Daily devotional

February 6 - Is it wrong to be rich?

“…When my steps were bathed with cream, and the rock poured out rivers of oil for me!” - Job 29:6  Scripture reading: Psalm 49:15-20 Maybe you cringed when you heard about Job’s desire to have cream and an abundance of good oil. But you should not! Job was not doing anything wrong by saying this. God often blessed His people with great riches. Read Deuteronomy 28. When they went into Canaan, God gave Israel wells they did not dig, vineyards they did not plant and houses they did not build. God is rich and He often passes those riches to His children when it suits His purpose. Also, God gives His children gifts to make them happy. It is not a virtue to be poor. You should not be racked with guilt if you are honestly rich. That is God’s kind providence. So ask God for good and pleasurable things. It is not unholy to ask for things that bring you comfort. Many don’t get things because they don’t ask. But what happens if God doesn’t give you the things for which you ask? What if you were really poor and asking? You must be ready to accept from His fatherly hand what is good for you. Sometimes God wants you to learn to be without so you don’t become boastful, sometimes it is so you can trust Him more, or sometimes God wants you to experience lack so you can empathize with those who don’t have. And then again, have you considered that the greatest gift of all, your salvation, is already in your grasp and none can take it away? Suggestions for prayer Pray you will ask for things that are needful to do God’s work and pray for good things that you desire. Pastor Mitchell Persaud is a missionary at New Horizon URCNA, in Scarborough, ON, Canada, where he has ministered for over 20 years. Feel free to Google his name for more information about New Horizon. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

February 5 - Learning to rebuke for the glory of God

“But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” - Job 2:10  Scripture reading: Mark 6:14-20 We do live in a time when everyone is “entitled” to his own opinion. It seems quite impolite to tell someone his views are wrong. But what if someone believes something that is grossly harmful to them, is it okay to remain silent and let them suffer? A good Christian would say “no.” You have a duty to speak up. This is what we find with God’s servant Job. He knew Christ. All Old Testament saints were saved by Christ. And he knew he had to live for Christ and speak for Christ, so when his wife told him to “curse God and die” and get out of the miseries he was experiencing in his body, mind and soul, he had to speak up. She was telling Job to rebel and reject God’s providence. She was telling him to only accept good things from God and not the bad ones. She was telling him he deserved good things only. We can only imagine how that must have hurt godly Job. The one he expected to have better knowledge of God and his doctrines showed her ignorance, and therefore, her contempt of God. He was direct, even blunt because the truth must not be handled casually. He told her she was speaking foolishly. Do you have this kind of courage (without being mean)? Are you afraid to lose friends if you attempt to correct their false doctrines? This was not a small matter. This was the doctrine of God. Suggestions for prayer Ask God for the grace to take His harsh discipline. Pray that you will have the courage to speak up when you see serious sins in your brothers. Pastor Mitchell Persaud is a missionary at New Horizon URCNA, in Scarborough, ON, Canada, where he has ministered for over 20 years. Feel free to Google his name for more information about New Horizon. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

February 4 - What if you lost everything you own?

“And he said: "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."” - Job 1:21  Scripture reading: Job 1:20-22 This verse is often read at funerals, particularly at the committal, when the body is placed into the ground. This is proper but this verse refers to much more than that. Job said this not out of frustration with God for losing everything, but out of a sense of worship. He acknowledged the power and the right of God to give to one and take from another. He was acknowledging that all things belonged to the Lord. (There is no U-Haul behind the hearse.) Job couldn’t even claim ownership of his servants, his oxen, his donkeys or his camels. He couldn’t claim ownership of his houses, land or investments. He couldn’t even claim ownership over his own body. He could even lose his voice to sing and praise God, or lose wisdom to give good advice. God could take back any gift, even life, as they all belong to Him. Knowing this, consider his response: “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” He was saying God was right in whatever He did. Knowing this, learn to share the gifts God has given to you whether tangible or intangible. Don’t be too attached to the things of this world. I often remind people: “If your house should burn down, you shouldn’t need anti-depressants.” You wouldn’t, if you say with Job, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Hold loosely to earthly possessions because you have eternal salvation. You are rich. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you will not hold too tightly to the things of this world, but learn to share and otherwise use them for the glory of the Lord. Pastor Mitchell Persaud is a missionary at New Horizon URCNA, in Scarborough, ON, Canada, where he has ministered for over 20 years. Feel free to Google his name for more information about New Horizon. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

February 3 - God controls the hedge around you

“Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.” - Job 1:10  Scripture Reading: Psalm 91:1-6 Let’s learn from the words of the Devil himself today. (Don’t make this your regular habit, however!) The Devil said to God directly that God put a hedge around his servant Job. Was the Devil correct in his declaration? Yes. The Devil knew the truth. God puts a hedge around you because He loves and wants to secure those He loves. Moreover, God wants to secure you because you were bought with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, His Son. God wants to secure you because you are called to bring glory to Him. But this hedge was not just a physical hedge; it was a spiritual hedge and a mental hedge as well. God knows you aren’t simply body or you aren’t even body and soul. God knows you have a mind which comes under great pressure, especially in the modern anti-Christian era. So you need His protection. Mental diseases are at an all-time high. And notice how this protection extends to more than Job’s person. God promised to protect Job’s children and his possessions. God would protect his animals and his money in the bank. (Even that can be stolen as you can see by the high inflation.) Why wouldn’t God put a hedge around the ones for whom He gave His Son’s life? You are precious in His sight. And while your soul is eternally safe, God may sometimes remove earthly securities for the testing, strengthening, and rewarding of His children. Suggestions for prayer Pray for God’s protection for all you have and pray for grace to keep trusting in God even if every earthly thing were removed. Pastor Mitchell Persaud is a missionary at New Horizon URCNA, in Scarborough, ON, Canada, where he has ministered for over 20 years. Feel free to Google his name for more information about New Horizon. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

February 2 - What really makes you good?

“Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?"” - Job 1:8  Scripture reading: Genesis 3:17-19 This was an amazing description of a man! Imagine God describing Job to Satan, who knew him quite well, as one who is blameless, upright, fears God and shuns evil! Imagine God saying to Satan, “There is none as good as Job in the whole earth!” Was God speaking correctly? God was speaking as God speaks! It is not uncommon for God to use hyperbole. You can read what He was going to do to Judah with Babylon! He did not literally do all He said He would. Maybe you’ve heard someone was in an accident and broke “every bone” in his body. You understand by that statement someone was severely injured. You would not call that person a liar if all 205 bones were not broken. So, what was God really saying? He was saying Job was godly. Was it because Job obeyed God? Yes. But it is much more. Job feared God. This meant he understood his sin, he knew the need for a Saviour and he looked forward to Jesus’ coming to pay for his sins. He admitted his sins (Job 9:20,30,31). Job made sacrifices to picture Christ’s future work. What actually makes a man blameless is that Jesus took the blame for him – all the blame he has accumulated for his sins. This must make you thankful. This must make you joyful. This must make you tell others about him. Suggestions for prayer Praise God you are covered with Christ’s righteousness symbolized by the animal skins God covered Adam and Eve with when He put them out of the garden. Pastor Mitchell Persaud is a missionary at New Horizon URCNA, in Scarborough, ON, Canada, where he has ministered for over 20 years. Feel free to Google his name for more information about New Horizon. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

February 1 - Introduction to the book of Job

This month we are going on excursions into the Book of Job. You will see Job was not simply a man who suffered and endured hardships and came out on top, but you will see Job was a man of great faith, a faith that was grounded in much knowledge of the person and work of Jesus. You will see that he understood doctrines as every good Christian should. Furthermore, you will see that his faith was not academic – only in his head. His faith moved from what he held in his head, to what he held in his heart, to what he practiced with his hands and feet and what he said with his mouth. It guided how he raised his family, how he interacted with society as a whole and how he interacted with his friends. And just as Job’s knowledge of God’s truth and his resulting faith in the Lord Jesus helped him to endure the pressures of his day, I hope these devotions will encourage you to endure the trials marked out for you by our Heavenly Father and you will pursue the work God has called you to do, whatever your station is in life. May God bless you and may His church remain faithful. The reformed man prays for his children “So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them… and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, "It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts…”” - Job 1:5  Scripture reading: Job 1:1-5 Job understood the nature of sin. He knew that sin often accompanied prosperity when men would be tempted to take their eyes off the Lord. He knew that, even though he was a godly man. He knew that, even though he had raised his children with the fear of God, they were still open to temptation to sin against the Lord. So Job acted. He would “sanctify” them. He couldn’t cleanse his children of their sins, but he would teach them to examine their hearts and make themselves right with God. Moreover, Job offered burnt offerings. He knew there was no prayer without sacrifice and that sacrifice ultimately pointed to the Lord Jesus on the cross. It is interesting too that he made burnt offerings. Burnt offerings symbolized a total dedication to the Lord. The whole animal was burnt. Nothing was shared with the priest or the offerer. No doubt Job was busy with many businesses. He was a wealthy man. He had places to go and things to do. But in all this, he stopped to consider sin in his life and in the life of his children, so he prayed and sacrificed for them. Do you pray for your children and the young ones in the church that they will keep close to the Saviour? God expects nothing less from you. The good news never ends with you. The good news leads to a godly life. Suggestions for prayer Pray that your children (young or old), grandchildren and other covenant youths in the church will stay close to the Lord and that you will make time to help them do this. Pastor Mitchell Persaud is a missionary at New Horizon URCNA, in Scarborough, ON, Canada, where he has ministered for over 20 years. Feel free to Google his name for more information about New Horizon. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 31 - The joy of arriving in Christ’s kingdom

“Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! …For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation.” - Psalm 149:2, 4  Scripture reading: Psalm 149:1-9 At the beginning of this month, we set out on a journey through the Psalms. Psalms 1 to 149 is the storyline of the Bible and of every believer. The first psalm puts a GPS (God Positioning System) in our hands – God’s instruction (1:2). By meditating on His Word, we develop trust in Yahweh’s Son as our King (2:12, 6) Who brings us to our destination (1:5-6). First, our destination is joyfully personal (read 149:1-5). Our voices join to celebrate Yahweh as our Maker and King (2), Who delights in us by saving us (4). Beginning with Abraham, God announced His plan to form a nation – which He did in Egypt. Later, in His promise to David, He revealed His plan to build a kingdom. When Jesus died on the cross, He satisfied God’s wrath against our sin, making us personal citizens of His Kingdom. Second, our destination is joyfully honourable (read 149:6-9). From the beginning, the Psalms warn that God’s Son will judge rebel nations and their kings (2:9-12, 1:4-6). In Psalm 149 Yahweh punishes those nations (7-8). When Jesus comes again, He will share this honour with His saints (149:9, see Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:3; Revelation 2:26-27; 3:21; 19:14). Until then, Jesus equips believers with the sword of the Spirit (Hebrews 4:12) to defeat powerful sinners by warning of judgment and announcing forgiveness (2 Corinthians 10:4-6). What joy to arrive in Christ’s Kingdom! Praise Yahweh! Suggestions for prayer Submit to Christ if you haven’t already. Confess dependence by naming specific circumstances (people, places, events) that God used to bring you into His Kingdom. Thank God for delivering you from eternal damnation. Read Psalm 150 in unison as your praise. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 30 - Near to God

“Let them praise the name of the Lord… for His majesty is above earth and heaven. …He has raised up a horn for His people, praise for all His saints … who are near to Him.” - Psalm 148:13, 14  Scripture reading: Psalm 148:1-14 When I was a kid, our family ate breakfast with our state governor. I was surprised that he shared this close setting with so few. I felt honoured to be one of fifty. When you read Psalm 148, I want you to feel the surprise and honour of eating breakfast with God. That’s the punch line in verse 14 – “praise … for the children of Israel who are near to Him.” First, His nearness is surprising because of Yahweh’s majestic reputation in the heavens. He commissions the angels (2), keeps the heavenly bodies in motion (3), and holds the heights of heaven in place (4) (Read verses 1-6). Second, Yahweh’s nearness is surprising because of His majestic reputation on the earth. He designed and still maintains every detail of creation – from weather patterns (8) to landscape (9) to the animals (10) to political powers (11) to the smallest child (12). (Read verses 7-13. Compare verses 5 and 13. Think of the name as Yahweh’s reputation.) All this builds to the surprising honour of verse 14. A horn symbolizes the power of an ox (Psalm 92:10). More specifically, the horn of David refers to the line of David’s kingdom (132:17; 89:20-24). Jesus is the horn. Jesus is the praise for all His saints (14). By forgiving our sins, He makes us near to God legally. At His ascension, Jesus receives the name above all names (Ephesians 1:21; Philippians 1:9). Yet by His Spirit, He draws us nearer than a breakfast guest (Ephesians 2:6). Suggestions for prayer Praise God by naming specific creatures and features of His creation in both heaven and earth. Marvel by observing their function, their artistic beauty, and their wise design. Ask for a greater awareness of His nearness through His Word, Son, and Spirit. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 29 - Yahweh’s new community

“The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.” - Psalm 147:2  Scripture reading: Psalm 147:1-20 We can see home from Psalm 147! According to the map in Psalm 1:5-6, our destination is to stand with the congregation of the righteous in the presence of Yahweh. Psalm 147 celebrates the warmth and joy of being at home with God and His family. First, Yahweh’s New Community consists of forgiven sinners (Read verses 1-6). The God Who numbered the stars (4-5) also heard the humble cries of the brokenhearted (3,6). That’s why Yahweh forgave the exiles in Babylon. They returned to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple (2). Through forgiveness, we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit and members of Christ’s body. Second, Yahweh’s New Community hopes in His steadfast love (Read verses 7-11). With eyes of faith, we recognize Yahweh in the clouds. Clouds produce rain. Rain grows grass. Grass becomes food for animals—even for baby ravens! (8-9). By giving Yahweh the credit for His works, we express our hope in Him (11) and keep from worshipping the powers of this world (10). Finally, Yahweh’s New Community is a distinct kingdom (Read verses 12-20). He protects this kingdom and fills it with families (13). In His kingdom, peace prevails, and no one goes hungry (14). By His command He controls all the kingdoms of the world through the processes of freezing and melting (15-18). But He governs His own kingdom by distinct laws (19-20) — the greatest of which is love. Praise Yahweh for His New Community and your place in it! That’s home. Suggestions for prayer Praise God’s forgiveness in Christ (verses 1-6). Thank Him for your church. List her specific blessings (12-14). Recognize God’s hand in today’s weather patterns and His government through them (8-9, 15-18). Praise God for the gift of His written Word (19-20).  Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 28 - Join the pandemic of kingdom praise

“I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name. …and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom …and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.” - Psalm 145:1, 10, 11, 21 Scripture reading: Psalm 145:1-21 Psalm 145 traces a global pandemic of praise. It’s not about a contagious virus, but The Conquering King – the Son who was set on the holy hill of Zion back in Psalm 2:6. As God’s kingdom invades darkness, His praise spreads into future generations. The fact that the church still sings Psalm 145 testifies to the truthfulness of what David wrote 3000 years ago. You can join this pandemic of praise by reading verses 1-3 as if you were David (“I”). When you read “King” think “King Jesus” Whom David could only anticipate by faith. Next, repeat verses 4-7 and own them as your commitment to think on the King’s majesty and share Him with others. (Note the expansion to “they”). Specifically, the pandemic of praise focuses on God’s character and actions. Here David repeats what God revealed to Moses (Exodus 34:6). As you read verses 8-9, imagine hearing these words with Moses when Yahweh showed the backside of His glory. While reading verses 10-13 notice how the pandemic of praise expands. Both God’s works and His saints become eager messengers (10). First, they inform the world that God’s kingdom continues forever. Then, they portray life under the tender and generous care of King Jesus. As you read verses 14-19, can you see yourself in this kingdom? To join the pandemic of praise, embrace the blessing and heed the warning of verse 20. Then state verse 21 as your commitment to spread the glory of King Jesus to all flesh. Suggestions for prayer: Praise God for advancing Christ’s kingdom since the time of David. Bless God by listing some of those advances. Include instances of God’s grace and mercy in your life, church, and community. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 27 - At home with God

“For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place” - Psalm 132:13  Scripture reading: Psalm 132:1-18 It’s time for us to set out on our journey. Yesterday, we experienced Mt. Sinai. Psalm 119 stoked our heart-cravings for God. The next Psalms (120-134) make up the Psalms of Ascents which means to go up. Israel sang these songs on their way up to Jerusalem to meet God in their annual feasts. Likewise, we are traveling through this world on our way home. We are on our way to the New Jerusalem in the New Heavens and the New Earth. Orient your heart with verses 1-5. Israel finally had rest from their enemies. That’s how David knew it was time to bring the ark to Jerusalem (see Deuteronomy 12:10-11 and 2 Samuel 7:1). As David promises to build a house for God, so we must set our hearts on living as members of God’s household. Feel the joyful enthusiasm for God’s presence as you read verses 6-10. By now David is dead, yet Old Testament believers (in exile?) expect David’s anointed Son (v.10). Read the lyrics of their hopeful song in verses 11-12. Let us be even more sure of our pathway into God’s presence through the anointed Jesus. As you read verses 13-18, notice how deliberately God chooses His home. First, as a physical place, Zion emphasizes God’s presence in our world. Second, Zion clearly refers to people who experience life with God (vv. 15-16). Finally, Zion represents Christ’s powerful kingdom to defeat Satan forever (vv. 17-18). We are headed back home to God! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for advancing His kingdom through Christ. Thank God for making His home with sinners through Jesus. Ask for God’s Spirit to dwell in you today (Luke 11:13) as a member of His temple/household (Ephesians 2:19-22). Pray for greater joy through a greater awareness of His salvation (Psalm 132:9,16). Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 26 - Your best life: seeking God

“Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart…” - Psalm 119:2  Scripture reading: Psalm 119:1-8  How did you celebrate the New Year? In Bible times the Passover celebrated Israel’s new beginning. Yesterday, we celebrated Jesus as our Passover lamb in Psalm 118. He sets us free from Satan’s control just as the Israelites escaped Pharaoh’s slavery. When they left Egypt, God brought them to Mt. Sinai to instruct them about their new life with God. Likewise, Psalm 119 is a Mt. Sinai experience to treasure our new relationship with God. The world craves the good life of expensive toys, rich desserts and exciting vacations. Rewire your appetites by reading Psalm 119:1-3. Cravings for God is the truest appetite for the best life ever! Underline verse 2b in your Bible. First impact: Heart cravings for God excite the psalmist to do God’s will. Read verses 4-6 aloud and capture his passion with your voice. Right and wrong for him is a matter of relationship – not restriction. He treasures God so much that he cringes at the shame of disappointing God’s love. Second impact: Heart cravings for God ignite laser interest in God’s wisdom. He expects to discover the brilliance of God’s mind by examining His profound rules/decrees. Read verse 7 with an eager voice. When you perceive His wise decisions expect your soul to erupt with praise. Finally, the psalmist keeps craving God even though he doesn’t deserve God (v.8). Say this prayer with him: “…do not utterly forsake me!” Then recognize God’s answer in Jesus’ desperate question, “My God! Why have you forsaken Me?” Suggestions for prayer: Say verses 1-3 to develop your cravings for God. Use verses 4-6 to convert your cravings for God into obedience. With verses 7-8, express your need for learning and rescue. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 25 - Bind the sacrifice

“… Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!” - Psalm 118:27b  Scripture reading: Psalm 118:1-29 Imagine singing these words with Jesus at the Last Supper! As a Jew, He would have sung Psalms 113-118 at each Passover celebration (Mark 14:26). The mountain-top experience for the Jewish pilgrim reached its peak at the altar. That’s why Jesus sings Psalm 118 with His disciples. Instead of going up to the altar at the temple, Jesus leads His disciples to the Mt. of Olives. There He prays until they arrest Him to crucify Him. As the disciples sing, “Bind the festal sacrifice,” little do they realize Jesus is that sacrifice, but we do. First, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, you feel the safety of your family as the angel of death kills all the firstborn of Egypt, but passes over your home in Goshen. Say to yourselves, “I shall not die, but live, and recount the deeds of the Lord” (17). Second, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, cry out to God. That’s what the psalmist did (5-9) when God used the nations to discipline Israel (10-13,18). Third, because of Jesus’ sacrifice expect the warm welcome of His gates (19-20). Through Him we join the “congregation-of-the-righteous” who stand forever in the presence of God (Ps. 1:5-6). The Jewish leaders rejected Jesus like a useless building block, but through His crucifixion Jesus has become the cornerstone of the church (22). Finally, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, spur each other to worship. (Repeat after me) “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (verses 1-4,29). Suggestions for prayer Tell God about your sin and the mess it makes. Be specific. Thank God for the sacrifice of Jesus in our place. Ask for joy to spread delight in God’s salvation to others. Pray Psalm 118 by reading it aloud with expression. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 24 - Jesus rules the world

“The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” - Psalm 110:1  Scripture reading: Psalm 110:1-7  Jesus rules the world! That’s the global secret David shares in verse 1. Jesus Himself confirms it in Matthew 22:42-45. It’s as if David says, ‘One of my descendants will be my Master. He will rule the world at God’s right hand.’ David knows this from the personal announcement of The Lord (that is, Yahweh) to David’s Lord (that is, Master). David hears about Jesus’ ascension nearly a 1000 years before it happens! That awareness sparks two gut reactions. First, David pleads with his Master. He says to Jesus, “Rule in the midst of your enemies!” (2). Then David envisions prisoners escaping to Jesus out of the sunrise (3) because Jesus is the Priest Who washes them clean (4). See for yourself by reading Psalm 110:2-4 and think to yourself, ‘Jesus rules his enemies. He defeated Satan to release me from his grip. As priest, Jesus sacrificed Himself in my place.’ Second, David turns to Yahweh and brags about Jesus to Yahweh. At Yahweh’s right hand, Jesus will shatter kings and execute the nations (5-6) – just as Psalm 2 warned. David pictures Jesus walking away from battle holding his head high in victory (7). Treasure this moment by reading Psalm 110:5-7. As you read, substitute the name “Jesus” for each instance of the word “he”. Disobeying God doesn’t seem harmless anymore, does it? Let Jesus’ coming judgment scare you from sin. Trust His victory for safety. Run to Jesus. Your Priest-King rescues and protects you. Jesus rules the world! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for seating Jesus at His right hand. Plead with God to defeat His enemies by converting sinners into the kingdom. Meditate on Christ’s second coming by saying verses 5-7. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 23 - What’s your story?

"Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord." - Psalm 107:43 Scripture reading: Psalm 107:1-9, 42-43 Did God answer? Yesterday, the war victim in Psalm 106 pleaded, “Gather us from among the nations” (47). Yes! God answered! Listen to the preacher in the next Psalm. He urges the congregation to tell their God-story, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has … gathered in from the lands, from the east … west … north … and south” (107:2-3). Then he lists four stories of God’s committed love – first, love for those starving and homeless (4-9); second, love for prisoners in a dungeon scheduled to die (10-16); third, love for fools who wrecked their health with wild living (17-22); and fourth, terrified sailors who nearly sank with their ship in a storm (23-32). Why these four stories? To stir up thankfulness for God’s steadfast love. Psalm 107 kicks off Book 5 (Psalms 107-150) with energy, “Oh give thanks to the Lord,” Why this enthusiasm? It’s the same answer as before “…for the Lord is good” (Psalm 100:5, 106:1). And how do we know His goodness? “…for His steadfast love endures forever” (107:1). That’s what the four stories highlight. In each case, they cried and God heard. He housed and fed the homeless. He released the prisoners. He healed the sick and rescued the sailors. God intends us to read and sing these stories as a spiritual exercise (42-43). He wisely designed this workout to make us grateful (1) and glad (42). For today’s workout, read Psalm 107 aloud with expression. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for your own story. Follow the pattern of the stories in Psalm 107: name your trouble (4-5), cry for help (6), recognize Christ’s provisions, (7), give thanks (8-9). Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 22 - Proof of Yahweh’s love and faithfulness 

"For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.” - Psalm 106:45 Scripture reading: Psalm 106:1-48 Yesterday, we celebrated the goodness of God. But can we sing of God’s goodness when tragedy strikes? The writer of Psalm 106 thinks so. He writes as a victim of war. Nebuchadnezzar’s army forced his family from their home and marched them 600+ miles on foot to Babylon. That’s why he ends this psalm so urgently, “…gather us from among the nations” (47). He wants to go back home! Are you homesick for better days? Is it realistic to say that God is good? Let’s listen to a war victim: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good”. And why does he think God is good? “…for his steadfast love endures forever!” (v.1). At the end of Book 3 (Psalms 73-89) Ethan (another war victim) questions the Lord’s steadfast love (89:49). Egypt stripped the temple and controlled David’s throne. By the time we get to the end of Book 4 (Psalms 90-106) the circumstances are worse (106:47), but the mood is better. What has changed? The perspective. The homesick captive uses his memory like a backup camera. He squints far into the past to see steadfast love. That love endures generations of rebellion – at the Red Sea, in the wilderness, even child sacrifices (106:6-43). His backup camera displays God’s goodness. View the last large scene in these words: “Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry. For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love” (44-45). Suggestions for prayer Rapidly read Psalm 106:6-43 to feel the bursts of cruelty against God. Slow down and repeat (2x) the lines that tell of God’s deliverance. Let the intervention of Moses (23) and Phineas (30) prompt thanksgiving for Jesus’ steadfast love on the cross. Plead for salvation using verses 4-5,47. Then give thanks with verses 1-3,48. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 21 - Celebrate Yahweh’s love and faithfulness

“For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” - Psalm 100:5 Scripture reading: Psalm 100:1-5 I could hardly wait for Psalm 100! It bursts with excitement about God’s goodness. How is God good (5a)? First, He did not abandon His people, but His steadfast love endures forever (5b). Second, He did not break His promise to David, but his faithfulness endures to all generations (5c). In Psalm 89 it appeared that God ended His love-relationship with Israel. Two questions haunt the Old Testament believer. First, how could God be present if the temple is gone? Second, how could God be faithful if no one reigns from David’s throne? Psalms 90-92 answer the first question. God is present just as He was with Moses before there ever was a temple. Psalms 93-99 answer the second question. God is King! By the time we get to Psalm 100 the writer can hardly contain his enthusiasm for Yahweh’s steadfast love and faithfulness. God still reigns today! “Serve the Lord with gladness” turns our to-do list into partnerships with King Jesus. “We are his people '' secures our place in His kingdom and guarantees God’s presence! “Enter … his courts with praise!” transforms our worship into angelic celebrations at God’s throne. Feel the excitement in the rapid-fire commands of Psalm 100 – Make a joyful noise! Serve! Come! Know! Enter! Give thanks! Bless! – This is not a warning, but a welcome … not have-to-do, but get-to-do. That’s why I couldn’t wait for Psalm 100. Though our sins deserve separation, God opens His arms through King Jesus! God is still good! Suggestions for Prayer Celebrate God’s faithfulness to create and maintain His people (3). Thank God for access through Jesus and for the presence of His Spirit (2,4). Ask for zeal to invite others to this good news. Read Psalm 100 again with this in mind. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

 January 20 - Amen, yes! God’s throne is still active

“The Lord reigns…. Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting. Your decrees are very trustworthy…” - Psalm 93:1-2, 5  Scripture reading: Psalm 93:1-5 Sometimes disease, war and political oppression intimidate us. Personal and global troubles may raise doubts, “Does Jesus really govern the world?” Israel had their doubts too. Remember their disturbing questions from Psalm 89: (1) ‘If there is no temple, is God still present?’ (2) ‘If there is no Davidic king on Jerusalem’s throne, is God still faithful?’ Psalm 93 answers the second question emphatically, ‘Yes! God is faithful. In fact, God Himself is King (vv.1-2).’ God established both this world (v.1) and His throne (v.2). This is good news for a world troubled with wars, oppressive politics and devastating diseases. Do you remember the raging of the nations from Psalm 2 … the nations that rebelled against God’s reign (2:1-3)? You hear their voice again in Psalm 93 and their voices sound like flood waters (93:3). That’s how Jeremiah described Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Was God still king when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem? Yes, that’s the point of Psalm 93:4 which repeats the promise of Jeremiah 51:55. The Lord is more powerful than the destructive waves of Nebuchadnezzar’s army. In the big picture, God used Babylon to carry out the covenant curses on Jerusalem’s sins (Deuteronomy 28). Therefore, Psalm 93:5 praises Yahweh’s decrees for being trustworthy (the very term that is called into question in Psalm 89:49). Today, Jesus sits on David’s throne – not in Jerusalem, but at God’s right hand. Use Psalm 93 to strengthen your faith as godless enemies and strong temptations crash against Christians like ocean waves of doubt. Suggestions for prayer Pray Psalm 93:1-2 to acknowledge Christ’s reign today at God’s right hand. Use verse 3 to list personal and global troubles. Reaffirm God’s power (verse 4) and purposes (verse 5). Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 19 - Amen, yes! God’s love is still present.

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.” - Psalm 90:1  Scripture reading: Psalm 90:1-17 Remember the deep questions of Psalm 89: What about God’s steadfast love and faithfulness? Since the temple lies in ruins, is God still with us? Since David’s sons are captured, is God’s kingdom done? Book 4 (Psalms 90-106) answers the doubts of Book 3 (Psalms 73-89). The Holy Spirit takes us back to Psalm 90. Moses prays it from the wilderness. There is no temple or throne yet. Sadly, his generation grumbles about manna and dies for their unbelief. Put yourself in Moses’ sandals as you now read Psalm 90 aloud. Then fast forward to the time of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar burns the temple down, captures King Zedekiah, and kills his sons. Judah deserves God’s judgment. That’s when the anxious questions in Psalm 89 sink deeper – “Is God still with us? Is God’s kingdom done?” Read Psalm 90 again as if you were Daniel (Read with expression). Somebody like Ezra eventually gathers all the Psalms and arranges them into the order we have them today. It was Israel’s song book for 400 years. Simeon and Anna must process the questions in Psalm 89. Herod rebuilt the temple, but Roman emperors reign instead of David’s descendants. Read Psalm 90 again as if you were Simeon or Anna before they meet Jesus. Finally, make it your own prayer. The world feels powerful and the church appears weak. New laws approve immorality and oppose Christianity. Starvation, persecution, broken marriages – even your own struggle with sin – may tempt you to ask, “Is God actively present?” Suggestions for prayer Conclude by reading Psalm 90 as your prayer. Reaffirm God’s presence. Confidently confess your sins. Remember that Jesus died to deal with your guilt and shame. Thank God that He dwells in you by His Spirit. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 18 - Is Yahweh still loving and faithful?

“Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David?” - Psalm 89:49  Scripture reading: Psalm 89:38-52  Read Ps. 89:38-45 to experience the shocking reality of God’s justice against sin. Ethan describes a time when Yahweh punished David’s family-king (38-39) and humiliated him (43-45) by sending cruel enemies (42) to smash his military forts and Jerusalem’s walls (40-41). Ethan is a contemporary of Solomon (1 Kings 4:31), so he likely has in mind Shishak (pharaoh of Egypt) who attacked Rehoboam (David’s grandson) and forced him and Judah to slavery (see 2 Chronicles 12:1–12). Read Ps. 89:46-48 to know the anxious misery of sin’s consequences. Through agonizing questions and desperate cries Ethan pleads with Yahweh to rescue him from death. Read Ps. 89:49-51 to develop a passion that is more consumed with Yahweh’s honour than personal comfort. Ethan feels insulting shame when enemies mock Yahweh’s anointed king (50-51). That explains his daring question, “Lord, where is Your steadfast love of old, which by Your faithfulness You swore to David?” (v.49). Ethan’s song will be fitting for a later generation when Nebuchadnezzar shackles king Zedekiah (David’s 19th generation grandson) with chains, strips the temple of its gold and valuables, slaughters the residents of Jerusalem and burns the royal city to the ground like a bulldozer (see 2 Kings 24:8–25:30). For the next 600 years, faithful saints will ask about Yahweh’s steadfast love and faithfulness to David. That’s why Ethan ends the song with “Amen and Amen” (51) which means “I believe!” or “Faithful!” Yes, God is loving and faithful. Jesus’ kingdom is coming! Suggestions for prayer Confess that your sins and the sins of the church shame Christ’s kingdom. Ask to be consumed more by Christ’s kingdom than personal comfort – especially when the powers of wealth and politics make the church seem small and insignificant. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 17 - Celebrate Yahweh’s love and faithfulness!

“I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.” - Psalm 89:1  Scripture reading: Psalm 89:1-37  Are you ready to sing with Ethan (see the title)? Read Psalm 89:1-2. Two big ideas pump Ethan’s adrenaline. Think of steadfast-love and faithfulness as Yahweh’s arms. Together they rescue His people for His eternal kingdom. Read Psalm 89:3-4 to hear Yahweh announce the Grand Opening of Christ’s Kingdom. David’s throne is forever! Yahweh’s steadfast love and faithfulness are like twin hand-prints confirming the coming of Christ’s kingdom! Read Psalm 89:5-18 to anticipate the wonder of Yahweh’s kingdom. First, His supreme power guarantees it. No heavenly being compares to His military might; He conquers every enemy (vv. 5-10). He invented the world and orders it (vv. 11-14). Second, His legal decisions guarantee a happy people. His steadfast love and faithfulness secure joy, clarity, value, glory and protection for each kingdom citizen (vv. 15-18). Read Psalm 89:19-28 to perceive the secret behind David’s successful kingdom. Yahweh elected and anointed him. He defeated his enemies (vv. 19-23), expanded Solomon’s kingdom and made Solomon a son (vv. 25-27). That is steadfast love and faithfulness (vv.24,28). Read Psalm 89:29-37 to fathom Yahweh’s commitment to His Bride. David’s family cheated on God and violated the covenant (vv. 30-32). Yet, God kept His vow of steadfast love and faithfulness (vv. 33-36). The moon’s orbit is like Yahweh’s wedding ring, faithfully encircling the earth every month (v. 37). Join Ethan! Spread the news of Yahweh’s steadfast love and faithfulness in King Jesus. Tell your neighbours, kids and grandkids. Suggestions for prayer Read Ethan’s words to God with your own expressions. Keep in mind that Jesus sits at God’s right hand to complete these promises. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 16 - Don't doubt God’s goodness

“Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled…” - Psalm 73:1-2  Scripture reading: Psalm 73:1-28 “It’s worthless to keep a clean conscience and live a pure life!” Asaph thought. In Psalm 73, he confesses his struggles with doubt (read 73:1-3). Misperception nearly kills his faith. Hopefully his story convinces you that “God is good … to those who are pure in heart.” Asaph’s doubts about God come from interpreting life through his experiences. Two observations tempt him to question God’s goodness. First, it seems that the wicked always get ahead in life and have it easy (read 73:4-12). Secondly, his life is the opposite – filled with turmoil even though he keeps a clean conscience and obeys God (read 73:13-14). That’s not what he expects. He figures that godly people prosper, and wicked people perish. His experience does not match his beliefs. Thankfully, Asaph keeps his thoughts to himself because he knows how damaging it would be to talk that way in front of other church members – especially those young in the faith (read 73:15). His turning point comes when he interprets life from God’s perspective (read 73:16-17). By faith, Asaph sees that God will severely judge the wicked (read 73:18-20). He admits that he had been as clueless as a cow (read 73:21-22). Asaph comes to see God differently and so can you. As you read verses 23-26, imagine God holding your hand, whispering advice and then welcoming you into heaven. Use verses 27-28 to keep trusting God’s Son (2:12) instead of believing your own interpretations of the world. Suggestions for prayer Confess your own doubts about God. Admit that your doubts are lies about reality. Thank God for making known what we cannot understand by our own observations. Ask for accurate perceptions to dissolve your doubts and secure your joy. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 15 - Give the King your justice!

“Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! … May his … fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!” - Psalm 72:1, 17  Scripture reading: Psalm 72:1-20 Sin isn’t fair. Mr. Greed says, “Finders keepers, losers weepers!” Ms. Gossip wrecks her neighbour’s reputation with the excuse, “Well, it’s true!” Mr. Lust destroys marriage with the mindset, “It can’t be wrong if it feels so right.” Psalm 72 is a prayer for King Jesus to make all things just – to defend the poor, to rescue starving kids, to crush oppressors! (72:4). Book 2 (Psalms 42-72) confronts the mess that sin makes when bullies take advantage of others. Psalms 42-44 sigh under sin’s bitterness. Immediately, Psalm 45 presents Jesus as the valiant Groom Who rescues His bride from her bullies. He leads His army (46) to defeat His enemies (47) and to live peacefully with His bride in the royal city (48). Therefore, don’t fear when the wicked prosper (Psalm 49) because God comes as judge to execute them (50). Instead, we must return to God with the sacrifice of genuine sorrow over sin (51) and continue to trust Him in all our troubles (52-64). Then we will rejoice with others in His world-wide mission to gather broken, miserable sinners (65-67); and we will live confidently in God Who continues to defeat our enemies (68) and to rescue us from sin (69-70) – even to old age (71). By praying Psalm 72, we trust in Jesus and delight in His kingdom. Only He can bring us to our destination – the place of standing before God in the congregation of the righteous (see introduction). King Jesus makes all things right. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the justice of Christ’s kingdom by reading Psalm 72:1-7. Pray for the expanse of His kingdom with verses 8-14. Pray for its continuation with verses 15-17. Praise His glorious kingdom with verses 18-19. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 14 - Safety in Christ’s kingdom

“Prolong the life of the king…! May he be enthroned forever before God; appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!” - Psalm 61:6, 7  Scripture reading: Psalm 61:1-8 The what-ifs of life threaten our security. What if I get cancer? What if I lose my job? What if my parents divorce? In this poem, David discovers safety in the kingdom of Jesus and so can you. David’s big scare is the enemy. Repeatedly, he faces brutal and angry bullies who want him dead. No wonder David thinks of God’s protection in military terms – my refuge, a strong tower (v.3). He pleads with God to lead him to a rock so high that arrows cannot reach him; and its cliffs so steep that no enemy can climb it. That’s the first picture of safety – out of reach of the enemy (Read 61:1-3). But security is more than just an escape from death. Safety involves knowing that someone loves you and cares for you. Therefore, David begs to live with God in His tent. He wants God to care for him with the intensity of a mother hen sheltering chicks under her wing. (Read 61:4-5.) This second picture of safety is all about relationship. By the end of David’s poem, he moves from present troubles to future hope. What makes God as secure as a high rock in battle? What assures David of God’s loving care – as protective as a mother hen? The answer is “Jesus!” By faith David sees King Jesus sitting on David’s future throne. Jesus’ eternal reign gives us the confidence to face the what-ifs of life – even cancer, unemployment, and broken homes (Read 61:6-8). Suggestions for prayer Name the fears and circumstances that threaten your security. Be specific. Thank God for being like a rock, strong tower, and mother hen. Ask for deliverance from fear and for hope in Christ’s coming kingdom. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 13 - The king’s repentance

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” - Psalm 51:10  Scripture reading: Psalm 51:1-16 Are you wondering what to do with a sinful secret? David’s conscience nags him for nine months or more. Exhausting. Agitating. Condemning. Then Nathan exposes his swollen puss pocket of sin to unleash three stages of repentance. Stage 1: Trust God with your dirty secrets (read 51:1-6). First, David appeals to a love more loyal than family and more compassionate than a thousand mothers (1-2). Second, he admits that his sin attacks God Himself and comes from a dirty heart (3-6). Since God so loved the world to send His only natural Son, you can share the slime of your soul with Him. Stage 2: Confession leads to cleansing (read 51:7-12). First, David begs for a clean record (7) to restore him emotionally and physically (8) in his relationship with God (9). Second, David pleads for a clean heart. David remembers Saul’s torment when the Holy Spirit left Saul. That intensifies his need for the Holy Spirit (11) to give him a right (10) and willing spirit (12). Our guilty record is cleansed by Christ’s death. Our dirty heart is purified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, beg for cleansing. Stage 3: Clean records and hearts lead to worship (read 51:13-19). Forgiveness sets David free to teach others the way of freedom (13), to sing its value (14), and to boast of God (15). Wrong worship thinks only of the outward actions (16). When we offer our broken hearts (17), God builds a worshiping community (18) who please God with right worship (19). Suggestions for prayer Confess your own sins and ask forgiveness in Jesus’ blood. Be specific. Ask for internal changes that result in right desires and pure motives. Ask for more worship from the heart in you and your local church members. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 12 - Repent of wrong worship

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” - Psalm 50:23  Scripture reading: Psalm 50:1-23 This psalm confronts two worship problems in the Christian church today. First, it exposes worshippers who only go through the motions out of habit – not as joyful service to the King. During the sermon and songs, they doodle and daydream. Is that you … mindlessly religious, but not relating to God? God condemns careless worshippers. He calls His court to order (read 50:1-6). The heavens and earth serve as witnesses (4,6). Then come the charges: religious ritual (read 50:7-13) without relying on God (read 50:14-15). A thankful heart realizes, “God, you keep me alive!” True humility whispers desperately, “God, I need you in today’s trouble!” That’s how God gets the glory when He brings us through the day. Therefore, stop going through the motions. Be authentic. Be thankful. The church’s second problem is worship that serves as a cover for crime (read 50:16-20). These worshippers pray on Sunday to disguise their business lies. Adoration hides their appetite for adultery. They glorify God to cover their slander in the family. When confronted, they get angry (17). Do you fake worship? Is church your smoke screen for evil? God arrests them too and charges them with forgetting God. He threatens to rip them apart. (Read 50:21-22. Yet, God extends the same grace to wicked worshippers as He does to the careless ones. He calls them to thankful worship and right living and promises to show them salvation (Read 50:23,14-5). Tomorrow’s psalm demonstrates how to repent and receive salvation in Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer Confess your worship sins – thoughtless motions and deliberate deception. Sincerely beg God to rescue you from wrong worship. Ask for forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

 January 11 - The king and his bride

“And the King will desire your beauty. Since He is your Lord, bow to Him.” - Psalm 45:11 Scripture reading: Psalm 45:1-17 The writer of Psalm 45 is like the photographer at a wedding. But this is no ordinary marriage. It is the union of the King of kings to the ugliest Bride of brides. Jesus Christ is the King (Hebrews 1:8-9), but the Bride is a nation of gangsters – not an individual. Through compassion and pity King Jesus transforms her. This love is worth remembering and celebrating (read v.17). Therefore, the photographer captures this vivid picture with a love song. In verses 2-9 (read), he pictures Jesus Christ as the most handsome Groom (2). He majestically defeats His enemies (3-5). Then, He sets up a peaceful government where truth, meekness and righteousness replace neighbourhoods boarded up by crime (6-7a). Tenderly, He smiles at every citizen like a joyful groom celebrating his bride (8-9). Correspondingly, verses 10-15 (read) picture the gangster nation as the Bride. The song writer urges her to leave her home and her criminal community to become a citizen of the victorious King. He desires her like a groom waiting at the front of the church (10-11). With awe, even the King’s enemies will recognize her global significance and honour her marriage with extravagant gifts (12). Like a bride walking down the aisle in a spectacular dress, she will receive more recognition than guests who stand for any bridal procession (13-15). Instead of fading into a sunset, this love song ends with a glorious picture of God’s future Kingdom (read v.16). Christ’s sons will rule the world! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for rescuing dead sinners like you through the victory of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Ask for a greater awareness of your identity with Christ’s Bride, the Church. Thank God for creating a new society that will be completed at Jesus’ return. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 10 - Waiting for God’s deliverance

“Send out your light and your truth…. Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” - Psalm 43:3, 5  Scripture reading: Psalm 43:1-5 Justice brings relief. When the bully gets sentenced to prison, the victim breathes a sigh of relief. In Psalm 43, the sons of Korah long for that kind of relief when one of them cries, “Vindicate me, O God!” (1). Keep in mind that Satan still works in the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-2). They are ungodly. They lie. They cheat (v.1). This man’s constant mourning reminds us that we live in a devilish world (v.2). May we too grieve at such injustices. For you, it may be intensely personal – a shifty landlord, a deceptive family member, a shady boss. So also, the psalmist writes from personal experience. Though he feels rejected by God, yet he takes refuge in God (2). First, he trusts God by persisting in prayer (3-4). He requests insight (i.e. light and truth) to lead him to God’s holy hill. Remember from Psalm 2 that God’s Son sits on that holy hill as King! That’s why we need greater insight – to see our oppression in light of Jesus at God’s right hand. Second, he trusts God by preaching to himself (5). He acknowledges his grey sadness with an honest question. But he refuses to let his depression get in the way of his relationship with God. His self-sermon is simple: Hope in God. This hope is like the kid who can’t wait for his birthday. Just as relief seems too far away, the writer can’t wait for the day of celebrating God’s deliverance. Suggestions for prayer Pray that persecuted Christians may have relief through Jesus’ justice. Pray for relief from the specific ways your own culture resists God’s kingdom. Ask for a greater awareness of Jesus’ superiority over Satan’s kingdom. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 9 - The blessed destination

"Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him. …You set me before Your face forever.” - Psalm 41:1, 12b Scripture reading: Psalm 41:1-13 Just nine days ago, we started this journey in Psalms. Do you remember where we are headed? David reminds us of our life’s destination: “You… set me before Your face forever” (41:12b). Psalm 41 also reminds us of our daily habits and Who it is that guarantees our success (See the introduction). First, to arrive in God’s presence, keep relying on God by meditating daily. The blessed man who delights in God’s Word (Psalm 1) becomes the blessed man who cares for the weak and powerless (41:1). Like David, we can rely on God to be merciful to those who show mercy (Read verses 1-3). Second, to arrive in God’s presence, we must rely on God’s Son (2:12). That’s what David does by praying (Read verses 4-10). It’s likely that David’s troubles come from Absalom’s rebellion. Nathan prophesied violence and immorality as a result of David’s sin. Perhaps that’s why David connects his plea for rescue with his confession of sin (4). Third, to arrive in God’s presence, we must recognize God’s Son in David’s sufferings. The enemies can’t wait for David to die. In his prayer, David records their death wishes (vv. 5,8), describes their tricks (v.6), and identifies his traitors (v.9). Jesus endures these same sufferings. As Ahithophel betrayed David during Absolom’s rebellion (2Sam. 15:12; 16:20 – 17:4); so Judas betrayed Jesus (John 13:18; Lk. 22:1-6). God answered David by defeating Absolom in battle. He answered Jesus by raising Him from the dead. That’s our destination! Suggestions for prayer Confess your lack of prayer and care. Share your troubles with God – it’s not complaining, but trusting. Give thanks for Jesus’s suffering, betrayal and victorious resurrection with verses 11-13.  Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 8 - Sharing in Jesus joyful answer

“All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.” - Psalm 22:27–28  Scripture reading: Psalm 22:22-31  Yesterday, we heard Jesus’s prayer echoing from the cross. God felt far away (vv. 1,11,19). Jesus begged, but no one came to His rescue (v.2). Yet, He trusted while carrying the burden of our sins. Then, at the end of verse 21 the silence breaks. Jesus exclaims: “You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!” What’s astonishing is that Jesus’s rescue brings relief not only to Himself, but to all who trust Him. Read Psalm 22:22-24 rejoicing that Jesus treats us as family. Jesus speaks as our older brother. He is not embarrassed to own us as adopted siblings (see Hebrews 2:10-12). Then, as our song leader, He expects us to join Him in worship (v.23). Why? Because God answers prayer (v.24). And when God answered Jesus’s prayer, He rescued us! Read Psalm 22:25-26 rejoicing as members of Jesus’s family. Jesus received His answer when He rose from the dead. That’s why the heavenly choir sings to Jesus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain…. Let us rejoice and exalt and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come” (Revelation 5:12; 19:7). What a joyful privilege! Read Psalm 22:27-31 rejoicing in Jesus’s expanding family. God promised that all the families of the earth would be blessed through Abraham’s line. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He received the right to gather the nations. (Remember Ps. 2:8!) Today, people around the globe confess Jesus as Saviour. That’s proof of His kingdom! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for raising Jesus from the dead. Praise God for your place in His family. Ask for opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus’s kingly power over death. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 7 - Trust Jesus to hold you close

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” - Psalm 22:1  Scripture reading: Psalm 22:1-21  Jesus prayed this lament with people like you and me on His heart. To personalize His words, we need to return to the cross. His body convulses with pain. His soul trembles with the lonely shuddering of hell. Yet He prays! That’s trust in the midst of trial! Let us learn from His exercise of faith. First, value His trial for us. In His trial, Jesus groans at the distance between Himself and God. Because of the distance, Jesus cries, but hears no answer (read 22:1-2). Because of the distance, Jesus feels the stinging shame of angry mockers (read 22:6-8,11). Because of the distance, Jesus wearies from physical and emotional trauma (read 22:12-18). He enters that hellish loneliness for us! Jesus takes our place far away from God. (See the word “far” in verses 1,11,19.) Second, Jesus engages His trial with trust. His trust is also for us! Trust is the breath under every agonizing sigh and each haunting groan. Trust is the power of Jesus’s memory to recall the way God answered the prayers of other believers (read 22:3-4) and the way God developed this faith in Jesus as a child (read 22:9-10). Yes, Jesus prays for Himself to endure the cross. But remember, Jesus endures God’s wrath for sin that belongs to people like you and me. If Jesus does not survive the cross, then God must leave us far away. Indeed, Jesus’s trust secures our place near to God. Tomorrow we will hear God’s surprising answer. Suggestions for prayer Reverently read Psalm 22:1-21. Acknowledge that you deserve the distance Jesus experiences. Thank God for Jesus’s strong trust that kept Him praying. Plead with God to preserve you (vv.19-21). Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 6 - Praise of Yahweh’s kingdom rescue

“Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.” - Psalm 18:50  Scripture reading: Psalm 18:43-50  David’s victory is our victory. Don’t miss the dramatic and world-changing impact of Psalm 18. David celebrates the greatest turning point in world history up to his day. God engaged David in His war against the seed of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). Through Saul, God’s kingdom falls into the hands of the Devil, but God deploys David to rescue His kingdom. First, let us recognize God’s unfolding plan for His kingdom. David sees that his victories serve a higher purpose. He sees a world-wide kingdom sprouting up according to the promise God made when David first gained control of the united kingdom in Israel. He credits God with making him head of the nations. He credits God with bringing foreigners to him like soldiers waving the white flag in surrender. Read verses 43-45 with a sense of excitement and happy surprise as you try to picture this scene in your mind. Second, when we recognize what God is doing, we must turn that knowledge into praise as David does in verses 46-48. Finally, let us praise Yahweh for expanding His kingdom through Jesus Christ. That’s Who David has in mind. Read verses 49-50 to expect a global kingdom under the reign of our Saviour, King Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Read verse 46 by inserting your name in place of David. Here’s my example: blessed be Ken’s rock … the God of Ken’s salvation. To personalize verses 47-48 insert Jesus instead of David – like this: “the God who gave Jesus vengeance and subdued peoples under Him.” Do the same with verse 48 to accept David’s victory as Jesus’ victory, and His victory as your victory over Satan, sin, and self. Pray verses 49-50 as your own praise. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 5 - The story of Yahweh’s rescue

“For who is God, but the Lord? — the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.” - Psalm 18:31, 32  Scripture reading: Psalm 18:20-42 On Sunday afternoons our family enjoys reading together. Our favourites are life-stories of Christian missionaries. Their zeal for the Lord inspires us. In these next verses of Psalm 18, David tells his own story of rescue. Notice how he gives God the credit at every turn. First, he credits God for keeping him from doing wrong. He could have killed Saul on two occasions, but he didn’t. Why not? Because God’s rules and statutes (22) filled his mind. He didn’t dare to touch the Lord’s anointed. Softly read verses 20-24 as David reflects on his decision not to kill Saul. Second, David credits God with being faithful. From Deuteronomy 28, we learn that God blesses obedience and curses rebellion. David recognizes that God dealt with him in this fashion. What was the outcome? God put a spring in David’s legs to leap over a wall in battle. Thoughtfully read verses 25-30 to see that God is true to His word. Third, God equips David for battle (18:32,39). He gives God the credit by listing specific details of his story. How did David get to be such a successful soldier? God put speed in his legs and skill in his hands. Every success in hand-to-hand combat, he attributes to God. Learn to credit God by reading verses 31-39. Finally, David credits God with his victories. What is the greatest difference between Saul and David? God answered David’s prayer, but gave silence to Saul. Humbly read verses 40-42 as David remembers God’s grace. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for answering the prayers of Jesus whose victory crushes Satan’s head and secures our salvation. Give God the credit for specific ways He has and is keeping you in the faith. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 4 - When God answers… celebrate!

“I love you, O Lord, my strength. …I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” - Psalm 18:1, 3  Scripture reading: Psalm 18:1-19  God answers prayer. But sometimes we must wait. It doesn’t help that we live in an instant society of microwave meals, next-day delivery and online answers. Even now I feel a little impatient by skipping Psalms 4-17 in which David pleads for freedom from his enemies. Finally, Psalm 18 celebrates God’s answer (read the inspired title). Immediately, David’s heart gushes with love for God’s protection. As you read verses 1-3 imagine the pictures David paints. Feel the refreshing confidence in God that energizes his emotions. God saved David from his enemies. He can’t help but to celebrate. To give God the credit, David tells his story of answered prayer (read verses 4-6). Imagine ropes pulling you under the water into dark suffocation. David prays. God answers from His tent – the place where God’s Son is seated on the Holy Hill of Zion (2:6). David senses the majestic drama of God’s answer. Read verses 7-15 expressively to feel the cataclysmic power behind the swaying earth and shaking mountains (7), thick darkness (9,11), burning coals (12), peals of thunder (13), lightning flashes (14), and a dry seabed (15). By borrowing these images from the Exodus, David captures the drama of his own deliverance. In fact, David goes so far as to compare his rescue to Moses escaping the Nile at birth. (Moses’ name means “drawn out”. Read vv. 16-19.) Does God’s answer (Psalm 18) to David’s prayers (Psalms 3-17) inspire you to pray? Pray deliberately. Observe carefully. Celebrate God’s answers. Suggestions for prayer We would do well to celebrate our own salvation as dramatically as David. Call upon the Lord to be delivered from the Devil, the world and your own sinful desires. Tell God how much you love Him for answering past prayers. Be specific if you can. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

 January 3 - Exercise routine #1

“I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah.” - Psalm 3:4 Scripture reading: Psalm 3:1-8 Yesterday, we learned the significance of the holy hill. That’s where Yahweh set His Son to reign! Therefore, Psalm 2 ends with this advice: “Happy are all who take refuge in him” (2:12). Then Psalm 3 shows how to put that trust into practice. In Psalm 3, King David thinks of God ruling the world through His Son. Enemy teeth clamp down on David like a fierce lion. But David cries to Yahweh, “Arise! … Save me! … For you … break the teeth of the wicked” (v.7). It’s as if the lion drops its prey. David relaxes, falls asleep, and awakens refreshed in Yahweh’s care (v.5). Maybe Satan whispers in your ear like the kind of gossip that haunted David. Because of his adultery and murder, his son, Absalom, now steals the kingdom and David flees Jerusalem. (See Psalm 3 title.) Rumour has it that God no longer loves David. Social media says, “There is no salvation for David in God” (v.2). If you had seen Absalom’s invasion you would likely agree. Do you have doubts about God’s love and care for you? Does your shame bite like the fangs of a lion? Instead of fearing his enemies and listening to the gossip, David demonstrates the first exercise routine for the New Year. By meditating on and delighting in (1:3) Yahweh’s promises (2:7-9), David expectantly cries to Yahweh (3:4). Now it’s your turn. Exert your trust-muscles. Meditate. Delight. Trust Yahweh’s Son. Read Psalm 3 again. Then proceed to prayer. Suggestions for prayer Name your enemies. Be specific about yourself, the world, and Satan. Then cry, “Arise! Save me!” Expect God to answer because Jesus rules the world. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 2 - The exercise goal: Trust God’s son-king

“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” - Psalm 2:12  Scripture reading: Psalm 2:1-12 Meditating on God’s instruction develops trust in God’s Son Who rules the world (2:12). Taking refuge in God’s Son, blesses us in four ways. First, the King’s enemies show our need for Jesus (read 2:1-3). The world hates Jesus and His followers (John 15:18-25). We battle Satan, the world and our own flesh. Therefore, trust God’s Son to set us free. Second, the King’s throne builds our confidence in Jesus (read 2:4-6). Yahweh is doing something about the enemies – He has set His King on the holy hill of Zion. In the Old Testament, that hill represents the access point to God. Now our way is Jesus. He rules the world at God’s right hand. Therefore, trust God’s Son as the way to God. Third, the King’s mission shapes our expectation (read 2:7-9). The Son-King comes to inherit the kingdoms of this world (2:7-9). At His ascension, Jesus announces His right to have the nations of this world: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … (Matthew 28:18-19). Therefore, trust God’s Son to bring sinners into His kingdom. Finally, the King’s judgment secures our blessing (read 2:10-12). In the final judgment, Jesus brings peace by destroying all who refuse to submit. The wicked cannot withstand His wrath (1:5-6). At His coming, Jesus will create the new heavens and earth in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). Therefore, trust God’s Son. Suggestions for prayer Identify today’s struggle with Satan, the world or your flesh. Be specific. Confess that the King of the universe can remove your struggle or strengthen you for it. Ask God to brighten your testimony, to expand your influence for His kingdom, and to long more earnestly for Jesus’ return. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

January 1 - Introduction to the book of Psalms

Where are you going this year? Where are you headed in life? Do you know what’s better than a New Year’s Resolution? …a Life’s Resolution. The Psalms formulate one for us. They clarify our destination, prescribe a daily habit, and guarantee our success. Let me explain these three. First, your life will end either in heaven or hell. Where are you headed? Have you made a conscious decision? Unless you deliberately aim to be at home with God, you will end up in hell. If you stick with the Psalms, expect to see God’s home (and yours) by the end of the month. Second, if heaven is your long-term goal, what steps must you take today? The Psalms prescribe “delighting in God”. Since we have natural cravings for that which leads to hell, God designed the Psalms as a series of exercises called “meditation”. To develop cravings for God, you will want to exercise daily. Finally, do you know what makes heaven so heavenly? It’s not the place, but a Person. You need a relationship, not a religious ritual to arrive in God’s presence. The Psalms guarantee our success by training us to trust God’s Son – the King. I like to summarize it this way: The Psalms train us to meditate on and delight in God’s instruction (1:2) so that by faith we take refuge in God’s Son (Psalms 2:12) and end up standing before God in the congregation of the righteous (1:5-6). For the next 31 days, the Psalms will be our spiritual coach. As your trainer, I will tell you when to read individual verses and what to do with them. Remember, we are exercising. You will only get out of it what you put into it. With God’s blessing, your faith will be more lively at the end of the month by actively engaging every day. I hope to meet you one day – standing with all the other saints in the presence of God. Until then, keep trusting in King Jesus who will safely bring us there.  The exercise method: Meditate to delight in God “Blessed is the man … his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” - Psalm 1:1, 2 Scripture reading: Psalm 1:1-6 With the passing of time, we are one step closer to the finish line. That’s where Psalm 1 ends – at the presence of God. Either we will be known by God, or we will perish under His judgment (read 1:5-6). We are running the most important race we will ever run – the marathon of life. The first psalm introduces the whole book as a series of exercises designed to run your race by faith (See the introduction). Each psalm trains us in two important skills – delighting and meditating (1:2). Delighting is the result; meditating is the routine that develops the result. Meditating has to do with what you listen to and who you follow. That means ignoring the counsel of the wicked, to keep from adopting their lifestyle and talking like them (1). Instead, the blessed man listens to God’s Word (read 1:1-2). Reading and thinking on God’s Word is like watching an instant replay in slow motion. Watching satisfies the soul. That’s delightful. The more we meditate on God’s Word … the more accurately we value God’s works … the more we delight in God Himself. That kind of exercise strengthens our faith like the healthy and productive tree (read 1:3-4). By following this exercise routine, Jesus withstood Satan’s temptations and eventually went to the cross. To grow in Christ’s likeness and stand in the congregation of the righteous, we will use the psalms this month to exercise our faith by meditating to delight in God. Suggestions for prayer Confess the modern voices (e.g. movies, media, friends, etc.) that delight you more than God. Thank God for making Himself known in His Word. Ask for a greater delight in God’s Word and a more faithful habit of meditating on Him. Rev. Ken Anema currently serves as an instructor for Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary which is a prison discipleship ministry structured as a school. Prior to that, he pastored the Messiah’s Independent Reformed Church in Holland, MI (1993-2014) after graduating from Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.  ...

Daily devotional

December 31 - Nearing the end

“Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.” - Revelation 14:6 Scripture reading: Revelation 14:6-12  This Christmas, we celebrated not just the birth of Christ, but the fact that He came to defeat the devil and liberate us and this world from sin and all its consequences (See Hebrews 2:14-15). The devil and his cohorts, the two beasts and those who serve them, do their best to drown the gospel with the lie that life is found in man alone as he lives out his dreams and desires. Yet, Christ is in heaven, and there are those who do not buy into the lie of the devil or give into impurity, but follow Christ. John at this point shows us an angel announcing the good news of the gospel of Christ to everyone. Interestingly the content of his message is a call to “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of judgment has come.” This is indeed the awesome news the world needs to hear. The devil’s time is short and Christ is coming soon! In fact, all the signs of His coming are evident around us. We see the false prophet and the beast from the sea, all governments promoting man living apart from God. We see the various partial judgments warning all to repent and believe in Jesus for salvation! It should be evident to all that the destruction of man’s kingdoms is just around the corner! Therefore, we are called to worship the Creator and to patiently endure to the end, remaining faithful to Jesus. Jesus says He is coming soon (Revelation 22:20). Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the comfort of knowing the victorious Christ. Thank Him for the certainty of His imminent return. Quickly come, Lord Jesus! 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 30 - Assurance of victory

“Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.” - Revelation 14:1  Scripture reading: Revelation 14:1-5 Nearing the end of 2022, we may be wondering if anyone can escape the rule of the beast and the lies of the false prophet. So, the Spirit gives us this picture of Jesus on the throne and the 144,00 that we saw in chapter 7. Jesus is victorious; He knows His own and He keeps them safe! Psalm 2 shows us all the nations in rebellion, yet God has placed His Son on Zion. Zion is the city of God, where God is enthroned in glory! Despite what we see happening on earth, Christ is enthroned. And in this picture in Revelation 14, we see the people of God, the saved ones. These are the ones who have been sealed by God as His own. Here, we are told that these are the ones who have kept themselves pure. They did not commit adultery, serving the gods of this world, but kept themselves pure for Jesus, following Him. They followed and testified to the truth, not giving in to the lie of the false prophet. In this vision, they are singing before all those in heaven – the living creatures, the elders. Only they could sing this new song. This new song is an old song, for it is the song of Moses and the Lamb (see Chapter 15). It sounds like a roar, for it is a great multitude of people from all nations. The plan and purposes of God are sure. Salvation is ours in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Father for this vision of Jesus and those whom He has redeemed as first fruits. Pray He will keep us pure, keep us from believing the false prophet, keep our faith strong. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 29 - The beast from the earth

“Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth.” - Revelation 13:11  Scripture reading: Revelation 13:11-18 Another beast arises from the earth. This beast looks gentle, but he is a dragon in sheep’s clothing. As the beast from the sea often represents the power of nations against God, the beast from the earth represents human thought, teaching, knowledge, and wisdom apart from God’s revelation. There is ‘wisdom’ that is earthly, unspiritual and of the devil which results in chaos and confusion. This wisdom is focused on this life, this world and our flesh. Very attractive, but very deceitful. Satan is calling forth such lies to deceive, if possible, the followers of Christ to think in Christless, self-centred, earth-centred ways. Such wisdom seems powerful, even miraculous at times, in what it seems to deliver. Yet, it always leads to death. The first beast gives authority to this beast. Just think of how a secular government takes the responsibility of parents away and seeks to indoctrinate children in ‘public’ schools, and by use of mass communication technology. This has been a constant throughout history as godless governments seek to control the thoughts and minds of citizens. No government can last long simply through power! Thus it needs ‘prophets’ and teachers! In many ways the kingdom of the beast from the sea mimics the kingdom of God: it has saviours, even a mark of belonging like baptism. But it is the mark of the beast, of man. We are shown the beast so that we are not taken in by the lie of the false prophet. Man is not supreme. Christ is! Suggestions for prayer In this day when Governments, education, mass media and those enamoured with man and his image seem to dominate, pray that God will keep us from being taken in and help us to see Jesus alone and serve Him, for in Him alone is eternal life. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 28 - The beast from the sea

“Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” - Revelation 13:4  Scripture reading: Revelation 13:1-10 Many of us are distressed over the moral decline in our nations and the political corruption and polarization that prevails. Government under God is good. Government that seeks to take the place of God is a beast. This is the beast that comes out of the sea in Revelation 13. In Revelation 17:15 we learn that the waters are “…people’s, multitudes, nations, and languages.” Out of this arises governments that, under the sway of the devil’s lies, seek power apart from and in opposition to God. Early readers may have thought of the Roman Empire as a beast who opposed the Christian church, but Rome was only one aspect of this Beast. It comes repeatedly in various forms, for he is a symbol of all worldly governments and secular power opposing God and His people. In Revelation 11, it destroyed the witness of the church. Here in Revelation 13, we read that it is “…given power to make war against the saints and to conquer the saints.” We often wonder who can stand against governments as they disregard God and murder the unborn, change God’s definition of marriage, confuse people regarding gender and seek to overturn what is right and good and true. The beast seems all powerful! Yet, as we will see, its authority is limited by God’s. We are simply called to patient endurance and faithfulness, for the time of the beast, like that of Satan, is short. Although we may be persecuted (captivity, sword, death), we must remain faithful to Jesus whose kingdom never ends. Suggestions for prayer In these trying times, pray that God will give us strength to oppose evil and the evil one, and to stand for what is true, always remaining faithful to our King and Saviour Jesus. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 27 - The persecuted church

“And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman … and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring.” - Revelation 12:13, 17  Scripture reading: Revelation 12:13-17 While we rejoice and are filled with great hope because of Christ’s victory over sin and Satan, we should not be lulled into thinking that now life will be peaceful and quiet. The devil, being cast down, now pursues the church, those who follow Jesus, keeping the commandments of God and bearing testimony to Jesus.  This passage shows that the woman is carried on eagles’ wings to the desert for protection. This is how God saved Old Testament Israel. He brought them out of Egypt into the wilderness, as He prepared them for the promised land.  He protected them from the attack of enemies. This is how He always provides for His people. In hard times of life, God teaches us to trust Him, and through this He draws us to Himself. He protects us from the devil. This does not stop the devil from pursuing the rest of the woman’s offspring whenever he can. The followers of Jesus will always be persecuted and slandered. We are engaged in a spiritual war. We must put on the whole armour of God that we may stand against him. As Isaiah 40 promises, those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles … they will walk and not faint. God will give them the strength to persevere during the evil days. 1 John 5:4-5 says, “Who is he who overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the son of God. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that as we are engaged in a great spiritual war, God will use it to sanctify us for the glory of His holy Name. Ask Him to keep us faithful, spotless and pure, that we may persevere in the faith. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 26 - The devil hurled to earth

“And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world…” - Revelation 12:9  Scripture reading: Revelation 12:7-12 Yesterday, we saw Jesus enthroned. Now we read of war in heaven that took place even as the attack in verses 1-6 took place on earth. This is a spiritual war – of words and accusations, as v. 10-11 indicate. Throughout the Old Testament time, Satan had access to heaven where he accused the people of God of the guilt of their sin (see Job 1-2). The Old Testament sacrifices were only pictures of the removal of sin, so in a sense Satan was right, but he also knew that when Christ came, all the sins of believers would be forgiven. God's plan was to provide one sacrifice for all time for all who believed in the promised Saviour. When Christ is victorious, Satan no longer has the right of prosecutor in heaven. Now Christ is there as our advocate. Satan can no longer accuse us before God! So, heaven celebrates the great salvation for God’s people. This is great news! God's answer to the accusing lies of the dragon is, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” When Satan gets you to doubt, look to Jesus! He is the answer. As Hebrews 9:11-12 says, “When Christ came as High priest… he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not manmade… He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” Suggestions for prayer Thank our Father in Heaven for Jesus, through Whose blood we are cleansed from our sins. Thank Him that Satan no longer has any grounds for accusation against us who believe in Jesus. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 25 - Christmas opposition

“And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.” - Revelation 12:4  Scripture Reading: Revelation 12:1-6 Most nativity scenes do not show the one animal who we know for certain was there: the fiery red dragon, “…who is the ancient serpent, known as the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (see verse 9). All through the Old Testament he has tried to destroy Israel so that the Christ would not come. Having failed, he is waiting to devour Him the moment He is born. This is a moving picture: the woman gives birth, the dragon moves to devour and the child is snatched up to heaven. In these words, the earthly sojourn of Christ is summarized. Satan once again fails to defeat the Christ. We see that in the Christmas story as the wise men are warned to go home another way and Joseph is warned to take Jesus out of Bethlehem to Egypt. We see how Satan attacks Jesus repeatedly, yet constantly fails. The Son is not only snatched up to heaven, but to the throne! This is Jesus, Who will rule the nations with an iron sceptre (Psalm 2:9). Today, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we must keep in mind that Satan wanted to stop Jesus from destroying him and redeeming believers. He wanted to keep Jesus from the throne. But he has failed. We are now living in the year of our Lord, 2022. Christ yet reigns! The dragon is furious, as we shall see, but he cannot defeat our Lord. Praise God for this Saviour whose birth we celebrate today! Suggestions for prayer Thank our Triune God for sending His Son to be our Saviour. Thank Him for His victory over sin and Satan and for reigning over all history, bringing about the renewal of all things. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 24 - Leading up to Christmas

“She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.” - Revelation 12:2  Scripture reading: Revelation 12:1-17 The woman, who is the church, is crying out in pain. She is ready to give birth to the long promised male child, the seed of Abraham, in Whom all the nations of the world would be blessed since through Him the curse of sin would be removed, and people would be restored to favour with God. All the history of the Old Testament is displayed in those few words. All we read in the Old Testament is concerning the coming of this child. People lived in anticipation of the day when the promised Christ would come. All the sacrifices pointed forward to Him. As Paul says concerning Israel, “To them belong ‘the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ” (Romans 9:4-5). Israel, then the Old Testament church, brings forth the Christ, yet, not of her own, but only through the Holy Spirit. The whole purpose of Israel, who could not save herself, was to bring forth the Christ, Who would save believers, not only of Israel, but also of every nation. God maintained all His promises to Abraham and David, despite Israel’s wickedness, in order that Jesus could come into the world, and through Jesus, salvation to the world. The whole history of the Old Testament is properly told in verse 2: pangs of birth, anguish of delivery. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for governing all history so that Jesus would be born, the seed of Abraham, through Whom believers of all nations would be blessed. Pray that sinners the world over, hear the good news that Jesus has been born, the One and only Redeemer. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 23 - The woman

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” - Revelation 12:1 Scripture reading:  Revelation 12 In Revelation, we receive a new vision which, in a series of pictures, explains all of history to those who read and hear the word of God. We are introduced to a woman, who represents believers from the beginning to the end of time. God has long promised that a seed of the woman would come to destroy the devil and reconcile sinners with God. Here, this woman is pregnant and ready to give birth. Many prophets had used this imagery for the church (see, for example, Isaiah 26:17-18). This woman is the covenant people of God, the church. Here, we see this woman as clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet and the stars crowning her head. She stands at the centre of all creation! There is a sense in which everything in the world revolves around God’s people. The Christ will come from among God’s people, and He will redeem His people and take them as His bride. All creation is longing for the day when Christ comes for His bride, the church, and all will be released from the curse of sin. What a comforting picture the book of Revelation paints for believers. In Revelation 1, we see Christ caring for the church. Later, we see God’s children sealed and protected amid tribulation. Now, we see that she is the very heart of the plan of redemption for all creation. (see Ephesians 1). How crucial it is to believe in Jesus and be in His church. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for your church. Although not yet complete, pray He will gather in the lost sheep and unite His children. Ask Him to prepare us as a bride, spotless for Jesus’s return. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 22 - The seventh trumpet

“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven,  saying, “The Kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”” - Revelation 11:15 Scripture reading:  Revelation 11:14-19 In contrast to the opening of the seventh seal, where silence reigned, here we are introduced to the final woe with a scene of exultant celebration! Here we see Christ reigning over the world and judgment day at hand!  We read, “The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time for judging the dead and rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” We don’t see the final judgment, just the announcement of it and the celebration of it. The magnitude of this judgment is yet to be revealed. In our world we see the nations raging and the people’s plotting against Christ (see Psalm 2). But in the end, Christ will reign and the raging of the nations will end, and they will be destroyed. And yes, this is a reason for celebrating. We celebrate Christmas because it is the birth of the King Who will bring all sin and opposition to God to an end, Who will destroy the wicked and will make all things new! In verse 19 we see the temple opened and we see the ark of the covenant. This is a picture of our restored fellowship with God. But as we are restored to Him, there is judgment coming upon the world! This is great news for believers, but a call to all others, “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12). Suggestions for prayer “O God do not keep silent, be not quiet O God, be not still, see how your enemies are astir… May they ever be ashamed and dismayed, may they perish in disgrace - let them know that you, whose name is the Lord, that you alone are the most high over all the earth.” AMEN (Psalm 83:17-18) 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 21 - The two witnesses

“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days …the beast … will make war on them and conquer them and kill them… But after three and a half days…” - Revelation 11:3,7,11  Scripture reading: Revelation 11:1-13 The first part of the chapter continues to speak of the state of the church in end times. John here is to measure the sanctuary, a picture of him taking measurement of the body of believers, omitting those who do not follow Jesus. Then, we read that the world will have authority to trample the church for 42 months (1,260 days). In the last days the church will be afflicted by the world at the same time as the two witnesses (a reference to the church’s witness), referred to as two lampstands giving light to the nations. During the end times the church is protected as she prophecies and as she is trampled upon (persecuted) by the world. The proclaimed word has prophetic power today. Many do not realize this, but our generation will be judged on how they treat the church, and how they respond to the gospel. Yet, unbelievers will continue to persecute believers and the church, and a time will come when it appears as if the witness of the church is removed, as if the church were dead. In many ways, in our day the church seems little regarded. Yet, this will not last, but God will at the end raise up His own, to the amazement and horror of the world. Then, they shall realize the consequences of what Jesus said, “Whatever you do unto the least of these, his brothers, you do it unto him!” How do you treat Christ? How do you treat His body on earth? Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would enable your church to be a faithful witness in these last days. Even though she appears weak, we know believers are forever safe in His care. Thank Him for this comfort. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 20 - The angel and the scroll

“Then I saw another mighty angel … he had a little scroll.” - Revelation 10:1,2  Scripture reading: Revelation 10 That we are in an interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpet is clear because this angel is holding a scroll, not a trumpet. This interlude is intended to comfort us about the security of believers in the last days. It is given because the Spirit does not want us to become discouraged by the dark pictures of judgment. This angel comforts us as it is clothed with a rainbow, a picture of God’s faithfulness to His promises. The similarity between this angel and the Christ in Revelation 1 shows that this angel comes from Christ and represents Him. He plants one foot on the sea and the other on the land. He shows the authority of God over land and sea and declares the Word of God. His speaking sounds like seven thunders, but we are not told about the content of the seven thunders. John is not to write this down. Clearly everything is not revealed to us, so we must be humble to know that there are forces at work by God’s authority, about which we have no concept. The church must rest in God’s sovereign care as she fulfills her mission. The angel swears that there is no more delay. When the seventh trumpet will sound the mystery will be accomplished. What we have prayed for is coming soon! Yet, not yet. John is to devour the scroll and bring the word to many. Christ is coming without delay, but the church must be faithful to her mission! Suggestions for prayer We long for the day of Christ’s return and know He is coming, for we can see the evidence all around us. Yet, as we wait, pray that He will keep us faithful to our tasks of worship and witness in this dark world. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 19 - The second woe! (The sixth trumpet)

“...saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”” - Revelation 9:14  Scripture reading: Revelation 9:12-21 The fifth trumpet unleashed a force of demons, likened to locusts, who tormented unbelievers. The sixth trumpet unleashes a vast army led by four angels that does not torment, but kills many, but not most people. Notice, however, that the army is unleashed only at the permission of heaven, by a voice coming from the altar before God. The four angels are released from beyond the Euphrates, that is, from Babylon, the city of man opposed to God. The forces of torment and destruction can only operate by God’s permission and under His sovereign control. We realize that this vision is not of natural creatures being released, but of a demonic visitation. These are destructive. You would think that those not killed would take warning from all those being killed and repent, but we read in v. 20 that they “still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshipping demons, and idols… nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality, or their thefts.” This woe is sounded to point out that unbelief can be so hard that despite their agony and torment, people will harden themselves and refuse to repent of their transgressions. That which is intended to bring repentance will harden them. We should anticipate a great hardening of hearts, resulting in anger against Christ and His followers. Those who refuse to repent, take warning! Remember, however, that all who do repent and believe in Jesus are saved! Suggestions for prayer Thank our gracious God for the saving mercy shown to us in Jesus. Pray that many sinners hear the gospel and flee to Jesus for mercy before the final day of judgment. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 18 - The first we woe! (The fifth trumpet) 

“Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”” - Revelation 8:13  Scripture reading: Revelation 9 The last three trumpets are more severe judgements, called woes by the eagle that John sees and hears (Remember to think visually, getting a picture without getting every detail, as when you watch a movie, such as Lord of the Rings!) John sees a fallen star given a key to the Abyss. We do not have enough information to identify this star. By God’s authority, he has a key to the abode of demonic spirits. The Abyss is opened and smoke billows forth, bringing locusts (symbolic of demons) that can only hurt unbelievers. The demon world has no power to deceive God’s people. The pain afflicted is so severe that people long for death, but it eludes them. The leader of this fearsome horde is Abaddon and Apollyon, meaning destroyer. All this is a picture of the forces of hell seeking to torment men. When people do not repent in response to disasters, but persist in opposing God, they become the prey of demonic forces. With great spiritual disillusionment, they even push sin to more unbelievable extremes. Believing lies, they distort the truth, which leads to increased anguish and spiritual bondage. And they must live and die with their refusal to repent and believe. God gives them over to their sin. This horrific vision of Revelation 9 must be seen and felt, for it comes from a loving God, Who even at this stage, is willing to forgive all who call on Him in repentance and faith. Suggestions for prayer Pray that as we see this world in unbelief rushing into greater depths of sin, the Lord God will use their pain and misery to draw them back to Him in repentance and faith. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 17 - The first four trumpets

“Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.” - Revelation 8:6  Scripture reading: Revelation 9 Many wonder how a loving God could allow great disasters to happen. The first four trumpets are natural disasters, only partial in effect, sent from heaven as warnings, like trumpet blasts, lovingly calling us to prepare for the coming final judgment before our Holy God. We must not understand the trumpets (disasters) in chronological order. That would be like listening to a symphony one instrument after the other. Rather we must see them happening simultaneously, as can happen any day anywhere in the world, even numerous times, but being limited in scope (only 1/3 of the creation may be touched), warnings of a more serious judgment coming. Think of the plagues in Egypt, which brought judgment on sin-hardened Egypt while bringing about deliverance for Israel. God was warning Egypt and His people, calling all to repentance. The trumpets are divided much like the seals were (first four, then the last three, with a parenthesis between the last two to explain the condition of the church during these disasters). The trumpets are intended to call sinners to repentant faith. In the first four, the church is not excluded from the effects of the trumpets. Zephaniah 1:14-16 describes the final day of the Lord “as a day of wrath, of distress and anguish … a day of trumpet blast.” It is important, as we see disasters in our time, to hear what the God of love is saying to us and to flee from the wrath to come, into the forgiving grace of Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer As we see disasters taking place both near and far, pray for the Lord to use them to call us and all sinners to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, so that we may not be caught by surprise when Jesus returns in final judgment. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 16 - The seventh seal

“When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” - Revelation 8:1  Scripture reading: Revelation 8 We are filled with anticipation as the seventh seal is opened, for we long to see what the end of all things will be like. Yet, we read that there is nothing but silence for about one-half hour. Nothing, no singing by anyone! One-half hour is a long time of silence! Why the silence? In the Old Testament, when the Lord is going to act in judgment, it is often introduced by silence. For example, Zechariah 2:13 says, “be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” See also Habakkuk 2:20. These are calls to submit to God as He advances His kingdom by bringing judgment that calls men to repentance. So this silence tells us that God is going to act, and it portrays the submission and awe of heaven before God and His judgments. So terrible and fearful is this judgment, those in heaven are spellbound before the Lord. His coming should leave us in humble, reverent silence before the Lord. Then, we see seven angels holding trumpets. Trumpets herald the coming of a king, or sound a warning cry, or call to action. Here they will do all three in preparation of Jesus’ return. But these angels do not act until another angel presents the prayers of believers with incense so that the imperfect prayers would be pleasing in God’s sight. Believers pray as Jesus taught them, “Thy Kingdom Come.” Be ready, for He is coming! All creation shakes in anticipation. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Heavenly Father’s Kingdom to come! Ask Him to hurry the day when sin shall be no more and Christ will return to make all things new, ushering in the new heavens and earth. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 15 - The great multitude

“I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.” - Revelation 7:9   Scripture reading: Revelation 7:9-17 Jesus said (John 12:32), “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself.” Here we see them, standing before the throne. What a thrill to see it. From all over the world they have come. Their unity in Christ transcends all earthly distinctions. God had promised Abraham that in him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Here we see that fulfilled. The Gospel was preached and disciples from all nations, each with their own characteristics, have gathered before the throne, clothed in white, symbolizing righteousness. They are all those who had been sealed in the first 6 verses. Here they are waving palm branches, joyful in victory, in presence of the throne and the lamb. They are singing, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All heaven celebrates this salvation. “AMEN! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God forever and ever! AMEN!” These have come out of the great tribulation, who have washed their clothes in the blood of the Lamb. To them belong eternal blessings of eternal service without burden, for Christ Himself at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd and will wipe every tear from their eyes. To believers belong a future of intense living, intense service without pain or sorrow. Because like springs of living water, life is ever new in the presence of our Lord. What a blessing! Suggestions for prayer Pray the Lord will hasten the day of His return to take us to Himself in glory, where we may live in His presence, serving Him without sin and its effects. Praise and glorify Him for our great salvation! 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 14 - Sealed for salvation

“Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.” - Revelation 7:3  Scripture reading: Revelation 7:1-8 Chapter 6 ended with the question of who can stand on the day of God’s wrath. If we think that what is happening in our world today is bad, just wait until the final day! Who then shall stand? The answer given here is those whom God protects with a seal of His ownership. Many products are sold with a mark of ownership on them. Here God is shown to put His mark on those who belong to Him. The four winds of creation that can be destructive are restrained until the full number of the elect are marked by God. Then, no judgment can do them any harm. Think of the mark on the doorposts at the time of the Exodus, the blood of the Passover lamb. Who are the ones being sealed? 12,000 X 12 = 144,000, a symbolic number here referring to the children of Abraham (true believers) from all ages. They are bought with the precious blood of the lamb. Ephesians 1 says, “Having believed you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (See II Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 4:30). While the troubles in this world affect us, we will be protected from ultimate destruction, and on the final day be able to stand since we are covered in Christ’s blood. Jesus has promised to lose none of those whom the father has given Him (John 6:39). Suggestions for prayer Thank the Father for the assurance that all who believe in Him are saved forever! Thank Him for the comforting assurance of His Spirit and the promise that no child of God will be lost. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 13 - The angry lamb

“Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” - Revelation 6:16  Scripture reading:  Revelation 6:12-17 The sixth seal opens and we are given a glimpse of an outpouring of cosmic upheaval. We have come almost to the end of all things! We are approaching the final judgment and it is a horrifying scene. We are being given a glimpse of the truth that there is a limit to God’s patience and that while the Lord came the first time to bring salvation for all who believe, He comes again to bring judgment on those who rebel and refuse to submit to Him. The day is coming when people who deny Him will see the Lamb angry and will see that He is in fact a Lion Whose roar terrifies and from which all people wish to flee and be hidden. Yes, the day is coming when the earth will be shaken and all firm foundations will be gone. People will wish, yet not be able, to hide from the wrath of God. So many emphasize the love of Jesus, and it is good to know that the love of God is for all who believe that His wrath was poured out on Jesus on the cross. But those who refuse to believe, who deny Him and resist His reign, will never know His love, but only His fierce anger. If you are reading this, the day of wrath is yet to come. We yet live in a time of grace, where God is being patient, wanting no one to perish. All who call on Jesus will be saved! Suggestions for prayer Pray that we long for the day of our Lord’s appearing, yet knowing how fearful it is for anyone to face Him apart from confessing their sin and believing in Him. Pray for God’s word to go forth calling sinners to repentance and faith. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 12 - How long?

“They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”” - Revelation 6:10  Scripture reading:  Revelation 6:9-11 The opening of the fifth seal also reveals something that takes place throughout the final ages until Christ returns. But this is a vision of an altar and of souls who had died because of their witness for the faith. God knows their names. They are crying out, “How Long, O Lord, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” This is a cry for justice, for God to make all things right. As we see the horsemen of conquest, civil unrest, economic hardship, and death, we too cry out, “How Long?” The answer is not definite. The saints are given clothes of righteousness as a guarantee of justice to come, but are told to wait a little longer until all who would suffer for the faith would be gathered in. As we wait, the greatest suffering is not that of the pocketbook or disease, but it is because of the rebellion against Jesus and the persecution of His saints. Jesus reigns in glory and yet, sin and the devil seem so dominant. How long will the Lord let such wickedness go unpunished? How long will His glory remain hidden in heaven and His servants struggle? How long before the Lord comes to our rescue (do we have no defender?)? The answer is a little longer! Rest in knowing that Christ is in heaven and working in these things to accomplish His purposes. Isaiah 30:15 says, “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Suggestions for prayer Express that we long for the day of the appearing of our Lord to judge the wicked and usher in final rest and peace for His people. Ask for patience, trust and faith. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 11 - Jesus removing the seals - four horsemen

“And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.” - Revelation 6:8  Scripture reading: Revelation 6:1-8 Jesus begins to break the seals of God’s book, that is, He begins to carry out God’s plan for the world. The first four seals are horses ridden by men who trample the world in fury, but they do so in response to a voice from heaven. These are the beginning of a series of preliminary judgments that operate throughout history by which all are called to repentance. The seals are broken, but the events are not necessarily occurring in chronological order, rather each horse and its rider represents something that happens throughout the period before Christ returns. The first rider on a white horse represents the spirit of conquest we see throughout the ages. His bow is a symbol of military conquest, not the sword Jesus is pictured as wielding. The second rider has a sword and this rider brings internal strife and conflict, and civil disorder. The third rider brings economic hardship caused by injustice (exorbitant prices for necessities, yet not luxuries). The fourth horse is the force of death, accompanied by Hades (the abode of the dead). These forces have occurred throughout history, bringing limited destruction (the fourth of the earth of the last rider includes the first three). They are under Christ’s control, limited by Him. They are warnings to call all to repentance, while believers are comforted knowing it is Christ Who opens the scroll and summons these events to take place. Believe in His authority to control these forces until the final judgment and renewal of all things. Suggestions for prayer Having seen these forces at work throughout history, partial judgments, warning us to flee from the final judgment, give thanks that Jesus is in control of all history and through even these things is bringing about renewal and liberation from the curse of sin. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 10 - The end goal is praise and worship

“And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever... AMEN”” - Revelation 5:13  Scripture reading: Revelation 5:6-14 Tomorrow, God’s people gather for worship. We worship God because He is worthy of worship. God is worthy because He is our creator (4:11). The Son is worthy because He was sacrificed and by His blood He ransomed people for God from all the earth, uniting them as a kingdom of priests. This chapter emphasizes this in three different songs! In heaven, the Son is worshipped along with the Father. All the angels, the whole church, and all creation sing praise to God because all have been set free from the curse! Because we are free we can worship. The goal of all creation is the worship of the creator. We are free to worship in our homes, and on Sunday. We are free to worship with God’s people; free because of the guilt-removing work of Jesus Christ. Yet, we do so looking forward to when all people and creation will be united in praise, and sin will no longer mar our worship of God. Jesus is in heaven ruling, directing all things toward that day when all things shall be made new. Our worship here is hindered by our physical ailments and other effects of sin in our lives. As we focus on the work of Jesus, our hearts are lifted in prayer (presented in heaven as incense) and praise, but here it is just a foretaste of that eternal day when there will be nothing to mar our worship. What a glorious day of worship that will be. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord God to hasten the day when Jesus returns and all things will be made new, and all creation will burst forth in harmonious praise free from any bonds or effects of sin! 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 9 - Worthy is the Lamb

“I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain.” - Revelation 5:6  Scripture reading: Revelation 5 John was told by an elder not to weep, but to look upon the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David. He conquered and was therefore able to open the scroll.  When John looks, he sees not a Lion, but a lamb (pictures in Revelation are very fluid!) looking like it had been killed. Here is the surprise of the gospel. Many are offended by the way of the gospel, finding it offensive that God would send His Son to be an atoning sacrifice, a sacrificial lamb. They think He could just by His power make all things new. Yet, they understand not the seriousness of their sin or the holiness of God, and therefore His wrath. Justice required punishment, and so salvation required a sacrifice by One Who could bear the punishment and live. Thus, Jesus came in the flesh, which we celebrate this Christmas season. And because Jesus came and died in our place, conquered sin and was raised up as Lord of life, He can stand in heaven, with all authority and power, and save all who call upon Him in truth. He can usher in the new heavens and earth when the last of His children are saved. As we see Jesus standing in heaven, His sacrifice sufficient, we are assured that He has been given all authority as Paul tells us in Philippians 2, and thus can and will bring about the redemption God has planned for His people and world. Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord Jesus, for He is worthy to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing. To Him be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever! 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 7 - Worthy of praise

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things …” - Revelation 4:11 Scripture reading: Revelation 4: 1-11 We do not exactly see Him Who sits upon the throne. We are only given a vision of perfect beauty and glory, a rainbow, reminding us that His wrath against sin is held back by His promise of mercy to never destroy the world again with a flood. Around the throne are 24 thrones, representing believers in the old and new covenants. And there are four living creatures, angelic beings serving God. Angels in heaven praise God unceasingly, singing “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” Along with them the church sings of the worthiness of God to receive praise, for He is the creator and sustainer of all things. All is perfect in the throne room because all is in submission to God Who reigns. On earth, we often hear moans of suffering and tears of grief. Even creation is groaning according to scripture, longing for relief from the curse of sin. Yet, believers sing in the midst of tears and sorrow, praising God, for with the eyes of faith we see the throne and everything in perfect submission to it. We sing with tears in our eyes, but have assurance in our hearts for God reigns and is bringing everything into submission. God, the creator, sent Jesus His Son as redeemer, Who is now Lord and is making all things new. We can indeed sing of His great work of redemption in anticipation of the new heavens and earth. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the eyes of faith to see the Lord enthroned in glory and everything in submission to Him. He works in everything for the good of those who love Him, making everything new. Pray that the Lord hastens that day! 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 6 - Behold, a throne in heaven

“Behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.” - Revelation 4:2  Scripture reading: Revelation 4 Amazingly, in 19 out of 22 chapters of Revelation, God is described as “the one who sits upon the throne.” This echoes what the Psalms speak about, that God is enthroned and rules over all. Psalm 97 says, “The Lord Reigns, Let the earth rejoice!” Psalm 99 says, “The Lord Reigns; let the peoples tremble!” In chapter 4 we get a glimpse into heaven where we see a throne. A throne is a place from which judgment and decrees go forth. Above all the trials and turmoil of life, there is a throne. Above all our tears and fears is a throne. And there is One Who is upon that throne. Much of today’s news seems tragic and distressing, or absurd, or infuriating, interrupted by ads about drugs and diets. Much of life may not seem to make sense, causing many to become cynical and others to shut it all out. But a door has been opened into heaven and there is One seated upon the throne! Behind everything, over everything, the everlasting God reigns. We are given a view of the spiritual centre of the universe, the foundation of true wisdom and knowledge. Here is God the creator and sustainer of all things. This is a reason for us who believe to rejoice, even amid trials. And it is a reason for the nations to tremble, for a throne also implies judgment to come. “God is in His Holy Temple. Let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20). Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord, for revealing Himself and governing all things, for this gives us assurance, peace and strength to go on. What joy we have knowing that He, our Lord, reigns! 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 5 - Behold your King!

“… one like a son of man … the hairs of his head were white like wool...his eyes were like a flame of fire...from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.” - Revelation 1:13ff Scripture reading: Revelation 1:9-20 Jesus first reveals Himself to John, and to us, so that we may know Him Who works in all things for the good of those who love Him. John turns to see Jesus. He sees a sight that sends him to his knees! Jesus, the son of man, is robed in royal apparel. He is God Almighty! His face is an explosion of blinding light and glory. His eyes are like blazing fire, penetrating everywhere, all seeing, and filled with wrath against all that is unholy. From His mouth comes a double-edged sword, one that pierces heart and soul and leaves no sinner standing. His feet, before which we kneel, are burnished bronze, used to cleanse the world of sin and wickedness. His voice demands attention, like the ever-rolling sea demands our respect. Here He stands, victorious and supreme in glory. In His hands are seven stars, which are the messengers to the churches. He is standing among candlesticks, representing the churches of Jesus Christ. What a glorious comfort this is. This King, once humbled before Pilate, His face smeared with blood, strength failing, of Whom the governor said, “Behold the Man!” and Who was then crucified, we here see risen, governing His churches, caring for them and His messengers. While we may be afraid of His appearance, hear His words of comfort, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive forevermore!” Behold your King! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord God, would reveal Himself to us that we might know Him in all His glory, and be comforted by His sovereign power and merciful presence in the church. 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 NTGDevotional.com. ...

Daily devotional

December 4 - Jesus is coming!

“Behold he is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even So AMEN.” - Revelation 1:7  Scripture reading: Revelation 1:1-20 Once more we look at the introductory verses, this time to notice what John draws our attention to. Look, he says! And he concludes this verse with the word AMEN: so shall it be. We must take note of what is so certain, that Jesus is coming, not now as the Saviour in the manger, but now as the sovereign Lord, coming on the clouds of heaven to judge the heavens and earth. Clouds in scripture are symbols of majesty, glory and judgment. In Psalm 97:2 we read, “…clouds and thick darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne.” Jesus will return on the clouds, that is with majesty, glory and judgment, and every eye will see Him. His enemies will see Him and tremble in fear. They will mourn because of Him. Mentioned are those who pierced Him, those who put Him to death at the crucifixion. All who are unrepentant and unforgiven will mourn because when Jesus returns, they suddenly will see their folly and the dawning of the day of their destruction (see Revelation 18). In verse 1, we believers were promised grace and peace. This warning is given here to encourage all who hear, to flee to Christ and put their faith in Him. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Believers need not fear our Saviour’s return. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the redeeming work of Jesus and for the promise of His return as judge to make all things new. Ask for forgiveness of our sins, in Jesus’ name. 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 NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 3 - Jesus gives grace and peace

“Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings on earth.” - Revelation 1:4  Scripture reading: Revelation 1:4-8 Grace is God’s pardoning favour to those who do not deserve it. Peace is a fruit of this grace. Many do not have peace and are living in fear of judgment, death and destruction. Paul says in Romans 5:1, “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace with God calms our hearts and minds, for we are free from guilt, no longer in danger of eternal judgment. “All things now work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). The object of this greeting is the church, the body of believers in Christ, found scattered throughout the world. It is a world in darkness, opposed to God and one which persecutes and opposes Christ and His followers. To them, God gives a peace that passes all understanding, for they know His eternal grace. The Triune God gives this grace and peace, for He is the One Who is, Who was and Who is coming (eternal). This is, by the Spirit, through the work of Jesus, who is described as the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler. Jesus said in John 18 that He came to bear witness to the truth. He is the firstborn from the dead since in His resurrection from the dead all who believe in Him, from all ages, are raised to new life. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Suggestions for Prayer Thank God for His grace and peace given in Christ, for to Him belongs all glory and power forever and ever. 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 NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

December 2 - Revealing what is taking place

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.” - Revelation 1:1a Scripture reading: Revelation 1:1-8 God nowhere gives a timetable of events for us to follow. Jesus said in Acts 1:7, “It is not for you to know the times and dates the father has set by His own authority.” What God intends in this book is to reveal things that must soon take place, so that we may be assured that Jesus is coming, keeping His promises of complete salvation. Jesus is governing all things. He here sheds light on the dark and terrible times of our world so that we are able to keep the faith until He returns. This revelation is for His servants, for all who are saved from the guilt and dominion of sin to serve Christ with a new obedience. Only those who repent of their sin and believe in Christ will receive the blessings promised in this revelation. Only those who humbly submit to Christ and seek to serve Him in this dark world will find light and blessing. This book is about what must soon take place. In fact, it is about things already taking place. God has a plan and all things are happening in our world according to His sovereign will, not by chance or fate. This is a comforting thought! Events that are happening must take place as our Lord’s return draws near. These things are indicators that Jesus is returning to make all things new; all the signs are there! As Jesus says in Revelation 22, “Behold, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me.” Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for ruling all things and for revealing to us His governing in everything so that one day all things will be made new, and sin shall be no more. Ask for faith to believe and live in that hope. 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 NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

Introduction to the book of Revelation

We often spend the month of December looking forward to Christmas Day. Christmas Day is a highlight of the year in many churches, for it is a day of reflection on the gift of God’s Son for the salvation of sinners. However, this month we will look at the book of Revelation, not so much in anticipation of Christmas Day, but considering the birth of Christ to be our atoning sacrifice. Because of Christ’s victory over death and Satan, we now live in a world where the devil wages war against the people of God, trying to rob Christ of His victory, if possible. The book of Revelation highlights this struggle for us, comforting us with the assurance that Christ is sovereign overall, is making all things new, and is coming again to usher in the new (renewed) heavens and earth! May He come quickly. Jesus promises blessings “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” - Revelation 1:3  Scripture reading: Revelation 1:1-7  We should carefully reflect on v. 3. Reading and hearing the book of Revelation gives blessings. Revelation is God’s inspired word, intended to ground us in the truth of our redemption in Christ. Many consider it a difficult book, but it is sufficiently clear for us to be built up by it as we come to know and believe what is written in it. What is necessary for us, is to approach the book of Revelation humbly, believing, and taking to heart, the revelation as it was given and believing that God will keep His promise of blessing. A revelation uncovers something hidden. God reveals things here that cannot be understood by natural senses or reason, for they are things that belong to a kingdom not of this world (although influencing this world). We learn of things that belong to the spiritual or heavenly order of things “which eye has not seen, nor ear heard nor has entered into the hearts of men.” It is a revelation from God through Jesus and it is also a revelation about Jesus. It is a book about Who Jesus is, what He is doing, and how He is bringing all things to the redemptive end that God has in mind. In this sense, it is no different from the rest of Scripture. Yet, this book tells us about Jesus as the exalted Lord, about how He has been and is working in this present age until He returns. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to bless us as we read and reflect on this book this month and enable us to take it to heart, that we might know Christ and the joy of His salvation. Thank Him for His comforting promises. 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 NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 30 - The servants song

“…be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” - Jude 25 Scripture reading: Revelation 5; Jude 24-25 Jude began his letter by reminding us that he was the “bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.” He had once despised the gospel, but the Lord had converted his heart and redirected his life. He still knew the deceitful allure of his sin, which is why he warned the church to contend for the faith against false teachers that try to corrupt the gospel. But Jude did not merely look back on his unbelieving past and warn the church to stay away from the idols that would destroy it. He also looked ahead to the joy of serving the Lord wholeheartedly. He wanted others to join him, so he encouraged us to keep ourselves in the love of God, to show mercy and compassion to others and to sing to the Lord our Saviour. Will you join him in this doxology? Will you find greater joy in seeing the glory and majesty of our loving God than you will find in the sinful desires of your heart? Will you rejoice in the good news for those who repent and flee their sins, or will you regret missing out on the deceitful pleasures of this world? There is only one faith by which we can find genuine purpose and hope, and that is by loving the Lord Who gave us Jesus. Contend for that faith Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His convicting Word in the letter of Jude. Praise Him that He has brought salvation to stumbling sinners. Ask that His joy would be imprinted on your heart so that you can be His singing bondservant. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 29 - The far greater Saviour

“…to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord…” - Jude 25a Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 10:23-33; Jude 24-25 The grace of God isn’t worth turning into lewdness and denying the only God and our Lord Jesus Christ (verse 4). That will bring us no joy. Making idols of our desires and using the gospel to excuse our sins is the life of a miserable slave, not of a joyful servant. What misery are you masking with the gospel so that you can stay in your sins? What idol have you crafted that is keeping you from giving a full-hearted doxology to the Lord? Remember that we have a far greater Saviour than any satisfaction that our sins can provide. Idols cannot even hear or speak, but the only God, our Saviour, speaks His gospel to us through His Word, and hears even our groaning prayers through His Spirit. The guarantee of a life of purpose and eternal joy is nothing less than Jesus Christ our Lord Who gave Himself up on the cross so that we could be spared from the judgment our sins deserve. So do not be discouraged when you are contending for the faith. Yes, we are weak in this struggle, and the church will always prove inadequate to the task, but our God and Saviour will keep us in His mercy! Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord for revealing Himself to us as our Saviour through Jesus Christ. Thank Him that He has not abandoned us to a fruitless struggle against our sins, but has pledged victory for us by the blood of Christ alone. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 28 - Beautiful Saviour

“…and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy…” - Jude 24b Scripture reading: Revelation 7:9-17; Jude 24-25 When we stand before God’s glorious throne on the Day of Judgment, will we have a disappointed look on our faces? Are we going to regret that the Lord’s mercy has taken us out of our sins? Will we despise that new and eternal life because we can no longer indulge ourselves in the passions of a sinful heart? The only ones who will be uncomfortable to stand before the presence of His glory will be those who have made excuses for their wickedness, instead of repenting at the news of His gospel. Receiving the righteousness of Christ to cover our sins and to make us blameless, is not a gospel for a day we hope will be as far in the future as it can be. Meanwhile, are we trying to enjoy as much of our sins as we can? How can we who belong to such a beautiful Saviour despise the beauty of His righteousness for us? We cannot live hypocritically by loving our sin-filled lives while being grateful that we will be saved from those sins when Jesus returns. Today is the day of salvation! This is a doxology to sing today and the great joy that verse 24 anticipates is ours to enjoy as a foretaste already now. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the righteousness that we have in Christ today, and for the sanctifying work of the Spirit Who will bring us to blamelessness when we stand in glory. Pray that the Spirit would give you the sincere joy to sing God’s praises. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 27 - The first step

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling…” - Jude 24a Scripture reading: Psalm 121:1-8; Jude 24-25 With these final verses of his letter, Jude begins to sing a doxology. But this doxology could not have been sung with conviction by the false teachers he had warned the church about in his letter. They would not have sung about the Lord keeping them from stumbling because what they wanted was to stumble into the mud of their sins and then wallow in it some more. They wanted the gospel to let them stay defiled. But we have been called “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Verse 3). Jude has reminded us how many have stumbled before us and the danger is just as much in front of our feet today. We are just one step away from stumbling back into our sins; none of us should have the pride to think that we can keep ourselves from stumbling. That pride is often the first step of our fall! Even if we do stumble, if we struggle with doubt, or if our ungodly passions still plague us, the Lord does not wait for us to pick ourselves up, clean ourselves off and prove that we are worthy of His mercy. He gave us the proof of His love in Jesus, so we will never stumble too far that His mercy cannot save. Suggestions for prayer Wherever you are fighting the desires of your flesh, plead with the Lord to keep you from stumbling. Ask that the Word that is preached to you today will encourage your faith to rest in the Lord’s care for His people Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 26 - Fireman’s carry

“…save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” - Jude 23 Scripture reading: Acts 2:29-39; Jude 17-23 When a firefighter rushes into a burning house, he doesn’t ask the person lying in the middle of the flames and suffering from smoke inhalation, “Would you like me to show mercy to you?” No, he yanks that person up and over his shoulder and carries him out of the house as quickly as he can. Verse 22 encourages us to have mercy on those who doubt, which requires patience and compassion. Verse 23 commands us again to have mercy, but this time there is no room for patience. Perhaps you’ve had patience with this person in the past, but they’ve become so consumed by their sinful desires that they need to be rescued immediately from a much more dangerous fire – the wrath of God. In this case, tough words need to be said, knowing that they might not be welcomed. Perhaps friendships or possessions need to be left behind because they lead to uncontrolled temptation. But if these tough words are not said and sinners are left to continue in their ways, they risk the judgment of God that Jude described in verses 5-11. May God have mercy and snatch sinners from the fire! Suggestions for prayer Pray for loved ones or church family who are shutting their hearts to God’s call to repentance. Ask the Lord to help you not to be afraid of speaking words of mercy to them. Pray that God would gather the lost and show them His mercy. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 25 - Tactical doubt

“And have mercy on those who doubt…” - Jude 22 Scripture reading: Isaiah 42:1-9; Matthew 14:22-33; Jude 17-23 If we are “waiting for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (verse 21b), then we can show mercy to those who struggle to see that mercy take hold in their lives. We can do this especially when that struggle is against a determined, focused and crafty enemy whose goal is to destroy the confidence we have in the promises of God. The devil knows that he cannot take us from God’s hand, so he will try every tactic he has to make us uncomfortable with being in God’s hand. Doubt is one of his tactics. Am I really one of God’s children if I struggle with my sin so much? Can God’s grace truly cover me if I fall into temptation repeatedly? Will God keep His promises even if I prove unworthy of them? Is trying to live a holy life worth the effort if I fail so often? These are not the questions of a false teacher who tries to convince us that we can live in our sensuality without consequence, but of a believer who struggles to live in the freedom that Christ has won for them. Is there someone you know who is struggling with doubt? How can you show mercy to them? What have you learned about God’s mercy that will help you point them to Jesus? Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would answer the weakness of your faith with the strength of His promises. Ask Him to remind you of the mercy He has shown to you and to His people. Ask Him to give you a heart that is eager to show mercy to those who doubt. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 24 - Missing out or mercy

“…waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” - Jude 21b Scripture reading: Romans 6:15-23; Jude 17-23 Sin has twisted how we look at earthly things. We deceive ourselves into thinking that if we don’t enjoy every temporary earthly thing that catches our attention, we have missed out on the best experiences life can offer. And even once we have that one experience, we deceive ourselves into thinking we need it again, or we need more of it, to be satisfied. But keeping ourselves in the love of God means looking for what is permanent, steadfast and real. In Christ, we are no longer slaves to the need for more and better, making idols of the moment and being afraid of missing out. We are, joyfully, slaves of God, which means that we have something far better to live for: mercy. Mercy is worth waiting for. Mercy is worth having self-control over our desires. Mercy has promised to give us a far better satisfaction than sin can provide. The mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ will lead to eternal life. Do you find yourself getting anxious over earthly things? Do the desires of your heart have control over you? Remember that Jesus gives us a far better life to live, beginning already today. Sin cannot satisfy us, but knowing that His mercy leads to eternal life means that we can enjoy being free from slavery to temporary things. Live as one who is free in Christ! Suggestions for prayer Confess the ways that earthly things consume your mind and heart, taking your eyes off of the mercy that has set you free in Christ. Pray that God’s people would be witnesses of that freedom to their neighbours. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 23 - How then shall we live? 

“…keep yourselves in the love of God…” - Jude 21a Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 7:1-11; Jude 17-23 Contending for the faith is not about winning an argument or proving that you’re on the right side of history when Jesus returns. It’s about keeping ourselves in the love of God. False teachers who entice us to love our sins, are trying to keep us from the love of God. And, as we’ve seen, the result is the destruction of the church and the weight of eternal judgment. So how do we keep ourselves in the love of God? It’s not about trying to preserve our salvation or doing enough good works to earn the right to stay in God’s love. It means having a desire for God’s love that overtakes every desire of the flesh. It’s that all-important question that comes from the gospel of God’s perfect grace for sinners through faith in Jesus Christ: how then shall we live? That’s why verse 20 instructed us to build ourselves in our faith and to pray in the Holy Spirit, because these activities will keep the love of God fresh in our hearts and foremost in our minds. The more we surround ourselves with the evidence of God’s love, the less we will love our sins and the world will have less appeal when we remember the covenant mercies of the Lord. No longer will God’s commandments seem like a burden; they will become the way we express our love to Him. Where can you enjoy the Lord’s love for you today? Suggestions for prayer Give thanks that God’s love does not wait for our love to first be given to Him. Ask Him to open your eyes to see His love everywhere He displays it. Pray that His love would far outshine the desires of the flesh. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 22 - A turning point

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

Daily devotional

November 21 - Division must occur

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

Daily devotional

November 20 - Did God really say?

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

Daily devotional

November 19 - The old, old story

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

Daily devotional

 November 18 - The wolf’s name tag

“These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.” - Jude 16 Scripture reading: Matthew 7:15-19; Galatians 5:16-26; Jude 14-16 False teachers don’t come into the church wearing a name tag: “Wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Instead, they will present themselves as harmless, even humble to a fault. They are the last people you’d think are in danger of the wrath of God because their hypocrisy is designed to deceive. When Jesus says, “By their fruits you will know them,” he is speaking specifically about false teachers. What are these fruits? They grumble about the imperfections in the work of the church’s elders, implying that they could do a better job. They are malcontented about the pace of the church’s growth, proposing their own programs or tactics instead. They are quick to ask for patience and compassion when their teaching doesn’t line up with the Scriptures, but they have little patience for those who rebuke them. They will look to gain a following, force others into choosing sides and play the game of favourites to win you over. These are the fruits of a heart that will not submit itself to God’s Word, a heart that has a zeal to satisfy its own sinful desires instead. So what are we zealous for? Are we quick to grumble or complain? Do we boast about our own ideas and show favouritism? Lord, help us bear the fruit of humble faith! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would bear the good fruit that comes from being rooted in Christ and ask the Lord to prune away whatever is sinful. Pray for watchful elders who have loving and compassionate hearts for God’s people Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 17 - Talking about judgment

“…to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” - Jude 15 Scripture reading: Revelation 20:1-6; Jude 14-16 Talking about the judgment of God is not the most popular topic of discussion, even within the church. We worry that it will turn away those who might be interested in the gospel. We are reluctant to be confrontational. And passages like Matthew 7:1 – “Judge not, that you be not judged” – can be used to expose our own faults, so we choose not to judge anything at all. But the Bible isn’t afraid to talk about God’s judgment. After all, isn’t that what the cross of Christ is about? God gave His only begotten Son to take the place of sinners who deserve to face the righteous wrath of the holy God. Without talking about the judgment of God, the church has nothing to say to the world about Jesus. Instead, God’s judgment gives us every reason to warn sinners about the consequences of their choices. God’s judgment gives us a patient answer to the injustices of our world. God’s judgment even gives us hope. Contending for the faith requires us to counter the false hope that relief and joy come through sinful indulgence. True relief and perfect joy will come when Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead. Those who believe in Jesus will not have an eternity of unanswered questions and unjustly given scars. We will reign with Christ and all will be made right. Suggestions for prayer Pray that Jesus would come quickly as the judge of the world. Ask Him to give you patience while you wait for Him to answer your unjust sufferings. Pray that Christians would urgently witness to the judgment of God that can only be answered by the cross of Christ. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 16 - Walking with Enoch

“It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones…”” - Jude 14 Scripture reading: Genesis 5:21-24; Jude 14-16  Genesis 5 says that Enoch walked with God, so what did his life look like? He was not a sinless man, but he loved to pursue holiness. He joyfully learned about God’s will. He knew that he was saved by grace alone. That’s why he would have been very careful to avoid ungodly influences in his life. Are we eager to accompany Enoch on his walks with God? Not only should we look forward to being with the Lord in glory someday, but are we striving to be close to the Lord today? Do we love the holiness of the God Who has saved us from our sins? Do we honour the Lord for the justice He will bring against the wicked? Do we thank God for the Spirit’s work through Christian discipline? That’s why Jude mentions Enoch’s prophecy, because Enoch refused to make room in his life for false teachers who would have tempted him with the counterfeit satisfactions of sinful living. And when the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, they will all make the same declaration: there is no peace for those who walk in their sins. There is far more joy to be found in the holiness of the Lord, so repent and walk with Him! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He not only brings us into salvation by grace, but continues to give the grace that overcomes our reluctance to be holy. Pray that your church would faithfully preach God’s Word, administer the sacraments and exercise church discipline Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 15 - Foaming shame

“Wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.” - Jude 13 Scripture reading: Philippians 4:6-9; Jude 12-13 After describing false teachers as waterless clouds, Jude now describes them as “wild waves” and “wandering stars.” These metaphors are the opposite of a peaceful afternoon gazing up at the sky. They are signals of turbulence, aimlessness and, sadly, destruction. Wild waves of the sea crash repeatedly against the rocks, churning up foam and tremendous noise as they wage their battle. But the water always recedes back into the sea. Similarly, wandering stars, like meteorites, streak across the sky with incredible speed and brilliant light, but they burn up in the atmosphere or crash into the ground. If we deceive ourselves into thinking that a life of sin is more fruitful, we use up a lot of energy making excuses for our actions. When godly friends warn us of the shame of our actions, we quickly become agitated and find ways to shame them so that we don’t feel as badly about ourselves. And when God’s Word in the hand of a brother or sister warns us of the eternal consequences of an unconverted heart, we angrily tell them to shut their Bibles. Lay yourself in humility at the feet of the Saviour today and confess any pride that refuses to repent of the sins you love too much. Unlike waves returning to the sea, or meteorites burning up in the sky, prayers of repentance will not be futile when they come to the ears of our gracious Father. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see the shame and the futility of your sins. Pray that the Spirit would continue your daily conversion in the dying away of the old self and the coming to life of the new. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 14 - Waterless clouds

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

Daily devotional

November 13 - Hidden reefs

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

Daily devotional

November 12 - Offended by offensiveness

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

Daily devotional

November 11 - Risky reasoning

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

Daily devotional

November 10 - The word of rebuke

“But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”” - Jude 9 Scripture reading: Psalm 16; Jude 5-11 Sometimes difficult passages in the Bible worry us, especially when they raise more questions than answers. The events described in verse 9 are not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, and knowing that the devil and Michael were disputing about the body of Moses seems unsettling. Do evil spirits and godly spirits really wrestle over our bodies after we die? Passages like Psalm 16 reassure us about the outcome of those disputes, but that’s also not actually the point that Jude is addressing. We’ve been learning about false teachers who use their own ideas, and even their dreams, to lead the church into immorality and to keep us from contending for the faith. Now that we know the danger, what tool do we need to contend for the faith? We need to use God’s Word. Verse 9 shows us how even the powerful and glorious archangel, Michael, did not rely on his own strength, nor on his own word, to refute the lies of the devil when they were disputing over something as precious as the body of Moses. With the Word of God, even the angels have everything they need for their spiritual battles. Don’t be afraid to take up God’s Word and stand firmly on His truth! Suggestions for prayer Ask for God’s blessing upon he who is preparing today to preach God’s Word to you on Sunday. Pray for His protection over your congregation to keep you from following opinions and preferences that will lead you astray Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 9 - Blasphemous dreams

“Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.” - Jude 8 Scripture reading: 2 Peter 2; Jude 5-8 Dreams can be very convincing, but they are often reflections of our inner thoughts and desires. That’s why they are unreliable sources of truth. Sadly, some have such a strong desire to see their dreams come true that they refuse to listen to reason and authority. No matter how plainly the truth of God’s will is explained to them, they put more confidence in their dreams than in the Lord. That’s why they manipulate God’s Word or set it to the side, making their dreams into their idols in order to justify their behaviour. Are you contending for your dreams more than you contend for the faith? Are your goals and convictions defiling your flesh, or are they leading you to a holier lifestyle? Are the desires of your heart self-serving, or do you seek to love the LORD above all other considerations? The power of those inward dreams and desires will be seen in how you respond to God’s Word. If your heart is consumed by its dreams, you will despise anyone who admonishes you to repent and turn to live for Jesus. If you love your sins, you will blame the church for not tolerating your choices, even blaspheming those who bring the glorious news of salvation. May the Lord spare us from ourselves, and from those who would tell us to blindly follow our dreams! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Spirit to purify your deepest thoughts and desires. Ask God to give you a humble spirit when you need to be corrected, and ask Him to give you faithful friends and elders who are willing to give you that correction. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional, 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 NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 7 - Eternal Chains

“And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day…” - Jude 6 Scripture reading: Revelation 12:1-17; Jude 3-7 Satan and his allies rebelled against God by choosing to believe their own lies. In their hatred, they fabricated a grievance against God’s authority and blamed God for giving them neither the power nor the glory they believed they deserved. It was their insatiable desire for more that led to their rebellion and that rebellion led to their expulsion from heaven. In their rage, they now wage war against the church. Their attacks have brought suffering, persecution and division to such a degree that it often appears the church is on the verge of being overwhelmed. Perhaps in our moments of doubt we worry that God’s judgment has solved heaven’s problem, but left the church on earth to face the devil’s unchecked power. Don’t forget that Jesus is still the King of kings! Within the church, the devil’s lies have convinced some that the gospel gives them the freedom to continue in sin, or that there will be no consequences for their actions. But just as the devil is kept in “eternal chains,” this is a rebellion against the Lord which will not go unpunished. The gospel gives no one the freedom to sin, but the freedom to follow Jesus in holiness. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the devil’s attacks against the church will be recognized for what they are and turned away with courage and faithfulness. Give thanks for those who protect you and warn you about the lies we tell ourselves so that we can excuse our sin. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 6 - The menu for slavery

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

Daily devotional

November 5 - Creeping in unnoticed

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

Daily devotional

November 4 - Contend for the faith

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

Daily devotional

November 3 - Mercy, peace and love

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

Daily devotional

November 2 - Those who are called 

“To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ…” - Jude 1b Scripture reading: Romans 8:28-30; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Jude 1-2 In the New Testament, the church is described as those who have been “called out” by God. We have been called out from our bondage to sin and misery, we have been called into grace and righteousness through Jesus Christ, and we have been called to a new life of gratitude and holiness. All three parts of that calling matter to God, and they ought to matter to us. Have we neglected any part of that calling? Have we become indulgent, proud, or spiritually lazy? Jude’s purpose in writing this epistle is to urge us to live by that calling. He will warn us about those who are trying to lead the church away from its calling to love and serve God faithfully. He will sound the alarm about false teachers who say that the gospel gives us the freedom to indulge in sexual immorality and other fleshly lusts. Instead, we need to remember that we are “beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.” Our calling is much more fulfilling than the empty promises of false teachers and much more valuable than the reward of momentary pleasures. Are we choosing to give into temptations that take us away from the love of our Father? Are we listening to false teachers that try to keep us away from Jesus? Let’s remember our calling! Suggestions for prayer Ask for forgiveness for how you forget your calling and replace it with your own self-interest. Pray that the love of the Father would bring you greater joy. Ask that Jesus would keep you from walking closer to sin. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

November 1 - Introduction to the letter of Jude 

The letter of Jude is one of the smallest and least-known books of the Bible, but its size does not match its importance! The Holy Spirit put a burden on Jude’s soul to write to a church in danger. This danger isn’t exclusive to one congregation or to one era in the church’s history, but plagues us all because we all share in the struggle against sin. Jude exhorts the church to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints,” because that faith is under attack. What makes it so challenging is that the attackers claim to be saints! False teachers boldly preach about Christ and the grace that saves us from our sins, but they turn that salvation into a license to sin freely. We are thus drawn away from Christ and encouraged to be enslaved to the idols of our selfish desires. By reminding us of the holiness of God in His dealings with His people (and others) in the past, Jude warns us that the influence of these false teachers is affecting the church’s unity, worship, and witness. Instead, we need to remember the instruction of God’s Word, build up our faith, be steady in prayer, keep ourselves in the love of Jesus and wait for the mercy that will take us into eternal life. Rather than being consumed by the idols we make for ourselves, we will be free to show mercy to others and even snatch them out of the fires of unbelief. We will have a doxology to sing because the holiness of our Saviour will be our greatest joy and satisfaction. A servant of Jesus Christ  “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James…” - Jude 1a Scripture reading: Matthew 13:53-58; John 7:1-9; Jude 1-2 As one of the children born to Joseph and Mary after the virgin birth, Jude had seen Jesus, his older brother, increase “in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). But when he listened to Jesus preach and saw how Jesus’ reputation as a miracle-worker was growing, his heart remained cold. John 7:5 says that even Jesus’ brothers refused to believe in Him. Some time later, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, both Jude and another of his brothers, James, were converted. How joyful the two of them would have been to meet as brothers in Christ! But more than brothers, they had also become servants of Jesus Christ. They were bound to Jesus as sinners set free by His blood. They had been liberated so that they could follow their older brother Who had become their king. Many of us would make the same joyful statement about who we have become in Jesus. Whether it happened recently or not, whether we remember it happening or not, we know that without the Spirit changing our hearts, we would be cold unbelievers, too. That is why we eagerly confess that our only comfort is found in belonging to our faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ. We are not only his siblings; we are also his servants. What a story we have to talk about God’s grace! Suggestions for prayer Speak to God about the unbelief, doubts, and pride in your heart. Ask Him to steer you away from defiance and disobedience. Confess your complete dependence on His grace to you in Jesus Christ. Give thanks for the comfort of being His servant. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 31 - The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” - Philippians 4:23  Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:21-23 and Romans 1:13-17 Paul’s closing words bring us back to Philippians 1 and his blessing that God’s “grace” would be upon his friends in Philippi. How rich is that word “grace”, which speaks of the unmerited favour of God to sinners for salvation in Jesus Christ! There is no one deserving of salvation, yet God, in His Son has wrought salvation for sinners like us! This was the glorious truth that Martin Luther rediscovered as He studied the Scriptures and the precious teachings of God in the Psalms and in the books Romans and Galatians. For we are not justified before God by works and the keeping of the Law. We are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! Thus, Paul ends his letter as he began it, with grace! Even his closing words speak to this. Notice who some of the saints are that send greetings to Philippi, “those who are of Caesar’s household”! (v.22). Paul mentioned back in chapter 1 that to the “whole palace guard” and “to all the rest”, this good news of salvation in Christ had been preached! How awesome it is to think that some in Caesar’s own household came to saving faith in Christ! How glorious are the ways of God! Yes, on this Reformation Day, we give thanks for God’s grace to His church, restoring to her the Word, the Holy Bible, and the pure gospel that our salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone and for His glory alone! Suggestions for prayer Let us rejoice and give thanks for God’s rich grace to us in Jesus Christ! May the Solas of the Reformation continue to form the solid foundation upon which the church takes her stand before her enemies! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 30 - God’s generous supply for his generous people

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:19  Scripture reading: Philippians 4:10-20 and 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 Now, as we saw in vv.10-13, Paul has all he will ever need in Christ. Christ is his sufficiency. And yet, Paul is thankful for the provision of his friends. As he notes in vv.14-16, they gave generously for his needs when others did not. And so, even though he is content, their giving is not in vain! The investment they have made in him is an investment in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that investment always pays dividends! He says in v.17, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.” But how could Paul repay them for their sacrifice for the gospel? Well, he never could - but God will! For as they give, and give generously, God will repay them through His rich provision in Christ Jesus, as v.19 says. When we give to the Lord, do we believe that God will provide for us? We should never think that giving for the gospel will lead to our financial harm. No, God will supply for all our needs “according to His riches in glory”, and that we should never doubt! And so, as you gather for worship, come with generous hearts for prayer, for the Word and sacraments, and for giving to the Lord. For God is the great supplier of all your needs, and as you give for His glory, He will generously supply you with what you need for the Christian life. Suggestions for prayer: Pray for a generous heart and that you would give to God as generously as He has given for you. The Lord loves a cheerful giver and He will see to it that all of your needs are met in Christ according to His glorious riches! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....