Charlene slipped into the pew at ten after nine. She was early, something that didn’t happen often on Sunday morning. Twenty minutes were left to sit back and watch the church fill up. Charlene didn’t realize that God would be using those twenty minutes to convict her of being negligent in her prayer and devotional life.
In came family after family. She noticed a dear friend, who had been sick for weeks, was here this morning! Suddenly she was asked to move down to allow room in her row for a family. She smiled, as the gentleman and his two little sons sat down. The man’s wife had left him about two years ago. As the rows began to fill up, Charlene became uneasy. Her prayers last night, and for nights on end had been empty. They had centered about her needs, as she would drift off to sleep. The minister began to speak and Charlene changed her thoughts to the prayer being offered to God. As the congregation rose to sing, the minister announced that last night an elderly gentleman from the congregation had passed away, and was now in glory. Charlene could not keep back the tears. They flowed down her cheeks. Why had she forgotten to pray for this man as he suffered from his recent heart surgery? Why had no time been taken to pray for the young family who was separated because of marriage problems? Why had she neglected to take her friend’s sickness to God in prayer? As she wiped away tears of sorrow, the minister asked the congregation to turn to…
Charlene turned the key and walked inside her home. It was chilly outside. She put the coffee on and sat down in a comfy chair. She shook her head. What should she do? How would she make time for this important part of life? How could changes be made and kept? She poured herself a cup of coffee and began to ponder these thoughts.
The following morning, a loud buzz from the alarm clock startled her. She rolled over to check the time. Her clock read 6:03 AM. It was early, and she felt tired. She could hear a pelting rain blow against her window. A perfect morning to roll over and sleep a little longer. She almost caught herself screaming, NO! Charlene was determined to take the convictions God had given yesterday, and make a specific time to spend in prayer and Bible reading. She pulled her robe around her and flicked on the lights in her study. It was quiet and still in the house. She opened her Bible to Psalm 57. She began reading. After finishing the chapter, she jotted down a few thoughts about what she had read. She then bowed her head and thanked the Lord for pricking her heart, and she asked Him for zeal and fervent love to serve Him.
Every Friday night, Charlene and several friends met for coffee at a local restaurant. They were dedicated Christians who loved God, and were a great encouragement to one another in their walk with God. This Friday night was no different. After the waitress had taken their order, Charlene turned to her friend, Barb. She tried to share how God had exposed her slackness in personal devotions. The table of friends suddenly became quiet. Everyone began to listen, and then a buzz of talk began as everyone began to share their similar problems and thoughts about their devotional life.
Mark, a nurse assistant in a nearby hospital was the first to speak. “I enjoy reading passages of God’s Word to the patients I see every day. Since I work on the floor with cancer patients, I can often talk with them about the providence of God. I usually pray with my patients in their great need (as many feel death is coming quickly). I know that I am growing spiritually through this exercise. I try to study the Bible every day so that I will have words to speak to those who are hurting. I’ve come to see that I must start the day in prayer to God. How can I pray with my patients, if I don’t pray myself? God will not regard or answer my prayers if they are done out of formality. It helps me keep a good perspective on my work, my patients, and God’s plan in all of this. I have come to acknowledge that God’s plan is perfect and I hope to spread this hope to my patients.”
“That’s great Mark!” said Brenda, a florist in the downtown area. “Although, my job doesn’t make the circumstances for anything like that possible, my devotional life is more private and personal. I’ve been reading through the book of Isaiah. I use a commentary after each few verses. Isaiah’s life was not an easy one, as he witnessed to those about him. I’ve been trying to take the lessons I’m learning and apply them to my own life. One of the things God has taught me, is that obedience to His commands does give real freedom!”
“You both make it sound so easy,” sighed Heidi. “I’m just having an awful time praying and reading my Bible. My mind wanders so easily to other things. I find I read several verses without even thinking about what is really happening, much less how it applies to my life.” “Heidi, you ought to try what I have been doing. I keep a journal. I use the journal to record what I’ve read and what I’ve learned as I go through a book of the Bible. Some days I’ll even record my prayers. This enables me to keep focused on God. It also helps me pray in a meaningful way, not with cold, empty words,” said Luke.
Luke spoke again, “Has anyone used the letters of the word “ACTS” to remind them of things to pray for?
A stands for Adoration.
C stands for Confession.
T stands for Thanksgiving.
S stands for Supplication.”
Our purpose, is to glorify God. I write down verses of the Bible about the power and majesty of our God. They bring to mind the reason for adoration, as I prepare to pray.
When we confess our sins, then we acknowledge that God is perfect and holy, and that we are sinners in need of being made righteous. Writing down specific sins and bringing them before God, helps us see ourselves, as we really are. It shows us the need of salvation through Jesus Christ.
It is also amazing how very unthankful we can be. God has supplied so much for our bodies and souls. Our discussion tonight is something we ought to thank God for. God gives so much. Each gift should be received with thanksgiving.
Then there are the many needs we see and feel for others and for ourselves. We may bring our troubles and joys to God. whether they are large or small.”
“God has given us His Word and promised that He will hear our prayers!” said Barb. “It’s amazing how God has made us each so different, yet how He knows we each need to read the Bible and pray. I don’t think any one of us reads the same passage or prays at the exact time. We seem to each have a time, and a way to have devotions that will work for us, yet we all need to pray and read His Word.”
The restaurant was nearly empty now. Only a few “night owls” were sipping on steaming coffee, when everyone in that corner booth bowed their heads to pray. The prayer Mark offered that night was simple yet full of meaning, as he asked God to bring fruit upon the discussion, and courage for each one to press on in their devotional life.
Paula is a member of Southeast Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, and a teacher at Heritage Christian School in Hudsonville, Michigan.
Read James 1:1-11
What is wisdom? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” (Proverbs 9:10) Wisdom is to know God in such a way that we stand in awe of Him. Wisdom is to give God all respect and praise, and to know myself as His servant, not His equal. Are you living your life as a wise man or woman? Or do you find a lack of true wisdom in your life? If you find a shortcoming, then turn in prayer and ask God to fill this need.
Pray that He will give you more humility, and God will show how to exalt Him as you should. Read I Chronicles 29:10- 15. Do you have a high view of God like His servant David had?
Read James 1:12-16
Temptations will come. They will be with us through our whole life. We may be tempted to lie to our neighbor, to gossip about another, or to steal from our work place. We may also be tempted to cheat our boss in some way, to be unforgiving, or to hate someone so much that we find it disgusting to even say, “Hi.” What will you do with these temptations? Will you endure? Will you come through them? By the power of God’s grace, will you say, “No” to these sinful attractions? Is there a hatred for the things God hates? God blesses the man who turns and runs from temptation! Read about David’s temptation in II Samuel 11:2-4. Did he turn from the temptation, or did he fall into its trap?
Read James 1:17-21
Every year at harvest, the people of God were called to bring the first of the harvest to God. A portion of their grain, barley, and oil was to be given to the priest before they themselves could partake of the bounties of the earth. This activity was to acknowledge that God was the bountiful giver of all these gifts. Even so you and I must be first fruits. We must give our lives for the service of God. We show ourselves to be the first fruits of creatures when we acknowledge that “we are not our own, but we belong to our faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.” We also show this by desiring to honor Him with our time, money, and our very life. We must seek Him first in all things. Seek His honor. Seek His will. Are you making Him and His service the goal of your life? Read about Paul’s first fruits in Acts 20:17-24.
Read James 1:20-27
We don’t often let the telephone ring and ring without answering it. But how often do we hear the Word of God as it instructs us in the right path and turn and go the opposite way? The prophets of God constantly told the people of Israel and Judah what God demanded of them. But the people said we will go our own way. They closed their ears to the Word of God. They stiffened their necks and refused to turn back to the paths of God. Read about it in Zechariah 7:8-12. Do you do this same thing?
Read James 1:20-27
One of the characteristics of someone who is truly a Christian is that he cares for those with special needs. Your church has people to whom you can bring encouragement. There are many young and old people who are sick, the aging people of your church, the divorced, the unwed mother, the older single person without a family of his own. Too often this activity of caring and bringing the hope of God is laid on the shoulders of the pastor and elders of your church. God directly calls you to take up this task. Make time this week! Read Matthew 25:31-46. Will the Great King find you caring for the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry?
Read James 1:20-27
Employers love to see their workers obey and follow their instructions. God delights in seeing His children obey His Word. We also find joy when we are walking in God’s ways. Hezekiah, king of Judah, obeyed God by taking away the idol worship in the land. God blessed Him and prospered Him. Read II Kings 18:1-7. Is your life one of hearing and doing?
Read James 1:20-27
Be careful not to spot your white garment. It is hard to keep white tennis shoes white! It is hard to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. The world and our own evil nature are always trying to make us fall into sin. They want us just to try the sin once, and they want us to believe that sin is not so bad. The minute we follow after sin, spots appear on our white garments. Be careful like Daniel not to spot your garment! Read Daniel 6.
Read James 2:1-10
This word pricks every one of us. So often we are a partial people. Our eyes love the fancies of this world. On our right hand are those who love us and who make us feel good. By our footstools are those who are poor and unable to help us. Remember God is the potter and we are the work of His hand. He has formed us and has given us each our place. Pray that He will help us not be partial to one another. Pray for love for one another. Oh! to be cleansed from the sin of putting down the neighbor. Oh, for eyes that overlook things like goodly apparel and gold rings. Lord help us concentrate our attention on the hidden virtues of the heart. Read Leviticus 19:15.
Read James 2:10-26
Our actions must speak about the faith within us. It is easy to talk about the needs of others in the church, but we must go beyond seeing the need and reach out to those in need. Is there a family with a child that has special needs in your church? Have you secretly thought or even suggested that someone help them—but never offered your services? Or is there a family without money for its needs—but you have refused to put money in the benevolence fund? Are your parents aged and in need? Do they love to have you visit and care for them—but you are too busy with your own activities? Read Nehemiah 2:1-20. What action did Nehemiah take after hearing of the problems of the Jews in Jerusalem?
Read James 3:1-18
We can do so much evil with our tongue! The sins we can commit with the tongue are numerous: lying, tempting, killing, anger, gossip, and taking the name of God in vain. Yet we don’t often take these sins seriously. We tell ourselves these sins aren’t as bad or evil as other sins. In the sight of God these sins are just as displeasing as others. Daily you and I must struggle against these sins. Our tongue must be used only for the service of God and the building up of the neighbor. Do you use your tongue to build up the neighbor? Read Proverbs 30:32. Pray that God will help you, as you seek to bridle your tongue.
Read James 4:1-17
Is God in your plans? I mean do you seek God’s will and His way with all your tomorrows? Or do you go about your plans of buying and selling without God? It seems so difficult for us to say we will do this and that if the Lord will. Our talk with one
another must include the words, “the Lord willing.” This will help us remember that each event in our life is sent by God. He leads us day by day down the path of life. Things don’t happen by chance but by the sovereign will of the Almighty. Acknowledge this by saying “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” Read Romans 1:1-17. Can you find the verse where Paul shows this attitude in his letter to the Romans?
Read James 5:1-20
In this chapter we are called to be patient till the coming of the Lord. There are many things that we see about us that bother us. Men live for pleasure and greed. They heap up treasures for themselves. It is easy for the elect to grow impatient as to when Christ will come and deliver us from all the wickedness around about us. In times like these His brethren must bear fruits of godliness. He tells us to be patient. He, the Husbandman, must wait till the precious fruit (His people) is ripe for harvesting. Each one of His must not only be born, but come to faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Be patient therefore! The time is drawing nigh! Read about Job’s hope amidst all the trials he faced. Read Job 19:1-27.
Read Psalms 103-1-10
“Bless the Lord, O my soul!” Come and bless Him now! Let no time be wasted but let my soul come to proclaim that the Lord is great and worthy of all blessing. My voice must bless Him in all my speech and singing, my eyes must bless Him in beholding the wonders about me, my feet must bless Him by walking in His law, my hands must bless Him by prayer and caring for others, and my mind must bless Him in concentrating my whole life on Him. All that is within me COME BLESS THE LORD! Read Jude verses 24-25 and bless the Lord!!
Read Psalm 103:1-11
He forgives all our iniquities! This is truly one of the greatest benefits God has placed upon us. He chose us out of the millions of people in the world to be His elect children. He has taken all your sins away through His Son’s death on the cross. What praise ought to fill your heart and soul. This is a priceless gift that no money could ever purchase. Neither could any deed be counted as worthy to receive this gift. Rather this gift is given only because of His love to you. Rejoice and live a thankful life full of praise for this overflowing benefit. Read Jeremiah 31:31- 34. Praise the Lord that you have come to know Him, as your Redeemer.
Read Psalm 103:1-12
The heavens above reach far and wide. This is a picture of God’s mercy to those who fear Him. His mercy is His compassion. It is endless, full, and boundless. That mercy shows itself in the removal of all our transgressions. Just as there are no bounds on God’s mercy—so—there is no trace of our sin anymore! If we were to investigate and search out the wide extent of the universe, we could not find any of our sin. He promises this to us! So next time you gaze up at the starry sky think about His boundless mercy to you! Read the prayer of the Levites as they recall the everlasting mercy of God in Nehemiah 9:1-38.
Read Psalm 103:13-22
“For He knoweth our frame: He remembereth that we are dust.” God the high and mighty one Who is so great that His glory and being fill the whole world, bends down to care for you— made of the dust of the ground. He takes pity and shows compassion to us, not because we are better than others but, only of His grace and mercy. Think of it—He made you a creature of the dust to bring glory to the King of Kings!!! Remember your place before Him, and fear Him as you ought! Read Genesis 2:7 and Job 34:15.
Read Psalm 103:13-22
Our life is like a flower. We grow, bloom, and pass away. Life really is short, and our days are few. We may live 80-90 years, then we are called home. The grave marker tells we have lived and passed on. But, after a generation we are forgotten. In contrast to the brevity of man is the mercy of the Lord. He has had compassion and love for His people from the beginning and will forevermore. From generation to generation that love continues to those that fear Him. Our life is so short when compared to the endless mercy of God. Live it fully for the Lord. Don’t waste the time He gives you to pursue your pleasures. Make your life an endless song of praise and blessing of our God. Read Psalm 106.
Read Jonah 1:1-3
Ninevah and Tarshish are cities in opposite directions. God calls Jonah to go to Ninevah, but Jonah arises and goes the opposite way—to Tarshish. Obedience and sin lead us in opposite directions. Obedience leads us toward God. Sin and disobedience lead us away from God. It is easy for us to be hard on Jonah and say that he should have known better. But whenever we sin we are being just like Jonah. We are not following the commands God gives us. We are going to Tarshish, and not to Ninevah. We ought to take a closer look at ourselves and root out all disobedience. Read Genesis 6. Do you strive to live in obedience as Noah did in this chapter?
Read Jonah 1:1-12
“But Jonah arose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” There is no place unseen at any moment by the Lord. Jonah could not escape God’s all seeing eye. God not only knows and sees the way of His people, but of all who live on the earth. God is omnipresent. He is present everywhere at every moment. Are there times when you desire to escape the all-knowing and seeing eye of God? Read Psalm 139 where David acknowledges that God not only knows when we leave our homes, but He knows every time we sit down and rise up!
Read Jonah 1:1-17
God prepares a great fish to swallow Jonah. God places a particular fish in the sea to swallow Jonah. He times the presence of this fish by His sovereign will. Each event of your life is specially planned to ultimately bring about His will. Many of the events that seem so small: stopping at a red light, or who sits next to me in the airplane, are sent to me for a purpose. Many things happen for reasons unknown to us. Read Genesis 24:1-28. Does Abraham’s servant meet Rebekah by chance? or did God lead him to her? Remember God is also using the events of your life to better prepare you for His purpose. Follow His leading. Wherever He leads, He will go with you.
Read Jonah 2:1-10
“Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord His God out of the fish’s belly…and thou heardest my voice.” The Lord hears your prayer too. No matter where your prayer is offered, He will hear you. If God heard Jonah’s prayer from a fish’s belly then will He not hear your prayers? If He heard Jonah’s cry of desperation will He not hear your cry for help too? Don’t wait for afflictions to pray to God. Pray now while you are in happiness and health. Then when times of great need arise, you will know who to turn to. It will be the same One who helped you through those times of prosperity. Read about how God answered the prayer of Hannah in I Samuel 1.
Read Jonah 3:1-10
Jonah received the word of the Lord to preach to the Ninevites two times. Then Jonah arose and heeded the call of the Lord. Is the Lord calling you to a specific work for the furtherance of His kingdom? Have you neglected the Spirit’s working in your heart? Have you run away from the idea of getting involved? Have you come up with nice sounding excuses? Then read Jonah 1 all over again. God demands obedience. Heed His leading! Be ready to go where He leads, and be ready to do what He asks. It may be He has called you to the ministry, leading Bible study, visiting, teaching, organ playing. The list goes on and on. Remember the work is plentiful. Are you willing to do the work of the Lord? Read John 4:31-35.
Read Jonah 4:1-11
Do you seek the salvation of those who do not now know the saving work of Jesus Christ? Is that a passion of yours? Do you witness at every opportunity? Does your life lead others to ask you, what makes your life so different? Or is witnessing the last thing you would be found doing? Are there too many other activities in your life so that there isn’t time to witness? Then you too would find it easy to sorrow over a withering gourd but not over the many who need to hear the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Read Acts 16:25-36. Be ready to tell others about the saving work of Jesus Christ!
Read Proverbs 8:1-16
When the Lord came to Solomon in the dark of the night and said, “ask what I shall give thee,” he replied with a desire for wisdom. Today and tomorrow will be full of decisions to be made, answers to give, and reasons for our actions. You and I need the wisdom of God to act in a proper way in every circumstance. Often we find ourselves doing things foolishly, and answering our neighbor unwisely. If only we would think about the way that God finds delight in before we act. Yes, this wisdom of God must be valued above any earthly knowledge. Heed the Word of God. Show by God’s wisdom in all your doings. The God of all knowledge will be exalted! Read II Chronicles 1:7-12.
Read Proverbs 8:14-21
Have you laid aside the precepts of God today? Have you relied on your own wisdom to get you through a difficult situation? So often I go about the day without letting the wisdom of God govern my speech, actions, and thoughts. I often just do as I please. But at the end of the day what unhappiness I feel. How well I know that I have again disappointed my God by denying Him over and over. Oh! that the Lord would give us the zeal of Daniel to stand for the right and follow Him with conviction. Pray that God will give you an eye singled out to see the joy of following His commands. May your life count every other way as foolishness. God’s way is the best. Trust Him. May His Word be your only delight! Read Daniel 2:1-23.
Read Proverbs 8:22-30
As you read these verses today you must have come to the conclusion that the wisdom presented here, is the Lord Christ. How comforting and helpful to read about His ways from eternity. Truly He will guide us in the right way for He is the All Wise One. Have you set the ways of God above your own ways today? Have you bowed in humble reverence before this God of all wisdom? Wisdom is necessary. But whose wisdom will you follow? The world strikes hard blows at us, it presents the way of sin as the right way to follow. Are you leaning toward the way that shows companionship with worldly wisdom? The warning is: go not after such men. May God make us willing to follow His way, the everlasting way!! Read I Timothy 6:11-16.
Read Proverbs 8:31-36
I would like to take one of the verses you just read and turn it into a question for you. Have you been heeding God’s commands for your life? If someone were to watch you closely today would it be evident that you have been meeting daily at the gates of the Lord? Would your life show to others that you have been waiting at the posts of His doors? Does this verse talk about your life? Such a one will never be brought to shame, for God is his strength. The devil will try every means possible to discourage you in your efforts of meeting with God. He will send you sleepiness, a lack of desire, busyness, or the like. Do not let Satan have his way with you. Devote yourself to prayer and study. God will surely bless! Read II Chronicles 15:1-15.
Read Proverbs 9:1-21
Is your life marked by an eagerness for the heavenly feast God has prepared for you? Do you hunger and thirst after this one true God? Do you long to dwell with Him in righteousness at last? If this is true of you, then your desire to be in your eternal home is marked by a tiredness of seeing sin exalted. Your longing for home clearly shows that the works of evil are not your joy. Your firm resolve is to hate the old man within you. This hope is all a work of God’s grace in you. Cling to His promises. Set them daily before your eyes. Forget them not!! Read Isaiah 49:7-12.
Read Proverbs 9:13-18
The opposite of wisdom is foolishness. A foolish one calls evil, good. It places earthly wisdom above godly wisdom. There is no regard for the ways of God in this camp. Anything morally right is looked at as old fashioned. Lust and self are promoted. So often we find ourselves looking enviously at this foolishness. How can you and I be so easily turned from the right path? How can we forsake the guide of our youth? By the grace of God we will look straight ahead. We will not turn to the right or to the left. May you take this life seriously. May there be an urgency upon your path today, as you follow the God of al wisdom. Read Proverbs 1:7-23.
Read Proverbs 10:1-21
Do you really realize what delights your father and mother? Oh, that we as young people would often consider this thought. Our parents find joy and delight in seeing us follow hard after God. When they see zealous young people ready to do good works this brings delight to them. They love to see you walking in the way of God. What could bring more joy to a godly couple? Do your parents seem saddened by something they have heard or seen in you? Then take a good look at your actions. Are you denying God by your words and deeds? Seek to follow the way of wisdom in your life. It will bring happiness not only to you, but also to your parents, and all those who labor to teach you His fear. Read Proverbs 15:20, 23:24, 27:11, and 29:3.
Read Proverbs 24:30-34
A vineyard needs to be tended. The keeper must keep the weeds out and the wall strong. You also have a vineyard to keep! Your life must be kept pure and clean, just as you would keep a vineyard. You must work at pulling the weeds of sin out. You must take great care to watch what comes in your vineyard. The wall around your vineyard must be repaired quickly before the foxes come and ruin it. We too. must watch and protect ourselves from every temptation to sin. Set a watch for your eyes, and boundaries for your hands and feet. Read Proverb 4: 23-27.
Come with us each day as we have planned some special
devotions for you! It is our prayer that you may better
know God and His great work of salvation.
Read Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
God is the One, only Supreme Being. He is very great and mighty. We learn in Genesis 1 about His great power of creation. He made everything, the sky, sun, moon, trees, birds, plants, flowers, and He also made man! Today as you go outside look around at this creation. It is a marvelous display of His power. Take time today to read Genesis chapter 1.
Read Genesis 2:1-2: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the hosts of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made…”
We believe in the power and might of our God in making all things, and we also believe in His might to do this in six days. This whole world with all its wonder and beauty was called into being by the Word of God in six days. In 144 hours, God’s work of creating the “heavens and the earth and all the hosts of them” was finished. This is the truth that we must believe by faith. God does not lie. God’s Word stands above the word of today’s scientists! Read Genesis chapter 2 today.
Read Genesis 2:16-17: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
God had clearly stated that there were trees in the garden of Eden of which Adam and Eve could eat, and there was a tree of which Adam and Eve were not to eat (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). God had made those trees. His command to them was very clear. They were not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But, Adam and Eve chose to disobey and therefore they could no longer live in perfect fellowship with God. This disobedience caused separation from God. Instead of loving and serving their Creator, they disobeyed and showed hatred to Him. As you go about your work today, obey God. Carefully seek to please Him by being obedient to Him. Take time today to read Genesis chapter 2 and 3.
Read Genesis 3:12-15: And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the women, What is this that thou hast done. And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”
Adam and Eve took the fruit of the tree of which they were commanded not to eat. In the garden where Adam and Eve lived, there was a serpent. This serpent was Satan, a fallen angel of God. He had disobeyed God and was cast out of heaven. This serpent came and tempted Eve. The serpent changed the words of God, and he lied to Eve. He made this sin of disobedience look appealing. Eve then tempted Adam also to take of the forbidden fruit. Their fall for the lie plunges the whole human race (all their children) into sin and disobedience before God. When we are tempted to do the wrong, we must say “NO!”
Read Romans 3:10-12: “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”
Because of Adam’s fall into sin, man is no longer able to obey God. Adam was the father of all men, and because of his sin we are also guilty of this first sin. Man has become the servant of the devil. If man was left to himself he would most certainly perish in his sins. Man is full of corruption through and through. There is no good in him. He is not even able to say yes, I see my sins and now I choose to follow after God’s ways. Man being full of sin cannot even desire to follow after God. Is this how you see yourself?
Read Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
Adam and Eve found themselves separated from the one holy God. They had committed sin and were worthy of death. Throughout the Old Testament, New Testament, and yet today, men and women are found in this situation. We have sinned against God in countless different ways. We too are worthy of being cut off from fellowship with God. God does not leave us to ourselves but He said, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed…” God would have two seeds come from Eve (the seed of the woman and the seed of the devil). Enmity is hatred. God would put a hatred between the children of the devil and the children of the woman. Whose friend are you?
Read Isaiah 9:6: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
Yesterday we talked about how we are a sinful, fallen people. For these corrupt sinners has come a Savior. He was spoken of by prophets hundreds of years before His coming. He came to this earth, to live and die for a people that were His. Who would this Savior be? He is the Son of God. Yes, that same God Who is our maker humbled Himself and became the one on whom all our sin would fall. He would suffer hell itself so that we would be found perfect in His eyes. Rejoice! This Savior has brought salvation!
Read Leviticus 22:20: “Blind, or broken, or maimed… ye shall not offer these unto the Lord, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the Lord.”
All through the Old Testament the people of God, the seed of the woman, looked for the promised Savior to come. God gave them a sign that would remind them of His coming, and a reminder of what His work would accomplish for them. Every time the Israelites, the nation of God, sinned, they had to kill a lamb. This lamb was to be spotless and without any blemish. That lamb was a picture of Jesus who would be born without sin. The people knew that their salvation was not going to come from any good that they might do, but rather salvation would come from one Who is spotless and perfect, that being Jesus Christ the Lord! Where are you looking for salvation? Are you looking to Jesus alone?
Read Matthew 1:18-25: “Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”
This chapter tells us of how this Savior came to earth. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and would be born of the virgin Mary. Born of a virgin? Yes, He would plant that life in Mary and later be born of her. This birth of Jesus would free Him of sin. He would be a true man, but there would be no sin found in Him. This would make it possible for Him to take away the sins of others. Take time to read Romans 8 today.
Read Luke 4:29: “And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.”
Jesus is the name of the Savior. He lived for 33 years on this earth. All during those years He was hated and rejected of men. This is because fallen man does not love the right. So this perfect Jesus was hated not for wrong doing but for the loving, righteous acts He performed. You cannot set your mind to loving this Jesus either. You have a totally corrupt nature which is unable to do any good. Loving God and serving Him is a good work which we cannot perform apart from God’s grace. Pray for God’s grace to continue working in you, that you may love Him more.
Read John 6:37: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
At the end of His 33 years He was crucified on a tree. His death was the fulfillment of His promise to bring salvation. He arose from the grave in which they had put Him, showing His complete power over death itself. He has given His chosen people this same victory over the final death, which is hell. Who are these that the Father has given? They are a people who are no different from the rest of the human race. They have not done anything in order to earn this salvation, nor have they lived a better life than others. But this choosing is totally a choice of God’s. How wonderful to be a chosen one given Him of the Father!
Read Matthew 27:40: “…If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
After reading this chapter of Matthew, we have heard the many mocking words of the crowd. Now, as He hangs on the cross, they want Him to prove that He is the Son of God. Yet, for 33 years they had seen His miracles and wonders, but they would not believe. It was not the will of His Father that He come down from the cross. The will of the Father was that He suffer the agony of hell itself, to purchase salvation for the chosen elect of God. Imagine having the power to be able to come down from the cross, having power to slay all the wicked as they stood there mocking Him, yet to choose the way of suffering and humility so that our salvation would be made complete. Praise God today for fulfilling the work through His Son Jesus Christ!
Read Matthew 27:66: “So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.”
Pilate calls his guards to set a watch over the grave of Jesus. He wants no one to steal the body of Jesus in the night, and then go out and say, “Look, the Lord is risen!” So such a watch was made. But Jesus went through the tomb. He had received a spiritual body and did not need a man to roll the stone away for Him to rise. The disciples and friends come to the sepulchre to anoint His body but find that it is not there. He truly is risen. And just as His resurrection is sure, so we have the guarantee that we too will rise from the dead. This truth makes today full of hope and joy for we will not stay in the grave forever, but we shall rise even as He.
Read Matthew 9:9-13: “for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
There is nothing for you to do in order to be the recipient of the salvation of God. Salvation is a gift of God. This gift is not attained because your life has been so clean and you have lived so justly in the world. Neither is this gift received because you decided to let Jesus into your heart. Rather, this gift is given to those whom the Father has given Him. Jesus came to save sinners, not good, righteous people. You must cling to the promises of His Word that your sins will be washed away in His blood on the cross, not through your goodness or your perfect living.
Read Ephesians 2:1-10: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
If you know yourself as a sinner, and you know in your heart that there is only one possible way for salvation (through the blood and death of Jesus), you will certainly want to live the rest of your life to please that Savior, to live for Him Who earned salvation for you. You will strive to flee from sin and seek to keep His commandments. Your motivation will not be to earn favor with God but because you are so very thankful for the life He has given you. How thankful are you?
Read Deuteronomy 10:12-13: “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?”
You must know what is important in living a thankful life. Your life and mine, must be lived each day for the glory of God and not for our own glory and honor. We must read the Word of God and study it so that we may better know that great Savior and from what great misery and sin He saved us. We will bow our heads in prayer and seek to fellowship with Him, pouring out our heart before Him. We will put away our own desires and seek only to please Him. Are you living a thankful life?
Read I John 1:1-5: “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”
God is pure and holy. He shines in perfectness. He does all things right! He abides in fellowship with Himself: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He loves what is pure and what is done for His honour and glory. He hates all sin, darkness, and unrighteousness, because it is not of Him. It is contrary to His way. It is the opposite of purity. Sin lies. It deceives. Do you see the chasm between the Holy Perfect God and yourself?
Read I John 1:5-10: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth…”
Our words and our actions must agree with one another. If we say we love God but walk with the wicked, then we are lying. That means, if we say God is the most important one in my life, but we spend no time reading His Word, or praying, we are deceiving ourselves. If our money is spent first for our own selfish desires and the leftovers are thrown into the collection plate, then we are deceiving ourselves. But, if you love the world then you will be walking and talking with them. You will find a type of enjoyment and happiness with them. If you love God then your words and actions will speak about that love you have for Him! What characterizes your life?
Read I John 1:5-10: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Many people deceive themselves into thinking that they are basically good people. They think that they have very few sins and these sins are not very serious sins. They see the sins of others very well, much more clearly than their own sins. They are able to see what is wrong in the lives of others. They are blind to their own sin. They do not come to God for forgiveness, for they don’t really know how they have offended Him. They become proud, thinking they are better than others. They stand proudly before God also. They wonder how He could condemn them for the few things they have done against Him. Pray that God will give you a humble heart before Him. Ask Him to show you your sin, and ask Him to make you truly sorry for it.
Read I John 2:1-6: “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous…”
You might say, “but what about me?” I sin. I do not keep the commandments of God perfectly. But, my inward heart desires to live according to all God’s commands. I strive daily to set aside my way and concentrate to walk in His way, but sin is still present. Sin will always be found in my life, and in yours. Although I hate it and seek to be free from it, it will be present with me through my whole life. Remember He, Jesus Christ, is our righteousness. His blood covers all our sins and iniquities. He cleanseth us from sin so that God sees us as perfect in His sight.
Read I John 2:1-6: “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.”
Jesus Christ walked in a perfect way His whole life. While He was on this earth He lived in perfect love with His neighbor. He lived humbly before God. There was no respecting of persons in His life. He denied Himself. O, to walk as He walked! This must be how we pattern our lives. As we read about His perfect holiness in every situation, we must follow and make His life our guide. Pray that you may be molded and fashioned more like Him. Ask Him to continue His fashioning process in you!
Read I John 3:1-16: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…”
God’s love is amazing! He not only sets His love upon us, but He also calls us to be His sons and daughters! This is incomprehensible. You and I are sons and daughters of the King! Do you see God’s love in making sinners, who are prone to wander and who often wallow in darkness, His sons? With this glorious thought in your mind, seek to live in all purity and holiness before Him.
Read Matthew 24:7: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.”
As you flip through the pages of the newspaper you undoubtedly see headings that catch your eye: earthquakes, famines, and war. God tells us these are signs that He is coming again very soon. Each time we hear the news of these things, our thoughts must be directed to the second coming of Christ. All through history the church has been waiting for Christ’s coming. With each war, famine and earthquake we see our complete salvation coming closer. Are you looking for His coming?
Read Matthew 24:4-7: “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”
Antichrist, the deceiver, will come very soon to rule the world in which we live. He will be given much power. He will be able to do many unbelievable miracles, as making fire come down from heaven. He will be worshipped and followed by millions. His kingdom will be one of this earth. This man is not Christ! Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. Although many shall be deceived and follow this man, God will give to His people a special measure of grace to stand alone and wait patiently for His return. Pray for wisdom for those last days.
Read Matthew 24:9-12: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.”
The Christian at the time of Antichrist will be hated. It will be nearly impossible for us to live here any longer. The world will have no patience with us. They will not tolerate anyone who loves God. We must be prepared to die for our stand. We must remember that man can only harm the body but no one can take away the love that God put in us for Him. We must not worry about those days ahead, for God will give us the very words to speak. Are you ready to stand for the One you love?
Read I Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
At the sound of the trumpet and the shout of the angels, the Lord Himself will come on the clouds of heaven. He will descend from heaven, and He will gather to Himself all the elect believers. What a glorious day that will be. We will be forever safe in the arms of God. Do you long to live with Him there?
Read John 5:28-29: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
At the end of the world, when Christ comes again, He will take our bodies from their graves, and will give us spiritual bodies, bodies that are fit to live forevermore. This will be a glorious day, for when we hear His voice we will come forth from our graves and be changed. His chosen people will be raised to live in heaven with Christ, and those who are wicked will be raised to live in hell.
Read Matthew 25:41: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…”
The world has two different seeds, the seed of the woman and the seed of the devil. The seed of the devil are the wicked of this earth. They are those for whom Christ has not died. Although they may seem very prosperous in this life, and may have wealth untold, yet they will be cast into hell. God is just in casting them there because their works are evil. They have no salvation through Jesus. All their life they spend in hatred of Him, they do not acknowledge Him to be the Son of God. Spend your life serving the God of all life!
Read Revelation 9:2: “And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.”
Hell is a most horrible place. There is no fellowship with God. Hell is separation from the Blessed Savior. Continually the wicked will be punished for their sins and disbelief. They will suffer forevermore in the fire of God’s wrath, surely a hot and miserable state. Isolation from the God of life would most certainly be a sad way to spend eternity. O, how we long to live with God in close fellowship.
Read John 14:2-3: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
In this passage the godly are told of the home God is preparing for us. The seed of the woman for whom He has purchased salvation are promised a home with Him in heaven. Right now He is preparing that place for us. He soon will come to take us each to that heavenly mansion. There we will abide forevermore in beautiful perfection with the Ever Blessed One.
Read Revelation 7:15-17: “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
Is your life full of worry, trouble, or pain? In that new heaven and earth there will be no more tears, no more troubles or worries. Rather we will abide in perfection with God Who is holy. We will worship Him and give Him the true honour and glory that He deserves .Our spiritual thirst and hungering will at last be satisfied, for we shall be like Him, and sin and disobedience will be no more present. Do you long for that glorious day?
Although the 1980 Young People’s Convention lasted but four days, those who attended will long hold memories of it. Some will remember the speeches; others, the fellowship; still others, the spiritual inspiration it provided. We asked a chaperone, the Youth Coordinator, and the following delegates to briefly describe their impression of the 1980 Convention.
By Jerry Kuiper
I have just returned from the 1980 Protestant Reformed Young People’s Convention at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. It was sponsored by the Hope Church Young People’s Societies (Grand Rapids). When I think back on it, I find that there were many things that deserve talking about.
The theme, “Appreciation of the Reformed Truth,” is a unique and important one. It teaches us more about where, when, and why our faith was brought into existence. The theme song, “The Church’s One Foundation,” also speaks of this one reason for our existence, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The speeches, given by Rev. Van Baren, Prof. Hanko, Rev. Van Overloop, and Rev. Joostens, were all excellent. They followed in line with the theme, under four divisions:
- The Foundation
- The Development
- The Admonition
- The Application
I think that these four divisions helped us to learn more about the Reformed truth.
At this convention, as usual, we had daily discussion groups. These really led us to talk of our Reformed heritage. The topics were: (1) “Aspects of the Worship Service,” or Liturgy; (2) “Christian Courtesy”; and (3) “Confession of Sin.” Most of these groups had good, lively discussions. In these we learned more of the truth of God’s Word and how that truth applies to us as young people.
Before we turned in at night, we were led in devotions by our chaperones. In these devotions we studied Psalm 139, Psalm 103, and James 3. We had good discussions, and I think we learned more about these familiar passages of Scripture.
I think it was a well-run convention, and would like to thank the chaperones, Hope’s societies, and all others responsible for the good time I’m sure we all had. It was a spiritual uplifting for us all.
By Anna Mae Meelker
The 1980 Convention was a convention not soon to be forgotten. The most important thing to me was the Christian fellowship with each other in Christ which was bountifully given to us.
“Appreciating the Reformed Truth” was an excellent topic. It is not often that we come to appreciate our truth; we usually take it for granted. God in His infinite wisdom blessed us by giving us His Word to study, and obey, and that through the Holy Spirit working in our hearts we love and embrace that truth.
I felt the discussion groups were the most spiritually rewarding. We discussed the three topics chosen and also allowed for discussions about clapping at Singspirations, having hymns sung instead of Psalter, and whether it is right to send children to public schools. These discussions held much significance and I really enjoyed them. They were a spiritual inspiration to each one of God’s chosen young people.
The conventioneers parted with heavy hearts and with hopes of seeing each other next year. We are thankful to God for bringing us together and for the spiritual edification He has given us. We pray and look forward with earnestness that the day will soon be here when we will be one in Christ in perfection.
By Gerald Van Baren
A couple of weeks before the Convention I received a letter from the Beacon Lights requesting me to write about my impressions of the upcoming Convention. I agreed to do so (it’s always easy to agree to do something in the future) and so now I am suffering through the agony of having to not only separate my impressions (all good) from my feelings (also good) and my memories (not a bad one in the lot), but have to also write about them.
The campus at Hope College is in itself impressive for it includes such buildings as the impressive Gothic-style Dimnent Memorial Chapel with its beautiful stained glass windows, and the new Dow Center (the Physical Education building) with its pool, three basketball courts, six racquetball courts, indoor track and weight room. The Convention was nicely arranged so that every day there was free time to swim, play basketball or racquetball, or just visit with old and new friends. We also had a great time on the beach Wednesday, which turned out to be a bright, sunny day, and a lot of the young people, myself included, went back to Hope looking somewhat like boiled lobsters.
The spiritual life at the Convention was also excellent. In the morning, after breakfast, we had an introduction to an outline and after the presentation was finished we broke up into smaller groups for discussion. On Tuesday we studied the aspects of the worship service, Wednesday we discussed Christian courtesy, and on Thursday we talked about our confession of sin. In all the groups that I was in we had active discussion about some of the areas of our lives which were covered by the topic of that day. In this convention there were also two things that were new for me. The first was that we had four excellent speeches instead of the usual three, dealing with our Reformed beliefs starting with the Foundation, going through the Development, the Admonition, and finally the Application of those beliefs. The other innovation was the evening devotions in which the chaperones each took the group they were responsible for (about twenty young people per group), read an assigned chapter from the Bible, discussed it, and closed the day together with thanksgiving to God.
I would also like to personally, and I think I speak for all those who attended the Convention, thank everyone who made this convention the shining success which it was, with respect to both the physical activities and the spiritual activities. Above all else, however, we give thanks to God for gathering us as His Covenant young people to share a week of fellowship and spiritual growth, preparing us for the days when we must hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.
By Kevin Bylsma
When I was first asked to write about the convention for the Beacon Lights, I wasn’t sure I would be able to get much information to write about. How surprised I was that by the end of the week my little notebook was filled with ideas for this article. I had to do some condensing so that I wouldn’t go over my five paragraph limit, and that was a difficult task.
I thought that the theme of this year’s convention was very practical in reflection to our daily lives. It is not very often that we really appreciate the true Reformed doctrine and heritage that we have. It was good that we were admonished, told the foundation and development, and told how to apply this Reformed truth. This is something that we will use every day of our lives.
The added devotional periods before “lights-out” were an added attraction well worth noticing during our time at the convention. I thought, as well as many others, that these devotions have guided us well and showed us how to really close the days activities.
The discussion groups were excellent. The writers of these should be well applauded for their fine work of showing how the liturgy, confession, and courtesy play a vital role in the heritage of our faith.
I felt that I enjoyed this convention much more than the one I previously attended. I could tell from the beginning to the end of the convention that I was maturing spiritually as I never had before.
Through the many aspects of the convention, the words of Paul in Hebrews 10:23 were made more clear to me and made me more grateful to God for the heritage and truth that He has given to us as Protestant Reformed youth, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised.”
By Grace Hauck
This year, although the convention was smaller than usual, participation was better than ever. The convention topic was “Appreciation of the Reformed Faith.” With the future generations the way they are, only God knows how long the Reformed truth will last and if it will. It seems as if our young people do not care what happens to our doctrine. We exist in a time when there is no persecution as of yet, and the children of God are taking God’s Word for granted. We are becoming lax in discipline and the only way to repair this damage is to work hard and struggle so we don’t die for the lack of knowledge in the day and age where there is no excuse.
The discussion groups, for me, were extremely satisfying. I can’t speak for the others in the group but I thought they were much better than last year in the way of participation. The groups were smaller so each person had to talk more. The topics – Christian Courtesy, Confession of Sin, and the Liturgy of our Churches, were particularly interesting. When should the Christian be courteous and to whom? The question of good works is also involved. Dealing with the confession of sin, must we confess before God every single sin by itself or all at once? Many questions like these were answered in these discussions. Discussions are always very good because you can ask questions you always wondered about but don’t like to ask your parents. The leaders did a very good job and kept discussion going.
Devotions at 11:30 was a very good idea. It was a special time when we could worship God before finishing the day. Especially good, was the devotion led by Rev. Van Overloop on Thursday night for the girls in Gilmore Hall. It makes you stop and think, how can we, being so wicked, ever be saved? This past convention was a very good one, and God willing, may the next one be as good as the last.
By Jim Regnerus
This year’s convention left me with a feeling of joy, but also with an attitude of concern.
It was joyous that we as Protestant Reformed young people could come together for a week of Christian fellowship. We heard four speeches on the preservation of our faith that, if one listened attentively to, contained overwhelming inspiration and motivation. We attended discussion groups where, if one applied himself, the material for spiritual growth was limitless. It was joyful.
But one matter concerns me. Did not the theme of the convention revolve around the Preservation of our Reformed faith? Yet, did not we sing nearly all hymns, even the very theme song itself? And is not, as Rev. Van Overloop so adequately suggested, the singing of hymns instead of or in addition to the Psalter numbers a step toward the departure of our Reformed faith? This concerns me especially at a convention because many of us are forming values that will determine what makes the church of tomorrow preserve or not preserve our Reformed faith. I think this marred an otherwise beautiful convention.
By Doug Wassink
This year’s convention succeeded in making a good spiritual atmosphere for our young people to meet in. I think this is the main purpose of a convention.
The speeches that were given were very meaningful because they were directed especially to people our age. The things that were learned kept being brought up throughout the convention and this really helped us apply them practically.
The theme, “Appreciation of the Reformed Truth,” was well-chosen. This is an important thing for us to be thinking about. I learned a lot in the discussion groups; the topics for these were also good.
The chaperones did a very good job this year, everything went quite smoothly and I think the experience was a real inspiration.
By Paula Faber
Our 1980 Convention at Hope College was very enjoyable. The theme was “Appreciating our Reformed Faith.” Throughout the speeches we saw the necessity of preserving the truth in our generations.
We had some very good discussions. After the one on Christian courtesy, we were more conscious of how we should act toward one another. We should not do this just out of courtesy, but to love one another for Christ’s sake. We also discussed liturgy and its importance. We have liturgy for our order of worship. We should not let this become formality, but take thought to what we are doing, although the order may remain the same. God must be the center in our worship service. While talking about the third topic, “Confession of Sin”, we discussed why there are certain sins we confess publicly and not all our sins. I found that these discussions were very profitable for a spiritual walk of life.
I enjoyed being at the convention, with young people of all our churches, especially hearing others’ opinions in our discussion groups.
Let us in the coming year show our appreciation for the Reformed truth.
By Denise Van Baren
This was the first convention for me. I thought that as a whole it was fun and interesting, while, as the same time, a spiritual encouragement. One of the best parts of the convention was meeting new people and making new friends.
The campus was equipped to suit everybody. One could swim, play tennis or racquetball, use the gym and much more. Even though everybody complained about the food, it was usually passable. By Friday most of us were too tired to notice anyway.
The Speeches were based on a topic that I think everybody will agree was appropriate. The appreciation of the Reformed truth is something that is not always obvious. The four speeches made us realize how precious truth is.
The topics for the discussion groups were ones that really affected my life and I was interested in them. My groups all had really good discussions, probably for this reason. I learned a lot about how true Christians should behave in certain circumstances.
This convention makes me eager for the convention which, the Lord willing, will be held next summer.
By Val Poortenga
This was my second convention and I really enjoyed it. I have never in my life felt closer to other Christian believers.
The theme of this convention, “Appreciating Our Reformed Faith,” was very timely. With all the troubles of this present day pressuring us as young people, I believe what we heard and discussed must apply right now. We must stand up and fight for our faith. As one minister said, “We are becoming weaker in a time when we should be strengthening ourselves for the fight ahead.”
My discussion groups were very enjoyable. “Christian Courtesy” is something that we must apply right now and our life will be more pleasant and full. “Liturgy of Our Churches” is a very important part of our worship of Christ, its purpose being to aid us in our worship of Him. “Confessions of Sin” is a daily part of our lives and is essential for our salvation. The seminarians very capable presented their topics.
The speeches were very inspirational! Rev. Van Baren spoke first. His theme was “Foundation of Our Faith.” He divided it into three points which were: (1) What is involved in building the foundation of our faith? (2) How our faith is based on Scripture and (3) the basis for our personal faith. He closed by telling us to ask ourselves personally, “How much do you appreciate your Reformed faith?”
Prof. Hanko’s speech was second and entitled “Development of the Truth.” It dealt with the truth as being the most important part of the Church. He emphasized that the truth is developed by the whole church. Our truth is part of our living salvation.
Wednesday night was Rev. Van Overloop’s opportunity. “Admonition to Adhere to the Truth” was the topic based on Jeremiah 6. He questioned us, “Is a split necessary to maintain the truth of Reformed doctrine?” His reply was, “God forbid, but if people go astray, then we will!” The truth is very important because it is a revelation of God and it gives Him the glory.
On banquet night, Rev. Joostens spoke on “Our Walk.” Our life is very unique in the world and wholly separate. We are the only young people who have been taught the Reformed faith and believe it. He reminded us that there is nothing that is not included in our walk. The truth of the Word of God is the only lasting truth and it must be our guide in our walk and calling. All were excellent speeches!
In closing I’d like to say that during the week of this convention I became very aware of the precious gift of Reformed faith. I pray that God will preserve me and give me the strength to walk as a Christian throughout my life.
By Jim Van Overloop
I was asked by the Beacon Lights Staff to write an article about the convention. I thank them for this opportunity as I was a chaperone and because my term as Youth Coordinator has ended. During the convention I occasionally would jot down my impressions of the events that took place as sources material for this article. As I look at these notes I notices different levels of fellowship at various times. I’d like to reflect on the over-all convention, its purpose, and its participants.
The purpose of the convention and all conventions was aptly stated in the pre-registration form. It is: “that Christian young people can fellowship with one another and at the same time exercise themselves spiritually by listening to the speeches and participating in the discussion groups and devotional periods.” This purpose and some basic rules were listed on the pre-registration form, and this was signed by each conventioneer and his parent. I ask you, young people, to read that purpose again and ask yourselves if that’s why you went to the convention. Conventions are a perfect time for young people to relax, to get away from the routine, to get together with like-minded Christians, to listen, to learn, and to participate. The 40th annual convention surely was planned for this purpose and the convention accomplished that end.
The main ingredient of the convention, of course, is the young people. Those who prepared for the discussion groups and agreed with the purpose as stated, had a great time. Those who, as the theme stated, appreciated the Reformed truth, grew. As was emphasized often in the speeches, we need to ask ourselves if we know these truths? Do we love them? Are we willing to suffer for them, or do we die for the lack of knowledge? When I observed the attitudes and actions of a few young people, I wondered what camp they were in. There were times when some of them acted as if they couldn’t care less. We must, however, as Joshua, choose Whom we will serve at all times. By our fruits we make ourselves knows to those about us. God judges our every action and we will be held accountable for them. May God in His grace help our young people and all of us in these last times. May He work in us to straighten out our priorities, that we may always put Him first in our lives.
The convention was a spiritual time. There were four speeches and three discussion groups. Each day began with devotions and ended in devotions. In talking to other chaperones, I think we agreed that we all grew spiritually. This is because the Holy Spirit was working in us, causing us to take an active part in listening, participating, and learning. Most of the young people also grew spiritually for the same reason, and had a good time.
It is my prayer that all the young people will always strive toward glorifying God, including the times when they are together with other young people and away from their parents. This Christian walk must be the most important aspect of their lives. This then will dictate their attitudes and actions in all of their activities.
Finally, the conventions are planned for you, young people, so that you may grow spiritually. You can help make them a success by coming prepared, and by being willing to participate and armed with a Godly attitude, to the end that God, not yourselves or others, may be glorified.
By Agatha Lubbers
The 40th Annual Young People’s Convention of the Protestant Reformed Churches of America is now history. It is complete with its joy and disappointments. It is complete with the events we would like to remember and some that we would rather forget. The steering committee and societies of Hope Church, Grand Rapids, are to be commended for organizing and administering a fruitful and edifying convention for the young people of our churches.
The first thing that strikes me about the convention this year is that it is the 40th convention. That number 40 drove me to do some research about the origin of the P.R.Y.P. Convention. I could remember as far back as the Seventh Annual Convention – I know that dates me – and that according to my own souvenir booklet of the convention, it was held in 1947. (These souvenir booklets have become quite an established tradition.) The Seventh Annual Convention was my first convention and it was held in the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids. (The water tower was still standing where the parking lot is today.) We moms and dads and grandpas and grandmas who see our children go off to camp or college campus for a week of convention remember that those were the days before conventions were held away from the homes of the families of the host church. We remember the day when conventions were hosted by a church and the host church would provide the lodging for the out-of-town conventioneers in their own homes. This meant that conventioneers were chaperoned, transported, and often fed by the members of the host church. There was something beneficial about that arrangement because conventioneers established lasting and profitable friendships in the churches away from home.
As I thought about my first convention in 1947, I could not help but think about my father, who I think is representative of many fathers then and now. He must have transported me and my sister and two other young people from the Randolph Protestant Reformed Church to our first convention in the Hope that we would grow spiritually and establish an understanding concerning the church and the people in the churches in which we had our membership. We young people came from communities where there were other Reformed Churches, but we were called to be distinctively Reformed in the church world thirty years ago.
I remembered that first convention because I was just a youngster then and was quite fearful. I was afraid because I knew very few of my fellow conventioneers. Part of my fear was that I was young. I remember that there were many older young people at that convention and that was good. We need older young people at our conventions, and it saddens me that so few of our older unmarried young people attend conventions but turn instead to alternative forms of recreation of entertainment. I hereby register my vote in favor of more of our older young people attending future conventions.
Oh yes, I was going to say something about my father. He was at the very first convention that was held in 1939 in South Holland, Illinois. He had young children then. They were too young to attend a young people’s convention. But his family grew. Those early ministers at the first convention in 1939 (think now of emeritated ones – Rev. C. Hanko, Rev. G. Lubbers, Rev. H. Veldman), who were leaders of the young people at those earliest conventions must have dreamed of the day when by God’s grace their children would attend conventions; they must have dreamed of a day when conventions would be forty years old and when children of their children would be attending P.R.Y.P. conventions. And that’s exactly what has happened. God in His preserving grace has made it possible for children’s children to attend conventions. God has been faithful to His promise that He would establish His covenant with those who keep His covenant. We see in our conventions, therefore, tangible evidence of the reward of God’s grace.
For me then, this convention was a time to look back and view the events of the present from the perspective of the past. I concluded in my purview that young people have not really changed that much. Solomon said there is no really new thing under the sun. It is still true as the preacher says in Ecclesiastes that childhood and youth are vanity. It is likewise true that God from the beginning to the end of the world through His spirit causes young men to see visions, and old men to dream dreams.
The tendency for young people is to do things only so that they can have “a blast”. A few of us go to conventions only so that we can continue the legends that have accompanied the history of past conventions. That this is true can be learned when we read the message of the Federation president to the conventioneers of the Twentieth Annual Convention twenty years ago. “All the legendary tales you might have heard about how late others have stayed out during previous conventions, about how much mischief they made, about how many authorities they disobeyed, all being summed up in the frightfully illogical conclusion, ‘Boy, did we have fun,’ all these tales fall away to make place for real standards of fun at the convention.”
This should help us to understand the concern of our newly-retired Federation President, Bob Faber, when he wrote in the 40th Annual PRYP convention booklet as follows: “It is a unique opportunity to meet with fellow believers and discuss matters of faith and conviction. So when we meet with old friends, establish new relationships, and engage in the activities of this week, let’s keep in mind the ultimate purpose of the time. Let’s be aware that through discussions, speeches, and devotions we are able together to grow spiritually and to mature as Christian young people.”
This year the host society planned the 40th convention (a symbolic number, don’t you think) and called us to look backward and to look forward. The speeches were planned to help us consider our calling in the midst of a church world that does not really love the Reformed faith found in the Holy Scriptures. We were given an opportunity to view our position as young people who are youthful members of the Protestant Reformed Churches from the point of view of a theme that called to “Appreciate our Reformed Faith.”
What were the real standards of fun that were uppermost in the minds of the members of the steering committee? These real standards of fun were that all the activities of the convention should be subject to one main goal – spiritual growth. How could we grow spiritually? When all the other good times have been forgotten, we will remember the edifying and thought-provoking speeches. We will remember the spiritual talks we had with fellow young people and discussion leaders about our confession of sin, about the liturgy in our churches, and concerning Christian courtesy. We will remember the moments when we gathered around the Word of God for spiritual devotions at the end of a busy day. That’s real lasting fun.
You left the convention, young people, and the battle goes on. The same conscious dedication you felt at the convention you must continue as you live in your own societies and churches. You are now separated from each other, but you are bound by a new appreciation for the Reformed faith that should and will by God’s grace lead you in your life of gratitude and faithfulness in this world until Jesus comes.
As we commemorate the blessings of God at the conclusion of this 40th Annual PRYP Convention, may we with the assurance of faith recite Moses’ prayer of faith as he came to the end of forty years of labor.
“The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy before thee…
Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord…” Deuteronomy 33:27, 29.
The Christian is placed in many different circumstances while on this earth. Some are characterized by hardships and trials, and others are full of joy and peace. How should the Christian respond? Throughout the Bible there are numerous times where God’s people sang in response to their various circumstances. Singing in response to God’s ordering […]
As we examined the first eleven chapters of Genesis last month, we took note of the fact that the book of Genesis is theological, meaning it helps us to grow in our knowledge of God. In addition, we noted that the book of Genesis is historical, meaning that the events chronicled in it are the […]
Who am I? What is my purpose on this earth? Why is everything the way that it is? These are the kinds of questions that often trouble young people as they become more independent from their parents, enter the world of college or career, and make major life decisions such as choosing a spouse, a […]
The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]
The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]
This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]
Although it’s been a couple of months since we’ve been immersed in news coming from Japan about the 2020/2021 Olympic games, it’s still worth considering how these events are understood in the modern worldview of our country. The “Top Story of the Day” on Monday, August 9 (at least according to my newsfeed), was how […]
One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]
At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]
The 2021 Tennessee young people’s retreat was held August 9 to 13 by Providence, Hudsonville, Unity, and First (Holland) Protestant Reformed Churches. The retreat took place at Eagle Rock Retreat Center in the city of Tallassee. It was about an eleven-hour drive, give or take a bit due to stops for food and restrooms. Though […]