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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....

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