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Daily devotional, Uncategorised

September 13 - The mercy of the pagans

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

Daily devotional, Uncategorised

September 12 - Jonah’s testimony

“I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” - Jonah 1:9  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:7-11 The sailors believe that the storm represents divine punishment. Someone on the ship has done something to offend a god. Casting lots will let them know who this person is. "And the lot fell on Jonah." As soon as he is singled out as the culprit, the crew wanted to know the whys and wherefores of this mysterious and troublesome passenger. Jonah gets peppered with questions, rapid-fire. "Tell us now! On whose account has this evil come upon us? What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?" Jonah answers the last question first. He states that his nationality is Hebrew. But then he elaborates. Literally, verse 9 reads: "and the Lord, the God of the heavens, I fear, who made the sea and dry land." Jonah uses the covenantal name for God: Yahweh. He defines and describes his God. His God is the sovereign Lord of everything, the one who created the sea and dry land. Jonah's God is in control of the storm of the sea. He assures the sailors of that. That only makes the sailors more terrified. They ask: “What is this that you have done!” Are you crazy? You ran away from a God who can do this? Jonah’s God is the supreme and sovereign Lord, the Creator of land and sea. This God is pursuing Jonah in His power and love. Suggestions for prayer Praise the Lord for His sovereign power and control and that He uses this power for the good of his children. 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 11 - What do you mean, you sleeper?

“What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us that we may not perish.” - Jonah 1:6 Scripture reading: Jonah 1:4-7 But where is Jonah in all of this? He's fast asleep. He found some corner at the bottom of the boat where no one could disturb him and fell fast asleep. The frenzy and fear of the sailors contrast with Jonah's slumbering state. God has sent the storm to arrest Jonah, and the storm is God's tool to bring Jonah to his senses. The pagan mariners do not know all this — they think they will go down with the storm. Eventually, the ship's captain finds the sleeping prophet and wakes him up: "What do you mean, you sleeper?" In other words: Are you for real? How can you sleep during a storm like this? The captain continues: “Arise, call on your God, perhaps your God will take notice of us, and we will not perish.” The captain knew they had not "tapped" or “dialled” the right god yet with their prayers, so it was essential that they “tap” and “dial” every possibility. If they "dial" the proper deity, sooner or later, he might have mercy on them and stop the storm. Perhaps Jonah's God was the one behind the storm. The religions of these sailors are false, and therefore their prayers do nothing. Notice, though, that they are more committed to their gods than Jonah is to his God! At least they were praying! Jonah doesn’t pray to his God. Suggestions for prayer Pray for people in your life who may be putting their trust in idols and false gods. Pray that they may turn in faith to the Living God. 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 10 - The finger of God

“But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea so that the ship threatened to break up.” - Jonah 1:4  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:4-6 The Lord responds to Jonah's defiance. Although Jonah had sought to run away from the omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (all-present) and omnipotent (all-powerful) God, the Lord will conduct all the elements of the cosmos against this prophet. Jonah can run, but he can't hide. The use of the word "hurled" here in verse 4 in the original Hebrew is striking. The image is of God hurling a great wind on the sea like a man hurling a javelin with great force. Like a javelin thrower, the Lord hurls the storm on the sea. The storm is so severe that it threatens to break the ship, or as the Hebrew imagery implies, the boat “herself threatened to break apart.” The ship itself became a “nervous wreck.” These waves are so high, the wind is so mighty, and the storm's scream is so loud that the boat itself becomes a nervous wreck and is about to fall apart. No one - the sea, the ship, the sailors, or the runaway prophet can escape the presence of God. There are times when you flee from the presence of God. Can you look back on your life and recall what “storms” God has “hurled” your way so that you would repent and turn back to Him? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for how He pursues His people in His covenantal love. 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 9 - Jesus, the prophet better than Jonah

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” - Romans 5:10 Scripture reading: Jonah 1:3 Jonah is the prophet living in relative comfort and security in Israel. The Lord commands him to leave his comfortable and secure place and do a difficult thing. He must go to Nineveh, the mortal enemies of his people, and preach a word of warning. Jonah resisted: “No, I won’t go.” Jonah, the prophet, ran away from the message because he did not want his enemies to repent. But this is the gospel: that a better Jonah would come in the fullness of time, the better and perfect prophet – Jesus Christ. And where was Jesus before He came to earth? He was in heaven. This, too, was a very comfortable and secure place. He is with His Father in all the glory of heaven. But the Father sends His Son to leave the comfort and the glory of heaven to come to this earth's pollution, perversion, and pain. On earth, He will be utterly rejected, leading a life that will lead to torture, crucifixion, and death. He will become an atoning sacrifice for people who are facing eternal judgement. To this mission, Jesus said: “Yes, I will go.” Jesus, the perfect prophet, perfectly obeyed the will of God. Jesus willingly absorbed judgement upon himself because He wanted His enemies to repent, be saved, and escape this terrible judgement. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord today that a better prophet than Jonah has come. 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 8 - Running from God

“But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” - Jonah 1:3  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:3-6 We might scoff at Jonah for thinking he can run away from the Lord, but we are no better than Jonah. You don’t need to be below deck on a ship, on the sea to be running away from the Lord. Running from God is something we do all the time! God gives us a direct, can’t-be-confused, clear as crystal command, and we run in the diametrically opposite direction! We find all kinds of invisible ways, refined ways, and private ways when we flee from the presence of God. We are all runaway prophets because of our sin. As one pastor has astutely said: “It’s not the parts of Scripture that we find difficult to understand that are the really difficult parts of Scripture. It’s the parts of Scripture that none of us could conceivably misunderstand that are the really difficult parts.” God commands us to not commit adultery and to pursue purity, but we flirt with this sin when we allow ourselves to see images we should not see. God commands us to not bear false testimony against our neighbour, but we gossip about others thinking we have the liberty to do so. God commands us to honour those in authority over us, but we openly grumble about these authorities and find ways to disobey them. What are some other parts of Scripture that are clear to understand from which we run away? Suggestions for prayer Ask that the Lord might work powerfully with His Spirit so that we will be eager and able to obey His clear commandments. 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 7 - Why did Jonah run?

“This is why I made haste to flee for Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful…” - Jonah 4:2 Scripture reading: Jonah 4:2 Jonah is called to go where he doesn’t want to go, to do what he doesn’t want to do and to say what he does not want to say. Why did Jonah run away from the Lord? It’s not because he did not get the message straight or that the command was unclear or confusing. The command was clear. Was he afraid? Probably. As we said before, the Assyrians had a terrifying reputation. Was it a novel mission? Sure. It was an unusual thing for an Israelite prophet to be sent to a heathen nation: this is uncharted prophetic territory. Jonah confesses his real and ultimate reason for his running away in Jonah 4:2. He says: “This is why I made haste to flee for 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 does not want to go because he does not want Nineveh to be saved! Jonah knows that if he goes to Assyria, preaches his message and they do repent, God will possibly relent and have mercy on them. The real problem is that God might bring these people to repentance! The issue Jonah has is with the character of God himself. Jonah knows the Lord loves to show mercy and grace but he does not want that for his enemy. Jonah does not have a category for extraordinary, super-abundant grace. Rather than celebrating grace, he grumbles at grace. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we might always rejoice when someone repents. 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 6 - Anywhere but Nineveh!

“But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” - Jonah 1:3 Scripture Reading: Jonah 1:3-4 Jonah hears the command of the Lord and what does he do? He goes in the direct opposite direction of where he was told to go! He’s a runaway prophet, and he’s serious about running away. He’s not like a kid who says to his parents that he’s going to run away from home and then only gets to the neighbour’s driveway. No, Jonah goes as far as he can: he’s gone, and he’s gone for good. He’s told to go eastward (toward modern-day Iraq) and he goes westward (modern-day Spain). Jonah goes up to the ticket booth, and says, “One ticket to NOT Nineveh, please!” Anywhere but Nineveh! Jonah is determined to run away. Riding a ship was an unusual thing to do for a Hebrew because the Hebrews were not seafaring people. Plus, the Philistines had control over the coastal waters at this time. This was a very dangerous voyage. One pastor has said: “If you start running from the Lord, the devil will always have a boat for you. And you’ll always have money to pay the way.” Jonah is intent on running away from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord pursues Jonah. The Lord won’t let Jonah run away completely. This is God’s grace toward Jonah. Suggestions for prayer Pray for those who might be running away from the Lord for whatever reason. May they know that they can’t escape the Lord’s presence. 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 5 - A storm warning

“for their evil has come up before me.” - Jonah 1:2c  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:1-3 The sense here: “Their evil has come up against me” implies that their wickedness has become so extreme that God could not take it anymore. The temperature of His wrath has hit a melting point. So, God decides to do something about it. The Lord tells Jonah to go and preach against it, to warn her of impending judgment. Jonah is to be a “storm warning” to Nineveh. Warnings are a blessing. The right warning at the right time can be a lifesaver. If you are driving your car and fail to see the car backing up in front of you, the “LOOK OUT” from your spouse or child can prevent an accident. We are thankful when we are warned of a serious “storm warning” when a storm approaches so we can get prepared and find safety. If we act on the warning, lives can be saved. Jonah is called to be a warning system to the Ninevites. A great storm of God’s wrath is about to come upon them. God’s judgment is warranted – the Ninevites are wicked people. God’s judgment is terrible – He threatens to destroy them. But God’s judgment is also escapable -- they may escape judgment if they repent. The fact that the Lord gives Nineveh a “storm warning” in the command to Jonah is a demonstration of the Lord’s patience and kindness. But Jonah’s sin in this story is that he doesn’t want to be this storm warning and fails to understand the extent of God’s mercy. Suggestions for prayer Pray for the opportunity to be “a storm warning” to someone who does not know 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 4 - A surprising command

“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” - Jonah 1:2  Scripture reading: Jonah 1:1-3 The Lord gives Jonah a surprising command. The Lord tells Jonah to leave his preaching post in his homeland of Israel, go to the influential, great city of Nineveh, and preach against it. He must give the Ninevites a warning that if they do not repent from their wickedness, God will judge them for their wickedness. The audience of Jonah’s message is surprising: Nineveh? Nineveh? The Lord cares about Nineveh? Nineveh was one of the greatest cities in the ancient world, located approximately six hundred miles northeast of Israel of what is now northern Iraq. It was the capital city of the Assyrian empire. But note this: Assyria had been and would become a terrifying superpower. They were the most brutal, oppressive and terrifying people in the ancient world. Their powerful army was manically arrogant and ruthlessly violent. The battle and torture tactics of the Assyrian army would instill unbelievable fear in their enemies. The prophet Nahum who prophesied against Nineveh approximately 100 years after Jonah depicted Nineveh as the embodiment and epitome of evil. Does the Lord care for Nineveh? We can appreciate why Jonah is startled by the command to go to Nineveh. But does this excuse Jonah to disobey the Lord? Suggestions for prayer Pray that we would be faithful in obeying the Lord in all his commands, especially the commands that are hard to obey. 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 3 - A special calling

“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah, son of Amittai.” - Jonah 1:1 Scripture Reading: Jonah 1:1-3 God’s word – His command, His will – came to Jonah. This underscores the incredible privileges that Jonah had. He was “the mouthpiece of God” (see Amos 3:7) and therefore was privileged beyond ordinary believers. Prophets had a nearness to God’s will and a special relationship with the Lord as they were the Lord’s instruments to make His will known to the people. With these privileges came enormous responsibility. The prophet had to get it right. He had to speak it just as God spoke it – whether he liked what God had to say or not, whether the recipients would like it or not. In the Old Testament, the revelation of God was reserved just for prophets. But because of the coming of Christ, we have the Holy Spirit who reveals God’s word to us. We all have access to God’s will equally. We have the entire Bible. What the Old Testament saints saw in types and shadows, we see in full reality and light! Our privileges, likewise, come with great responsibility. Lord’s Day 12 of the Heidelberg Catechism states that we, as Christians, are called to confess Christ’s name. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would give you the opportunity to reveal God’s word to someone today and that you would have courage and love as you seek to fulfill the prophetic role the Lord gives to you. 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 2 - A book of warning

“And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”” - Jonah 4:4  Scripture reading: Jonah 4:1-4 The book of Jonah is a book of encouragement and comfort, but it is also a book of warning. The story of Jonah was a warning to the whole nation of Israel during the time in which it was written, and it continues to be a warning to us today. In a sense, Jonah the prophet is representative of the nation of Israel, the covenant people of God. Although Jonah is an Israelite, a member of God’s covenant people, and a recipient of God’s compassion and patience, we notice repeatedly how flawed he is as a person. He is a sinner, and he sins badly throughout this story. Jonah is not the hero of this story. As Jonah is a representative of the covenant people of God, we witness the worst tendencies that tend to form inside God’s covenant people. The events of Jonah’s life are representative of what happened and what happens to God’s people. Those sins can be pride, hard-heartedness, judgmentalism, tribalism, small-mindedness, and the inability to change and grow and be amazed by God’s amazing grace. We need to see ourselves in Jonah, and like him, we must learn the wonder of God’s patience toward us and others and the beauty of the grace of repentance. Suggestions for prayer Pray that through the story of Jonah the Lord would reveal to you your own sin. Are you proud, judgemental, small-minded, and lacking amazement of God’s grace? Pray that the Lord would work repentance in your heart. 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 1 - Introduction to Jonah

We will be looking at Jonah, the likely author of this book, who is a minor prophet, living in the eighth century B.C. during the reign of Jeroboam II who ruled the northern kingdom from 782 to 753 BC (see II Kings 14:23-28). During this era of Israel’s history, the nation was doing well materially, enjoying peace and prosperity, but was not doing well spiritually. The tragic thing about this epoch in Israel’s history is that although the Lord had been good to Israel and had lavished a super-abundance of blessing upon the nation, their expression of gratitude was missing. They had forgotten the Lord’s grace. 2 Kings 14 states that Jeroboam II did evil in the sight of the Lord. The warning of Deuteronomy 6:10-14 hadn’t been remembered and heeded. When they would reach the promised land, get settled, and eventually become prosperous, they would be prone to forget all the blessings and gifts from the Lord. This forgetfulness would show itself in disobedience to the Lord. The book of Jonah is a word of warning to God’s covenant people about the danger of taking God’s grace and favour for granted and failing to live in obedience and thankfulness to Him. Despite this, the Lord still blessed the nation, demonstrating his mercy in this period of prosperity and peace. He was giving Israel time to repent, to turn from their wickedness and turn back to the Lord. Surprisingly Jonah doesn’t hide his failures in this story but puts his sins on full display for all to see. After living through all these events, Jonah became transformed by God’s grace. Eventually, he understood God's superabundant, extravagant, and indelible grace more fully, personally, experientially, and wonderfully and wanted the world to know and love this Gracious God The runaway prophet “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”” - Jonah 1:1-2 “And should not I 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 1:1-2, 4:11 Who is the story of Jonah about? Who is the leading actor in the book of Jonah? Who sets the stage, dominates the scenes and directs the events? Our first impulse might be to say “Jonah,” for indeed, the title of the book is attributed to his name. The events of this story are focused on the life and times of this prophet from Israel. If you ask a roomful of children about the main character in Jonah, they might exclaim, “the fish!” Undoubtedly, the fish makes the story memorable, and it’s a “whale of a tale”, but the fish is a mere puppet in the hands of the puppeteer. What is the Lord doing in the book of Jonah? What is God saying? The first opening lines direct us to that question, as God has the first word (1-2) and the last word in this book (4:11). God is the one who is in sovereign control, and He is moving and orchestrating all these events. The first phrase in the book of Jonah “the word of the Lord came” is a common phrase used in the Old Testament to indicate that God is saying something important to his people. God has an important message for us in the book of Jonah. It teaches us about the sovereignty of God, His incredible love and the heart of God for lost people. Are we ready to hear and apply what the Lord says to us through Jonah? Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would receive the Word of the Lord in faith and belief. 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

August 31 - Still sacred

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” - 1 John 5:21  Scripture reading: Jude 17-25 What a strange ending to a letter? After the stirring climax of the previous verses, shouldn’t there have been a doxology of praise from John like we appreciate in Handel’s “Messiah,” and with which many of the other New Testament letters end? But, this? Yes, this! For what is happening here is a logical progression from the previous verses, tying it all up. The Son of God will keep His own, but that doesn’t take away from the responsibility we have. There was a very real danger. That’s been clear as we’ve gone through 1st John. But as to what is exactly meant by “idols” we don’t know. It seems the apostle had a particular danger in mind, perhaps it was the pagan idolatries that flooded Ephesus. But it could also be false pictures in their minds planted by false teachers. That’s a stumbling block which would continue to plague the early church. But the Lord speaks. “Little children” John writes, and he hasn’t used this expression for nearly two chapters. However, in ending his letter, he does it with the Lord’s tenderness and affection. Just as a mother tells her child to be careful, the Lord tells His children to watch for danger. He doesn’t want us to be hurt. How much isn’t this message for us also? What are those idols keeping you from truly worshipping and serving? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His promise to keep and bless us; ask Him to defeat what blocks us from His blessing. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 30 - Still secure

“…and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” - 1 John 5:20b  Scripture reading: 1 John 2:28-3:3 You might well be nervous and feel inadequate upon meeting what seems to be persuasive and sincere folk at your door. Just like, no doubt, the early Christians were with the Docetists of their time. Those people present themselves in such a nice way. Moreover, they very smoothly show how everything fits into their way. However, don’t forget Who Jesus Christ isn’t to them. What any serious study of Scripture will show is how much they take God’s Word the wrong way. Take, for example, the words of our text. We have that translation in the ESV, as you’ll find it in the NASB, the NIV, the KJV, and the NKJV, after years of careful, detailed and verified work, following the established grammatical rules. But the New World Translation, the Jehovah’s Witness version states: “And we are in union with the true one, by means of his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and life everlasting.” Notice what happened? Certainly no centrality of Christ; instead, He becomes merely a way to the Father, not the Way. Naturally this leads to a salvation that can be earned, it’s what you have to do because Christ hasn’t done it all. What a bottomless pit that can never be filled. What a life without peace, until by faith they meet the Prince of Peace. Suggestions for prayer Pray for those caught up in the cults and our interaction with them; may we be kind and gentle, but clear on Who Jesus is. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 29 - Still saved

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true…” - 1 John 5:20a  Scripture reading: 1 John 5:6-12 Psalm 150 is a stirring climax to the book of Psalms. The collection of songs from Psalm 146 to 150, which so vividly describes the Lord’s peoples’ response to God, is brought to a triumphant close. The divine organist is there busy increasing the crescendo. The tremendous finale is brought near. Truly this is a fortissimo – a majestic, imposing and grandeur filled conclusion. The stops have all been pulled out! In a similar way, John comes to his concluding words. It is such a point of victory that all else is immediately overshadowed, especially those heretics who had been so zealous. While the phrase “we know that the Son of God has come” confirms what the Spirit has already written here, it is yet leading into something more. Not only did He die nearly two thousand years ago for our sin and rise victorious over the forces of evil, He is also reigning now. While He is the Saviour, He is just as much the Lord! God placed everything under Him for Him to be head over everything for the Church. How phenomenal that is! Such amazing love – that we are still saved, and so “we are in Him Who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” Suggestions for prayer Thank God for sustaining and keeping us. Pray that more of His own will see His Son’s Lordship. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 28 - Still a child of God

“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” - 1 John 5:19  Scripture reading: 1 John 2:7-14 Yesterday, there was that wonderful affirmation of what we are in Christ. We have been “born of God”. Within the family of faith, we know who we are and where we’re going. But we live with many who aren’t spiritually related to us. John describes them: “…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” It’s a terrible position to be in, but for those in it, there’s no awareness of the horror. In total ignorance they’re happy in the arms of Satan. Haven’t we experienced something similar in our lives, as when there’s something we aren’t aware of, we remain blissfully ignorant of it? If we know about it, though, we have the obligation to change for the better. As Christians, we do know better, for we have been born of God. Like the young children we are, we are sticking to our parents, because there we know we’re safe. Yet the unbeliever is lost. This grim, dark and sad world is the limit of his hope. We must pray for the unbeliever. If we’re so grateful for God’s grace, don’t we want that for our neighbour also? This is the neighbour that sees us going to church today. But does he see us doing that in true obedience today? Are we trying to be good children? Suggestions for prayer Pray for Christians gathering in worship today. But also pray for their neighbours that they will see genuine faith shown in doing that today. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 27 - Yet, the sure promise 

“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” - 1 John 5:18  Scripture reading: 1 John 5:13-21 “When all is said and done…” is a phrase used when we conclude matters. What we introduce with such a phrase is the substance of what we are saying. In the same way, our text begins John’s summing up. That’s why he commences this by affirming that our new birth has a permanent effect. Nothing is temporary about our faith. The phrase “does not keep on sinning” might distract us into thinking there is some super standard of holiness. But the key word is translated as “keep on”. It’s not that we won’t sin, but that sin does not have an ongoing hold over us. Rather than being hooked to the world, we’re hooked into God. His grace is the ever-present feature of our lives, as our text goes on to say, “He who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” In Christ’s victory, we are victorious. How much don’t the words of Answer 1 in the Heidelberg Catechism profess this? There the Church declares: “…I am not my own but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.” What an assurance to begin the rounding off of a letter. Could we have it any better? Is there a higher calling – anywhere? Suggestions for prayer Praise God for his great love in sending His Son. Ask that we live every day proving what He has done. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 26 -They just took off!

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” - 1 John 2:19  Scripture reading: 1 John 2:18-27 In any kind of team sport, there needs to be a combined commitment. Imagine turning up to play for a sports team – and you’re the only one there! How much don’t you feel this just to be even one player short? We feel let down. Can you feel that same sadness with the first five words in our text above: “They went out from us…”? Because we treasure what we are in Christ, we’re deeply disappointed when folk just walk out. Don’t you then wonder: Was it something I said or did? When this happened in the early church John was quick to reassure. In this situation it wasn’t about us. You see, “They were not of us.” This teaches us a vital fact about the nature of the Church, for not all who worship the Lord with us on Sunday are necessarily part of the invisible church – those who truly believe. And then it’s just as well they are gone. They would not have been a positive, spiritual part of the congregation. However, we remain. God is faithful. He preserves us in His grace. As Hebrews 3:14 declares: “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” When numbers seem low, be all the more thankful for those who are there. Suggestions for prayer Ask for God’s comfort with the loss of those who’ve left the fellowship. Thank Him for genuine believers staying. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 25 - Has the time come?

“…and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.” - 1 John 2:18b  Scripture reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Have you ever been in a town or city centre and heard a street preacher? “The end is nigh!” he calls out, “Repent and believe, before it’s too late!” Dressed conservatively and using King James English, positioned on busy street corners or open park spaces, they can often become the butt of jokes and public derision. In one way, though, he is quite right. Despite their off-putting manner, their theology which can be quite unreformed, their warning is yet relevant. The end is actually very, very nigh! In fact, the end is closer than it has ever been before in human history. How much don’t the signs show this to be so? If it was so in John’s time with the presence of many antichrists, it is even more so now. You see, antichrists teach against Christ. They deny His work of atonement. While we might think this should be easy to notice, it is actually coming in the most subtle shift away from focussing on what God has done in His Son to what you can be in God. Is the “alone” in “Christ alone” dissipating? What the reformers saw in the false teaching of the church in their time hasn’t taken a holiday today. But have you? Do you know what time it is? Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for a spirit of discernment to test the spirits of the age. Thank God that His Word and His Spirit are always true. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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

August 24 - Where did the time go?

“Children, it is the last hour…” - 1 John 2:18a  Scripture reading: 2 Peter 3:10-15 Isn’t it true that one thing we always seem to be running out of is time? There is the last rush to catch the school bus, a homework assignment that should have been handed in yesterday and the job at work which needs overtime to get it done on schedule. Where did the time go? As the saying goes: ‘Time lost won’t be found again!” As we reflect on our text, this is so true. The early church very much lived with the urgency of so little time being left before the Lord’s return. Time was of the essence and they knew there wasn’t much of it left. How many times in the New Testament letters weren’t they exhorted to make their time count? Perhaps we know better now. After all, Christ hasn’t come back for two thousand years. Yet, can we, of all the ages of believers, afford to be lax? Isn’t the time we’re in right now so much closer to Christ’s second coming? Seriously! If it’s already been two thousand years, is there much longer to go? Let’s also see this personally. We might live, Lord willing, for eighty years, or perhaps longer. But that’s not long. The years quickly fly and don’t they get much harder the older you are? Time is running out. How are you getting ready to meet your Maker? Suggestion for prayer Praise God that He’s working out His plan for our future and plead that we claim every moment for Him. Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. 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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