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Daily devotional, Uncategorised

December 21 - Jesus’ birth announced to the shepherds

“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” - Luke 2:12 

Scripture reading: Luke 2:8-14

The first people to receive a birth announcement about the messianic king are shepherds on the outskirts of Bethlehem. They alone received an announcement for two reasons. First, God is reminding us that David, the ancestor of Jesus, was a shepherd in Bethlehem. Second, the shepherds had a low status in society, and God is reminding us that He often chooses to save the weak and the lowly.

With a bright flash, an angel appears to the shepherds. Perhaps this was Gabriel. But this was also a theophany, an appearance of the glory of God. We are told that “the glory of the Lord shone around” the shepherds. This glory is a visible token of the presence of God. The shepherds, who are sinners, are frightened by this dazzling splendour.

The angel tells the shepherds: “Fear not” (vs. 10). He came with joyful news. The Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord, has been born in town. Once the angel makes his announcement, an entire angel army descends: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God” (vs. 13). A myriad of angels stretch across the night sky. R. Kent Hughes wrote: “I like to imagine that they radiated golds, pinks, electric blue, hyacinth, and ultraviolet—maybe some were even sparkling.”

Such is the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ that His birth was announced in person by mighty angels. Then the angels left. The glory faded. The constellations reappeared. And the shepherds ran to find the baby.

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that you would believe that God sends angels to protect us from our enemies. Pray that you would have the necessary spiritual insight so that you would acknowledge the threat that Satan and his demons pose to you.

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

Daily devotional, Uncategorised

December 8 - A closed book

“Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed … and no one … was able to open the scroll.” - Revelation 5:1,3  Scripture reading: Revelation 5 What is history all about? People talk of progress from primitive societies to future worlds, but who will accomplish that perfect new world? Man has often sought utopia, but always failed. John weeps because no one was found able to open the scroll, that is to fulfill the purpose of ushering in the renewed heavens and earth. We see the scroll as the book of history because of what we read in Daniel 12. The book was the story of God’s plan of redemption, how in time the Christ would come and make all things new, liberating all things from the curse of sin. How distressing that no one can open it. Incredibly, although John saw Jesus ascend, he has not yet seen Jesus in heaven! In the first verses, the scroll is closed and the renewal of all things left incomplete. Does this mean that the Christ did not conquer, that redemption did not take place? To John, this is a terrible picture. Without Jesus, who can really understand this world and its end? Is history just cause and effect? Is there a plan with someone in control? Will we overcome our sin and its effects? John cries and cries because he sees no one able to bring history to this bright conclusion. As long as the book is closed, there is no comfort, only continued decay and death. But then an elder directs him to a Lion and hope is restored, as we shall talk about tomorrow. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help us understand that apart from Christ there is no hope for this world and to understand this vision as we conclude our study of it tomorrow. Rev. Calvin J. Tuininga has served in four churches and he retired in September 2019. He and his wife now reside in Washington, North Carolina. He presently serves as a relationship Counsellor with Coastal Pregnancy Centre, as the chairman of the Synodical appeals committee of the URCNA, and also enjoys helping in various churches when possible. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at ...

Daily devotional, Uncategorised

November 8 - Yes, God is still holy

“Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” - Jude 7 Scripture reading: Genesis 18:22-33; Mark 6:7-12; Jude 3-7 The lifestyle of Sodom was not destroyed with its residents. In fact, sinful humanity carries on in its unnatural desires, pretending that God’s judgment will never rain down again. Even worse, false teachers have come into the church to preach that God now endorses that same sexual immorality. One of the worst lies being told in many churches today is that God is no longer holy enough to judge sexual immorality and unnatural desires. But the punishment of eternal fire is coming. The only reason that it has not yet arrived is because God’s mercy is still gathering sinners out of their wrath-worthy lifestyles. But if the church is to preach the way of escape from Sodom’s punishment, it must reject Sodom’s false gospel. We must testify of the good news of Jesus Christ to those who parade their ungodliness. Yes, the Spirit can bring God’s mercy to any sinner! Praise God that He has called even a sinner like you to salvation in Jesus Christ! We can’t compromise that good news by pretending God’s justice has changed since His holy fire rained down upon those cities long ago. We won’t be taking the dust of our unnatural desires with us into glory, so let’s be sure to shake it off before His judgment comes. Let us love our neighbours and warn them of their need to be converted. LORD, be merciful and withhold Your judgment so long as even one can still be saved! Suggestions for prayer Appeal for God’s mercy to show us our need for purity and freedom in Jesus Christ. Ask Him to embolden the church to be clear and courageous in its witness. Pray for your neighbours and family members who need to know the way of salvation. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at

Daily devotional, Uncategorised

September 22 - I knew that you are a gracious God

“That is why I made haste to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” - Jonah 4:2  Scripture reading: Jonah 3:10-4:3 When we read this passage, we don’t know whether to laugh or cry. We might laugh because what Jonah says is so dramatic and silly. But we might cry because we also see a bit of ourselves in Jonah. Jonah is very angry when he sees that God has relented from the disaster He had planned. When Jonah describes God’s character, he is quoting from Exodus 34:6. God described himself this way when Moses had come up Mount Sinai after the Israelites had made and worshipped the golden calf. At that time, God had revealed his patience and mercy to a very undeserving people. Jonah knew that! But this was different because these Ninevites weren’t Israelites; they were Israel’s mortal enemies. Jonah was not okay with his God showing mercy to his own enemies. As Hugh Martin notes, Jonah’s sin here is ‘pretending to be more careful of God’s glory, and more qualified to advance it, than God himself.’ Jonah wishes he could tell God what to do. Whereas Jonah was running from God in chapter 1, he now tries to run God! God is bigger than we can fathom. We only have a limited grasp of His character. It is a marvellous thing to know that God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and relenting from disaster. Suggestions for prayer Praise and thank God for his character, and for his patience and love towards us. Pray that we might have a right understanding and deep appreciation of his character. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at

Daily devotional, Uncategorised

September 13 - The mercy of the pagans

“Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them.” - Jonah 1:13  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:11-16 The sailors, however, do not quickly act on Jonah’s advice. They do not want to get rid of him and throw him overboard. Why not? They were unsure of his extreme idea. One commentator suggests: “Jonah’s diagnosis is certainly correct, but is his prescription the right one?” They do not want to be guilty of shedding innocent blood, which could only increase their culpability. They don’t want to get Jonah’s God even angrier at them. There is a contrast and irony here. Or is it compassion and concern? The heathens are concerned about Jonah, but Jonah is unconcerned about the heathens. Their treatment of Jonah is generous and chivalrous, especially after all that Jonah has done to give them a terrible day. Because of him, they lost their cargo and almost died. Even after Jonah confesses his crime, they are unwilling to throw him overboard. The pagans are concerned about the prophet, but he seems indifferent to them, doesn’t he? Isn’t it tragic when God’s people are indifferent and apathetic regarding the plight and future of those around them? Isn’t it ironic that unbelievers show more mercy and compassion than believers? Earlier, we said that the book of Jonah is a warning to the covenant people of God. We are warned against having indifferent and apathetic hearts toward the lost people around us. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would reveal indifference in your heart. Pray that by the Spirit, you will grow in concern and kindness for others. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at