fruitfulness and effectiveness in anyone who professes faith in Christ. We should make progress in the gospel. We should be able to look back and see growth in the qualities that we looked at yesterday. And the absence of growth should give us great cause for concern. Now, it can be the case, especially if we have a tender conscience, that we struggle to see our own progress/fruitfulness. That is where other believers can help us. So, be sure to ask other mature believers if they have seen you growing. But if you know and believe that Christ redeemed you “from all lawlessness and for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14), implore the Lord for His help in Christian growth. Suggestions for prayer Confess those times when there has not been the pursuit of growth. Give thanks that your salvation is secure in Christ. Ask the Lord to give you the desire to grow in fruitfulness. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

May 5 - The ‘qualities’ we must cultivate 

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue … knowledge … self-control … steadfastness … godliness … brotherly affection, and … love.” - 2 Peter 1:5-7  Scripture reading: Colossians 3:1-17 The false teachers of Peter’s day engaged in and encouraged a sensual lifestyle. They taught a cheap grace and were not concerned with holy living. Many other New Testament letters address the opposite extreme, which is trying to earn or keep salvation through obedience to the law. Both views are wrong. What the Bible continually emphasizes is that because of our position, as adopted children of God, in Christ, by grace, through faith, therefore, we must … And the ‘must’ in our passage is that we “make every effort to…” Later on, in verse 10, it is “be all the more diligent to” and “practice these qualities.” No one has ever ended up as a concert pianist, accidentally, or without any effort. It takes many hours of practice to become accomplished at anything. So it is with holy living, we are called to concentrated effort, zeal, and diligent ‘practice.’ To the faith that we already possess, by grace and by the Spirit’s power, we must diligently seek to add virtue – goodness/excellence (Philippians 4:8), knowledge (correct and experiential), self-control – saying ‘No!’ to worldly passions (Proverbs 25:28), steadfastness – spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:11-14), godliness – Christ-like behaviour (1 Peter 2:12), brotherly affection – love ALL your brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 5:1), including the ‘hard-to-love’ ones, and love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). May the Lord use the faithful preaching of His Word today to cause us to grow in godliness. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for faithful preaching. Pray for your minister and the preaching and teaching ministry in your congregation. Ask Him to also bless your fellowship with believers, that it too may lead to growth. Rev. Andre Holtslag is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana (2007). At the present time he serves the Reformed Church of Avondale, which is in the city of Auckland, New Zealand, and is one of the Reformed Churches in New Zealand (RCNZ). Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 30 - The Spirit and the Bride

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” - Revelation 22:17 Scripture reading: Revelation 22:1-21 All who are in Christ Jesus, who’ve been redeemed and washed by His blood, are in the church and indwelt with the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 5, Paul points out that the church is the bride of Christ and that husband-and-wife relationships are analogies of that blessed reality. Christ is the groom and the church is His bride. But this is brought out more fully in the book of Revelation. Revelation is a comforting book written to encourage the militant church as we struggle in this world against our enemies, against the forces of evil. God hears our prayers, sees our tears, and has given us His Spirit. Christ is on the throne and His victory is assured. And He is governing in the interest of His church, His bride. He will come again to take us to Himself where we will enjoy the “marriage supper of the Lamb.” We will live with Him forever in the new heavens and the new earth. In the final chapter of Revelation Jesus promises that He is coming. Three times He says, “I am coming soon” (vv. 7, 12, 20). It’s not surprising that the church, the bride, longs for Jesus’ return. The bride therefore says, “Come.” And we’re also told that the Spirit says, “Come.” In fact, I think it is fair to say that the Spirit moves the bride to say, “Come.” What a comfort to know that our longing to be with Jesus is the Spirit’s longing as well! And no wonder. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ, and that Spirit dwells in you! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks again that the Holy Spirit has made His home in you. Join the Spirit in praying, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 29 - The fruit of the Spirit - Self-control

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” - Proverbs 25:28  Scripture reading: Galatians 5:16-24 As we come to the last on Paul’s list of the fruit of the Spirit, we’ve seen that they are all interconnected and closely tied together. Not simply one, but all exist to some degree in every believer. And the ninth fruit is self-control. Having self-control is the ability to keep oneself in check. It is the power to restrain one’s passions and appetites. It’s helpful to understand that being self-controlled is actually being Spirit-controlled. Proverbs 25:28 compares a man without self-control to a city without walls. He’s defenceless and open to attack from the devil, the world, and his own flesh. In fact, in Galatians 5 Paul has another list which he calls the “works of the flesh.” Included in that list are “sexual immorality,” sensuality,” “strife,” “jealousy,” “fits of anger” and “drunkenness.” The one lacking self-control has no defence against such things. And when Paul describes to Timothy what people will be like in the last days, which he calls “times of difficulty” he says they will be without self-control- dangerous and defenceless. No wonder he adds, “avoid such people” (c.f. II Timothy 3:1-5). But when the Holy Spirit makes His dwelling in you, such passions and desires are restrained and changed. Jesus taught us to pray to our heavenly Father, “deliver us from the evil one.” God answers that prayer by sanctifying us by His Holy Spirit and growing this fruit of self-control. Suggestions for Prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will increase the fruit of self-control in you. Pray that God would draw to Himself your loved ones who are not in Christ. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 28 - The Holy Spirit and worship

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” - Acts 2:42  Scripture reading: Acts 2:42-47 Earlier this month we heard Jesus promise the disciples in the Upper Room that they would receive the Holy Spirit, and after His resurrection Jesus instructed them to stay in Jerusalem and await the Spirit’s coming (Acts 1:4,5). Then on Pentecost Sunday, as the apostles were all together with many others, the Holy Spirit came upon them. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, stood up and preached his first sermon and 3000 souls were added to the church that day. They too were filled with the Spirit and were baptized. But what happened after that? What did these 3000 baby Christians do? Acts 2:42 is instructive, teaching us what to expect when the Spirit is present. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. In the Greek it comes out more clearly that they continually devoted themselves. Where the Spirit is present, so also is a thirst for God’s Word. The early church hungered and thirsted for teaching. They also devoted themselves to fellowship, to koinonia. They had been brought into the family of God and enjoyed spending time with one another as brothers and sisters in the Lord. Further, they devoted themselves to worship. The “breaking of bread” refers to the Lord’s Supper and “the prayers” suggests specific prayers that were offered as they communally worshipped. As you gather for worship today, be devoted to the preaching and sacraments and to the prayers. Enjoy your fellow church members and visitors. This is healthy, and of the Holy Spirit. Suggestions for prayer Pray that your pastor will preach the Word well today. Pray that the Holy Spirit would work powerfully to make your congregation devoted to spiritual things. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 27 - The fruit of the Spirit - Gentleness

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” - Colossians 3:12  Scripture reading: Colossians 3:1-17 The Greek word for “gentleness” (prautes) in Galatians 5’s fruit of the Spirit is often translated “meekness” as in our Colossians 3 passage today. It is the same word Jesus used in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). It is also the same word He used for Himself when He said, “…Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle (or meek) and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29). Some might mistakenly identify meekness with weakness, but that is far from the truth. In fact, one might better say that meekness is “power under control.” It does indeed include gentleness, but it is more. It is used in the New Testament to describe the ability to submit, having a teachable spirit, and having consideration of others. The meek / gentle person is not violent, nor has outbursts of anger. In I Timothy 3, Paul says that one qualification for elders in the church is that they are not violent, but gentle (v. 3). Do you see this fruit in yourself? Are you gentle with others? Paul tells us to “put on” this gentleness and meekness like a garment. And we rejoice that the Holy Spirit is at work in us, smoothing our rough edges and making us gentle. He is conforming us into the image of Christ, who was “gentle and lowly in heart.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will increase the fruit of gentleness in you. Confess when you have been needlessly harsh and lacking in gentleness. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. This devotional is made available by the Nearer To God Devotional team, who also make available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

April 22 - The fruit of the Spirit - Kindness

“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…” - Colossians 3:12 Scripture reading: Colossians 3:1-17 Paul is writing to the church in Colossae, and begins chapter 3 saying, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is…” These words, then, are not only for Colossae, but for all who have been raised with Christ, for all believers. After telling us the things we are to put off, he turns to those things we are to put on. For Paul, to seek the things that are above includes putting on compassionate hearts, kindness, and the like. The fifth fruit of the Spirit is kindness, and like the others this is a communicable attribute of God. God is kind, and when God the Holy Spirit dwells in you, it follows that you too will be kind. In Romans 2:4 Paul points out that God is patient and kind, and we should not presume or take His kindness for granted. It is meant to lead us to repentance. Kindness is having good will toward others. It's inner quality, a warm and tender-heartedness that expresses itself when we are friendly, considerate, compassionate, and generous. Ephesians 4:32 expresses it well: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Love is patient, love is kind. Does that describe you? Are you kind? Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit would so work in you, that others will know you as a kind person. Ask forgiveness for those times when you were not kind to others. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. 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 21 - The fruit of the Spirit - Patience

“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord…” - James 5:7 Scripture reading: James 5:7-11 Patience is one of the attributes of God. The Bible often speaks of God’s patience toward Israel, or toward sinners, or all humanity. He is “long-suffering” and “slow to anger.” Peter instructs us to think about God’s patience and to “count the patience of our Lord as salvation” (II Peter 3:15). Jesus was patient with his disciples and others. He also patiently endured the sufferings of His humiliation, incarnation and the cross. The word Paul used in his fruit-of-the-Spirit list for patience in Galatians 5 is makrothumia, literally “long-suffering.” As you worship today, consider the patience and long-suffering of God toward you. Like love, the patience of God is what we call a “communicable” attribute, meaning an attribute that God shares with human beings to some degree. It is therefore not surprising that when the Spirit of God dwells in a person, that person will grow in the fruit of patience. But just like fruit on trees, the fruit of the Spirit takes time to grow, ripen and mature. For some of us, it seems that this fruit of patience takes the longest. Are you patient? We’ll continue to see that these Spiritual fruits are very closely tied together. Paul tells us that “love is patient, love is kind…” And if you think about it, one can hardly be loving, or joyful, or at peace with others without being patient (or kind, gentle, etc.). Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit will conform you to the image of Christ. Pray for patience. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. 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 20 - The fruit of the Spirit - Patience

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” - Romans 8:28  Scripture reading: Romans 8:18-30 In this world we all need patience. We wait longer than we want in grocery lines, in traffic, for dinner or for a spouse. Most things, in fact, don’t happen according to our schedule. The fourth fruit of the Spirit is patience. Patience is the capacity to wait and to endure without complaining or losing heart. But how does the Spirit cause this fruit to grow in the Christian’s life? I believe it is because He convinces us of important truths about God, transforming us by the renewal of our minds. Understanding and believing these truths help us be patient in adversity: First, the Holy Spirit teaches us to believe that God is sovereign. This means that instead of being a bystander, God is in control, governing all things in His creation. The circumstances of your life, each and every day, are not accidental, but purposeful. Knowing and believing this will affect how you react to various trials of life. Second, God is perfectly wise. This means that God not only has the best purpose, but the best means to accomplish that purpose. He knows the end from the beginning, and the best path to reach that end. Understanding this we patiently endure the hardships. Third, we know that God is a loving God. His plan and purposes for His people are not arbitrary or vindictive but proceed from His love. We can be patient and trust God because, as our passage today reminds us, God is orchestrating everything for our good. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the fruit of patience will increase in you. Pray that the Spirit will convince you of God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and love. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. 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 19 - The fruit of the Spirit - Peace

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” - Isaiah 26:3  Scripture reading: Isaiah 26:1-9 Isaiah 26 prophesies that a song will be sung “in that day,” which is the day of God’s salvation, and the song is a song of praise and joy. The coming of Jesus and His salvation is the fulfillment of this prophecy, and that salvation comes to all who believe in Him. As we noted yesterday, in Christ we have been reconciled to God and are now at peace with Him. But this reconciliation, this objective peace leads to an internal peace. It is a peace, a calm, an inward tranquility believers have because they know they are in the family of God, and their heavenly Father is for them, not against them. It is this blessed fruit of the Holy Spirit that compelled Horatio Spafford to write the hymn “It is Well with My Soul” after learning that his four daughters had been killed in a tragic accident. And this sense of peace, this “shalom,” also affects our relationships. The peaceful believer is inclined to be a peacemaker. Paul tells us in Romans 12:18, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Our natural, sinful inclination can incline us to seek conflict and dwell on disagreements, but the Holy Spirit works in our minds and hearts to live peaceably with all. And this blessed fruit of the Spirit, this peace, “which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Suggestions for prayer Pray for that inward, calming peace that only the Spirit can give. Ask forgiveness for the weak faith that causes anxiety and fear. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. 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 14 - The fruit of the Spirit - Love

“Love is patient and kind…” - 1 Corinthians 13:4 Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 As you study the fruit of the Spirit, you’ll notice that they are very inter-connected. Love is the first, patience is the fourth, and kindness is the fifth. Yet, in Paul’s great “love chapter” he says that love is patient and kind. When the Heidelberg Catechism discusses the sixth commandment, it asks, “Is it enough that we do not murder our neighbour in any such way?” And the answer is: “No. By condemning envy, hatred, and anger God wants us to love our neighbours as ourselves, to be patient, peace-loving, gentle, merciful, and friendly toward them, to protect them from harm as much as we can, and to do good even to our enemies” (Q&A 107). Biblical love is not simply a sentimental, warm feeling of affection. It is concrete actions for the good of our neighbour. Love understands, for example, that when you enter the workplace, you work not simply to earn a living, but are providing a service to and for others. A shoemaker asked Martin Luther if he should quit his business and enter the monastery. Luther’s response is helpful: “Make good shoes and sell them for a fair price.” Love compels you to help an elderly neighbour with their yard work. Today, as you join with your church family in worship, be patient and kind to all. Give generously so that the deacons have sufficient funds to help the needy. Dear Christian, love your neighbour! Suggestions for prayer Pray for God’s blessing on the Word preached today. Pray that you will love the men, women, boys and girls with whom you worship today. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. 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 13 - The fruit of the Spirit - Love

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” - John 13:34-35  Scripture reading: John 13:31-35 We are living in a violent world. Every day there are more stories of road rage, fights, brawls, rapes, terrorism and killings. And added to the actual, physical violence, there is such a deep ideological and political divide that people can’t seem to have civil discourse anymore. I understand better the biblical description that we are “sojourners and exiles” in this world (1 Peter 2:11) and am praying more fervently for Christ’s return. But He hasn’t returned yet, so how ought we to live as pilgrims? Jesus commissioned the church to go and make disciples, and in today’s Scripture reading, He says that “all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This love extends beyond our family, friends, church, and neighbours; Jesus calls us to even love our enemies and pray for them (Matt. 5:44). Peter seems to have understood this importance when he calls us to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart…” (1 Pet. 1:22) and then later repeats it more emphatically, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly…” (1 Pet. 4:8). Paul, immediately following his discussion about the civil government, says “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law…” (Rom. 13:8). Paul prayed for the gentile church in Thessalonica that “the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…” (1 Thessalonians 3:12). Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would increase and abound in love. Pray that we in the church of Christ would be known for our love. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. 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 12 - The fruit of the Spirit - Love

“We love because He first loved us.” - I John 4:19  Scripture reading: 1 John 4:7-21 When you understand that the summary of God’s law is to love God and our neighbour, and then consider the many other passages of Scripture that call us to love, it isn’t surprising that the first fruit of the Spirit is love. In fact, as the apostle John says, “anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (I John 4:8). That means if the Spirit of God dwells in you, and God is love, then it follows that you and every true believer will, to some degree, bear the fruit of love. To love is the Christian’s most important obligation as we sojourn in this world, and it’s good to be reminded of this. As a pastor for more than 32 years in reformed churches, I’m so thankful for our commitment to being faithful to God, to upholding the truth of His Word, to teaching and training our children to be confessional. But, in all honesty, I’ve been discouraged at times when I haven’t seen that same commitment to love. Can we truly say we’re being faithful to God if we lack love? I’ve been in congregational meetings where angry speakers gave no evidence of love. I’ve had to counsel church members against their gossip, bitterness, and anger. So, as I am writing this I am praying that you will agree on how important this is, and evaluate your own heart and actions. Do others say of you, “he / she is a loving person who demonstrates the love of Christ”? Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit would convict you of unloving words, thoughts and attitudes toward others. Pray that the fruit of love will increase in you. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. 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 11 - The fruit of the Holy Spirit

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” - Galatians 5:25 Scripture reading: Galatians 5:16-26 We’ve seen that the Holy Spirit is necessary not only for our justification, but also our sanctification. He is renewing us after God’s image and leading us to live in accord with God’s will. And as the Heidelberg Catechism says, “in this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience. Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose, they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments.” (Lord’s Day 44, Q&A 114) The Holy Spirit does this by changing how we think, realigning our minds, thoughts and affections to align with God’s. And this change in the believer’s life starts to make him look very different from unbelievers. In Galatians 5, Paul describes this contrast by distinguishing what he calls “the works of the flesh” from “the fruit of the Spirit.” Paul uses the term “flesh” here to describe the sinful human nature in which the Holy Spirit does not dwell. It is the unregenerate mind and soul that results in a life of “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” That is quite a nasty and disagreeable list. In contrast, the fruit growing in one in whom the Holy Spirit dwells is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,self-control.” This is, as John the Baptist had said to the Pharisees, “fruit in keeping with repentance (metanoia).” We’ll spend the rest of this month looking at these fruits more closely. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would “walk by the Spirit” and “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” Pray that you would not gratify the desires of the flesh, which are against the Spirit. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. 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 6 - The Holy Spirit will convict

“And when He comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” - John 16:8  Scripture reading: John 16:1-15 The Holy Spirit is a teacher for those in whom He dwells. But in these verses of John 16, Jesus has the world in view; that is, all that stands in opposition to Christ. The Holy Spirit will convict the world. This is a judgment, a sentencing, as when a defendant in a courtroom is convicted and found guilty. First, the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin; specifically, the sin of rejecting Jesus. This is the sin that leads to death and ultimately the unpardonable sin. Second, The Spirit will convict the world of righteousness. This is speaking of Christ’s righteousness, as opposed to their sin. The righteousness of Jesus is proven because the Father receives Christ into His presence. Third, the Holy Spirit will convict the world of judgment, “because the ruler of this world is judged.” There will come a time when all will know that Christ defeated Satan. Hebrews 2:14 says that Christ became a man “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil…” And in Colossians 2:15 we’re told that Christ triumphed over Satan and his hosts. But praise be to God that the Spirit of Christ dwells in you. In Him your sins are forgiven, you are clothed in Jesus’ perfect righteousness, and you will stand at the final judgment because Christ took your place. Suggestions for prayer Pray for God’s blessing on your pastor as he preaches to you tomorrow. Pray that the convicting Spirit will soften hard hearts and add many to the church. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. 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 5 - The Holy Spirit is a teacher

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” - John 14:26 Scripture reading: John 14:25-31 As Jesus comforts His disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit, He not only says that the Spirit will dwell in them, but also tells them what the Spirit will do. Some of Jesus’ description of the Spirit’s work is particular to the disciples. Knowing that His disciples would become the apostles of the early church, Jesus tells them that the Holy Spirit will “bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Some would later write letters that would become canonized in Scripture. Some would travel to distant lands to preach the Gospel. All would be leaders and teachers. What a gift, what a blessing that the Holy Spirit would remind them of Jesus’ words and teaching. Jesus also said that the Holy Spirit “will teach you all things.” That is, He will teach the disciples all they would need to know to fulfill their apostolic mission. He will later say, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…” (John 16:13). And this is also true for you and me. In Romans 8, Paul says that it is impossible for those who are of the flesh (not of the Spirit) to submit to God or please Him. It is only by the Holy Spirit that we can know and discern spiritual things. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would have a receptive heart and mind for the Holy Spirit to teach. Pray that the Holy Spirit will bless your pastor and his preaching. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. 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 4 - Who is the Holy Spirit?

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…” - John 14:16-17a  Scripture reading: John 14:15-24 The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. As Lord’s Day 20 of the Heidelberg Catechism states, “The Spirit, with the Father and the Son, is eternal God.” And note how Jesus refers to the Spirit as “He.” The Spirit is not a “force,” nor an “it,” but a person, a “He.” Like the Father is a person and the Son is a person, so is the Holy Spirit. So while Jesus distinguishes between the three persons of the trinity, it is also important to note the unity as well. He had already told Philip that, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” and “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me” (John 14:9-11). But now, as He promises the Holy Spirit, He says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (v. 18). Jesus, Who is one with the Father, is also one with the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes to you, Jesus comes to you. Then Jesus says: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (v. 23). So when the Spirit makes His home in the believer, it is the Father and the Son Who make Their home in the believer. This is the Spirit of God Who now dwells in you! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that God has not left us as orphans, but is ever with us. Pray for increased faith to “see” this reality and be at peace. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. 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 3 - The necessity of the ascension

“It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go I will send him to you.” - John 16:7 Scripture reading: John 16:1-15 If the incarnate Jesus had not ascended into heaven, but stayed with His disciples, He would have been located only in that particular part of the world. His bodily presence could only be at one place at a time. He undoubtedly would have been a blessing to the people in Jerusalem and Judea, and Samaria, but what about the rest of the world? This is why Jesus, speaking words of comfort to His disciples in the upper room, tells of the Comforter to come. Jesus’ imminent departure, though painful, will not be an evil thing, but good. It will not be a loss for His followers, but gain. His bodily absence from them would actually be more useful than His bodily presence. Because in God’s wise and perfect plan, Jesus’ ascension and session at the Father’s right hand were necessary for Pentecost to happen. As we confess in the Nicene Creed, the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son.” This is good and to our advantage. Jesus understood that the Holy Spirit would bestow power and gifts to the church, not just in one localized area, but throughout the world. The Spirit would fill every place where believers are. As Christians we can be assured that whether we’re alone, with family and friends, or with our church family in worship, the Holy Spirit is always there. What a blessing! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for Pentecost and that it is for your good that the Spirit dwells in you personally, and in all believers. Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen was born and raised in California and has been an ordained minister of the Gospel for nearly 33 years. He is now serving as pastor of Coram Deo Reformation Church (URC) near Denver, Colorado. He is also the General Editor of the Trinity Psalter Hymnal. 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

March 29 - Cross purposes: Reconciliation

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” - Romans 5:10  Scripture reading: Romans 5:1-11 Hostility surrounds us, mars relationships, nation to nation, husband to wife, brother to brother. There is a crying need for reconciliation, for restoration to harmony. This is what the cross achieved between God and His people. The need for reconciliation arose early in human history. In Eden, Adam and Eve had friendship with God. Then sin happened. Harmony was destroyed. Humans became hostile towards God (Romans 8:7) and God was hostile towards humans. We became His enemies (Romans 5:10). Through the death of His Son, we are reconciled. Since it is sin that alienates from God, sin must be dealt with to achieve reconciliation. This is what Christ has done. While remaining sinless, He has taken our sins upon Himself. God was then against Him on the cross and punished Christ for our sins. Having made satisfaction to the justice of God, God removes His hostility against us. You can see this drama played out on the cross. God loved His Son, but could not overlook sin. It required alienation, banishment from His presence. That was the three hours of darkness climaxing in the cry, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ And when the punishment has been meted out and justice satisfied, our Lord was received afresh into fellowship with God marked by His cry, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ There was an armistice between a holy God and His sin-bearing Son. Let us be sure not to receive the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the willingness of the Son to be the instrument of reconciliation. Ask that we might prize the fellowship we have with the holy God. Pray that God would give us grace to pursue reconciliation with others. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 28 - Cross purposes: Propitiation

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:9  Scripture reading: Hebrews 2:10-18 Propitiation is a big word not commonly used. It is an important biblical word that reveals what the Lord Jesus has done. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus identified with us by on taking flesh and blood, by being made like His brothers in every respect in order ‘to make propitiation for the sins of the people’ (Hebrews 2:17). To understand propitiation, you have to think of the wrath of God. God’s wrath is not an uncontrolled fury that escapes Him. It is a deliberate response to anyone that crosses Him or competes with Him in His devotion to His own glory. As sinners, we cross Him all the time. We rob Him of His glory and pursue our own. God’s response is to punish us in His wrath. Our Lord Jesus became man to make propitiation. That is, Jesus is the One Who turns away the wrath of God from His people. He places Himself between God’s wrath and us and absorbs it all. In bearing responsibility for our sin, He becomes liable to God’s wrath. His heart wrenching cry, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ is proof that He experienced God’s wrath on the cross. Because our Lord bears the wrath our sins deserve, God is pacified, He is appeased, His anger is turned away. God’s wrath (Isaiah 51:17; Psalm 75:8) was the cup Jesus so dreaded. Thank God that Jesus drank that cup so that we might drink the cup of salvation (Psalm 116:13). Suggestions for prayer Praise God for the death of the Lord Jesus which covers sin and turns away God’s wrath. Pray that we, by the Holy Spirit, would be careful to please God by our thoughts, words, and actions. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 27 - Cross purposes: Sacrifice

“He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal inheritance.” - Hebrews 9:12 Scripture reading: Hebrews 9:1-14 Remember that after Adam and Eve had sinned, God killed animals and made garments of skin to clothe them? That was the first sacrifice. The animals died in the place of Adam and Eve. This substitution was seen in the elaborate system of offerings the Lord instituted in the Old Testament. The premise was that the guilty Israelites deserved death. The killing of an animal in the place of the guilty human was a picture of the work of Christ, the work by which God and His people could live in fellowship. So, Christ comes as the Lamb of God. He sheds His blood on the cross. And then He goes into the Most Holy Place, the real one, not the one on earth, but the one in heaven. He enters the actual presence of God, with His own blood, offering Himself without blemish to God (Hebrews 9:14). And by that work He secures an eternal redemption for His people (Hebrews 9:12). Christ’s giving up of Himself pleases His Father. It is ‘a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’ (Ephesians 5:2). In the Old Testament ritual the guilty person would place his hands on the animal and confess his sin, a symbolic transferring of guilt from the sinner to the animal. This is what we ought to do. We ought to place our hands on the head of our Lord Jesus, confessing our sins, so that we might know the purifying blessing of His sacrifice on Golgotha. Then serve Him sacrificially because He is worthy. Suggestions for prayer Ask God that we would be as delighted with Christ’s sacrifice for sin as He Himself is. Ask the Lord to give us grace so that we might be imitators of the Lord Jesus and give ourselves sacrificially to Him and to others. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 26 - Cross purposes: Redemption

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” - Revelation 1:5b-6 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:13-21 Martin Luther King Jr. ended his August 28, 1963, speech envisioning all Americans singing, ‘Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.’ That is the song Christians can sing with gusto because one of the cross purposes is redemption. Peter speaks about ransom (1 Peter 1:18). Ransom has an Old Testament background. A person could redeem another from slavery for a price. As sinners, we are enslaved to sin’s guilt and power. There is no way we can release ourselves from it. The chains binding us to sin are too strong. All the perishable things such as silver or gold cannot pay the ransom. Indeed, wealth cannot even keep people alive. The graves of the wealthiest are with us today. And if wealth can’t rescue a person from the death of his body, how could it ransom a soul from bondage to sin? But Christ can and does. He was chosen before the foundation of the world to be the ransom price for sin. He takes our sin. The price He pays to God for our freedom is His own life. The Son of Man gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). He must be the acceptable redemption price. God would never have put His Son through the ordeal of the cross if He could ransom sinners with wealth. Do you know the redemption of God paid on Golgotha’s cross? Then sing it out, ‘Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, I’m free at last!’ Suggestions for prayer Praise God that the Son of God loved us and gave Himself for us. Ask God to give us a hatred for sin and its enslaving power. Pray that the Spirit would make the blood of our Lord Jesus precious to us. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 21 - Christ our King (II) 

“For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; he will save us.”- Isaiah 33:22  Scripture reading: Exodus 20:1-17 When God delivered His people out of Egypt, He gathered them around Mount Sinai and gave them His law as their rule of life. Basically He was saying, ‘I am your king and I have delivered you from the tyranny of your enemies. This is how you should live as My subjects.’ Christ our king has delivered us from the tyranny of Satan by conquering death on the cross. As the One to Whom all authority has been given, we are to observe all that He has commanded (Matthew 28:20). As our King, we owe Him our allegiance. Our allegiance to King Jesus is demonstrated in our glad submission to His authority. We are His subjects. His word is our law. As He Himself said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46). The apostles understood this well. They happily identified themselves as servants of Christ Jesus (Romans 1:1, James 1:1, 2 Peter 1:1, Jude 1:1). They no longer had an independent existence. If they lived, they lived to the Lord; if they died, they died to the Lord (Romans 14:8). They went where He sent them. They made it their aim to please Him and recognized that they were to live for Him Who for their sake died and was raised (2 Corinthians 5:9, 15). We do well to reflect on how faithfully we are subjects of such a great and gracious King. Suggestions for [rayer Pray that God would forgive us for the times we have put ourselves on the throne of our lives. Ask for a humble spirit which gladly submits to King Jesus. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 20 - Christ our King (I) 

“They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” - Revelation 17:14  Scripture reading: Luke 1:26-38 When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a son, he drew attention to the fact that the Lord God would give her son the throne of His father David, that He would reign over the house of Jacob forever, and that His kingdom would never end (Luke 1:32-33). Christ has come into the world to be our king. This was already foretold in the Old Testament. David was promised in 2 Samuel 7 that he would always have a son to sit upon his throne. Jesus is that Son of David. As king, our Lord Jesus is like His father David, a warrior, who defeated the Philistine giant, Goliath, and all the enemies of the Israelites. David secured peace for the people of God, a peace over which Solomon, his son, reigned. Jesus is the warrior Who defeats all His and our enemies, and through Christ we have come to know peace. How does He defeat our enemies? The apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 3 that Christ, by His death on the cross, disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to shame. In the cross, Christ triumphed over them. The resurrection on the third day was proof positive of His victory over sin and death and Satan. That is why our Lord Jesus told His disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). He is the Mighty God upon Whose shoulders is the government of the universe (Isaiah 9:6). All hail King Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that we are more than conquerors through our Lord Jesus Christ. Pray that Christ’s victory would be seen more and more throughout the world as nations bow down and worship Him. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 19 - Christ our Priest (III) 

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” - Luke 22:31-32  Scripture reading: Romans 8:31-39 We often speak of the finished work of Christ when we refer to His death on the cross. However, we ought not think that Christ is unemployed in heaven as if He is doing nothing there. He is seated at the right hand of the throne, but His sitting is not a sitting of idleness. He continues to minister in the true Tabernacle (Hebrews 8:1-2). What does He do there? Romans 8:34 tells us that He is interceding for us. What does that mean? First, to reiterate what we looked at yesterday, Christ presents His sacrifice to the Father and based on that sacrifice our sins are forgiven. Just as purchasing a birthday present for your child is of no benefit to him unless you also present it, so the death of Christ on earth would not secure our forgiveness unless He presented it in heaven. That is one way He intercedes for us. But He also intercedes for us by His prayers. If our salvation depended on our prayers, we could have no confidence we would persevere in the faith and inherit eternal salvation. But our Lord Jesus prays for us. Christ prays that we would have grace so that our faith would not fail and, if it does fail, that we would be restored. Christ is praying for you and what Father would be able to say ‘no’ to the prayers of such a devoted and loving Son? Our salvation depends on the intercession of our Priest. Thank God He is faithful. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that we have One Who prays for us in heaven to help us in our struggles on earth. Pray for others even as Jesus prays for us so that our brothers and sisters might run the race to the very end and receive the crown. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 18 - Christ our priest (II)

“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” - Hebrews 9:24  Scripture reading: Hebrews 9:11-28 The Old Testament sacrificial ritual took place in two places. One was in the court where the animals were sacrificed. Then the High Priest would enter into the Most Holy Place and sprinkle the animals’ blood on the mercy seat. Similarly, the work of Christ our High Priest took place in two places. On earth He offered Himself as a sacrifice for sinners. Then, Hebrews tells us, Christ, by His own blood, passed through the heavens, and entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf (Hebrews 9:24). There He sat down at the right hand of the Father. This sitting signifies something important. The tabernacle and temple had no chair upon which the priests could sit. They had to stand daily, without sitting, because their work was never completed. Sins were never really atoned for. But Christ doesn’t stand in heaven. Because of the perfection of His sacrifice which has taken away His people’s sins, Christ was able to sit down. Nothing more needed to be done. No more sacrifices needed to be made. And His sitting at the Father’s right hand is a perpetual reminder that on the basis of Christ’s work, the Judge of all the earth can grant forgiveness to guilty sinners who trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus. As Charitie Bancroft so wonderfully wrote, “Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free; for God, the just, is satisfied to look on him and pardon me.” Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give us confidence in the completed, perfect work of His Son so that we might have a clear conscience and may enjoy the assurance of sins forgiven.  Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 13 - Christ’s miracles 

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know–” - Acts 2:22  Scripture reading: Mark 1:29-39 Jesus did a lot of miracles. And yet, in Mark 1:38, He considers preaching as the reason He came. What place do His miracles play in His ministry? First, as Peter mentions in his Pentecost sermon, God did works, wonders and signs through Jesus to commend Him publicly. God was putting His seal of approval on Jesus’s ministry. Second, miracles are illustrations of Jesus’s preaching. He had come, Mark 1:14-15 tells us, to proclaim the gospel and kingdom of God. What was the good news of God and His kingdom? Certainly this: the tyranny of sin was over. Jesus Christ had come to set things right. By His death on the cross Jesus would reverse the curse and make all things new. A new day had dawned in the history of God’s dealings with His creation. Well, what does that look like? What does the reverse of the curse mean? Jesus illustrates this by His miracles. Diseases and demonic oppression are a result of sin. When Jesus heals sickness and drives out demons, He pushes back against the kingdom of darkness. These miracles are glimpses of His redemptive work. But they are always temporary. For example, Lazarus died again. But miracles also look forward. Christ’s first coming is the dawning of the kingdom. The full arrival of His kingdom is in the future. Then sin and its effects will be eradicated and all things made new. He preached this in His sermons and illustrated it by His miracles. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that we can look forward to the day when all things will become new and ask Him to hasten that day. Pray that the gospel of the kingdom would be heralded among the nations so that people would place their trust in Jesus. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 12 - Christ’s compassion 

“. . . a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” - Matthew 12:20  Scripture reading: Mark 6:7-34 Our passage today recounts the mission of the twelve apostles and the beheading of our Lord’s forerunner, John the Baptizer. Burdened by the death of John and knowing His disciples were wearied by the constant coming and going of the people, Jesus invites His disciples to come with Him to a desolate place for some rest. The people saw them go and reached the place of repose before them. Jesus, seeing the crowds, had compassion on them and began to teach them many things. Here we see the compassionate heart of the Lord. He saw the crowds were bereft of spiritual care and, although He was weary and hungry, He ministered to them. He pities His people left in such difficult conditions because of human sin. In His sympathetic ministry to them He comes with gentleness. He knows our frailty, understands human weakness, and by grace, treats us with a tenderness that doesn’t break us in our fragility and quench what spiritual life we have. Our need draws His attention to us. Mark tells us that Jesus’s compassion led Him to teach them many things. Certainly, His teaching must have been about Himself as He invited labouring and heavy-laden people to come to Him for rest for their souls (Matthew 11:28-29). And if His compassion is displayed in His teaching the shepherd-less crowds, what does His death as the Lamb of God demonstrate? Surely, immeasurable compassion! Happy are those who are loved by this Saviour! Suggestions for prayer Cast all your burdens upon the Lord knowing that you have a sympathetic High Priest as God’s right hand. Thank the Lord Jesus for His kind compassion in ministering to our spiritual needs. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

 March 11- Christ’s temptations 

“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” - 2 Corinthians 15:21-22  Scripture reading: Luke 4:1-13 Matthew and Luke both record Jesus’s temptations in the wilderness. Although the accounts are similar, the contexts help us to understand the particular point the authors are making about Jesus. Luke 3 ends with a genealogy of the Lord Jesus going all the way to Adam. Immediately, Luke records Jesus’s temptations. Luke is contrasting the unfaithful first Adam and the faithful last Adam. Both were tempted by Satan. Adam, living in the beauty of the Garden of Eden, capitulated to the enemy. Jesus, led by the Spirit into the wilderness, resisted the devil so that he departed from Him. The last Adam was successful where the first Adam failed. Jesus is qualified to be our Redeemer, to undo the ruin Adam had brought. Matthew’s focus is different. In Matthew’s gospel Jesus is the new Israel. Like Israel, God’s son (Exodus 4:22), Jesus is the Son of God and, like Israel, He was called out of Egypt (Matthew 2:15). Like Israel, Jesus was brought into the wilderness. Unlike Israel, Jesus proved to be faithful. You will notice that Jesus’s quotations of the Scriptures are all from Deuteronomy where Moses recounts God’s wilderness dealings with Israel. Where Israel failed, Jesus was successful. In both scenarios, Jesus as the last Adam and Jesus as the new Israel, is promoted as the One to Whom we must be united by faith. Only in union with Jesus will we both enjoy God without being driven from His presence and be welcomed into the Promised Land of His favour. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that in union with Jesus Christ, we will never be driven from His presence like our first parents. Thank God for Jesus’s faithfulness in His temptations and that through Him we shall enjoy God’s presence forever. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

 March 10 - Presented by Christ

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” - Hebrews 4:14-16  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-10 How can we as sinners even think about entering the presence of God in corporate worship? Certainly, it is the height of folly to think He would receive us. Yes, if we come on our own. No, if we come through a mediator. Jesus is the mediator of our worship. He is the One Who presents us to the Father in worship as He says, “Behold, I and the children God has given me” (Hebrews 2:13). He is the One Who has passed through the heavens into God’s Most Holy Place (Hebrews 4:14) and through Him we too may enter the presence of the living God. What’s more, we may approach the throne of the Majesty without cowering, indeed, even with confidence. And through the same mediator we offer our worship. We are not so self-confident are we, to think that our songs and prayers and listening are acceptable as they come from us? We are aware of our wanderings, our coldness of heart, and our lethargy. We sometimes honour God with our lips while our heart is far from Him (Mark 7:6). Whatever worship we offer must be purified by the blood of the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. Through our mediator Jesus Christ, the spiritual sacrifices we offer as the spiritual house and priesthood of God, are acceptable to a holy God. Thankfully, through the Lord Jesus, we may proclaim the excellencies of our Saviour and know that those praises delight Him. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Ask God to help you to worship Him with joy as those called out of darkness into His marvellous light. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 5 - The word became flesh (1) 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” - John 1:1  Scripture reading: John 1:1-13 We have already noted that Jesus had a pre-existence. He was from ancient days. In our passage today John refers to the Word. It is only in John 1:17 that we learn that this Word is the Lord Jesus. What does John say about Him? John tells us that Jesus is eternal. In the beginning was the Word. Before the beginning of the world and human history the Word was. Jesus existed in eternity past. John tells us that Jesus was with God. Jesus is not another face of the God of the Old Testament, perhaps a kinder and gentler face. John distinguishes between the Father and the Son. Jesus was with the Father while distinct from Him. John tells us that Jesus was God. You have probably encountered Jehovah Witnesses who say that this should be translated as ‘the Word was a god’ because in the Greek there is no article ‘the’ before the word ‘God’. Besides the fact that Greek grammar doesn’t require it, if John had put the article ‘the’ before the word ‘God’ so that it read, ‘and the Word was the God’, you would have other problems. It would exclude the Father and the Spirit from being God. To say that Jesus is a god militates against the biblical truth that there is only one God. John wrote it precisely correctly: Jesus was God. Finally, John tells us that Jesus is the Creator of all things. Nothing was made without Him, not even the eternal Son Himself. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you understand the glory of the Lord Jesus, that He is very God of very God, and keep you from errors about our Lord Jesus. Since the Lord Jesus is God, worship Him in prayer. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 4 - Christ and creation 

“all things were created through him and for him.” - Colossians 1:16 Scripture reading: Colossians 1:15-20 It is a wonderful truth that the Lord Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). It is unthinkable to imagine that He had not come. But in our passage today, the Apostle reminds us of another truth, a truth that is before the one mentioned above. That truth is that the world came into existence for Christ. Paul is talking about how the Lord Jesus is the image of the invisible God. This Jesus is the One Who created all things. All things were created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16). Jesus is the reason that God called the world into existence. Jesus does not, in the first place, exist for us. We exist for Him. We are not the centre of the universe; He is. God’s great desire is that His Son would be preeminent in everything (Colossians 1:18). Everything has been designed so that the Lord Jesus Christ, the One in Whom all the fullness of God dwells, would be worshipped. Creation is a showcase for the glory of Christ, to display His multifaceted perfections. This has important implications for our lives. Our lives should reflect Christ’s glory. We do that when we trust in Him as our Saviour, showcasing His glory. We do that when we imitate Him, displaying, in our lives, His holiness and character. We do that when we pray for people around us to glorify Christ and seize the opportunities we have to commend Christ to others. Certainly, He is worth everything as the glorious God-man. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to re-orient our thinking so that we understand that we exist for Christ before He exists for us. Thank God that the all-glorious Lord Jesus did come into the world to save us sinners. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 3 - The worship of Christ

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” - Philippians 2:9-11  Scripture reading: John 8:48-59 As we gather as an assembled congregation this Lord’s Day, it is helpful to remember that the worship of the Lord Jesus is at the heart of Christian worship. As a reward for our Lord Jesus’s humiliation, Christ Jesus, the God-man, is appointed to receive the nations’ worship. As Paul says in Philippians 2:9-11, they will bow at His name and confess that He is Lord. This worship of the Lord Jesus is by the Father’s design. He is the One Who seeks Christ’s glory (John 8:50) and Who glorifies Christ (John 8:54). The Spirit as well longs for Christ to be worshipped. He glorifies Christ as He declares to us the things of Christ (John 16:14). If the desire of the Father and the Spirit is the glorification of Christ, certainly His worship should be front and centre in our worship. If we do not honour the Son, we do not honour the Father Who sent Him (John 8:23). This is not to say that the Father is not to be glorified in our worship. He is as well. Lazarus’s death was for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it (John 11:4). The worship of Christ is “to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). As you assemble for worship, pay particular attention to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ponder His greatness as the God-man. Meditate on what He has done as the Saviour. And worship Him! Suggestions for prayer Pray that Christ’s Spirit would open our eyes so that we would see Jesus and draw us to Him in trust and adoration as we read His Word and hear it preached. Pray for the success of preaching and mission work so that the Lord Jesus would be worshipped by the nations. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

March 2 - The eternal plan

“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.’” - Psalm 40:7  Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:1-10 In Hebrews 10:5-7, we are eavesdropping on a conversation between the Father and the Son. We overhear the eternal Son telling the Father that Old Testament sacrifices were not fit for His ultimate purpose. In terms of taking away sins they were not desired, and God took no pleasure in them. Not that God didn’t want a sacrifice but the sacrifice He wanted was the sacrifice of His Son. That is why the Father prepared a body for Him. Christ was going to be the final and only effective sacrifice for sins. Then the Son tells the Father that He has come to do God’s will, that is, He has come to reconcile sinners to God. The Son knew that meant suffering, rejection and crucifixion for Him. Yet, He was committed to doing His Father’s will. There is one more thing the Son tells the Father. Jesus’s coming has been written in the scroll of the book. Some think that refers to the pages of the Old Testament. It is better thought of as the eternal plan agreed upon in the council amongst the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Christ was appointed to be the unblemished Lamb Who would take away sin. Christ accepted that appointment freely. He came down from heaven, not to do His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him (John 6:38). When He does come into the world, He reminds His Father of that: I am only doing what We agreed I would do for the salvation of sinners. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He desired the salvation of His own. Thank the Lord Jesus for His willingness to do the Father’s will even when it meant His own sacrificial death. Pray for all of Christ’s servants as they declare the mystery of Christ tomorrow. Rev. John van Eyk began his ministry in Cambridge, Ontario as a Church Planter and Minister of the Riverside Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After 13 years there, he served almost 10 years in the Tain/Fearn congregation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches in the Scottish Highlands. John has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

February 24 - The grace of God in purification

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

Daily devotional

February 25 - The grace of God’s reviving work

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

Daily devotional

February 23 - God’s grace of a righteous ruler

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

February 17 - The grace of giving all to God 

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

Daily devotional

February 16 - The grace of dark providence 

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

Daily devotional

 February 15 - The grace of a surprising deliverance

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

Daily devotional

February 10 - A “wall” of grace

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

Daily devotional

February 9 - Grace as relief from struggles

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

Daily devotional

 February 8 - Grace in time of sinful competition

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

Daily devotional

February 7 - Grace in life’s messes

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

Daily devotional

February 2 - A colourful sign of given grace 

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

Daily devotional

February 1 - Introduction to grace 

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

Daily devotional

January 31 - Iniquity forgiven

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

Daily devotional

January 30 - Powerless enemy

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

Daily devotional

January 25 - Making all things new

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

Daily devotional

January 24 - As far as the eye can see

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

Daily devotional

January 23 - The King in his beauty

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

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January 22 - Impenetrable defense

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

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January 17 - God is a consuming fire

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

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January 16 - Conceiving chaff

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

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January 15 – The Lord will arise

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

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January 14 - The Lord lifted up

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

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 January 9 - Treasuring the fear of the Lord

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

Daily devotional

January 8 - The stability of your times

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

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January 7 - Christ’s justice and righteousness for Zion

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

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January 6 - The eminent and imminent Lord

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

Daily devotional

January 1 - Introduction to the fear of the Lord 

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

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December 31 - Behold, the lamb of God!

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

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December 30 - John the Baptizer bears witness to the light

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

Daily devotional

December 29 - Christ: The genuine light

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

Daily devotional

December 24 - Elderly Anna’s urban witness

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

Daily devotional

December 23 - God’s Christmas gift

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

Daily devotional

December 22 - Mary ponders the incarnation

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

Daily devotional, Uncategorised

December 21 - Jesus’ birth announced to the shepherds

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

Daily devotional

December 16 - The sign of Immanuel’s virgin mother

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

Daily devotional

December 15 - Mary’s cheerful self-surrender

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

Daily devotional

December 14 - God raising up a horn of salvation

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

Daily devotional

December 13 - A childless couple produces the forerunner

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

Daily devotional

December 8 - The gentle Redeemer of elect Jew and Gentile

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

Daily devotional

December 7 - Isaiah’s prophecy of the lame leaping

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

Daily devotional

December 6 - The nations rallying to the root of Jesse

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

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