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Daily devotional

August 19 - With our love we are loved

“No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” - 1 John 4:12  Scripture reading: 1 John 4:13-21 A great struggle for many Christians over the centuries has been in relation to the assurance of their faith. They wonder how they can know they are truly saved. In order to prove their faith, some have turned to doing extreme things. So extreme, they have made a mockery of the very faith for which they wanted assurance. We don’t need to do or feel anything extraordinary to “prove” our faith. The test for the genuineness of our faith is quite simple: “If we love one another, God abides in us…” This is something so simple, you might have to read it again. It says that in our everyday relationships, we have our faith confirmed. This is where “love” is so vital. The Greek word for this is ‘agape’ – a type of love beyond sexual attraction and even deeper than our best friendships. This is the love shown perfectly in the doing and dying of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we love each other in this selfless way in which He loves us, God is living in us. Note the end phrase: “…and His love is perfected in us.” God is working toward our perfection. He is doing it and sooner than we think, we’ll be spotless in God’s presence. Imagine that: In our lives right now, He’s preparing us for that great event! Suggestions for prayer Praise God for all He’s done and is doing in us. Thank Him it’s not up to us, we only have to rest in Christ’s finished work. 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 18 - Still shining?

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” - 1 John 4:11  Scripture reading: 1 John 4:7-12 We have touched upon what love is. We have seen that it begins first in seeing ourselves as sinners. We confess to our utter unworthiness. Before God, we have seen ourselves as the most wretched of all people. We have acknowledged that we should be punished by God. In His justice, He would be quite right to clearly convict us. Yet we’re saved! By faith we are freely justified through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. He sacrificed Himself for us. Nevertheless, being claimed by God also means some serious changes need to take place. The Good News cannot be held back, but must be categorically demonstrated in all its saving power. It must live up to its name. We love those next to us. Having been rescued from this world’s self-love, we seek to give as we’ve been given. You see, you don’t have the Gospel unless it’s being shown. Like the Lord’s picture of light in Matthew 5:15-16, we cannot hide it. Instead, it must be put on a stand so that all in the house may see. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to keep working on what needs to be changed in you. Thank God for what He has done in you and through you. 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 17 - May the real force be with you!

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” - 1 John 3:18  Scripture reading: 1 John 3:11-20 We are never on our own. This may seem an obvious enough statement. Of course, we’re never on our own! Even retreating to an uninhabited island means we have to be connected to someone. The apostle John recognizes this. He, however, doesn’t see relationships as something to put up with; rather he has a positive message for it. He says they are opportunities for love: Real love. Not something we might feel or say is good, but something deeper and meaningful. He ties it in with a foundation – “in truth” he describes it. What could that be but the truth of the Gospel? What Jesus Christ did in His sacrificial death is the only proper motivation. It’s only on that basis that there are “deeds”. Take a minister, for example, preaching a sermon on the eighth commandment. He preaches it with a fiery conviction. Yet, that same afternoon he casually takes an apple from his neighbour’s tree. All those pious words counted for nothing. Unless the motivation which generates our words also works a redeeming grace in our lives, we are spiritually useless. It’s this redeeming grace which makes all the difference in our relationships. It means what we say, is what we are. For our brother or sister, or neighbour, that’s what really counts. Then the Holy Spirit – the Real Force for good – is with us and in us. Suggestions for prayer Seek repentance for your acts of hypocrisy. Pray for genuine love to break through all our relationships. 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 16 - No limit!

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” - 1 John 2:2  Scripture reading: 1 John 5:1-5 The heresy of Docetism had many of the early Christians misled. Instead of that rich, nutritious feeding upon God’s Word, they had become caught up in seeking fulfilment through their own achievements. The wonderful, liberating news about the Son of God becoming man had been deliberately ignored. John responds by lifting those believers’ eyes above themselves. Instead of looking down to what is so earthly, so self-seeking, he urges them to look up: “He” – Jesus Christ, Son of God – “is the propitiation for our sins…” In the Old Testament, it’s recorded how often the Israelites rebelled against God. Many times they complained, saying to Moses that they’d been brought out of Egypt only to die in the desert. The Lord wasn’t impressed. On one of the occasions, he severely punished them by sending venomous snakes amongst them. They bit the people and many died. The people, in repentance, sought their covenant God’s relief. And the Lord did provide it through a bronze snake placed upon a pole, becoming God’s power for healing for all who looked to it. A true healing is also there for John’s readers who have slipped away, enticed by Satan. It is a healing so immense that not only will it be enough for them, but also for the sins of the whole world. If only they would look up! Suggestions for prayer Plead for God’s Spirit to keep you looking up and plead for others to also be humbled so that they may join with us. 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 15 - The cook behind the meal

“Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” - 1 John 3:8a  Scripture reading: 1 John 3:4-10 ‘You are what you eat’ is a quote many of us know. And in certain ways it is definitely true. Those reared on limited food group meals suffer the result of that later in life. This is why governments spend much money on promoting a variety of foods from different groups. Mums are encouraged to be adventurous in their cooking. Moreover, this quote is also true spiritually. We have touched on this. But let’s now go beyond the food itself. Let’s take ourselves a step back before the eating of what is a truly unfulfilling meal. Let’s walk into the kitchen. We want to see who it is that could dare to feed us this way. What’s the name of the chef ignoring the rules for a healthy spiritual diet? No need to guess any further, is there? The devil has surreptitiously taken over the stove. We find him cackling to himself as he busily prepares the ingredients of worthlessness, hate and selfishness. No wonder no one’s getting healthy – it’s junk food at its very worst! What we need right now is another kitchen with another chef, where the food is up-building, positive and strengthening. There our taste buds are finely tuned and our bodies renewed. We need to feed upon God’s Word. We need what’s inside Christ to be inside us. Suggestions for prayer Plead the help of God’s Spirit to keep us reading His Word. Moreover, let that Word stir us to challenge our fellow believers as well. 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 14 - The way we eat

“For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world.” - 1 John 2:16  Scripture reading: 1 John 2:15-17 I’m sure our parents at times corrected our eating habits. They would direct us to sit up straight, not to talk with our mouth full, or show us how to use our knives and forks correctly. They didn’t want us to develop the wrong habits. Likewise, it’s something we have to be careful to also do spiritually. Our text shows such an instance of getting caught up in the wrong thing. Alas, before you know it, you’re well and truly caught up in sin’s slide. Back in Paradise, before man’s fall into sin, his will reflected God’s will. They were in harmony together. Unfortunately, something tragic happened – that fall into sin. Now what we want, couldn’t be more the opposite of what there had been before. In our text John describes what our natural will is now – the desires of the flesh and the eyes and of pride. Genesis 3 tells of this through Eve being tempted. She craved for what was wrong. And then she lusted for it. Then she boasted about it. She thought she could be like God. How much don’t we have to turn from this world and turn to the God above it! And, indeed, that is what we do today as we worship the Triune God through the Son Who came to this world and turned our natural diets upside down! Suggestions for prayer Ask God that today we eat the right food spiritually in hearing His Word and that in this way we may this way be strengthened to keep away from the wrong food. 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 13 - An unfulfilling meal

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” - 1 John 4:1  Scripture reading: 1 John 3:19-4:3 Doesn’t our modern world seem like a huge smorgasbord? There, laid out before us, is a vast array of all kinds of different opinions, philosophies, religions, political persuasions, moral choices and material comforts. You can see this vividly shown in our society’s children being treated quite differently by parents who are either rich or poor, strict or soft. With such diversity does anything in particular really matter? Yes, it does! There is a direction that is true. The difficulty, though, is in being able to discern that direction when so many all around us, including Christians, are swept along with this tsunami of non-judgmentalism. It takes effort to discern between right and wrong. How much don’t we need the help of God’s Spirit through His Word? “Don’t believe every spirit” our text warns. This is because there are “many false prophets” who are more than happy to guide us on the way to our own self-fulfilment, which naturally suits them. It is not a meal that satisfies. It is just a diet of junk food which creates the desire to keep on eating and eating, but which doesn’t actually give you what you need. And look at who's table you’re eating from then? Suggestions for prayer Pray for a discerning spirit that God may be glorified and the Church guarded. 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 12 - A luring away

“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous.” - 1 John 3:7  Scripture reading: Hebrews 5:11-6:12 Once upon a time, an Arab camel-driver was asleep in his tent in the desert on a bitterly cold night. In the middle of the night, he awoke to find the camel’s nose beneath the flap. He thought to complain, but there was so little he left it. He woke up later to find the camel’s whole head and long neck in the tent. The Arab was going to protest, but the camel spoke saying how cold it was outside and he wouldn’t come in any further. The man dropped off to sleep again. But a third time he was awoken with the camel’s front legs and hump now in the tent. As he was about to jump up and drive it out, the camel spoke again. He was emphatic, not a single square inch further would he come in. And anyway it was warmer with both inside. The Arab was so lazy and, although worried, fell asleep again. Yet soon, he awoke with a cry of terror. The heavy weight of the animal was on top of him. Then the camel replied, “If it's room you want there’s plenty outside – get out!” This is what sin does to Jesus’ work in our lives. It pushes Him out and the devil slips in. You could almost say it was without knowing. But you did know, didn’t you? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to cut off sin straight away. Ask him to make Jesus fill you more every day. 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 11 - Between the flags!

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” - 1 John 1:7  Scripture reading: 1 John 1:5-10 A quick study of Christianity in the first century shows us their lot was not an easy one. If we can become bogged down by our worries and concerns, what would it have been like for them? If our society has become drawn into an immoral and free-for-all morass, theirs was even worse. In fact, some of what was then common practice would shock even the most hardened to the core! Yet, those early Christians lived amongst it all. And because of the danger the world then posed, the Lord responds through such messages as John’s letters. The call goes out, “walk in the light”. Therefore believer, keep yourself away from the world – avoid any hint of sin! Or to put it in contemporary terminology, “Keep between the flags!” You see, we know that when we are at the beach, we are safest between the flags the lifesavers have put out to show where they’re patrolling. It’s in this secured environment that we have the right conditions for enjoyment. How much doesn’t that flow into the spiritual, so that within God’s commands we have true joy and growth in the faith? Then we are truly blessed. Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for the Holy Spirit to keep you in the right place. Thank God for the blessings you receive keeping to His way. 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 10 - And keep on growing

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” - 1 John 1:9  Scripture reading: 1 John 2:1-6 As God’s people join together before Him in public worship, they not only open in praise to Him, but also in confession. You see, we have sinned and fallen short. We know we cannot continue on in sincere worship unless we are forgiven our sins. Thus this verse is valuable in calling the saints to come clean as they are together before Him. The verse before our text is clear in saying that if we say we are sinless, we deceive ourselves. Then, if in faith we have laid our sin at God’s feet, the words of our text are true. We receive His pardoning grace. We can continue on in worship knowing our fellowship is direct and undefiled. This is what John has also said in his Gospel, declaring that God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). But how much isn’t this also relevant for our everyday lives? If we are to live being open to the Lord, we must keep whatever hinders that, away from us. So we must constantly repent of our sins. Through that, we are open to God’s redeeming work in our lives, because only His Spirit can guide and keep and bless us. Suggestions for prayer Confess your sins to the Lord, whether known to you or those unknown. Dedicate yourself to doing this every day, looking out for whatever might hold you back from the Lord. 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 9 - The first word

“…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” -  1 John 1:3  Scripture reading: Romans 8:9-17 A child’s first word is a thrill to his parents. Quite unexpectedly, out pops a comprehensible sound! But then again it shouldn’t be such a surprise. In all kinds of ways he has been growing and developing and this is just another sign of this growth. The positive influence of a loving family and wider environment nurtures this. This also shows us what Christian fellowship is all about. In the original Greek the word for this is ‘koinonia’. It means possessing something in common. In this way, a young Christian is nurtured within the appropriate environment. That’s why there is a bonding with other brothers and sisters in the Lord. Flowing on from Christ’s life to His Body runs His equipping power to all the parts. We are bonded with the Heavenly Father Who set out and uniquely commissioned His Son to fulfil His pre-planned action of love. We’re joined to Jesus Christ Himself Whose doing and dying has brought this wonderful unity to reality. Looking up, we naturally look around. In that fellowship the Spirit of the Father and the Son brings us to cry out where we are, for isn’t a child’s first word usually, “Mama/Dada”? Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for the Body of His Son, the Church. Commit yourself to always honouring her and nurturing those within her. 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 8 - Living under the light

“…whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” - 1 John 4:7b  Scripture reading: John 3:1-18 I’m sure that at some point you have been affected by power strikes. Without any warning and at any time, your electricity is cut off. And what a shock it is when it strikes at night. Darkness hits, and then we haste to grab torches and candles and whatever else might give a little light. Soon you have alternative lighting. Yet that substitute is a far cry from having the power on; the light from torches and candles is barely enough. But how is the light shining on our spiritual path? It’s here that John wants us to be really ‘lit up’ by Jesus. He desires we have Christ’s Spirit brightly highlighting where we’re going and what we’re doing. But through what, we wonder? What are the batteries for our spiritual torch? David answers this by describing his sole source of spiritual light: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” To know God is to know this lamp to our feet. If we want to know about a particular author, we read his books. How much more isn’t this true of the Divine Author? And doesn’t that place the need on our hearts of not just reading, but of reading with the awareness of who’s speaking? Then those born of God will know God. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord for His Spirit to stir us to read His Word and so know Him and His will clearer and dearer. 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 7 - Beyond myself

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake.” - 1 John 2:12  Scripture reading: Acts 2:29-41 Our meditation text describes our position as being “forgiven for His name’s sake.” This name is none other than that of Jesus. This is the name which means ‘Saviour’. As Joseph was told by the angel: “…you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). We cannot separate the Person of Christ from His Work. Therefore, forgiveness through Jesus means forgiveness on the basis of Who He is, and what He does. How much doesn’t this day – the Lord’s Day – speak to this? This is the day Christ arose victorious over sin and death and the devil. This is the day that makes the difference to every other day. But, dear friend, will you be in prayer for that? Will you seek to give this whole day over to Him, because He has completely given Himself over for you in His doing and dying and rising? Following on from seeing God’s love personified and our acknowledgement of total inadequacy, are you ready to worship and serve Him? By the Spirit’s help are you able to point this world to the Answer beyond itself? Suggestions for prayer Thank God that Jesus lived up to His Name. Pray to God for His Spirit’s help to live up to what we are now in 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.  ...

Daily devotional

August 6 - An honest beginning

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” - 1 John 1:8  Scripture reading: Psalm 51:1-12 Isn’t it true that the hardest part of a task is in its beginning? To start a project requires determination, creativity and a sense of vision. We very much need to know within ourselves that what we’re doing has value. Think of children trying to build a sand castle. How many won’t give up having failed to learn about compacting sand? The foundation proves to be the most difficult part. This especially applies to our position before God. To truly grow in this most blessed of all relationships requires a constant confession of those things that disrupt this communion. Again and again, we need to deal with those obstacles. And here we need to be so prayerfully careful. Ever since the fall into sin there has been that force at work in our own nature which fights against God. Like David, we need to prostrate ourselves time and again before the all-glorious and all-holy God. We have to be taught never to take anything for granted. We must constantly examine ourselves under the light of God’s Word. And we do that looking to him in prayer, laying every day before him. That makes the difference to every day! Suggestions for prayer Plead for God’s forgiveness for not looking to him and thus giving way to our own nature. Ask him for the ability to forgive others, also. 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 5 - A witness

“…the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us…” - 1 John 1:2  Scripture reading: John 1:19-34 Imagine this situation: You have a very valuable piece of information to give a friend. As you speak with your friend, you extol the virtues of this knowledge. Yet you feel within yourself that this positive message still lacks something. So you’re wondering what could be a really strong way of convincing your friend. Now, put yourself in your friend’s shoes. What would he need to confirm that this new information is important? He is looking very closely at you. He is seeing if it is important to you. He doesn’t want you to sell him something in which you yourself don’t believe. What better way then, of convincing your friend than if you have personally experienced this important knowledge? It is not something you have read or heard third hand, but your own eyewitness account of it. It is so important to you. The apostle John was communicating the most essential of all knowledge to the churches. This was most definitely life-changing. Therefore, what more convincing argument could he make than to say he was an eyewitness. He has seen it, he declares. And not only “he”, but “we”. There are others who witness to the same. This is absolutely real! Suggestions for prayer Pray for God’s strength and guidance to be a witness for him wherever he places you, and so prove Jesus is alive in what you do. 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 4 - The love personified

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life…” - 1 John 1:1  Scripture reading: John 1:1-14 For God to create this immense world is a grand act. This is something we can truly wonder at as we consider His personal design all around us. And all this was planned long ago! Before Adam and Eve, before Satan and his cohorts thought to be like God, - indeed, way back in time immemorial, this fact has struck John. Yet, how could it? How was it possible for this man, of such a limited lifespan, to have experienced what the Almighty and Everlasting God had been working out over all time? Here we come to the heart of the Gospel. The fulfilment, which the Old Testament had so strongly pointed toward, had in John’s own lifetime, sprung forth within our small planet. Yes, Christ Jesus, Son of God, had joined Himself with humanity in a mystery beyond comprehension! Rather than the wise teacher wandering about Palestine two millennia ago, Jesus was and is God, and so is the Word of God. That’s why to truly know God’s Word in Scripture is to have met the Living Word by faith. Faith sees that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” and so we can truly declare with John, “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Suggestions for prayer Praise God for sending His Son to be born, live, minister, suffer, die and rise again. Thank Him that we like John witness to this. 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 3 - How great is the love!

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” - 1 John 3:1  Scripture reading: 1 John 1:1-4 I’m guessing you have experienced a scenic area of tremendous grandeur. It might have been the Grand Canyon, Milford Sound in New Zealand’s south-west, the Twelve Apostles on Australia’s Victorian coast, or the Niagara Falls. Yes, we had our idea of how awe-inspiring it would be before we got there. But to be actually there - to see it in person! Then our senses become flooded by the enormity of it all. A whole range of individual reactions take place – some feel fear of heights, others their own insignificance and still others the inspiration of nature. This realization strikes John spiritually. In the midst of a deeply pastoral letter there springs from his heart this doxology of praise. Indeed, he shows where he stands with God. In amongst the normality, there lies the enormity! Like John, have you had that happen to you? And also like Paul, who exclaims after being convicted by God’s teaching through him: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his ways! … For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever” (Romans 11:33, 36). Dear believer, surely you too must sing out your “Amen” with the apostles! Yes, how great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the greatness and graciousness of Who He is and the gratefulness that it brings out in you. 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 2 - My little children

"Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." - 1 John 4:4 Scripture reading: 1 John 4:1-6 John wrote to address a special concern within the churches. As we study this letter, this underlying issue will stand out. It was a very dangerous heresy. It challenged the very heart of the gospel as it actively promoted the view that Christ hadn’t really become a man. So Jesus hadn’t physically ministered and suffered and died – a belief later known as Docetism. Naturally the whole faith belief of Christ’s atoning death – our being made right with God – is denied. So then, where would we go for our salvation? Why, if God hasn’t done it, we must do it! Can you see what’s happening? Yes, another religion of salvation by works – a belief far from the gospel. This is certainly a difficult pastoral situation to address. You see, a belief like this hasn’t just crept in overnight. For a while already it’s been subtly spreading its tentacles into Christ’s Body. Knowing this, John has to be careful how he writes. A short-fused reaction would attack the target, but likely not succeed. Instead, it would be better to start from what they shared together. Rejoice in the faith there is in God. Bring out its multi-faceted beauties. And from that point of union, tackle the difficulty as an interruption to their combined celebration of love. Now that’s an approach we can learn from too! Suggestions for prayer Pray for unity in your local congregation and denomination, especially that it will be a unity in truth. 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 1 - Introduction to John

John the Apostle was reputedly the only disciple not to be martyred for the faith, aside, naturally, from Judas Iscariot. However, while he did not pass from this life by being killed for the faith, he certainly suffered extensively for the faith while alive. Many of us will be familiar with his exile on the Isle of Patmos, but there were other times also when he was publicly reviled for the faith. There is a legend associated with John towards the end of his earthly life, probably when he was in Ephesus. Jerome, in his commentary, says: His disciples could barely carry him to church and he could not muster the voice to speak many words. During individual gatherings, he usually said nothing but, "Little children, love one another." The disciples and brothers in attendance, annoyed because they always heard the same words, finally said, "Teacher, why do you always say this?" He replied: "Because it is the Lord's commandment and if it alone is kept, it is sufficient." As we go through John’s first letter, we will see how much the Lord’s beloved disciple sees those in the family of faith as also the Lord’s beloved. How many times does he address us tenderly? He is truly a father in the faith intimately involved in guiding, encouraging and gently rebuking in the faith. What a wonderful testimony to his faith this letter is. Let’s see this month how much those words quoted from him by Jerome flow through in his first letter.   A letter to you “My little children, I am writing these to you so that you may not sin.” - 1 John 2:1a  Scripture reading: Philippians 1:3-11 Letter writing isn’t one of my great strengths. It’s a real struggle to prepare myself and try to start. There I am, the blank screen or paper before me, trying to think of something to write. And then, when I have a subject to write about, I spend so much time trying to express myself correctly. The apostle John certainly had a subject to write about to the churches - a subject that had been causing much difficulty amongst the brethren. And doesn’t that kind of controversial subject make us even more wary of what we write? In fact, wouldn’t we then rather not write at all? That John does write, shows us the extent of his concern. He put the pen to paper. And he does so in a way which becomes a positive testimony to the faith we have. He doesn’t skip the problem either. His letter is a wonderfully Spirit-inspired balance. That’s what’s so special about Scripture. Another apostle, Paul, in 1st Corinthians 2:3-5, speaks of this as a demonstration of the Spirit and of power so that we don’t rest on the wisdom of men, but in God’s power. Hearing this, wasn’t it a real blessing that the churches were being written to by John? Even today, and in this month ahead, we too are having it personally posted to us. Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for His Spirit bringing His Word to us and pray it will truly expose and convict us. 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

July 31 - Time and purpose

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the heaven.” - Ecclesiastes 3:1  Scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 We live in a world of constant motion. We are surrounded by perpetual change. We can’t begin to keep up with it all. It is beyond our comprehension. Against this background, our verse for today declares that there is a time and purpose for everything. Everything happens on time according to a predetermined plan. God is working “all things according to the counsel of His will.” God is going to accomplish all His gracious purposes. The details of God’s plan are totally hidden from us. We cannot begin to understand it all. To us it is unknown. So hidden is God’s plan that the natural man and not a few professing Christians refuse to believe that it exists. But what is hidden from us is known to God. Acts 15:18 affirms, “Known to God from eternity are all His works.” God knows what He is doing and His word declares that it is all good for His people. Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” No matter what you are going through in life right now, it is part of God’s plan and purpose to do you good. Believe it and move forward encouraged. Our times are in His hand (Psalm 31:15). This is all being done to the praise of God’s name. Since this is the Lord’s Day, let us all be sure to join with God’s people to worship and praise Him together. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to open minds and hearts to the truth that He works all things for our good. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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

July 30 - Food

“He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.” - Proverbs 28:19  Scripture reading: Proverbs 28:18-25 We all like to eat. We enjoy our meals and they are the source of our daily energy. Food is necessary to sustain our lives and our Proverb today shows us the way to have plenty of it. The land needs to be tilled. If the land is not tilled it produces thorns and thistles instead of food. So the farmer tills his soil in order to produce food. The principle at work here is that food requires labour. The apostle Paul put it this way in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” So if you want to eat, find yourself a job and the Proverb assures you of plenty. The alternative to work is to slack off, following the vain soul who does no work. This was the path taken by the prodigal son until he would gladly have filled his stomach with pig food and was denied even that. That was enough poverty for him. That was also when he remembered that his father’s workers had enough to eat and some to spare. He would return home and seek to become one of his father’s workers. Your father may not hire workers and you may believe that jobs are hard to find. Meanwhile, employers needing unskilled workers for low paying jobs can’t seem to find them. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom. Prove yourself a worker and move up from there. May God bless your labours today and feed you well. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to help us all to get working and see that we are well fed. Rev. James Reaves served his last congregation, Grace Reformed Church (URCNA), in Kelowna, BC. He retired in 2014 after fifty years of ordained ministry. 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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