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Daily devotional

December 5 - The wonderful counselor

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” - Isaiah 9:6 

Scripture reading: Isaiah 9:1-7

All these titles of the future Messiah have connotations of deity. In the book of Judges, we find Samson’s father, Manoah, asking the Angel of Jehovah what His name is. The Angel of the LORD responds that his name “is wonderful” (Judges 13:18). That Jesus is the ‘Counsellor’ implies that He has no need for a cabinet to give advice because He is the Wisdom of God.

The title “Mighty God” contains the widely used name for God which is “Elohim”, a name that points to His mighty power. Christ uses His power to fight for His people.

It is remarkable that the second person of the holy Trinity is called the “Everlasting Father”. This title communicates that He is the divine creator of all creatures.

Even the final title, “Prince of Peace,” has connotations of deity. The word “prince” is the same word used back in Joshua 5:14 when Joshua meets a man standing with a drawn sword by Jericho. Joshua asks: “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” (Joshua 5:13b). The person responds: “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD” (Joshua 5:14a). Joshua then worshipped the commander. The word for “commander” is the same as the word for “prince” in Isaiah 9:6. So all these titles point to the deity and majesty of the coming Saviour.

A very human child would be born. But this child would have such high titles because He would be God in human flesh.

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that you would meditate on the various titles of Christ during the Christmas season to appreciate the greatness of Christ and the variety of His works. Ask for grace to worship Jesus, just like Joshua fell on the ground before the pre-incarnate Son of God.

Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.

Daily devotional

November 30 - He who calls you is faithful

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

Daily devotional

November 29 - Avoiding appearance of evil

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

Daily devotional

November 28 - Test the spirits

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

Daily devotional

November 27 - On despising prophecy

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

Daily devotional

November 22 - Like a thief in the night

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

Daily devotional

November 21 - Encouraging one another 

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

Daily devotional

November 20 - Our daily labour

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

Daily devotional

November 19 - Concerning love to the brothers

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

Daily devotional

November 14 - Abounding in love

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

November 12 - Being moved by afflictions

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

Daily devotional

November 11 - For you are our glory and joy

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

Daily devotional

November 6 - We had already suffered

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

Daily devotional

November 5 - Turning away from idols

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

Daily devotional

November 4 - God has chosen you

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

Daily devotional

November 3 - We give thanks to God for you

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

Daily devotional

October 29 - The faith of the martyrs

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

Daily devotional

October 28 - The faith of the martyrs

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

Daily devotional

October 27 - Resurrection hope

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

Daily devotional

October 26 - By faith the weak become strong

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

Daily devotional

October 21 - The faith of Moses

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

Daily devotional

October 20 - The faith of Moses

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

Daily devotional

October 19 - The faith of Moses

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

Daily devotional

October 18 - Disobeying pharaoh by faith

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

Daily devotional

October 13 - Abraham and Isaac

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

Daily devotional

October 12 - God’s city

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

Daily devotional

 October 11 - Pilgrims on earth

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

Daily devotional

October 10 - Stars and sand

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

Daily devotional

October 5 - A God-pleasing faith

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

Daily devotional

October 4 - Enoch walked with God

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

Daily devotional

October 3 - Abel still speaks?

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

Daily devotional

October 2 - Creation out of nothing!

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

Daily devotional

September 27 - Deep sea fishing

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

Daily devotional

September 26 - Gossip

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

September 19 - Watch your mouth (part 1)

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

Daily devotional

September 18 - Thoughts on wealth and poverty

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

Daily devotional

September 17 - Wisdom, folly, and sin

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” - Proverbs 28:13 Scripture readings: Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:5-10 It is not just wrong to cover up your sin. It is also foolish. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper” (Proverbs 28:13). The word ‘prosper’ also means ‘succeed’. It does not work to cover up sins but makes it worse. Suppressing guilt injures you, body and soul. “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4). You cannot hide your sin from God. “Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord; how much more the hearts of the children of man!” (Proverbs 15:11). You need not hide your sin from God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Praise the Lord! It is not just right to confess your sin. It is also wise. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). David testified, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). As you prepare your heart to worship with God’s people today, confess your sins to the Lord and know that your sins are forgiven. Ask the Holy Spirit to write the gospel on your heart. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the gospel of forgiveness in Christ. Ask for humility, conviction and courage to confess your sins. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy (nee Vandermeer), and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

September 16 - Check your heart (part 2)

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

Daily devotional

September 11 - What is a proverb?

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

September 9 - Two women, two days

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

Daily devotional

September 8 - The beginning of wisdom

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

Daily devotional

September 3 - Introducing Lady Wisdom

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

September 1 - Introduction to God’s wisdom

Wisdom is one of our Triune God’s many glorious and beautiful attributes. He is the Source of all wisdom revealed and discovered in both creation and Scripture. Our reading of both should drive us to doxology: “O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (Psalm 104:24). “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33). Since God is the Source of wisdom, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10a). To become wise, we must know God’s wise design for creation and humanity, then live in line with it. This applies to the Law of Gravity and God’s blueprint for human sexuality, among other things. In Proverbs, God has given us a wisdom treasury in the form of catchy sayings that capture down-to-earth truths that help us live well. Many of these proverbs contrast the way of Lady Wisdom and the way of Lady Folly in concrete situations. We will cherry pick a few of these proverbs and chew on them to extract God’s loving, life-giving instruction from them. Along the way, I will often point you to the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24 as the Lord invites us to examine our hearts in response to these proverbs. Above all, wisdom embraces Christ as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. He is Lady Wisdom in the flesh. He is our Gateway to the good and wise life laid out in Proverbs. “What in the world…?” (part 1) “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” - Psalm 104:24: Scripture reading: Psalm 104:24-30 God is wise. He is also the Source of wisdom. From the macro to the micro, every corner of His creation reflects His wisdom. We marvel at creation’s magnificent and intricate design. All the pieces fit together. They work together to support life. One Sunday evening, Psalm 104:24 was our call to worship. I asked the gathered congregation, “What in the world makes you say, ‘Wow, God! You are so wise!’?” Someone pointed out the tilt of earth’s axis, which allows for the rotation of the seasons. Another noted the peculiar behaviour of water in its solid state. Typically, matter is least dense as vapour, more dense as liquid and most dense as a solid. Ice, however, is less dense than water, ensuring that it floats. Thank God it does! One child exclaimed, “I’m glad we don’t live next to Betelgeuse.” Beetle juice? I had no idea what he was talking about. But he certainly did. “If the sun was the size of an orange, the star Betelgeuse would be the size of a football field. We’d be scorched if we lived next to it!” Indeed, we would. In these and other ways, worshipers exclaimed, “Wow, God! You are so wise!” It was our corporate prayer of praise in response to Psalm 104:24. How would you answer that question? May our contemplation of God’s wisdom in creation evoke our praise. May it also inspire confidence that we can trust God’s wise design for human thriving in creation and redemption. Suggestions for prayer What in the world makes you say, ‘Wow, God! You are so wise!’? Let your responses be your prayer of praise. Pastor Richard Zekveld, his wife Nancy, and their five children live in South Holland, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Richard has pastored Covenant Fellowship Church of South Holland (PCA) since 2015, he also works part-time in jail ministry as a chaplain for Chicagoland Prison Outreach. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

August 31 - Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!

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

Daily devotional

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

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

Daily devotional

August 25 - The place of victory

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

Daily devotional

August 24 - The great war

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

Daily devotional

August 23 - Faithful until death, rewarded in resurrection

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

Daily devotional

August 18 - The good shepherd

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

Daily devotional

August 17 - The centrality of worship

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

Daily devotional

August 16 - The 144,000

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

Daily devotional

August 15 - Refuge in the blood

“Hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb!” - Revelation 6:16  Scripture reading: Revelation 6:9-17; Psalm 46:1-11 A young child hears the thunder roll and sees the lightning in the sky. Fearfully, he takes refuge under that time-tested defence – the blankets on his bed! In the sixth seal, the day of God’s wrath has come, and along with it worldwide calamity. The earth quakes, stars fall, and thunder and lightning sound. When it comes, the people of this world revert to their childhood. They pull the sheets over their head in the best refuge they can find, but the ‘sheets’ have changed. They ask the mountains to fall on them, and the rocks to cover them in hope of hiding from the wrath of God. There is a great gospel reality revealed in this passage. All of us need a covering, a refuge from the righteous anger of a holy God. A Biblical word for covering is atonement. As God gives atonement through the blood of Jesus, what He is providing for His people is a refuge, a protection and covering from His own holy anger. This blood has special power. It is the blood of the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the word” (John 1:29). It is the blood that shows our debt is paid; we are redeemed. Under this blood we find protection from God’s wrath and assurance of His love. We often seek refuge in the wrong places. Every refuge, except one, will fail. Suggestions for prayer Lord, let me find refuge in the blood of Jesus, that I may never fear your holy wrath. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

August 10 - O worship the King

Revelation 4:8 Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty... Scripture reading: Revelation 4; Isaiah 6:1-8 How important is worship? On a scale of 1-10, how important, how life giving, is the worship of God to you? It is a humbling thing to realize how frequently the book of Revelation shows us the glory of God. Revelation will reveal to us the future. There will be visions of dragons and beasts, wars and martyrdom. But above it all, undergirding it all, is the glory of God and His worthiness to be praised. This is the emphasis of Revelation 4. Before we see the tempest of the following chapters, God shows us Himself. God is holy. He is separate from sin, most assuredly, but He is also separate from creation. He is above all things and even the sinless angels cannot stop praising Him in holy fear. The elders, who symbolize the victorious people of God, cast their crowns before Him and proclaim God alone as worthy. The reward of their perseverance, they cast before His feet: to God alone be glory! Worship is foundational to what life is about. It is something God calls us to participate in and consider repeatedly. It is never an option; we cannot do without it. It redirects our hearts away from the shaking sands of this world to the One who is immovable. It reminds us of who we are saved for. We have been made and redeemed for God’s glory; whatever this life may bring may we give Him the praise! Suggestions for prayer Lord, help me to know Your glory, and give You praise. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

August 9 - Knowing need and fulfilling need

“But you do not know that you are wretched…buy from Me gold…” - Rev. 3:17-18  Scripture reading: Revelation 3:14-22; Judges 16:16-22; Isaiah 55:1-3 There is a particular verse in the Bible that always stops me dead in my tracks. The Philistines come upon Samson after his fall, and he says, “I will go out as before…and shake myself free!” But the verse continues, “But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.” Laodicea was a church that did not realize how far they had fallen. They thought they had it all. Like Samson, Laodicea was self-deceived, believing their strength came from themselves. Perhaps they thought that wealth and good standing was proof of God’s favour. But they did not know that the Lord had departed. Jesus warns them of their danger: He tells them He would vomit them from His mouth! Such words would be gut-wrenching to hear, but it is followed up immediately by encouragement. The encouragement is simple: Come to Jesus. You are more impoverished than you realized, but come buy gold, come buy clothes and buy because these things, from the hand of Christ, are free. Jesus shows that His harsh words to Laodicea are a proof, not of condemnation, but of love. He is driving them to Himself. At the end of his life, John Newton wrote: “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour.” Whatever material blessings God may send, may we not forget the great poverty we have in ourselves, and the great supply that is found in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Lord, help me to know my need and its satisfaction in Christ. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

August 8 - Hard pressed, but not destroyed 

“For you have a little strength…” - Rev. 3:8  Scripture reading: Revelation 3:7-13; Luke 17:1-10 Have you ever admired those men and women who seem exceptional? Every generation has them. They win gold medals or achieve seemingly impossible feats. They make us realize that some people in this world are just…gifted. Sometimes we take the idea of giftedness from the world and apply it to strength in the church. Think of what we consider to be a strong church: growing numbers, a dynamic preacher, a visible and respected ministry. It is the kind of church you look at and can’t help but feel impressed by it. The church of Philadelphia is the second of the two churches in Revelation that receives no critique from Jesus. It is praised by Jesus for something quite remarkable; it is praised for having a “little” strength. They aren’t the strongest or the smartest, they aren’t ‘exceptional,’ but with their “little” strength they keep God’s word and hold fast to Christ’s name. As a result, God sets before them an open door. God provides fruit on their labours and uses them for exceptional things. Exceptional churches don’t need a lot of strength, they just need a little. The same is true for Christians. Sometimes we spend time looking for ‘great’ faith when God is pleased to use the little we have. God uses our little strength, directed the right way, for great things. Praise God for what many people may overlook – a little strength in the hands of an Almighty God. Suggestions for prayer Lord, help me to be faithful with whatever strength you have given me. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

August 7 - A good name

“Hold fast, and repent.” - Revelation 3:3 Scripture reading: Revelation 3:1-6; Isaiah 42:1-9 A lot can be said about a good reputation, but while a good name is better than riches (Pr. 22:1), reputations aren’t always accurate. As a city, Sardis was surrounded by 1500 foot cliffs and thought to be nearly impregnable. But twice in the history of the city, its reputation proved false, and both times it was the presumption of the defenders that led to their destruction. The church of Sardis was experiencing the same reality. Thinking themselves strong, they were actually distant from God. While their singing may have made visitors think the church was on fire, behind the beautiful voices were cold hearts. The same can be true for all of us; the profession of faith made years (or even days) ago can speak of a reality that is no longer there. Jesus calls us to be watchful and to strengthen the spiritual zeal we may still have. Where do we still feel the conviction or encouragement of His Word and Spirit? Where it exists, fan the flame. What you know to be good, do it. What you know to be evil, stop it. For all who do His will, God promises, He will not quench the smoking wick or break the bruised reed. The Christian life can be restored so that, like a repentant Sardis, Jesus would even boast of us before the Father. May God help us not to live on reputation, but by a living, daily walk with Him. Suggestions for prayer Lord, please renew me to abide daily in Jesus Christ. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

August 2 - Safe in the storm

“I am the Alpha and Omega…” - Rev. 1:8  Scripture reading: Revelation 1:4-8 Anchors may not be considered great treasures, but they can be invaluable tools. Not only do they steady a boat to enjoy fishing on a beautiful day, but in storms they keep boats from rocky shores. The future revealed in this book is at times stormy. There will be fearful visions of beasts and dragons, evil empires and earthly calamities. But before these things appear, God points us first to Himself: the Anchor who holds. Who is this God? He is the sovereign, all-powerful, resurrected Lord who loves us, washes us, and makes us glorious in Christ (even when we do not feel glorious). He is the victor, the One who is to come in glory, and who will be worshipped by all. He is the Almighty. Whatever the future may reveal, this God is the anchor for He is the One who holds the future in His sovereign hands. This God promises us grace and peace in Christ. The implication is that we will still struggle with sin and fear in these last days. But it also implies that when we do, all we need to overcome these things will also freely be supplied by Him. As we experience life in the end times, may God keep our eyes on the One who holds all in His hand and who provides from His loving abundance all we need to be safe in the storm. Suggestions for prayer Help us to keep our eyes on Christ, the Anchor of our souls. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

August 1 - Introduction to the book of Revelation

This month Pastor Greg Bylsma leads us through a series of devotions on the book of Revelation. Two Scripture readings are given for each day. The first is foundational to the devotion, the second allows you to dig a little deeper into a similar teaching in God’s Word. We encourage you to take the time to read both! Unfortunately, due to space the entire book of Revelation is not covered. After finishing Revelation 14 the devotions skip to Revelation 21 and 22 for the closing days. We trust it may still be a help to you in understanding God’s message from the book of Revelation. Revelation “The revelation of Jesus Christ…” - Revelation 1:1a  Scripture reading: Revelation 1:1-3 Have you ever wished you could know the future? The idea seems to fit into the realm of science fiction, yet God tells us from the beginning of Revelation that His purpose is to reveal to His church what must “shortly” take place. As incredible as it seems, God is revealing the future. Sometimes when we look at the book of Revelation we consider it to be anything but a revelation. At best it is confusing, and at worst divisive. The name of the book, which means ‘unveiling’ hardly seems to fit. Yet if we believe Rev. 1:1-3, this book not only reveals what is to come, but gives us key truths to live by when it does. This book has a purpose, and it is to reveal to us the future so we can follow God’s plan as we step into that future. The call to us this month is to hear God’s words about what is coming and to keep them. His word is not always easy, but it is always good and always brings blessing to His bride as she seeks to obey and glorify His name as she does so. As we approach another month of drawing nearer to God, may we do so prepared to hear God’s revelation and live by it. May we see how God prepares us for the trials to come so that, through Christ, we may be more than conquerors. Suggestions for prayer Help us to understand and obey Your revelation to the church. Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

July 31 - Having peace with God

“Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” - 1 Peter 5:14 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5:14 and Romans 5:6-11 Peter ends his letter similar to the way he started it, giving a blessing of peace, not first of all between humans, but peace with God. It can only come from God through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul said that while we were enemies of God, He sent His beloved Son so that through Him we could be reconciled to God and have peace with Him (Romans 5:6-11). This is why Peter says, “Peace to all who are in Christ.” One who does not have a living relationship with Christ, does not have peace with God. Peter wrote to those scattered because of their faith in Jesus, those called to be a people of God. Even though Christ’s people can go through all sorts of trials and hardships, they are to trust they have an enduring peace with God. Having this enduring peace with God will also cause you to greet your fellow brothers and sisters who are in Christ in a special way. As brothers and sisters in Christ we can have different cultures, languages and pet-peeves. But if we are at peace with God because we are in Christ, together we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of His own possession. Only in truly believing this can we address fellow believers in Jesus Christ as beloved brothers and sisters. Greeting each other with a holy kiss, means treating each other in a special way as beloved brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus Christ. Suggestion for prayer That as those who have peace with God because we are in Jesus Christ, we treat all those who confess Christ as Lord and Saviour as beloved brothers and sisters. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

July 30 - Standing in the true grace of God

“I have written briefly to you exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God.” - 1 Peter 5: 12  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5:12-13 Why is it a blessing to go to church each Sunday? We get to be with the Lord’s people worshipping our Saviour together under the preaching of His Word, and we are reminded of our need for God’s Grace. The commandments exhort us not to trust in ourselves, but in the grace of our Lord. In the preaching, the gospel is declared to us that we might grow in the grace that the Father offers us in the gospel. Peter ends, letting us know that Silvanus helped him so that God’s words of exhortation and declaration of grace could be extended far and wide, even to us today. The whole reason Peter had this letter written, was that God’s beloved children could be told to trust in His grace even in the hardest of circumstances. We are to trust that, because of Jesus' great work on the cross, we can truly know and believe that God will always love us, no matter what hardship we are facing or struggle we are dealing with. The more we trust that God’s unconditional love is real, the less struggles, losses and hardships will control our hearts and minds. The joy of salvation will overwhelm us. Peter says he writes from Babylon, referring to the fact he and those with him are in captivity. Peter is emphasizing that God’s children can go through hard times, but this does not take away the fact that they are chosen children and nothing can separate them from the unconditional love of God. Suggestion for prayer That the exhorting and declaring of God’s grace would sustain God’s children in all times. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

July 25 - Purified by God

“For it is time for judgement to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us; what will be the outcome of those who do not obey the gospel of God.” - 1 Peter 4:17  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:15-18 When we suffer for being a follower of Jesus Christ we will be blessed. However, it is not good to suffer for doing wrong. Peter specifically tells us not to suffer for being a murderer, thief, evildoer or meddler. Jesus taught that saying “you fool” is considered murder and stealing starts with desiring what does not belong to you. An evildoer is anyone who does anything considered to be evil by God. A meddler wants to know everything and thinks he can fix everyone’s problems. If we are honest, we have to admit that we do these things at times and deserve to be punished. But as followers of Jesus Christ, when we suffer for doing sinful things, we should not turn from God. Instead, as His children, we are to turn to God, seeking His forgiveness. Then we can go on our way thankfully, glorifying God, seeing that God punished us to purify us, so that more and more we live for Him in the joy of our salvation. Peter goes on to ask that if God brings judgement on us to purify us, what will He do to those who do not follow the gospel call to repent and believe in Jesus Christ? When Peter quotes Proverbs 11:31, he does so to warn us: accept His discipline, repent and believe. Those who are ungodly and sin with no care in this life will receive their suffering, not as a purifying force, but as an eternal punishment in hell. Suggestion for prayer That we would accept the discipline of the Lord as a blessing that is purifying us as His beloved children. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

July 24 - Sharing in Christ’s suffering

"Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you." - 1 Peter 4:12 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:12-14 In high school I remember a coach saying, “I will bring you through these hard tests in practice to strengthen you so that in a game you will be able to serve the team.” Peter tells us that God brings us through fiery trials to test us in a similar way in order to better serve Him. It is about declining to go places or participating in ungodly activities because you are a follower of Jesus Christ and being criticized for it or about not taking a position at work, or joining a sports team because it would limit your ability to worship and serve the Lord. In allowing us to experience fiery trials in these ways, God wants us to trust Him. He tests us to strengthen us in our service for His glory and in our ability to do His will. The Bible has many stories demonstrating how God tested His children through various trials. Think of Daniel and his three friends. When we suffer for Christ through a fiery trial, Peter says we share in Christ’s suffering. Christ suffered for the glory that would come through His suffering. We are called to be patient when we suffer fiery trials in our service of Jesus Christ, trusting that when His glory is revealed we will see our Saviour not only in all His power and might, but in all His love expressed to us in the words, “My good and faithful servant”. Suggestion for prayer That we would be willing to suffer for Christ and be patient when we go through a fiery trial. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

July 23 - Good stewards of God’s varied grace

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” - 1 Peter 4:10  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:10-11 Peter tells us that each Christian has received a gift and is to use it to serve others. God does not only save us to be His beloved children, but He also equips those whom He saves to serve in some capacity in the church community. That is why Peter says each of us have been gifted by God to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. God, in His grace, desired to work in you so that you believe, and are now part of a most special and glorious community - the church community. As transformed people of the household of God, you are now called to serve one another with the gifts God gave you. The gifts you were given are to be seen as God’s gifts to the whole church community. Peter groups these gifts into two areas: speaking to people’s spiritual needs and serving people’s physical needs. Some are able to bring God’s words to others in all kinds of ways. Others see people’s physical struggles and show a desire and ability to help. To those who serve by speaking, they are to use the Bible and not their own ideas or they will be ineffective. To those who serve in a physical capacity, they are to seek God’s guiding strength in serving others or they will be burned out. In this way, God is glorified because it all comes from Him. This is why Peter ends this section with a doxology of praise to God. Suggestion for prayer That as part of the household of God, we would be eager and happy to serve the body of Christ Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

July 22 - Showing hospitality

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” - 1 Peter 4:9 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 4:9 If you love someone, it is easy to invite them over and show you care for them. Most in our church show hospitality to family members and close friends because they love them. But if you do not love someone or don’t really know someone, it is harder to show that person hospitality. After telling us to love one another, Peter now tells us to show hospitality. The word Peter uses could be translated as “show brotherly love for strangers”. Peter tells us not to show hospitality just when you have things in common with people, but to show hospitality to all you come into contact with, especially those of the household of faith. We are to do this because Jesus demonstrated His love to us and changed us. He made His home amongst us and showed love to us who were not only strangers to Him, but by nature enemies to Him (Romans 5:10). If we really know the loving embrace of Jesus Christ, this ought to change us so that we are willing to invite over those we don’t know well. Peter adds that we are to do this cheerfully, without grumbling. Jesus invited us into His life by displaying the greatest love He could. He gave His life for us on the cruel cross. We are now called to invite others into our lives in a loving and caring way. This Sunday start inviting someone that you have never invited and show them what Christ-like hospitality is all about. Suggestion for prayer That we would be able to show Christ-like hospitality. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

July 17 - Setting apart Christ in our hearts

“In your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy.” - 1 Peter 3:15  Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 3:13-17 In calling us to brotherly love, Peter encourages us to be witnesses in this dark and often confusing world. When we suffer any kind of opposition from a hostile world while seeking to follow God’s Word, Peter tells us that no real harm will come to us. As we seek to serve the Lord in the joy of salvation, we are called to trust that God will turn all things for our eternal good. Even death will be turned to our good, for then we will see our Saviour face to face. Peter tells us to have no fear of those who oppose us as children of God. Instead, we are all the more to set apart Christ in our hearts. That is, we are to get to know Christ. He truly is the joy and treasure that satisfies our hearts. As we grow in this, Peter tells us to be ready to give the reason for the hope we have in this broken world. We must live in such a way that our joy and hope are noticed by those around us, to such an extent that they would ask why we have hope in this broken and rebellious world. We are to talk of Jesus with humility and not as if we deserve this hope and joy because we are better than others. We are to talk of our hope and joy in such a way that they would think this can be theirs through faith in Jesus Christ. Suggestion for prayer That we set apart Christ in our hearts and that we would be able to speak of our hope to others with tact and love. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

July 16 - Showing we are God’s children

“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” - 1 Peter 3:9  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:8-12 Peter finishes this section on how to interact with others by calling us to live a certain way with everyone. If we are honest, we have to admit that these godly virtues are not easy to follow. They can only come from a heart that knows how deeply we are loved by God. Many times within church communities we allow pet peeves and little arguments to divide us. When we have differences with fellow Christians, may we see that, our Saviour and our desire to serve and worship Him is what must unite us. This should cause us to have sympathy for each other when we see brothers and sisters going through struggles, even when these are caused by their own foolishness. Brotherly love is all about loving our fellow Christians because we are one in the Lord, even though we have differing opinions on certain matters. We need to have a tender heart toward each other and be humble as we deal with each other, not seeking to repay evil for evil, reviling for reviling or gossiping with gossiping. We are called to bless each other; that is to approve of each other as beloved children of God. When we do this we will receive a blessing from God. We need to remember that God sees all. If we speak badly towards or about others, we need to remember that God is displeased with us when we do this. But when we speak lovingly and faithfully towards our brothers and sisters, God sees this with delight. Suggestion for prayer That we would refrain from speaking badly toward or about each other, but encourage and bless each other. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

July 15 - Healthy relationship

“Wives be subject to your husbands . . . husbands live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour to the women.” - 1 Peter 3:1 & 7  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 3:1-7 Peter continues the theme of being subject to those whom God has placed over us, this time in regard to marriage relationships. God instituted marriage with the understanding that the husband is to be the head of his wife and lovingly honour her. Peter encourages wives to be subject to their husbands even if they are not Christians. In the early church, many women came to faith and wondered how they were to respond to their unbelieving husbands. Peter encourages them to be subject to their husband, hoping they would be won over by their conduct. He tells them this should be done not by impressing them with outward appearances, but by a gentle and quiet spirit. We live in a world that encourages women to concentrate on outward appearances so as to impress others. Peter’s words should guide all women to see what is important in life; not impressing others with outward appearances, but working at having a gentle and quiet spirit as godly women in the past have done. One can only have a gentle and quiet spirit when one truly trusts that nothing will be able to separate them from the love of God. Peter calls believing husbands to live with their wives, understanding their needs, and showing them honour as fellow saints in the Lord. We live in a world where men often seek to express their power to control. Peter warns all men not to bully women, including their wives, by use of strength or authority, lest God ignore them and their prayers. Suggestion for prayer That husbands would show love and honour to their wives and wives would be subject to their husbands to show they are God’s beloved children. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

July 14 - Following Jesus

“Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps.” - 1 Peter 2:21  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:18-25 Peter continues to show us how to conduct ourselves in front of unbelievers, telling us to be subject and respectful to masters. Most early Christians were slaves and many were not treated well. Often, Christians were given an especially hard time. Some masters tried to push their Christian slaves to give up the faith. As Christians then and today, it is hard to be kind, loving and submissive when treated badly by others, especially those in authority over us. Peter tells us that we are showing that God’s grace has changed us when we endure while suffering unjustly. When we endure suffering graciously while doing good, God is pleased. Then we are showing that the grace that He displayed to us is starting to live in us. We are called to live this kind of life. Jesus died for us so that we would follow His ways as His brothers and sisters, eager to do what pleases Him. Jesus was reviled and suffered greatly by those who killed Him, yet He said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”  Jesus died on the cross to wash our sins away, to make us new people following His example to die to sin and live to righteousness. We are to show that His death on the cross has changed us; that we no longer live as the wicked world around us. We live a new way, by loving those who treat us badly, following our Saviour and Lord’s example. Suggestion for prayer To be more like Jesus in each area of our lives as we grow in our understanding of what He did for us. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

July 9 - The living and abiding word of God

“Love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” - 1 Peter 1:22-23 Scripture reading: Romans 10:5-9 Peter encourages us to have a healthy fear of God, to be in such awe of Him that we always want to do what is pleasing in His sight. He goes on to say that our souls have been purified by our obedience to the truth to develop a sincere love for our brothers. Notice that Peter does not say by our obedience to the commands of God, but to the truth. The good news of Jesus Christ is the truth. Obedience to the truth is trusting Jesus truly saved us. Peter tells us that if we believe the gospel, we will have sincere brotherly love. We who have become new people through faith in Jesus Christ, are called to love one another earnestly because we have a new heart. We are to show that we are new persons in Jesus Christ by having a deep love for brothers and sisters in the Lord. We are to do this even if we do not always get along with them. Why is this both possible and necessary in our lives? It is because we have been born again, or made into a new person, by the living and abiding Word of God. This Word, the Good News of Jesus Christ, changed us and will keep on changing us so we will not only have a desire, but also an ability to love one another. If it is not changing us so that we are starting to love others, it has not yet saved us. Suggestions for prayer That the living and abiding Word that saves will continue to change you to love one another. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

July 8 - Have a proper view of our heavenly Father

“Conduct yourself with fear throughout the time of your exile knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.” - 1 Peter 1:17-19  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:17-21 In the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, He instructs us to call His Father our heavenly Father. Peter tells us that if we do call God our Heavenly Father, we should conduct ourselves in a certain way, showing we have a special fear of God. This fear of God is the opposite of having a fear of man. As children of our heavenly Father, we should first seek to do what is pleasing to Him, not our fellow man. We are to do this while we wait for the time when He will call us to our heavenly home. We are to live our lives, remembering the payment made for us to become part of the family of our heavenly Father. The payment was made with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. May we trust that God, from eternity, wanted to send His son to make this payment so that we could be His beloved children. God sent His Son into this world to sacrifice His life on the cross. He sent His Son to do this so that sinful, undeserving people can call God their loving, heavenly Father. Do you believe that Jesus paid the price to ransom you from the futile ways of this world to be a beloved child of a heavenly Father? In believing this, you are called to conduct yourself as one who does not fear what man thinks, but what God thinks. As His beloved child, you are called to do what is pleasing to your Heavenly Father. Suggestions for prayer That we would grow to fear man less and our heavenly Father more. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

July 7 - Having our focus on Jesus’ return

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passion of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you are to be holy in your conduct.” - 1 Peter 1: 14-15  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:1-16 We live in a time the Old Testament believers would have loved to see. Peter writes a “therefore” statement. Because we live in the time we do, knowing and believing in Jesus Christ, we are to prepare our minds for action, that is we are to keep our minds focused on Jesus Christ and what He did for us. Only then can we be ready to serve Him. When our mind starts to concentrate on the things of this world, we will lose our desire to serve the Lord. Peter goes on to tell us that we need to be sober minded, meaning we are to focus our minds on the heavenly kingdom. We are not to set our hope on the things of this world such as money, careers, or even our families, but on Christ, looking forward to what He will give us when He returns. Peter writes about the great future Jesus purchased for us on the cross, the new heaven and earth. As God’s adopted children we are to keep our eyes on the home Jesus is preparing for us and not on earthly treasures, as if we don’t know what Jesus purchased for us. It would be like settling for sand castles at the beach rather than a heavenly home. For this reason, Peter tells us that while we live on this earth we are to be holy, people who live differently, not for worldly pleasures, but for God’s glory and His Kingdom, fixing our eyes on our heavenly home. Suggestions for prayer Ask that we would be holy, having our focus on living for the Lord, having our eyes fixed on our heavenly home. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

July 6 - The blessing of our position in history

“…the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully.” - 1 Peter 1: 10  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:1-12 Yesterday we saw the great joy that is ours through faith in Jesus Christ. Peter goes on to tell us that the prophets in the Old Testament longed to see what we often do not appreciate as much as we should. The Old Testament prophets wrote about the coming of the One, God was going to send to redeem His people. But they did not fully know who this person would be and to what extent He would go to save His people. They did not know the One coming was God’s beloved Son and that He would go to the cross and experience the agony of hell to save His people. They did not fully know the glorious reality we would receive because of Jesus. Jesus’ work allows us to be called sons and daughters of God, having the privileges of God’s family. Paul mentions this in Ephesians 1:3, “In Christ we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Peter, in His second letter, tells us that through faith in Jesus Christ we become partakers in the divine nature. We get what Jesus has as a beloved child of God. Although the Old Testament writers did not know what we know about Jesus, they served us, for we can look back and see that they were speaking about the coming of Jesus. When we read scripture or hear it preached and soak in the good news of Jesus, we are called to rejoice and see that we live in a glorious time in history. Suggestions for Prayer That we would understand the great position we are in history, having the complete revelation of our God. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional 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

July 1 - Introduction to 1 Peter: holding fast to Christ in a rebellious world

During the past years, our governments and the people of our lands have shown more rejection of God and His Word. We see ungodly lifestyles promoted. We see what Paul explained in Romans 1. Although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking has become futile and their foolish hearts are darkened. Although they claim to be wise, they have become fools, exchanging the glory of God for images and heroes of their making. We see that God is giving them over to their sinful desires. When we see the foundations of our culture being destroyed, we wonder what the righteous can do. Peter wrote his letter in a time of great persecution, immorality and confusion. We are not sure what lies ahead for us, but Peter tells us where to find our hope and comfort, and how we are to live as saints set apart in the midst of a rebellious world, being ready to give a reason for the hope we have as beloved children of God. We will be going through the first letter of Peter this month. Peter tells us to praise God in the midst of a fallen, rebellious world for the great blessings we have because of Christ our Saviour. He also tells us how we are to live for Him as His beloved children, fighting sin and encouraging each other as fellow citizens of the Kingdom of heaven, looking forward to a glorious future that will never perish, spoil or fade. May Peter’s words encourage us to be faithful, so that we will not give up following Jesus, continuing in the mission He has given us: to tell others about Jesus and show that Jesus is a true and loving Saviour. Having our identity in Christ “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion . . . according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” - 1 Peter 1:1-2a  Scripture reading: John 21:15-19 Peter starts this letter by emphasizing the identity of those who believe in Jesus Christ. Earlier, Peter had struggles in this area. On the night Jesus was arrested, Peter was asked if he knew Jesus. He denied it three times. But Peter repented and now calls himself an apostle of Jesus Christ; one who represented and witnessed for Jesus Christ. And he gives special designations to those to whom he is writing. First, he calls us God’s elect, chosen to be God’s beloved children according to His eternal, unconditional love. God sent His Son to die for His people. He also sent the Holy Spirit to enable His children to believe and live in joyful obedience because of Christ’s sprinkled blood. Peter encourages us to trust in Jesus Christ, find our identity as His beloved, chosen people and confess our faith in Him. In the second designation, Peter calls us strangers. Peter was writing to those who were scattered throughout the world. Although they were scattered among various places they were citizens of a new Kingdom, the kingdom of God. Peter is encouraging us to see that this world is not our real home. We should seek to be a blessing to any country we live in, yet in believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. May we see that we are strangers to this world and part of God’s chosen people, the Kingdom of God. Suggestions for prayer That we would more and more see our identity in Jesus Christ as members of God’s elect people, strangers in this world living in obedience to our Lord. Pastor Richard Bultje is a missionary and pastor of the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls Ontario. It is a church plant under the oversight of the Wellandport United Reformed Church. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children, Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 30 - Jesus the radiance of the glory of God

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” - Psalm 19:14  Scripture reading: Hebrews 1:1-4 Radiance is a rarely used word in the Greek New Testament. It means shining brightness. That probably doesn’t help matters much in terms of trying to define what radiance is. What I love about this title for Jesus is, it really is at the very edge of both our language and ability to explain that Jesus is the Beautiful One. Thinking about Him and His work is like following a sunbeam that pierces the clouds after a rainstorm. As you follow the outward edges of the sunbeam upwards your eye is drawn to the source of its light, the sun. So it is with Jesus, the more you consider Him, the longer you gaze into Scripture and contemplate Who He is, the more your senses will be drawn upwards in Jesus, up toward the brilliance of the Living God, Who alone lives in unapproachable light. It is the contemplation of the Names of God and the Attributes of God which clarify your understanding of Who He Is. As you spend more and more time thinking about God, your imagination gets stirred up and your soul soars in hymns and prayers to Him. If He did not reveal Himself, His radiant brilliance and His glory would remain hidden. He has shown us His salvation. He invites you to keep learning of Him, so that in the endless reaches of eternity, you will still shout: “Oh, Jesus, radiance of the Father’s glory, show us more that we may give more love to You, Triune God, and serve You ever more joyfully!” Suggestions for prayer As you continue to read the Bible, pray that the Spirit of God will show you more of the beauty of God, His glorious Self-Revelation, so that your vocabulary for praise and worship will grow and your delight in the LORD our God will be infectious to all around you. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 29 - Jesus the Nazarene

“And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: “He shall be called a Nazarene”.” - Matthew 2:23 Scripture reading: John 1:43-51 It is difficult to understand how much Jesus was despised in His lifetime. Today many people hear Jesus’ Name used as a curse word. It is a sign of how sheltered my upbringing was that even now, I am shocked whenever someone spits out the Name of my Saviour in frustration. The Bible prophesied this—“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Intellectually you know Jesus was rejected, but how many sermons have you heard on this? Soon after Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, Joseph was warned in a dream that King Herod would try to kill Him. So, the holy family became refugees in Egypt. They were displaced because Jesus was despised even before He’d done anything good or bad. When it was safe for Joseph and Mary to return to the Promised Land, they had to move to an out-of-the-way little town, so that they’d escape the vengeful eye of the King who followed Herod. The conversation between Philip and Nathanael highlights the mockery Jesus received. Nathanael can’t imagine anything (or anyone) good coming out of the backwater town of Nazareth. Jesus was called a Nazarene all through His life. It was the place where many foreigners lived and intermingled with the Jewish people—so that those who lived there were not considered pure Jews. His reputation is, humanly speaking, sullied by association. All of this means that when you pray to Jesus, you are speaking with the One Who can identify with all your rejection and wounds. Suggestions for prayer Bring in prayer to Jesus, the hurts of rejection and wounds caused by the circumstances of your life—you will find in Him One Who is full of compassion; as the Spirit of God brings to mind people in your life who are suffering, remember their needs and circumstances in prayer. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 28 - Jesus a son

“…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son…”” - Matthew 1:20b  Scripture reading: Matthew 1:17-25 The reading today focuses on Jesus as a son—the emphasis is on His humanity. What a picture the Bible paints of the humanity of Jesus. We read of Joseph, His earthly father, in the early part of Jesus’ life, but not later in His life. Jesus lost His earthly dad. Before Jesus was tempted, He fasted for forty days and nights. It is such a blasé statement to describe what must have been going on inside His body—He’d be near to starving. He experienced real, gnawing hunger, and was without sin. Jesus saw the crowds coming to Him and He had compassion on them “because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34). Jesus Himself had just learned that His cousin, John the Baptist, had died. Around the same time, His disciples who’d been sent out to various towns to prepare them for His coming to teach there, returned to Jesus and clamoured for His attention. He experienced complex emotions. Just before Jesus began the conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well, John informs the reader that Jesus was weary from His journey (John 4:6). In other places of Scripture, you read, “Jesus wept”. Why mention all these things? The Bible shows that Jesus is fully human. Because a man sinned against God the Holy One, a man must bear the wrath of God against sin. The Bible shows Jesus to be fully human. Think of Jesus as human as you are and yet, without sin. What a glorious Redeemer He is! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God the Father will teach you more about the humanity of Jesus so that you can draw closer to Jesus and know Him better; so that you can truly love Him and be more amazed at the grace He brings you. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 23 - Jesus: the holy one, the true one

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: “The words of The Holy One, The True One, Who has the Key of David.”” - Revelation 3:7  Scripture reading: Revelation 3:7-13 The Holy One, The True One are titles which, applied to Jesus, draw together many teachings of Scripture. He has the power to shut the Kingdom to wicked people and open it to sons and daughters of the Most High God. In the hands of ordinary people, such power would corrupt. Humans strive for power, promising to use it for good, but achieving power, we find out how corrupt their hearts are. Jesus is the Holy One with God the Father, co-equal in power, majesty and holiness. Jesus’ power to open or shut heaven is always, perfectly and honourably carried out. Though Jesus is fully man and fully God, His humanity is conformed in perfect obedience to the will of God. He cannot be corrupted. Therefore, His warning to the people of Philadelphia and to us today, is an important teaching. Believers must hold fast to Jesus Christ as the only foundation for their salvation. We are called to be holy as He is holy. He is the Only True One. This makes sense when we think of the idiom: ‘He is a true friend’. When you say that, you mean his friendship will withstand the tests of time, betrayal and reconciliation after hurts are healed. Jesus is True. When His own people waver in affection, Jesus stays true. Nothing can stop His steadfast love which is poured out on His people through the presence of the Holy Spirit. This love brings the people under His care to a place of patient endurance for the sake of His Name. Suggestions for prayer Bring any struggle in your faith to Jesus, The Holy One, the True One, trusting in His steadfast love; if things are good in your life, intercede for those experiencing hardship in their walk with God; when such trials are covered by the merciful love of God, give thanks. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 22 - Jesus: holder of the key of David

“And he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” - Isaiah 22:21b-22  Scripture reading: Revelation 3:7-13 To understand this title, one must know what the Key of David is. When King David ruled, the steward of his household was the key holder who had the authority to grant access to the king. Later in the Old Testament, God prophetically used the title, “the key of David”. This use of the title was both for the time of Eliakim and was used as a foreshadowing of the time of the Messiah, the True One, Who is the ultimate holder of the Key of David. In the time of Eliakim, holding the Key of David meant God granted him the authority to open or shut. Eliakim would be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the people of Judah. A father defends his people from imposters. Previous leaders were false leaders and kings. These false holders of the Key of David led the children of God into apostasy. They embraced wickedness and spawned evil children who rejected the Living God. Jesus is the Holder of the Key of David: He exposes those who are false children though they claimed to be God’s sons and daughters and true Jews. Jesus shuts out of the Kingdom those who think they can come to Him based on their works, based on how well they kept the Law. The only way to enter the Kingdom is based on receiving Jesus’ righteousness. He alone is our righteousness. Jesus welcomes true sons and daughters, bringing them to the City of God, ushering them into the presence of the Great I AM. Suggestions for prayer Examine your heart for any falseness leading to rebellion against God; praise God the Father for giving Jesus the Key of David; praise God for the work of the Spirit to reveal to believers this gift of life which ushers believers into the presence of the Father. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 21 - Arbiter

“There is no Arbiter between us, Who might lay His hand on us both.” - Job 9:33  Scripture reading: Job 5:7 Perhaps this proverb from Job is familiar to you. Those who love the movie Anne of Green Gables might recognize it because it is quoted there. Think of roaring campfires, the deep night pierced by the flames which lick up the wood and as it is devoured, it breaks before the blazing tongues of fire, sending sparks jumping upwards, dancing in the night air. Why is man born to trouble and suffering? It is Job’s question as he wrestles with God and strives against his friends whose words do not bring him comfort. Job longs for a mediator between himself and God. It is our suffering that drives us into the arms of Jesus Christ—the arbiter between God and man. It is suffering that shows us the ugliness of sins and the wrong-headedness of our old nature. It is suffering, the path which Jesus endured, which unites us with Christ—for He suffered more than we ever could or will—and His suffering, death and resurrection made us right with God. When I see sparks fly upward, I am reminded of my desire to fly up to God. But I also recognize how easily my own passion dies out. When I see sparks fly upward, I am reminded that Christ was raised up and His fiery passion never burned out. He endured great agony on the cross so that He might lay a hand on us and present us to the Father as blameless and pure. Jesus’ sacrifice has done this for us. Hallelujah, what a Saviour! Suggestions for prayer Praise the Father that He has given you an Arbiter between Himself and you. As you think of sins which haunt you, ask the Father to pour out His Spirit so that you will know that you are forgiven, and He will strengthen you to turn from your sin and walk in His righteousness. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 20 - Jesus who has the seven spirits and seven stars

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: “The words of Him Who has the Seven Spirits of God and the Seven Stars.”” - Revelation 3:1  Scripture reading: Revelation 3:1-6 Reading the letters to the seven churches in Revelation has changed for me. Now I pause to consider the revealed Name of Jesus as He gives His words to the churches. Jesus has the Seven-Spirits of God (a.k.a. the Seven-fold Spirit). He Who wields the power of the Spirit is speaking to a church that is spiritually dead. Why is Jesus speaking to this church if it is dead? The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 1:4) is the same Holy Spirit Whom He will give to revive Christians who are in need. This same Spirit has the power to raise the dead. Jesus has the seven stars, the seven angels given to guard the seven churches. Those whom Jesus revives by His Spirit, He protects by sending His angels. What a glorious picture this is. It is also a picture with a long term view. A. W. Tozer noted, “The faith of Christ offers no buttons to push for quick service. The new order must wait for the Lord's own time. It is too much for the man in a hurry. He gives up and becomes interested in something else.” Something happened in Sardis so that people wandered into sin. They refused to repent. But Jesus is here appealing to His people. Listen. Wake up. I will protect you. I will lead you in victory so that you will be conquerors over sin. This is the power I have and this is the power I give to all who hear and are prepared to obey. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Father for the wonderful work of Jesus and the gift of the reviving Spirit. Thank Jesus, Who sends His guardian angels to protect His people. Pray for repentance in the areas of your life where you need to repent so that you may walk in newness of life. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 15 - The God of peace

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself, give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all.” - 2 Thessalonians 3:16 Scripture reading: Hebrews 13:20-21 Peace. What a sweet concept. It eludes many. Night terrors haunt some. Financial woes squeeze others. Perhaps hounding peers are cruel and vexatious. Where can one find peace? There are those whose lives are bound up in sin, living as slaves to it and are so wretched that every temptation is instantly obeyed, even knowing that by doing so, they are digging their own grave. How can peace ever be attained? Death breaks the hold of sin. Sin cannot reign over dead men’s bones. Jesus, the Sin-bearer, was punished under the wrath of God and bore the sins of the world. When Jesus went to the grave, rose after three days, death and sin had no power over Him. All who are in Christ are now free from the tyranny of the devil. It is this work of Christ which puts peace into the Father’s hand so that those who believe in Jesus receive such a measureless treasury of peace. Peace is not like a country-song played backwards — you know, now you get your dog back and your house back and so on. No, peace is the deep assurance that no matter what this brief existence throws at you, God knows your name. He has you in the grip of His grace. He will give you every good thing so that the result of this life will be the joy-filled experience of eternity lived in the presence of the Triune God. That is true peace. That is God’s to give to those who believe. Suggestions for prayer When experiencing troubles, ask God to direct you by His Spirit to know the source of such things—is it because of unconfessed sin, or for the purpose of growing you in grace, or providential suffering common to all? Pray for God’s grace so that by His Spirit’s power you will be sustained, sealed in as one covered by the blood of Christ. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 14 - The Lord the judge

“The heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is Judge!” - Psalm 50:6  Scripture reading: Psalm 50:1-23 Little ones have great imaginations. And they have great fights. One expression you might hear is, “You can’t tell me what to do!” Adults, often mistakenly thinking they are more sophisticated when they fight, might use an expression like, “Don’t judge me!” Oh, how our sinful hearts rebel against authority. As we read in earlier devotions, the LORD the Creator is also the Judge. It is His right to judge all He has made. What the world often misses as it chafes against the title of Judge, is that the LORD’s laws and His warnings are merciful. He speaks to the people of the earth and declares to all peoples what is right and just and good. As people measure their words, actions and thoughts against His standard, they find themselves under conviction. Those who know themselves to be unclean and wicked in His sight find that is the precise moment when His mercy is evident. To sinners and rebellious people, to those who realize they have forgotten God, He offers a chance for repentance. The laws of God point out the sins of man and their need for the Saviour, Jesus Christ. The Old Testament sacrifices which were given with thanksgiving (verse 23), pointed the believer directly to Jesus Christ. New Testament believers know what they saw in faith. Jesus is the One Who stands in our place—He was punished, that all who believe in Him are set free to serve Him. Today the LORD, the Judge, offers mercy to all who repent and believe in Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for mercy and opportunity for repentance; for family members and friends who do not yet believe, ask the Spirit to show them their need for repentance and ask for the opportunity to share the Good News of God the Judge and Jesus the Saviour. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 13 - Jesus the good teacher

“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” - Mark 10:17  Scripture Reading: Mark 10:17-27 What a strange response Jesus gave the rich young man. The man, seeking to flatter Jesus, called Him “Good Teacher”. Prodding him, seeking to understand why the man called Him Good, Jesus asked him “Why do you call Me Good?” The interaction between Jesus and the rich young man highlights the truth of Jesus’ title: Good Teacher. Jesus is the Good Teacher because He is God. He has the power to save. His blood and His propitiating work is the only access one can have to the Father in heaven. He is the Good Teacher because nothing is impossible with Him; nothing will stop Him from bringing many sons and daughters to the Father. Jesus is the Good Teacher, as He proves by His great patience in dealing with the prideful, rich man. That man, conceived and born in sin, was so misguided that he believed he had kept all the commandments. How do you know this is not true? No one keeps them, except Jesus. Jesus by the questions He asked the man, proved the man had violated the greatest commandment “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” The rich man turned away from Jesus and so proved he loved his possessions more than he loved God. Jesus is the Good Teacher, as He patiently teaches the wayward crowd, and His often-confused disciples. More than this, Jesus continues to patiently teach us, by His Word and Spirit, so that we will know Him as truly Good and truly our Teacher. Suggestions for prayer Praise Jesus as your Good Teacher; pray that many will know Him as the Good Teacher Who has conquered sin and leads His followers in the way everlasting. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 12 - The Lord, the lifter of my head

“He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore He will lift up His head.” - Psalm 110:7  Scripture Reading: Psalm 3:1-8 Helpful information to explain this Name for God is found in Psalm 110. Jesus regularly quoted from it and applied it to Himself. The imagery presented there is of the Warrior, Who shatters kings. The enigmatic saying, which is quoted above, ends Psalm 110. Think about what a battlefield might be like in ancient times. No public drinking fountains. No taps. No garden hoses. When a warrior drinks, he must stoop down, and the moment he does so, he is utterly vulnerable. But Jesus is not vulnerable. His enemies will be so thoroughly conquered, He can stoop and drink, and He will lift up his head, the Victor. He Lifts His Head over every opponent. In Isaiah 46:1-13 a contrast is made between the worthless idols of all the nations and the power of God. He declares: “There is none like Me” (Isaiah 46:9). It is God alone Who can sustain His people, from the first stirrings of each man’s life, until his hair greys, and every nanosecond in between. He is One Who lifts His people. He protects. He shows them tender mercy and care. Now Psalm 3, with all its imagery of battles, and that strange possibility of sleep even in the middle of what seems like loud-clashing warfare, makes more sense. The Psalmist declared of the LORD: “My Glory and the Lifter of My Head”. Through every battle, in every crisis, God Lifts your head. He gives victory. He alone can guard you until today’s faith becomes sight in eternity. Suggestions for prayer Praise the LORD Who is mighty over every enemy, Who is the Warrior King defeating every enemy; pray, thanking Jesus, that He has disarmed the enemy at the cross, so that in the power of His Spirit you can lift your head in the victory He gives you over sin and death. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 7 - Jesus the cornerstone 

“Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”” - Matthew 21:42 Scripture reading: Isaiah 28:14-16 By the work of the Spirit, the Word of God shines with the Self-Revelation of God—Who He Is and How He Acts. The LORD declared that He has laid a foundation in Zion, a Cornerstone. This is a clear reference to Jesus Christ, Who referred to Himself as the “Cornerstone”. Jesus is the gift promised long beforehand. History is oriented to the coming of Jesus Christ when the judgment and mercy of God would be revealed. Jesus is the Cornerstone. The orientation of a building is set by the position of the cornerstone. Jesus’ life teaches the believer to set his life’s course by the direction Jesus has set. As Jesus’ life on earth was lived in obedience to the Father, so too the believer conforms his life in obedience to the direction set by the Cornerstone. The cornerstone bears the weight of the building, but believers, built on Christ, are not called to carry burdens by themselves. Instead, sharing burdens and joys (I Corinthians 12:26) means bringing all these to Jesus in prayer. God the Father guarded His people through history, until the time when the foundation He built was prepared for the Cornerstone, Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God directs believers to conform to Jesus in obedience to the Word until the building, that is, the whole community of Jesus is built up in true faith. Jesus carries the weight of the whole building of believers. He has the strength to do so and He has the compassion large enough to do so. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for keeping His covenant promises as seen in the gift of Jesus; ask of the Spirit guidance and perseverance to live according to the direction set out for you in Jesus Christ. Ask the LORD to give the children in your church, family and community new life and direction in accordance with the promise that Jesus is their Cornerstone also. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 6 - The Spirit of the fear of the Lord

“And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.” - Isaiah 11:2-3a Scripture reading: Job 38:1-30 In my years of preaching and writing devotions, one Bible-phrase I’ve used that will almost always generate pushback is “the fear of the LORD.” Those who hear this phrase will naturally protest and claim there is no reason to be afraid of God—He is, after all, loving, merciful and kind. This is true. But it misses the fact He is All-Powerful. He is appropriately angry with the wicked. Sinners cannot stand in His Presence. The work of the Spirit, in His seven-fold brilliance, is the work of instilling in believers an appropriate reverent, awe-filled respect for the LORD of Splendour. Consider the words the Omnipotent God spoke to righteous Job. Though Job was blameless and upright in his generation, he was still small. He could not be compared to the greatness of God. The majesty of the Living God prompts His people to be keenly aware of their need for Him and their puniness before Him and therefore awed at His greatness and humbled by His mercy. When one considers the creation works of God, aided by the Spirit, one is made aware of his true place in the plan of God; though man is small, God is mindful of him. The Seven-fold Spirit, the Spirit of the fear of the LORD, shows the believer his great sinfulness, brings him to the place of appropriate confession and humility, and moves him to praise the Living God, Who loves His people and works in them a desire for and an ability to grow in holiness. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the gift of the Spirit of the fear of the LORD and seek the appropriate knowledge of the fear of the LORD in your Bible reading and prayer so that God’s word and will may be taught to you. Intercede for those who live irreverently that their hearts may be changed. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 5 - The Spirit of knowledge

“ have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.” - Colossians 3:10 … Scripture reading: Colossians 3:5-11; Proverbs 26:4-5 Reformed Christians believe the image of God in man consists of true righteousness, true knowledge and true holiness (Colossians 3:10 and Ephesians 4:24). The Spirit gave Jesus the ability to understand the ways of the Father. The Spirit supported Jesus’ human ability to know the Father and in knowing the Father, gave Jesus the wisdom to use this knowledge in the times that were best and appropriate. Think about the seemingly paradoxical parallel statements from Proverbs. Why did Jesus sometimes choose to engage in debates with the Pharisees, Scribes and teachers of the Law? Why did He at other times refrain from doing so? It is true knowledge, assessing each situation appropriately. One time it is receiving counsel from the Spirit of Counsel, knowing it was time to speak, but in another circumstance, it was time to be silent. The Spirit of knowledge will teach you information that cannot be gleaned from human senses. What you might call “insight” or “intuition” about someone else is the gift of the Spirit. It is critical for you at that point to ask, “Why have I been given this knowledge?” It might have been so that you can pray for that person. It might be given so that you can supply a need and do so in the Name of Jesus, kindly and gently. It might be you are given knowledge of someone’s life so that you are warned not to take the same path. Ask the Spirit for insight as to why you have received this. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Spirit will give you knowledge so that you will know how to serve Jesus Christ, when to witness and to whom so that others will join in the joy of knowing Jesus Christ. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

June 4 - Receiving the Spirit of might

“And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might…” - Isaiah 11:2a Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:15-23 Today is Sunday, the day on which believers celebrate our new life in Jesus Christ. It is a great blessing to go to church, hear the word preached and meet with other believers. Jesus is the Saviour of the World, our Redeemer and our model. Let me explain. Jesus was fully God, the second Person of the Trinity, from all eternity to all eternity. At a particular moment in time, He took on flesh. He became fully human. In His humanity Jesus was empowered by the Spirit for holy living (in fact, Jesus was given the Spirit without measure, John 3:34). He was a true flesh and blood man, Who walked in the power of the Holy Spirit. Scripture refers to the Spirit as “the Spirit of Might” (Isaiah 11:2). Our passage today, helps us to understand might, also referred to as the strength of the Spirit at work in us. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power that is in you and in all who believe. The expression “might”, or “strength” is used in the Old Testament as the strength for victory in battle. When believers engage in spiritual warfare—against our own flesh, the Devil, and the forces of darkness, it is the Spirit of Might residing in us, Who completes the victory of Jesus in us. His power is at work in us, defeating sin, breaking down strongholds and giving us spiritual gifts so that we can walk in true communion with Jesus and with one another. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He has reconciled us to Himself in Jesus Christ and that by His Spirit of Might, He guards us in this glorious salvation; pray that the strength of the Spirit would continue to grow in you so that sins are defeated and the victory of Jesus will be more clear in your life. Rev. Richard Vander Vaart served as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America for over twenty years, before joining the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is now serving as the Atlantic Region prison-visiting pastor working with Redemption Prison Ministry. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

May 30 - Jesus, our chief cornerstone (II)

 “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.” - Psalm 118:22-23  Scripture reading: Psalm 118:1-29 Not all who see Jesus will accept and treasure Him as the Cornerstone of the building. Psalm 118 tells us that this cornerstone was rejected by the builders. That is one of the responses toward Christ. But those who do value Him, rejoice in what God has done. Every believer will say with this Psalm: This was the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes! Jesus has become their tested and tried and trustworthy Cornerstone to rest their lives upon. They agree with what Peter says about Jesus as the Cornerstone: And he who believes in Him will by no means be put to shame (1 Peter 2:6). None of those who have trusted in Christ will ever say: “I put all my hopes on Jesus Christ. Jesus became the foundation of my life, but it turned out to be like the house on the sand, it was useless, it still brought great destruction.” No, Jesus Christ is a stone that can be tried and that is found faithful, stable, 100% trustworthy. When He gives us faith in His promises, there is no doubt He will fulfill them. When He invites us to rest our entire life on Him, we know that He will never leave, nor forsake us. He will never ever let us down. He might try us at times; we might go through troubles. We might not be spared difficulties, but one thing is very sure. Jesus is more than 100% trustworthy. Trust Him today! Suggestions for prayer Praise God that there is such a sturdy foundation to your life, through Jesus Christ! Pray that you will learn to trust Him throughout each season of your life. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek served the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville ON Canada since May 2017. This year he took a call to the Heritage Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa USA. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

May 29 - Jesus, our chief cornerstone (I)

“Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes in Him will by no means be put to shame.”” - 1 Peter 2:6 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-10 Jesus is our chief Cornerstone. What does that mean? A cornerstone is a stone upon which a building rests. Theologians differ in opinion as to what a cornerstone really was. Some think it was a special stone at the corner of a building. Others think it was more like a foundation, or a capstone. Whichever it was, the point of this stone is clear. A cornerstone brings both durability and stability to a building. So also Jesus! His people are built upon Him as living stones of a holy temple (vs. 5). They all rest upon Him. Through His foundational work on the cross and at the open grave, the temple in which God will be worshipped is stable and durable! God will be worshipped through Christ throughout all the ages! Our text quotes Isaiah 28:16, which shows us that this was already foretold in the Old Testament. Jesus is the Stone that was elected, chosen from eternity to be the Chief Cornerstone for His people. It was God’s eternal, gracious and amazing plan to send His Son into this world to save sinners. It was God’s good pleasure to send Him, God’s boundless mercy! Jesus is not only the chosen Cornerstone, but He is also the precious Cornerstone; precious to His Father; precious to all who know Him and need Him for the stability of their lives. The more we grow in our knowledge of our sin and our Savior, the more He becomes precious to our souls. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His plan to make Jesus the Cornerstone to our worship of Him. Thank God for sending Him to our rescue. And pray that as you grow in your knowledge of self and the Savior, He might become more precious to you! Rev. Pieter van der Hoek served the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville ON Canada since May 2017. This year he took a call to the Heritage Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa USA. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

May 28 - Jesus, our mercy seat (II)

“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” - 1 John 2:2  Scripture reading: 1 John 1:5-2:2 While yesterday’s text shows that Christ is the Mercy seat, today’s verse uses a different Greek word, which tells us that He is more than what happens at the mercy seat. Not only was the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat to turn away God’s just wrath over our sins, but something more precious happened. Positively, atonement brought a restoration of fellowship and came with an invitation to commune with God. Exodus 25:22 tells us that God promises: There I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel. How precious that God can meet with us, through Christ! He can welcome us in His holy presence. And not only that! He will speak to us! He graciously instructs us from between the two cherubim. Think about it! God meets with us! God speaks to us! No longer does God speak to us from the earthly ark of the covenant and mercy seat. Now He meets with us in His Son and speaks to us through Him. (cf. Hebrews 1:1-2) What is His message? Peace! What else? I will write the law upon your heart! I will be your God, and you shall be my people! (Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 8:10, 10:16). Through Jesus Christ, we will have a relationship with God and the closer the relationship, the more it will transform our obedience. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the way in which we can now meet and speak with God through Christ’s blood. Pray that the law would be more and more written upon your heart, so that you delight in obedience. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek served the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville ON Canada since May 2017. This year he took a call to the Heritage Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa USA. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

May 27 - Jesus, our mercy seat (I)

“…whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness.” - Romans 3:25a  Scripture reading: Romans 3:1-31 In this verse, Paul tells us that Jesus is set forth as a propitiation. More literally, Paul is saying that Jesus is our Mercy seat. What was the mercy seat? It was the lid of the Arc of the Covenant. In it there was the law. On it were the two golden cherubim. This was the footstool of the Lord. It was placed in the most Holy Place, which was a picture of God’s throne room, yes, heaven itself. God has set forth His Son Jesus, as a propitiation, as a Mercy seat. Once a year, on the day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter into the Most Holy Place to sprinkle blood on the lid of atonement. He went there to make propitiation, to turn away the wrath of God over His people’s sins. The blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat. But no longer! For now, Christ Himself is what the mercy seat pictured – namely, the place where God’s wrath is turned away. Why? Because of the sacrifice of His blood, God looks upon Christ and can now pass over the sins of His people. He demonstrates His righteousness to all who trust in Him by faith. The blood-splattered lid now covers over a law that condemns sinners. Unworthy sinners, like you and me, may now come boldly to His throne of grace to be given help in our times of need because Christ’s blood is sufficient to once and for all, turn away the wrath of God over sin. Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that the blood of Jesus turns away the wrath of God over our sins. Thank God for the access we have to His mercy seat through Christ. Come boldly to be helped in your time of need today. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek served the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville ON Canada since May 2017. This year he took a call to the Heritage Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa USA. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

May 22 - Jesus, our banner (II)

“You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed because of the truth.” - Psalm 60:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 60:1-12 Yesterday we began answering the question: How is Jesus a banner to His people? Let’s look at another reason today: Just as a banner reminds weary soldiers to whom they belong, so Jesus our Banner reminds us of the truth of His love – Psalm 60:4 shows us that God has given a banner to those who fear Him, so that it may be displayed because of the truth. This means that weary soldiers who fear Him, and who fight under the banner of Jesus’ cross are reminded of His truth and love when they look at the cross. That is what keeps them going in the battle against sin, self and Satan. When we look to the banner of Jesus’ cross, we see the truth of God’s justice on display. God is just and must punish our sins, but for every believer He has done so, pouring out His just wrath upon Christ. Not only do we see the truth of God’s justice on the cross, but also the truth of His love! God so loved us that He did not spare His only begotten Son! God’s just wrath is satisfied, and His love is put on display. Yes, Song of Solomon 2:4 tells us that His banner over me was love! The more we look to the Author and Finisher of our faith, the more we will be able to strengthen the hands that hang down and straighten the feeble knees, killing our sins (cf. Hebrews 12:1-2,12). Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the truth of the cross, where the justice of God is satisfied, and His love is put on display. Pray for strength to resist and kill your sins, and for renewed courage to fight in this battle when you feel weak. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek served the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville ON Canada since May 2017. This year he took a call to the Heritage Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa USA. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

May 21 - Jesus, our banner (I)

"And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious." - Isaiah 11:10 Scripture reading: Isaiah 11:1-16 Jesus Christ, the coming Messiah, from the line of David, is compared in this verse with a Banner. A banner is something that encourages soldiers. It might have been a cloth, a figure, or at night a torch, that was there to help soldiers during the battle. In order to be encouraged by a banner, it needed to be lifted up for all to see. Jesus is that Banner. How is Jesus this banner for His people today? Just like a banner identifies a group of soldiers, so Jesus identifies with His people – When we are enrolled by faith in Jesus’ army, Jesus identifies with us. We have become Christians. Christ now lives in the believer (Galatians 2:20). And He rallies and unites Christians around Himself (Galatians 3:28). Just as a banner brings soldiers together, so Jesus, through His cross brings Christians together – Jesus told us personally, when He would be lifted up, He would draw all men unto Himself by the banner of His cross (John 12:32). He said this in light of some Gentiles who came and asked Phillip if they could see Jesus. And Jesus, knowing this verse from Isaiah, tells Phillip that Gentiles and all kinds of people will be brought together after His death. A world-wide army of believers, who have seen the power of the cross, will enroll under Jesus’ banner. When the cross is held high in the preaching and in missions, we can be assured that the church will grow. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for the cross and for its attractive power. Pray for pastors, Bible teachers, professors and missionaries and other places where the cross is being held high. Pray that many would be brought to saving faith. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek served the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville ON Canada since May 2017. This year he took a call to the Heritage Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa USA. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

May 20 - Jesus, our victorious lion (II)

“…Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll, and to loose its seven seals.” - Revelation 5:5b  Scripture reading: Revelation 5 When John weeps because no one is found who is worthy to open the scroll of the unfolding of history, we are once more introduced to Jesus Christ as a Lion, this time a victorious Lion. He has prevailed, which means He has conquered so that He is now found worthy to open the scroll. Why is Jesus able to open the scroll? Because He is not only spotless and pure, but He has conquered sin, death and hell, and continues to conquer them in the lives of each one of His children. After John is introduced to the Lion, he turns to the place from which the voice came. And when John looks, he doesn’t see a Lion, but a Lamb! Jesus is the victorious Lion, Who conquered by being the Lamb as though it had been slain. Jesus is the Lamb that offered Himself up for His people. He was slain on the cross and we are called to worship Him as the slain Lion-Lamb. This Lion-Lamb from the tribe of Judah still invites sinners like you and me close. When you are close, changed by His victory over sin, death and hell, be comforted that He is also the Mighty Lion, Who can defend you! Yes, Who saves sinners who come to Him to the utmost and shares His victory with them. How glorious and precious is Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Trust Him as the Lamb, before you meet Him as the victorious Lion. Suggestions for prayer Thank God that Jesus is the worthy Lion-Lamb. Approach Him based on His victory on the cross. Ask Him to protect you and pray for the grace to find fresh comfort in His wounds. Rev. Pieter van der Hoek served the Heritage Reformed Church of Burgessville ON Canada since May 2017. This year he took a call to the Heritage Reformed Church of Hull, Iowa USA. Get 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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