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Daily devotional

November 10 - The word of rebuke

“But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”” - Jude 9 Scripture reading: Psalm 16; Jude 5-11 Sometimes difficult passages in the Bible worry us, especially when they raise more questions than answers. The events described in verse 9 are not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, and knowing that the devil and Michael were disputing about the body of Moses seems unsettling. Do evil spirits and godly spirits really wrestle over our bodies after we die? Passages like Psalm 16 reassure us about the outcome of those disputes, but that’s also not actually the point that Jude is addressing. We’ve been learning about false teachers who use their own ideas, and even their dreams, to lead the church into immorality and to keep us from contending for the faith. Now that we know the danger, what tool do we need to contend for the faith? We need to use God’s Word. Verse 9 shows us how even the powerful and glorious archangel, Michael, did not rely on his own strength, nor on his own word, to refute the lies of the devil when they were disputing over something as precious as the body of Moses. With the Word of God, even the angels have everything they need for their spiritual battles. Don’t be afraid to take up God’s Word and stand firmly on His truth! Suggestions for prayer Ask for God’s blessing upon he who is preparing today to preach God’s Word to you on Sunday. Pray for His protection over your congregation to keep you from following opinions and preferences that will lead you astray Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 9 - Blasphemous dreams

“Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.” - Jude 8 Scripture reading: 2 Peter 2; Jude 5-8 Dreams can be very convincing, but they are often reflections of our inner thoughts and desires. That’s why they are unreliable sources of truth. Sadly, some have such a strong desire to see their dreams come true that they refuse to listen to reason and authority. No matter how plainly the truth of God’s will is explained to them, they put more confidence in their dreams than in the Lord. That’s why they manipulate God’s Word or set it to the side, making their dreams into their idols in order to justify their behaviour. Are you contending for your dreams more than you contend for the faith? Are your goals and convictions defiling your flesh, or are they leading you to a holier lifestyle? Are the desires of your heart self-serving, or do you seek to love the LORD above all other considerations? The power of those inward dreams and desires will be seen in how you respond to God’s Word. If your heart is consumed by its dreams, you will despise anyone who admonishes you to repent and turn to live for Jesus. If you love your sins, you will blame the church for not tolerating your choices, even blaspheming those who bring the glorious news of salvation. May the Lord spare us from ourselves, and from those who would tell us to blindly follow our dreams! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the Spirit to purify your deepest thoughts and desires. Ask God to give you a humble spirit when you need to be corrected, and ask Him to give you faithful friends and elders who are willing to give you that correction. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 8 - Yes, God is still holy

“Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” - Jude 7 Scripture reading: Genesis 18:22-33; Mark 6:7-12; Jude 3-7 The lifestyle of Sodom was not destroyed with its residents. In fact, sinful humanity carries on in its unnatural desires, pretending that God’s judgment will never rain down again. Even worse, false teachers have come into the church to preach that God now endorses that same sexual immorality. One of the worst lies being told in many churches today is that God is no longer holy enough to judge sexual immorality and unnatural desires. But the punishment of eternal fire is coming. The only reason that it has not yet arrived is because God’s mercy is still gathering sinners out of their wrath-worthy lifestyles. But if the church is to preach the way of escape from Sodom’s punishment, it must reject Sodom’s false gospel. We must testify of the good news of Jesus Christ to those who parade their ungodliness. Yes, the Spirit can bring God’s mercy to any sinner! Praise God that He has called even a sinner like you to salvation in Jesus Christ! We can’t compromise that good news by pretending God’s justice has changed since His holy fire rained down upon those cities long ago. We won’t be taking the dust of our unnatural desires with us into glory, so let’s be sure to shake it off before His judgment comes. Let us love our neighbours and warn them of their need to be converted. LORD, be merciful and withhold Your judgment so long as even one can still be saved! Suggestions for prayer Appeal for God’s mercy to show us our need for purity and freedom in Jesus Christ. Ask Him to embolden the church to be clear and courageous in its witness. Pray for your neighbours and family members who need to know the way of salvation. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 7 - Eternal Chains

“And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day…” - Jude 6 Scripture reading: Revelation 12:1-17; Jude 3-7 Satan and his allies rebelled against God by choosing to believe their own lies. In their hatred, they fabricated a grievance against God’s authority and blamed God for giving them neither the power nor the glory they believed they deserved. It was their insatiable desire for more that led to their rebellion and that rebellion led to their expulsion from heaven. In their rage, they now wage war against the church. Their attacks have brought suffering, persecution and division to such a degree that it often appears the church is on the verge of being overwhelmed. Perhaps in our moments of doubt we worry that God’s judgment has solved heaven’s problem, but left the church on earth to face the devil’s unchecked power. Don’t forget that Jesus is still the King of kings! Within the church, the devil’s lies have convinced some that the gospel gives them the freedom to continue in sin, or that there will be no consequences for their actions. But just as the devil is kept in “eternal chains,” this is a rebellion against the Lord which will not go unpunished. The gospel gives no one the freedom to sin, but the freedom to follow Jesus in holiness. Suggestions for prayer Pray that the devil’s attacks against the church will be recognized for what they are and turned away with courage and faithfulness. Give thanks for those who protect you and warn you about the lies we tell ourselves so that we can excuse our sin. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 6 - The menu for slavery

“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that the Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” - Jude 5:  Scripture reading: Psalm 95; Jude 3-7 The people of Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. They saw the glory of the Lord on Mount Sinai. They fought against their enemies and won by the strength of the Lord. For six days of the week, they woke up to find all the food they needed on the ground outside their tents. They had seen so many of God’s works, but they complained that it still wasn’t enough. They wanted to return to Egypt to enjoy the “cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic” (Numbers 11:5). It wasn’t just the menu that turned their hearts back to Egypt. They believed that following God should give them more earthly pleasures than they had found in the wilderness. Even the Promised Land wasn’t enough for them, so they rejected the Lord. They would rather return to the slavery of Pharaoh than continue trusting God. Jude is warning the church that salvation is not found in the momentary gratification of this life’s pleasures. That’s why we have to guard ourselves against the temptation to seek our ultimate comfort in the experiences of this life. Expecting God to provide those experiences is asking Him to return us to the slavery of sin when we should be seeking our life in Christ. Suggestions for prayer Pray for members of your church who are being drawn to the slavery of sin’s pleasures. Ask the Lord to bless your church with wise men and women who will remind you of the stories of God’s faithfulness and help to steer you to live for the Lord. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 5 - Creeping in unnoticed

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” - Jude 4 Scripture reading: Romans 6:1-14; Acts 20:28-31; Jude 3-4 Many of us have fears of things that creep into our homes unnoticed – spiders, ants, even snakes. But Jude is warning Christians to be just as concerned about certain people who creep in unnoticed into the house of God, the church. Their creeping is not accidental, as if they stumbled into their schemes to undermine the gospel, but they have set their hearts on abusing the grace of God. Though they speak openly about Jesus, Jude says they “long ago were designated for this condemnation.” These are enemies of the church even while appearing to be allies for the gospel. They will happily speak about Jesus dying for our sins and the freedom we have because we’ve been spared from the wrath of God. But be on guard for the fruits of their message! These certain people are turning grace into their excuse for “sensuality.” They teach a false gospel that being free from sin means being free to live however we please, enjoying all kinds of immorality without consequence. This makes our desires our master, and we live to please ourselves rather than live to please our Lord. What a dangerous threat this false gospel is to the church! Never forget that the gospel means that Jesus has spared believers from judgment for our sins, and He gives the Holy Spirit to lead believers to walk with God. Suggestions for prayer Pray that your elders would be alert to the wolves that threaten the flock. Repent of the presumptuous sins that demand more of your attention than the lordship of Christ. Rejoice that Jesus calls us to enjoy the holiness of God. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 4 - Contend for the faith

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” - Jude 3 Scripture reading: 1 Tim. 6:11-21; 2 Tim. 4:1-8; Jude 3-4 Nothing brings a preacher more joy than to see sinners respond to the gospel by putting their faith in Christ. That’s why Jude’s first desire was to write about “our common salvation.” But like every faithful preacher, Jude knows that the joy of proclaiming Christ must be partnered with warnings and admonishments to protect believers from going astray. We need those warnings because it’s easier to go astray than it is to remain faithful. It’s easier to think that being saved means we don’t have to struggle against sin. We even excuse our careless attitudes by thinking, “God will save us anyway, right?” But that shows how little value we put on our faith. We don’t think that it’s worth the struggle to keep our focus on Jesus. We don’t think it’s worth contending for the faith to keep ourselves holy, so that we can serve the Lord. Contending for the faith is hard work – but it’s worth it. The faith is what the Holy Spirit gives to every generation of the church so that sinners can be reconciled to God. It doesn’t change with the times. It’s not trying to stay relevant or be politically correct but clings to Jesus, as uncomfortable and as unpopular as that may be. When we are tempted to compromise our faith by taking the easier and more worldly path through life, is it really worth it? Suggestions for prayer Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you take the lordship of Jesus for granted. Repent of any spiritual carelessness. Pray that God will give you the zeal to contend for the faith in every part of your life. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 3 - Mercy, peace and love

“May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” - Jude 2:  Scripture reading: Psalm 23; 1 Peter 1:1-9; Jude 1-2 When we hear God greet us at the beginning of every worship service, we expect to hear a blessing that includes some combination of the words: grace, mercy, peace and love. But if one Sunday morning God refused to allow the minister to speak those words to us, how different that worship service would be! In the same way, Jude’s greeting to believers is not at all casual or routine – we need it! Jude is writing to those who are being called to “contend for the faith” (verse 3), a task that would be impossible without God’s blessing. God’s mercy means that He will strengthen the church while overcoming our pride, our foolishness and our mistakes. God’s peace gives us courage to continue to stand for truth and godly living even when the church’s voice appears to be withering. God’s love assures us that He will not abandon the church to our struggle against worldliness. Jude describes these blessings as being “multiplied” to us, so he expects God to continue to pour out His mercy, peace and love. Jude also expects that we are going to continue needing these blessings. When you hear God’s greeting this coming Sunday, remember that he is multiplying those blessings once again for you. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for how God has faithfully given His mercy, peace, and love to every generation of the church. Ask Him to multiply these blessings in your life, giving you greater courage to live faithfully as a Christian. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 2 - Those who are called 

“To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ…” - Jude 1b Scripture reading: Romans 8:28-30; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Jude 1-2 In the New Testament, the church is described as those who have been “called out” by God. We have been called out from our bondage to sin and misery, we have been called into grace and righteousness through Jesus Christ, and we have been called to a new life of gratitude and holiness. All three parts of that calling matter to God, and they ought to matter to us. Have we neglected any part of that calling? Have we become indulgent, proud, or spiritually lazy? Jude’s purpose in writing this epistle is to urge us to live by that calling. He will warn us about those who are trying to lead the church away from its calling to love and serve God faithfully. He will sound the alarm about false teachers who say that the gospel gives us the freedom to indulge in sexual immorality and other fleshly lusts. Instead, we need to remember that we are “beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.” Our calling is much more fulfilling than the empty promises of false teachers and much more valuable than the reward of momentary pleasures. Are we choosing to give into temptations that take us away from the love of our Father? Are we listening to false teachers that try to keep us away from Jesus? Let’s remember our calling! Suggestions for prayer Ask for forgiveness for how you forget your calling and replace it with your own self-interest. Pray that the love of the Father would bring you greater joy. Ask that Jesus would keep you from walking closer to sin. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. 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

November 1 - Introduction to the letter of Jude 

The letter of Jude is one of the smallest and least-known books of the Bible, but its size does not match its importance! The Holy Spirit put a burden on Jude’s soul to write to a church in danger. This danger isn’t exclusive to one congregation or to one era in the church’s history, but plagues us all because we all share in the struggle against sin. Jude exhorts the church to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints,” because that faith is under attack. What makes it so challenging is that the attackers claim to be saints! False teachers boldly preach about Christ and the grace that saves us from our sins, but they turn that salvation into a license to sin freely. We are thus drawn away from Christ and encouraged to be enslaved to the idols of our selfish desires. By reminding us of the holiness of God in His dealings with His people (and others) in the past, Jude warns us that the influence of these false teachers is affecting the church’s unity, worship, and witness. Instead, we need to remember the instruction of God’s Word, build up our faith, be steady in prayer, keep ourselves in the love of Jesus and wait for the mercy that will take us into eternal life. Rather than being consumed by the idols we make for ourselves, we will be free to show mercy to others and even snatch them out of the fires of unbelief. We will have a doxology to sing because the holiness of our Saviour will be our greatest joy and satisfaction. A servant of Jesus Christ  “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James…” - Jude 1a Scripture reading: Matthew 13:53-58; John 7:1-9; Jude 1-2 As one of the children born to Joseph and Mary after the virgin birth, Jude had seen Jesus, his older brother, increase “in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). But when he listened to Jesus preach and saw how Jesus’ reputation as a miracle-worker was growing, his heart remained cold. John 7:5 says that even Jesus’ brothers refused to believe in Him. Some time later, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, both Jude and another of his brothers, James, were converted. How joyful the two of them would have been to meet as brothers in Christ! But more than brothers, they had also become servants of Jesus Christ. They were bound to Jesus as sinners set free by His blood. They had been liberated so that they could follow their older brother Who had become their king. Many of us would make the same joyful statement about who we have become in Jesus. Whether it happened recently or not, whether we remember it happening or not, we know that without the Spirit changing our hearts, we would be cold unbelievers, too. That is why we eagerly confess that our only comfort is found in belonging to our faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ. We are not only his siblings; we are also his servants. What a story we have to talk about God’s grace! Suggestions for prayer Speak to God about the unbelief, doubts, and pride in your heart. Ask Him to steer you away from defiance and disobedience. Confess your complete dependence on His grace to you in Jesus Christ. Give thanks for the comfort of being His servant. Pastor James Sinke has been the pastor of Bethel URC of Woodstock for ten years, having previously served the Rock Valley URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 31 - The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” - Philippians 4:23  Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:21-23 and Romans 1:13-17 Paul’s closing words bring us back to Philippians 1 and his blessing that God’s “grace” would be upon his friends in Philippi. How rich is that word “grace”, which speaks of the unmerited favour of God to sinners for salvation in Jesus Christ! There is no one deserving of salvation, yet God, in His Son has wrought salvation for sinners like us! This was the glorious truth that Martin Luther rediscovered as He studied the Scriptures and the precious teachings of God in the Psalms and in the books Romans and Galatians. For we are not justified before God by works and the keeping of the Law. We are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! Thus, Paul ends his letter as he began it, with grace! Even his closing words speak to this. Notice who some of the saints are that send greetings to Philippi, “those who are of Caesar’s household”! (v.22). Paul mentioned back in chapter 1 that to the “whole palace guard” and “to all the rest”, this good news of salvation in Christ had been preached! How awesome it is to think that some in Caesar’s own household came to saving faith in Christ! How glorious are the ways of God! Yes, on this Reformation Day, we give thanks for God’s grace to His church, restoring to her the Word, the Holy Bible, and the pure gospel that our salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone and for His glory alone! Suggestions for prayer Let us rejoice and give thanks for God’s rich grace to us in Jesus Christ! May the Solas of the Reformation continue to form the solid foundation upon which the church takes her stand before her enemies! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 30 - God’s generous supply for his generous people

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:19  Scripture reading: Philippians 4:10-20 and 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 Now, as we saw in vv.10-13, Paul has all he will ever need in Christ. Christ is his sufficiency. And yet, Paul is thankful for the provision of his friends. As he notes in vv.14-16, they gave generously for his needs when others did not. And so, even though he is content, their giving is not in vain! The investment they have made in him is an investment in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that investment always pays dividends! He says in v.17, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.” But how could Paul repay them for their sacrifice for the gospel? Well, he never could - but God will! For as they give, and give generously, God will repay them through His rich provision in Christ Jesus, as v.19 says. When we give to the Lord, do we believe that God will provide for us? We should never think that giving for the gospel will lead to our financial harm. No, God will supply for all our needs “according to His riches in glory”, and that we should never doubt! And so, as you gather for worship, come with generous hearts for prayer, for the Word and sacraments, and for giving to the Lord. For God is the great supplier of all your needs, and as you give for His glory, He will generously supply you with what you need for the Christian life. Suggestions for prayer: Pray for a generous heart and that you would give to God as generously as He has given for you. The Lord loves a cheerful giver and He will see to it that all of your needs are met in Christ according to His glorious riches! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 29 - True contentment in Christ

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am in to be content…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” - Philippians 4:11-12  Scripture reading: Philippians 4:10-20 and 1Timothy 6:6-10 For the Christian, having a true sense of contentment is a vital thing. We live in a world where satisfaction and fulfilment are never a certainty. Mankind always seems restless, and without peace. Man always seems to have a desire to be fulfilled, a need to be met, or an itch to be scratched! The sinful heart is never satisfied! And yet, Paul says, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content…” (v.11b). In the school of faith, in serving Christ, and in resting in God’s providential care, Paul has “learned” how to be content as a Christian! And how? Well, as he says in v.13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Yes, in Christ, by His strength, Paul can be content. He can weather the storms of poverty and be thankful. He can resist pride when he is full and has much! Christ enables him to have a proper perspective on life. Therefore, the circumstances and situations of Paul’s life do not dictate his desires or emotions. True contentment - is it something we have or are we restless and without peace? As Christians, we are to look to Christ daily and be reminded of the sufficiency we have in Him and take comfort in that. For God will take care of all our needs in Christ, above and beyond what we can imagine! Yes, let us find our daily strength in Him! Suggestions for prayer: Let us daily be reminded where our contentment is found! For it is not in our savings, work, health, or family, but in Christ Jesus, our Lord! In Him, we have all we need for today, tomorrow and forever! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 27 - Our citizenship is in heaven

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body…” - Philippians 3:20-21  Scripture reading: Philippians 3:17-4:1 and John 14:1-6 Now, as we saw in vv.12-16, striving towards the heavenly goal and the prize of life with Christ is an ongoing process. In this life, there is no such thing as perfection or instant sanctification. The process of God’s working in us by His Word and Spirit is life-long. Therefore, as Christians, our lives are to give evidence to this mighty work. It’s to be seen in godly living, in dying to the ways of the flesh and the sinful pleasures of the world. As Paul makes clear in vv.18-19, there are many so-called Christians who live carnally minded lives. They are governed by their desires and they seek to fulfil their pleasures. But as Paul so clearly states, that cannot be for those who have their “citizenship in heaven”! For though we live, work and worship on earth, heaven is our true home! How often does our heavenly citizenship come to mind? Does the Spirit use it to quell our desire and to fight against temptation? If we belong to Christ, then we should strive to live the Christ-like life. For as Paul says, Christ will return and when He does, we will be transformed, and our earthly bodies will be made glorious like His body! Do you desire this? Does your life reflect it? It should, for you are a citizen of heaven, bought with the blood of Christ, and not like those without hope in the world! Suggestions for prayer Remind yourself of your heavenly citizenship and let it be for your encouragement in how you live your life! For your life is in Christ and one day your Lord will return for you, and so take care of how you live your life! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 26 - Pressing on toward the goal

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” - Philippians 3:12  Scripture reading: Philippians 3:12-16 and Hebrews 12:1-2 In vv.7-11 the apostle Paul spoke of the rich blessings that he now has in Jesus Christ. But as vv.12-16 show us, he has not attained the ultimate goal. As he says in v.14, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Thus, Paul’s race, his running of the course of the life of faith, only ends once he is in Glory with his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! As he rightly notes in v.12, we shall never reach “perfection” in this life. In other words, the process of sanctification is lifelong and the goal unattainable in this life. But for the followers of Christ, they press onward, toward that heavenly goal, letting everything else drop to the wayside including any earthly loves, selfish goals, fears or regrets. For Christ has “laid hold of me”, says Paul, and therefore the only direction the Christian can go is to Him! For the course in which Paul runs, is the same one in which we as believers must all run. We have salvation and belong to Christ, but the fullness is yet to come. Like an Olympic runner, we run with all our heart, soul, strength and mind to reach the heavenly prize, the fullness of life in Christ! This is the upward call of God to us, and we cannot take it lightly or ignore it. And so, let us run with perseverance in the race before us! Suggestions for prayer Look to Jesus and fix the eyes of your faith on Him. Do not lose heart or grow weary in this spiritual race, but find your strength in Him and rejoice in the glorious prize that awaits all His redeemed at the end, the fullness of eternal life! Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 25 - Growing to know the Lord and his power

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…” - Philippians 3:10a  Scripture reading: Philippians 3:1-11 and Ephesians 1:15-23 One of the key aspects of the Christian life is spiritual growth. And for the Christian, nothing is greater than growing to know Jesus Christ more and more in the life of faith. For Paul, Christ filled the empty place in his heart. As we saw yesterday, all the many things of this life that Paul once counted as important, he now views as nothing for the sake of Christ (vv.4-8). For what can compare to Christ and knowing Him? As Christians, we desire to know more of Christ’s grace, of His love, mercy, faithfulness and power! And what “power” Christ has! The “power” made available to us through His resurrection is beyond what we can imagine! For in Christ, we have our life, and by Him, we grow spiritually. We die to the old nature and come to life in the new nature. Our hearts and minds are set on things above, where Christ is, rather than being rooted in things on the earth and the things that pass away with time. Do you desire to know Christ and the power of His resurrection? Are you willing to suffer for His sake? To know Him means to obey Him, which means taking up your cross and following Him. To truly know Him and His mighty power means you are willing to suffer for His sake, knowing the glorious reward of your own resurrection to come! Suggestions for prayer Pray that you would grow to know Christ more and that you would desire to live for Him in every area of life. Pray for the spiritual blessings that come to you because of His resurrection. Live by that power rather than by your own strength! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 24 - The excellence of knowing Christ

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss, for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…” - Philippians 3:8a  Scripture reading: Philippians 3:1-11 and Mark 10:17-31 In this glorious section of Scripture, we see Paul’s powerful confession of faith in the supremacy of Christ over anything else in life. As we can see in vv.1-3 Paul is warning his friends against false teachers who trust in the rite of circumcision for salvation, rather than in Christ alone. Paul at one time made his boast in things of this life, which he believed counted for his standing with God (vv.4-6). But in comparison to knowing Christ, they were nothing but “rubbish” and to be counted as “loss” for His sake! (vv.7-8). For what can you add to Christ’s saving work to secure your eternal standing with God? Nothing! And this Paul joyfully proclaims. Do we see the “excellence” of knowing Christ and being found “in Him”? Do we see the glory of having an imputed righteousness added to our account, which reckons us right with God and no longer the objects of His holy wrath? Paul knew this and declared it with great joy! For it is by grace, through faith alone in Christ, that we are saved and not by our family lineage, our education, church attendance, baptism, or good works. For anything we could put in place of Christ or alongside Christ for our salvation fails in the sight of God. Our comfort in life and in death comes only in the fact that we belong to a faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ! And knowing Him is the greatest joy of all! Suggestions for prayer  Let us give thanks and rejoice in the perfect work of Christ on our behalf! Our salvation is by grace alone apart from works. Pray that the Lord would help you to live a thankful life to Him and that you might share the good with others. Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 23 - Holding fast the word of life

“Holding fast the word of life…” - Philippians 2:16a  Scripture reading: Philippians 2:12-18 and Romans 10:1-17 As we can see in vv.16b-18, it was important to Paul to see his friends living faithful lives. This was proof that his labour had not been in vain, but had been blessed by God and made fruitful. Paul would continue to be poured out for their sake (v.17), but it was important to see his spiritual children walking in the truth. As we saw yesterday, one of the ways we do that is by shining as lights in this dark world. We let our faith shine in our words and deeds, asking the Holy Spirit to bless them so that the lost may come to a saving faith in Christ. But for the church to do that she must ‘hold fast” or “hold out” the word of life. God’s Word is vital to any witness the church brings to the world, for it’s through the Word that new life is created in the sinner’s heart, by means of the Holy Spirit. If God’s Word is not central to the life and worship of the church then her light will fade, and she will drift into all sorts of false teaching and practices. And so, as we gather for worship, we “hold fast” and “hold out” the word of life to a sinful and broken world. May God be glorified by our use of His Word in our worship! And may we shine all the more as stars amid a crooked and perverse generation as a result! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks so that you may worship and hear God’s Word again! Pray for your minister as he prepares to preach the good news. Pray for the effective, mighty working of the Holy Spirit in hearts today as the gospel is proclaimed! Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 22 - Shining as lights in the world

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” - Philippians 2:14-15  Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:12-18 and Matthew 5:13-16 As Christians, we “work out” or “exercise” our salvation (v.12) not only in the life of the church but also as we live our lives in this world of fallen human beings. But how does the world see us? Does it see us as those who are “like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind”? (v.2) Or does it see the church as divided, contentious, and without unity among its members? For Paul, that consistent, unified life of the church was immensely important to an effective witness before the world. For the life of the church is both word and deed, which is seen in our beliefs and convictions, but also displayed in the practice of those beliefs and convictions, in how we live and conduct ourselves as children of God. And so, it ought to be our goal to be “blameless” and “harmless”, that is, to be those who are above accusation concerning our lives and that we in no way would be a stumbling block to unbelievers or a hindrance to the gospel. For as Paul says, we “shine as lights” in this dark world of sin and rebellion. Yes, this world is “crooked and perverse”, but we have the glorious privilege of living for Christ and sharing with others the good news of salvation! May our light not be dimmed by sin, but shine brightly with the light of the Lord! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would bless the church with unity, faithfulness, and consistency to make a powerful witness to the world. Pray for your own life and witness that you would shine brightly for Christ today and every day. Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 21 - Work out your own salvation

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” - Philippians 2:12b-13 Scripture reading: Philippians 2:12-16 and 2 Peter 1:3-10 When we hear Paul’s words, we might think he’s telling us that we must find our own way when it comes to our salvation, “Work it out for yourself.” But that of course cannot be what he means. As we’ve seen time and again, our salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone and is not based on any merit of ours. No, what Paul is teaching us is that the Christian life is to be an active life and in no way stagnant. As a Christian, you are to “exercise” your salvation, that is, to put it into daily practice. We do that through the reading of God’s Word, prayer, worship, living a godly life, dying to the ways of our sinful nature and so on. This we are to do, “with fear and trembling”. This means we must be mindful of our great need for God’s grace in living such a life. For we cannot do this alone, but only in reliance upon Christ and the strength He gives to us through His Holy Spirit! And further, look at the comfort we have in this, for it is God who “works” in us. He is the One Who enables us to live this kind of life. And how wonderful to think that as we are called to “work out” our own salvation, God is “working in” us so that we can obey Him and live for His glory! Suggestions for prayer Pray that God would enable you to live out your salvation and live a life that is vibrant and fruitful for His praise and that will be a blessing to the church and her life. Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

Daily devotional

October 20 - The majestic glory of Christ

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow…and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” - Philippians 2:9-11  Scripture reading: Philippians 2:5-11 and John 17:1-26 What we have in our text is a striking contrast to what we see in vv.6-8. For Jesus, the humble servant of God, Who gave Himself up to death on a cross is now exalted to the highest heights of glory! For this exaltation is a reward from His Father for His perfect saving work! (John 17:1-5). This is a glory He enjoys now, but it also has a future goal, for, in time, all the created order will be subject to His glorious majesty! (Philippians 2:9-11) And yet, why does Paul speak of the glory of Christ right after his charge to live the humble servant life? We might sum it up this way: (1) It convicts us that this humble servant's life is the only life we can live before God! For this is the way Jesus went. This is the way that is pleasing to God, and this is the only way that ends in glory. (2) It reminds us also of the love of Jesus for His elect, that He suffered and died to “bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18) so that we might be with Him forever. And (3) it assures us that even though we face many trials and adversities, the glorious end of our faith is in eternal glory with our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, we are called to the humble servant life on earth, but we look for our eternal reward to come with Christ from heaven! Suggestions for prayer Give thanks to God for the eternal riches you have in Christ! Ask Him to strengthen you to live that humble, giving, selfless life for the sake of the church and as part of your witness to the world. Rev. Ancel Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com....

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