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Daily devotional

November 18 - Judan-like, anti-grace gehazis

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ . . .” - Philippians 3:8 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 5:19b-27 At the end of the story, things change. Clouds roll in. Instead of grace there is greed. Instead of truth there are lies. Instead of, ”As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none,” we hear, “As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” And that dreaded leprosy is back. Instead of a leprous man coming into Elisha's presence clean, a clean man leaves Elisha's presence leprous. What had happened? Greed. Like Judas, Gehazi was on the front line of gospel ministry. Like Judas, he lusted for money. And what Gehazi lusted in his heart, he now held in his hand. Watch out for the progression of sin. Sin itself is greedy; always wanting more. And how did it advantage Gehazi? He has wealth now, but he also has leprosy. Gehazi resented God’s grace. He didn’t like this Syrian getting off so cheaply. Had he been captured by the free grace of God, he would not only have rejoiced in Naaman’s blessing, he would never have pursued wealth. His fascination with wealth highlights a dissatisfaction and disinterest in the grace of God. It always does. Left to ourselves we would all be Judas-like, anti-grace Gehazis. But Christ offers Himself to us. He is willing to take responsibility for our greed, lies and covetousness and our punishment too. That is what the cross is all about. So cherish Him, and if we have Him, is anything else even remotely comparable or desirable? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord that He would reveal the glory and wonder of the Lord Jesus so that we might be convinced of the surpassing worth of having Him. Pray that God would protect us from greed and covetousness. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 17 - Without money and without price

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” - Isaiah 55:1  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 5:15-27 Pagan religion taught that gods could be manipulated by humans. That’s almost certainly why Naaman brought so much wealth. Humans project that on to their non-existent deities. Even Christians tend to think that God must be moved by our contributions before he will do us good. God resists any attempt to change his grace into a commodity we can purchase. Grace, to be grace, must be free. That’s why Elisha doesn’t make any reference to Naaman’s wealth when he sends his messenger to tell Naaman to go and wash. That’s why Elisha refuses a gift that was aroused by gratitude for God’s grace (v. 16). (Certainly, the school of the prophets could have used the funds!) And that is why Elisha is so disturbed by Gehazi extracting a gift by deceit (v. 26). It wasn’t just the deceit and greed, but the distortion of God’s grace. Gehazi is cursed with Naaman’s leprosy because he put a price on God’s mercy. Reformed Christians will often respond to the freeness of God’s grace by saying, “But we must show thankfulness.” For some this is an attempt to smuggle in by the back door what we wouldn’t dare to bring in through the front door. That is, it is introducing works into our salvation. It can be an attempt to condition or qualify the freeness of God’s grace. Notice Elisha refused to receive Naaman’s thankfulness lest God’s grace be distorted. There is a cost to our salvation. But it isn’t one that we must pay. Christ has paid it all. Suggestions for prayer Praise God that it is by grace that we have been saved through faith and that even this faith is a gift of God. Pray that He would keep us from distorting His grace both to ourselves and to others. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 16 - Born again

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”” - Matthew 18:1-3  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 5:14-19 Here is a work of God. Elisha wasn’t even present so he can’t take credit. The Jordan was the scene of God’s power in the past. Even the king of Israel recognized only God could cure a man of leprosy (v. 7). But there is more going on than physical cleansing. Leprosy is a picture of our spiritual malady and this cleansing can be seen as Naaman’s conversion. He has become like a little child in the same river in which our Lord was baptized. Naaman’s internal transformation affected his life. He is humble, calling himself Elisha’s servant (v. 15). He is grateful, wishing to give his wealth, not as a payment, but as a present (v. 15). He confesses there is no God but God (v. 15). He pledges to worship only this God (v. 17) and shows spiritual sensitivity, wishing to honour the Lord while he continues to serve in the royal court. Naaman has been changed by the grace of God. He is the Old Testament equivalent of the Thessalonians who received the word and turned from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Naaman’s story has three distinct sections sectioned by the word “Go,” in v. 5, 10, and 19. It is really the odyssey of someone becoming a believer. He hears the gospel: there is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins. He believes the gospel: and sinners plunged beneath that flood. He goes in peace: lose all their guilty stains. Has Jesus said to you, “Go in peace”? Suggestions for prayer Thank God that He continues to save sinners sovereignly, and ask Him to show Himself mighty in the conversion of your family, neighbours and friends, and even to use you as an instrument of blessing. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 15 - Raging against the remedy

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God . . . For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” - 1 Corinthians 1:18, 21  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 5:4-14 Naaman’s leprosy plays a dual role. It is a providential problem that leads him to seek help. It is also a picture of humanity. We are all sick, and helplessly so. In the providence of God, Naaman’s servant girl sends him to Elisha. Through a messenger, Elisha tells him, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” At this Naaman becomes incensed and rages against the remedy. Why? In a word: Pride. Naaman was a great man and thought that Elisha would honour him by speaking to him himself rather than through a messenger. He wished to be recognized as someone special. Naaman was a rich man and wished to purchase his remedy. Elisha makes no reference to his wealth. The remedy was an assault on human intelligence. How does washing in the muddy Jordan remove leprosy? And, as a commander, Naaman didn’t like being told what to do. Naaman, in his pride, resists God's grace, as do we all. Thankfully, God was determined to save him. Through another unnamed servant and through grace in his heart, Naaman was conquered by God and ‘he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God.’ Pride is our natural inclination as sinners and pride rages against God’s remedy, to our own hurt. For us to be cleansed, God must humble us by His Spirit so that we embrace the foolishness of the wisdom of God. Has He done that for you? Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His pursuing and irresistible grace. Ask Him to continually humble us and others so that we might gladly embrace His remedy for sinners in His Son, Jesus Christ. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 14 - Assembly required

“Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire.” - Exodus 19:17-18 Scripture reading: Psalm 87 ‘The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.’ The Lord loves it when believers spend time with Him in private or when families gather in their homes to read His Word, sing His praise and seek His face in prayer. But the Lord especially loves it when His people gather together as the assembled saints to worship Him. We know this from Psalm 87:1 and also from the great deliverance of God’s people from the bondage of Egypt. If He desired only private or family worship, Israel could have stayed in Egypt. But He delivered them so that they could, as an assembled people, publicly declare His glory. He met with them as they gathered in His presence. In fact, this day at Mount Sinai came to be known as ‘the day of the assembly’ (Deuteronomy 9:10). And from the Hebrew word for assembly we get the English words church and congregation. This is why the Church has, throughout the ages, gone through great pains to gather for worship. Sometimes they gather in freedom with the protection of the State. But often they have had to worship publicly despite government objection. Just think of China and the house churches and the Covenanters and their gathering on the moors of Scotland.  God loves public worship. And since God loves it, so should we. We should spare no effort to assemble with the saints for the declaration of God’s glory. What’s more, this is the clearest foretaste of our eternal occupation. Suggestions for prayer Remember those saints who assemble for worship in the face of opposition. Ask that God would enable us to ‘extol Him in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders’ (Psalm 107:32). Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 13 - Great but...

“For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” - 2 Corinthians 4:11-12 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 2 Kings 5:1-3 Naaman was a great man, but he was a leper, a picture of humanity. Favored by God, but with a malignant stain. We are also introduced to a little girl. Unlike Naaman, she is a believer in God and, upon hearing of his plight, sends him to the prophet of the Lord in Samaria. You might think that this girl, afflicted by sorrow at the hand of her master, might be vindictive and rejoice in his suffering. But in Jesus-like fashion, she seeks his blessing. How ought we, like our Saviour, to pursue the blessing of even our enemies? The providence of God stares us in the face in the lives of these two characters. Both Naaman’s success and leprosy are from the sovereign Lord Who orchestrates all things. Naaman’s providential problem will eventually lead to his prosperity. Were it not for this unwanted intrusion in his life, he would have continued to live and die infatuated with himself and forever ignorant of the God of all grace. What about the providence of God in the girl’s life? It might seem less kind. God’s providence was distressing as He wrenched her from her family and brought her to her captor’s home. In His providence, the Lord is shaping her life to be like the Lord Jesus’ life; she is disadvantaged for another’s advantage. Perhaps this is a good window into the hardships you are experiencing. Is God seeking another’s good through your pain? Are you willing to embrace this mode of God’s working and share in the sufferings of Christ?  Suggestions for prayer Pray for a compassionate heart for those afflicted by the malignancy of sin that we might point them to our Saviour. Ask for God’s blessing as His people gather for the hearing of His Word and the praising of His Name. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 12 - Give us this day our daily bread

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” - John 6:35 Scripture reading: John 6:1-14; 2 Kings 4:42-44 What a tremendous encouragement it must have been to the prophets to see this man from Baal Shalishah come with 20 loaves of barley bread and some heads of new grain, not just because they were hungry, but because there still was a believer who honoured the Lord with his first fruits. The fellow came from Baal-Shalishah, evidently a place where Baal was treasured. You wouldn’t expect that, would you? What a wonderful reminder that God always has His people, even in unlikely places. But if the man was generous, God was even more so. The man’s gift was inadequate, but God used it much like Jesus used the young boy’s inadequate supply of bread and fish to feed the multitude. Despite his protests, the servant gives it to the men to eat; they ate and had some left. God doesn’t just give enough grace to scrape by. He has provided the Bread of Life, and whoever comes to Christ shall not hunger. Indeed, from His fullness we receive grace upon grace (John 1:16). For sin there is abundant cleansing; for weakness, abundant strength; for discouragement, abundant hope. There is no limit to the grace of God in Jesus Christ. What do you need grace for today? A guilty conscience? Temptation? Weakness? There is grace available — loads of it. Ask Him for it. After the feeding in John’s gospel, the people exclaimed: “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” (John 6:14). Indeed. And as the hymn says, “More than all in Him I find.” Suggestions for prayer Pray that the God of all grace would give us the humility to ask Him for the grace we need. And pray that the world might know that a Prophet has come to offer Himself for hungry souls. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 11 - Let’s stew over this

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” - 1 Corinthians 15:58 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 4:38-41                                                                                                                                                                      We don’t often think of our food supply. If we burn the dinner, we call Domino’s pizza. Imagine if you are in a famine and you prepare a pot of stew, and, hoping to make it stretch, you ruin it by adding some deadly ingredients. That was what Elisha’s servant did. It is helpful to note that even God’s people feel the effects of God’s judgment. The famine did not bypass them. That will give us some ballast when we face difficulties in life. The death in the pot reminds us of the devastation of sin unleashed by the fruit in the garden. There were no fatal plants in the Garden before the Fall. The point is that these men of God live in the context of the curse. Thankfully, redemption comes in the story. Elisha throws some flour in the pot and it becomes safe. The curse is reversed. We ought to think of the person and work of Christ, the greater than Elisha. It is not accidental that His crown on the cross is one of thorns. He participates in the curse so that we are redeemed from death. But He also redeems our efforts to serve Him. He takes our frustrated attempts to serve and makes them useful and edifying and profitable for His glory and the good of others. How is that for an encouragement for you mothers, fathers, elders, ministers, husbands, wives, singles, employees and students? Your labour, in the work of the Lord, is not in vain. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the sacrificial death of the Son of God that redeems us from our sins and enables us to serve Him amidst the frustrations of this world. Pray that He would encourage disheartened saints to keep striving to serve Him. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 10 - The beautiful, the bitter and beyond

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”” - John 11:25-26 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 4:18-37 God gives us both the beautiful and the bitter of this life to point us to the life beyond. The Lord tests this woman’s faith to give her a still more glorious revelation of His grace and glory. The woman leaves her dead son and, in faith (Hebrews 11:35), goes to the man of God. Elisha returns and prays for the boy’s restoration. Elisha prays because this is the work of God. The holy man of God lays on the boy and becomes unclean in order to bring life to him. Elisha pictures the miracle of God’s glory and the gospel of God’s grace. But he does so faintly. After all, the boy dies again. What we need is not the man of God, but the God-man to give new life to the dead. God has done this and displayed His glory in the gospel of our Lord Christ. Christ identifies with us in our humanity and our sin to bring us life from the dead by His own death. In resurrection glory, He ensures our own resurrection at the last day. This life is a mixture of gladness and sadness and both point us to the beyond. The beautiful reminds us of the generosity of God’s grace to sinners and the indescribable inheritance He has prepared for those who love Him. The bitter makes us feel the pain of the curse so that we don’t become too attached to this world, but, instead, wait with expectancy for the renewal of all things when Christ returns in glory. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we may have our eyes fixed on the inheritance that God keeps in heaven for us so that we may rejoice even while we are grieved by various trials. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 9 - The sadness of life

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled . . . Jesus wept . . . Then Jesus, deeply moved again . . .” - John 11:33-38 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 4:17-28 We are given a concise biography. The boy grows, and goes out with his father. Gladness! Then the boy becomes ill, is carried homesick, sits on his mother’s lap until noon, and dies. Sadness! The fact that this pain came as a result of God’s gift makes it sharper. Notice her words in v. 28. What kind of God is He? She feels deceived. Wouldn’t it have been easier if God hadn’t given her a son in the first place? Some of you have even experienced this scenario so often that every time you receive a gift you wait for the inevitable grief to come. What do we say to this? Shunning easy answers that require us to deny that we have real sorrow, that we taste bitterness, we can say a couple of things. The bitterness of our life is because of the fall. The refrain of Genesis 5 is echoed in v. 20: ‘and then he died.’ This is more grievous because it is the death of a young boy. But the point remains the same. It is because of the curse of sin. Remember Jesus at Lazarus’ grave? Sin has wreaked havoc on God’s good creation. And we lament. But we need to say more. Remember, she is being rewarded. The Lord is good in all His ways. He is too wise to be mistaken and too good to be unkind. Satan is the one who paints God as parsimonious and nasty. Faith sees God as gracious and kind even in the trials of life. Suggestions for prayer Pray for your brothers and sisters who are going through deep trials that God would show them His tender compassion and that they would see His goodness. Pray for the persecuted Church whose persecution comes precisely because of the gift of God’s grace to them. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 8 - The gladness of life

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward . . .” - Matthew 10:40-41 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 4:8-17 Elisha often stopped by the home of a well-to-do woman and her husband for a meal. That home became Elisha’s B&B whenever he was in that region. What an encouragement this evidence of her godliness was to Elisha. A prophet was not always well received. Remember the Bethel boys. Do you receive your pastors with kindness and generosity? Jesus promises a reward for us if we do (Matthew 10:41). Elisha offers this woman a reward for her kindness in receiving him. He asks, “What is to be done for you?” Unlike the widow in v. 2 who was asked the same question, this woman needed nothing. Her answer in v. 13 conveys contentment. After consulting with Gehazi, Elisha promises her a son. She is somewhat incredulous. “Do not lie to your servant, O man of God!” What Elisha promised came true. Why would God do this for her? Three reasons:  To reward her for her kindness to His servant.  Because he is generous. There is an obvious link to the story in Genesis 18:10 where the barren Sarah receives the promise of a son. This woman’s son wasn’t an Isaac through whom the promise would continue. So why does God give this gift? Because He is generous (1 Timothy 6:17b). That is helpful to remember, isn’t it? We are given many things simply for our enjoyment so that we might glorify God as the generous source.  To reveal Himself even more gloriously. But we’ll take a look at that in a couple of days. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for your Pastor and ask Him to enable you to receive him with kindness. Thank God that He gives us everything to enjoy and pray that we might enjoy the Giver through His gifts. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 7 - Saved to worship

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let my people go, that they may serve me.”’” - Exodus 8:1 Scripture reading: 1 Peter 2:1-12 In verses 9-10, Peter gives us a short synopsis of who we were, what we have become, and the reason God has made us what we are. We were in darkness, alienated from the people of God, under God’s condemnation because of our sin. But God, who is rich in grace, has done a wonderful thing. In mercy, He has sovereignly called us to Himself and enfolded us in His covenant people. Peter highlights the continuity of the New Testament Church with the Old Testament people of God by naming us what God in Exodus 19 named Israel. We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession. And then we’re told why we have been made what we now are. It is so that we ‘may proclaim the excellencies of him who called out of darkness into his marvelous light.’ We have been saved that we might worship God, that we might meditate on His goodness, recount His mighty acts of redemption and praise Him for it. We are tempted to think that salvation is all about us, that it is only for our blessing. Thankfully, it is a blessing to us. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. But we ought to remember that we came into the world for God and for the honor of Christ. All things were created by Him, through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16). And redemption serves the same purpose as creation: for the declaration of the excellencies of our God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would open your eyes to His glorious majesty and grace and give you a heart that overflows with praise and adoration. Pray that for your fellow believers as well. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 6 - Helper of the helpless

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” - 2 Corinthians 8:9 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 4:1-7 What difficulties this nameless woman faces because of the debts her evidently poor husband left her with, which threatened slavery to her sons. Yet, it is clear that he was rich toward God. He feared the Lord and, as one of the sons of the prophets, publicly identified himself with the Lord’s cause. It was likely because of this devotion that his widow is left in such extremity. Though there should have been a social safety net in Israel, she is reduced to nothing and her two sons are about to be enslaved by the creditor. She turns to the God of all grace. At first glance, this is striking because, in a sense, she sees God as part of her problem. You catch a hint of this in her complaint in v. 1. Her husband feared the Lord and yet, despite that, the creditor was coming. Yet, what else can she do? To whom else can she go? She cries out to the Lord. And He answers and supplies her out of the riches of His glory. I mentioned that someone should have helped her. There was biblical legislation to provide for the needy, particularly, the widows and fatherless. Apparently, no one does, so God Himself comes to the rescue. He has also done that in Jesus Christ to ransom us for Himself. And if He takes care of that need, can we not trust Him to care for all of our other ones too (Romans 8:32)? Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would supply every need of ours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus and that we would trust Him to do so. Pray that your Pastor might preach the unsearchable riches of Christ tomorrow for your joy and progress in the faith. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

 November 5 - More than we ask or think

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work in us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” - Ephesians 3:20-21  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 3:13-27 The two kings finally meet up with Elisha. One goes in faith, the other in fear. The Lord promises water. Additionally, He promises victory. It is like the Lord says, “Ask Me something that will really show My glory.” God is all about putting His glory on display. Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. You may be discouraged at your trials and wonder why there are ruts in your path. Be of good cheer. God is displaying His glory in your need, and what else would you rather see? The chapter describes God’s undeserved generosity to His people. Aren’t you surprised by His kindness? You should be. Israel wasn’t serving Him faithfully, yet God was generous. This passage highlights the gospel goodness of the Lord. Blessing depends on who we are with. Elisha would have had nothing to do with Jehoram except that Jehoshaphat was with him. Because of King Jesus’ presence with us, God has everything to do with us. This is highlighted in v. 20 when it says that the water came at the time of the morning sacrifice. This is why we pray for blessing in Jesus’ name. Blessing depends on the sacrifice of God’s Son. Mesha’s despicable sacrifice of his oldest son (v. 27) is recounted. It was a sacrifice to Chemosh, the Moabite god, hoping that he would turn the battle in Mesha’s favor. What kind of god is that? Our God is so different. He doesn’t ask for our sacrifice so that His wrath can be appeased. For that He sacrifices His own Son. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His undeserved favor to us in our Lord Jesus Christ. Ask Him to enable us to see His glory. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 4 - The revelation of trials

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” - Romans 15:4 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 3:4-12 Mesha of Moab became sheepish about paying Israel tribute. So, he rebelled. Jehoram musters Israel and invites Jehoshaphat to join him. Evidently, the king of Edom was compelled to join. The three kings hope to attack through the Desert of Edom. After seven days, they run out of water, a very bad thing to have happen in the desert. Notice the response of Jehoshaphat and Jehoram, particularly as they are contrasted with each other. The same situation confronts both. Jehoram responds in despair and fear, accusing the Lord (v. 10). Jehoshaphat has faith. He turns to the Lord and wants to hear His word (v. 11). Difficult circumstances don’t cause our heart to act in a sinful way; distress reveals our heart. The "real you" shows up when things aren’t going well. It is no wonder that Jehoram despairs. He has a guilty conscience. Though he mentions the Lord’s name, he doesn’t know Him. It is possible to think that you are on good terms with God until a trial in your life comes. Then you begin to think harshly of God and accuse Him. Your ‘faith’ is shown for what it really is, a sham, as you cower in fear. Jehoshaphat’s faith turns him to the Lord. He wants to hear from his God. This is the experience of the child of God. The Lord comforts His people in their distress and ministers to them through His word. Has the word of God ever brought you solace and comfort in a time of trial? Suggestions for prayer Thank God for trials that enable you to see the sins that you harbor so that you might seek the grace that both forgives and transforms. Thank Him for His Son Who always trusted the Lord. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 3 - The Lord’s assessment

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” - Matthew 22:37 Scripture reading: Matthew 22:34-40; 2 Kings 3:1-3 As Elijah had to deal with Ahab, Elisha had to deal with Jehoram. Jehoram means, “The Lord is exalted.” However, his life contradicted his name. He is better than Ahab, spiritually speaking, but he is still not where a king of Israel ought to be. He is not a faithful worshipper of, nor a firm believer in, the Lord. He removed the pillar of Baal, but didn’t fully turn his back on Baal. Elisha tells him to consult the prophets of Baal (3:13), suggesting Jehoram still had some familiarity with them. Later, Jehu, upon succeeding Jehoram, had to kill the Baal prophets that remained (10:18). Moreover, although Jehoram did not promote Baal like his parents, he still clung to the sin of Jeroboam. He was an improvement, but God’s assessment is that he was bad. “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” That is the assessment we should concern ourselves with. The Lord is our standard, not the next guy or the last guy. God doesn’t grade on a curve. True, some sins are worse than others. But any sin warrants the wrath and curse of God. It is important to understand this because the sinful heart is always seeking new tactics to allow us to engage in sin. True worship that is acceptable to God is a hatred of all sin and a commitment to obey Him in all circumstances. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help us see His intolerance of sin and to give us a desire to hear His “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Thank Him that Christ has died for all our unfaithfulness in His faithful obedience to His Father. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 2 – Covenant bears

“For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” – Acts 2:39  Scripture reading: Acts 2:36-41; 2 Kings 2:23-25 It is a sad, but not unexpected event. Bethel had a long and hallowed tradition as a place of worship. But things weren’t like they used to be in Bethel. It had become notorious for sin and idolatry. This sin affected young and old alike. Remember, the man who rebuilt Jericho at the cost of his sons was from Bethel. In Bethel, children were sacrificed on the altar of their parents’ godlessness. That’s what’s happening in this story. The parents hate God and their children mock the Lord and His anointed servant Elisha. The Lord responds as promised. He told them He would let loose wild beasts against them that would bereave them of their children (Leviticus 26:22). And so He did. This story should make us tremble at the display of God’s wrath in response to the scandalous nature of sin. But we should remember that this story follows the previous one in which God displays grace to the cursed. Bethel sounds the note of the ferocity of God’s judgement. But thankfully, that is not the only note sounded. Later, in Jerusalem, God shows mercy to sinners who rejected the Lord and His anointed servant in clamouring for the death of Jesus. Though they called for Christ’s blood to be on them and their children (Matthew 27:25), the Spirit-filled ambassador of the ascended Christ retaliates with promised grace for them and their children. What a glorious reminder that grace reverses the curses and that Jesus comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to remind us as parents of the solemn repercussions our spiritual carelessness might have on our children. Thank the Lord that His grace reverses the curse. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. ...

Daily devotional

November 1 - Introduction to Elisha

The word of God is living and active. It is not only something we study, it studies us. As the Bible reveals truths about itself, it also, simultaneously, reveals truths about us. That's what you will discover as we work our way through the sacred account of one of the Old Testament prophets, Elisha. These studies will uncover human depravity and highlight the astonishing grace of God to His people in His Son, Jesus Christ, the greatest of all prophets and the final Word of God. These studies had their beginning in sermons preached at Trinity and can be heard at sermonaudio.com. The Gospel according to Jericho “Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water…” – 2 Kings 2:21 Scripture reading: Revelation 22:1-5; 2 Kings 2:15-22 Obviously, this passage is not about environmental science. It declares the mighty works of the God of our salvation through His servant Elisha, displaying His wonderful kindness in healing Jericho’s water. But I want to maximize His kindness by pointing out that the city was under a curse. Even if we didn’t know that from Joshua 6:26, the present situation of water causing miscarriage (‘the land is unfruitful’ v. 19) is proof that her inhabitants were living in disobedience and under God’s disfavour (Exodus 23:26). To this undeserving city, God brings healing. Why would He? Do you ever wonder what God was thinking when He pursued our redemption? Who would ever have imagined that God’s scheme would involve God Himself taking the curse in order that sinners might receive blessing (Galatians 3:13)? Not through a little salt in a bowl, but through the cross of the Lord Jesus, the thought of which caused the salt of His body to be expelled in profuse sweating. Jericho is good news for people like us. We are ‘sinners, poor and wretched, weak and wounded, sick and sore, bruised and broken by the fall.’ The Gospel according to Jericho. Another city in the Bible shouts out good news (Revelation 22:1-3). The water flows from the throne of God and waters the tree of life, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed. The Gospel according to Old Jericho and New Jerusalem because it is the Gospel of Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Pour out your heart to the Lord regarding your struggles, weaknesses and sins and ask Him for healing through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Rejoice in the Saviour Who bore our curse so that we would receive His blessing. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017. ...

Daily devotional

October 31 – Seeking wandering brothers and sisters

...let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. – James 5:20 Scripture reading: James 5:19-20 The letter of James is very much a letter calling us to Christ-like action, living in the Lord in the joy of salvation. James ends his letter emphasizing this point. Unlike most other letters in the Bible, James does not end with a concluding greeting but with a call to action. James recognizes that it is possible that brothers and sisters in the Lord can wander from the truth. But he also lets us know that it is possible to bring wayward brothers or sisters back to a life of service to our Lord, in the joy of salvation. In our present culture, even among Christians, church discipline is often considered mean and uncalled for. James helps us to see that church discipline is really loving wayward brothers and sisters. It is calling them back to the Lord Jesus Christ so that they will not die eternally in hell. It is helping them see the eternal pit of death that they do not see and are about to fall into. This is why James tells us that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. For as they come back to the Lord, they once again will know the joy of salvation and the forgiveness of all their sins. James ends this letter by encouraging us to show that we trust God’s promises by going after wandering brothers and sisters in love for their good and for God’s glory. Suggestions for prayer That we would lovingly speak to wayward brothers and sisters seeking their souls to be saved, their sins forgiven and not waiting for others to call them back. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 30 – Confessing our sins one to another

Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. – James 5:16 Scripture reading: James 5:16-18 It is not just the elders' position to deal with sins in the community of God’s people.  It is each Christian’s responsibility and privilege. One of the loveliest things we can do for and with each other is also one of the hardest things that we can do for and with each other. That is confessing our sins to each other. It is hard because it causes us to be vulnerable in front of each other. But when brothers and sisters can do this, it is like glue in the relationships. It also can bring great healing to hurt relationships, but only when it is done through prayer as brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can we pray for the ability to confess sins and for the ability to hear confessions of sin without gossiping or judging. Only in faith in Jesus Christ can we pray for the ability to forgive and forget the sin and pray to understand and believe in forgiveness based on Jesus’ finished work. To sincerely pray these prayers takes faith. James tells us that Elijah, a sinful man like us, had this kind of faith. Therefore it is possible for us also to earnestly pray, trusting God will give us what we need to confess our sins to one another and be blessed by doing this. Elijah prayed and things happened. May we pray for this to happen more and more in our lives. Suggestions for prayer That we would have the confidence to confess our sins to one another and be communities that are blessed by doing this. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

October 29 – Is anyone among you suffering?

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises – James 5:13 Scripture reading: James 5:13-15 In life, our emotions are often up and down. In both cases James encourages us to go to the Lord; to pray when we are suffering and to sing praises to God when things are going well. For only the Lord can truly alleviate our suffering. When things are going well, it is a gift from our Lord, for every good and perfect gift is from our heavenly Father. At times it is hard to pray when things are very disturbing. Therefore our heavenly Father has given us leaders, elders, and pastors to help in these areas so that when we are sick or struggling we can call the elders or pastor to pray with us. The oil that James talks about represents being set apart for the Lord. So the elder who comes to pray is also to encourage the sick saint to know that they are set apart for the Lord, and that despite the illness or struggle they are having, they are right with the Lord. Telling us that the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick emphasizes that when the elder comes in faith as an under-shepherd of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are to see that his prayer has meaning to help the sick person first of all in his/her relationship with God. The elder’s prayer is to help the sick saint to know that he/she is well with the Lord despite their sickness, and if they have sinned, he/she is forgiven through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Suggestions for prayer That we would see the need to pray when we are suffering and sing praises to the Lord when we are cheerful and seek the help of the elders when this is hard. Pastor Richard Bultje is a United Reformed missionary and pastor in the River of Life church plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Pastor Richard and his wife, Yukyung moved to Niagara Falls in November 2012 with their three children Calvin, Isaiah and Gloria. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

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