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Daily devotional

December 1 - Introduction to "things concerning [Christ]"

As we come to the end of another year, it is good for us to focus on the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this season, however, we need to concentrate on what God’s Word reveals about Him. Traditional depictions of Christ’s birth are at times inaccurate and even deceptive. The focus on consumerism and the experiences of the season may distract from who He truly is. This month’s meditations will focus on many of the “things concerning Himself” in the scriptures. (Luke 24:27) Old Testament believers expected that the Messiah would come to save them from sin, the effects of the curse and even death itself. It is good to be reminded of how God was preparing them for the coming of His Son. They lived in dark, evil and difficult times. Isaiah prophesied to them that “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). What a privilege we have living after His coming, as the Light of the world has revealed Himself. Knowing Him and knowing about Him, we can read the whole Bible as it points to Him. As you work through this devotional survey of the Bible this month, may it remind you of the enduring hope of the gospel: Jesus Christ came to save sinners! Our prayer for you is that you would be genuinely confessing your sin, turning from it, and putting your faith in the Saviour. May this month be a time of true joy and thanksgiving founded on the Word of God and blessed by the work of the Holy Spirit!  The Eternal Son “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish... But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.” - Hebrews 1:10,12  Scripture reading: Hebrews 1:1-12 During the month of December, many people are thinking about the Lord Jesus Christ’s birth. Minds will be filled with familiar depictions of hosts of angels and the Christ-child lying in a manger. Before we can think about His birth correctly, however, we need to think about the Son of God’s eternal identity. Hebrews 1 is a chapter that testifies to His eternal power. Using a series of Old Testament quotations, this chapter shows that Jesus Christ is greater than angels, that He is even God. When verse 12 quotes from Psalm 102, it even addresses the Son of God as the “LORD.” This means that He is Jehovah, the great I AM! Jehovah is the covenant-keeping God Who truly exists, while all of the other gods are creations of man. He created, visited and delivered His people and continues to do so.  In Hebrews 1:11-12, this Son of God is also contrasted with all of creation. He does not age; He is eternal. He is different than creation, always existing, and always self-sufficient. Even now, the heavens are aging. Stars are burning out and chaos is increasing. The earth erodes, quakes and slips towards disorder. Like an old piece of clothing, everything is wearing out. There is no enduring hope to be found on this earth; even unbelieving scientists admit that it is guaranteed to perish one day. But the Son of God is the same, forever. He has always existed and always will. Do not forget that Jesus Christ’s history is from eternity to eternity! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you, or others you love, would grow to know Jesus Christ as He truly is, the eternal LORD.  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

November 30 - Life through death

“And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” - John 12:23-24  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 13:20-21 It is a bizarre episode in the life of Elisha. That statement is actually inaccurate. It is a bizarre episode after the death of Elisha. What does this quick end to a funeral teach us? First, whatever we accomplish is done by the power of God. Elisha is dead and God still works, without human cooperation. This is a fitting capstone to Elisha’s ministry. He was just the instrument; God was the power. Elisha can leave the scene, but God can still work. Second, God restores. The body was thrown into the grave, like Israel would later be thrown into exile. Just as the body was restored, Israel would be too. What an encouragement to them and to us who feel so strongly sin’s devastation. God can restore. Third, God is preaching the gospel here. There is life through Jesus’ death. Death is defeated through Jesus’ own death. Or think of it another way. Exile from the garden was the punishment for Adam and Eve’s sin. Exile from the Promised Land was the punishment for Israel’s sin. Exile from the presence of God was the punishment Christ received for His people’s sin. He was exiled, but then raised to life. In His death and resurrection is our life and salvation. How do you receive the benefits of the gospel? Through contact with the Prophet of the Lord. The man touched Elisha’s bones and sprang up and revived. The woman touched the hem of Jesus’s garments and was healed. For us, the point of contact is faith in the Lord Jesus. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the willingness of Christ to enter into our exile that we might know the restoring grace of God. Pray for grace to be willing to be an instrument of His power. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 29 - Containment not destruction

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” - Romans 6:11-12  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 13:10-25 Joash could have completely destroyed the Syrians if he had only struck the ground five or six times. Elisha had told him that the arrow signified victory. Joash was not availing himself of the promises of God. Evidently, he had more arrows. He wasn’t eager to destroy the Syrians; for some reason he was content to have them contained. Before we blast him for such foolishness, consider that that isn’t unlike how we often are. We live sub-par lives because we don’t avail ourselves of all the resources God has offered us. He has told us that sin will not have dominion over us since we are not under law, but under grace. He has told us that we are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. Why then, are we still content to serve sin? Why don’t we finish with those life dominating sins that only lead to death? Why do we go back to drunkenness or pornography or greed or self-centredness? Why not strike them down and make an end of them? Is it because we have foolishly befriended our enemies and are loath to be completely free from them? May God have mercy on us! Thankfully King Jesus completely destroyed the enemy. He was tempted to make concessions, but He didn’t. In the power of the Spirit, He was valiant, even when the enemy’s destruction meant His own death. Trust in Christ for His victory and in God for His promised strength to put our enemy to flight. Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the victory of Christ in His death and resurrection. Pray that we would know the resources God has promised us in Christ and be eager to destroy remaining sin in our lives. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 28 - The assembly assembled

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly1 of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” - Hebrews 12:22-24  Scripture reading: Revelation 7:9-17 What a day of rejoicing that will be! The saints of God from all times and places gathered in one multitude in the presence of God and the Lamb, lifting up their hearts and voices in loud cries that adore the God of our salvation. What a day of rejoicing that will be! Our weekly worship is a foretaste of that and we should experience it as heaven on earth. It is a microcosm of heavenly worship. We gather with the saints in the presence of God to declare His glory. Of course, the saints are not yet the saints made perfect. Of course, our worship is still tainted by sin. Of course, our vision of God in all His Triune glory is still not as sharp as it will be. After all, we now see by faith; then, by sight. Of course, we come to corporate worship from lives that are marred by living in this sin-cursed world. What we experience each Lord’s Day is not exactly what we will experience. However, it is the closest experience we have to what the saints will one day experience when Christ returns in all His glory. That should make us cherish the weekly assembly of the saints. That our experience now differs from what we shall experience then, should make us long for the coming again of our Saviour when He will finally usher us into the presence of God and say, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” Suggestions for prayer Thank God for the joy of corporate worship. Remember in prayer the saints scattered throughout the world who will one day be gathered together with us before the throne of God. Pray that the Lord Jesus may come quickly so that we may worship God in perfection. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 27 - Judgement!

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”” - Revelation 6:9-10  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 9-10 These chapters don’t make for easy reading. We might feel we need to apologize for God, but it is better to understand than to be embarrassed by it. These events fall out according to His Word. Why did God ordain such a severe judgement? It is important to note that those who are judged are judged justly. They were Baal worshippers like Ahab, his wife and sons. They did evil in the eyes of the Lord and some were prophets of Baal who sought to turn God’s people away from the Lord. We also note that this slaughter is the outflow of God’s love for His own. He avenges the blood of His children. Note 2 Kings 9:21 where Jehu meets Joram at the property of Naboth, the righteous man killed by Ahab. Judgement followed His patience. It had been years since judgement was announced against Ahab’s family. There was ample opportunity for them to repent. They squandered God’s mercy and ripened themselves for God’s wrath. Jehu was God’s agent of judgement, but even he did not walk in the law of the Lord with all his heart. Christ, the King, is greater than Jehu. He served the Lord with all His heart and carried out the judgement of God with His shed blood. Not judgement against His enemies, but judgement for His enemies. That is the first part of Christ’s ministry. After years of patience He will tread the winepress of God’s wrath. Be sure that you have sworn allegiance to Him as your Sovereign and Saviour. Suggestions for prayer Ask God to give you a sense of the seriousness of His judgement. Thank Him for the willingness of Christ to be condemned in our place.  Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 26 - A weeping prophet

“And when drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on his day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”” - Luke 19:41-42  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 8:7-15 In 2 Kings 1, the Israelite king inquires of a pagan god about his chances of recovery; here a pagan king inquires of the man of God if he will recover from his sickness. How shameful when the world is more godly than the Church. And it often is. Patients who are unbelievers treat hospital staff with kindness and the believer in the same situation is demanding, impatient and critical. Shameful. Hazael asks Elisha whether his king, Ben-hadad, is going to recover. He is told that Ben-hadad is going to recover from his sickness, but that he is certainly going to die. This enigmatic statement means that in the normal course of events the sickness was not fatal. However, Hazael’s assassination attempt was going to be fatal. He would become king and terrorize Israel. Elisha knew that the judgement was deserved. That’s why he announces it. But notice that he also weeps because of the destruction that is going to come. Elisha, the prophet of the Lord, foreshadows Christ in both ways. We have domesticated the Lord Jesus and made Him tame. But remember, He is the One Who will say to many on that day, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ But Christ also weeps over the sentence of judgement. He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but delights in mercy. Rather than destroying sinners, He would rather be destroyed, taking the sins of His people to Himself and to the cross. Doesn’t this attract you to the Saviour? Suggestions for prayer Thank the Lord for the loving compassion of Christ for sinners who deserve the condemnation that Christ took upon Himself. Ask the Lord that we would show compassion on our lost neighbours and have opportunities to point them to the Saviour. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 25 - The restorer of fortunes

“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongues with songs of joy.” - Psalm 126:1-2  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 8:1-6 How perplexing the Lord’s ways are! Remember this woman who had established a B&B for Elisha in chapter 4? She’s back and so are the meandering ways of the Lord. She had received advance notice of an impending famine and was told to sojourn in the land of the enemies, in Philistia. She obeyed. When she returned after her seven year exile, she came back to nothing. Her reward for obedience is further hardship. She’s not alone; Christ Himself and countless Christians the world over know this pain. She appeals to the king and he restores her fortunes. And, delightfully, he does so because of the ‘chance’ intervention of Gehazi. Evidently the Lord had restored his fortunes too. That’s our experience too as Christians. We have been exiled from God’s presence because of our sin. But God restores the fortunes of the banished ones and brings His exiled ones home and gives them the inheritance long promised. Remember the prodigal son? This restoration grace is founded on the person and work of Christ. Think of His death as His exile, His banishment from His Father’s presence for sins not His own. The grave is His sojourn. His resurrection is the ending of the famine, life from the dead. And His ascension is His homecoming, receiving the enjoyment of His inheritance as the Son of God. This is what gives us hope. Hope for the lost and hope for the individual Christian whose life is a mess. God is in the business of restoring fortunes. Suggestions for prayer Pray that you might rejoice in the Lord’s restoring grace with laughter and song. Pray that the Lord will restore the fortunes of needy Christians and of His Church. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 24 - Deliverance delivered, declared, doubted, and denied

“. . . you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. But just as all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the evil things . . .” - Joshua 23:14 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 7 In the midst of devastation caused by human sin and the refusal to repent, the Lord graciously promises deliverance. The Syrian siege would cease. That was God’s promise, and 2 Kings 7 chronicles its fulfilment. Notice first that the Lord delivers on His promise. The Syrians heard a sound of an attacking army and fled. God’s ways are always marvellous. Then the deliverance is declared by four unlikely candidates. The lepers were hoarding when they should have been sharing. Here is a word for us. We must share with others the best news we have. The only qualification is that we have enjoyed it ourselves. When the king hears the news, his first inclination is to doubt it. The good news seemed too good to be true. Thankfully, his doubt was dispelled, and they went out and plundered. To the captain appointed for crowd control the deliverance was denied because he dismissed the Word of the Lord (vv. 2, 18-19). He didn’t trust, so he didn’t taste. All the promises of the gospel are found in one place, the Bible. They are accessed in one place: the Lord Christ, the Word of God. 2 Kings 7 is a preview of the gospel. You see. Will you enjoy? You will if you confess the devastation of sin and trust Christ to make things right. Faith in Christ brings blessings, eating and drinking in the kingdom of heaven and enjoyment of treasures that far surpass the silver and gold and clothing the lepers enjoyed from the Syrian camp. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would show you His faithfulness to His promises in the Lord Jesus Christ and that He would give us the faith to embrace them so that we might enjoy His blessings. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 23 - Devastation and deliverance

“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” - Luke 24:46-47  Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 28:15, 52-57; 2 Kings 6:24-7:1 It is an unpleasant story. The siege is bad enough with all of its fear-inducing characteristics. It’s compounded by the resultant famine. But even that doesn’t capture the devastation. That comes in the story the woman told the king about the horrific experience with her son. Here we see the destructive power of sin in high definition. Sin is ugly, grotesque, hideous, a monster. And sin will not tell you that. Satan is not going to alert you to its gross ramifications. Only someone who loves you will do that. And in this passage our loving God is warning you to kill sin before sin kills you and those dear to you. What makes things so infuriating was that this situation was avoidable. As Deuteronomy 28 pointed out, this was a judgement from God upon His rebellious people. Repentance would have changed everything. It appears that the king had begun to repent (there was sackcloth under his robe), but he didn’t follow through. There is no real brokenness for sin as having grieved their holy God. It seems that he is just bothered by the consequences. He blames Elisha and, like his mother Jezebel, threatens to remove Elisha’s head from his shoulders. But in the midst of the devastation, don’t miss the promise of deliverance. The siege is going to end and prices will go down. Isn’t that unexpected? But that’s always God’s way. He offers deliverance from the devastation of sin. May that revelation of His grace lead us all to repentance. Suggestions for prayer Ask the Lord to open our eyes to see the horrific, destroying power of sin so that we might turn from it to the Lord of grace and mercy. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 22 - Sweet revenge

“Let all the house of Israel, therefore, know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” - Acts 2:36-38 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 6:15-23 Sometimes the Lord brings deliverance through His people’s actions. Think of David against Goliath. Sometimes it is through prayer. That’s what happened here. Elisha prays and the enemy is subdued. Then something surprising happens. Elisha leads them to the king of Israel and rather than being destroyed, a great feast is prepared for them before they are sent home. It is a foretaste of the Gentile inclusion in the Church when the gospel comes. It is also an illustration of how God has commanded us to treat our enemies. More than that, this story shows us the way God, in Jesus Christ, settles the score with His enemies. In this time of grace, God repays their evil with good. Think of how Jesus prayed for His killers’ forgiveness while on the cross. And how Peter, His ambassador, offers forgiveness to those who had Jesus’ blood on their hands. Don’t you love that about the gospel? We are God’s enemies and the Lord Jesus shows us hospitality instead of hostility as He welcomes us to feast on Him and with Him. Of course, this isn’t the only way God deals with His enemies. If His offer of grace and kindness is spurned, He will punish, and all the more severely because of that rejection. God’s revenge. Is it possible to think about God’s revenge as ‘sweet revenge’? I don’t mean that He takes malicious delight in judging His enemies. What I mean is that His way of paying back evil is by giving good. And that is sweet revenge. Suggestions for prayer Pray that we would be dumbfounded and astonished by the surprising grace of God in Jesus Christ. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 21 - Our worship leader

“Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” - Hebrews 8:1-2  Scripture reading: Hebrews 2:1-13 Today we gather for worship. As a holy convocation (Leviticus 23:3), we assemble in the presence of God. Do we grasp the glory of what is going on? Understanding what this passage tells us about the presence of Christ in our worship should both humble and excite us. First, the Lord Jesus is the One Who leads us into the presence of God. It must be Him because we have no access on our own. Verse 13 tells us that He comes into God’s presence and that He comes together with those whom He has brought into God’s family by the new birth. Christ leads us into the presence of God. Second, verse 12 tells us that Christ is the One Who sings with us. The Lord Jesus, as He gathers with His people, sings the praises of His God. Isn’t it a wonderful thing to think that Jesus leads us in God’s praises? Third, verse 12 tells us Christ is the One Who preaches to us. The Lord Jesus, as He gathers with His people, tells of God’s name to His brothers. When the Word of God is faithfully preached, it is the Lord Jesus Who is preaching. Jesus Himself mentioned that His Church is gathered into His sheepfold as they listen to His voice (John 10:17). There really is nothing humdrum about our public gatherings. Christ, the ascended high priest, gathers with us to lead us to God, to sing with us and preach to us. Who would want to miss such an assembly? Suggestions for prayer Pray that we would cherish the blessing of corporate worship and have a sense that our worship leader, the Lord Jesus Christ, is amongst us.  Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 20 - Seeing with our ears

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” - Psalm 119:18  Scripture reading: 2 Kings 6:8-19 To the king of Syria’s thinking, the only person standing between him and victory over Israel was Elisha. Remove him and victory was his. This particular episode is a single battle in the great war between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, and this is the same strategy Satan would later use against Christ. Take Christ down and victory was his. That’s why all the forces and strategies of Satan are unleashed against our Lord. Unsuccessful in that, Satan continues to fight against the believers, the soldiers of Christ. We might not see him, but he is the one behind all the trials and temptations of our lives. It isn’t only the invisible Satan we must see. Like Elisha’s servant, we need the Lord to open our eyes to see the power and victory of God. As the servant saw the mountains full of horses and chariots, we need to see that “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). We need to see the unseen victor Who shall one day be the undisputed Lord of lords. We need to see the unseen enemy and the unseen victor. How do we see the unseen? It’s not the optometrist we need, but the audiologist. We see through our ears. We learn of the schemes of our enemy and the victory of our God in Christ as we listen to the reading and preaching of the Word of God with ears that have been opened by the Spirit of God. Suggestions for prayer Remember to lift up your Pastor as tomorrow he enters the pulpit to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. Pray that you will hear and be encouraged by the recounting of the wonderful works of God. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 19 - No axedent

“The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!” - Psalm 93:3-4 Scripture reading: 2 Kings 6:1-7 It is important to the story that the sons of the prophets were compelled to become lumberjacks because their ‘seminary’ had become too small. God’s kingdom was advancing, and our enemy attacks to thwart its progress. But as our Lord Jesus reminds us in Matthew 16, “The gates of Hades will not prevail against the Church.” God is determined to see His kingdom advance. So, He makes the axe head float. He is also the God who frees us from debt. To replace the borrowed axe head was beyond the ability of the wielder. God, Who had redeemed His people from slavery in the exodus, was not eager to see them enslaved again. So, He made the axe head float. Finally, notice how the greatness of God is seen in the small details of life. It looked at first that Elisha was going to send the men away while he remained. But, ‘luckily’ one of them pressed Elisha to go with them. God knew in advance that Elisha was needed and ensured that Elisha went. All this highlights for us that there are no ‘axedents’ in our lives. God’s gracious and glorious purposes, whether for His kingdom’s advance or His people’s good, will succeed. You see this displayed in the life and ministry of our Saviour. He will stop at nothing for His glory and our good. That is the kind of God you could give yourself to, don’t you think? And that’s the kind of God you could swing an axe for. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Lord would open our eyes to see His sovereign power and His wonderful care for His people. Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017....

Daily devotional

November 18 - Judan-like, anti-grace gehazis

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

Daily devotional

November 17 - Without money and without price

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

Daily devotional

November 16 - Born again

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

Daily devotional

November 15 - Raging against the remedy

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

Daily devotional

November 14 - Assembly required

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

Daily devotional

November 13 - Great but...

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

Daily devotional

November 12 - Give us this day our daily bread

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

Daily devotional

November 11 - Let’s stew over this

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

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