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Daily devotional

October 8 - Paul’s confession of God’s sovereignty

“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel…” - Philippians 1:12  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:12-18 and Romans 8:28-30 Paul is quick to acknowledge the sovereignty of God over his life. Nothing that happens to him comes by chance, but it is all the working of God’s mighty hand. This is an important confession because at first glance we might think that Paul’s ministry is finished! Paul is now in Rome under house arrest and awaiting his appearance before Caesar. This means that the work of the gospel is at a standstill! But though Paul is a man who has experienced much in his life in the way of hardship and adversity, God has always proven Himself faithful! He has seen evidence of this while in Rome. He says, “I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” What Satan and wicked men intended for evil, God has used for good, especially for Paul’s proclamation of the gospel among Caesar’s household and beyond! What a marvellous confession! God works in and through all circumstances of life to bring about His will! What a blessing in our times of trial, what a blessing to our faith, what a blessing to our hope in Jesus Christ and what a blessing for the work of the church! Regardless of the opposition, nothing can hinder the gospel! God is at work to turn even the trials of this life into opportunities for His glory and praise! Suggestions for prayer Let us give thanks for God’s gracious and sovereign hand in our lives. Let us not be overwhelmed or discouraged with the trials of life, but be reminded of God’s nearness to us through His Spirit and Word. Rev. 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 7 - Be sincere and without offence

“That you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ…” - Philippians 1:10b  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:9-11 and 1 Peter 2:11-12 When Paul prays that these Christians would be “sincere”, he is praying that their lives would be free from hypocrisy. A hypocrite” was an actor who put on a mask pretending to be someone else; hence actors in the Greek plays were called “hypocrites” because of their disguises. Christians can put on appearances too! Sometimes we can give the appearance of living a pious and holy life when it’s far from the truth. Therefore Paul prayed that they would not live the hypocritical life. For how can you live a life of abounding love toward one another, or have a wise love when it comes to your choices if your heart is filled with hypocrisy? Paul also prays that they would be “without offence”. That refers to being morally blameless. It means you are not offensive to others due to any sinful behaviour or habits in your life. For such a life can become a stumbling block to others, not only to fellow Christians but also to an unbelieving world! And that can lead to criticism of the Christian Faith, especially of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is something we never want! How is your life? Is it sincere, genuine, and above reproach, or does hypocritical behaviour cause you to be a hindrance rather than a help to the gospel? Paul prays for the character and walk of these Christians and so should we pray for each other! Suggestions for prayer Let us pray and ask the Lord to remove any hypocrisy and compromise from our lives that would hinder our walk with God. Let us pray for a consistent witness for Christ in our world as we live sincere, blameless lives. Rev. 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 6 - Paul prays for a wise love

“That your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent…” - Philippians 1:9-10a  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:9-11 and Ephesians 5:15-21 As the apostle says in v.9, “love” is not to “abound” on its own, but is to be characterised by knowledge and discernment. Biblical, Christian love is not something unwise in the things of God, nor is it a blind love. No, Christian love is rooted in “knowledge”, or we might say, it has its anchor in God’s revealed Word, Holy Scripture! Therefore, as God’s people, we must read His Word and listen to the preaching of that Word. The Holy Spirit uses it to strengthen our faith, deepen our convictions and increase our love for God and each other. Along with “knowledge”, Paul says, there’s also to be “discernment”. This refers to the ability to discern the good from the bad. But the apostle takes that even further. For the Christian is not only to judge between the good and the bad in one’s life but also between what is good and what is excellent! He says in v.10, “that you may approve the things that are excellent…” Thus, as we grow in the Faith, the choices we make in life ought to reflect more thoughtfulness and maturity. For things we would have said or done in the past, we wouldn’t do now because we’ve grown in godly wisdom, “in knowledge and all discernment”. Yes, there are many things in life that are good, but as discerning Christians, we’re called to desire after the things that are “excellent”! Suggestions for prayer Let us pray for an abounding love, characterised by knowledge and discernment for our families and the church. Let us pray for growing discernment that we might approve of the excellent things and strive after them. Rev. 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 5 - Paul prays for an abounding love

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more…” - Philippians 1:9a  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:9-11 and 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 The Philippians had a real love for the apostle Paul. This was seen in their selfless giving to his ministry, even when others could not or would not support him (4:14-16). As we know true, biblical love is a “fruit of the Spirit”. It is something that is to mark our lives and to be lived out daily. And so, for Paul, it was his earnest desire that their love would not be idle, or only expressed occasionally, or to only a particular people, but that their love would “abound still more and more…” In other words, Paul desired that their “love” would overflow, that it would be ever-increasing, flowing into many lives and situations like a flowing river, rather than looking like a stagnant pool! The “love” Paul envisions is selfless and giving, a sacrificial love, the kind expressed by the Lord Jesus Christ, as seen in Philippians 2:5-8, where He took the form of a servant, and gave Himself, even to death on a cross for our sins! It is that kind of love that Paul desires these Christians to abound in! But that’s not always easy to do. We’re not always lovable. Sometimes we hurt each other, or we disagree on matters, or we suffer persecution. But this is why Paul prays for them, and why we must pray for each other. For only in that way will we be gracious and forgiving of one another and able to serve the Lord together! Suggestions for prayer Let us be thankful for each other. And because we care for one another, let us pray for this kind of abounding, sacrificial love to be seen in our lives for the blessing of the church, for our witness and the glory of God! Rev. 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 4 - God faithfully completes his good work

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” - Philippians 1:6  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:3-6 and 2 Timothy 1:8-12 Paul took great joy in the spiritual children the Lord had given him. He prayed for them often and always thanked God for them (vv.3-4). He especially appreciated their participation in the spread of the gospel(v.5). And he was greatly assured of the fact that the work God began in them He would finish! For if God has given you a new birth by the Holy Spirit, if He has created faith in your heart, if He has been sanctifying you and conforming you to His image, then those things shall NEVER be left undone! Rather, He has declared something different, something marvellous to our ears and for the comfort of our souls, namely, “I will complete that good work in you until the day of Christ.” Notice here the future tense of the verb: I will complete! That’s God’s sure pledge to you, His unwavering promise! In fact, His work will only come to an end on a certain day. That is, “the day of Jesus Christ”, the day of His glorious return! Yes, until that very day we shall be preserved in our salvation! And so, to that glorious Day may you fix your faith and rest your hope. For the fullness of redemption that comes in Jesus will be ours in the resurrection of our bodies and in the blessing of life everlasting. For God WILL bring to completion the good work He has begun! Suggestions for prayer Let us offer a prayer of thanks to God for His gracious working in our lives. For apart from our deserving, He has saved us in Christ, and through His Word and Spirit, He is sanctifying us and will bring to completion that good work! Rev. 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 3 - Paul’s greeting to the church

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” - Philippians 1:2  Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-10 and Philippians 4:6-7 When Paul says, “Grace to you and peace”, he’s not expressing some wish that God might be gracious to His people and bestow His blessing on them. No! This is a sure declaration by Christ’s authorised servant, sending them grace and peace. This is a gracious bestowal of God upon His covenant people. For if God doesn’t send us His grace, and if that grace doesn’t produce peace in our hearts, how can we then live as faithful servants? How can we live holy lives as His saints? (v.1). But what is this “grace” and “peace”? Well, “grace” is the unmerited favour of God to sinners for salvation in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). But this grace is also experienced in our sanctification, where we die to the old life and grow in the new life. Through grace, we are saved and sanctified! Thus, from God’s saving grace comes our “peace”! Peace is the fruit of grace. This is seen so marvellously in our being reconciled to God. We are no longer His enemies, but now children and heirs! (Romans 8:17). Such gifts Paul says come to us from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. Yes, how blessed we are and how encouraged we should be in living for God as we ponder His rich gifts! For as we continue to trust in Him, He will send us “grace” for daily living and fill us with His “peace” which will guard our hearts and minds. Suggestions for prayer Let us pray daily for God’s sustaining grace in our lives, trusting that He will impart to us all that we need. Let us rest in the finished work of Christ that gives true spiritual peace to our restless and needy souls. Rev. 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 2 - Paul’s specific audience - saints!

“To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi…” - Philippians 1:1b  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:1-3 and 1 Peter 2:9-10 We might think this opening address is just a formality. But is it? Notice what Paul says, “to all the saints…” Now, “saints”, is a designation for Christians and it was first used that way in Acts 9:13 during Saul’s persecution of the church. To be a “saint” doesn’t mean the Roman Catholic Church has granted you sainthood, rather, it means that you are “set apart” or “consecrated” to God. We see this language used by the Priests, Levites, and by Israel in the Old Testament. God set them apart for His service and glory! And so, it is for the church of today! We too are “set apart” to God and are members of His covenant. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are made “holy” in God’s sight. You see, holiness is not the result of our morality or good works. No, it’s only by the grace and mercy of God! As the apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 2, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people…who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” What grace and mercy God has bestowed on us! For in Christ, we are holy and now able to live as thankful servants! May our worship today reflect the joy and gratitude of our hearts as we meet with our holy God! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to enable you to live a holy and godly life, so that your walk and talk as a Christian would be consistent. Pray that the Lord would bless your worship as you come to God’s House today and that He would be glorified. Rev. 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 1 - Introduction to Paul

Acts 16 relates to us the work of the apostle Paul in the founding of the church in Philippi. It began with the Lord’s direction to the apostle to not preach the word in Asia, but to go to Macedonia. Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!”(v.9). Immediately, Paul went and began the gospel ministry in Europe. In Acts 16, we read of Paul’s first visit to Philippi and the response of Lydia, the seller of purple from Thyatira, and of the conversion of the Philippian jailer. But we also read of the persecution that Paul and Silas endured, including their imprisonment and release. And though this is the extent of what we read of Paul’s ministry in Philippi, there was more to it. Both Timothy and Luke spent much time there carrying on the work after Paul left, and as well, he returned to the church, as alluded to in Acts 20. Paul had a great investment in these saints and they, in turn, showed their love to him by providing for his needs on various occasions, such as when he went to Thessalonica (4:16) and later when he departed Athens for Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:9). Now that he’s imprisoned in Rome, they again show their generosity, and that, in part, is why Paul is writing this letter to the Philippians, to thank them for their support! Truly, this is a letter of love, joy, hope and encouragement for his dear friends! And may it be so for us as we spend time looking at it this month in our devotions. (All Scripture references this month are from the NKJV) The author’s self-designation “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ.” - Philippians 1:1a  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:1-2 and Romans 1:1-7 This opening line begins with what we would call a common form of address in letters of Paul’s day. That’s why many New Testament letters begin in this fashion. Normally what Paul does is refer to himself as an “apostle” when he begins his letters. But, as you see, he does not do that here. In fact, he refers to himself as a “bondservant”. But why? Well, it has to do with his relationship to the church in Philippi. He is writing to friends and fellow servants in the gospel and doesn’t need to remind them of his authority as an apostle. But even more, it’s to stress the nature of his calling, that he is a “bondservant”, or also translated, a “slave”, that is a slave of Christ! For Paul belongs to his Lord Jesus Christ! Because Christ bought and paid for him by His precious blood, Paul is now a thankful servant who is willing to give himself fully in the service of his Master (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Is that your desire, to live as a faithful “bondservant” of Christ? Ponder the depth of His grace to you in your redemption and then joyfully take up your calling in service to your Lord. To be sure, following Christ is not easy, but how wonderful are the rewards. May the truth of who we are in Christ, spur us on to a life of joy, good works and thankful service regardless of our circumstances! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to create in you a servant-heart. Pray that you would grow in your devotion to Christ, being willing to serve whenever He calls and to go wherever He may direct you! Rev. 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

September 30 - Salvation belongs to our God

“Salvation belongs to the LORD!” - Jonah 2:9  Scripture reading: Jonah 2:9 We have come to the end of our study of Jonah, and in so doing, we focus on this line quoted by Jonah in the belly of the fish: Salvation belongs to the Lord! This line provides not only a summary of the book of Jonah but also of the entire Bible. Salvation is not possible in any other way than by the power and purposes of the Lord. God is sovereign in saving sinners. While in the belly of the fish, Jonah expressed his gratefulness for undeserved rescue. But Jonah has trouble believing in his own confession, as he later is angry when Nineveh repents. Jonah is not God: Jonah cannot decide whom the Lord should save or not. Salvation is the Lord’s to offer. He offered it to Jonah, and He is free to offer it to Nineveh. Jonah needed a Savior to save him from his sin. He gets himself in trouble repeatedly, and only the Lord can save him from this trouble. And through this prophecy of Jonah, God was telling his people that he had a plan for their salvation. A Savior was coming! Jesus is coming! And He, too, would die and be put in the grave, like Jonah. And like Jonah, he too would be raised to new life on the third day. But unlike Jonah, He would suffer and die willingly because of His love for lost people. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His salvation and rest in the knowledge that salvation belongs to the Lord. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

September 29 - A lesson on compassion

“And should I not pity Nineveh…?” - Jonah 4:11  Scripture reading: Jonah 4:5-11 One of the main points of the book of Jonah is that God demonstrates love in hard places. Nineveh was a hard place for Jonah — that’s why Jonah resisted going and was angry when they repented. But Jonah’s own heart is revealed through his words and actions. He’s not too loveable or likeable either. We see ourselves in Jonah: our hearts are hard places, therefore we need God to have compassion on us. Compassion means “to suffer with” or “to suffer into.” Compassion means to enter into another person’s world of hurt and do something about it. This is love in action. This gets to the heart of the gospel. God felt compassion for sinners in their lost estate and did something about it. The Father sent Jesus from heaven, and Jesus entered our broken world to suffer and die to save His people. As we survey the emotional life of Jesus, Jesus’ compassion is the strongest emotion represented in the gospels. We repeatedly read that Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw the hurting and helpless, the outcasts and the marginalized, the lost and the lonely. See for example Mark 1:41, Luke 7:13, Matt. 20:34, & Matt. 9:36. Jesus is the revelation of the heart of God, this heart of compassion. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His compassion, as demonstrated most clearly in Christ. Pray that you would grow in a heart of compassion for others. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

September 26 - The questioning of the Lord (Part 1)

“And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” - Jonah 4:11  Scripture reading: Jonah 4:9-11 In this section, the Lord asks Jonah a series of questions. He uses these questions to counsel His angry prophet. To paraphrase, the questioning goes something like this: Jonah, you had pity on this plant. You had this extreme care, concern and compassion for it. You were happy and delighted in the plant. But Jonah, you didn’t do anything to get it. You didn’t make the plant grow. It just came up overnight and then it died overnight. It was nice to have when you had it, but you didn’t do anything to deserve it. Okay Jonah, let’s say this emotion that you have for this plant is legitimate. No problem that you were happy about the plant and cared for it – that makes sense. Shouldn’t I be able to have that same emotion and concern for something a bit more significant? Nineveh is a city full of human beings who are spiritually unaware (they cannot tell their right hand from their left). All these people are made in my image. They are in deep trouble, and they cannot save themselves. No, they are not innocent. They are sinners and are living with the consequences of their sinful actions. But they can’t get themselves out by themselves. They’re helpless and trapped. There are cattle too. You cared for a plant, Jonah. Am I not allowed to be concerned for cattle, and even more so, for the people of that city? Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give you this heart of God - this pity, concern and compassion for lost people. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

September 28 - Justice and mercy

“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” - 2 Corinthians 5:21 Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 The Lord relented from the disaster He had planned for Nineveh. It is not that He ignored justice. God cannot violate His justice. There would still be a day when justice would be served. But at the same time when justice was served, mercy would be given. Justice and mercy meet at the cross. Justice was served by God’s own Son. He paid the full punishment. Instead of punishing sinful, selfish humans, the Father put his righteous anger on his Son, and His Son was willing and able to pay for our sins. He became sin on our behalf, so that we might become “the righteousness of God.” As commentator Jacques Ellul describes, “The just and perfectly holy God condemns, and can do no other, but when a man repents…God suffers for having condemned him. He takes upon himself the evil which was the wages of man’s sin.” The Ninevites were wicked. But we are not better than them. Jonah had to learn that. The same grace that saved the Ninevites is the same grace that saved Jonah and saves us when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you put your trust in Him? Put your faith and hope in Christ! Suggestions for prayer Thank God for His offer of salvation through Christ. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

September 27 - The questioning of the Lord (Part 2)

“And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” - Jonah 4:11  Scripture reading: Romans 3:23-26 What makes Jonah so angry is that God is not just showing mercy to any old city, but that He is gracious to Israel’s enemies. It is recorded in history that Assyria treated Israel horribly. No empire was as cruel and evil toward Israel as Assyria was. “God,” Jonah is saying, “You are not just sparing any empire. You are sparing an evil empire bent on destroying your people.” God is a God of justice who hates evil. So how can He let these evil and violent people off the hook just because they repent? Does God then not care about evil? We have the privilege of seeing history from this side of the cross. God’s justice indeed demands that every single sin is paid for. As we read in Romans 3, in his divine forbearance, God passed over former sins, to show his righteousness so that “he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (v.26). All sins do get punished. No sin will be overlooked by God, whether big or small. But either the sins have been paid for by the Lord Jesus on the cross, or they will be paid for by ourselves in hell. God does not violate his justice. But on that day of Judgment, mercy will be given to those who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus. Praise God! Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that He is both perfectly just and merciful and that He has provided a way of salvation through His Son. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

September 25 - The gift of the prophet

“When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”” - Jonah 4:8 Scripture reading: Jonah 4:5-9 The Lord is not done with Jonah yet. The Lord is still appointing, providing and directing. Now He appoints a worm to eat the vine so that it dies. He also appoints a scorching east wind. This was most likely a sirocco wind, which is more common in the Middle East, typically coming from the desert and reaching speeds of up to 100 km an hour. The combination of sun and wind causes Jonah to physically overheat. He also overheats with anger. He exclaims that he would rather die than keep on living. Jonah’s emotions run deep. His blood is boiling. Anger has been defined as a person’s negative whole-body reaction that arises when he/she has made a moral judgement against a perceived wrong. This, in Jonah’s eyes, is morally wrong. It’s not right. He is very angry. The Lord is working here. The worm, the shrivelling of the plant, the scorching east wind…The Lord is going to use it all as a real-life illustration for Jonah. As we’ll discuss more later on, the Lord will use this moment to counsel His angry prophet by asking him a series of questions. The Lord often teaches us lessons about himself or the condition of our own hearts. These lessons regularly come in ‘living illustration’ ways that we would not have chosen ourselves. He does this in his wisdom and love, to help us grow and draw near. Suggestions for prayer Is the Lord giving you a “living illustration” in your life to reveal your sin? If so, ask the Lord to give you the eyes of faith to see it. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

September 24 - The gift of the vine

“Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort.” - Jonah 4:6  Scripture reading: John 4:4-6 In this next section of the book, we read that Jonah goes out, sits down at a place east of the city, makes himself a shelter, sits in its shade and waits to see what will happen to the city. Then the Lord does something very kind for Jonah. He appoints a vine and makes it grow up over Jonah so that it provides shade for him. The word ‘appoints’ is used throughout this book, repeatedly demonstrating how the Lord uses His creation to accomplish His purposes. The Lord God appointing this plant is a miracle. The plant shoots up overnight, likely a big-leafed fleshy-type plant, such as a castor oil plant, a shrub that grows to 12 feet high. Jonah was delighted and very happy with the vine. It was giving him comfort and shade from the hot sun. But did Jonah do anything for the provision of this plant? Did he work for it or earn it? Did the Lord say: “Okay, Jonah, great job and good work out there in Nineveh. Here’s a little prize for all your effort”? No, not at all. Jonah is very flawed. He is arrogant, pouty, and impatient. This vine was a gift. It was grace. It was an unmerited favour. And through this vine, the Lord is preaching grace to an ungracious Jonah. The vine was a demonstration of God’s love, patience and compassion on Jonah, despite his arrogance and sin. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for his kindness to us despite our arrogance and sin. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

September 23 - A revelation of the heart

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” - Luke 6:45 Scripture reading: Jonah 3:10-4:4 Why is Jonah so angry? Jonah has just been used by the Lord to ignite one of the greatest spiritual awakenings in history. Humanly speaking, he’s been an extremely successful evangelist: an entire city has heeded the Word of the Lord and repented. But he is angry. It is like a salesman who makes the biggest billion-dollar deal, going home to his wife very upset and complaining, “Too bad, they bought it.” Jonah’s reaction reveals his heart. He does not want God’s grace extended to his own enemies. Remember, the Ninevites have caused a lot of hurt and damage to the Israelites. Perhaps even some of Jonah’s own relatives were killed or captured by them. Jonah’s reaction – while understandable – reveals that he must learn more about God’s super-abundant, extraordinary grace. As we will learn in the following days, our patient God is gracious towards His prophet and will teach him a lesson on compassion. For us too, our reactions reflect what is going on in our hearts. When we see someone else’s success, are we happy for them? When we are single or in a difficult marriage and see another couple thrive together, do we get jealous? When someone ‘unlike us’ comes to faith, do we rejoice with them? Let your reactions to other people’s successes and failures be a signal to you about the state of your own heart. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to reveal the areas of your heart and life where you need to grow in grace and holiness. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional, Uncategorised

September 22 - I knew that you are a gracious God

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

Daily devotional

September 21 - A relenting and responsive God

“…If that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.” - Jeremiah 18:8  Scripture reading: Jeremiah 18:4-11, Jonah 3:10 When the Lord God saw what the Ninevites did and how they turned from their evil way, He relented from the disaster he had planned (Jonah 3:10). This part of the narrative is an example of God’s sovereignty needing to be held in tension with man’s responsibility. Did God just change his mind because of the Ninevites’ repentance? Believing in the sovereignty of God means that salvation is all the work of God (see Jonah 2:9). Yet there is also man’s responsibility to respond to the command to repent. In Jeremiah 18, the Lord explains how He will relent from the disaster He had planned against a nation if they will repent. He also warns that He will relent from the good that He had intended if a nation stops listening to His voice. In addition to relenting, this narrative shows how God is a responsive God as well as a God of compassion. He responds to our actions, to our repentance, and to our prayers. He isn’t obliged to, but He does because He is a God who keeps his covenant promises. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to help you trust in his sovereignty. Sing “I sought the Lord and afterward I knew.” Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

September 20 - Roadblocks to repentance

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness”” - Hebrews 3:7-8 Scripture reading: Hebrews 3:7-8, Jonah 3:5-10 True repentance is a heart-level change that involves the whole person. However, as Ian Duguid describes in his study guide Jonah: Grace for Sinners and Saints, there can be real roadblocks to repentance. What are some repentance roadblocks? We might not want to change. The sin feels too good, or it seems like repentance will take the fun out of life. So we think we can put off repentance until a later time. But imagine if the Ninevites had thought that. “Thanks Jonah, but we’ll deal with this next year, after we’ve conquered a few more nations.” That would have been too late! We can also make light of sin, not becoming truly convicted. We might also be fearful because we have little hope in God, or because it means admitting to God and others that we are sinful and broken. We may also fail to pray, not trusting God’s work in our hearts to bring us to repentance. Lastly, we may try to rely on our own willpower instead of looking to the Lord Jesus Christ for aid. Let the Gospel motivate you to repent. Your guilt is washed away. You are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. You are loved by the Father. He gives new beginnings. There is a good future for you! Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to remove roadblocks to repentance that might be evident in your life. Ask Him to open the eyes of your heart, and to have you experience his love and forgiveness. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

September 19 - A lesson on repentance

“But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”” - 2 Timothy 2: 19  Scripture reading: 2 Timothy 2:15-19 When explaining what repentance is, we can summarize it as turning, turning around. It means getting off the wrong road and turning on the right road. There are four things that make repentance true and genuine. Repentance involves 1) conviction of sin, 2) sorrow for sin, 3) change in behaviour, and 4) hope in God. Being convicted of your sin means that you realize that what you’ve been doing is not right and that it is evil in the sight of God. To be sorrowful means that you feel badly for having sinned. In ancient times, this sorrow was expressed through fasting and wearing sackcloth (very itchy and scratchy dark-coloured material made from goat or camel hair, used to make grain sacks). The king of Nineveh ordered a fast and wearing sackcloth for all the citizens to show their sorrow for sin. Thirdly, the change in behaviour means a change of course in your ways. For the Ninevites, it meant turning from their evil and violent ways and calling out mightily to God (Jonah 3:8). Lastly, repentance also involves hope in God. The Ninevite king said, “Who knows? God may turn and relent from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish” (Jonah 3:9). Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that we do know that God is willing to turn and relent from his fierce anger, as He has demonstrated this to us at the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ! Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

September 18 - The power of God’s word

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” - Isaiah 55:11  Scripture reading: Isaiah 55:6-11, Jonah 3:4-5  You may sometimes have the feeling that the preaching of God’s Word is not powerful or effective. Sometimes, it seems like there is no response in the hearers, either good or bad. When God sends Jonah to Nineveh, he is giving the Ninevites grace by sending them a warning. It’s not a very long or detailed message. Jonah doesn’t hand out theology textbooks or set up a four-week Bible study. The message is simple and clear – it is a message of judgment. And yet, this Word from the Lord is enough to cause a fire of repentance throughout the city. That’s the thing with God’s Word: something always happens. When God speaks, something always happens. To our human eyes, it may not be obvious immediately. But it is a guarantee: God’s Word always succeeds in its purposes. As it’s been said, the same sun that melts wax also hardens clay. God’s Word will either soften hearts or harden hearts – but it will not be ineffectual. In the case of the Ninevites, the result of hearing God’s Word is immediate -- they repent. They believed God, called for a fast and from the greatest to the least of them put on sackcloth (Jonah 3:5). This is a gift and grace of repentance. The Lord is doing this work. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord that his Word always accomplishes its purposes. Ask Him to help you see the power of his Word in action. Pray that his Word may lead to a response of faith for the hearers. Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

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