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Daily devotional

May 27 – To the angel of the Church of the Laodiceans (3)

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked – I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” – Revelation 3:14-22 Scripture reading: Proverbs 10:17; Proverbs 17:10; Hebrews 12:4-12 Alongside the word of rebuke and counsel comes a divine summons. Those Jesus loves, He disciples/disciplines. As many as He loves He rebukes and chastens. He calls His disciples in Laodicea (and everywhere) to be zealous and repent of their lukewarmness. Worldliness and indifference must be expunged/removed. Jesus is calling and Laodicea must answer. Jesus continues to call to this day. Once again we come to the word “behold.” It is a word that calls us to look, to take notice. Jesus is demanding that the Laodicean church pay attention and stop going through the motions, to be a church with open eyes, to be aware of her need, to listen to His voice. There is yet great promise for the Laodicean church. Should she repent, she would enjoy a blessed fellowship with the LORD which she presently is not experiencing. Jesus is calling His church (in all ages and all places) to fellowship and communion with Him. The church is to be saturated with who Jesus is, what He has done and what He will yet do. The church is to be filled with the joy of living out of the glorious promise to join Jesus on the throne! May our song ever be: “I love Thy Church, O God! Her walls before Thee stand, dear as the apple of Thine eye, and graven on Thy hand.” – Timothy Dwight, Trinity Psalter Hymanl 405 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Suggestions for prayer In prayer ask the Lord to help us remember God affirms His love through His dependable and unchanging Word, which endures now and forevermore. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 26 – To the angel of the Church of the Laodiceans (2)

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked – I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” – Revelation 3:14-22 Scripture reading: Proverbs 10:9; Isaiah 55:1-3 Alongside Christ’s Word of rebuke comes a Word of counsel. Jesus is urging the congregation of Laodicea to turn to Him. She supplied neither healing for the spiritually sick nor refreshment for the spiritually weary. She was quite full of herself. Jesus tells her that she is rather quite empty. “When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, You make his beauty melt away like a moth; surely every man is vapor” (Psalm 39:11). Laodicea had to learn that her beauty was a façade and her opinion of herself a lie. Our Redeemer counsels us to buy from Him. Now of course, we can not buy God’s grace. But Jesus is using it as a figure of speech to draw His people back to Himself. In so doing, Jesus is bringing censure to the church as a whole. “Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren, for deterring of others from the like offenses, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honour of Christ, and the holy profession of the gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the church, if they should suffer His covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.” – Westminster Confession Chapter 30.3 Christ’s censures are given in love. In Christ, we have all the riches we need. No church has arrived and we must do all we can to press forward, keeping our hand to the plough. Suggestions for prayer Unity in the church is important, but we may not sacrifice biblical truth for unity. Satan loves for Christians to be united in a lie. Pray we would not fall prey to the horrible errors of the Laodicean church. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 25 – To the angel of the Church of the Laodiceans (1)

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked – I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” – Revelation 3:14-22 Scripture reading: Psalm 119:65-80 The church is to proclaim the beauty of Christ through the power of the gospel. Christ loved the church and gave His life for her life. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to live as a community practicing gospel culture with a sense of vibrancy and urgency. This was not true of the church of the Laodiceans. Jesus rebukes in the strongest language. He knows the condition of the church. They were neither hot nor cold, not characterized by refreshment (cold waters) nor the spiritual zeal of healing balm (hot waters). They were lukewarm, without vitality and Christ says He will spit/vomit them out of His mouth. Oh, what a soul disturbing judgment! The congregation at Laodicea had a high opinion of themselves, smug we might say, resting in self-righteousness. Jesus says you do not know yourself. You are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. Again, we must ask ourselves how Christ’s judgments apply to us. Perhaps you are privileged to gather in a beautiful building with a fancy sign. There may even be all sorts of programs and activities. But what is the heartbeat? A church must have a beating heart for the glory of God. The danger of succumbing to the apostasy of the Laodicean Age is ever real. Where do we find ourselves in the midst of those judgments? J.I. Packer once said, “Most churches today have passengers rather than practitioners.” Is that true of you? Is it true of the church you belong to? Suggestions for prayer Pray for something of the experience of the Psalmist (119:65-80)that it may be our own, both individually and corporately. Pray for the continued leading of the Holy Spirit to be found faithful. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

SUNDAY, May 24 – To the angel of the Church in Philadephia (3)

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Rev. 3:7-13 Scripture reading: Psalm 23 Long ago David declared “I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psalm 122:1). The closing words of Psalm 23 speak of David’s conviction to “dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (vs. 6). As the body of Christ, we come together to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. The preaching of the Word, together with the celebration of the sacraments are the means of grace. We come together as one church, in one faith and one hope. And we are to come as overcomers. Several times now in our devotions this month we have received the call to overcome. How do you understand that for your life and how do you understand that for the church to which you belong? How is it that you approach worship and what is your perspective as you enter the sanctuary, the place set apart? What does it mean to live as overcomers day by day? To overcome is to prevail, to withstand, to gaining mastery over obstacles. It is to live out of Psalm 28:7a, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped”. Jesus promises the overcomer a name and a place. He promises that His people will have His Name written upon them. That promise is real because we know Him Who has “overcome the world” (John 16:3). He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Suggestions for prayer Pray for the grace to live as an overcomer, to hold fast. May that be true for the life of the church and our families. Thank God He holds His people fast. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 23 – To the angel of the Church in Philadelphia (2)

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Rev. 3:7-13 Scripture reading: Philippians 1:1-11 The Bible’s teaching concerning perseverance is a great comfort to all true believers. Jesus has assessed the church at Philadelphia and commends her with the promise of preservation. The Bible’s teaching concerning the Perseverance of the Saints is soul strengthening. The struggle against sin is great, also in our corporate life as the church. We must be thankful that believers may confess: “Because of these remnants of sin dwelling in them and also because of the temptations of the world and satan, those who have been converted could not remain standing in this grace if left to their own resources. But God is faithful, mercifully strengthening them in the grace once conferred on them and powerfully preserving them in it to the end.” – Canons of Dort 5:3 God enables this perseverance by means of the grace of preservation. We can be confident in His promise that when He begins a good work in His people, He will bring it to completion (Phil. 1:6). Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me (John 6:37). And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” – John 10:28-29 Suggestions for prayer Praise God for His tender mercies. He will hold us fast. Pray that we would persist in living out His persevering care, all the while rejoicing in the perseverance of the saints. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 22 –  To the angel of the church in Phiadelphia (1)

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Rev. 3:7-13 Scripture reading: Acts 14:21-28 What an encouragement the faithful church at Philadelphia must be to us. Jesus, who holds the key of David, grants an open door. He, in fact, is the door (cf. John 10:1-10). Christ is the only way to the blessings of the world to come. Sovereign authority belongs to our Redeemer. He controls the entrance into the Kingdom. The church at Philadelphia was characterized by faithfulness. Even though she was of little strength, she kept the Word of God and did not deny the Lord’s Name. Philadelphia may have been a small church and perhaps even beleaguered, but she had a big heart. Like Smyrna, she was not rebuked. She was not ashamed of the gospel; she kept Christ’s Word and did not deny His Name. The open door to kingdom life has been secured by the blood of the Good Shepherd. From the book of Acts, we know that God in His sovereign wisdom opened doors and consequently new believers were brought to saving faith and added to the church. But there were also doors that were closed. We see the same principle in effect to this very day. Gospel Light in the Western world is dimming, but in other parts of the world, it is a blazing light. Nevertheless, we still have the freedom to witness, to call others to the Open Door. Philadelphia was commended by our LORD. Would the church you are a member of receive the same commendation? Suggestions for prayer Pray for growing zeal and to remain faithful in your personal walk and in the life of the church. Pray that the church to which you belong works for that open door, testifying to the One Who is the Door. Praise God – Jesus is the open door to life eternal. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 21 – To the angel of the Church in Sardis (3)

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Revelation 3:1-6 Scripture reading: Psalm 47 Today the church marks Ascension Day. It was that magnificent remarkable glorious moment in salvation history where Christ returned to heaven above where He is now seated and exalted at the right hand of our heavenly Father. Just before Jesus returned to glory He gave us the command to teach those who would become His followers to observe everything He commanded (cf. Matt. 28:20). Everything means everything. The great commandment to love God with the whole of who we are and the great commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves will always bring us to the great commission. How thankful that within the church at Sardis there was a remnant which lived a life faithful to observe what Christ taught. There is wheat among the tares. That being said, the remnant needed to step up and look up; look up to their interceding Saviour for needed strength to be an overcomer. They are promised, out of the storehouse of grace, to be clothed in white garments symbolizing the righteousness of purity and the great gift of justification by faith; garments graciously washed white in the blood of our Ascended King. What comfort to hear that our Saviour confesses those who are His before our Father in heaven and His angels! Let us never forget “that we have no access to God except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor: Jesus Christ the Righteous.” (Belgic Confession Art. 26) "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Suggestions for prayer In our own strength we are nothing. Rejoice that our ascended Jesus, from the throne room in heaven, will supply the need of His people. Give thanks that Christ’s disciples will find their names in the Book of Life! Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 20 – To the angel of the Church in Sardis (2)

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Revelation 3:1-6 Scripture reading: Matthew 7:13-23 Now all of the aforesaid is not to say there were no followers of Jesus in Sardis, but it seems those who confessed Christ were more than a little bit sleepy. Our Redeemer wants His church to be wide awake. As Spurgeon once said, “Christian beware of thinking lightly of sin; take heed lest you fall little by little.” Discipline is one of the marks of a true church. God-glorifying governance is essential in the church. Biblical standards within the church are hard to reach, but that must not dissuade us from exerting our energies, desiring to please the King of the church. If we aim low it is not too hard to hit the target. Let us not be blind to our own shortcomings. The church is to be a reflection of God’s glory. Christ warns (His warnings are gracious) Sardis and every church by extension to take heed. If not, His judgments will fall upon the church. We see that clearly in times past. Many churches no longer live; their life for Christ has vanished. You say the church you go to is faithful, that is well and fine. Be sure to give thanks to the Lord. But the point is that the danger of becoming unfaithful is always lurking around the corner. Never forget Satan's intention to seek and destroy. Give attention so that life in the church is not taken for granted. As churches, we are to seek diligence lest we become careless. Suggestions for prayer Give thanks for confessing the perseverance of the saints. Pray God’s ongoing blessing for the preservation of the church. Pray that God’s people would with diligence, be watchful and fruitful! Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 19 – To the angel of the Church in Sardis (1)

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Revelation 3:1-6 Scripture reading: James 2:14-26 What a terrible, soul-shaking pronouncement!! You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead! Again King Jesus addresses His church. Once more our Lord and Saviour does not mince words. He will not coddle His church. Previously, we heard Jesus addressing some of the other churches of Asia Minor. Along with a word of encouragement and commendation, there also came a warning calling for correction. With Ephesus, she had lost her first love; with Smyrna, no warning, but a call to endure; with Pergamos, a call to discipline those who did not believe doctrine and life hold together; with Thyatira, a warning to uproot the seeds of compromise which marked the church. But now Sardis—she is dead! This is dreadful! While it is true that in this life we only have a small beginning of the obedience the Lord requires of us (cf. Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 114) there must be a beginning—also in the church. Faith without works is dead! A faithful church seeks to be built up in the most holy faith (cf. Jude vs. 17-21); she desires not only to be faithful to the faith delivered once for all, and she also wishes to live out of that faith in word and deed. Sardis has fallen far. Only Jesus can bring life back to what has become unrecognizable. Oh, she has a name, but it appears to be a façade. May the Lord find us to be in earnest for the well-being of His church. Suggestions for prayer Pray for a faithful and fruitful faith life, not only for yourself but also for the church to which you belong. Pray that God would help His people ever to be lively and living members of the church. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 18 – To the angel of the Church in Thyatira (3)

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Revelation 2:18-29 Scripture reading: Psalm 2 A church is a church by means of her unity in Christ and His Word. She has been purchased by His blood. The Belgic Confession (Article 27) teaches the church is a “holy congregation of true Christian believers, all expecting their salvation in Jesus Christ, being washed by His blood, sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit." The church is Christ’s possession and she must listen when He speaks. A well-ordered church understands she is to be the pillar and ground of truth and God’s people must know how to conduct themselves in His household. (cf. I Timothy 3:15). Reading our text again today, we can not escape the fact that Jesus speaks in such a way that there can be no doubt that the church in Thyatira has corrective work to do. This is true of every true church in some form or fashion. Jesus does not close His eyes to either false doctrine or false living. Nothing can be hidden from Him. He speaks of even killing the children. Oh, these are hard words! Soul piercing words! The children (vs.23) are the second generation and they are no longer holding to the pure gospel. From church history, beginning with the Old Testament congregation, we know it only takes one generation for the church to become lifeless. The experiential life of the church must always be rooted on the rock-solid truth of God’s most Holy Word. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Suggestions for prayer Matthew Henry once wrote, “When the law of God is written in our hearts, our duty will be our delight”. Pray that we may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. II Peter 3:17&18). Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

SUNDAY, May 17 – To the angel of the church in Thyatira (2)

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Revelation 2:18-29 Scripture reading: Matthew 16:5-12; 1 Kings 19:1-2 Today it is again our calling to gather as the body of Christ in corporate worship. Worship is to be seen as our greatest privilege and highest responsibility. The Lord calls us to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Worship is to be Word saturated. God’s Word touches every area of life and at certain points, the Word pinches and even cuts deeply. Christ’s words to Thyatira are hard-hitting and direct. There is no subtlety here. Thyatira was in grave danger. There is corruption in the church of Thyatira needing radical surgery. It seems that there is a prominent woman in the congregation, calling herself a prophetess, who promoted tolerance toward certain pagan practices. There is a Jezebel in the ranks. Jezebel, oh the name ought to bring a sense of dread. Jezebel (don’t name your daughter this) in the days of Elijah was a seducer working underhandedly. Jezebel brazenly sought to undermine true faith and promoted the wickedness of Baal worship. Shamelessly, she directed her attack against God of the covenant. Jesus calls us to walk the narrow road. Compromise leads to the broad road and those remaining on that path will ultimately be lost for eternity. The church is always to live with a view to eternity. But at the same time, as we look to the Lord for help and strength, we must do so desiring faithfulness day by day. Let us never forget that a church that does not shine gospel light, will ultimately have her lampstand removed. Suggestions for prayer Seeking God’s will helps us live a life of Soli Deo Gloria. Pray for a heart to do so both for yourself and the church. Pray that God would help us to see (and fight against) how terribly dangerous compromise is when it enters our lives. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 16 – To the angel of the Church in Thyatira (1)

"And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Revelation 2:18-29 Scripture reading: 1 John 4:1-6 The all-seeing eye of Christ penetrates into the heart and soul of the church in all places and all ages. Our text today takes us to Thyatira where we hear Christ evaluate and assess the life and times of the congregation. The basics of what is to be a well-ordered church are scrutinized. As we read of the character of the church in Thyatira, we are given the initial impression that things are well. Jesus knows their works. It is as if our Redeemer has a check-list: Love-yes; Service-affirmative; Faith-checkmark; Patience – indeed so. In fact, Jesus tells them they are doing more than they did when they began! Our first impressions are WOW, this is a healthy lively church! I want to join! But as we are to find out tomorrow there is a "never-the-less." The LORD asks a great deal of the church that is to be vibrant in both word and deed. If Jesus gave your elders a check-list of the condition of the church to which you belong what would it look like? Together we must know what it is to reach upward to God in true faith and Godly worship, to reach inward toward one another in love and service, to reach out in witness to those far and near and also to reach ahead toward future generations ministering to all those whom God has included in His covenant. May God so help us! Suggestions for prayer Christians serve the all-sufficient God Who has secured the victory. Let us pray for faithful churches to press forward in their lofty calling! Pray that churches would engage in healthy self-examination. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 15 – To the angel of the Church in Pergamos (3)

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’” – Revelation 2:12-17 Scripture reading: Proverbs 15:31-33; Matthew 11:20-24 When Jesus began His public ministry, He spoke of the nearness of the kingdom and the command to repent and believe the good news (cf. Mark 1:15). Repentance is not negative, but a positive response to the call of God’s Word. To repent means a change in thought or behavior; it means to reverse direction. It is to submit to God’s Kingdom rule for every area of our lives. The church in Pergamos was called to repent, to reverse direction. Those who held to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans were to be confronted with the truth so they might reverse direction. The Bible teaches that when the church fails to exercise spiritual discipline, she might expect to experience severe chastening from God’s almighty hand. The church at Ephesus hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans, but the church at Pergamos tolerated them. The Nicolaitans held a view of life that perverted grace and exchanged their liberty with license. Jesus reproves the church at Pergamos for allowing heretical teachers and abominable practices into her midst and calls her to be faithful to the truth. Every believer and every Christian church needs to take to heart the fact that sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay. When there is a cancer in the church that cancer needs radical treatment. It must be cut out. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Suggestions for prayer Pray for growth in repentance and faith. Pray that the church to which you belong would be steadfast in the life of repentance and faith and thus in fighting against compromise. Pray for that same grace for yourself. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 14 – To the angel of the Church in Pergamos (2)

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’” – Revelation 2:12-17 Scripture reading: Proverbs 3:11-12; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 Even though the church at Pergamos was commended for holding fast, there was a serious problem. There is no perfect church, but that does not mean we should not strive to be more than we presently are. There were within the congregation those holding to the doctrine (false) of Balaam. Many of you know the story of Balaam and even his famous talking donkey. Balaam was offered money by Balak to curse the covenant community. When that didn’t work, he devised a plot to have Moabite women seduce Israelite men into intermarriage. There are still so-called Balaams around today peddling their version of the gospel (false) in exchange for riches and fame. To belong to a faithful church is an incredible blessing. But such a church should never rest on her laurels. The temptation to be sidetracked by way of compromise needs to be fought against continually. As is clear in this letter, the church of Pergamos did not discipline where discipline was sorely needed. A church that does not turn the key of discipline (cf. Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 85) does not really love her members as she ought. Discipline is to be an exercise of loving discipleship. Christ’s disciples listen to the voice of the loving Shepherd. He knows what is best for His church—after all, He is the Head and we are to serve Him as His body. A listening ear must be an obeying heart. May God grant us grace to be found faithful! Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit, by means of the Word and Sacrament, would keep us close to the voice of Jesus. Pray that the church to which you belong would remain faithful. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 13 – To the angel of the Church in Pergamos (1)

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’” – Revelation 2:12-17 Scripture Reading: 2 Kings 18:1-9 Holding fast is a very important quality in Christian discipleship. The church must keep the truth as received and not accommodate the whims of doctrinal or social change. In the final exhortations the Apostle Paul gave to the church at Corinth, he writes, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (I Corinthians 16:13-14). In the sermon to the Hebrews we read, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for He who has promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). The all-seeing eye of Christ commends the church gathered in Pergamos for holding fast. The city of Pergamos was no stranger to the adultery of idolatry. It was home to many pagan cults and was the first city in Asia to build a temple to Caesar. It was a city where people believed in the greatness of man and had eyes closed to the living Almighty God. Also in our age, the pressures both from within and without to cave in are great. Never must we forget that we live in a world which is not a friend to grace. Societal sin is growing stronger and presses against the church and we who are faithful members must know something of what it is to push back. Does the church you are a part of make any difference at all in the community you live? Are you a stick-tu-ative Christian? Jesus never said it would be easy. Suggestions for prayer: Christ’s followers are called to hold fast to the truth and to live out of the truth. Pray that would also be true for the church where you are a member. Pray for the same graces Hezekiah enjoyed. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 12 – To the angel of the Church in Smyrna (3)

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’” – Revelation 2:8-11 Scripture reading: Matthew 24:1-14; 36-41 The call to faithfulness is high and demanding. The danger is faithlessness. Christ encourages the church at Smyrna and the church today to be faithful even if it means death. Those who can kill the body with the sword, can not kill the soul. The message for the persecuted church is: do not fear! The LORD, speaking to His people, tells them that they are not alone. He is with them. Believers are united to Christ by grace and through faith. Nothing can break that union. It has been sealed by the Holy Spirit in the blood of Christ, held fast by the love of our heavenly Father. As we wait to enter the glory land, we must constantly fix our eyes on Jesus (cf. Hebrews 12:1-3). By means of suffering, He endured the cross for our sake. As the church suffers (and in some places terribly so) we must remember the great comfort of Christ’s intercession. We may feel perplexed by evils of this present age, but Jesus is fully aware of the suffering of His church. As Scottish Presbyterian Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-43) once famously said, "If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference; He is praying for me.” For further study Look up the story of Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna, who was martyred for his faith at the age of 86. His story is soul strengthening! Suggestions for prayer Pray with conviction that even if it seems that the church is experiencing hell; she shall not be hurt in the second death. Pray for a listening ear: “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 11 – To the angel of the Church in Smyrna (2)

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’” – Revelation 2:8-11 Scripture reading: I Peter 4:12-19 Testing is never pleasant, but God’s word teaches it is necessary. The church gathered at Smyrna experienced a severe test—persecution for confessing Christ. Church members were going to be thrown into prison by the devil himself. The devil, the roaring lion prowling to devour, is the accuser, a slanderer who hates Christians with an undying hatred. There are particular seasons throughout the history of the church where suffering is intensified and the church at Smyrna knew that first hand. Jesus taught that if He was hated, so would be His followers. Jesus was persecuted and so will be His disciples (cf. John 15:18-25). We need to take Jesus’ words to heart, not with anxious hearts, but with the courage of the truth that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. With resolve, we must remember that the power of the church in difficult and dangerous circumstances does not live within herself, but is only from Christ Himself. Persecution is used by God for His purpose. But never forget Jesus is fully aware of whatever trouble the church is called to endure. He does not want us to be afraid. The dominant religion/faith in the Western world is secular humanism and increasingly there is the pressure for the Christian church to compromise. God’s Word calls us to stand firm on the Word, to stand firm in Christ. All other ground is sinking sand. We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. Suggestions for prayer Pray in the conviction that Jesus is proving our faith. Pray often for the church to be true to the holy faith, living faithfully before the Lord. When called to suffer for the sake of the gospel, pray for strength to commit our ways to the Lord (I Peter 4:19). Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 10 – To the angel of the Church in Smyrna (1)

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’” – Revelation 2:8-11 Scripture reading: Luke 12:1-11 Today, we again come before the Lord in corporate worship. This is the day of all the week the best, emblem of eternal rest. We may celebrate in joyful worship as the body of Christ, the glorious life of Christ. We may hold fast to the hope that does not disappoint. We, in God’s grace, may happily confess; God is great and greatly to be praised. Many, if not most, reading this devotion can do so in peace and without fear or alarm. But that is not the case for a large portion of Christ’s church scattered across the face of the globe. Accounts of believers dying for Christ can be read daily. In certain quarters, there is fierce opposition and terrible suffering. It has been that way since the beginning of the church (not only in the New Testament as the church of Smyrna would attest, but also in the Old Testament era). How important for us to hold tightly to the conviction that the: “Son of God through His Spirit and Word, out of the entire human race, from the beginning of the world to its end, gathers, protects and preserves for Himself a community chosen for eternal life and united in true faith. And of this community I am and always will be a living member.” – Heidelberg Catechism Answer 54 Let us not take for granted our blessings. Let us not put our heads in the sand as to the encroaching restrictions of our own freedom to confess Christ the King of Glory! Suggestions for prayer Pray for the persecuted church and do so often. Pray to be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees (Luke 12:1). Thank the Lord He will never leave or forsake His people. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 9 – To the angel of the Church of Ephesus (3)

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’” – Revelation 2:1-7 Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:15-23 Office bearers in the church have been given a tremendous responsibility. They are far more than administrators. They must give focused time to consider the spiritual condition of the flock. As they labour amongst God’s people, they must point the congregation over and again to the wonders of the Heavenly Father’s love for us in Christ and then to what must be our first love. Together with the congregation, we are to give expression to a zeal for the LORD and His service. To be warned is to be blessed. If we are in imminent danger, it is life-saving to be warned, also in the church. Many churches through the ages have become apostate because they lost their first love. The church at Ephesus, can she be found today? With open minds and humble hearts, we need to deeply think concerning the spiritual condition of the church of which we are members, praying for constant renewal and revival and ongoing reformation and repentance. Think again of the reading in Ephesians 1, how we need spiritual wisdom to remain faithful! To have our candlestick removed would be a terrible and dreadful indictment. When the lamp is snuffed out there is only darkness. Jesus, the Light of the world, tells us that the overcomers have the right to eat from the tree of life which is in paradise. Let us strive to be an overcomer. “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Suggestions for prayer God’s Spirit lives in His people in order to work through them. Call on God, "Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). Pray for faithfulness and God’s patience toward us. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 8 – To the angel of the Church of Ephesus (2

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’” – Revelation 2:1-7 Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:7-14 After some very encouraging words, the Lord reveals to the church of Ephesus that she has a major problem. He does not overlook their shortcoming, nor is His message sugar-coated. Jesus tells them they have left their first love; they are no longer filled with the same loving enthusiasm that belonged to them in their early history. The next generation does not hold the torch as brightly as those who had gone before them. We get the sense they have lost their passion for Christ, becoming mechanical in their approach to their life with Christ. This is a great danger for any church. Does the church you belong to have a passion for the Lord Jesus and is she on the march? It is easy for a church (and for believers) to simply go through the motions. When that happens there is something obviously wrong. When zeal is lacking, renewed repentance must be sought. Many in our society believe the church is simply a relic of a by-gone age. But the church remains the body of Christ and we who are part of that body must love our head—to love our Triune God with heart, soul, mind, body and strength remains our calling in answer to the first great commandment. Jesus has given us His life so that we would receive ours. In turn, we must ever learn to present ourselves to the Lord and His service – “My heart I offer to you LORD promptly and sincerely” (from Calvin’s motto). Suggestions for prayer Remind yourself, as Paul did to the church at Ephesus, of the many spiritual blessings we have in Christ! It is our privilege to give everything we have to the One who gave us everything on the cross. Give thanks. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 7 – To the angel of the Church of Ephesus (1)

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’” – Revelation 2:1-7 Scripture reading: Ephesians 1:1-6 Out of the mouth of Jesus went a sharp two-edged sword (cf. Revelation 1:16; Hebrews 4:12) speaking with authoritative voice. John is given the words of Jesus to be sent to the church of Ephesus. Ephesus stood at the crossroads of four major trade routes and became known as the gateway to Asia and, sadly, for the idol worship of the so-called goddess, Diana. Paul ministered in Ephesus for some three years (cf. Acts 19) and, in God’s sovereign good pleasure, a church of the Way was established. The angel is the messenger who speaks the Word to the congregation — ordinarily an ordained pastor. The message begins with a word of commendation/approval. As churches, we can use encouragement for we face many struggles. Clearly, Christ knows in detail the works of all seven churches and of course also of the church where you are a member. Nothing can be hidden from our Redeemer. Jesus acknowledges the hard work of the believers gathered in Ephesus. He makes mention of their perseverance. Wicked men are not tolerated. Those claiming to be apostles have been tested and rejected. They have exercised discernment, they have endured hardship, they have labored for the Lord’s name’s sake, certainly an endurance to be much-admired. Many who read this devotion also belong to a local church with a specific address. How would the church you are a member of be characterized? What place do you hold in upholding the life and times of the church? Suggestions for prayer Keep the church to which you belong in your daily prayers. Pray to be a church full of true faith and enduring faithfulness. Pray for the grace to be active in the life and times of the church. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 6 - Christ appears in blazing glory!

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand, he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.’” - Revelation 1:12-20 Scripture reading: Daniel 7:9-14 As John is commissioned to his consecrated task, he is greeted by the incomparable Christ in all His blazing glory. It is similar to what the prophet Daniel experienced more than once many years earlier. What they both saw is enough to take your breath away. John is permitted to see the majestic Christ Who appears in radiating brilliance that can hardly begin to be grasped. Christ who stands at the junction of heaven and earth, Christ Who is the meeting place between time and eternity comes to John and speaks to him with a loud voice. The meek Christ is also the authoritative Christ. The title Son of Man is the one used most often by Christ Himself during His earthly ministry—some 81 times according to one counter. Soak in what John saw – head and hair glowing white and countenance like the shining sun reminding us of the glory cloud, the Shekinah (cf. Exodus 13) and the Transfiguration (cf. Luke 9). John saw eyes like a flame of fire, as someone else has said, like two lasers looking with penetrating gaze into the depth of His church. John saw feet like that of fine brass reminding us that the altar of burnt offering was covered with brass (cf. Exodus 38) and also taking us back to the glorious cross where Jesus was the offering. John heard the voice – a voice like that of the sound of many waters. It was and is incredible! No wonder John fell at the feet of Jesus as dead! Suggestions for prayer God’s people are to be filled with the wonder and awe of Christ. Pray in the conviction of Rev. 15:3: “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.” Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 5 - Write and send

"I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, 'Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.'” - Revelation 1:9-11 Scripture reading: John 20:30-31; 21:24-25  Our Scripture text today records John’s marching orders. He is to write about what he will see and send it to the seven churches in Asia. In verse 9, John identifies himself to his readers. He is a brother in the faith. He is addressing family in the LORD. He is their companion in a season of persecution. (There still continues to be seasons of persecution all around the world.) But John also recognizes that He is part of the Kingdom—the Kingdom of Christ. He is learning patient endurance and perseverance despite difficult times. John has been exiled on a barren rocky island. He has been exiled for standing firm on the Word and for his testimony concerning Jesus. He is devoted to his Lord and Master. (Let us ask ourselves: Are we standing firm? What characterizes our devotion to the One we have been called to follow?) John has had first-hand experience with the Lord Jesus. He has witnessed our Redeemer’s authoritative preaching and teaching, Christ’s compassion, the miracles confirming Christ’s Deity and Christ's ultimate sacrifice as our substitute on the cross. John, in God’s grace, knows what he is talking about. John is obedient to the Master’s call to write and send. What a privilege it is for us to share in that message to this day. What a blessing for this same word from Genesis to Revelation to go out to all those who have been given ears to hear! Suggestions for prayer Pray for strength, day by day, to persevere in the most holy faith, to honor and serve the Lord in selfless devotion and to remember the more we serve Christ, the less we will serve self. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 4 – The Alpha and Omega is coming

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Revelation 1:7-8 Scripture reading: Genesis 1:1-2; Revelation 22:12-22 Today as we take up our customary task, we ought to do so with the understanding that Jesus is everything. In all our comings and goings, we are to do so with eternity in view. Christians prepare for what is yet to come realizing the Kingdom is a prepared place for a prepared people (cf. John 14:1-6). With Scripture, we confess Christ is the Beginning and the End and everything in between. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus Christ is the pivot of history. Our Redeemer is the Wonderful One, Wise Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). A 250-word devotion can not begin to scratch the surface in speaking of our beautiful Saviour — nor could two hundred and fifty million! But for today, think of that word "behold." It is a word that calls us to pay attention. It is a word that calls us to look, to take notice. What are we to take notice of – Jesus is coming! Are you ready? What comfort to believe: "According to the Word of God, when the time appointed by the Lord (which is unknown to all creatures) is come and the number of the elect complete, that our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, corporally and visibly, as He ascended, with great glory and majesty to declare Himself Judge of the living and the dead, burning this old world with fire and flame to cleanse it” (Belgic Confession Article 37). Suggestions for prayer Pray for the convicting of the Holy Spirit so that we are ready for that great day of days when Jesus returns. Ask that we would use our time wisely in preparation for that day when time as we know it, will be no more. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 3 – From and to

“John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – Revelation 1:4-6 Scripture reading: Romans 11:33-36; Ephesians 3:14-21 Today we have the blessed privilege and remarkable responsibility to gather with the body of Christ, His holy bride, His church. It was on the Lord’s Day (vs. 10) that John received the Revelation which we still have with us to this day. Our text tells us that the original recipients of this letter were the seven churches in the province of Asia. This is the area we today know as Turkey. Each of the seven churches held their own significance in the various areas of the region. In worship, we are busy in covenantal dialogue. The Lord speaks and we may answer. And as the Lord begins His conversation with us in worship, He gives us His comforting greeting. To be greeted by God – what an encouraging, soul strengthening blessing!! Pause and think about this in your meditations today (Don’t read God’s Word too quickly; I confess I do far too often). To have grace and peace announced to the congregation  – that is precisely what we need. Grace is not our deserving. Peace with God, secured by our Redeemer in this sin-stained world (including the sin in our lives), gives us life heartening perspective. These words are from Christ Himself Who, “loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (vs. 5). He calls us to His service – to be His kings and priests. Amazing! Amazing grace! Do not take God’s greeting to us for granted. All glory and dominion belongs to Christ forever!! Suggestions for prayer Earnestly and prayerfully reflect on the wonder-working love of our Saviour. May the song in our heart be “Glory to God the Father, glory be to God the Son, glory be to God the Spirit, God Almighty, Three in One! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Glory be to Him alone.” (Trinity Psalter Hymnal 213:1) Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 2 – Blessed are those who read, hear, and keep…

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” – Rev. 1:3 Scripture reading: Proverbs 8:32-36 How would you respond if someone were to ask you questions along the following lines, “What do you do with the Bible? How does the Bible influence your thinking and decisions? What difference does the Bible make in your life?” Our text today is the first of seven beatitudes (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,14) in the book of Revelation. It lays forth a blessing to the one who reads, hears and who keeps the words that are about to follow. By extension, our text applies to all of Scripture. We have a three-fold calling to take the Scriptures with the utmost seriousness and sincerity. Spurgeon once said, “Nobody ever outgrows the Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years." Augustine wrote, “Holy Scripture are our letters from home.” Indeed, God, in gracious mercy, has given us His Word and we have a blessed responsibility to take up the word, listen closely and uphold the Word in faith and faithfulness. Our riches in receiving light so that we need not be in darkness are profound. Jesus is that light! The Bible records for us what God has done, is doing, and will yet do. It is as the Psalmist says, "a lamp to our feet and light for our path." It is a great blessing to be in the Word and for the Word to be in us! For Further Study: Romans 10:17; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12 Suggestions for prayer Pray that the Holy Spirit would deepen our love for the Holy Word of God expounding Christ. May the Lord help us understand that many books can inform, but only the Bible, in the power of the Holy Spirit, can transform. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....

Daily devotional

May 1 – Introduction to the Apostle John's letters to the seven churches

I have been asked to give some consideration to the letters that the Apostle John sent to the seven churches as we find them in the book of Revelation. They are also messages to the church today. From the onset, let me say that it is impossible to do justice to the full scope of the Scriptures’ teaching in short meditations of some 250 words. There is much we reluctantly pass over. And yet, within each devotion reflecting on Scripture, there is a great deal to ponder, not only concerning our personal walk with the Lord, but also our corporate, communal fellowship with the Lord in the church to which we belong. May the following reflective meditations be both comforting and sobering. We will begin with six devotions setting the context from chapter 1 (following the text of the NKJV) and then devote three days of reflection to each of the seven churches. We will conclude the month reflecting on the wonder of the throne room of heaven and the blessed worthiness of the Lamb Who was slain, now exalted in glory above. As we go forward this month, let us do so with our gaze, rooted in God’s love, on what is yet to come. But let us also engage in some self-examination, honest contemplation and consideration remembering life is short, death is sure, sin the cause, Christ the cure. I wish you the Lord’s blessings as you devote your attention to God and His Word. Sincerely in His grace and peace, Rev. P.J. Vellenga  THE WORD AND THE TESTIMONY  "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw." – Rev. 1:1-2 Scripture reading: John 12:37-50  To be a Christian is to have the eye of one’s heart opened by the grace of God. It is not our deserving. The world says seeing is believing. The Christian confesses believing is seeing. As we learn in the sermon to the Hebrews of long ago, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (11:1). The book of Revelation, albeit mysterious at times, helps us to see in faith. The Apostle John is given a revelation. The word revelation from the original Greek means uncovering, unveiling, disclosure. What is revealed to John? The book of Revelation unveils Jesus Christ in all His glory. Now, of course, this is evident throughout the Holy Scriptures, but like a mighty crescendo, the book of Revelation unveils for us a wonderful message of the full fruition of Christ’s victory in His soon, second coming. So very important to the believer is the revelation of Jesus Christ — it is our very life’s breath. The last surviving Apostle, John, exiled for the faith on the island of Patmos, had the great privilege of receiving this revelation of what had taken place and what will yet take place. He was called to bear “witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw." By God’s grace, John was a faithful witness to the most holy faith. We too are called to be Christ’s witnesses and His testimony to this very day—Praise God! Suggestions for Prayer Pray with heartfelt thanksgiving, acknowledging both the witness and testimony of Jesus Christ. Pray for the leading of the Holy Spirit so that we would be found to be faithful witnesses of the truth. Pastor Peter Vellenga serves as an itinerant preacher in the churches of Southern Ontario. This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional....