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Daily devotional

February 16 - He comes to purify

“But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.” - Malachi 3:2-4  Scripture reading: 1 Peter 1:1-9 In Christ, we no longer stand guilty before a holy God. Nevertheless, we still need sanctification. He purifies us. He is like a refiner’s fire and a fuller’s soap. It is said, silversmiths took ore and refined it to get the purest silver they possibly could. God himself wants to refine His children so that they become pure. The greatest and most important part of the refining process was the heating of the metal. The silversmith would hold a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. In refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest to burn away all the impurities. He had to sit in front of the fire, holding the silver and had to keep his eyes on it the entire time it was there. For if the silver was left in the flames even a moment too long, it would be destroyed. The silver is fully refined when the silversmith could see his face reflected in it. Remember, your covenant God desires to refine you and remove all impurities. He is working to sanctify you. Sometimes, this takes the fires of affliction and pain. Whatever the situation in your life, He will sit and watch you in the fire ever so patiently. He carefully pulls us out of the fire at just the right time as He works His purposes in us. All so that He sees Christ reflected in us. Suggestions for prayer Praise the LORD that He has given us Jesus, the One Who purifies us. Ask the LORD to sanctify you so that you reflect Christ more and more as you look to Him by faith. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 15 - My messenger

“Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.” - Malachi 3:1  Scripture reading: Malachi 3:1-17 The LORD, in grace, sends His messenger to prepare the way for His coming into the world. I read that the imagery of preparing the way before the LORD came from the custom of clearing the road and preparing a town for the visit of the king. Before the king would travel, he sent out his messengers who proclaimed his coming. They didn’t have road crews to maintain the roads like we have today. So when the townspeople heard the king was coming, they would go and repair the road, fill in the ruts and potholes and clear away any rocks and debris. Once everything was prepared and his coming announced, then the king would come. The first messenger here points to John the Baptist, the forerunner whose ministry God used to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. The second messenger of the covenant, is Christ, the One in Whom you delight. He has come into His Temple. The LORD declares His coming and warns the people to take notice and to be prepared. He graciously sends His messenger to declare, “The KING is coming! Be ready!  Come to Him in repentance and faith for He alone is your salvation! He is coming to His Temple to make Himself a sin offering for us and to restore us to our God. He comes to fix the potholes of sin. He clears out the rocks of self-centeredness and pride. Are you rejoicing at the news the King has come and He seeks to save His people? Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to help you deal with any type of vice and sin in your heart. Pray that the LORD would grant you a strong desire to know His Word and that you would look to Christ as your Saviour. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

 February 14 - Guard yourself

“Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.” - Malachi 2:15  Scripture reading: Isaiah 40:1-31 The LORD commands His people to “guard yourselves in your spirit” so that they will be faithful in their marriages. The word “guard” comes as a picture of a sheepfold. When a shepherd was out in the wilderness with his flock, he would gather thorn bushes to build a safe place for his flock for the night. The thorns would protect the sheep from predators and harm. Hence, we are to guard and protect ourselves in our marriages, like the shepherd guards the sheep, so that the predators of carnality, adultery, and sin do not break in to harm and destroy it. How do you guard your spirit? We must protect our minds against the constant bombardment we have from our culture that is contrary to the Word of God. The Psalmist declared, How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word (Psalm 119:9). The only way to effectively guard our spirits is to be constantly immersed in God’s Word. That is going to take more than a 30-minute sermon twice a week. Think about how often we are exposed to secular media that is contrary to God’s Word. We are constantly being fed with ungodliness through advertisements, music, TV shows and movies. What we believe and follow certainly affects our relationships and marriages. The LORD calls us to be faithful. As the Proverb says, Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life(Proverbs 4:23). Are you seeking to guard yourself through Christ? Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to help you to be faithful and to use your time for spiritual life and growth in God’s Word through Christ. Pray the LORD will protect your heart from the corruption of the world. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 13 - Faithful and committed

“Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god.” - Malachi 2:11  Scripture reading: Ephesians 5:1-32 Malachi uses the example of marriage to illustrate how the people had been faithless to the covenant and to God. When it came to their marriages, the men of Israel were taking foreign wives and marrying the “daughters of a foreign god.” In other words, they were marrying women who remained faithful to other gods. Like Solomon, foreign wives had turned their hearts away from the LORD. Because of this, the people corrupted their worship of the LORD with the worship of idols and other deities. Hence, the LORD charges the people with profaning the sanctuary despite their expression of love for it. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5 that the relationship between a husband and wife is a picture of Christ and the church. He tells us, Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). How great is the love that Christ has for us that he would give Himself up for us! When people violate the marriage covenant, they are also corrupting the picture of this important covenant relationship Christ has with His people. Malachi is a relevant book for us today. We’ve become a self-centred, individualistic society in which people regularly fail to keep their commitments. And what is happening with marriages in our culture? Unfortunately, they are failing as they are no longer seen as sacred covenantal unions between a man and a woman. In the covenant of marriage, we also show our commitment to be faithful to Christ as the One we ultimately love. Suggestions for prayer Pray the LORD will give you sincerity of heart as you worship today. Pray the LORD will help His people have committed, loving relationships in the covenant of marriage. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 12 - The LORD is faithful to his covenant

“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?” - Malachi 2:10  Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 7:1-26 Here the people are questioning and they recognize God as their Father, yet they have been faithless and profaned God’s covenant. They received the covenant with the LORD because of grace. This is reaffirmed by the two questions that Malachi asks in vs 10. Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Malachi is not using these questions to teach the universal fatherhood of God. He is making clear that God is the Father and the Creator of His covenant people. And despite their continued rebellion, faithlessness and profaning the covenant, God kept this covenant with them. The fact Israel had returned to the land and worshipped at the rebuilt Temple was certainly evidence that God is faithful to His covenant with them. T. Barnum made a fortune based on his philosophy, “There is a sucker born every minute.” Con artists have always thrived on schemes to bilk unsuspecting people out of their money. Our enemy, Satan, has a con game and he seeks to deceive you. He tells you, God is not good, He is not faithful, and He will let you down if you trust in Him. Is this true? Jesus is not faithful and Satan is so? If you believe this then I have some great swampland in Florida I would like to sell you!! Your heavenly Father is faithful to His covenant and His people. He shows His faithfulness in how He sent His Son to save His people from their sin. Trust in Him and you will not be disappointed. Suggestions for prayer Praise the LORD for His covenant faithfulness and love for us, a love that sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to die for us. Pray that we would respond in faithfulness and love for Him. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB.  ...

Daily devotional

February 11 - We are messengers!

“True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.” - Malachi 2:6-7  Scripture reading: Colossians 1:1-14 In the time before modern communication, when a king needed to communicate with someone in his kingdom or with a foreign dignitary, he would send his messenger with his message. The messenger was not free to create his own version of the king’s word. Even if he didn’t like the message, he still had to be absolutely accurate when declaring what the king wanted to say. When referring to Levi, the LORD declares that he feared Him and stood in awe of Him. As a result, Levi taught true instruction and no wrong was found on his lips. Our text says he walked with God, lived in peace, uprightness, and was a reliable source for instruction. He was a messenger of the LORD of hosts! This applies to us today as well, doesn’t it? The message of Jesus, the King of kings, is to be declared faithfully and accurately by His servants in all generations. We are also His messengers! We need to have a testimony like that of Levi. Do you fear the LORD and stand in awe of Him? Do you seek to walk with God, live in peace and uprightness before the LORD? Do you seek to declare true Biblical instruction to others? Sound teaching must flow out of a godly life. Only in Christ by His Spirit can we be a true witness to others with the saving message of the gospel. Seek to be a faithful messenger for Christ today. Seek to know the truth so that you can share the truth. Suggestions for prayer Thank the LORD that He saved us in Christ so that we can live godly lives, walk with Him and receive His instruction. Ask the LORD to help you to be His messenger to share His truth to others. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 10 - A covenant of life and peace

“So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may stand, says the LORD of hosts. My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave them to him. It was a covenant of fear, and he feared me. He stood in awe of my name.” - Malachi 2:4-5  Scripture reading: Romans 5:8-21 Life and peace are qualities we all desire. Are you lacking these in your life? How do we obtain true life and peace as mentioned in our text? Through the One Who enters into a covenant relationship with us by our mediator Jesus Christ. When Malachi mentions Levi, he is not just referring to the man, but to the line of priests that descended from him. The LORD chose the tribe of Levi for the care of the tabernacle and the ministry in the sanctuary.  He placed them in a special covenant relationship with Himself as part of the ceremonial law. The Levitical priesthood pointed forward to Christ in His mediatorial office as the ultimate High Priest making intercession for His people. There are several ways in which God’s covenant with Levi is described here. The LORD declared that it will stand; it is a covenant of life and peace and a covenant of fear. This Levitical covenant points to the greater covenant of grace we have with Christ, our great High Priest. As a Christian, it is Christ Who gives you life and peace! Outside of Christ, one can never truly know and experience life and peace. The LORD’s covenant is established with us by grace as we have faith in Christ. It also means we fear Him or reverence Him as Levi feared and was in awe of His name. May you know covenantal life and peace as you seek to reverence Him as your God. Suggestions for prayer Praise the LORD that He gives us life and peace and restores us through the intercession of our Great High Priest Jesus Christ. Ask the LORD to help you to reverence Christ as your Saviour and Lord. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 9 - Harsh words?

“Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it.” - Malachi 2:3  Scripture reading: Psalm 29:1-11 In verse 3, the LORD becomes very graphic by saying that He will spread dung on the faces of the priests and rebuke their children. This will cause them to be despised and humiliated by the people. These proud priests were trying to keep up their image as important and influential men. But God will expose them for what they are, defiled and unclean. The LORD is saying that because His priests have not honoured Him or His holiness, He is going to take the excrement from the sick animals they are sacrificing and smear it on their faces. Imagine these self-righteous religious leaders with their faces covered with feces! Horrible to imagine, but that’s how serious God is about His servants approaching Him acceptably with right offerings. The LORD is telling these men He rejects them completely. As the dung is to be taken away, so the LORD says He will remove them. What is the Lord’s desire for you? We are called to honour the Lord and to keep His covenant as those who are in Christ. Your covenant God is not passive about how we treat His name. Are you able to truly prosper if you rebel against Him and His Word? How would you react if the LORD was rebuking you the way He is rebuking these priests? May it be our prayer, LORD, help me not just give lip service to You. Help me to reverence Christ. Help me to truly know Christ as Saviour and to live to glorify Him. Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to give you a right view of the holiness and majesty of God and give you the desire to live in a manner that shows reverence and respect for Him, to live for Christ and not just ourselves. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 8 - Are you listening?

“And now, O priests, this command is for you. If you will not listen, if you will not take it to heart to give honor to my name, says the LORD of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart.” - Malachi 2:1-2  Scripture reading: Malachi 2:1-14 Notice that because they didn’t honour the LORD, they didn’t bother to listen to Him. The term “listen” means to hear intelligently and to respond with obedience. To “take it to heart” refers to an active decision of the will. He also warns them that if they do not take it to heart to honour His Name, He would curse them. In fact, He had already cursed them. Not a good position to be in! It was time to pay attention and listen up. But they didn’t seem to care. The first step down the slippery slope of superficial religion is to dishonour the LORD and His holiness. A.W. Tozer said, “What you think about God is the most important thing about you.” And yet, because of God’s love and grace, He offers them a chance to return. Look at the very first word of verse 2, “If.” God is giving them a condition and if they persist in their wicked ways, then He will punish them. On the other hand, if they turn to God and set their hearts to honour and obey Him, then He will give them His blessings. Should we not also take it to heart to make sure we are giving honour to the name of Christ? If you are seeking to be obedient to the LORD by grace through Christ, then thankfully enjoy His blessings. However, what happens if you ignore Him and don’t bother to listen to His Word? Don’t be in a place where He sends His curse upon you.   Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to help you pay attention to His Word and that you will be able to more and more die unto sin and live unto righteousness through Christ Who makes you holy. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 7 - A proper attitude toward God 

“But you say, 'How have we despised your name?' By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, 'How have we polluted you?' By saying that the LORD's table may be despised.” - Malachi 1:6b-7  Scripture reading: Ephesians 2:1-22 When the LORD confronted the priests through Malachi, they didn’t get it: “How have we despised Your name?” “How have we polluted You?”  They looked at all their activities: they were busy offering sacrifices and leading the people in worship. They were doing everything they were required to do. However, in all their activities they did not have a God-ward focus. They were not offering their sacrifices to please the LORD. They were not focused on magnifying His Name. Their attitude reflected their arrogance and lack of reverence for Him. They were going through the motions of worship, but their hearts were not seeking to exalt and glorify God as He deserves. There is a story about a missionary who received a shipment of used clothing and other items from some dear older saint. Included in the box was a jar full of used tea bags that the lady had faithfully dried out and sent for the missionary’s use. Used tea bags! Why not send a case of new ones? If you hear about a missionary who needs a new computer, don’t give your old, outdated one. Buy a new one! If it’s for the LORD, shouldn’t we give our best? Ask yourself these questions: Am I valuing what God values? Do my priorities, the way I spend my time, money and efforts, reflect the things that matter most? Am I seeking to honour Christ above all else in my life? May we seek to magnify the Name of the LORD in all we say and do. Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to give you a heart that desires to obey Christ rather than to surrender to human passion and sin. Pray that, by grace through faith, you will also live for Christ and grow in sanctification and holiness. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 6 - Come with true worship

“But you say, 'How have we despised your name?' By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, 'How have we polluted you?' By saying that the LORD's table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil?” - Malachi 1:6b-8a   Scripture reading: Psalm 26:1-12 This charge is serious since priests were supposed to be holy, faithful and offer right sacrifices. Rather than coming to the LORD in His appointed manner, what are they doing? Arguing with Him. How have we despised your name? How have we polluted you? They are saying, we are coming with animal sacrifices, this is what you want isn’t it? What’s the problem? The problem was that they assumed they could offer any animal, blind, lame or sick. If it is being sacrificed anyway, it is a great way to get rid of unwanted animals! Better to offer blemished animals than none at all, isn’t it? They were trying to make worship more convenient and affordable for the people. The LORD tells them their offerings are polluted and that they despised His name. To offer blemished sacrifices was evil and an affront to His holiness. Remember all of the offerings pictured the perfect spotless sacrifice of Christ! Don’t be like these priests, to argue with God rather than submit to Him when things don’t go your way. Don’t think, better to give God something rather than nothing at all when it comes to your devotion, worship and giving. Don’t come to God with a polluted heart, holding on to sin while only giving lip service to Him. On this Lord’s Day, come to Him in sincerity of heart, with true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, your only pure and holy sacrifice for sin. Come with true worship today as you meet with the LORD. Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to grant you sincerity of heart in true faith to Christ. Pray that you will see Christ as the perfect sacrifice for your sin and that He will give you grace so that you will give Him true worship. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 5 - Our father and master

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name.” - Malachi 1:6  Scripture reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 The LORD is a father to Israel. Should the nation which was considered a “firstborn son” of the LORD be less obedient and so careless? This is why God’s question was so sharply declared, If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? These questions show the important relationship we have with the LORD. We are His children and He is our Father, the One Who loves us and provides for us in every way. Is it right then to take His Word lightly and to only listen and obey when it suits us? There is a phenomenon that happens called a sinkhole. A sinkhole occurs when the ground underneath the surface gives way and everything collapses creating a huge hole. Sinkholes can swallow people, cars, even entire buildings. Suddenly everything simply caves in and disappears. Why am I telling you this? The sinkhole happens in a place where there is a weak foundation. You think the ground on which you are standing is solid, but suddenly it is not and everything is gone. Without Christ, we have no real foundation for our beliefs and faith. We may think everything is solid, but then it is not, as if a sinkhole appears and everything is gone. The LORD is our Father and Master through Christ. Your relationship with Him is so vital and important. Do not have sinkhole religion without foundation, but have true faith in Christ as Saviour and Lord. Suggestions for prayer Pray that Jesus will be the foundation of your faith and not some kind of sinkhole religion. Ask the LORD to help you honour, obey and fear Him as your Father and Master. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB.  ...

Daily devotional

February 4 - God’s love declared

“"Is not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert."” - Malachi 1:2-3  Scripture reading: 1 John 3:1-24 In referencing Jacob and Esau, the LORD is speaking about the nations that descended from these brothers, Israel and Edom. In His sovereign plan, God determined that the people descending from Jacob, the Jews, would be His chosen people. He loved them in a special way that He did not love other nations including Edom. The LORD is saying I have a relationship with you, Jacob, because I chose you and I do not have a relationship with you, Esau, because I have rejected you. If you are a Christian, recognize you are chosen, greatly loved, and have a relationship with Christ. You are not just a follower of religion. A follower of religion can change his mind to follow some other religion. At no time would I say to my wife, we have been married for almost 26 years, but you just don’t interest me anymore, so let’s go our separate ways. If I was just interested in being married, I could easily leave her for another. But rather, I love this woman and there are no others I could ever love more than her. I love her more each day because we have a relationship together. I would be miserable if we went our separate ways. The LORD loves you and chose you to have this wonderful relationship with Christ to save you. Now I ask you, what is your attitude towards Him? Are you a follower of religion or Christ? Depending on how you answer that question tells you where your heart is today. Suggestions for prayer Pray the LORD helps you to look to Jesus with the eyes of faith even if your present circumstances make it difficult. Ask the LORD to grant you a deep love for Christ knowing that by faith you belong to Him and nothing can separate you from Him. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 3 - How have you loved us?

“"I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have you loved us?"” - Malachi 1:2 Scripture reading: Hebrews 12:1-29 These people, unfortunately, question God’s love and don’t believe Him. Their question reveals a lack of a suitable response to the love the LORD has extended to them. Instead of accepting and rejoicing over His love, they question it. Also understand, these people were not openly rebellious against the LORD. They have returned to the land after the Babylonian captivity. Some of them may have worked with Nehemiah on rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. They were outwardly following the Law of Moses and offering sacrifices. If you had asked how they were doing spiritually, they would have said, “We are doing just fine, thanks.” But that’s not what the LORD says! He knew their hearts and desires. As they looked at their circumstances, things were not going as they expected, so they grew discouraged. They were still under the authority of the Persian king and his appointed governor. Their farms were not doing well because of drought (3:10-11). Many of them were probably thinking, if this is love why does it seem like the opposite! Like Israel, we will grow indifferent to God’s great love for us if we focus on our difficult circumstances rather than God’s plan and purpose for us. If we focus on our problems, they will consume us and cause us to lose joy in Christ and His love for us. Have you lost perspective? Are you questioning GOD’s love for you in Christ? Have you allowed something in your life to become greater than God and that consumes you? Suggestions for prayer Pray the LORD will enable you to rest in His great love for you. Ask the LORD to grant you a genuine faith that will stand up to all the trials and sorrows in life, a faith in Christ alone for salvation. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB.  ...

Daily devotional

February 2 - I have loved you 

“"I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have you loved us?"” - Malachi 1:2  Scripture reading: Romans 5:1-9 The first statement made by the LORD is not a rebuke, that is coming, but a declaration of His love despite the waywardness of His covenant people. This should immediately be comforting to you as well. The LORD declares His love for you even when you do not deserve it. In this one word, “love,” all of GOD’s gracious dealings with His people is realized. Love is the goodness of God whereby He delights in and finds joy in giving Himself to His people. It is an exercise of God’s goodness to sinners whereby He willingly gives His Son to be their Saviour in order to deal with their sin. Remember God’s love is not like our love. His love is unchanging and ever constant. Our love is always changing and fickle. If your heart is indifferent to God’s love, consider the wonder of His great love for you. Paul told us in Romans 5:8-9, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. The LORD did not wait for you to love Him, but He showed the greatness of His love to you and this is while you were a sinner. Christ came to die and save from the wrath that comes on a fallen, rebellious world. The LORD declares His love for you, how do you respond to Him? Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to help you to truly understand and see the greatness of His love for you in Christ. Pray that you will respond to Him with faith, love and thankfulness for His love to you. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

February 1: Introducing the book of Malachi

For February, we will focus on the Old Testament book of Malachi. In the prophecy of Malachi, we find that the LORD was not pleased with His people. The LORD had been put on the national "back burner." He desires honesty and truth and rejects all hypocritical shows of paying lip service to Him. Worship had degenerated into nothing but an external form and the hearts of His people were not truly engaged. There was no powerful, dynamic relationship between the holy, covenant God and His people. Israel had allowed both their sacrifices and their attitudes toward the LORD to become "blemished." The church today must also be careful to offer acceptable worship to God through Christ our only mediator. We can fall into a place of complacency, rather than doing what pleases our covenant God. It is very easy to come to church week after week and to allow the worship of God to become mundane and old rather than dynamic, refreshing and reviving to your soul. Ask the LORD to make Himself known to you afresh today. You come before the living God and He is glorious and exalted before you! Ask the LORD to help you see Jesus, the King, Who humbled Himself, was made in the likeness of sinful flesh for you, to take away your sin and make you righteous before the presence of His holiness. Malachi raises issues very relevant for us today and I trust this study will be very profitable for you this month. The oracle of the Word “The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.” - Malachi 1:1  Scripture reading: Malachi 1:1-14 Malachi begins with an oracle of the word from the LORD to His people. An oracle is a means of revelation and points to a message that weighs heavily on the messenger or prophet. It is a message that is not to be disregarded or ignored, but to be taken seriously in light of God’s covenant Lordship over His people. However, as we will see in this chapter, God’s people will not take the LORD’s Word as seriously as they should and will argue against Him. There is also a danger for us here because it is very easy, especially if you were raised in the church, to shrug your shoulders at the gospel, since you have heard it all your life. We hear, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son,” and we nod, “That’s true (yawn)! Hey, did you hear about last night’s game?” or we want to talk about something else rather than the things of Christ. Our response to Christ and the gospel should never be indifference. We need to praise and thank Him for His salvation as the One Who saved us from God’s judgment. Do you find yourself in that place, ho-hum the gospel? Have you lost joy in Christ and feel indifferent to the truths of the Bible? Don’t allow this fallen world to draw you away from Christ. His Word speaks to your needs. Where is your heart? How do you respond to Him? Seek Christ today to help you deal with apathy and coldness. Suggestions for prayer Ask the LORD to give you a fresh view of Christ today so that you do not become cold or indifferent to Him and the gospel. Ask the LORD to grant you fresh grace and strength for each day as you face the challenges of living in a fallen world. Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB....

Daily devotional

January 31 - All things made new

“Behold, I am making all things new.” - Revelation 21:5b                         Scripture reading: Revelation 21:1-27 New and not new; nothing new under the sun and yet God will make everything new under the SON.  Another month is about to dawn. We are again one day closer to eternity. Are you ready? Believers, in spite of their sin, struggle and pain, live in the strong confidence that God, in grace, gives new life to all who trust in Christ’s finished work of salvation. Do you share in that trust? The book of Revelation closes with a picture of eternity. All tears wiped away, death will be no more—no pain or sorrow—for all the former things have passed away. And what is more, true believers shall fully be with our Triune God—body and soul. As Christ dwelt (tabernacled) for a time on earth, we shall enjoy the eternal blessing of the dwelling place of God that is with man. This is not simply a reunion, but an eternity of fellowship and friendship with God and His people—covenantal fullness! How marvellous! What wonder to behold! Eye-popping glory! Heart thumping wonder! A new Jerusalem (the temple in heaven above) whose description is beyond describing. A new creation, the new heavens and the new earth (Isaiah 65:17) prepared for a prepared people. Suggestions for prayer Give praise and thanksgiving for a life to be lived in anticipation of the glory of the life to come. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment.    ...

Daily devotional

January 30 - New creatures

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come.” - 2 Corinthians 5:17             Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 5:1-21 Yesterday we considered together the blessed truth of our home in heaven above. That home is made possible only through the ministry of reconciliation. In order to enter that home, we need to be reconciled to God. Our sins have driven us apart. Only Christ can bring us back together again. The good news of Jesus Christ is that God, through Him, makes us new creatures. Being united to Christ through faith is to enjoy the benefits of the new birth and a life that is made new in Christ. The words in Christ profoundly speak of the believer’s redemption. In Christ, believers are secure from the wrath of God against sin. In Christ, believers are accepted by God. In Christ, believers enjoy the assurance of the life to come. In Christ, believers participate in the divine nature of Christ (cf. 2 Peter 1:4). Christians are changed people. To be sure, too much of the old remains, but those who are genuine believers know something of a life that has a new direction. While there have been many times where we have fallen back, the joy of the believer is knowing that we can go forward, in Christ, in this world as we prepare for the next. Praise God for such a life! Suggestions for prayer Thank our heavenly Father that believers are made new in Christ! Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment.  ...

Daily devotional

January 29 - A new song

“And they sang a new song, saying, Worthy…” - Revelation 5:9-10                                           Scripture reading: Revelation 5:1-14 The book of Revelation was written during a time of intense persecution as a word of encouragement and preparation. It remains a timely message to all those who are looking forward to Christ’s return. It assures us that Christ, Who gathers, defends and preserves His Church, is well aware of the circumstances of His people. And while we may not fully grasp every detail of this prophetic book, the main message is clear: Stand fast for Christ is the Victor! Our Scripture lesson finds the Apostle John receiving a heavenly vision. There is a scroll with seven seals. John weeps because no one had been found worthy to open the scroll. John is then reminded of one Who can open the scroll and its seven seals—the Lamb of God. He is the Worthy One because He is the One who unlocks the mystery and purposes of the Triune God’s sovereign plan. Jesus takes the scroll. This testifies to His authority to fulfill God’s will, and the response is a chorus of praise. This is a song that flows from a heart that has experienced God’s redemption, His glorious work of deliverance and rescue from the tyranny of the devil.  It is a song celebrating God’s finished work. It is new because the full scope of Jesus’ work is finally visible. Praise God. Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His ripening purposes. Sing a song of praise. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment.  ...

Daily devotional

January 28 - Living the new life

“Give no opportunity to the devil” - Ephesians 4:27                                   Scripture reading: Ephesians 4:17-32; 5:1-5 Ephesians 4 marks a transition in Paul’s epistle from the foundation of grace to the fruits of grace—from saving grace to serving grace. In our Scripture lesson, we are given much instruction as to the character of a believer’s life, and also a warning to watch out for the devil. The devil is an opportunist. He is our accuser (Revelation 12:10) and adversary (I Peter 5:8). He wants to bring about discord amongst believers. Unity amongst believers is to be highly prized. The devil especially prizes its disruption. We may be tempted to think that the roaring lion in his arsenal of tricks employs scandal and open sin as his prime method. But more often than not, the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) employs subtle means to break down the life of the Christian. Paul outlines six concrete ways Christians “put off” their old lives and “put on” life in Christ.  The study note in the ESV Reformation Study Bible puts it this way: Turning “from lying to telling the truth (4:25, 26); from uncontrolled anger to self-control (4:26, 27); from stealing to useful  labour (4:28); from harmful to helpful speech (4:29, 30); from bitterness to love (4:31-5:2); and from unrestrained sexual desires to a thankful acknowledgement of God’s good gifts (5:3-5).” How well do you understand living the new life? Suggestions for prayer Pray for strengthening grace. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment....

Daily devotional

January 27 - The world’ smallest but largest trouble maker

“From the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not be so.” - James 3:10 Scripture reading: James 3:1-12 Already this year most of us have spoken thousands and thousands of words. What will it be by year’s end? But the LORD knows each word spoken and even the words of our silent thoughts and holds us accountable. Are there words that you wish you could take back? Of course! Our tongue often brings us into sin. We need wisdom in the use of our speech. The ability to speak is a gift, but also a power.  James gives us six pictures of the tongue: the horse’s bit; the ship’s rudder; fire; deadly poison; a fountain and a fig tree. The bit and rudder are a picture of the power of words to direct; the fire and poison are a picture of the power of words to destroy; and, the fountain and fig tree are a picture of the power of words to delight. David in Psalm 141:3 prayed “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”  The LORD hates a lying tongue (Proverbs 6:17). Words can break hearts and destroy reputations; slander is a horrible matter.  A Welsh proverb goes, “LORD, remind us often that a gossip’s mouth is the devil’s mailbag”. Be careful, little tongue, what you say! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the positive use of the tongue with wholesome words. Rev. Peter Vellenga is presently serving as itinerant preacher waiting upon Lord for continued assignment.  ...

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