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Daily devotional

December 29 - Wise men

“…when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him.” -  Matthew 2:11  Scripture reading: Matthew 2:8-23 This group of wise men, or Magi, would not have been ordinary men. They had the resources to make a significant journey and to bring treasures as gifts. Their presence had caused quite a stir in Jerusalem. They would have been some of the most educated men of their time. By earthly standards, these were prominent men. Yet we see them “rejoicing with exceeding joy” when they are led again by the star, then falling down and worshipping a poor child! J. C. Ryle says about this scene, “We read of no greater faith than this in the whole volume of the Bible.” While we may not be able to judge whether that statement is strictly true, there is something to Ryle’s sentiment. This was a poor family, in a small, obscure village, in what was undoubtedly an ordinary house. Yet these mighty men fall down and worship! The Lord had indeed given them true wisdom and great faith! It is not natural or normal for accomplished wise men to bow easily to anyone, much less in such a place. It is not natural for anyone, apart from the Holy Spirit's work, to seek or bow before the Lord Jesus. These men, however, had been given eyes to see Who was before them. Our own pilgrimages have the same goal: to know Him, enjoy Him and worship Him forever. Will you join these wise men in the eternal worship of the King of kings? Come, let us adore Him! Suggestion for prayer Pray for the true wisdom that seeks the King of kings and leads to His worship! Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel. ...

Daily devotional

December 28 - A troubled city 

“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” - Matthew 2:3  Scripture reading: Matthew 2:1-7 We should not be too surprised that Herod was troubled to hear about the birth of the King. After all, which king would want to hear this news? Even more, Herod was an Idumean, which is the Greek for “Edomite.” These were the sons of Esau, who had an ancient feud with Israel. More surprising, however, is to hear that Jerusalem was troubled along with Herod! Why would this be? Should they not be excited that the Messiah was born? Perhaps they were tired of the various zealot rebellions that had happened in those times. Maybe they simply did not want to “rock the boat.” Or it is possible that many of them were happy with the benefits of the Roman empire. After all, Rome allowed a lot of trade and prosperity. It had brought a form of slavery under taxation, but also a long period of peace under firm rule. Whatever the reasons were, Jerusalem would rather keep things the way they were. Is this not true of many today when they are confronted with the truth about Christ? The call to bend the knee to the King of kings is profoundly life-changing. It involves getting off of the throne of our own lives and submitting to the will of God. Are you perhaps also troubled by the idea of surrendering some areas of your life, mind or possessions to the Lord? Do not forget that the call to trust in Christ comes at a cost, even at times the cost of earthly security! (Luke 12:53). Suggestion for Prayer: Pray that you would not be troubled when the Lord calls you to be ruled by His Word and Spirit.  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 27 - Anna’s evangelism

“…she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” -  Luke 2:38  Scripture reading: Luke 2:36-38 The witnesses to the birth of Christ are a complete set of representatives. They represent old and young, male and female, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor. Here the focus is on Anna, a prophetess. Prophetesses were relatively rare in the time of the scriptures. They seem to have been most prominent in spiritually dark times. When men failed to lead and speak God’s Word, the Lord used dedicated and godly women in more visible ways. For about 400 years before the coming of Christ, we do not hear of a single true prophet. Here, at the end of that age, we see a dedicated prophetess. Anna was a widow who had lost her husband at a young age. Since then, for many decades, she had lived at the temple, fasting and praying, night and day. Some interpret the language to indicate that she would have been well over 100 years old, though the 84 years could also refer to her age.  She was another symbol of the very long time that believers waited for the Saviour. It is a reminder that some will have to wait a lifetime for prayers to be answered. Now, however, she is a picture of thanksgiving and joyful evangelism! When we truly grasp the joy of Christ's coming, we will begin to speak of Him to others. The Lord Jesus promises that "...whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32). Suggestion for prayer Pray that more believers would speak about the glory of Christ to their brothers and sisters in the church. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 26 - Simeon’s joy

“…my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” - Luke 2:30-32  Scripture reading: Luke 2:22-35 The birth of Christ is witnessed by an interesting set of characters. First, there were the shepherds. But now, as the firstborn Son was brought to the temple, we are introduced to another. This time it is a man named Simeon. We do not know much about him. He seems to have been a witness set apart for this specific moment. The language of verses 26 and 29 indicates that he was likely a very old man. Try to imagine this elderly believer, who lived in Jerusalem, coming “by the Spirit into the temple” (Luke 2:27). He knew, from the Holy Spirit, that he would one day meet the Messiah. His age reminds us that believing Israelites had waited a long, long time for the Messiah to come. At just the right time, he is there to greet this poor little family in the Father’s house. He takes the Child into his arms and blesses God. Simeon’s main testimony is great joy in seeing the Saviour! But why is this happening? Simeon’s testimony would affect Joseph and Mary, amazing them (Luke 2:23). It must have been an encouragement for this family to be greeted with such warmth and joy! This was also an appropriate reception to His Father’s house. For the first time, a genuinely righteous Child of God was entering the temple. Most importantly, despite His poverty and the strange circumstances of His birth, the beloved Son entered with the glory being given to God. Suggestion for prayer Pray for an eager expectation of the second coming of Christ, as Simeon had at the first coming!  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 25 - The shepherd’s testimony

“Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.” - Luke 2:20  Scripture reading: Luke 2:8-20 If we understood the place of a shepherd in New Testament Israel, we might wonder why God would choose to send angels to them. Shepherds were the lowest class. Their occupation, including the need to range sheep over long distances in the dry season, meant they could not keep the Sabbath as the Pharisees expected. Some ancient sources say that their testimony was not allowed to be used in a court of law, as they were considered unreliable and incapable of giving an accurate account. Once again, we see that the gospel account would not appeal to certain people. “…not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (1 Corinthians 1:26). Imagine then the effect of their testimony on the surrounding communities. Would they be mocked? Perhaps they would be treated as those who claim to have seen supernatural sights in our day? It would take faith to believe them! These shepherds are the start of a longer storyline. Throughout the ministry of Jesus, his followers would include converted sinners, tax-collectors, and zealots. The first witness to his resurrection would be Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons (Mark 16:9). When we bring the glorious message of the gospel, we should not be surprised if we are counted as fools. We are in lowly company when we believe in the virgin birth, the cross and the resurrection! And yet, this is the most glorious message to witness.  Suggestion for prayer Pray for someone who is too proud or “wise” to hear the gospel message. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 24 - The firstborn son

“She brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” -  Luke 2:7  Scripture reading: Luke 2:1-7 The word firstborn has a special meaning here. We would already know this reality from the context; it would be obvious. The term “firstborn” highlights the special status of this Son. The birth of a firstborn child is always a special moment; it is the moment we start parenting. There was even more to this status in Bible times. God had taught his people from the moment they left Egypt that their firstborn children belonged to Him (Luke 2:23). They had to pay a special redemption price for their firstborn sons, similar to what they had to offer the first fruits of their harvest. There was an expectation that the Messiah would be a firstborn King, made evident by prophecy (Psalm 89:26-27). The word “firstborn” here is as much a title as it is a description. It indicates that despite the poverty and shame in this scene, this Child is indeed the Chosen One. Mary gives her Son the very best care, respect and love that she can. She is deeply impressed by these events (Luke 2:19). She was caring for the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29). He is the firstborn over all creation, the owner of everything (Colossians 1:15). He is the only firstborn that is worthy of worship (Hebrews 1:6). He is the firstborn from the dead and the ruler over the kings of the earth (Revelation 1:5). His birth would change everything. The coming of the Lord’s angels in the following verses was a sign of these truths! Suggestion for prayer Pray that God’s gift of His firstborn Son would once again be seen as the hope of all the earth.  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 23 - A sad journey

“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea… to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.” - Luke 2:4-5  Scripture reading: Luke 2:1-5 The birth story of Jesus Christ begins under tyranny. Caesar Augustus, who was even thought of as a god, was busy ensuring that his empire would be taxed efficiently. This meant that lives were upended, all so that the Romans could have the information necessary to dominate their subjects. People like Joseph, who worked as a tradesman, were not wealthy. A command to travel like this meant hardship and loss. To make matters worse, his fiancé was expecting. This did not look good to the community and it was not an ideal time for a journey. Pregnancy was very hazardous in those times. Everything about the scene is sad and difficult. When they came to their destination, things did not get better. There was no comfortable place to stay; there was no room for them in a dwelling or inn. They ended up in a stable, a barn, or perhaps the courtyard of a home where animals were kept. Sadly, much of what is thought of as “Christmas” romanticizes this scene. This is not good! There was little or nothing cozy or ideal about this situation. These would have been miserable and degrading circumstances. The Lord had chosen to “make Himself of no reputation” and “take the form of a bondservant” (Philippians 2:7). This scene is about the Lord Jesus beginning to take the place of sinners. The reason for this situation is that “…He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Suggestion for prayer Pray for a realistic view of the incarnation and that many would see the true reason for the humility of Christ. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 22 - His name is Jesus

“She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:21  Scripture reading: Matthew 1:18-24 Joseph had a unique role in the history of salvation. It was his calling to be stepfather to the Son of God! He would have a difficult life, being forced to move multiple times. The angel's visit must have been precious to him, as he may have done things far differently had he not received it. One of his most important assignments was the naming of Jesus. In ancient times, names were not chosen for their appealing sound. Most new parents did not discuss whether first names "fit" well with middle names or last names. They chose names that were significant to families and that a child was expected to live up to. In this case, the name was ultimately chosen by God for His Son. Jesus is a short form for “Jehovah-saves.” Jehovah, or Yahweh, is the covenant name of the Lord. It means that He is the truly existing God Who also visits His people. Jesus is also the Greek version of the Old Testament name Joshua. Joshua was called to lead the army of Israel into battle, with impossible odds against them. Time and time again, they learned that the battle belonged to the Lord. Jesus would become a far greater saviour than Joshua, however. He would not merely save from enemies, but from sin itself. He was not simply a symbol of Jehovah’s help. He was and is Jehovah Who saves. Joseph was given one of the most important tasks in all of history: declaring the name of Jesus! Suggestion for prayer Pray for a greater understanding of the true significance of the name Jesus in a world that uses His name so lightly! Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 21 - A miracle child

“Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John… he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.” -  Luke 1:13,16  Scripture reading: Luke 1:1-25 The Lord chose, on several occasions, to mark His work in history with unusual birth stories. Some examples include the births of Isaac, Samuel, Samson and John the Baptist. These births were like signposts, or markers, reminding that the Lord alone could provide deliverance for His people. These occasions were also surrounded by signs such as announcements by angels. Strange, miraculous things happened! Elizabeth was “well advanced in years” and yet was expecting a baby. Zacharias was visited by an angel and was unable to speak for months. The baby boy was given an unusual name and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He would live an extraordinary life in the wilderness, even as a youth. All of these things were proof that the Lord was working out his plan in history. John the Baptist was sent to get the attention of God’s people. They needed a wake-up call, a call to repentance. They needed to be prepared to meet the Lord Jesus. Though we live in different times, is it not true that many need the same call today? A call to be turned, away from themselves, away from worldliness and away from superficial religion? Are you prepared to meet the Lord when He returns? Are your friends and your family ready? One day, all of us will have to meet Him face-to-face. Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and His impending arrival ought to fill us with reverence! Suggestion for prayer Pray for those that do not see their need to be turned to the Lord God, that the preaching of the gospel would lead them to true repentance.  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 20 - Called out of Egypt

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.” - Hosea 11:1  Scripture reading: Hosea 11:1-9 It is interesting to think about this text and how Old Testament believers would read it. They would naturally look backward in time. They would see this as a hopeful picture of how God had rescued their fledgling nation out of slavery in Egypt. The terms are endearing and beautiful. Sadly, however, the context is appalling. In the context, Hosea makes comparisons that show how shamefully Israel’s rebellion contrasts with the Lord’s love. He speaks of great wickedness in the verse before and of sacrifices to the Baals in the verse after. This was a reminder to sinful and rebellious people of God’s covenant love to them. Reading this in context helps us understand the significance of what Matthew 2:15 means as the Holy Spirit highlights this verse. Matthew understood that this text mainly pointed forward to the Son of God. As His family fled the threats of Herod, the Lord Jesus Christ was forced into exile in Egypt. He was suffering the consequences of sin as his family was driven into a foreign land. But He was driven there for the purpose of being called back out. “…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ‘Out of Egypt I called My Son’” (Matthew 2:15). Even as a little child, the Lord Jesus was already taking the place of sinners. He would take the route of His people so that He could redeem His people. And He did so, always, as the beloved Son of the Father. Suggestion for prayer Pray for covenant children who are in danger of going into slavery to sin, that they would see their need for the Son.  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 19 - A ruler from Bethlehem

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” - Micah 5:2  Scripture reading: Micah 5  Bethlehem was just a tiny, obscure village. Here it was even referred to as “little among the thousands of Judah.” Almost any other town would be bigger and seem better, apart from one fact: it was the birthplace of David, the great king of Israel.  David started as a mere shepherd boy. He was a little brother, from a little village and yet, it was David who put Bethlehem on the map. He drove back his nation's enemies and he united the tribes under one ruler. There was a time of peace and plenty. A powerful family line of kings would rule after David for many generations. People would remember Bethlehem, mainly because David was a man after God’s own heart who was raised up to be a great leader (1 Samuel 13:14). All of David’s accomplishments, however, were just preparation for the real purpose of Bethlehem. History set the stage for the One Ruler, the King of Kings, to be born there. He is the eternal Son of God, Who has always existed, from everlasting. And yet, He would choose this tiny place as a testimony to the world. He could have chosen to be born in Jerusalem, or even Rome, but instead, He arranged history so that His earthly life would begin in an otherwise obscure place. “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise… and the weak things to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:27).  Suggestion for prayer Pray that the humility of Christ would be impressed on many in these times, and that they would truly come to Christ. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 18 - The root and the branch

Isaiah 11:1–2 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him. Scripture reading: Isaiah 11:1-16  When we talk about a “family tree,” we use the same symbol that Isaiah spoke of in chapter 11. Isaiah pictures David’s father, Jesse, as the trunk or the stem of this family tree. From his son, David, onward, this would have been the family tree of the kings. Generation after generation, his sons had ruled over Judah. What is profound, however, is the context of this verse. At the end of chapter 10, the LORD is pictured as cutting down many forests. Isaiah 10:33 says, “Those of high stature will be hewn down, And the haughty will be humbled.” The hope of Isaiah 11:1 comes on the heels of a threat. The threat is that the nations, and even their kings, will be cut down to size. In time, sadly, this would happen to the house of Jesse. They would lose their high position and they would become prisoners and slaves in exile. What had once been a mighty family tree would be a mere stump. The glory of the kings of Judah would be cut down! Imagine if your family was forcibly taken to a foreign land and imprisoned? Would you have hope for the future? Isaiah saw hope, that from that stump a new shoot would begin to grow. God allowed the descendants of Jesse to survive, despite their sin and its consequences. Far in the future, even though He was born into a poor family under the oppression of Rome, Jesus Christ would grow out of that "stump" to become our Rod and Branch!  Suggestion for prayer Pray that those you know who seem to have lost all hope, that they would see the hope that is in the Rod and the Branch.  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 17 - The Prince of peace

“...unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end…” - Isaiah 9:6–7  Scripture reading: Isaiah 9:1-7 The prophet, Isaiah, lived in a time which was devastating for believers. Israel had fallen into idolatry and into every kind of evil. The northern tribes were conquered and enslaved during the life of Isaiah. The kings of Judah, increasingly, had failed to lead according to God’s law. The consequences of these sins were beginning to pile up. Isaiah’s calling was to bring many warnings, rebukes and calls to repentance to a disobedient people, and he did this faithfully. Isaiah also, however, was given messages of comfort for the true children of God. One central theme was that the Lord had revealed that the Messiah would come. Throughout the book of Isaiah, there are clear prophecies about Him. In Isaiah 9, His identity is clearly laid out. The Messiah will be born as a child, given as a Son. He would be truly human. And yet, He would be much more than that. Isaiah knew that the Messiah would be God, with all of the attributes of God. He would be amazing, wise, almighty, eternal and the King of Kings. Isaiah described the Lord Jesus Christ in beautiful poetic language, even 700 or so years before He was born. Imagine the comfort that this prophecy brought to disappointed believers living in dark times! We continue to hold the same hope and trust in the same prophecy that Isaiah gave, knowing that there will be no end to His peace and government. Suggestion for prayer Pray that governments would submit to God, and that as Christians, we would be able to live a quiet and peaceable life (1 Timothy 2:2). Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 16 - Kiss the son

“Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way.” - Psalm 2:11–12  Scripture reading: Psalm 2:1-12 Psalm 2 pictures the nations of the world and their leaders engaged in rebellion against God. They are even foolishly plotting together to break free from God’s control. God’s response to their plots is laughter! (v.4) It is a rare scene in scripture, almighty God laughing, and so it should cause us to take notice! This laughter highlights how utterly foolish it is to resist God. Rather than bend to the will of rebels, He promises to install His Son as King of Kings and have Him rule with a rod of iron.  We still live in a time where Psalm 2 is playing out. The nations rage and rebel against God. But the reality is that Christ rules over them and He will completely conquer them in the end. He will also conquer you, if He has not already. The call of Psalm 2 is to recognize His Lordship and to bow before Him before it is too late. It is a call to stop rebelling and to start serving the Lord with fear. The command given is: “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry.” A kiss was a symbol of intimate friendship and trust. But here it comes with a warning. We might say, “kiss and make-up” before it is too late! Would you consider yourself a rebel or a loyal subject to Christ the King? Have you come before Him, confessing your sin and professing your trust in Him? Blessed are those who put their trust in Him! Suggestion for prayer Pray for rebellious leaders or acquaintances that they would repent and bow to the King of Kings before it is too late! Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 15 - The Redeemer

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth, and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.” - Job 19:25-26  Scripture reading: Job 19:1-29 The suffering of Job was emotional, physical and spiritual. He lost his family, possessions and health. By chapter 19, however, Job was in the process of losing even more. His relationship with his friends was strained. Rather than comforting him, they began to attack his reputation. In this intense suffering, Job came to a strong, prophetic confession of faith in his Redeemer. He had faith that his Redeemer was alive, even already at that time. He also trusted that this Redeemer would one day come to stand on the earth. His Redeemer would be his champion and vindicator, the One Who would conquer death on Job’s behalf.  We don’t know precisely when Job lived, but it was more than 1500 years before Christ, perhaps more than 2000. Certainly, this account is very, very ancient. And yet this man, in the midst of his intense suffering, had a very clear view of the Son of God. Job’s hope was fulfilled in the incarnation and the resurrection of Christ. Yet, he even looks further forward, hoping for the time when Job himself would be resurrected and see his Saviour with his own eyes! This enduring faith has lived in the hearts of God’s children for thousands of years. Still to this day, believers who suffer greatly often display great faith. One day, that faith will be replaced by sight “...we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). Suggestion for prayer Pray that your hope in the Redeemer and His resurrection would grow in the face of trials. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 14 - A house, father, and son

“He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.” - 2 Samuel 7:13–14  Scripture reading: Psalm 122 A good king, president or prime minister can undoubtedly make a difference. Try to imagine the changes in Israel a few years after David became king! Enemy nations had been driven back. Strong borders were established. Tensions between tribes were subdued. A new capital city, Jerusalem, had been established. There was, however, one thing that David was not allowed to accomplish. David had hoped that he could build the temple, a house for God in Jerusalem. But God told him that rather than David building Him a house, God would build David’s house (2 Samuel 7:11). It would be his son, Solomon, that would build the temple. Also, David’s sons, if they kept God’s commandments, would rule Israel forever! God even promised that He would be like a Father to the son of David! Sadly, however, David’s descendants did not end up keeping God’s law. They began to rule wickedly and even to encourage idolatry. They failed to keep their side of the covenant. Finally, even the kings ended up in exile as slaves, far from the promised land. That story, however, ends with a glimmer of hope. Jehoiachin, the last king of Judah, was spared and allowed to eat at the emperor's table (2 Kings 25:29). Though they were far from home, God preserved the line of the kings of Judah so that Jesus Christ could be born as the true Son of David (Matthew 1:16). Though the merely human sons of David were incapable of maintaining a kingdom, the Son rules all nations forever! Suggestion for prayer Pray “...for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:2). Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 13 - Israel needs a King

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” - Judges 17:6  Scripture reading: Judges 17:1-13 It is not natural for people to admit that they need the King of kings to rule over them. Our culture has taught us that every person knows what is best for themselves. It is thought that as long as people can freely choose their path, all will be well with them. A similar worldview prevailed in the time of the Judges. The Israelites quickly forgot the leadership of Moses and the law of God. They began to assume that they knew best what was right. The result was one of the darkest periods in Israel's history. Idolatry, covetousness, perversity and violence multiplied. So the refrain of Judges was, “...there was no king in Israel.” The book recounts some of the worst times in the Bible. This period was like a dark backdrop being painted in preparation for the anointing of the kings. In time, David and then Solomon would be appointed and they would unite the nation and establish the house of God at its center. Under their rule, there would be greater peace, safety and justice. Their kingdom, however, was a mere shadow of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. When the wise men came in Matthew 2, they were directed to Bethlehem. It was out of Bethlehem that would “...come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel” (Matthew 2:6). The need for this King is more profound than the need for good politicians or godly leaders. You need Him to rule over you: your thoughts, words, and deeds! Suggestion for prayer Pray that many will see their need for the Lord Jesus to rule over them by His Word and Spirit. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 12 - The star of Jacob

“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Sceptre shall rise out of Israel.” - Numbers 24:17  Scripture reading: Numbers 24:12-19 Balaam’s role in the Bible is memorable and filled with irony. Many will mainly remember the talking donkey who saves Balaam’s life. But the talking donkey was only a tiny preview of greater irony that was to come. Balaam was known as a diviner, wizard or fortune-teller of some kind. He claimed to be a spokesman for God, but his ways were perverse (Numbers 22:32). He “loved the wages of unrighteousness” and devised a plan to lure the children of Israel into wickedness (2 Peter 2:15, Revelation 2:14). Balaam, as a “diviner for hire,” could hardly be expected to be reliable. Yet, though he was an unlikely speaker, God used Balaam to pronounce only beautiful blessings on Israel. One of these prophecies was that far in the future, “…a Star would come out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel.” A star was the sign of the birth of a great King (Matthew 2:2), and the sceptre was the rod that was a symbol of His power. Balaam was foreseeing the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and even preaching the hope of His coming kingdom! There is in this event a double hope in the end, first that the Lord can use enemies to bless His people abundantly. Second, no matter how evil some in this world are, they cannot deny the coming of Christ. He has come and He now rules over all things, even all of the nations! (1 Peter 3:22).  Suggestion for prayer Pray for wisdom to see that God even uses evil and influential people to bless His children.  Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 11 - Standing in the breach 

“He said that He would destroy them, had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach, to turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them.” - Psalm 106:23  Scripture reading: Psalm 106:1-48 Adam and Eve were banished from the garden. Cain was driven further to the east. At Babel, all of humanity was scattered across the face of the earth. We find a pattern in the Old Testament of growing distant from God. As the exodus progressed, this sad pattern developed again. Though God’s people had followed Him safely across the Red Sea, they soon began to despise His ways. Psalm 106 reviews this history of rebellion and punishments. God had made it clear that His people deserved to be destroyed. There was a breach between God and His people. The word means “gap,” and it points to a dreadful relational breakdown, a situation where two parties had a chasm or abyss of brokenness between them.  Israel had “cheated” on God with the golden calf. They had fallen in love with an idol and rejected Him. So, He threatened to destroy them utterly and they would have deserved that end (Exodus 32:10). But there is hope in this scene! Moses himself had not been part of this rebellion or idolatry. He was still in fellowship with God and he was allowed to stand in the breach. When Moses pleaded with God for them, he pointed to God’s covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 32:13). Moses became their mediator. His role was preparing God’s people to see how all of us need a Mediator. Though we have not been faithful to Him, He continues to make intercession for us! Suggestion for prayer Pray for those in denial of the serious breach between themselves and God. Pray for forgiveness and repentance for “…covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 10 - Spiritual drink

“...all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” - 1 Corinthians 10:3–4  Scripture reading: Exodus 17:1-7 If you have been to a desert, you know that you can get very thirsty in a short time. Now imagine a nation of hundreds of thousands, even millions of people, living in the Sinai desert for decades. The only way this was possible was that the Lord regularly provided them with water. At Marah, the Lord guided Moses to cast a tree into the water to make it drinkable. At Horeb at the beginning of their long journey and Meribah near the end, Moses struck the rock with his rod and water came out. From this passage in 1 Corinthians 10, we learn that those two scenes were bookends to an ongoing reality. As Israel traveled with the pillar of cloud and fire in front of them, the “spiritual Rock” followed behind them. This is a mysterious truth. Through the Saviour and His work, they were always provided with and always within reach of life-giving water. None of the Israelites needed to be lost in the wilderness, none needed to starve and none needed to die of thirst. Every place they camped, there was water. That scene, however, was not just about literal water. As believing Israelites went through those trials in faith, they were drinking of the living water. The Lord was supplying them with every spiritual need in Christ. What a picture of comfort this is! That the Saviour goes both before and behind His people, filling their every need! Jesus promised His people, “...whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst” (John 4:14). Suggestion for prayer Pray with thanksgiving for Christ our Rock! Pray that contentedness would take the place of complaining and that you would rejoice in the gift of living water Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

Daily devotional

December 9 - The baptism of Israel

“Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” - 1 Corinthians 10:1–2  Scripture reading: Exodus 14:21-31 When God’s people were separated from Egypt, first by the cloud and then by the Red Sea crossing, they were being baptized. Baptism is a sign of the need for separation. As water washes away filth, so the work of the Lord washes away sin and gives new life. Baptism means that individuals and their households have a new identity. For Israel, that identity was tied to Moses' leadership. They were no longer under the ownership of Pharaoh. The nation of Israel had been “born again.” God taught His people about the need for a new life, even as baptism now points to rebirth. The church now has been baptized in "the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." We do not belong to this world! We belong to the LORD Himself. Looking back on that Red Sea crossing would motivate believers for generations. Several Psalms recount that event. In 1 Corinthians 10, the Apostle Paul also sees the need to remind the church of this event. He uses this example to remind us of the need to look to Christ, even during trials and temptations (1 Corinthians 10:12-13). Sadly, many who crossed the Red Sea fell away. They crossed the Red Sea, but Egypt never left their hearts. The same danger exists today. Therefore “...forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14). Suggestion for prayer Praise the LORD of deliverance and baptism. Pray for the wisdom to continue to look to Christ amid temptations. Pastor Robert VanDoodewaard currently serves the Free Reformed Church in Powassan, Ontario, Canada as a minister of the gospel....

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